Monday, June 29, 2015

Mini June Wrap Up + Two Week Wizarding World Hiatus

 I am apparently in a massive reading slump. I've only read one book YET AGAIN this month! I fail at life obviously but I'm totally going to put the blame on the overwhelming amount of books I got during BookCon. Yup I blame that. Not really I just fail sometimes.

Anywho, this month I read Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. It's pretty good but really slow at first. It took a long time for me to get into it and even then, there are a lot of long passages of back story back aren't too too interesting but at the same time essential to the main story. But even with all the back story, there are a lot of questions left unanswered. Mainly, what on earth happened that this is set in a future medieval-type dystopian world where Harry Potter exists and electronics are known but none of these things are around anymore. Like, I need to know what happened to have made the world regress so far. I still have about 50 pages to go until I actually finish the book but with the way things are going, I highly doubt that's going to be one of the questions that gets resolved by the end. Hopefully, in the sequel Invasion of the Tearling we'll get more answers. I won't lie - I totally wanted to read this strictly because Emma Watson is attached as playing Kelsea in the upcoming movie adaptation. She doesn't really look the part because she's gorgeous and there's constant emphasis on Kelsea's plainness but still, it's Emma Watson. She's amazing no matter what she's in.

Speaking of Emma Watson, I'm going on a two week hiatus starting tomorrow. Why? Because my family and I are going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!

Harry Potter is my childhood!! I'm so excited!! I've never been there but I've been wanting to go ever since I heard that they were building it. I want to drink butterbeer and go to Ollivander's and Weasley Wizard Wheezes and just do all the Harry Potter things all while trying very hard not to go broke of which I'm sure there is a very high possibility. I'm not spending two full weeks in Florida but I'm leaving tomorrow (at the terrible hour of 3 am) for a week in North Carolina to visit relatives then we're driving down to Orlando for three days in Universal Studios and the Wizarding World and one day at Disney. We haven't bought the Disney tickets yet but I'm really feeling the need to visit the Magic Kingdom again. I haven't been there since I was little. So so excited!!

*Cue epic road trip music*

Friday, June 12, 2015

GIANT BookCon + Employee Appreciation Book Haul!!

There are A LOT of books for this haul!! I'm finally getting around to my BookCon haul (only a week and a half late) but not only that, right after BookCon was employee appreciation week at work! That could only mean that I buy way more books than I need - not that I even don't need books - but with a bigger discount. Just one of the perks of working in a bookstore. I did try to be good and not buy all the books even though I was sincerely tempted to.

BookCon Haul

This first part are all the books that I either bought while at BookCon or snagged free ARC copies of. 

Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal
Jackaby by William Ritter
The Keeper by David Baldacci
Galactic Hot Dogs by Max Brailler
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence by Stan Lee
The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
Mafia Girl by Deborah Blumenthal
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken *
The Opposite of Love by Sarah Lynn Scheerger
The Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville
Demon Dentist by David Wallace
The Curious Cat Spy Club by Linda Joy Singleton
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff **

* I didn't actually get the Passenger ARC from BookCon. They weren't giving out ARCs of it there. One of my managers went to BEA and he got me the ARC from there because he knows that's what I read. I really, really, really want to read it!! But I heard it's a super early draft and Alex Bracken has made significant changes to it since then so I'm a little hesitant. 

** Illuminae aka the most beautiful ARC ever created.

This second part is all the books that I got signed by their authors.

Penny Dreadful and the Poisonberry Fortune by Carl Paolino
Hatter M: Far from Wonder Vol 1. by Frank Beddor
The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness *
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

 * Though I got this signed, I actually brought this copy from home and since I brought my own copy of one of his books, Patrick Ness signed and gave me a copy of The Knife of Never Letting Go too because he's awesome like that.

I got a bunch of chapter samplers too though I gave all of them away at work except for the Felicia Day one. I read it and I'm really excited for her book to come out later this year.

