Mood & Music Monday: 2/27/17

Hello, and welcome this week’s Mood and Music Monday!

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? Great and Holy Lent just started for the Orthodox Christians, and I decided to give up secular music this year. So, instead, I’m listening to church hymns. The hymn above is “Now the Powers of Heaven” (a hymn from the Presanctified Liturgy) by the Moscow Sretensky Monastery Choir. I believe this arrangement is composed by Grigory Lvovsky, who just so happens to be one of my favorite four-part church composers. This video leaves me breathless every time.

What are you reading? I finally finished Nevernight! (Yaaay!) I also started RoseBlood; I’m only around 40 pages in, so we’ll see where it goes.

What are you drinking? Kombucha, water, and, because it’s raining where I am, we’re making tea! 😀

Any goals for this week? Staying alive this week–and for the next seven/eight weeks in general, to be honest. Lent means more services, which is wonderful, but, when you have homework and beta reading to do, things can get stressful really quickly. I’m balancing a lot this week, and I hope to do it successfully.

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

MY SOUL TO SAVE (Soul Screamers, #2): Review

6763961My Soul to Save (Soul Screamers, #2) by Rachel Vincent
Published by Harlequin Teen on December 29, 2009
Genres: young adult urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Pages: 279
Format: Paperback
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★½  


Uh oh. I’m in trouble.

I’m reviewing this book, and I can barely remember a thing about it.

Granted, I didn’t exactly read this yesterday, so it might be that time is working against my memory. But I think the more likely reason why I couldn’t remember much about this book is there’s not much worth remembering.

The idea itself was super cool: teenagers selling their souls for things like fame and fortune and immortality. I enjoyed how we got to see more of Tod and the reaper world. But everything else is dull and underwhelming, and, as much as I wanted to like the idea of hellions and the Underworld, I grew more bored and tired of it than intrigued.

The characters weren’t very special, either; again, I liked Tod, and I liked how we got to see more of Nash’s mom (she’s so cool) and Kaylee’s (I had to look up her name again) dad, but most of the book is spent in the company of Kaylee, Nash, Addison, and Emma, and they just weren’t exciting enough to hold my attention or interest.

I don’t want to bore you, too, so I’ll be brief: I was disappointed by this one, but in the this-is-kind-of-boring-and-I’m-not-invested way. I’m seriously considering not reading the next book.

Mood & Music Monday: 2/20/17

Hello, and welcome this week’s Mood and Music Monday!

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? HOW DID I JUST DISCOVER THIS SONG NOW? I’ve been a fan of Lana’s for years, and apparently she released a new song, “Love,” two days ago. It kind of sounds like her older stuff (which I really loved)–atmospheric, but simple and stripped-down in its beauty (like the demo for “Black Beauty”). I can’t wait to hear more new releases, Lana! Hurry up!

What are you reading? Still making my way through Nevernight, and hoping to start Blood Red, Snow White tomorrow.

What are you drinking? The usual. (I’ll let you guess what that is.)

Any goals for this week? Keeping pace with beta reading. 0_0

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

Mood & Music Monday: 2/13/17

Hello, and welcome this week’s Mood and Music Monday!

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? I enjoy Angus & Julia Stone’s “Big Jet Plane,” but I think this is my favorite of theirs. It’s so soothing and sweet.

What are you reading? I’ve finished Shatter Me, and I’m curently working through Nevernight by Jay Kristoff and The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

What are you drinking? Water and Kombucha and my daily dose of oxygen.

Any goals for this week? Staying on top of my TBR pile for this month. (Is it really for leisure if I pace myself?) I don’t want to have to return a book/several books to the library because I didn’t have time to finish them. :/

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1): Review

16096824A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)  by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 5, 2015
Genres: young adult/new adult, romance, fantasy, retellings
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★★


If I had to use one word to describe this novel, I think it’d be “tepid.”

Others don’t seem to fit right. “Bland” implies I didn’t enjoy this novel. “Dull” makes it sound like this book was disagreeable. It’s not that I didn’t like A Court of Thorns and Roses. It’s that I didn’t love it.

I’d heard mixed reviews about this book from my peers, so I was a little wary of starting the series. But the people I knew who’d liked it had loved it. These people lauded Maas as a masterful writer. Fae combined with a Beauty and the Beast retelling seemed more appealing than assassins to me, so I picked ACOTAR up first.

