Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 2015 Challenge Recap



I definitely doubled the amount of books I read for the Flights of Fantasy challenge this month compared to January. In terms of fantasy books, I prefer reading urban fantasy and low fantasy. I am very picky when it comes to high fantasy. I know I mentioned about reading Fairest by Marissa Meyer and Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard for February but I acquired them from the library a couple days ago. I will be reading Fairest this weekend. You can check my intro post about Flights of Fantasy here and you can check out January's recap here.

Flights of Fantasy books I've read in February 2015

 



I have been doing pretty well with the Dive into Diversity challenge. I have continually been able to find diversity reads without purposely looking for books with diversity in them. I enjoy reading about all types of diversity whether it be about nationality, different socioeconomic classes, religion, ethnicity, disability, mental illness, etc. Please check out my intro to the Dive Into Diversity challenge here and you can check out January's recap here.

Dive Into Diversity books I've read in February 2015

 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pages to Tea (2)

P A G E S  to  T E A

I'm not sure if you know but I am a big tea fanatic. I have so many bags and tins of tea I probably can create a great wall of tea. I love how teas have different properties. Some teas can be energizing and some teas can be calming. My favorite time to enjoy a cuppa is when I am reading a book. Hence why I am showing you some awesome book and tea pairings.

This edition of Pages to Tea is more character based but all three pairings involve the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. 



It wouldn't be Will without a cuppa of this robust black tea. Full in flavor, this tea is fitting for Will. At first the English Breakfast tea may seem bold, but the flavor is not overpowering. Soften the toasty boldness with a bit of milk. The honey notes tone down the briskness.


Jem is the Yin to Will's Yang. Adagio's Silver Needle is one of the most revered of Chinese teas. It's a delicate white tea with honeysuckle floral fragrance. It's warmed sugar sweetness and a subtle hint of white grape is refreshing on the palate. This exquisite light tea can be drunk straight and can be enjoyed in multiple infusions. Also, I find it interesting how Yin Zhen is similar to Yin Fen.



This is a contemporary twist to the original Earl Grey tea. This classic blend has notes of enchanting lavender that perfectly complements the floral aromas and citrus notes of Earl Grey. The lavender is calming while the Earl Grey is an exhilarating black tea with a citrus sweetness. It's the perfect variation of Earl Grey for Tessa Gray.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

BEA (Part One): Pre-BEA Tips


This year Massachusetts received a lot of snow and I cannot wait for all of it to melt. It's crazy how there are still 8 feet walls surrounding many towns and cities. In 3 months, it will be May and you know what that means. Yes, BookExpo America (BEA) will take place Wednesday, May 27, 2015 to Friday, May 29, 2015. BEA is the leading book and author event for the North American publishing industry. This year BEA will be a separate event from BookCon. Based on last year's BookCon, I will not attend BookCon this year due to the disorganization of the event and the overselling of badges. I am so done with the pushing and crowding of a popular culture/comic con event.

Last year was my first time attending BEA. I ended up staying in New York City from Wednesday to Sunday for the Thursday to Saturday event. I learned a lot from my trip last year and decided to compile a list of things I learned.

Tip #1: Purchasing a Badge

Definitely purchase your badge before May 8th. You want to take advantage of the Early Bird Price. Check out to see what badge category you fall under. Bloggers are under Publishing Professionals for $184 but if you purchase a pass for the BEA Bloggers Conference, it also includes a BEA badge. You can attend two events for $152. I am attending BEA as an Educator so I will not be attending the Blogger's Conference. If you live near by the Javits Center and can't attend all three days of BEA, you can opt for a day pass for a reduced price. You can register here for BEA.

Tip #2: Author Breakfasts

Once you decide what category you fall under and purchase your pass, you might want to consider whether you want to attend any of the breakfasts. The Adult Books & Author Breakfast and the Children's Book & Author Breakfast guests are already up on the BEA website. There are three tiers for each breakfast depending on what types of seats you prefer. The breakfasts do sell out so consider purchasing a ticket sooner than later. The breakfasts do coincide with the opening of the floor so that might be something you want to think about before purchasing a ticket if you enjoy the opening madness of the floor.

