Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Wrap Up

It’s that time of the year where we say: “Christmas is over? And it’s now the end of the year? Are you sure?”

Answer: Yep, I’m quite sure. Proof being me double/triple/quadruple checking the calendar. Denial can be one’s best and worst friend at times like these.

I’ve decided to be a total book nerd (cough), so I made a list of my top 2014 books and couples/ships as a way to wrap up the year. Also, feel free to add to it! I know there’s a ton of books aren't on this that should be, mainly because I either haven't read them or heard about them yet. So if you have any you want to add, I'd love it if you do! 

In no particular order, here we go!

Erika's 2014 Top books: 
Talon (Julie Kagawa)
Push (Eve Silver)
Unhinged (A. G. Howard)
The One (Kiera Cass)
Ignite Me (Tahereh Mafi)
Blood of Olympus (Rick Riordan)
Killer Frost (Jennifer Estep)
Stay With Me (J. Lynn)
City of Heavenly Fire (Cassandra Clare)
Opposition (Jennifer L. Armentrout)
Unmade (Sarah Rees Brennan)
The Young Elites (Marie Lu)
Deliverance (C. J. Redwine)
Kiss of Deception (Mary E. Pearson)

Erika's 2014 Top Couples/Ships
Miki and Jackson (The Game Series)
Ember and Garret (Talon)
Daemon and Katy (Lux Series)
America and Maxon (The Selection)
Gwen and Logan (Mythos Academy)
Clary and Jace (The Mortal Instruments)
Calla and Jax (Stay With Me)
Rachel and Logan (Defiance)
Nico and Will (Blood of Olympus)
Ali and Cole (White Rabbit Chronicles)
Clara and Nicolas (Winterspell)
Mia and Adam (If I Stay)
Tris and Four (Divergent Series)

And that's about it! Do you know how hard it is to think all the way back to January? That, plus narrowing my very long list down? It's not as easy as people make it out to be. Or maybe I'm just really bad at it.

Anyways, I'm hoping that you all have a fantastic New Year! I'm looking forward to another year of books obsessions with you all!

(PS. Special shout out to my beloved family for an awesome year, plus my friends Sally, Stitch, Vyen, Maddy, Laura, Bridget, and Alya for not completely forgetting about me!)

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Queen of Zombie Hearts Review: Ali

I am a slayer.
I hunt zombies throughout the night.
I'm the one who grants the undead peace.

But I'm also hunting Anima Industries.
They're trying to find a way to "cure everything".
But experimenting on zombies isn't the way to go.

Anima has been killing people along the way.
Killing my friends.
Trying to kill me.

I'm going to put an end to Anima.
To their kidnapping, torturing, and death-leading ways.
An end to their zombie projects.

I am Ali Bell.

Book: The Queen of Zombie Hearts
Author: Gena Showalter
Series: The White Rabbit Chronicles 
Book status: Book 3 (final)
Setting: Birmingham, Alabama
POV: Ali, first person
Genre: YA action, romance, horror (sort of)

Reading: first time
Favorite line: "If you can, get your butts back here. If you can't, hide and call me. If you lose your phones, don't panic. I'll find you. Whatever it takes."
Rating: 4 stars

Ali, oh Ali. She has an interesting mindset in this book. Not that it's bad, it's just...unexpected. Enough of that. She's still the same awesome fighter and loyal friend, through and through!

For starters, anyone who has the title "slayer" is automatically awesome. Ali is no exception: she's hardcore, able to fight with daggers, guns, axes, hands, even pens. But what I really like about Ali is concern for her friends. It's proved especially in this book, when every all of her slayer friends are all individually put at risk. Ali doesn't stop looking for her friends, defying whatever anyone else tells her. Nothing stands between her and the safety of her friends, not even logic itself. If a friend's life on the line, Ali has no issue going solo, even if it's a really stupid idea to go out alone.

Of course, the fact that she doesn't really care much about her own well-being and safety is a flaw of hers, but it lets her make selfless (if sometimes somewhat dumb) decisions. Things get done and Ali finds out information because of it. And I appreciate things like that.

Highlight the bottom paragraph, as it's spoilery, else skip down...

But what I really want to ask: WHAT WAS WITH THAT ENDING??? I mean, what was the point of her losing her memory? I just didn't get it. And clearly, Frosty is depressed. He's going to do something stupid. Stupid! UGH.

If there's ever a zombie apocalypse, you can bet that I'll be calling Ali. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Talon Review: Ember

I have spent the past 16 years away from the world.
Learning to act human, to assimilate.
To hide right in plain sight.

I am a dragon.
I am disguised as a human.
No one can tell the difference.

I was finally deemed ready to test my skills in the human world.
I am spending summer in California.
I am getting to know how human society works.

