February 25, 2016

Queen of Shadows - Sarah J. Maas

Title: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Pages: 648

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Owned
Goodreads rating: 
About: The queen has returned.
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…
She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

(This is your warning, there are spoilers ahead)

I don't even really know what I want to say about Queen of Shadows...I loved it.  I loved it even though there were plot things going on that I'm not 100% behind, but it's just so amazingly well written.  This book is really where all the pieces of this series start to come together and form a giant hellscape of a puzzle.  The action starts immediately, as opposed to in Heir of Fire, which felt like it just meandered for a long time.

Things I loved:
- Sam - I LOVE how much Aelin does for Sam in this book.  He's not even in the main series, but so much of this book was all about him.  And how could it not have been, with Aelin coming back to Rifthold, back to Arobynn...back to Celaena?  The scene at Sam's grave destroyed me.  (Also, I wonder how people that haven't read The Assassin's Blade feel about Sam.  Are they very confused? He's so important to the story and to Aelin.)  Can we talk about how she said Sam would've made a great king?  I weep openly.
- Manon - The baddest bitch.  Manon juggles so much with so little guidance and she really rises to the occasion in this one.  She's a fierce leader and I can't wait to see her continue being awesome in the future books (also her and Dorian, omg, heart eye emoji)
- Lysandra - This girl.  I love how her and Aelin's relationship has evolved.  She's become such a badass and a really important part of the team.
- Arobynn telling Aelin that everyone calls her a fire breathing bitch queen.  So good.

Things I didn't love:
- How little time we got to spend with Dorian (understandable, of course, because his body's been taken over by a Valg prince, but whatever, I missed him)
- Everyone being set up with a love interest by the end, so not necessary.  We really didn't need to shove Chaol and Nesryn together just so the matching pairs could march off into the sunset.  It felt a little sloppy.  I honestly think Chaol would need a lot of time to get past Celaena.
- Rowan.  In Heir of Fire I thought Rowan was boring, but fine.  In Queen of Shadows, Rowan becomes this pissy boyfriend who always needs to be in his girlfriend's space.  I honestly felt no romantic inklings from them in HOF, so when they got immediately infatuated in this it was a let down.  Their bond could have been so interesting without the romance, but now it's become just territorial, lusty nonsense.  I think Aelin needs more opposing viewpoints in her corner and Rowan doesn't provide that (but Chaol and Dorian were really good at that, just saying).  Ugh, I just don't like them together.  And I don't like Rowan.
- How stressed I was the whole time I was reading.  SO MUCH HAPPENS and I was a wreck for most of it.

So, yeah, Queen of Shadows was a five star read for me, even though there were definitely things I didn't like.  What did you think of it?  Are you as excited as I am for the next one?

February 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (63)

Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Pub Date: 3.8.2016
From goodreads.com: She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is. 

February 18, 2016

Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah - Erin Jade Lange

Author: Erin Jade Lange
Pages: 320
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads rating: 
About: "The Breakfast Club" gets a modern, high-stakes reboot in this story of four very different teens and a night that changes them forever. 

The Rebel: Once popular, Andi is now a dreadlocked, tattooed wild child.The Bully: York torments everyone who crosses his path, especially his younger brother.The Geek: Tired of being bullied, Boston is obsessed with getting into an Ivy League college. The Pariah: Choosing to be invisible has always worked for Sam . . . until tonight. 
When Andi, York, Boston, and Sam find themselves hiding in the woods after a party gets busted by the cops, they hop into the nearest car they see and take off—the first decision of many in a night that will change their lives forever. By the light of day, these four would never be caught dead together, but when their getaway takes a dangerously unpredictable turn, sticking together could be the only way to survive. 