 Employee Appreciation Haul

Shadow of the Wolf by Tim Hall
Off the Page
by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
John Winchester's Journal by Alex Irvine *
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard **

* I saw this and the Supernatural fangirl in me needed it. There's also Bobby's Guide to Hunting that I want to pick up at some point too. 

** Another book that I didn't buy but got brought back from BEA by one of my managers. 

I admit to having had a minor crisis moment when I realized I had 27 new or ARC books to choose from. But I finally decided I'm going to start with Queen of the Tearling - partly because I've heard good things about it and partly because Emma Watson is supposed to be starring in the upcoming movie version. After that, The Wrath and the Dawn is definitely my next go to.

What books have you guys hauled recently?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Published:  May 5, 2015
Format: Purchased Hardcover
Synopsis from Goodreads: A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!
My Rating:

I'm trying out a new reviewing style here. It might change a bit over the course of my next few reviews but I'm pretty sure I like it this way. However, let me know if any of the stickers are hard to read for you. I haven't done my own picture editing in a while now. Gotta dust off the skills. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses starts off with, the main character Feyre (Fay-ruh) out on a hunt. Her family was prosperous in the past but after their father gambled all of their money into an investment that went bad, they have fallen into poverty. Feyre's hunts are their main source of food and income. During this particular hunt, Feyre finds a small doe and a larger than normal wolf. When the wolf lunges for the doe, Feyre shoots it with an ash arrow - the only known weapon that could kill a fae. Days later, Feyre's suspicions about the wolf were proved true when a beast comes barging into their small cottage looking for the person who murdered his friend. It is then that Feyre is taken from her family and over the wall into the lands of the fae. 

ACOTAR is a re-imagining of the classic story of Beauty and the Beast (the original version, not the Disney version though there are some nods to both). SJM does such a fabulous job of weaving her story around the original story but at the same time, she makes so definitely her own that I forgot that this was a retelling at all.

The whole book is written in first person in Feyre's POV. This worked especially well because as readers, we are able to see how Feyre's mind works. In the beginning, we are able to feel and understand the prejudices Feyre has against the Fae but as the story moves on, we see her opinions changing little by little as she learns more about them first hand. 

Really, the only reason why I didn't give this book five stars (like I'm prone to do with all SJM books) is because the pacing was a bit strange. It started off rather slow with not much happening except Feyre being taken by Tamlin to the Spring Court. But then about three-fourths of the way through, there's just so much action all of a sudden that it's almost like you're reading a different book entirely. For most of the book, Amarantha didn't even feel like a reasonable threat not when things like the Naga or the Bogge where roaming about. Reading this sort of felt like watching one of those movies where halfway in you think it's going to end but then something else happens and it keeps going then an hour later, you think the end is coming again but something happens again. Not that I'm complaining really about it not ending whenever I thought it would because I'd live in Sarah J. Maas' writing if I could. It's just the pacing felt a little strange to me.

SLM created an amazingly intricate world for this story. Just like with Throne of Glass, her world is filled with political intrigue, different lands, mortals and immortals, and so many kinds of magic and magical creatures that - ugh, it's just amazing. This first book takes place in the country (can it really be called a country?) of Prythian. Centuries ago, after a huge war between the humans and the Fae, a wall (very much like in Stardust by Neil Gaiman) was built to separate the different realms. The humans and Fae agreed long ago on a detailed treaty that outlined the reasons and outcomes that a human would crossover into the Faerie Realm or vice versa. Once over the wall, Prythian is divided into several courts, each ruled over by a High Fae. Each court has it's own unique kind of magic and then the magic varies in strength depending on if the character is a High Fae or a lesser Fae. Plus, there are magical creatures running amok creating havoc between the courts like the Naga or the Attor. SJM definitely covered all her bases when it came to writing this world. Everything it so detailed and vivid that it almost feels like the way Feyre feels when she sees colors and art that she wants to paint. 