I was taught that we were superior to humans.
But there is a secret group that fights us back.
The Order of St. George will do anything to kill us all.

I won't worry about them.
I'm just here to have fun, to have a human summer.
I won't worry about a spy or the rouge dragon among us.

My name is Ember Hill.

Hey guys! Today, I’m Ember from Julie Kagawa’s Talon!

Book: Talon
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Talon
Book Status: Book 1
Setting: Crescent Beach, California
POV: Ember, Garret and Riley, all in first person
Genre: YA fantasy, action

Reading: first time

Heads up: this is going to be a very long post.

Let me make this very clear: Julie Kagawa is my absolute favorite author. It’s no secret. I could go on and on about how her first series, the Iron Fey (first book is the Iron King--check it out!!!), changed my world, but I’m going to save that for another time. Right now, I’m going to obsess over Talon, and the beautifully crafted world of dragons she has introduced me to.

I’ve never really come across a good dragon story that really clicked with me. Sure, I’ve read Eragon, the Dragon Rider, and Scorched just to name a few, but none of them I could relate to very well on a personal level. Until Talon. Until Ember. This was a dragon story beyond my imagination, and one that I could relate to, It had a very realistic protagonist, realistic in the sense that all her emotions were spot-on and very human. Her wants are the same as any normal person's: wanting to spend summer having as much fun as possible, learning everything she can about surfing, everything.

Ember, being raised upon slews of rules and mantras of how humans are inferior, isn’t some complicated dragons-are-better kind of person; upon being released into the human world, she immediate makes it clear that she isn't in it to compare herself to the humans, but to have fun. Yes, learning to fit in was important, but that wasn't her goal. It was to be free, to have fun, and get as close as she could to having a normal, awesome and fun human summer. Hanging at the beach every day? Check. Surfing? Check. Mango smoothies? Check. Shopping-turned-arcade-sprees? Check. Fun, freedom, friends? Check. And let’s not forget possible romance. Basically doing everything any normal teen would do if given the chance to spend a summer at a California beach.

Through Ember, it really got me thinking about rules and laws. Who makes them? Why do they make them? What aren’t they telling me? Why? Ember challenged everything, never being able to willingly submit to orders without further explanation. And, it turns out, for good reason too. You have to be careful with who you take orders from, and always be cautious of superior motives.

Okay, I’m going to move onto another topic here. Yes, it might be a little bit of a spoiler, so don’t read onwards if you haven’t read Talon yet!

***Still here? Good. Because I’m starting. SPOILER ALERT!!!***

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Illusions of Fate Review: Jessamin

I moved here from my island.
I am here to better my education.
But my skin marks me as an outsider.

This land is different than my village home.
The biggest difference is the hidden world of nobility.
It's filled with power, money, and magic.

I was unwillingly dragged into the secret world.
Now I am swept up in a dangerous game, as a pawn.
I am a man's weakness; I am a man's strength.

Fate brought me into this game.
Fate will not let me out.
But I will not let Fate rule me completely.

I will find a way to win this game.
To navigate through this new world.
I will not submit to Fate.

My name is Jessamin Olea.

Hi guys! Today, I'm Jessamin, from Illusions of Fate!

Book: Illusions of Fate
Author: Kiersten White
Series: Stand alone
Setting: Albion
POV: Jessamin, first person
Genre: YA fantasy, history
Categories: We Need Diverse Books

Reading: first time
Favorite line: "I refuse to be ruled, whether by those with bad intentions or those with good."
Rating: 4 stars

Such a powerful protagonist. Firstly, I love that Jessamin is not Caucasian. It is made very clear that she has darker skin than those in Albion, thus making her a target for discrimination. But Jessamin is able to rise above it, which is one of strengths in this book. It is an excellent demonstration of character and inner strength, and most importantly, of strong diverse characters. Add the fact that this is about a female protagonist, and you immediately get a strong feminist from a diverse culture. It's no secret that I approve of this, immensely.

Jessamin moves to Albion not because she's forced to, but because she knows that's the only way to better herself in education. She knows that by moving away to Albion, she will be subjected to discrimination for both race and money, but in the end, she knows that she'll become an even better person. Her resolve and conviction to learn as much as she can through tough times makes her very admirable. She doesn't let anything get her down, doesn't let anything sway her from her main purpose of being in a foreign country.

But that's not all she goes through. She finds herself dragged into the nobility world of magic, somewhere she never even began to dream of being. She is an outsider to this world, given that a) she's not nobility (she's not even from Albion to begin with) and b) she does not wield magic. She is as far from familiar as it gets, tangled up in a dangerous game she normally has no part of. Yet circumstances cause her to become involved, and Jessamin still is able to make the best of it, with merely her wits and determinism.