I think I stopped reading the description for this one after the breakdown of the labels, because all I knew before I read it was that it was compared to The Breakfast Club.  I was confused by this almost immediately because the stakes in that movie are not high.  Like, yeah, maybe their lives are forever changed by that one Saturday detention.  However, The Breakfast Club doesn’t end in death (that we know of anyway) and it doesn’t end with Mr. Vernon terrorizing the kids and forcing them to run for their lives.
Sam, Andi, York, and Boston – these kids think they stole a cop car, they think they killed a cop, they took a long look at what their choices were and STILL drove this car over an hour away.  These kids made me so nervous.  You know who never did that to me?  The Breakfast Club. 
Once they got to the cabin I started to feel the comparison much more.  The cabin is definitely their Saturday detention moment.  The archetypes started emerging as you learned more about these characters and they learned more about each other.   It wasn’t as totally off base as I initially thought.
I really liked Sam’s backstory.  So often when a parent is into drugs in YA it is the main focus of the story.  ‘My mom is addicted to meth and we live in a trailer and I take care of my siblings because no one else will.’  That’s not Sam.  Sam’s mom is an addict, but she was also a country musician who had a modicum of success in Nashville.  She’s been in and out of jail for Sam’s whole life.  She’s made some bad decisions and that’s resulted in some really bad shit for Sam, but Sam also knows that her mom loves her and is trying.  It was a refreshing twist on the addict parent storyline.
Lange’s writing really shines.  I loved how the reveals happened.  She makes you believe you have a good grip on the story, but then flips everything on its head a little bit.  My favorite moment, and I think this book’s true Breakfast Club moment, its Judd Nelson throwing his fist in the air if you will, comes towards the end of the book when the three kids are out in the parking lot.  I don’t want to say more because it would be spoiling a whole lot, but it’s such a great parallel.

Although I was skeptical at first, this book really does earn its Breakfast Club comparison.  The world sees these kids as it wants to, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions: a rebel, a bully, a geek, and a pariah.  But they are so much more than that.  And, after a nightmare 24 hours, now they know it too.

February 17, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (62)

Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Pub Date: 3.1.2016
From goodreads.com: The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.
Equal parts tender, thrilling, and hilarious, A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy brimming with wit and edge-of-the-seat suspense.

February 16, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (94)

This week's topic is ten songs that I wish were books.  This is so right up my alley.  I love combining music and books (as seen here), so I had a lot of fun with this one.  (Also, this list almost ended up as ten Fall Out Boy songs that I wanted to see as books, so hit me up if you want to hear that list too.  Ugh, FOB is so good.)

Victorious - Panic! at the Disco
An all night epic party book, probably after a big game, where a ton of stuff happens and you spend the whole time trying to unravel the threads to find out how they connect

UGH! - The 1975
Have we re-circled back around to rich kid stories yet?  This one makes me think of somebody whose family went from being well off to not so well off and back again and what they learn about themselves in the process.

First Things First - Neon Trees
An epic road trip

Calling the World- Rooney
From the POV of the creepy stalker ex

Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars - Bon Jovi
Crazy small town love

T-Shirt Weather - Circa Waves
A summertime story with a cover that evokes sunshine

Problem - Natalia Kills
I need more bad bitches in my life

GINASFS - Fall Out Boy
The aftermath of a huge break-up

Giants - Matt Nathanson
Taking a big leap

Thank U - Alanis Morissette
Coming back together after a tragedy

What songs would you turn into books?

February 11, 2016

Remembrance - Meg Cabot

Title: Remembrance (Mediator 7)
Author: Meg Cabot
Pages: 338
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: ALA Midwinter 2016 (gifted, thanks Eileen!)
Goodreads rating: 

About: You can take the boy out of the darkness.
But you can’t take the darkness out of the boy.  All Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and since becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva).  But when she’s hired as a guidance counselor at her alma mater, she stumbles across a decade-old murder, and soon ancient history isn’t all that’s coming back to haunt her. Old ghosts as well as new ones are coming out of the woodwork, some to test her, some to vex her, and it isn’t only because she’s a mediator, gifted with second sight.  From a sophomore haunted by the murderous specter of a child, to ghosts of a very different kind—including Paul Slater, Suze’s ex, who shows up to make a bargain Suze is certain must have come from the Devil himself—Suze isn’t sure she’ll make it through the semester, let alone to her wedding night.  Suze is used to striking first and asking questions later. But what happens when ghosts from her past—including one she found nearly impossible to resist—strike first?  What happens when old ghosts come back to haunt you?  If you’re a mediator, you might have to kick a little ass. 