During the panel at BookCon that SJM was a part of, she mentioned that one of the most common critiques she gets of Feyre is that she's a push over. I can see why some might think that but I wholeheartedly disagree. Feyre isn't as obviously kickass as Celaena but she's definitely strong in her own way. She took on basically the entire burden of supporting her family just because her dying mother asked her to. None of her sisters tried to help and their father blamed his bad leg for not being able to. After that, she is thrown into the Faery Realm where she is literally the weakest being there and almost everything can kill her with one look. But, she still uses whatever skills she has to survive much to the surprise of Tamlin and Lucien and later Amarantha and the rest of the faeries Under the Mountain. I also love that she loves to paint and that colors and art basically come alive for her. I also love that she can't read. That's just not a common trait you see in protagonists but it's interesting how it comes into play at varying times. Like when Tamlin found her list of words and made limericks out of them or later during her tasks.

Considering Tamlin is Feyre's main love interest, he was sort of the least interesting character to me. He's definitely got the powerful and handsome part going for him and he's definitely passionate and cares deeply about the welfare of his court regardless of the fact that he wasn't supposed to rule it. But I felt like he was almost too perfect. I definitely don't fault Feyre for falling in love with him though - good lord, it couldn't have been all that hard to. He kind of reminded me of Wolverine whenever he got angry and his claws came out.

Lucien and Rhysand were easily my favorite characters. Lucien is wonderfully sarcastic and sassy sometimes but he's also extremely loyal to Tamlin. Rhysand is possibly the most intriguing character in this whole book. The more you learn about him, the more questions you have. Not to mention the fact that he might have the coolest powers ever. he can blend into the darkness and travel through it. (Hah, a lot like Nico from the Percy Jackson series.) And he has awesome wings - which I definitely pictured like Castiel's.

Guess what? There is no love triangle in this book!! Refreshing for a YA novel, isn't it? I have a feeling though that it might not stay that way. For all of about two seconds, I thought maybe Lucien might make a triangle but I think he's way too loyal to Tamlin to even contemplate that. Plus, he knows all the details of Tamlin's curse. Feyre definitely falls pretty hard for Tamlin though it's a bit Stockholm-y. I know Tamlin doesn't actually imprison her nor does he treat her in any way that's remotely similar to being imprisoned but he knew she was his last hope of breaking his oh-so-specific curse. It kind of felt a bit like he did everything just so in order to make her fall in love with him. Alis even said that the girl had to meet all the prior criteria of the curse before she could be brought back to be "courted." But putting all of that aside, theirs was still a very steamy romance. I wasn't expecting it to get nearly as steamy as it did. Not that I'm complaining at all. All of it fit perfectly with the tone of the book. I'm pretty sure this is as close as you can get to bordering the YA vs New Adult line.

All in all, if you haven't yet, you definitely need to get yourself a copy of A Court of Thorns and Roses. It's an amazing fantasy read with a wonderfully detailed world and of course, it's Sarah J. Maas so the writing and descriptions are beyond gorgeous. It's a great start to her new series and I definitely can't wait for book two to come out next year.

For those of you who have read this already, I need to know:
Who do you ship? And what do you think happened to Rhys in the end??

Thursday, June 4, 2015

My BookCon Experience + May Wrap Up

May was the month where I basically failed from a bookish stand point. But a lot did happen.

Most of May, I was in an epic post-Lunar Chronicles book slump. And I mean this was a terrible slump. I began reading at least five different books before realizing I wasn't in the mood to read any of them. Partially because they weren't living up to the awesomeness that is The Lunar Chronicles. (Though in the books' defense, I probably only made it through the first ten pages of each book, if even.) But, A Court of Thorns and Roses saved me from my terrible slump. It took me a long time to read it but being back in Sarah J. Maas' writing is amazing. This lady knows how to use the words.