Jessamin demonstrates that just because you may not be rich, magical, powerful in name, or Caucasian, does not mean you should be underestimated. Jessamin is not weak, is not purely at the mercy of men and the people of the country she lives in. She is clever, smarter than the average Albion citizen, and able to work her way through the magical nobility world she finds herself in. "Weak" and "helpless" are not words used to describe Jessamin.

It's a nice change to finally see more diverse characters taking the spotlight. It's a good chance to see them being arguably better than a few Caucasian characters, to show that everyone of all cultures can be equally as awesome. Add that to the feminist theme you got going here, and it's amazing.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Trial by Fire Review: Lily

I have too many life-threatening allergies.
The world is literally trying to kill me.
I am weak, helpless, in this world.

But then I found myself in a different Salem.
One that is run by monsters and magic.
But above all, it's run by powerful women.

One of the women is Lillian.
She's me, but not me.
Lillian is this world's version of me.

Lillian brought me here.
But I don't belong in this world.
There can't be two of us in the same world.

But what makes me weak at home makes me strong here.
And Lillian knows it.
How do I save a world where I'm my worst enemy?

My name, in my home world, is Lily Proctor.

Hi guys! Today, I am Lily from Trial By Fire!

Book: Trial By Fire
Author: Josephine Angelini
Book series: Worldwalker Trilogy
Book status: Book 1
Setting: Salem (Massachusetts), Salem (another version)
POV: Mainly Lily, third person
Genre: YA fantasy

Reading: first time
Favorite line: "The people who love you will guide you like bright lights into the other worlds."
Rating: 4 stars

Okay okay, this may or may not be a spoiler, but I think it's pretty obvious that we're dealing with witches here. The name of the city Lily's from, Salem? As in the Salem witch trials? Yeah. Therefore I see no reason not to talk about witches, because it is, after all, the basis of the book.

Being Lily, I have to say, it's terrifying to enter another world (or version) of the same one we're living in. That, plus to also find out you have potential to be a very powerful witch? Terrifying. I'm going to break it down a little bit...

Same but different worlds. Let's start with that first. Lily finds herself in another version of her town, where though it's familiar, it's not the same. Lily pretty much does exactly the same thing I would: freak out. Very realistic. Especially since she's being confused with a very powerful (and scary) witch. It has disaster written all over it, and you got to wonder what the heck Lillian was thinking. Because now, there are suddenly two versions of Lillian (Lily's fully name is Lillian, but she goes by Lily), one who rules the entire place and the other who doesn't belong. If I'm in another world and there's an evil version of me running the world there, I'd for sure want out. Too weird. And creepy. Just like the rest of this other version of the world. Everything is similar, but not exactly the same. Again, weird and creepy.

Lily is constantly being confused for Lillian, and honestly, why wouldn't she be? Lily is Lillian, just another one from another world. They look exactly the same, have the same stubborn qualities and everything. Except one's a little crazy, and happens to be a very powerful witch. Lily, being confused for a powerful witch back at home? Laughable. But it turns out that's not quite the case, because again, what made her weak in her own world is what makes her powerful in this new world. Which is why Lillian is so powerful. Which also means Lily has every capability to become equally as powerful.

One thing that really resonated with me was Lily's weakness in her own world. Her allergies made her weak, like hospital-every-other-day-weak. But when she gets to the other Salem, it's what makes her strong. The foods she can't eat, the reason why she's always overheating with fever, her reactions, everything makes sense. And it makes her strong and powerful in magic.

What would you guys do if you found yourself in another version of your town? Found other versions of the friends you know, maybe even siblings or family? What if you found you in that world? And your other you was immensely powerful and maybe crazy?

If you want to know what I would do, read Trial by Fire.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Legend of Korra

Do any of you know about Avatar? No, I'm not talking about the movie with the blue people. I'm talking about the TV show about people having the ability to control (or "bend") elements. The Avatar can control all 4 elements (regular people can only bend one) and is also the bridge between the physical world and the spiritual one. Maybe you guys saw the movie The Last Airbender, but that movie in no way did the actual series justice. It was just bad.

Well, I'm going to go on a rant here about the Legend of Korra, which is the sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender (the original series). Why, you ask? Because the final episode came outThat's right. After 4 seasons, it's all coming to an end. Correction: it all came to an end.

And may I be the first to weep because of it.

Let's talk about Korra. That's her above. She's the Avatar, so automatically, it makes her awesome. But it's not just about the fact that she can bend all 4 elements that makes her cool. She's a girl, yes, but she is headstrong, maybe a bit brash, and is equally as much or more of a hero as a guy would be. There are a lot of people who know guys that are reluctant to read or watch something with a female heroine. Well, enter Korra, and you just proved everyone wrong. Korra proved that female protagonists can appeal to both girls and guys, even moving the story along better than a male protagonist could have. It is a wonderful thing.

