May 30, 2015

An Open Apology Letter

Hey y'all,

I bet you've all been wondering where I've been, if you've followed me for a long time. If you haven't followed us for a long time, chances are you haven't even met me yet. I've been gone for a long time. I real long time... My last post was in September of last year. And I feel bad about that.

Not only did I let down my co-blogger, whose been singlehandedly running this blog for months (without complaint), I let down you guys. Our readers. I left with out a single word to any of you not even a "sayonara, buddy, I'll see you soon".

The plan was not to leave forever, or even this long. But my co-blogger and I had agreed that it would be best for me to just take a step back. Smell the daisies, have some free time.

And then it became, well damn I've been gone for six months and still don't have the desire to blog or read.

It became I work 45 hours a week. It became I have a boyfriend that I want to spend all my time with. It became I'm never home. It became way bigger than it was ever intended to be and I'm sorry about that.

I feel like I abandoned you.

All of you.

But I didn't feel the desire to read or the desire to blog and books weren't even making me that happy anymore. But's been looking up. Just recently I started reading again and this week I just really got the urge to set down and write a post. I wanna blog again.

But I also wanna apologize to every one of you...for not being here, for abandoning you, for kind of losing myself for a little while. These past months have been rough. Being an adult is nothing like you would expect it to be. There are many things I'd like to vent about, but I'll just leave at this : growing up is tough. It takes some getting used to and I'd like to go back to when everything was less complicated, but I can't. All I can do is learn how to handle it.

So, sorry guys. I hope you'll forgive me.


May 29, 2015

What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor

What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor
Source: Free kindle copy
Publisher: Indie
Publication Date: May 6th 2012
Age Genre: Young Adult

Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat. His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He's been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it's too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again.When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he'll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn't limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she'll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she'll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn't say before, even if he can't actually say it.
I don't know about you, but I literally have a thousand books on my kindle. Not too long ago, I made a spreadsheet for all my kindle (and physical) books, to keep track of them--and use it to get to the ones I totally forgot about. While making this list, I stumbled upon What I Didn't Say. Saw it had to do with being mute, and just like that - it became my next read. 

And since that's what hooked me on, you can imagine my surprise to end up feeling like this book could deal with being mute more. It's like, Jake wasn't born mute - he became mute due to a stupid accident that could've been avoided. He had to learn to deal, and that is featured, but it takes backstage to Sam's family issues and difficulties. 

It's not that Sam's issues are not important and need to be discussed and such, but Sam's type of issues have lately been the crux of so many books (true, mostly NA books), while dealing with muteness mid-life (or at all, really) has not. Jake's side of the story was what I was more interested in, and I wanted that to be in the spotlight, not the other way around.

What I did love is how the Drunk Driving issue was handled. I recently read a couple of books that used drunk driving as a plot point, but grossly mishandled it. Here, though, drunk driving was discussed multiple times. It affected both those who did it and those around them. I applaud Keary Taylor for it. 

Another reason that this book did not get a higher score for me is that I didn't fully connect with the characters; therefore I had a hard time feeling their pain. And books like this... the pain needs to be felt, you know? (but this is really subjective).

Despite all this, Jake and Sam were cute together. Their romance was clean and sweet, and it really helped both of them find their inner strength. It is healthy and good, and I loved knowing it's something that's been developing for years (especially on Jake's side).

Speaking of which... the only complaints I have in regards to the writing is that I felt it could do without the flashbacks to past years. As there were too few of them to flow properly and feel like an instrumental part of the narrative, I feel like they should've been told in a different way - like Jake recalling them, or telling us those little anecdotes from the past in his head in relations to what was happening, instead of time jumps.

All in all, cute story, but it wasn't the perfect read for me.


