99 Days

Posted on Saturday, April 25th 2015 in Review

99 DaysTitle: 99 Days
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Date: April 21, 2015
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Description: "Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me. "

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

***

Ok, where do I even begin? I read 99 Days pretty quickly. It was a fast, light read and it’s perfect if you want something for laying by the pool. There were some things I really liked about this one, and some things I really just didn’t.

 

The Love Triangle is a Train Wreck

One girl. Two brothers. One kind of dumb girl, with apparently little self control, and two horrible, messed up brothers. Now, we know from the synopsis (and the beginning chapters) that Molly had a thing with both Gabe and Patrick. Oops. Is this a case of shit happens? Or is it something we’re going to have to watch play out again? Or maybe she’s just telling us about the past? I won’t tell you which one since I don’t want to spoil the book, but I can’t tell you how many times I was shouting “Are you stupid?” and “WHAT ARE YOU DOING???” while reading this book.

 

Important Lesson: Slut-shaming is Wrong

Yes, kids. Slut-shaming is wrong. And we honestly and truly covered that in 99 Days. It made me so happy! Yes, Molly’s actions were wrong. Does she deserve to be tortured while everyone looks at Gabe and Patrick as victims of some home wrecker? Hell. No. They were 1. just as guilty as she was and 2. Terrible people. As brothers, they should love each other and treat each other with respect. They should desperately want to avoid doing something that would truly harm the other. And do they? Nope. They don’t give a f**k about each other and in a lot of ways, that’s the real problem here.

 

Finally! Let’s Talk F-ed Up Siblings

Now, when it comes to sibling love triangles, do you know how often the author addresses the fact that the siblings clearly suck? Pretty much never. So many, many applause for Katie Cotugno. It is so refreshing to see an author address the real issues between the siblings instead of just slamming the person they were fighting over. There are almost no words for how happy this makes me. Cotugno addresses the problems between Gabe and Patrick and I really need to give her props for that. Despite the bad situation in this book, we look at it from all angles. I almost always hate sibling love triangles, and Katie Cotugno did a great job of showing everything that is inherently wrong with them. 

 

Grieving Brothers Treat Our MC Like Poo

Molly is objectified so hard core (and that is kind of the point of the novel). I don’t think either Gabe or Patrick saw her as a real person. Sayings along the lines of “my brother’s girl” were present throughout the novel and really underscored that Molly wasn’t allowed to be Molly with these two. She was a possession.  Obviously, this isn’t cool, but again Cotugno uses the book to identify and explore the issue and does not glorify it.

 

In the end I’m almost not sure how I feel about this book. I hate the situation the characters were in, but I love how it was handled. Sibling love triangles can really be a push button for me, and it certainly was with 99 Days, but it’s like Katie Cotugno had all the same issues with sibling love triangles that I do and explored everything that is wrong with them in this book.

4 Stars

Fairy Tale Fashions: Glass Slippers

Posted on Friday, April 24th 2015 in Uncategorized

Ok, so I thought I was done with Cinderella for awhile. I really did. But then I saw this picture on The Cinderella Project (fantastic site with a focus on fashion, travel, and amazing photos). Apparently the original photo came from KT Merry via Instagram. I couldn’t find the actual photo on her feed, but her pictures are so beautiful I will certainly be following her from now on.

 

We’ve seen several interpretations of Cinderella’s shoes throughout the years, but I think this is the most accurate (of a glass slipper anyway, clearly not a good option for a gold slipper). First and foremost they are actually clear. Brava! But the crystal accents keep them feeling glamorous rather than cheap.

What do you think? A good take on glass slippers or just another interpretation that doesn’t quite hit the mark?

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Cinderella-inspired Dresses for Girls
Cinderella-inspired Dresses for Adults
Cinderella Shoes
Cinderella Makeup
Kohl’s Cinderella for Girls
Cinderella Book Tag
Cinderella Movie Reaction
Cinderella by Lauren Conrad & a Giveaway (ends 4/27)

City of Glass

Posted on Thursday, April 23rd 2015 in Review

City of GlassTitle: City of Glass
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Mortal Instruments #3
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Date: March 24, 2009
Pages: 541
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Description: "To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters - never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City - whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of the New York Timesbestselling series The Mortal Instruments. "

Goodreads | AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

***

City of Glass is my favorite The Mortal Instruments book so far. It was just so action-packed and it wrapped up everything nicely (although there is still room for more books, which may be a bit obvious since there are 3 left). Cassandra Clare’s writing is better than ever and I just felt there was a bit more to City of Glass than the previous novels.