Another awesome thing? Korra isn't caucasian. There's actually a book movement called We Need Diverse Books, which empowers diversity among writers and characters all over the place. Korra definitely fits in under that category, proving that you can be awesome even if you aren't white.

Another rising thing? Well, it's sort of a spoiler, so I'm going to put it in white text here. Highlight it to read, else skip down...

LGBT ending. I know that we don't get much (or any) of it until literally the very very end, but the whole Korrasami shipping really paid off. I honestly think that it's good for the world to have something like this: a strong-willed female who strays away from the "white" and "straight" categories. Some people don't agree, but I think this is what truly makes the Legend of Korra unique. It truly is diversity in all aspects, and I think it is simply amazing because of it.

Korra is such a strong-willed female. She really brings the world into a new era, changing the lives of all those who watch it. It's themes are easy enough for children to understand, but deep enough for the adults to appreciate. Themes of light vs. dark, politics, friendships, fascism, romance (a little bit), self identity, public image, family relations, everything. It's got the action, the drive, the adventure, everything you'd ever want. And it's all wrapped up in one show. One amazingly epic show.

And now that it's done, officially over for good, well, normal parting words simply do not do it justice. I have loved Korra, loved her character and development, just as much as I loved some of my favorite book characters. I am extremely sad that it has come to an end, but also happy for her. This is the end of her journey, but I know that she'll be okay, that nothing terrible can happen to her anymore. She will always have a place in my heart, alongside my book characters.

It's no surprise that it's called the Legend of Korra. Because Korra is going to be forever marked down in history as the ultimate legend.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Young Elites Review: Adelina

I am a survivor of the Blood Fever.
It left me with the marks of a malfetto.
Some believe that malfettos possess powers.

My father is cruel.
He believes I have strained the family name.
I hate him for that.

There is a group of malfettos out there.
A group that all posses powers.
They call themselves the Young Elites.

They are feared among people.
They are worshipped among people.
They are known by all.

I am a Young Elite.
I will make those who hurt me pay.
My name is Adelina Amouteru.

Hello! Today, I happen to be Adelina Amouteru...

Book: The Young Elites
Author: Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites
Book Status: Book 1
Setting: Kenettra (another world)
POV: mostly Adelina (first person), bit of Teren (third person)
Genre: YA fantasy

Reading: First time
Favorite lines: 
"I am tired of losing. I am tired of being used, hurt, and tossed aside. It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt. My turn."
"Some hate us, think us outlaws to hang at the gallows. Some fear us, think us demons to burn at the stake. Some worship us, think is children of the gods. But all know us."
Rating: 4 stars

If you're looking for a dark book with an even darker protagonist, this is definitely the book for you. Adelina is downright scary. Not in a bad way, but her thought process...well, let's just leave it at the fact that her powers are fuelled by fear and hatred. Get the picture?

Actually, what I really liked about Adelina is that through her, I was able to express and experience emotions that very seldom books explore. Yes, Adelina is the heroine here, but she is in no way a hero of light. Her powers are formed through darkness, and she herself is a dark person with even darker thoughts. 

Her life has not been easy, and she has a lot of bottled up hate and anger for everyone. She isn't the classic character where she learns to get over it and forgive. She takes the hatred, holds it close, and draws strength from it. Nothing has gone right for her, and she's coping with it the only way she can.

Adelina's darkness is really unique. On the inside, she's lost and doesn't know what to do. Rather than turning to light, she turns to darkness, mostly because there is little light for her to turn to. 
This is a story where it's all right to have dark thoughts, to want to take the dirty way out to get what you need. The emotional conflicts Adelina has and how darkness generally triumphs is beautifully written. I really felt Adelina struggles as my own, how at some point, you just have to let go. Not all of her actions were for the good of anyone, but her drive to do the things she needs to get done is admirable.

Adelina's intentions are good at heart, though her thought process and actions are less. But still, whether people like to admit or not, we all have those moments of darkness, where we let ourselves go willingly into it. Adelina finally brings to people a way to relate to it, to find strength in one's darkness while not letting it fully consume you.

(Side note: this book is rich with Venetian culture. Beautiful silks, masks, scenery, everything!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winterspell Review: Clara

I am the mayor's daughter.
The proper daughter that everyone looks to.
But that's just one side of me.

Christmas Eve brought disaster.
My house destroyed, my father taken.
And my Godfather's statue came to life, became a man.

Creatures did this.
I don't know why, or what they want.
But I do know they aren't human.

I will travel to their world, to Cane.
And I will find my father.
I have only until New Year's Eve.