Tip #3: Reader Passes

Another add on you might want to think about is a reader pass. There are two reader passes you can choose from. A Reader Pass allows you to skip to the front of an autographing line of your choice. However, if the author requires a ticket, you must have both the ticket and the skip the line pass. An Avid Reader Pass includes a skip the line pass and also 10 preselected autograph author tickets. Instead of waking up super early to line up to get tickets for ticketed authors, you will receive the tickets with your badge. Whether you purchase a Reader Pass or an Avid Reader Pass, you will receive your skip the line pass when you pick up your badge. The skip the line pass can only be used in the Autographing area. You cannot use these tickets for in booth autograph signings.

Tip #4: Travel and Transportation

So you're all set with registering for BEA online. Now you need to think about travel. I live about 4-5 hours away from New York City so I usually opt for the bus or the train. I know some people live further away and will fly into New York while others live fairly close to the Javits Center and will either drive or take the subway and then walk to the venue. Last year I took a Bolt Bus from South Station, Boston, MA. This year I may opt to take the Amtrak from South Station, Boston, MA. The ride is quicker on the train and definitely more comfortable. Although the bus is more affordable, I don't mind spending a little extra money for the train this year. If you are planning to book a flight, I would suggest price checking for flights to New York. If you have frequent flyer points, even better!

In terms of getting around the city, the subway is super efficient. One ride is $2.50. A 7 day unlimited pass is $30.00.  So if you plan to ride the subway at least 12 times, I would suggest purchasing a weekly pass.You can check out more about the MetroCard fares to see what works for you. In terms of traveling to the Javits Center, definitely check out this shuttle bus schedule. BEA provides complimentary shuttles that services Penn Station, Grand Central Station and a multitude of hotels.

Tip #5: Lodging

You made it to New York. Where will you stay? There are many options in New York City in terms of hotels. If you want to be close to the Javits and Manhattan, check out the BEA hotel list. They have some good deals on rooms and the BEA shuttle will have stops near most of the hotels listed. If you belong to certain hotel rewards programs, you might be able to get a discounted price for a hotel room or you might be able to get free rooms. Another option is to look for hotels outside of New York City Some attendees will stay in neighboring New Jersey or Connecticut. The only downside is getting up super early and finding away to get into the city whether it be by taxi or train. Definitely take advantage of the ferry if you decide to stay in New Jersey.

If you want to cut costs, definitely find roommates. Not only will you only have to pay a portion of the room costs, you will have a buddy or two to roam around the city with you and at BEA.

AirBnB might be something you might want to check out if you are looking for a place to sleep. People will rent out a room or an apartment for a low price per day. This is great if you plan to stay in New York City for the week. You can get a decent sized apartment for really cheap. It's very cost efficient especially when you have multiple people chipping in toward the apartment rental.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top Ten Favorite Heroines From Books


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten favorite heroines from books. The following bookish heroines are in no particular order. Some of the heroines I mention in this post has been also mentioned in a Christmas Nice List from December 2014. The descriptions will be the same or similar for said heroines.

1. Tessa Gray from the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare is caring, courageous and loves to read. She is smart-witted especially during difficult times and she uses her gift as an advantage to infiltrate amongst others. Tessa was the only one that was able to kill Mortmain.


2. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling because without her, Harry Potter would have not succeeded within the 7 books in the series. With Hermione's wit, bravery and quick thinking, Hermione helped Harry Potter take down Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Also, Hermione founded the Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare. She fights for rights of all muggles, witches, wizards and magical creatures.

