30 October, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. These week, we've piled together our favourite kick-ass heroines. This is just a list of girls and women whom I think have defined the phrase 'kick-ass' through their literary battles. Enjoy! Here they are:

1. Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy)
She is one of the most bad-ass characters I have ever read! I would never want to piss her off.
2. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
This one is fairly self-explanatory. She is one heck of a survivor. With a bow.
3. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
With just her brain power and a wooden stick she could win any fight. Seriously.
4. Tris (Divergent)
When Tris joins the Dauntless faction, I think she absorbs the meaning of 'dauntless' and takes it to a whole new level.
5. Celaena Sordothian (Throne of Glass)
The land's most accomplished assassin that comes in a deceptively adorable little package!
6. Isabelle Lightwood (Mortal Instruments)
She kills demons. With a whip and witty tongue while wearing heels!
7. Katsa (Graceling)
She is bestowed with the powerful ability to kill and she uses it as the ultimate weapon. Yikes.
8. Eowyn (Lord of the Rings)
She is no man!!! Just a witch-king killing machine.
9. June Iparis (Legend)
In Legend, June is rather book smart rather than street-wise, yet I still wouldn't want to get on her wrong side!
10. Yelena Zaltana (Poison Study)
She is such a witty and abrasive person. Not to mention her extremely epic magical ability.

29 October, 2012

Review: Slated by Teri Terry

Series: Slated #1
Genre: Dystopian
Format: Paperback
Published: May 3, 2012
Publisher: Orchard Books
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.
She’s been Slated.
The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance - as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?  - Summary from Goodreads

My Review

In future Britain where the reining political party pardons the criminal youth by wiping their minds and replacing them back into society, Kyla finds herself awake. She's been relocated into society, given a new name, new parents, a new sister, and expected to make progress reintegrating into regular life as a teenager. But what lurks in her past that made her become slated? Memories that make no sense start to come back to her, and she tries to make sense of them before any one notices that she isn't like all the other slated children.

I quite liked Kyla. She was innocent due to her brain alteration, yet somehow I knew she was a survivor. The other characters were all quite good and definitely moved the plot along, I'm just not sure there was anything particularly unique about them other than the girls who hated Kyla. I quite liked their stories. What really had me reading was the hope of finding out more about Kyla. I was glued to the pages and can safely say that Teri Terry has an abundance of writing talent that won't disappoint.

Overall, I really thought this was a great start to a fantastic new dystopian series. It has the suspense, the intrigue, and the interesting overbearing society! I am eagerly awaiting the second book, and I would recommend it to those who like dystopian. If you don't usually go for dystopian books, I'm not sure if this book is for you.

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27 October, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (#21)

This is a weekly meme (originally hosted by Tynga's Reviews) where I showcase the books I've acquired throughout the last week. These can be purchased, borrowed, or for review!

This week is another quick haul. I just haven't been buying or borrowing a load of books at once. It's probably because we were living on cheap pasta and not shopping for non-necessities so I stave off getting paperbacks and hardbounds. Catch my drift? But now that that time is over, I can hopefully start adding to my collection next week!

Broken by A.E. Rought
For Review

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Poulson

What did you add to your shelf this week?

25 October, 2012

Review: The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo

Series: Grisha Trilogy #1
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Published: June 7, 2012
Publisher: Indigo
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.
Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?
The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.
But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?
Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance. - Summary from Goodreads

My Review

Most people will know this book as Shadow and Bone. I know this book as one freaking fantastic fantasy novel. Alina's story and the world of Ravka have been playing in my mind ever since I put down the book. If you want a creative fantasy world with top-notch story telling, look no further than this author's debut novel.

The idea of the Grisha themselves kept me glued to the pages. Magic wielding soldiers with their own orders and rankings with the power to summon elements like wind, the power to heal or hurt human beings, or the power to make weapons and mystical technology. Each order has their place in the world and the world is really captivating. Ravka is a cold and dismal place, but you can't help thinking of the hope the people could have. The architecture and setting described is (not surprisingly) Russian inspired, but I thought Leigh Bardugo was masterful at setting the scene. The movie based on this book is in serious talks with DreamWorks and producer David Heyman. From reading the book, I strongly feel as though it will be an extremely visually driven movie, as the book is quite setting focused. Win, win all around!

The characters in this book so very likeable! Alina as a personality really isn't anything special and for some strange reason, I like that. Sometimes it's hard to root for a kick-ass heroine who seems like she doesn't need any help. Alina is the underdog at first, but definitely one that quickly learns how to bite back. Mal, Alina's childhood friend is her anchor. He is her past, present, and a possible future for her until Alina gets caught up in the Grisha web. I think the real winner of a character is The Darkling. He is just so serious, demanding, and mysterious! He is the most powerful man in the whole land, so much power that it has extended his life, making it impossible to know his age. 

Overall, this is an extremely exciting book! It's perfect for those who love epic fantasy, as well as those who like a magic-centred world. It is simply gorgeously written and quite possibly my favorite book of 2012 (yet). I can't possibly wait for the next book set to be published in June of next year.

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24 October, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Undeadly by Michele Vail

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Every week I get to show you a title that I'm eagerly anticipating the release of! Please link up your posts or tell me which book you can't wait for!

Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries #1)
by Michele Vail

To be published November 20, 2012
Publisher: Halequin Teen

The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird...
Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper-and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. Who seems to hate her guts.
Rath will be watching closely to be sure she completes her first assignment-reaping Rick, the boy who should have died. The boy she still wants to be with. To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly-against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally. - Summary from Goodreads

I love reapers. I do! I used to be obsessed with the mediocre TV show 'Dead Like Me', so I like a good spin on something usually clichéd. I am definitely waiting on this one!