My name is Clara Stole.

Hi guys! Today, I'm Clara Stole from Claire Legrand's book Winterspell!

Book: Winterspell
Author: Claire Legrand
Series: it's a stand alone!
Setting: New York (1899), Cane (another world)
POV: Clara, third person
Genre: YA fairytale retelling, fantasy

Reading: First time
Favorite line: "You cannot shy away from yourself. Look the world straight in the eye, and it can do nothing to hurt you."
Rating: 4 stars

This is a great holiday read, especially since it's almost Christmas! It's a retelling of The Nutcracker, which is one of my favorite Christmas stories. I got to admit, though, I'm one of those people who never read stand alones. I prefer having more than one book to get to know characters, to watch them grow. That being said, I couldn't resist the idea of The Nutcracker retelling, so this is probably the first stand alone I've read willingly.

Clara is the mayor's daughter, and because of it, she has a reputation to hold so that she doesn't damage her father's imagine. Yes, she's a proper lady and whatnot, but she's also extremely skilled in fighting, both with hand-to-hand combat and with daggers.

Clara is able to keep a cool head, something I really admire. There are multiple times where one of her "suitors" (and by that I mean a really evil kind of suitor) does something not exactly proper to her, and Clara is going through all the ways she could hurt him. But she doesn't; she executes restraint, because she puts her family first. I'm not sure if I'd be able to stop myself from kicking the guy; the temptation for showing the guy off, for letting him know that he is not in control of me, would be too great. And I don't think I'd be very good at putting on a weak facade when I know I'm stronger than that. But that just adds to Clara's strength. Her ability to both downplay and up play herself at the appropriate times makes her a cool and collective thinker. Add that to her amazing fooling techniques when she's in Cane, and you have a pretty awesome person.

Another one of Clara's strengths is her ability to analyze situations, analyze people, and make use of their weaknesses. I won't tell you specifically who I'm talking about, because I don't want to spoil it, but there is one person in which Clara plays to her advantage. She's smart like that, and it actually works in her favor. She can read people, and she knows how to make use of it.

Clara is a very independent person. She doesn't need anyone to make an escape (which she does more than once), meaning that she's good at both planning and following through on her plans without a hitch. And to add, she has some pretty awesome sneaking around skills, which she demonstrates right at the beginning of the book. Sneaky, smart, and independent. That's a good bunch of traits to have.

Christmas. Magic. A semi-freed nutcracker/prince who is under a curse. A smart and brave protagonist, on a mission to save her father and possibly the land of Cane. What could be a better combination for the holidays?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sabriel Review

I am familiar with Charter Magic.
I am familiar with dealing with the Dead.

The Abhorsen puts to rest those who refuse to remain dead.
I am the Abhorsen's daughter.

My father--the Abhorsen--has gone missing.
And I need to find him.

I have the tools of the Abhorsen.
I know the ways of the Abhorsen.

My name is Sabriel.
I am the next Abhorsen.

Hello, friends! Today, I am Sabriel, from Garth Nix's book Sabriel!

Book: Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix
Series: Abhorsen
Book Status: Book one
Setting: The Old Kingdom, Ancelstierre
POV: told mainly by Sabriel, third person
Genre: YA fantasy

Reading: First time
Favorite line: "Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?"
Rating: 4 stars

I got to say, this is probably the oldest YA book I've ever read. It was published in 1995! That was ages ago, way before YA became the huge market success it is now!

Onto my talk about Sabriel. She's skilled in Charter magic (magic involving what are called Charter signs, like the one on the cover), but also in banishing the undead. No, I'm not talking about zombies. I'm talking about spirits, so to speak. They're called the Dead here, and the job of the Abhorsen is to lay the Dead to rest. They're sort of necromancers, dealing with the dead, but their job is the opposite of the regular dead-raising necromancers. 

Sabriel ventured from Ancelstierre into the Old Kingdome in search of her father, even though the only time she's been in the Old Kingdom was when she was young (younger than 4). It's a big place, vast, filled with mysteries and whatnot. So the fact that she's doing it for her father makes her both brave and dedicated.

Sabriel is equipped with a sword (yes to awesome sword-wielding women!) and a set of 7 bells, all which have a specific ability/power when rung. You'd think it's not very cool, but given that she deals with the dead, these powers are really neat. I won't spoil it, but just know that if I had a set of these bells, well, there would probably be a string of mischief left in my wake. That being said, that's probably why I'd never get to even touch those bells. But hey, as Sabriel, I can, so no harm no foul, right?

Sabriel is a really strong female, especially given the time period this was written in. She's smart, quick on her feet, understands her duty as Abhorsen, and frankly, is quite amazing at playing the whole solo-mission game.