While City of Bones is an introduction to the shadow hunter universe and City of Ashes is essentially the Jace/Valentine book, City of Glass is the book that brings it all together. We don’t have to spend a lot of time on world building, character development, or back story. The vast majority of that was handled in the prior novels, so we get to sit back, curl up with old friends, and watch everything play out.

Speaking of old friends, Simon is my favorite in terms of character development. He has come so far since City of Bones, and not only have I grown to like him, but I also respect him. He is brave and courageous and just so much more than he was in City of Bones. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about Clary’s development over the series, and while it was good, I wasn’t particular blown away. Oh yea, and Jace. Well, he’s grown a lot too and I don’t dislike him anymore (he’s much less cocky now), but I don’t see what the big deal is either.

Seeing all of these characters thrown together in a pretty awful battle against Valentine was great. It was just so suspenseful (and reminded me a bit of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows even though there are pretty clear differences). There were a few plot twists that I figured out about half way through the novel, but they were good ones and I was wondering when exactly they’d show up!

City of Glass is a phenomenal conclusion to the first half of The Mortal Instruments series. I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the book, as well as The Infernal Devices. I’m expecting to love it just as much as I did City of Glass.

If you’ve already read City of Glass, check out my spoiler-filled book discussion!

5 Stars

Waiting on Wednesday: Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Gothic, and a Dystopian

Posted on Wednesday, April 22nd 2015 in Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

For more books I’m looking forward to, check out the Upcoming page.

 

Fantasy

The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas (October 2015 – Balzer + Bray)

“In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort….

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.” Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

 

Fairy Tale

Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas (September 2015 – HarperTeen)

“When the glass slipper just doesn’t fit…

The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story.

Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker.

Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her—a fairy tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after.

Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.” Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

 

Gothic

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee (September 2015 – Katherine Tegen)

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…” Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

 

Dystopian

The White Rose by Amy Ewing (October 2015 – HarperTeen)

“Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

The White Rose is a raw, captivating sequel to The Jewel that fans won’t be able to put down until the final shocking moments.” Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

 

Don’t these all look amazing! Let’s start with The Immortal Heights, it’s the final book in the Elemental trilogy and I cannot wait to see how everything wraps up. If you like fantasy and haven’t started this one yet, you really should! Check out my review of The Burning Sky for more on why it’s so awesome. Another sequel I’m looking forward to is The White Rose. I really liked The Jewel and I’d like to see what happens next.

Then we have Ash & Bramble because as you know I freaking love Cinderella! I actually have a Cinderella socks giveaway going on now, so go enter if you haven’t already. They are so adorable. If you’re also a fan let me know what you think of these Cinderella-inspired dresses I found. I also found some really cute little girl dresses and a few adorable Cinderella kid’s items at Kohl’s as well!  Seriously, I’m obsessed.

Another thing I’m obsessed with is Gothic Lit. It was my favorite subject in high school and I wrote a killer essay on Withering Heights if I do say so myself. Frankenstein was one of my favorites, so when I heard a retelling was coming out, This Monstrous Thing went straight onto my to-be read list.

 

What books are you looking forward to this week? I’m always looking for new things to read so definitely let me know in the comments!

The Glam Guide

Posted on Tuesday, April 21st 2015 in Review

The Glam GuideTitle: The Glam Guide
Author: Fleur de Force
Publisher: Headline
Date: February 12, 2015
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Description: "Fleur de Force started making YouTube videos in 2009 out of a passion for everything beauty and fashion related. What began as a fun hobby quickly turned into something much bigger, and she's spent the past five years seeking out the best products, top tips and easiest ways for us all to look and feel more fabulous. In The Glam Guide she shares all of her secrets and discoveries so whether you're looking for makeup tips, wardrobe cheats, first-date pointers or healthy lifestyle motivation, this is the book for you. "

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I really enjoyed The Glam Guide. It’s not readily available in the U.S. yet, but since I love Fleur de Force’s channel so much I ordered a copy from The Book Depository. While I didn’t find the entire book helpful, it did have quite a few useful tidbits and I am glad that I purchased it.