Image from imgarcade.com
3. Sydney Sage from the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead is very intelligent, a good strategist and at first she is closed minded. She is responsible and takes her job seriously. I love how her views toward Moroi and Dhamphirs change over the course of several books. She becomes more open minded about becoming friends with Moroi and Dhamphirs and even shares a romantic relationship with Moroi Adrian Ivashkov. She fights for her beliefs even if it means going against the Alchemists, her father and her sister. Also, Sydney even accepts human magic over time.


4. Rosemarie (Rose) Hathaway from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead is feisty and strong willed. Although she is sometimes impulsive and a smartass, Rose has protective instincts to the point where she does anything to find Dimitri when he was turned into a Strigoi and she does what she can to help Lissa. She is a talented Guardian and can fight to protect herself and others.

Image from bookloversunshine.blogspot.com
5. Professor Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a strong woman. Though she is strict, she will bend the rules when necessary. When people who she cares about are threatened, she makes sure to protect them. She comforts Professor Trelawney when Trelawney is let go by Umbridge. Professor McGonagall protects Hogwarts when it was under attack by Voldemort and his Death Eaters. I love when McGonagall duels Snape! She takes control!

Image from harrypotter.wikia.com
6. Kyla Davis aka Rain aka Lucy Connor aka Riley Kain from the Slated series by Teri Terry has been lied to ever since she was given away. She lives under different alias trying to find who she is. She has never done anything wrong and didn't deserve to be slated. However, Kyla finds the truth. During the series, Kyla has always wanted to help others who have been slated or who have gone missing.

Image from tumblr.com
7. Charlotte Branwell from the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. She is the former head of the London Institute and is the first female Consul. She is responsible and a great leader. Even when others didn't believe in her, she fought back and proved her worth. Charlotte is motherly and takes in those who need a place to stay. She is also very trustworthy.

Image from fanforum.com
8. Silver Blackthorn from the Reckoning by Kerry Wilkinson questions authority and is good with technology. She plots with other offerings at King Victor's castle in order to take control. She is very likable and is able to stage an act so promising that I didn't even see it coming in the novel.


9. Annabeth Chase is a demigod and the daughter of Athena. She is smart, loves architecture, is strategic and is very analytical. She is my favorite demigod in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. Annabeth is one of the seven to defeat Gaea and with her wisdom, the demigods succeeded in taking out Gaea for good.

Image from imgarcade.com
10. Tris Prior from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth is selfless, determined and is curious. She questions the authority in her own way and uncovers the truth of their motives. She is protective of ones she loves and is willing to sacrifice herself for the good of mankind.

Image from Divergenlife.com

Monday, February 23, 2015

Dove Arising by Karen Bao

Title: Dove Arising
Author: Karen Bao
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication date:  February 24, 2015
Pages: 336
Source/format: e-ARC from Penguin's First to Read Program

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Phaet Theta has lived her whole life in a colony on the Moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar.


Then her mother is arrested.

The only way to save her younger siblings from the degrading Shelter is by enlisting in the Militia, the faceless army that polices the Lunar bases and protects them from attacks by desperate Earth-dwellers. Training is brutal, but it’s where Phaet forms an uneasy but meaningful alliance with the preternaturally accomplished Wes, a fellow outsider.

Rank high, save her siblings, free her mom: that’s the plan. Until Phaet’s logically ordered world begins to crumble...

Suspenseful, intelligent, and hauntingly prescient, Dove Arising stands on the shoulders of our greatest tales of the future to tell a story that is all too relevant today.

My Thoughts:

Can I say that I am sad the cover art changed? I love the previous one. I love the shades of blue. I'm not saying the current one is bad but I have seen so many covers with the moon the background and want to see something unique. The blue one is mysterious. It makes you think.

Phaet (pronounced "Fate") lives on a lunar colony on the moon. Phaet's grandmother once lived in China and the United States before moving to a lunar base due to cataclysmic flooding, civil war and economic turmoil on Earth. Phaet lost her dad nine years ago and she is about to lose her mother.