May 28, 2015

Thursday Oldie: Existence by Abbi Glines

Before I start this (long) review, I would like to stress: this review does not come to invalidate your opinion of the book. You love it? that's wonderful. It's unfortunate, really, that I couldn't feel the same. And I explain in details exactly why I didn't feel so. So please, no hate. 
Existence by Abbi Glines 
Series: Existence #1
Source: Bought Kindle
Publisher: Indie
Original Post: Dec 4th, 2012
Age Genre: Young Adult
What happens when you're stalked by Death? You fall in love with him, of course.
Pagan Moore doesn't cheat Death, but instead, falls in love with him.
Seventeen year old Pagan Moore has seen souls her entire life. Once she realized the strangers she often saw walking through walls were not visible to anyone else, she started ignoring them. If she didn't let them know she could see them, then they left her alone. Until she stepped out of her car the first day of school and saw an incredibly sexy guy lounging on a picnic table, watching her with an amused smirk on his face. Problem is, she knows he's dead.
Not only does he not go away when she ignores him, but he does something none of the others have ever done. He speaks. Pagan is fascinated by the soul. What she doesn't realize is that her appointed time to die is drawing near and the wickedly beautiful soul she is falling in love with is not a soul at all.
He is Death and he's about to break all the rules.
I was literally surprised I survived this. 
Existence was the first book I truly hated. I don't hand one-stars easily. Me giving someone a one-star is basically me saying: "I applaud you for going through the process of writing an entire novel and getting it published, but there is literally nothing I liked about this book."

And usually, I can find a nugget or two of things to love to veer off that harsh assessment. In Existence, however, try as I may I couldn't.

The crux of the matter was Pagan, the MC. She is not a good character in my book, for many reasons:

a. She uses Leif - dates, kisses and messes around with him when she knows she's in love with Dank (more on that later), because he's "real". First, it makes you a horrible human being. Second, kissing another guy when you have a boyfriend also makes you a stinking cheater.

b. The Bella Syndrome - I hate it when girls turn desperate for a guy to the point they'll break into tiny pieces if he's gone. It's pathetic, in my eyes. We're stronger than that, damnit!
I can't reconcile the fact so many people hate New Moon yet love Existence, when they have the exact same character.

In accordance to those, you'll have to forgive me for gagging when the characters of this book claimed her "soul" was beautiful. Or that she's brave and strong, when every act she's committed pointed to her being weak, scared and needy.
The next in a long list of major turn-offs is the romance, which I'm sure comes as no surprise to you.

The romance is, to put simply - insta love. And insta love is never a satisfying romance. Pagan falls in love with a guy she knows nothing about, and there is no why, or when to it. The best I can figure out is she finds him sexy. Blah.

It felt like she fell in love with him at the snap of a finger. And not a healthy kind of love, either. He becomes the reason for her existence (see what I did there), without him - she is nothing, which I just can't endorse no matter what. Even if there was good reason for her to be madly in love with him (which, again, there isn't!)

And let's not forget Dank returning her feelings--
What did she ever do to earn his love, especially as the crux of the thing is how impossible it is for him to fall for a human. Ergo, the person who manages to accomplish that should be special.

She's special alright... (e)special(ly) annoying and hateful.

And if that's not enough, the showdown is one of the most disappointing things I've ever read of. Nothing actually happened!

SPOILER She chose the sacrifice herself so Dank could live but, wait, that doesn't work like that. So instead she chose to live so his sacrifice won't be for nothing. But, turns out, that's the biggest sacrifice she could've made because she sentenced herself to a pitiful existence without the meaning of her life (whom she'd known maybe two weeks, and knows nothing about aside for his sexiness.) Yes, so awful. Insert eye roll here, please.
It's just bull! But even stupider is how everyone claps her on the back and tells her how brave and strong she is. And as a reward...  he's back! yay! nay... END SPOILER

Shot. Me. Now.

The maybe only bright spot in this whole debacle is the last line of this book. It was surprising enough to make me consider for a millisecond to read the next book to find out what happens with it (than I laughed at myself). It was also too surprising, as in - there weren't any hints of what was coming. And I did look for them, because the summary for book two spoils the big secret.

As for the writing... I was not impressed. At all. Half the time, it felt like Glines was dragging things way too long (as can be demonstrated by Dank's song to Pagan. The song started really well, but it continued where I felt it should've ended verses ago, taking from the impact and beauty). And the speech sometimes felt completely fake and unnatural for young people.

The only thing I can say in defense of this book is that my major, AHHH I HATED YOU disappointment has to do with the summary. The summary is great on it's own--made me read the book, didn't it? But it also took from the whole story because it told us what Dank was. Maybe if I had to discover alongside Pagan who and what he was, it could've helped me identify with her, and than maybe I would've given the book closer to 2.5 stars. Not the best of ratings either, but not nearly as harsh as one-starring.