I'm not really a solo-mission kind of girl...are you guys?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Killer Frost Review: Gwen

I am a gypsy. 
I am Nike's Champion. 

There is a war coming. 
Nike, the goddess of victory, tasked me with ending it. 

I will end it.
Or it will end me. 

My name today is Gwen Frost.

Today, I'm Gwen Frost from Killer Frost, the final book in the Mythos Academy series!

Book: Killer Frost
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Mythos Academy
Book Status: Book 6 (final)
Setting: North Carolina (modern day)
POV: first person, told by Gwen
Genre: YA paranormal, mythology

Reading: First time
Favorite line: "You can't stop me. You can't stop me from doing one single thing, especially not this."
Favorite part: That ending. I just...
Rating: 5 Stars

I got to say, when I first picked up this series during the summer, I wasn't too sure what to expect. I mean a gypsy? I wasn't really too big of a fan on the whole gypsy concept, probably because I always thought gypsies weren't exactly the most threatening group of people out there. But Gwen...well, her being a gypsy isn't even half of what she can do, of who she is. She's got brains, a sword, and loyalty quite literally to a fault to her friends and family. I fell in love with her character, and now I'm on the last leg of her journey. 

To begin with, Gwen's probably the most relatable character I've ever read about. She's always been the weird person (being a gpysy and all), the one no one really understands or notices, until she finds out that she is Nike's (who's the Greek goddess of victory) Champion. (Side note: hello, goddess of victory chooses you as her prime representative? There's bound to be something good (like victory) out of this!) Gwen goes from loner to major butt-kicking hero, and along the way she gains a pack of loyal friends. 

What really got me when I read about Gwen was her desire to do the right thing for her friends and family. When people she loves are put in danger, Gwen dives head first into saving them, regardless of how crazy and illogical her plans are. Yes, if she looks at the "bigger picture", there are some cases where people are arguably not worth saving, but Gwen is able to look past (cough, see ignore) that and save them anyways. All without letting the world fall into chaos. 

I really found that the things she does and feels is pretty realistic. Her constant worry over the safety of her friends, her thought process for doing selfless solo actions, the guilt she feels for lying to protect people, the way she rebels against orders that she doesn't agree with, the list goes on. She goes with her heart all the way, and I admire her for that. Yes, she is frequently shot down by adults and their logic, but that doesn't stop her from making her own plans and executing them herself. She gets things done, with or without others to help. Nothing stands in her way; one way or another, she will find a way to get what needs to be done, done.

Gwen's journey really brought out the importance of friends, of not being afraid to lean on others sometimes. Yes, it takes up a lot of pride, but in the war Gwen's fighting, she needs people to support her. It doesn't make her weak; her friends are her power. They are her motivation, her drive to not fail her mission, her motivation to save the world. 

I really love Gwen, and I'm sad to see the end of her journey. It was one I really enjoyed, one that I really connected to on a personal level. The way she thinks, the things she does, they're all the same things I would have done in her shoes. I see myself in her in many aspects, from her attitude to her scheming to her desire to not fail her friends. Her heart is truely in the righty place. 

Give it a read, and let me know what you guys think!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Deception Review: Rachel

I am a guilty.
Alone. Broken.
I'm far from fine.

I was trying to kill the Commander.
He took away everything from me.
I ended up destroying my home, Baalboden.

I called the Cursed One to bring the Commander to justice.
But the Commander got away.
And it destroyed my home instead.

I will find a way to get my revenge.
Even if it kills me.
I will not stop.

The Commander will fall.
And he will fall to the hands of Rachel Adams.
He will fall by my hands.

Hey guys! Today, I happen to be the strong-willed, revenge-driven Rachel, from Deception!

Book: Deception
Author: C. J. Redwine
Series: Defiance
Book Status: Book two
Setting: Baalboden, Wastelands (I don't know what this world is called...someone help me?)
POV: Rachel and Logan, both in first person
Genre: YA fantasy (set in another world)

Reading: First time
Favorite thing about it: hands down the ACTION. Rachel is deadly.
Rating: 5 Stars

You know, as far as revenge goes, Rachel is about as driven as it gets. She wants justice, and she's willing to do anything to get it, at any consequence. Even laying down her life. Which, of course, is an issue because there are people who don't want to see her die (cough, Logan). Her drive and determinism to seek revenge is exactly what makes her so deadly, so lethal. 

Rachel brought me into a world where I became determined to bring the Commander, the man who teared apart my family, to justice. A world where love and loss drives courage and faith, drives vengeance and honor.

The thing about Rachel is that she isn't afraid to get her hands dirty in a fight. Prefers it, in fact. And in the world she lives in, where girls and women are assigned Protectors and are treated as completely helpless, the fact that she can hold up on her own in a fight is amazing. She can easily best any man who would harm her and show him who's boss.