Image from Book Depository
Due to Pheta's mom being quarantined with a medical condition, Pheta and her siblings, Cygnus and Anka, will lose their home and must relocate to the undesirable Shelter unless Pheta finds another way to support the family. She only receives very little money from being a part-time agricultural assistant. Pheta has 20 days to cover dues, medical bills and rent. She will have to leave her best friend Umbriel and her dreams of being a bioengineer.

At the young age of 15-years-old, Phaet enlists in the Militia in hopes to earn enough money to pay off debt and to protect her family. This reminded me of Katniss in Hunger Games and how she volunteers in order to protect Prim. By Phaet enlisting in the Militia, she is volunteering in order to protect Cygnus, Anka and her mother. Just like Katniss, Phaet is not that talkative and her personality can be off-putting at first. This changes over the course of the book.

Once cleared to enter the Militia, Phaet starts her training. Phaet reminds me of how Tris trains in the Dauntless faction in Divergent. She is smaller than the rest of the group but she is quick and uses certain techniques to her advantage. I love how Phaet grows attached to the dagger. She describes it how it's designed just for her. It's small, silver and silent. The dagger becomes symbolic later in the novel.

Wes gives her advice to stay low when she takes on the giant, Jupiter. Wes reminds me of how Tobias gives advice to Tris during training. There is no romance in this book but this could change in future books. I like how there are hardly any romantic interactions in Dove Arising. I was able to focus more on the plot and character development. It is possible that Phaet will either end up with Wes or her childhood friend, Umbriel, in the future but for the first book, no romance is fine by me.

Although Dove Arising is similar to Divergent due to the training, there is more teamwork involved in the book. There is a lot of betrayal and back stabbing as well. Phaet has to place in the top 7 to rescue her mother. I actually disliked her mother in the novel. Phaet gives up her dreams in order to save her mom but her mom is furious that Phaet joined the Militia. Phaet only joined in order to save her mother and her family. Phaet's mother was quite selfish in Dove Arising since she put her family second and her agenda first. I didn't think some of the dialogue between Phaet and the mother is realistic. Some of their reactions didn't seem normal.

What I love about this book is how Phaet matures throughout the novel. She starts as a quiet person who doesn't talk much but she soon grows to become close to a select number of trainees. Phaet can be a leader when it's necessary. She is selfless and cares about others first. This is quite opposite from her mother. I love how Phaet's bunkmates are of different ethnicities. Nash is half Saudi, a quarter Nigerian and a quarter Jamaican while Vinasa is part Indian and part Irish. Phaet and her instructor, Yinha, share the same heritage which creates a bond between them. However, there are some instances of racism, gender inequality and social inequality on the Moon which can be seen in certain cases of dialogue and actions.

The Committee reminds me of Big Brother from 1984. Both are always listening and watching the masses. They use surveillance devices to monitor their citizens' every move. They know what you say and what you do. I assume we will learn more about the government's secrets in the future books.

I praise Karen Bao for breaking stereotypes. Phaet wants to be a bioengineer. Dove Arising shows how girls are interested in science. Phaet also enlists into the Militia. I assume girls will feel empowered by reading about how females can do whatever males can do. Bao wrote Dove Arising when she was 17-years-old. She did an amazing job with the world building of the lunar world. I would have never guessed that she's a debut author and I am looking forward to the next book in the Dove Chronicles. Dove Arising is the first book in the trilogy.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

Title: Love, Rosie
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date:  December 1, 2006
Pages: 512
Source/format: Paperback/Library

Rating: ☆☆☆  

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Sometimes you have to look at life in a whole new way...

From the bestselling author of PS, I Love You comes a delightfully enchanting novel about what happens when two people who are meant to be together just can't seem to get it right.


Rosie and Alex are destined for one another, and everyone seems to know it but them. Best friends since childhood, their relationship gets closer by the day, until Alex gets the news that his family is leaving Dublin and moving to Boston. At 17, Rosie and Alex have just started to see each other in a more romantic light. Devastated, the two make plans for Rosie to apply to colleges in the U.S.