(also, notice the high usage of "maybe").

May 22, 2015

Gifed Up: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Source: gifted hardcover
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: September 24th 2013
Age Genre: Young Adult
A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates–brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge but who will be left alive at the end?
In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.
So I'm sitting here, in front of my computer, wondering how the heck do I review this book? It's like, my mind is totally blank. What do I say that others haven't? Where to begin?

Should I start with the fact I ended up reading this book because of peer pressure? I mean, the whole freakin' world loves Vicious, so I grew tired of not knowing what this was about and got it. One page in and I'm like; THANK YOU, PEER PRESSURE!
Or maybe I should talk about how this book is not a "superhero story". At least not in the "hero" sense of the word. Everyone here are definitely "super powered", in one way or another (Even Mitch, whose superpower is probably being able to stand and support the lot of them and still stay alive).

In simpler terms, everyone in this story are Loki, not Captain America. 
I can totally imagine Eli saying a similar line
And we love them, for the same reason we love Loki (more than we love all the other characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, really). Because they're not strictly bad, and not strictly good. Because they blur the line between black and white to us as readers, and they make us think. 

Because we know that under certain circumstances, they can do heroic things, and sometimes they do, and sometimes they won't. And you really can't tell what's the dominant side to them.

Are they good people doing bad things, or bad people doing good things, or just people, period? 

Here are these characters, who are just so flawed, and so broken, so off the "right path", and so lost, and you root for them - you root for them like crazy! 

(Which might say something about us, and how we truly see "heroes" and "villains. Idk. We're probably mad).
I loved Victor, who by sheer quantity of POV could be considered the MC and therefore the "good"/"right" guy in this situation. Is he, though? I mean, he does some really messed up things throughout the whole thing.

And I didn't hate Eli, either. I mean, was he kind of crazy? yes. Could I... sort of, maybe, understand where he was coming from?...... I could. I could totally see how he became what he was, and how he truly believed in it.

And I thought Sydney was adorable and I adored her, yet I...didn't hate Serena, who on account of her actions I should. But just like Eli, I could understand how it became like this, even if I didn't accept it.

And then let's not forget Mitch, the underrated support system. Who is basically... us, the readers. He accepts the super powered around him. He knows the world ain't black and white. And still he follows.  

No one fit quite perfectly into the usually "assigned roles", and that's what made this book so bloody brilliant, and this is what makes this book so viciously beautiful.

And let's not even start on the spotless writing technique! The book jumps between past and present, between one character to the other without ever missing a beat. It's seamless! Even if I hated the book, I don't think anyone can ever claim Schwab is a bad writer.

Final point - on the one hand I would gladly read a sequel... and the other, I'm super afraid of all the sh*t that would undoubtly follow...

May 15, 2015

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Source: bought hardcover
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication Date: October 26th 2010
Age Genre: Young Adult
Challenges: TBR - Cleaning my Shelves
Challenges: Contemporary
“I’ve left some clues for you.If you want them, turn the page.If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” 
So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors ofNick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.
My journey with Dash & Lily was a difficult one. I chose to read this book for three reasons: the awesome title, the cover (which I love, don't even know why!) and the fact it's written by two authors on my "need to read" list. That's like, two at the price of one, you know?

So when I got it, I opened it right away. Aaaand closed it a chapter and a half later. I just couldn't get over how pretentious both of them were! I mean, they didn't even sound like teenage kids. That was just... so hard to swallow, at the time. And so, I dropped it, put it back on the shelf, and occasionally glanced at it warily.

That changed when I drew Dash & Lily as one of my March reads. I have a real tough time deciding what to read - kindle and physical, so ever since I made a list of ALL my physical and kindle books, I've been using random number generator to pick my next reads. It's been working like a charm.

Dash and Lily did not become any less pretentious this time around, but as I trudge onward, I found I could still enjoy them. They could still make me laugh. I could still find them cute together. Maybe because they were just glaring opposites, and yet completely the same in a way.

The moment I decided to let go of how un-teenage they were (whether by being so overly "mature" or by being so completely "bratty", as it were in Lily's case--I mean, how effing selfish and self-centered can you even be?...) I started enjoying myself.