One of the more major things that happened in May has nothing at all to do with books but I'm so so so happy for it. I might have mentioned in passing somewhere in a past post that I had braces. For twelve years. Yes, 12. It was ridiculous. And to make matters worse, my orthodontist didn't give me a retainer after he took them off. Instead, I got a "positioner" which is basically a giant mouthpiece (think like what they use in sports only bulkier) that I was supposed to wear for as close to 24 hours a day as I could get. Basically, that didn't happen. I was a freshman in college and still working nights after class so for most of the day I wasn't wearing it. In the end, over time, my teeth reverted right back to how they were before braces. Now though, after diligently saving my money (and finding a capable orthodontist), I was able to get myself Invisalign and I started the process this month. I could not be happier with how it's going so far. I mean, it was a bit awkward at first because I had to figure out how to talk without lisping while I was wearing them. But now that I've gotten used to them, there's been no pain (like braces had) and I barely feel them anymore. I brush my teeth a lot now but that's the only difference. It's still going to take two years to straighten my teeth completely but I'm really happy with the way things are going so far.

BUUTTTT... The most major thing that happened is that I went to BookCon and it was freaking amazing!!! There was so much to do and see!! And books were everywhere - like literally everywhere and almost everywhere I stopped, a booth was handing out a free ARC or a tote or buttons or stickers, posters, chapter samplers... I brought so much stuff home this weekend. I don't know what I'm going to do with it all.

 All the things from BookCon

On Saturday, I met Frank Beddor author of the Through the Looking Glass trilogy which I read a while ago. I bought a copy of Hatter M. Far from Wonder which is book one of his spin-off graphic novel series surrounding Hatter Maddigan (aka his version of The Mad Hatter) and little deck of playing cards with all the characters. He signed the book and also signed a Hatter M. poster which he added for free. I also saw Shannon Hale who wrote a bunch of middle grade girl power princess books like Princess Academy. She was signing and giving away copies of her newest book for beginner readers, The Princess in Black, along with a little black face mask like Princess Magnolia and some stickers. (No shame: I read this during down time at work last week.) I also met Patrick Ness. I almost didn't meet him because by the time we got to his autographing line, it was technically capped because there weren't going to be enough books to give away. But I told the line organizer lady that I brought my own copy of A Monster Calls and she let us in. By the time we got there, there were still a few giveaway copies left so he was nice enough to sign my book from home and give me a copy of The Knife of Never Letting Go and signing that for me too. We also went to the Wands not Required! Exploration of Epic Fantasy for Readers Aged 10-110 panel with David Baldacci, Kevin Sands (debut author), Maggie Stiefvater, and Jackson Pearce. Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce stole the panel. They were hilarious and I really want to read their new book, Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures. I've also decided Maggie is my new author spirit animal. It was a done deal when she described her childhood self as "small and creepy who didn't like hugs."

Sunday was the day I planned everything I wanted to do around Sarah J. Maas. Sadly, it didn't go as well as planned but that was the day that I got almost all of the free things in the picture above. Judging from how Saturday went, my boyfriend and I planned to get there by about 9am. The showfloor didn't open until 10 so we assumed that gave us plenty of time to make it to the line for Sarah's first autographing. But what we didn't know was that they moved everything around on Sunday and let people start lining up for the autographing booths around 7am. Saturday was different - no one was allowed to line up for anything until after the showfloor opened. Needless to say, I missed out on getting my copy of ACOTAR signed which bummed me out but oh well. I also missed out on getting a Throne of Glass Litograph poster signed later in the day but I had a good reason for that. We went to the Fierce is my Middle Name Panel with Rae Carson, Charlaine Harris, and Sarah J. Maas instead and by the time we got out, the line was capped. I'm not too disappointed about that though because the panel was amazing. It was all about the fierce leading ladies these three authors created in their various books and was basically girl power galore. It was honestly extremely inspiring to hear them talk about their process and why they created such badass protagonists that wouldn't give up that hour of listening to them for anything. After that, we caught the tail end of John Leguizamo's panel about his new graphic autobiography. It was cool to see him but I was more excited for the Booktube 101 Panel that came after him with Kat, Christine, and Jesse from YouTube. They were just as awesome in person as they are in all of their videos.

All in all, I had an awesome time at BookCon and I'm so upset that it's moving to Chicago next year and I won't be able to go back. Hopefully in 2017, they'll come back to NYC so I can go again. Now without further ado, here's some pictures from over the weekend:

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