She gets into Boston University, Alex gets into Harvard, and everything is falling into place, when on the eve of her departure, Rosie gets news that will change their lives forever: She's pregnant by a boy she'd gone out with while on the rebound from Alex.

Her dreams for college, Alex, and a glamorous career dashed, Rosie stays in Dublin to become a single mother, while Alex pursues a medical career and a new love in Boston. But destiny is a funny thing, and in this novel, structured as a series of clever e-mails, letters, notes, and a trail of missed opportunities, Alex and Rosie find out that fate isn't done with them yet.

From the gifted author of PS, I Love You comes this charming, romantic, addictively page-turning novel that will keep readers laughing and guessing until the very last page.

My Thoughts:

The first book I read by Cecelia Ahern was P.S. I Love You and I was meh about it. I gave Love, Rosie a try sometime a bit after the publication release. This is my second time reading this book. I loved the book when I first read it and only remembered bits and pieces of the plot. I heard another version of a film adaptation was in the works and I wanted to reread the book before the movie is released. The original name for the book is Where Rainbows End (Ireland). The US versions are Rosie Dunne and Love, Rosie.

All I can say is that I love the letter, e-mail and instant messaging format of the book. It makes it easy and fun to read. At 516 pages, the book flies by super quickly due to the formatting. Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart are destined to be together ever since they are little. All those little fights about not being able to go to birthday parties to fights about significant others show that they both care about each other. They may not know that they are soul mates at first but the readers do. I love seeing their friendship blossom to love.

I was super excited when both Rosie and Alex moved to Boston. Because I am originally from the Boston area and currently reside north of Boston, Massachusetts, I can picture Harvard and Boston University clearly in my head. I don't want to spoil other parts of the book but this is such a cute and fun read. The book starts out when Rosie and Alex are little kids and it goes through a chronological timeline to when they are older with families and established careers. This book is a roller coaster of emotions.

If you are looking for a cute and fun contemporary read, pick up Love, Rosie. I highly suggest reading the book before seeing the film if you plan on seeing the film. You know the book is always better than the film anyways.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Book Related Problems I Have


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten related book related problems we have. The following book nerd problems are in no particular order.

1. Book Buying is a major problem for me. I need to stop buying books and read the books I have first. I don't like putting myself on a book buying ban so I will put myself on a book buying limit.

Image from tumblr.com
2. Indecisiveness when choosing what book to read next or what book to buy next is another problem. I want to read and buy so many books that I can't just narrow it down to just one. I am also a mood reader which doesn't help if I make a TBR list for the month. Usually I just scrap the the TBR list because I never follow it.

3. Sleep deprivation from reading into the wee hours of the night is a common occurrence. Sometimes I just can't put the book down and will read until I have to force myself to get some shut-eye. The book must be good if I can't put if down, right?

Image from themetapicture.com
4. Finishing chapters is a must for me most of the time. It is hard for me to stop reading mid-chapter.

5. Dog-earing pages is a big no no! Just no, please!

6. Folding back a cover of a book is definitely a huge no no! I cringe everytime I see someone bend back the cover of a paperback.

7. Finding a comfortable place to read is somewhat difficult. I cannot sit in one position for a long period of time before my legs cramp out or my back starts hurting.

Image from the Snitchseeker.com
8. Horrible film adaptations of books make me sad especially if I love the books. The casting is so important for making a great movie.

9. Cracked spines in paperbacks bother me but it's so hard not to crack a spine if the book is 450+ pages like some of the Harry Potter books. I prefer hardbacks if books have a lot of pages. Less damage to books makes me happy.

10. Missing a bus stop or train stop because I can't stop reading my book. Reading one more page won't hurt, right?

Image from greylabyrinth.com

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Title: The Sin Eater's Daughter
Author: Melinda Salisbury
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication date:  February 24, 2015
Pages: 320
Source/format: ARC from Cara Bertrand

Rating: ☆☆☆

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.
She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

My Thoughts:

Twylla is a commoner and is taken in by Royalty because she is goddess embodied by the daughter of Lord of the Sun and the Empress of Darkness. Poison runs in her blood and her touch kills. Her job is of an executioner of those who commit treason against the Kingdom of Lormere. Because of being Daunen Embodied, the Queen believes Twylla serves the royal court only. Twylla is a prisoner in the castle. She has no free will but things change when Lief becomes one of her guardsmen.