I will say that Maas definitely isn’t a bad writer. Her descriptions are vivid without being overbearing, and she does a good job of establishing the setting, whether it’s the forest during the winter, Feyre’s home village, or Tamlin’s Spring Court. She’s a good world-builder (which is further evidenced in ACOMAF, but I digress), and that’s something difficult to get right in YA fantasy.

The world Maas has created here is intruiging and mysterious. I want to more about the Fae and other nonhuman creatures in this world. I want to know more about Fae politics and dynamics between the High Fae of each court. This novel does a great job of setting up all these elements for future installments, and it’s one of my favorite aspects of this book. I can’t wait to see what Maas does with this world in later books.

I also enjoyed the relationship Feyre had with her sisters. She’s angry and upset that she’s the only one providing for them (which is understandable), and, though their relationships are strained, you can see that these siblings care for each other in their own ways. I also liked how Feyre was the youngest, which flips the “older sister=family provider” trope on its head (a trope which, if you’ve read my review for The Stars Never Rise, you’ll know is a trope I’m very tired of). It was nice to see something different for a change.

In regards Beauty and the Beast undertones, this is a very loose retelling. I got vibes of the original from ACOTAR via certain elements included, but this story is very much its own tale. (Speaking of which, one of my fellow bloggers wrote a short post comparing the abusive elements in Beauty and the Beast to the same elements in ACOTAR. If you’re interested, the link is here.)

Unfortunately, though I liked all of these things about ACOTAR, I failed to fully invest in the book as a whole. It’s 416 pages long, and, for at least 150 of those pages, we’re with Feyre in Tamlin’s house, where she does little more than explore the grounds and paint. Rounded up, that’s about 36% of the book where she’s doing pretty much nothing, and, honestly, it’s pretty boring to read. I had to push myself through first two thirds of the book in hopes that I would get invested soon.

There’s almost nothing to keep you reading during that time, either, besides the mystery behind Tamlin’s mannerisms and the world of the Fae. But for readers hoping for some sort of romantic tension, there really isn’t much until about halfway through the book. (I’d estimate it at about 55% in.)

After the big twist, of course, things get interesting, but they took such a drastic turn that it seemed I was reading a totally different book, and I felt a little disoriented. We went from admiring the various rooms and flowers on Tamlin’s estate to battling giant carnivorous worms in front of almost all the High Fae, and that was a rough transition for me.

(Also, people might argue with me, but I actually found Rhysand to be kind of creepy in this book. One could use his situation Under the Mountain to justify these behaviors, but, where some readers say they liked him immediately, my first impression of him was “typical cocky, good-looking bad boy.” So, obviously, I wasn’t endeared to him immediately.)

The main thing this book is betting on is the romance. In order to be invested in the story enough to want to keep reading, you have to be interested in Tamlin and Feyre’s relationship. But again, there’s little romantic tension or anything to keep readers going in the beginning, and, by the big twist, all of the sudden we have several “I love you”s. I just wanted more build-up, and we didn’t get it. Thus, by the end of the story, I wasn’t fully convinced that Feyre and Tamlin really were in love with each other, and I felt I couldn’t fully root for them as a couple, which was kind of disappointing. (Or maybe it wasn’t, because of what happens in ACOMAF? Jury’s still out on that one.)

While we’re talking about the romance, some readers have taken issue with Tamlin and Feyre’s romance in this book, and, while I see the red flags in retrospect, I didn’t take an issue with the dynamics while reading (probably because I’m oblivious, haha).

In conclusion, ACOTAR provides an intriguing new fantasy world full of potential, but this novel is lacking in both plot and romantic development, which made the roses in this court look wilted. (But it’s okay, because ACOMAF exists.) If you need one reason to read this book, read it so you can enjoy ACOMAF.

EVOLUTION (Extraction, #3): Review

20734195Evolution (Extraction, #3) by Stephanie Diaz
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on September 8, 2015
Genres: young adult romance, dystopian, science fiction
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★★★


If you know me, you know my luck with trilogies. You know how I warm up to a series, and, just when things start to get good, the third book comes along and pulverizes me with disappointment. It’s happened so many times (with some of my favorite series, too) that I actually get antsy when reading the third book in a trilogy, because I know how they end, and I know that they usually disappoint me.

But I can say with confidence that Evolution is one of–if not the only–trilogy finale that did not disappoint me. Trust me when I say this is the highest of compliments.