As Rachel, I really got to understand what it means to love someone fiercely, to hold family so close to your heart. She really brought to light the strong love you can have for people and the ends you can go to to avenge them. To love and mourn someone so much that you will do anything it takes to make their deaths not in vain.

But revenge isn't all that Rachel has going on for her. Yes, it's the main driver and motivation for her actions, but she is one of the leaders of the group of survivors after Baalboden was destroyed. She's training others to fight, both girls and boys, all while planning a way to bring the Commander to justice. Plus, she's battling some inner demons, given that the words guilty, alone, and broken keep coming up. She has a lot going on for her, and it really brings to mind both the physical and mental aspects of a strong female.

Rachel is probably one of the bravest females out there. If someone tears apart my family, I would want justice. I want to make him pay for everything he's done to me. And above all, I want to be able to have the courage to seek out revenge and deliver it. It might not be the most logical of decisions, but it is one of most moving, one of the most touching.

How would you guys feel if someone went to such extremes to avenge your death? Grateful? Horrified? Honored?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ashes Review: Alex

I am a survivor.

An electromagnetic pulse killed billions.
But not me.

I want to know what happened.
I want to understand why I'm alive.

I know there are others who are alive.
But they're not...entirely right.

I want to know who else is still alive, really alive.
But above all, I want to stay alive.

My name today is Alex.

So, today I'm the lucky(?) survivor Alex (who's a girl by the way), who's from Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick! She is one hardcore person, that's all I want to say.

Book: Ashes
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Series: The Ashes Trilogy
Book Status: First book
Setting: Earth (pre and post apocalypse)
POV: Alex, third person
Genre: YA thriller, post-apocalypse

Reading: First time
Notes: great for Halloween
Rating: 4 stars

Okay, I'm cheating a teeny tiny bit again. Technically speaking, I read this book for the first time a while ago, but this was one of those books I read before this blog started up. So I'm still categorizing this under "first time" reads.

May I be the first to say that this is one creepy book. Like I said, great for Halloween (which was when I read it). I mean, you have Alex on a normal day hiking up through the woods, and suddenly the world gets thrown into mayhem. That said, she was in the woods at the time, so she didn't really know that, you know, the entire world kind of dropped dead too, but hey, she figures it out in the end. Points award there for piecing everything together.

I can't go into too much detail because I might spoil it, but the key words here are post-apoclypse, billions dead, handful alive, and those that are alive may not even be human (it's in the book description! Not a spoiler!). So what's a girl to do in this situation?

Like Alex, I was freaked out, with more questions than answers. I mean, me, a survivor? That's laughable. But Alex brought me on a whirlwind of emotions and tough decisions, of hard shots being called and how to move forward through helplessness. Really, there isn't much you can do in a situation like this. But through Alex, I was able to hold my panic down. She's tough because she has to be, able to think without panic clouding her judgement, because she knows she needs to survive. Yes, she has a moments of doubt and fear (it's not exactly a party when the world is barren and everyone's dead), but she doesn't let that stand in her way.

Alex made me realize how much I'd really have to toughen up if I'm going to survive a worldwide disaster. If that day comes (and I seriously hope it doesn't), well, yeah. I don't think I would survive very long, honestly. I'd like to say that I could, but I know there's just no way.

Do you think you guys would survive?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Untold Review: Kami

I live in Sorry-in-the-Vale
It is full of magic and Lynburns.

There is a war brewing.
I used to be able to help, to partake in it.
But what connected me to it was lost.

I will not be helpless.
I will not sit back and watch it all.

I will fight.
Even if I am not part of that world.
I'll just do it on my own terms.

Today, my name is Kami Glass.

Hi! Today, I happen to be the awesome reporter Kami Glass from Untold, by Sarah Rees Brennan!

Book: Untold
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Series: The Lynburn Legacy
Book Status: Second book
Setting: Sorry-in-the-Vale (town in England), present day
POV: told mostly by Kami, third person
Genre: YA paranormal

Reading: First time
Favorite line: "We often have special moments where I come into a room and he leaves."
Rating: 5 stars

Guys, if you haven't read the Lynburn Legacy series yet, do it now. Kami Glass is pure awesome. She's funny, smart, brave, everything. I mean, she says, "Huh. Guys, remember that game we played before, about who could be the fastest to call the police?" (that was in the prequel The Summer Before I met You, by the way). She's calm collected, and has a sense of humor to go with it. First book is Unspoken, so go read it!

Okay, onto my rant about her! Kami is one of those people who, if rendered helpless, will not sit by idling while the world continues to burn around her. Yes, she is just a normal girl facing off a swarm of people all armed with magic (again, I don't count that as a spoiler! It's in the book description!), but does that stop her? No. She's going to rally every resource she has to do her part in the battle.