Their adventure was funny, and weird, and crazy. The people around them were colorful and intriguing. It was... mindless fun, you know?

To me, this book is more the journey it took me to reach the end, than the book itself. Which is probably why this review lacks as a review, but also why it still matters enough for me to write it.


May 8, 2015

River Marked by Patricia Briggs

River Marked by Patricia Briggs 
Series: Mercy Thompson #6
Source: Bought Paperback
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: March 3rd 2011
Age Genre: Adult
Challenges: TBR-Cleaning my Shelves
Challenges: Sequel-Prequel
Challenges: Flights of Fantasy
Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. And she's never known any others of her kind. Until now. As Mercy comes to terms with this new information, an evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River. Something deadly is coming, facts are thin on the ground and Mercy feels ill at ease.

You guys, it's so great to be back with Mercy and Co.! I've been putting off reading this one until I finished with my re-read of the series up to this point, and while I enjoyed that, I also forgot how fun it is to discover everything fresh alongside my favorite characters!

Adam and Mercy are officially husband and wife as of this book (happy dance!) and their honeymoon is... eventful. To say the least. But this is Mercy we're talking about. None of us expected differently. I'd have been way more surprised if their honeymoon was just a fun, sweet vacation filled with rainbows and puppies. (And concerned, because then... who knows what would've happened afterwards. Mass murder of the pack? End of the world?)

This time, the story is very Indian centered, and we learn a lot about Mercy and her heritage, which was extremely fun and interesting.

But the truly awesome stuff? First, extra time with Adam!!! This book is all Adam, and it is all super delicious. It's no secret I have the hots for the Alpha Werewolf (and I love him and his little coyote together), so this was like a birthday treat to me.

Second, Coyote. Who's Coyote? Well, he's SPOILER Mercy's kind-of-maybe-it's-complicated father END SPOILER, and he is such a colorful character! Every scene with him was just so much fun! He's golden. I am looking forward to seeing him around more from no on. He better be! I mean it! I will not accept any other solution!

Only complaint? This book should have come with "No real children were harmed in the making of this novel" sticker, or something...


May 7, 2015

Who Wore it Better: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Who Wore it Better is an original meme I brought with me from Drugs Called Books. In it, instead of discussing fashion or cloths, we discuss book covers from different countries, and who has the best cover. The meme is co-hosted with the lovely Amanda and Stacie from Beautiful Bookish Butterflies and will be featured on her blog every other week, so check her out as well!  

This week, Amanda chose the Starcrossed Trilogy by Josephine Angelini. I haven't read this series, but I know Amanda loves it so this one is going to be interesting. Who knows, it might just be the thing to make me read it! 
#1: US / UK - This time, there are two number ones. Why? Because I think the US cover is the prettiest one of the lot, in terms of color and scenery and all that Jazz. 
But I have a special appreciation toward the UK one because it's the only cover where there's a couple on the cover. Starcrossed is a reference to Starcrossed Lovers. And if I'm not mistaken, this book is exactly about that sort of a relationship. So it only makes sense a couple will be featured... and yet none of the publishers aside the UK went that way. Why? Having a female MC is not a good enough excuse in my opinion. 

#2: Swedish - This is the second prettiest cover. The whipping of her hair adds movement to the cover that the other covers are lacking, and I love the little details like the sparkles (stars), and the heart necklace indicating this is a love story. Plus there is what appears to be the Zodiac in the background, which peaks my interest - why zodiacs? what does that have to do with the story? 

#3: Portuguese - This one follows in the footsteps of it's america sister. It's less visually interesting, what with the dress and the background and the stones being basically the same color, and nothing clashes. It makes it look like a very serene story, which is the opposite of what "starcrossed" stories are, so... But it is pretty, not gonna lie.

#4: Swedish #2 - I don't really have much to say about this. Is it atrocious? No. Would I buy a book with this cover? No. It's boring. It's dull. It's not ugly or anything, but to me it misses the mark entirely of what an attractive cover is. (BTW - it makes me think of a greek legend, the way she is standing and the dress style).

#5: Greek - UGLY and too much exposure/air brush. 