Before I review this book specifically, I want to take a step back and look at the trajectory of the series as a whole. The first book, Extraction, is a dystopian at its heart, with sci-fi undertones–strong ones, but undertones nonetheless. Rebellion saw a step toward the sci-fi end of the spectrum, with spaceships and spying and an undercover resistance (and so many twists and turns my eyes were practically Gorilla-glued to the pages).

In Evolution, we’re full-on sci-fi, complete with more spaceships (Can you hear the nerd in me squealing?) and an alien invasion. Here, Stephanie Diaz really steps into her own and brings everything she’s got to the table, and it shows. I enjoyed every bit of it.

This book starts in a seemingly impossible situation: Aliens are invading Kiel, and Clementine and her friends in the rebellion might have to consider an alliance with Charlie and the Commanders if they want to stand a chance against the Mardenite armies. But knowing that the Commanders have been Clementine’s enemies–the enemies of everyone she’s loved, the threats to her safety and her security and her entire world–how can allying with them even be a possibility? How could it ever be part of the picture? I knew it was going to take a lot of skill to pull of this maneuver.

But Diaz manages it, and she manages it well. This book doesn’t shirk away from character deaths, and it doesn’t back down from the high stakes it sets up. Everything has been leading up to this, and Diaz delivers.

One of my favorite aspects of this series (besides the covers, of course) is the writing: simple and clean and sleek, but still beautiful. It’s theatrical and vivid, but never overbearingly so. We get breathtaking descriptions of space and stars, and I ate them up with a spoon (the descriptions, not the stars).

In Rebellion, Diaz really hit her stride, prose-wise, and, here, her writing shines just as brightly. Diaz is always aware of the mood of each scene, and her writing tone reflects that really well. Quiet scenes are quiet, and intense scenes are just as explosive as they should be. All of them are written beautifully.

All this being said, I did have a little trouble buying one of the big twists in this novel because I felt it made one of the characters a little too much of a special snowflake, but it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. The ending was also wrapped up a little too neatly for me, but, again, a minor complaint. I’m always saying I hate it when I don’t closure at the end of a series, so it was great to have that here.

In conclusion, this was a really fun sci-fi series that got my adrenaline pumping in all the right ways, while just happening to have pretty prose. Between the gorgeous covers, the gripping plots, and the lovely writing, Diaz has captivated me with this series just as much as the stars she so skillfully describes. A stellar (heheh) conclusion to an action-packed sci-fi series that’s just as exciting as it is enthralling.

Mood & Music Monday: 2/6/17 + The Sunshine Blogger Award

Hello, and welcome this week’s Mood and Music Monday!

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? I’ve been getting into The Lumineers more. I really like this song, especially the acoustic demo. I loved the atmosphere that this stripped-down version gives, and how it tells both sides of a failed young love.

What are you reading? I’ve finished Heartless, P.S. I Still Love You, and Cinder, and I’m currently reading Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

What are you drinking? Water and Kombucha. 🙂

Any goals for this week? Staying on top of beta reading. I must do this. (Stop distracting me, Internet! Or maybe I’m distracting myself?)

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

The Sunshine Blogger Award

I was nominated by Katy Hatcher from Ardent Attachments for The Sunshine Blogger Award. Thanks, Katy! I’ve never been nominated for anything before, so I’m honored. ^_^ This was so much fun! Hopefully, I’ll get to do more challenges like this in the future. 🙂 Please go check out Katy’s blog if you’re looking for anything book-related and aesthetically-pleasing, to boot.

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions set by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and then write 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger award logo in a post/on your site.

Katy’s Questions

1. Favorite book-to-film adaptation?

Oooh, this is a tough one. If I had to pick just one, though, I think I’d go with “The Princess Bride.” That movie played a prominent role in my childhood, and its charm just never gets old. ^_^

2. Following on – what book do you want to be made into a TV show/film?

THE ILLUMINAE FILES. SERIOUSLY. All caps lock aside, this series would make such a cool film series/show. It’s action-packed, intense, and very, very stressful, and the characters are just…*squeezes Ezra to death, and tries to squeeze AIDAN but hesitates because wants to avoid getting killed*

3. Lastly – now dreamcast that film/tv show, only a few characters.

Hmm…Let’s see…

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Photo via IMBD Resume

Zoey Deutch as Kady: Kady is just as strong-willed and fiesty as she is sensitive–a fierce, determined hacker trying desperately to save the people she loves–and I feel Zoey would be able to show this balance well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo found here.