Check out my series rewind for the Mediator: pt 1  pt 2

* Spoilers beyond this point *

I didn't have to wait as long as most Mediator fans for this book, as I only read the series for the first time last month.  Nonetheless, I was super excited to get to spend more time with Suze (and Jesse)!  Remembrance takes place a little bit after Proposal: Suze is interning as a counselor at her alma mater (thanks to Father D) and hoping it will lead to a full time (read: paid) position while Jesse's doing his residency at a nearby hospital.  We get updated on the whole gang: Gina tried to make it in Hollywood for a bit and is now taking a break, working at CeeCee's aunt's coffee shop and living with Suze.  CeeCee's working for the town paper, writing the alumni newsletter, and still waiting for Adam to call (oh girl).  The stepbrothers are still around: David's at college, Brad married Debbie (shocking) and they have triplets, and Jake became the medical marijuana king of Carmel.  Of course, Paul is still around and he's still the worst, only now he's the worst with a shit ton of money.  

Speaking of Paul - he buys Suze's old house and all the land around it just so he can knock it down.  He wants to enact a curse on Jesse that makes him some kind of undead monster, just so he can blackmail Suze into being with him instead.  Dude, get the eff over it, she has never been interested in you.  (Okay, there was that one time that she was into the kissing, but she never actually liked him). 

The ghost: 

Lucia - Suze is counseling a student who cuts herself when she notices a little ghost girl following her around.  Lucia loses her ghostly shit when she sees Suze cleaning Bianca's cut and thinks she's hurting her.  She causes an earthquake at school and later tries to drown Suze in her apartment pool.  This little girl means business.  Lucia felt almost like a throwback to Heather from the first book, where the circumstances of the death may have been a little more serious than I would have expected from a Meg Cabot book.  

I loved that it was acknowledged that Suze is an adult now and can't just ignore the rules of the real world in order to help a ghost move on.  I also loved that Suze is still super impulsive and just does things how she thinks they need to be done.  She's not perfect and she doesn't pretend to be, she just wants to get shit done the best way she can figure out - even if that way is a little crazy.  The thing that drives me the most nuts in this whole series is that Suze has terrible communication problems.  If she just told Jesse half the shit that was going on ever the drama would not get as bad as it does.  I do appreciate though, that it is something that carries throughout the whole series.  

I'm so glad that I've spent the better part of two weeks catching up with this series so I could barrel right on into this new installment.  I'm super impressed by how there's no difference in tone from the older books to this one.  It's been 10 years!  I could understand if things felt a little different, but they don't and that's truly a testament to how well Meg Cabot knows her characters.  Fingers crossed we get to catch up with these crazy kids again sometime!

February 10, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (61)

Author: Jessica Khoury
Pub Date: 2.23.16
From goodreads.com: She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world... 
When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes. 
But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?
As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

February 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (93)

This week's topic is a Valentine's freebie, so I'm going to do my top ten YA OTPs.  I am a sucker for a good couple.  Like, you know that tumblr post that's all like, 'ROMANCE ME UP KIDDOS LET'S SEE SOME ASSHOLES FALL IN LOVE'?  Super me.  I have way too many OTPs, so this is just a sampling.

Who are your YA OTPs?  Are any of mine on your list?

February 4, 2016

Kill the Lights - a Bloodlines mix

There is not much I like more in this world than music.  There is a song for every mood and for every situation.  Music can express things that can't be put into words, but the best songs (for me) are the ones that echo the feelings that my favorite characters give me.  My Spotify playlists aren't moods, they're 'Emma as Dark One,' they're 'Celaena,' they're 'The Raven Cycle' and the simply titled 'Bitch.'

When I first read the Vampire Academy series, I knew that Adrian Ivashkov was a character that wouldn't leave me anytime soon.  And when he and Sydney got together, forget it, I was a goner.  The best thing about Sydney and Adrian is that they are two of the best written characters in their own right.  (Well, until the last two Bloodlines books, but I don't even want to go there.  The first four are basically perfection).  So obviously over the course of time my Adrian playlist filled itself out and I'm going to share it with you.  Now, it started out as an Adrian mix and kind of transformed into a Sydrian mix as it went along, but that's how their story is, right?  Anyway, if you enjoy it, let me know.