When I read the description of Twylla it reminded me of a more reserved Merida with the red hair and the green eyes living in a medieval setting. However, Twylla lacks the daring and fierceness of Merida. Tywlla is the Queen's puppet. The Queen uses Twylla like a weapon. If Twylla doesn't agree to the Queen's demands, Twylla's family will be cut from rations.

One of my favorite characters of the book is the Queen. The Queen actually is reminiscent of the queen in The Young Elites. Both have their own agenda and they use people as pawns to do their bidding. Both are manipulative and wear the pants in the relationship. The Queen doesn't take no for an answer and almost always gets her way. Her character makes the story. The Queen added the action and suspense that I need in a book.

Melinda Salisbury does an excellent job with the world building. However, I wish I knew more about the history of the neighboring kingdoms. The beginning of the novel starts quite strong but the instalove killed it. I am one who is not fond of instalove and I was hoping the relationship in this book will blossom over time. Just based on description alone, Twylla falls for Lief practically right after she meets him. I feel bad for Merek, the Prince, because he has grown fond of Twylla. He treats her fairly well.

The beginning and the ending make the novel. Without both, the novel is lackluster. There is a lot of description and back story in the beginning but I love the ending. The middle, however, needs work and I feel like it could have been trimmed down. I expected Twylla to be a strong female character but instead I find her complaining and whining a lot in the novel.

I plan to read the next novel in the series to see what happens next but I hope the next installment has more vitality.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

Title: The Third Twin
Author: C.J. Omololu
Publisher: Delacorte
Publication date:  February 24, 2015
Pages: 336
Source/format: e-ARC from Netgalley

Rating: ☆☆ 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 

Identical twins. Identical DNA. Identical suspects. It's Pretty Little Liars meets Revenge in this edge-of-your-seat thriller with a shocking twist.

When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia's guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything. The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they'd never, ever be with in real life.

Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect: Alicia. The girl who doesn't exist. As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer…or Alicia is real.

My Thoughts:

I love the concept of the novel but there were certain parts of The Third Twin that aren't believable. At times I couldn't get into the book. There are some twists in the plot line that will keep you guessing.  Lexi and Ava would always blame on Alicia, the third twin, when things go wrong. She is the scapegoat. But then a guy turns up dead. No more fun and games for the twins anymore.

I was hoping on more character development of the main characters, but instead I get long drawn out mystery with characters who are mediocre. I understand that most mysteries/thrillers are focused on finding the culprit, but I believe a good story also needs good characters.

If you are looking for a quick thriller read, The Third Twin might do but it wasn't my cup of tea.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Dearest by Alethea Kontis

Title: Dearest
Author: Alethea Kontis
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication date:  February 3, 2015
Pages: 288
Source/format: ARC from BEA 2014

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

“A fabulous fairy-tale mashup that deserves hordes of avid readers. Absolutely delectable.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review of award-winning series debut Enchanted

Readers met the Woodcutter sisters (named after the days of the week) in Enchanted and Hero. In this delightful third book, Alethea Kontis weaves together some fine-feathered fairy tales to focus on Friday Woodcutter, the kind and loving seamstress. When Friday stumbles upon seven sleeping brothers in her sister Sunday’s palace, she takes one look at Tristan and knows he’s her future. But the brothers are cursed to be swans by day. Can Friday’s unique magic somehow break the spell?