The Beauty section was a little been there, done that if you watch Fleur’s channel or just know a lot about makeup and the Fashion section was only slightly more helpful. The real stars were the lifestyle sections: Travel, Health and Fitness, Life, Love, Dreams and Everything in Between, YouTube and Blogging.

Fleur has insightful tidbits to share from her life experience and many trips around the world that I thought were very interesting. It’s a pretty quick read and if you’re looking for advice from one of YouTube most successful gurus (and an entrepreneur who has achieved their life’s dream) it’s an excellent book to pick up.

Outlander

Posted on Monday, April 20th 2015 in Review

OutlanderTitle: Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #1
Publisher: Dell
Date: June 1, 1991
Pages: 642
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Description: "Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an "outlander"—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. "

Goodreads | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

***

I really enjoyed Outlander. I thought it would take me about a month to read it all since it’s just so big, but I ended up flying through it in about a week. The characters are great and the romance is lovely, but it is far more character-driven than plot-driven.

There were several times I asked myself “why does everyone like this book so much?” while reading. Part of that is that the plot takes a back seat to the characters and you just find yourself wondering where it is heading and how long could it possibly take to wrap everything up that we need over 700 pages? Honestly, I don’t think we do and the book definitely could have been trimmed down, but by the time you reach the end you are invested enough in the characters that you don’t mind as much that it wasn’t as tightened up as it could’ve been.

The other reason I found myself confused as to why this book was so well loved was pages 200 – 400. There was just so much sex! And sexism! We were at the point where I was sitting there going, “how is this any different from a romance novel?” Between the Highlands setting, the hero, and all the sex it was really starting to feel like I picked up something in a completely different genre. Check out my book talk in the video below for more details on why I didn’t like pages 200 – 400. I’d like to keep this review spoiler-free!

Now before you start to think that I didn’t like Outlander, the first 200 pages were a win. And pages 400 – end were wonderful! I had a rough go with the middle of the book, but there is a lot here to love. The characters are very well developed, Jamie is quite endearing, and I absolutely love him and Claire. They’re just wonderful. And the supporting cast is equally awesome with some memorable people.

I previously mentioned that the plot is a little rambly, and instead of being a straight shot, seems to go on all sorts of unnecessary tangents. In the end though, it’s fine! You’re so invested in the characters that you come to enjoy just reading about them and learning more about them. And of course, since it’s a somewhat haphazard plot, there are plenty of things that you just won’t expect or see coming.

The best part of the novel for me though? The history. I freaking loved the history. I didn’t know that much about Scottish history going into Outlander, but the things I’ve learned from reading this book are fascinating and it really makes me want to visit Scotland.

Have you read Outlander already or seen the TV show? It’s so popular and I can definitely understand the hype now even if the story is not without flaws. If you haven’t I would definitely recommend it and you should let me know what you think of it after you’re done reading/watching!

 

P.S. The Outlander blanket I showed in the video and am wearing in the thumbnail is seriously awesome! It’s big, soft, warm, and plaid and I definitely recommend it for any Outlander watching/reading session.

4 Stars

Poisoned Apples

Posted on Sunday, April 19th 2015 in Review

Poisoned ApplesTitle: Poisoned Apples
Author: Christine Heppermann
Publisher: Greenwillow
Date: September 23, 2014
Pages: 114
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Description: "Once upon a time...
you were a princess,
or an orphan.
A wicked witch,
fairy godmother,
prom queen,
valedictorian,
team captain,
Big Bad Wolf,
Little Bo Peep.
But you are more than just a hero or
a villain, cursed or charmed. You are
everything in between.
You are everything.

In fifty poems Christine Heppermann places fairy tales side by side with the modern teenage girl. Powerful and provocative, deadly funny and deadly serious, this collection is one to read, to share, to treasure, and to come back to again and again. "

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

***

I thought the concept for Poisoned Apples sounded pretty interesting. I was expecting to love the mashup of fairy tales and contemporary stories told in verse. However, it just wasn’t for me.

The poems share a common theme, but I was expecting them to tell a cohesive story. Instead, they each stand alone and tell different stories. Some deal with dysmorphia, some deal with pedophilia, and some are just judgmental of society’s materialism. These aren’t themes I would gravitate towards to begin with, but the lack of a streamlined story made it even worse. With a story, I might have grown to like some of the characters or I might have appreciated the technique used to illustrate the themes.