Wake Up // The Arcade Fire
We're just a million little gods causin' rainstorms
Turnin' every good thing to rust

R U Mine? // Arctic Monkeys
I go crazy 'cause here isn't where I want to be
And satisfaction feels like a distant memory
And I can't help myself all I wanna hear her say is are you mine?

Talk! // The 1975
Passing gramatical mistakes
Totally wrecked and polemic in the way he talks
Vocal sabbatical, delayed by churning out the same
Why do you talk so loud?

God of Wine // Third Eye Blind
And the siren's song that is your madness
Holds a truth I can't erase
All alone on your face

Wild Heart // The Vamps
Oh, oh, oh, she needs a wild heart
She needs a wild heart
I got a wild heart

Electricity // Arctic Monkeys
Darlin' tell me something I don't know
Be my baby, be my GTO

Kill the Lights // Matt Nathanson
I found religion at the record store
I found heaven on your kitchen floor
You be stunning, baby, I'll be stunned
Keep glowing, I'll follow your explosions

February 3, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (60)

Author: Heidi Heilig
Pub Date: 2.16.16

 Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.

February 2, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (92)

This week's topic is top ten historical settings you'd love to see.

1. Revolutionary War New England

I had a conversation with a friend the other day that sent me searching for YA Revolutionary War books only to find that there aren't many.  I enlisted my sister's help to look further and she came up with the same answer.  She thinks that we'll probably see a jump in this time  because of the popularity of Hamilton.

2. American Suffragettes

I loved A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller, but I want to see YA take on the American Suffragettes.

3. 60's Surf Culture

I have always loved the Beach Boys and Frankie & Annette.  I want a beach blanket book with three dimensional characters and a totally bitchin' soundtrack.

4. The 90's music scene

A time before social media,  before you could put your band on Myspace or Youtube and hope you caught someone's eye.  What was it like when you could only interact with your favorite bands at their shows?  (I mean, I know, I lived it)

5. The 60's British music scene

Similar to the last, but with accents.

What time periods do you guys want to see more of?

February 1, 2016

Series Rewind - The Mediator series part 2

The Mediator by Meg Cabot

Suze gets a summer job at a country club babysitting an annoying kid whose family doesn't like him that much and he doesn't like to leave their room.  Turns out he's a little baby mediator.  Also, Jesse's ex reappears with a vengeance.  Oof, it's called REST in peace, honey, relax would you?  While doing some renovations in the backyard, Andy digs up Jesse's body and Jesse - gasp - disappears.  Suze loses it a little and decides to get herself exorcized to go find him.

The ghosts: 
Jorge - a gardener at the club.  The kid Suze babysits (Jack) sees him and admits that he can see ghosts.  Jorge just wants the rosary back that his sister took from their mother.  
Maria de Silva Diego - Jesse's former fiance shows up with a knife to Suze's throat while she's sleeping.  She warns her to tell Andy to stop the digging in the backyard and to hide the letters that have already been found.  Suze does basically the opposite of those things and Maria starts her reign of terror.
Diego - basically does Maria's dirty work, the hand to hand combat.
Jesse - Oh man, Jesse.  At about mid-book  Jesse disappears and Suze assumes that, even though he said he wouldn't leave if his body was found, his business is finished.  We come to find out that Maria tricked Jack into exorcising Jesse and Suze kind of loses her shit.  She wants Jack to exorcise her (have I mentioned that Jack is eight?), but Father Dom stops her.  He then grudgingly agrees to exorcise her - the good Christian way - and she finds Jesse.  She also finds Jack's older brother, Paul, in the in-between and he tries to keep them there - permanently.  This book ends with the long awaited kiss between Suze and Jesse (finally)!  My favorite Jesse moment in this book is when he finds Suze sleeping in David's room instead of her own, hiding from Maria, with an arsenal of weapons in the bed.