My Thoughts:

We heard about Sunday's story in Enchanted and Saturday's journey in Hero. Now it's Friday's turn in Dearest. Friday is one of the Woodcutter sisters and when I found out Dearest is dedicated to Friday, I was beyond excited because I get to hear her story. After all, she is one of my favorite Woodcutter sisters. Friday is the child who is loving and giving. She is selfless, caring and an accomplished seamstress. Friday's passion for caring for her loved ones fuels her. Her caring heart becomes her strength.

Dearest is loosely based off a blend of Six Swans and The Goose Girl. After Saturday calls upon an ocean in Hero, Friday is there to help those in Arilland who are affected by the great big flood. She meets Tristan and his siblings and find out about a curse.

The character development and originality are excellent in Dearest. Kontis does a fantastic job with creating a character's voice. With so many characters, it's important to have an established voice for each character in order to tell characters apart from one another.

Because Dearest is a fairytale, there is a little bit of action, a little bit of romance and of course a little bit of finding yourself. I love how whimsical the novel is just like its predecessors. I am biased about instalove in novels but because Dearest is a fairytale retelling, I'll let it slide. I am very picky about fairytale retellings but I love how Alethea Kontis makes quintessential fairytales her own. Her stories are magical and quite frankly she is pretty magical herself!

Although I enjoyed Enchanted the most out of the three Woodcutter fairytales, Dearest is a close second. I highly suggest it to those who love the magic of a good fairytale. I hope Kontis considers writing a novel about Thursday the pirate queen because that will be an incredible story to read.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten things we like/dislike when it comes to romance in books. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of ten things to list but listed as many as possible.

LIKES

1. Relatability 
When I can relate to a book, it is easier for me to enjoy and to finish a book. When I am able to relate to a book, a bond is formed. It's like the author knows me and is trying to tell his/her story of something that I know. It's like a friendship and I can connect to them.

2. Believability
Sometimes when I read a book, some actions are far fetched. It's important for me to read a book where I can believe things can happen. When I believe, I am more inclined to finish the book. Is the romance realistic? Are the actions and dialogue sensible?

3. Diversity
It's important for romances not to be centered around the typical relationship you find on TV or in a movie. I love seeing romances between different genders, ethnicities, cultures, ages, etc. It is more realistic seeing two people who accept each other as they are even though they are different from each other. Love is love. Love has no rules.

DISLIKES

4. Instalove
This is my #1 pet peeve when it comes to romance in books. I absolutely despise instalove because it's not realistic. No one falls head over heels at first glance. I am sorry. It just doesn't happen.

5. Love Triangles
Certain love triangles bother me especially when the girl can't decide what guy she wants to pursue. It shouldn't be hard to decide who to pick. Stop being indecisive and pick a guy. I think the only love triangle I support is Tessa-Will-Jem from the Infernal Devices series because their triangle was different from others. All three of them share a special bond. If you read the series, you know what I mean.

6. Cheating
I am against cheating in general so reading about it makes me cringe. Please end a relationship before pursuing another.

NEITHER LIKE OR DISLIKE

7. Unrequited love
In terms of romance in books, no one wants to read about unrequited love. It's sad that one party loves someone and the other party doesn't reciprocate but it happens all the time. It's realistic and believable and it can work in some books.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Les Misérables (Manga Classics)

Title: Les Misérables (Manga Classics)
Author: SunNeko Lee (Art), Crystal Silvermoon (Adaptation), Stacy King (Goodreads Author) (English Script), Victor Hugo (Original Story)
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Publication date:  August 19, 2014
Pages: 337
Source/format: e-ARC from Netgalley

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Adapted for stage and screen, loved by millions, Victor Hugo's classic novel of love and tragedy set in 19th century France is reborn in this fantastic new manga edition!

Gorgeous and expressive art brigns to life the unforgettable stories of Jean Valjean, Inspector Javert, and the tragic Fantine in this epic adaptation of Les Misérables! 


