Reading Challenge Update!

I just finished reading “Tiger’s Curse” last night, and I realized that means I only have one book left to read to complete my Goodreads reading challenge of 15 books. I know 15 isn’t very impressive, but for me, that’s progress compared to last year’s list which was probably half that.

But what about you? Did you set a goal for yourself this year? And if so, how close are you to reaching it? I’d love to know the answer, so leave me a comment down below! We can cheer each other on : )

Image result for cheering gif

Advertisements

REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Image result for harry potter and the sorcerer's stone book cover

Synopsis:

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.

REVIEW

As I said in the previous post, I had only ever read the final book to the Harry Potter series and that was a good six or so years ago. And it was my mission this summer to read the first one and possibly the rest in the series. And I did it! (Well, at least one, that is 😉

So, my first thoughts?

When I read (*coughs* audiobook “read”) this, all I could think was that if I had been able to get my hands on this when I was eleven, I would have been obsessed with it. The world building, character eccentricities, magical classes, DRAGONS and UNICORNS, I would have DIED to read the next book and the next. But alas, I am 21 now and I still felt a wonderful connection to each and every character. It’s funny, the older I get, the more I want to connect to things from my childhood, or the things I wished I’d had, like this amazing book here. I guess we all have a kid in us that never leaves, huh?

I thought Rowling did an amazing job with this one, just like she had with the last. The writing is simple – explanations not too long or detailed for the age of the children reading this story. I loved how every character had something you could relate to, whether it be Ron’s sarcasm, Hermione’s wit, Harry’s loneliness, or even Neville’s lack of courage, and then redemption. I especially loved Harry’s enrollment into the Weasley family, and how we got a more detailed look at Percy, George, Fred, and even a little bit of Charlie, unlike with the movie. All in all, I really enjoyed it, and see myself re-reading it again, if only to get sucked into the wizarding world one more time 🙂

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling = 5 stars

REVIEW: ENCLAVE (RAZORLAND, #1) BY ANN AGUIRRE

7137327

Synopsis:

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20’s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters–or Freaks–who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight–guided by Fade’s long-ago memories–in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs.

Ann Aguirre’s thrilling young adult novel is the story of two young people in an apocalyptic world–facing dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

REVIEW

So like I said in my previous post, ENCLAVE was a fun look back at a book I had read from about five years ago. And boy has a lot changed in those five years. I’ve read a few hundred more books, many of those being dystopians, so I feel I have a bit more experience with the genre now unlike the last time I rated this story. With that being said, lets get to the review!

ENCLAVE is a book that reminded me much of DIVERGENT and HUNGER GAMES in that it had both a competitive feel as well as a breaking of conformance to the “government” they were to obey and live under. This book also had what I would call “simple writing”. There weren’t over explanations of the world building – confusing you and deviating from the heart of the story – and all of the scenes moved along quickly, as well as the pace of the book. A lot happens in just 259 pages, and none of if was filler fluff or unnecessary additions simply to add length. In that way, I really enjoyed reading this.

Though the characters are younger (fifteen and seventeen) there was much to be said about their maturity and the way they handled themselves as well as hard situations. I could really appreciate how the author managed to combine hardness and cold logical thinking along with a  sense of fragile innocence in both of the main characters. You were reminded every once in a while that though they were brought up in a world without much hope, aging them beyond their years, they would still showcase a bit of their naivety along with having feelings of being lost and unsure of themselves, and wondering what to do next. In doing so, Ann did a fantastic job of keeping it realistic.

If you are a romance fiend like myself, then you aren’t going to find the mushy stuff you’re looking for in this read. Despite there being a touch of romance between the main characters, it definitely isn’t a main focus. We’re more learning about their world and how things are changing for them rather than diving too deep into the relationship side of things. Thoughts of making out and holding hands kind of falls to the wayside when death is knocking at your door with every turn you take lol.