Josh Hutchinson as Ezra: Ezra is such a smol bean, and so is Josh, so I think he’d be able to depict Ezra really, really well–really cheesy and sappy, but heartfelt and strong and loyal. I know he played Peeta in The Hunger Games adaptions and it might be weird to see him in another YA adaption, but I think he’d handle the role well.

 

 

 

 

 

And, for AIDAN, I think I’d go with…

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Photo courtesy of Ed Campion and Wikimedia Commons via CC BY 2.0. No changes were made other than making the photo smaller.

Just kidding. In all honestly, I’d probably want Jay Kristoff himself to voice AIDAN in the movie/show. He’s the one who wrote the scenes from AIDAN’s POV, so it would be interesting to see AIDAN’s character come alive (or, as alive as an AI can get, anyway) via the (co)author himself.

4. If you were to write a book, what do you think your main character would be called? 

I actually am an author, heheh–just not a published one. The main character of my current work in progress is named Ezekiel. But, for new stories, I’ve been considering names like Evelyn, Stephen, Moe, Rowan, and Pippa. They have this little ring to them that I really like.

5. What are three songs you adore and why?

This is probably the hardest question in this whole set. Let’s give it a go…

1) “Goner” by twenty one pilots–This is my go-to cry song. Sometimes, I’m really scared I’ll just disappear entirely, and this song is a scream (quite literally) for help. To be noticed. To be loved.

2) “From Eden” by Hozier–For me, this song is about the devil you know, and Hozier’s voice makes this song so entrancing and seductive, just like I imagine the devil would sound, if he could sing.

3) “This is Gospel (Piano Version)” by Panic! At The Disco–Brendan Urie has a fantastic voice, and everything about this song is beautiful: the piano, the vocals, the lyrics. It’s one of those songs where everything resonates with me, and I love it to pieces.

6. Do you play video games? What are a couple of your favorites?

I actually can’t play video games. Like, at all. But I enjoy watching others play them. If the Wii counts, though, I like “Just Dance” and “Wii Sports.” (They’re easy, heheh.)

7. What book would you like to play through as a video game?

The Divergent series, please–especially the simulations. That’d be so, so cool.

8. What is your favourite Disney film?

THIS QUESTION IS EVIL. But, in all seriousness, I’d have to choose The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It’s so underrated, but the story is heartrendingly beautiful, and the music is fantastic. (Also, Clopin is my bae.)

9. What three book characters would you like to have lunch with?

Oooh, I love this question! 😀 It’s a tricky one to answer, though. If I had to pick, I’d want Death from The Book Thief, Laia from An Ember in the Ashes, and Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows. I imagine Death would quickly grow disillusioned with my intense conversations with Laia (because we’re practically the same person), and Kaz would probably be sneaking waffles to give to Jesper and the rest of the gang. 😉

10. If you were to get a book-related tattoo, what would you get?

Ahh! Something Six of Crows-related. (Probably “No Mourners, No Funerals” written with a tulip [for my precious flower Matthias] and a crow in the background.)

11. What’s your favorite breakfast food?

Bacon! Or maybe pancakes? (Maybe bacon pancakes?)

Nah, I’m just kidding. Cake is my favorite breakfast food. Stop judging me. Stop it right now.


My Questions:

1. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

2. If you could pick one book to describe yourself–one book you feel best represents you–which book would that be, and why?

3. Which song is your favorite, and why?

4. If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?

5. Which 2017 release are you most looking forward to, and why?

6. Do you like hardcovers, paperbacks, or ebooks best?

7. Are you a procrastinator, or do you work ahead?

8. Which school subject is your favorite, and why?

9. Which movie release of 2016 was your favorite?

10. Describe yourself in 10 words.

11. What is one piece of advice you would give to your past self?

 

My Nominees:

Elle @ Perusing Pages

Stacee @ Adventures of a Book Junkie

Sasha @ Down the Reading Blog

Brigid @ Wordfare

Rayne @ Rayne Adams

Alli @ A Bookish Alli

Laura @ readinglust

Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles

Maryam @ Once Upon a Story

Marne @ Abooktropolis

The lovely ladies @ NovelKnight