Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.

This week I am waiting on A Whole New World by Liz Braswell (September 1, 2015)

Summary From Good Reads

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.  To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again

Why I’m Waiting

This sounds awesome! A Disney retelling?  Bring it on! I love retellings, especially ones that change the story in unique ways.  I’m excited for Jasmine, it sounds like she’ll be a badass in this retelling.  And I hope Raja gets some awesome action too, make some use of a tiger side-kick!  Maybe Raja and Abu will team up in hilarious awesomeness!  There are endless possibilities with this; I can’t wait for September to read it!

The Burning Sky

by Sherry Thomas

Summary from good reads

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning. Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.

Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.

The Burning Sky—the first book in the Elemental Trilogy—is an electrifying and unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.

Thoughts on the book

I’ve had this book sitting around since my first trip to BEA when I’d gotten an ARC.  I can’t believe it’s been sitting in my room for two years and I never bothered to open it.  Lately I’ve gotten annoyed at the stacks of books all over the place that keep falling down, so I grabbed the first book I hadn’t read from the top of the largest pile and cracked it open.  I didn’t even bother reading the description – I hadn’t read it and the cover looked cool and fantasy-like, odds were good that I’d like it.  Later that night I finished it and promptly got the second in the series.

My Review

This book started with a paragraph stating what was happing, Archer Fairfax, a boy who attended Eton College, had broken his femur and was about to return to school  The next paragraph stated that everything in the former paragraph was a lie.  A very intriguing start, especially when you turn to chapter one and it takes place in a mage-world about a young girl who could control fire.  Then abruptly the book switches to a boy on a balcony seemingly being held prisoner before promptly switching back to the girl.

The book starts with so many things unexplained; it takes a little bit to figure out what is going on.  Personally these are my favorite books (The Golden Compass, Vampire Academy, and The Summer Prince just to cite a couple), I hate it when the author lays things out for you, I enjoy figuring out the world in which the characters.  If you don’t like these types of setups, just stick with it, it doesn’t take too long for things to start making sense.

Burning Sky is a whirlwind of magic, fantastical creatures, a horrible person that destroys people’s minds, political intrigue, 1800s British school shenanigans, and fairy tales.  I love practically every part of this book.  Iolanthe is exactly what you want out of a main character, with a touch of realism to her.

When she first finds out about her destiny she doesn’t want any part of it and leaves.  She is powerful and smart and values self-preservation.  However she is manipulated and returns to help Prince Titus.  It takes Iolanthe a while before she realizes that she really does want to help and that given a second change she wouldn’t abandon the cause.

Prince Titus takes a little bit to start liking.  When I first met him I felt bad for him, then I couldn’t understand why Iolanthe was being so awful to him, he helped her so much and asked her to help him.  Granted there is a great possibility that she would die doing what he asked, but she didn’t even stick around to get more information, she outright said no to her sovereign and left.  That’s about when I started to not like Titus so much, he is insanely manipulative, and always gets his way, no matter the cost.  He does redeem himself though, his intentions are good, but his execution of them is not.  He learns as the book goes on and he’s probably my favorite character.

The only part of this book that didn’t sit completely right with me is the love interest.  It seemed a little forced and predictable.  The only thing that made it more palatable is being able to get inside Titus and Iolanthe’s heads.  Titus was more of an infatuation; he wanted Iolanthe to love him because she was smart and gorgeous and would make her trusting him easier.   Iolanthe fell for him because he was handsome, her prince, extremely nice, and not to mention her savoir.  But then her feelings changed the more she got to know him.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, the plot is very cool, the settings are amazing (I’d love to go into the Crucible!), and the characters are pretty well developed and much more complex than you would initially think.  I’m giving this one a 10/10.  And now that my review is done I’m off to read The Perilous Sea!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Anna and the French Kiss

Summary from Goodreads

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend. 

Thoughts about the book

For my first review I wanted to do my favorite YA book, Anna and the French Kiss. This book made such an impression on me I remember everything about where I was and what I was doing when reading it, there's not many books I can say that about.  I attended Leaky Con in Chicago a few years ago and my good friend Nori from Nori's Closet convinced me to do the YA readers pass.  At the time I only knew one or two of the authors, so I diligently got a book or two from each of the authors there; Stephanie Perkins was one of these authors.  From the title (and the cover) I thought that I wouldn't enjoy the book so I saved it until near the end of the list.  I think I started it on the short plane ride to Chicago fully expecting to not mind having to put it down often and not having much time to read.  Boy was I wrong!  I couldn't stop reading, it was a problem (as it so often is for me)  I read the book entirely while waiting in lines for things at the con and was annoyed when I had to stop reading because someone was talking to me or I had to go into the even that I was waiting for.  I've since read the book many times and every time it is just as amazing, and every time it speaks to me in new ways.


The book starts with Anna devastated that she has to go to a Parisian boarding school for her senior year of college.  She just started an almost-relationship with a cute guy from work, Toph, she's never been separated from her best friend Bridgette, and she's the only one that pays attention to her allergy-ridden little brother, Seany.  Anna's parents bring her to France and to her horror leave her there.  She's all alone in a strange new city full of people that she can't even speak to.  Her dorm neighbor, Meredith saves her from isolation and she suddenly part of a small group of friends.  As the year goes on Anna's relationships with everyone in the group grow and ebb like any real-life relationships do.  The main relationship that the book is focused on is between Anna and her crush/friend St. Clair, but the book is not completely about that relationship, it touches on the relationship between best friends, the hurt that one can cause another and the love and understanding of each other that leads to forgiveness.

This book is so amazing to me because Perkins characters feel like real people, even the minor side characters.  Everyone in this book has a story to tell, it's a little unfortunate we only see a couple of those stories.  I could relate to all of the characters in different ways: Meredith suffering from unrequited love, Anna feeling completely out of place and not knowing how to go about fitting in and making new friends, St. Clair being a victim of complacency, Josh feeling abandoned when all his friends leave, Rashmi feeling left out as her friends grow around her rather than with her.  Each time I read this book I find myself thinking back on a time in my life when I was in similar situations. 

Perkins isn't only amazing at writing characters, her settings are amazing too.  When I read the book I felt like I was back in Paris with everyone, relaxing on the church steps, sitting in a quaint old movie theater, standing at Point Zero at Notre Dame.  

Everything in this book felt so real.  It was completely engrossing and nothing felt forced or had anything that felt out of character.  I give this book an 11/10.  It was beyond awesome.  Just writing this review makes me want to reread it for the umpteenth time!