Overall, I thought this was a really interesting story with a good amount of plot expanding potential for the other sequels, which is indeed what the author has done with the series. I would recommend this to anyone who is just starting to get into the apocalyptic/dystopian genre, or perhaps have been wanting to read something of that nature but haven’t found the right one yet that doesn’t look too intimidating. It was a well thought out story, easy to follow, and I’m glad I decided to give it another read.

ENCLAVE BY ANN AGUIRRE = 4 POST APOCOLYPTIC STARS

 

 

CURRENT READ: LADY MIDNIGHT BY CASSANDRA CLARE

So my current read at the moment is the first installment in the Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Clare, and it seems like I’ve been waiting for this book’s release a life time too long. At this point, expect many memes in the review to come 😉

P.S.

Let me know in comments if any of you are reading this book at the moment or plan to in the future!

25494343

Synopsis:

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

 

REVIEW: ASH (HIVE TRILOGY #1) BY JAYMIN EVE AND LEIA STONE

27827555

Synopsis:

Are you an Ash?

*Increased stamina
*Lack of appetite
*Anger outbursts
*Insatiable thirst
*Beauty & Strength
*Male

Call the hotline if these symptoms come on suddenly!

Turns out Charlie Bennet was all of those things except the last. Don’t let the name fool you, Charlie was all woman and she wanted nothing to do with the ash … until the day she found out she was one.

It all started when infected bats bit a small group of humans and created what are now called vampires. Then, the male vampires knocked up some female humans and the result was a gorgeous race of all male ash. Superhuman freaks that had looks to kill.

Charlie is the first female ash, aka unicorn of the Hive – the gated compound in Portland that the humans have designated to isolate vampires and ash from society.

Problem? The Hive is full and only a select few will be allowed to live there. To live at all, really. If Charlie wants to earn the right to become a citizen of the Hive, she will have to survive the culling – a series of fights to the death. And guess what? Just because she’s a girl doesn’t mean she’ll get special treatment.

Good thing there’s Ryder, the mysterious lead ash enforcer, who seems to always have her back. But when secrets bubble to the surface, it will take more than one guy to save her.

REVIEW

Wow…this was…wow. It was like Divergent meets The Covenant series meets vampires in a clash of awesome lol. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually liked this read. It was interesting, funny as hell, and it had the Sexy Six, which are a bunch of kickass alpha males that make you wish that this book wasn’t a work of fiction. Needless to say I was a fan.

Charlie is sassy, headstrong, and a girl you would be happy to call a friend. When life throws her a curve ball, she steps up to the plate with a Louisville slugger in tow. So when she discovers she’s an ash, something that was thought to be impossible until now, she owns up to it and treats it like any other obstacle life has thrown at her. All she has to do is survive the culling: a heinous, medieval like tradition to eliminate the weak from the pack and allow newly turned ash the chance to live.

Along the way she meets a totally awesome roommate/best friend. A bunch of hardcore enforcers that somehow become her family, and even a hot as hell super ash who decides to train Charlie personally for the culling – the likes of which has a few demons of his own.

Plot twists galore, I thought this was a fantastic start to the series. We get enough information to understand the world of the Hive, but at the same time we’re not overwhelmed with details. It was the perfect mix of paranormal, romance, and action. My hat goes off to Leia and Jaymin for writing this one 😉

ASH BY JAYMIN EVE AND LEIA STONE = 5 STARS

AUTHOR INFO:

Jaymin Eve

Jaymin Eve has a passion for reading, writing and arithmetic … okay maybe not the last one but definitely the first two. She loves surrounding herself with the best things in life: her two girls, a good book and chocolate.

Living on the beautiful Gold Coast, in Australia, the family loves spending lots of time on the beach. And travelling as frequently as possible.

When Jaymin isn’t trying to wrangle two daughters, a puppy and her husband, you will find her hiding in a corner trying desperately to write her stories (without little fingers pressing random keys). She asks forgiveness if you notice the occasional sskkkkssjs appearing in her book, her children are proud of their contribution.

She’d love it if you contacted her, giving feedback or just to have a chat.