In a way, Kami's probably someone I aspire to the most. She's just another girl, nothing particular special about her (not anymore). She has every reason to walk away from everything. But she doesn't. She risks her life over and over again for her town, for her friends, for her family. That's called loyalty.

Reading about Kami, I was suddenly thrown into a world of magic and courage to make a difference. And I think that's important, having courage. Having courage, and sticking right to it, all the way. Yes, there's a difference between bravery and stupidity, but let's be honest here: sticking to your guns, no matter how hopeless everything seems, all for the side of good is brave, not stupid

The takeaway message I get from here is that if you're going to make a difference, you got to go big. I don't mean big as in simply big actions; I mean you can't hesitate about anything, especially yourself. Things you wouldn't normally do, but things you know you can do, things you believe you can do. If you don't, either someone will get to it first, or it will be an opportunity lost (and in the case of Kami, every opportunity she goes for makes a huge difference).

Channel that inner belief. Channel that inner magic. Channel your inner Kami.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Book Shimmy Awards!

Okay, okay, two posts in one day doesn't make it the end of the world.

Have you heard of Team Epic Reads? They're a sub-part of HarperTeen (they're a publishing company if you don't know), and they're all about YA books. They're awesome people, and they host what's called a Book Shimmy Award at the end of each year. It's kind of like Goodreads, where you can vote for your favorite books of the year. Expect at Epic Reads, which is just YA books, the categories are all YA book based. Which is totally awesome.

So, yesterday was the award ceremony/show, where the winners were announced. And though I'm about a day behind from when the event actually happened, that doesn't mean I can't express my love of it nonetheless.

I just want to extend my congratulations to those that won. Because the books that won? They are awesome books. Those that were nominated, but didn't win? Also awesome books. Basically, every book nominated was awesome, and that's a lot of awesomeness all around.

Congratulations to The One (Kiera Cass), Snow Like Ashes (Sara Raasch), A Thousand Pieces of You (Claudia Gray), Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins), To All The Boys I've Loved Before (Jenny Han), Panic (Lauren Oliver), Isla and the Happily Ever After (Stephanie Perkins), Heir of Fire (Sarah J. Maas), The Young Elites (Marie Lu), Ignite Me (Tahereh Mafi), City of Heavenly Fire (Cassandra Clare), We Were Liars (E. Lockhart), and Four: A Divergent Collection (Veronica Roth)!

Want to know what they all won for? Head over to to find out (Sorry...I don't have time to put all the categories up at the moment)!

Also, if you haven't read some of these before, do it now!

Cress Review

I am Lunar.
I am a Lunar shell, with no powers or glamor.

I have been trapped in a satellite.
I was put here to become the Lunar Queen's hacker.

I have been tracking the fugitive Cinder for my Queen.
But I have been withholding information about her whereabout to my Queen.

I will not help my Queen.
I want out of this satellite.

Cinder can help me.
I will get out.

Today, I am Crescent Moon.
I am Cress.

Isn't that a cool name? Cress, short for Crescent Moon. So cool. Anyways, today I happen to be Cress, from Cress (haha) by Marissa Meyer!

Book: Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Book Status: 3rd book
Setting: Earth, Moon, space (sort of)
POV: told mostly by Cress and Cinder, all in third person
Genre: YA sci-fi, fairy tale retelling (it's a lot better than the actual fairy tales)

Reading: First time
Favorite part: Cress and Thorn. Cinder and Kai.
Rating: 5 Stars

Okay, okay, so maybe I lied just a teeny tiny bit. I actually finished this a while ago, but I hadn't started this blog yet, so technically it's a re-read (sort of) but what the heck. Actually, there's a ton of books I'm probably going to blog about that I read all prior to the start of this blog.

So today I'm a hacker by the name of Cress, working reluctantly for an evil queen. I (as in me) am not very tech-savvy, so it's neat to suddenly know what the heck I'm doing and more through Cress. Programming security cameras to conveniently turn off? Or turning them on, to expose something? Yes please.

But living in a satellite for god-knows how long? That's kind of painful. I would get really lonely. Which is why the thought of a rescue is so very attractive. That, plus the fact that working for an evil queen isn't a great way to charm people. Charming bad guys, sure, I guess, but that's not exactly a high priority.

Anyways. Back to being a hacker-for-the-bad-guys-but-actually-on-the-good-guys-side. The only issue is that if I'm stuck in space in a satellite, there really is no chance of getting out myself. I'd be completely dependent on a rescue, which is exactly what happens (that's not a spoiler! It says so in the book description!).

A hacker, huh? I must say, it'd be very advantageous in this technology-oriented world we're in. What do you think?