As it is, the author’s note was the most interesting part of the book because it explained the reason for the poems and provided a bit of history on the fairy tale genre. As someone who really likes fairy tales, I thought it was very interesting. Unfortunately the way this book was executed, in addition to the themes, was just not my cup of tea.

Summerfall

Posted on Saturday, April 18th 2015 in Review

SummerfallTitle: Summerfall
Author: Claire Legrand
Series: Winterspell #0.5
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Date: August 26, 2014
Pages: 130
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Description: "In this captivating novella, prequel to the upcoming Winterspell, Claire Legrand weaves a story of magic, political intrigue, and forbidden love.

Rinka is a faery, passionate and powerful, determined to maintain the tenuous peace between faeries and humans.

Alban Somerhart is a human, a reluctant king trapped in an arranged marriage, desperate to prevent war.

Their love could save the kingdom of Cane—or shatter it forever.

This entrancing tale sets the stage for the rise of a wicked queen, and the journey of a lifetime for a human girl named Clara... "

***

Goodreads | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble

I really wish I had read “Summerfall” before I picked up Winterspell. It’s not so much that there is any life-changing information in “Summerfall,” but there was a lot of history that likely would’ve affected my opinion of some of the characters in Winterspell.

Now we heard all about Anise’s parents in Winterspell, so I knew what happened in “Summerfall” before I read it. Being introduced to Anise’s and Nicholas’ ancestors was pretty insightful, though, as was the state of Cane during Alban’s reign.

I can’t remember meeting any of the “Summerfall” characters in Winterspell aside from Drosselmeyer, but I am wondering if they had appearances in Winterspell that I simply missed because I didn’t know who they were.

It’s definitely not necessary to read “Summerfall” in order to understand the Winterspell plot line, but I think the additional insight into the characters and world would enhance the overall Winterspell reading experience.

Fairy Tale Fashions: Julianne Donaldson Jewelry

Posted on Friday, April 17th 2015 in Fairytale Fashions

I have raved and raved both Edenbrooke and Blackmoore in my book reviews and various round ups in the years since I’ve finished them. Despite the zillions of books I’ve read, Julianne Donaldson’s works are forever kind of books. The kind that will stay with you no matter how long ago you read them.

She actually has a store on her website where you can purchase Edenbrooke and Blackmoore inspired jewelry and prints. Here are my three favorite pieces:



 

Julianne actually said in a recent blog post that the jewelry line may be discontinued (and that we can probably expect a new book from her in about two years *happy dance*), so if you’re thinking about getting one of these don’t think too hard. They may not be available for much longer.

 

 

Switched

Posted on Thursday, April 16th 2015 in Review

SwitchedTitle: Switched
Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: Trylle #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Date: January 3, 2012
Pages: 318
Format: ARC
Source: Gift
Description: "When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy finds out her mother might've been telling the truth. With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - and it's one she's not sure if she wants to be a part of. "

Goodreads | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository 

***

I know Switched is a book about trolls, but it just reminds me so much of faeries! And we all know I love a good fey book. Since I’ve read Amanda Hocking’s Wake series and had heard great things about the Trylle series, I was very excited to pick this one up and I’m glad I did.

I just really like Hocking’s writing. Her pacing is always spot on and I just fly through her books. I don’t like her characters quite as much because they all tend to have qualities that I find irritating. In Switched, for example, our main character Wendy is pretty rash. She does what she wants to do with little regard for her safety and the warnings of everyone around her.

Now if the people around her were repressive or over protective, that would be one thing. But she is well aware of exactly how much danger she is in. And does she care? Nope. She probably will once the consequences of her actions start to pop up, but until then? Not so much. She just strikes me as incredibly short sited.

But I don’t have to like Wendy to love Switched. I read all but the first chapter in a single sitting. It was exciting, it was adventurous, and it was relatively different. I’ve never read a book specifically about trolls before and was a little surprised at how similar they are to fey. While they are different, we still have some magic, some very pretty people, and of course changelings. It doesn’t look like there is a troll realm we’ll be seeing, but even though it takes place in the US, the huge palatial mansions and odd-set of societal rules really lends a fantasy-feel to the entire novel (helped in no small part by the magic and trolls).

I wish I had picked up Switched sooner because I just really enjoyed it and am so looking forward to continuing the series. If you’ve read Wake or like fast paced stories with magic in them, I think you’ll love this one too!

4 Stars