Stay updated:

http://www.jaymineve.com

https://www.facebook.com/JayminEve.Au…

And check out her blog at:

http://jaymineve.blogspot.com.au/

Leia Stone

Leia Stone lives in Portland, OR with her husband, two kids and her dog. When she is not chasing around her twin son and daughter, or writing, she has her nose shoved in a book. She wrote her first book when she was 23 years old. Keep reading, live with purpose. Freeworld!

Follow me on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/leia.stone

REVIEW: A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES

16096824

Synopsis:

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

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

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

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

REVIEW

So I finally, FINALLY finished this thing. I got some time yesterday to sit down and devour the last 30%, and I’m so glad I did. Because for one, this was a beautiful read from a writer’s point of view. The details Sarah creates with her words is truly amazing, making the world building in this exquisite. I felt like I was there, living in a faerie court alongside Feyre. For me that made this a class-A read in itself.

From a creative POV, I was really impressed with the originality of the story. It’s not easy to weave a tale about the Fey that readers haven’t already seen before. I thought the author did a fantastic job keeping you guessing about where the journey was going to take us.

On a less amazing note, I did feel like in the middle of the story things got a little slow, and I kind of lost interest for a few chapters. Also, Feyre made some pretty stupid decisions, and ignored quite a few peoples’ advice, putting her in situations I felt she was smart enough to stay out of in the first place. Of course I know that the author has to add some conflict to make things interesting and make the story move along, but I felt like some of the things Feyre got herself into were kind of stupid, and she could act rather childish at times.

To sum it all up, I was happy with the story and its outcome. I think the sequel will be interesting to read, if only to see how life after the big ending comes about. Fans of faeries and tales of the mischievous Fey are sure to be pleased if they pick up this read.

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES BY SARAH J. MAAS = 4 STARS

AUTHOR INFO

Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series (Queen of Shadows, Book 4, will be out in September 2015), as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (out 5/5/15).

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

WEBSITE: http://sarahjmaas.com/

TWITTER: @SJMaas

Old Review Look Back: Divergent

I recently watched the movie Divergent, the likes of which I’ve watched a few times, and it made me want to go back and read my review that I originaly posted for the book from three years ago. It’s pretty entertaining to see what your thoughts were on something from way back and to see how they have changed over the years. And since I’ve been in such a reading rut lately and haven’t been able to post any new reviews, I thought I would repost my old review for Divergent by Veronica Roth for you all.

P.S. I challenge all of my readers to go back and read through some of your thoughts on a few of your favorite reads from back in the day 😉 I bet it’ll either make you smile or cringe terribly. Or maybe both lol.

 

image

Synopsis:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Veronica Roth is the New York Times bestselling author of Divergent, the first in a trilogy of dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

REVIEW

First off, I cannot see how you can’t give this book at least a 3 star rating. If you did, then you apparently don’t have a taste for dystopian fiction. But then again everyone has a right to their own opinion. So…back to the book.

I loved it.

Honestly, I didn’t have the greatest expectations at first. I thought this was going to be boring and probably not a well thought out plot, but I could not have been more wrong. This author came up with the most incredible world pact full with such minute details you felt like you were living the story alongside the characters. And for me, that is one of the most important elements I look for in a dystopian. This got an A + + for world building.

Now what can I say about Tris…she is one kick ass heroine who can joke with you one moment and the next put a bullet through your head. What I’ve noticed from other books in this genre with their heroines is that they are either too cocky, too sweet, too whiny, or just down right boring. Tris is a character that anyone can relate to, and you want to root for throughout the book.

I really enjoyed this story and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes action, drama, a touch of romance, and a whole lot of suspense. A perfect read.
AUTHOR INFO

Veronica Roth

Veronica Roth is from a Chicago suburb. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University, and wrote DIVERGENT (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011) and INSURGENT (May 2012). The third and final book in The Divergent Trilogy, ALLEGIANT, will come out on October 22, 2013. In the meantime she will spend endless hours browsing Wikipedia in her pajamas as she eats corn flakes. (Or some other kind of bland breakfast cereal.)

WEBSITE: http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/