23 October, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Get In the Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. These week, we've piled together our favourite books that put us in the mood for Halloween! My picks aren't so much scary as they are reminiscent for me. Enjoy! Here they are:

1. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling- There's nothing better than pumpkin juice, floating jack-o-lanterns, and magic wands to remind you of Halloween. Fabulous.

2. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake- This book is a fantastic YA Horror novel. Creepy, gory, and gruesome. If this doesn't put you in the mood for Halloween ghost hunting, I don't know what will!

3. The Goosebumps Books by RL Stine- They are technically kids' books, but I used to love them when I was younger. And you can literally choose any spooky story you can imagine!

4. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl- There's something about Southern Gothic architecture and swampy landscapes that scream 'Haunted Mansion' for me. Plus when you throw in some magic, you just can't go wrong!

5. The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa- You've got some bad-ass vampires and a disease that turns people into ravenous zombie vampires. Creepy, eh?

6. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater- It's so autumnal with werewolves that turn when the weather cools. And it's some pretty good paranormal romance!

7. The Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine- A city is run by vampires and Claire is caught up in their ranks. I think it would do the job to get you to think about Halloween!

8. A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton- In a cold English village, Anna uncovers magic and an Old English spell book. It's chilly and magical!

9. The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead- A great vampire series and a staple paranormal genre. Vampires with the ability to control the elements constantly attacked by bad nasty vampires! Maybe I just trivialised it, but it's still good.

10. Once a Witch by Carolyn McCullough- A young witch, constantly in the shadow of her older sister's glory discovers her powers and a bit of love and time travel in between. Love witch books for Halloween!

What are your top Halloween-y books? Leave me a link to your post below!

22 October, 2012

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Series: Anna #1
Genre: Paranormal, Horror
Format: Paperback
Published: July 5, 2012, first published August 30, 2011
Publisher: Orchard Books
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story...
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
And she, for whatever reason, spares his life. -Summary from Goodreads

My Review 

Cas Lowood never stays anywhere for long. He and his mother routinely blow in and out of towns for the family business: ghost killing. It doesn't leave much time for making friends, but when Cas is researching the gruesome ghost of Anna Dressed in Blood, a ghost known for ripping people up, he needs all the help he can get! He is determined to discover why Anna spares his life despite being just as gruesome as she was rumoured to be.

As far as this book goes, it's pretty darn creepy and mysterious. On my paperback there is a warning against younger readers due to some graphic content and I think that that warning is entirely warranted. In this world, ghosts are excessively gross and Anna rips people limb from limb. And I like it that way. It's original. I loved Cas and the premise of a male YA main character who was actually pretty darn bad-ass. 

I liked the characters in general, even if the supporting characters are at times clichéd  Cas meets Carmel, the typical popular girl at school who turns out to be a bit more complicated than that. And Thomas, the nerdy boy with the ability to read minds who happens to have a pretty big thing for Carmel. It's a fairly standard set of sidekicks, but the real icing on the cake is Anna herself. She's scary, yet fragile and there's something innocent lurking behind her evil eyes that makes you want to know more. It had really me turning the pages to find out what happened to her to make her that way.

So, if you're looking for a creepy read, then look no further than Anna Dressed in Blood. It's a refreshing male perspective to the YA genre. And with Halloween approaching, this would be a great series to pick up! It's got blood and guts with some mystery and romance thrown in. What else could you want from a ghost story?

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21 October, 2012

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Series: Throne of Glass #1
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Published: August 2, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. - Summary from Goodreads

My Review

The prickly and deadly Celeana is given a reprieve from her sentence of manual labor. She's lucky to have even survived the salt mines, therefore a test of her skill shouldn't be so difficult. Or is it? This fantasy novel was one of my most anticipated book releases of the year, yet I'm posting this a very long time after finishing it. Regardless of my serious slothfulness towards my blog, I really think this book has done it. It's a gem, guys.

I had no issues with the pacing or the plot itself. It had me glued to its pages. In between her elimination trials and physical training, Celaena found herself in court life befriending the prince and devouring books and I not once found myself bored. I think that's because of the fantastic mystery of the dead criminals. Her adversary would-be champions keep ending up dead and Celaena has to figure out who is killing them. If she attracts too much attention, she could end up the next target. The mystery is creepy, gruesome, and all around an amazing plot.

In addition to the plot, the characters themselves bring life to this story. Chaol is by far my favorite. He's the young Captain Westfall, best friend to the prince and often the serious one in the room. In contrast, Prince Dorian is vastly misunderstood and hilarious. He's also completely enamoured of Celeana, who undertakes a serious personality transformation. Other reviewers have said that Celaena has some issues. I totally agree. But it is not without purpose. Over the course of the book, Celaena goes from having practically no soul to becoming a puppy-loving, dress wearing softie who knew how to survive. I think the girl was there all along, she just was icey to protect herself. Don't get me wrong, though. By the end of the book she was just as frustrating as ever, I'm just a sucker for main characters who are flawed.

As a fantasy book, there will obviously be some amount of world building. Throne of Glass has the perfect amount of myth, legend, and mystery in its fantasy world. It doesn't confuse the reader or overwhelm the plot one bit. In fact, I'm intrigued. I want to know more about the group of assassins Celaena was a part of and the history in the queen long since dead.

Throne of Glass has got it going on in all the right places for a fantasy reader. Assassins, criminals, princes, hot guards, magic, pretty dresses, and even a friggin puppy. I honestly dare you to dislike this book! I am on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one.

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