May 1, 2015

DNF: Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (Rant)

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison 
Series: The Hollows #1
Source: Bought Paperback
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: January 5th 2012
Age Group: Adult
Challenges: TBR-Cleaning my Shelves
Challenges: Flights of Fantasy
Welcome to the Hollows...
Forty years ago a genetically engineered virus killed half the world's human population and exposed creatures of dreams and nightmares that had, until then, lived in secret alongside humanity.
Rachel Morgan is a runner with the Ireland Runner Services, apprehending criminals throughout modern-day Cincinnati. She's also a witch.
Used to confronting criminal vampires, dark witches and homicidal werewolves, Rachel's latest assignment - apprehending cable-stealing magic students and tax-evading leprechauns - have prompted her to break her thirty-year contact with the I.S. and start her own runner agency.
But no one quits the I.S.
Marked for death, Rachel is a dead witch walking unless she can appease her former employers and pay off her contract by exposing the city's most prominent citizen as a drug lord. But making an enemy of the ambigous Trent Kalamack proves even more deadly than leaving the I.S.

DNF Review

Why is this series so popular?
Normally, I don't rate books I DNF. However, since I DNFed this one because I couldn't really stand it, I felt like I would be forgiven for passing judgment in the form of stars.

I've been really looking forward to reading this book. I heard so many great things about this series, from great sources. I was expecting a kickass witch, in a kickass world, with shipping to be had that will make me want to read sequel after sequel (I guess, in other words, I was expecting nothing less than the Kate Daniels series, or the Charley Davidson, or The Others, or Mercy Thompson. All great series you should read).

Alas, none of my wishes came true.

In retrospect I a) shouldn't have read it straight after a mindblowingly awesome book such Written in Red and b) should've known to lower my expectations when a first attempt to read this book a couple of weeks back resulted in me dropping it after a couple of pages.
I don't know Brit... I honestly don't know. 
Dead Witch Walking is told from the point of view of Rachel Morgan, which means that if you don't like Rachel, you won't like the book. Can you guess what I thought of Rachel? That's right. Hated her.

Seriously, she's just one of those characters that constantly pisses me off.

It's started with how she refused to accept the idea her ex-boss will put a price on her head, even though everyone warned her, and her boss literally told her he will. In no uncertain terms. I frowned at that.
Then, she's supposed to be a witch of some powers (or else, people won't be so interested in her / she wouldn't be the damn good runner she claims she is). And yet she decidedly lacks in powers. By page 90, she's been almost killed about 5 times, and four of those times she was saved by others who happened to be around and she didn't even realize she's been in danger until they nullified it. And you expect me to believe you're capable? You, lady, are no badass. 

Second, she treats her friends awfully. From page one, she is pretty much condescending, judgemental and unforgiving. Her friends help her. Does she thank them? Umm... nope, she complains. She get's angry. She feels justifies at being so. She never shows them any gratitude. And she hurts them constantly, and so callously!

(It's like she thinks Ivy being a vampire means she has no feeling. I'm not a particularly big Ivy fan, and STILL I was just indignant on her account.)

And let's not get me started on Jenks, the only likable character in this whole fiasco. Jenks is awesome. He is by far the most badass of the lot - saving Rachel constantly. He does a lot more than Ivy or anyone else. And yet he is treated as mere comic relief, with Rachel turning decent toward him only when she's turned his size and realizes that, hey, he's pretty hot!
Then, there's the world. For the life of me, I don't understand why the IS operates the way it does. Why can't it just fire people? Why is getting out a death sentence? Seriously, why would they go through all the hassle of hiring assassins of all kinds? It seemed so stupid and over the top to me when you can just fire someone. And considering this is a huge part of the story, it made the whole thing hard to swallow.

But the real reason I put the book down at page 190 instead of braving the rest of it as I already got so far has to do with Trent. Now, I have this thing. When I'm not clicking with a book that's part of a series, I tend to go read spoilers (I know, WHAT?) so I could make an informed decision on whether I want to read of those events, or rather pass. Which is what I did here.

This is why I know SPOILER Trent is end game END SPOILER. I was on board with that, for a while there. Until he killed that man. The whatever-he-is is a psychotic, murdering SOB. And I honestly don't want to read of him redeemed because, there is no good excuse for that murder and cruelty.
Too bad, too, because the book did start picking up around page 150...