My Thoughts:

I love this manga rendition of Les Misérables. It would be ideal to have students read the manga after watching the musical or reading the original classic. The manga will tie in nicely with curriculum in an English high school class. Not only will they be able to enjoy a classic but they can learn to read a manga from back to front and from right to left. However, on the flip side, the manga will also appeal to teens who aren't big fans of reading. I believe this manga will encourage teens to read Les Misérables if they haven't read it already.

The drawings of Cosette are my favorite. The artwork is pretty typical of manga and I do like the artwork for the most part. However, I didn't like the hatching and the black borders because it was hard to see the images as a whole. The hatching in the background is the worst. My eyes hurt from staring at the page. I also dislike the black rings around some of the thought bubbles. I rather have the bubbles be bolded instead of a feathered black. Thank goodness the hatching, black borders and the feathered black bubbles are kept to a minimal throughout the manga.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Have You Seen This...


Andi of Andi's ABCs and Brittany of The Book Addicts Guide are the fabulous hosts of Have You Seen This... which is an awesome feature for those searching for hard-to-find books such as ARCs and international copies. There is a linky where you can link up your post for others to see on Andi's and Brittany's blogs. Check out their blogs for more information about this awesome collaboration.

This is such a fun way help others find books that they have been trying to hunt down. Not only is this a way to find a coveted copy of a book you are looking for but this is an awesome way to build friendships and to check out new blogs.

There are certain books I have been searching for. I am a big fan of collecting the special collector's editions of books I love but I would love to own ARCs of certain books. Check out below to see what books I am looking for.


S T A T U S


Fangirl ARC - Thank you Emma!
Alienated ARC - Thank you Skye!
To All the Boys I've Loved Before ARC - Thanks to my OTSPSecretSister!

If you have any of the books listed above and don't mind parting with them, please let me know. We can work something out. You can contact me at nicolesnovelreads(at)gmail(dot)com or DM me on Twitter.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Harry Potter Book Night

Image from twitter.com/KidsBloomsbury
Bloomsbury Kids UK dedicated February 5, 2015 as the first Harry Potter Book Night. There are many events at bookstores, schools and libraries worldwide. For more information about the book night, check out the Bloomsbury Kids UK site. If you plan to share information about your celebrations, please use #HarryPotterBookNight on your social media networks.

Today is a day to celebrate and embrace the magic of Harry Potter no matter how old you are. Let me know if you plan to indulge in Potter festivities today. I plan to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Nothing beats a Harry Potter reread on Harry Potter Book Night. Also, this will be my first time reading the UK version of the book since I am now a proud owner of the special slipcase edition of the first book. You can obtain a special edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone right here. Happy reading!

Image from bloomsbury.com




Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Top Ten Books I Can't Believe I Haven't Read


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten books we can't believe we never read. The following books are in no particular order.

1. Looking For Alaska by John Green is a book I should be reading soon. Even my students read this book and that is saying something. This will be a 2015 read for me.


2. Something Real by Heather Demetrios is a book I am definitely reading soon. I heard great things about this book and also about Demetrios' writing.


3. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales is another book I heard great things about. I have this book on my wishlist so maybe I'll receive it as a gift. More motivation to read the book :). I love the typography on the cover art. How cute is the pink lettering spelling out Love?


4. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo is a classic that I must read. I enjoyed the film and I heard amazing things about the actual musical and the book. Unfortunately, I will need a lot of time to read this since it's over 1,400 pages.


5. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is another classic I should read. I love dystopians so I can't wait to dive into this one.


6. The Origins of Species by Charles Darwin is a text that everyone should read. I have only read snippets of it in my biology classes but one day I will read the entire book.


7. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson has won many awards and I am dying to read this book. I gifted this book to several people but I still haven't had a chance to read it.


8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak recently had a film adaptation but I haven't seen the film because I want to read the book first. Now is my chance to do both :).


9. Dead Poet's Society by Tom Schulman is also a film with the same name. I love the film and I hope I will love the novel just as much.


10. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is actually in my room right now waiting to be read. I received this as a Christmas gift and I must read it this year. I heard great things about it and I hope it is as creepy as Coraline.