Suze is still recovering from her trip to exorcism land.  Paul, another mediator (kind of), has conned his parents into letting him live with his grandpa so he can be a pain in Suze's ass full time.  He tells her that he knows a bunch of mediator stuff that even Father Dom doesn't know and she should make-out train with him.  AND SHE LISTENS.  Girl, I have never been more disappointed in you.  Also, she definitely lies to Jesse about Paul moving to town, which I'm not into.  In other news, Suze is up for reelection for class VP and the stepbros throw a little kegger when the parents are out of town.

The ghosts:
Craig - is haunting his brother after a catamaran accident that they were both in.  Craig believes himself to be the better swimmer and thinks his brother should be dead instead of him.
Biker Bob - Paul apparently has ghosts working for him.  Bob tries to keep Suze from leaving Paul's house, doesn't succeed, and Suze walks a very long distance, barefoot, to get away from Paul.
Jesse - One step forward, two steps back.  At the end of the last book Jesse and Suze kissed.  Now, they seem to be back to just roommates.  Come ooooonnnnnnnnnnn.  And THEN, Jesse goes and talks to Father Dom who convinces him to move out of Suze's room and into the rectory at school.  Father Dom WTF???  We don't get enough smooching as is, with him moving out to the school it'll never happen.  We also get hella jealous Jesse in this one, punching the crap out of Paul and I have to say, I approve this message.  Also, Suze and Jesse FINALLY TALK ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS.  And the peasants rejoice.

It seems that Paul has figured out that some mediators (shifters like him and Suze) can also shift through time.  Yikes.  He decides that instead of forcing Jesse to move on to get him away from Suze, he's going to go back in time and save his life.  This way he'll never become a ghost and he'll never meet Suze, much less fall in love with her.  Suze obviously doesn't want that to happen, so she had to find some way to stop Paul.

The ghosts:
Jesse - So this book is really all about Jesse.  He and Suze are together, but still having communication issues (grrr).  When he finds out Paul's plan he tells Suze that he can take care of himself (which she then disregards, of course).  Suze shifts back to the 1800s and gets to see Jesse in the flesh.  Once she meets him she decides she can't not save his life.  Diego comes for him, they fight, Diego falls.  Suze gets trapped in a burning barn and Jesse runs in to save her.  In the midst of escaping the fire Suze shifts back to her time, accidentally taking Jesse with her.  His body can't live in this time and they bring him to the hospital unconscious.  There Jesse's ghost reunites with his body and he wakes up a real live person!  And takes Suze to the dance!  And Father Dom is going to get him into college so he can one day become a doctor like he always dreamed of!  What a great end to the series (for now).
Mr. Simon - Suze's dad comes back and tells Suze to let Paul save Jesse's life, that he deserves another chance.  He also tells her that he doesn't want her to go back and try to save him either.  At the end of the book, he comes to the dance and we find out that he sent ghost Jesse to reunite with his body.  Suze gets to thank him and then he moves on for good.



It's Valentine's Day and we're catching up with our favorite mediator.  Now in her last year of college, she's studying to become a school counselor.  AND she's still with Jesse (heart eye emoji), who's in med school a little ways away.  These two crazy kids decided to not celebrate Valentine's Day, so Suze goes out to deal with a ghost who's causing some mayhem that people are starting to notice.  Suze can't quite get the ghost under control so she goes home to regroup and who does she find in her room?  Jesse was trying to surprise her with a romantic picnic and a RING IN HIS POCKET.  They tackle the ghost problem together and Suze accepts Jesse's proposal.

The ghosts:
Mark Rodgers - destroyer of flowers left at his girlfriend's grave and people are starting to notice.  Suze tries to get him to move on, but accidentally lets slip that everyone thinks he caused the accident that killed him and his girlfriend.  He gets super mad and causes a big storm, then leaves to go find the person who really caused the accident.

So that's it for our first series rewind!  I had a blast reading this Meg Cabot series that I'd never read before, and I'm so looking forward to Remembrance.  Do you have any suggestions for future series that you'd like to see?