Saturday, December 31, 2016

10 Retellings I will definitely (probably) be reading in 2017

Something you guys MIGHT know about me is that I am obsessed with retellings. I love them. I think they're the greatest genre (is it a genre?) ever to be written. I have very rarely met a retelling I didn't love and these are the top ten that I'm really hoping I get to in 2017: 


Peter PanLost Girl by Chanda Hahn
BlackbeardBlackhearts by Nicole Castroman
RumpelstiltskinThe Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine
The Little MermaidDrown by Esther Dalseno
Beauty and the Beast Hunted by Meagan Spooner
One Thousand and One NightsA Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
Vlad (Lada) the ImpalerNow I Rise by Kiersten White
Beauty and the BeastOf Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
PersuasionFor Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
FrankensteinSuch Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

My favorite retellings are usually Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan, so it shouldn't be any surprise that there are a couple on this list! I've also never read a retelling of The Little Mermaid and the cover of Drown is gorgeous so I'm looking to get my hands on that one ASAP! And I'll admit, I've never read Persuasion, I don't know anything about Blackbeard, and I didn't know much about the historical Vlad the Impaler before reading And I Darken, but I'm excited for each of these retellings anyway!



Have you read any of these? Did you love or hate them? 
Are any of my list on your TBR? Let me know in the comments! 
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Thursday, December 29, 2016

ARC Review: Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill


Title: Ever the Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms #1)
Author: Erin Summerill
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400

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Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force. 

Britta is an outcast. Her entire life she has only had one friend, Cohen, her father's apprentice. Britta's father teaches her everything he knows, training her and Cohen to be the best trackers in the land. After a tragic accident, however, Cohen leaves, and Britta is left friendless and with no one to rely on except her father. Unfortunately, when we meet Britta at the start of Ever the Hunted, her father has been murdered, and as an orphan who is viewed as illegitimate, she is about to lose everything. Until she receives a proposal that could change her life - track and capture her father's murderer and she can keep her land and remain free. The only problem - Cohen killed her father.

Doesn't this sound like an awesome plot? I thought so; I was so excited for Ever the Hunted and was ready to go on a wild adventure. However, the book fell very flat for me. The entire synopsis happens within the first 50 pages of the book, and then...not much happens after that. There was a little bit of excitement that developed in the plot about 200 pages in, but that's a very long time to wait for action. So, if there wasn't much going on in the plot, what was happening for the entire book? For that answer, we have to discuss the characters (namely, Britta).

Britta is the most special of the special snowflakes. She has magical powers that she didn't know about until one day she suddenly performs magic. But Britta doesn't seem the tiniest bit concerned about the magic she just created, because she spends the ENTIRE book wondering why Cohen doesn't like her. She is supposed to be tracking her father's murderer, and yet on every other page, she is getting distracted by Cohen's smell of masculinity. Yes, that is actually how his scent is described - whatever that means. Britta is weirdly obsessed with Cohen's scent, which is described about a hundred different ways throughout the book. And she is constantly doubting herself and wondering what she did to keep Cohen from liking her, when he is CLEARLY in love with her. It seriously could not be more obvious. Britta's constant whining really bothered me as I was reading and kept me from caring about the characters or what was going on in the plot.

Ever the Hunted was well-written, but it's nothing we haven't seen before. It is full of classic fantasy tropes that we see over and over again in YA fantasy. That doesn't make it bad, it's just not very unique. It could still be an entertaining read, as long as you don't go into it expecting to be taken on a wild ride. Ever the Hunted is focused way more on the romance aspect than on the fantasy adventure. If you like kissing books, you may like this one a bit more than I did. I wanted an epic story, and I got angst, angst, and a heck of a lot more angst.

There is something else I need to mention that I noticed as I was reading. Ever the Hunted has a complete lack of diversity. Every single character who has their skin described is white. The only mention of any skin that wasn't pale was one little comment about the people living further south having slightly tanned skin because of the sun. That's it. Everyone is white. There was also a point at which a character scoffed at the idea of women being together. Full disclosure: Britta had asked if two Channelers (people with magic) could produce a powerful child. She was laughed at because all Channelers are women, so they obviously could not be together. Of course, it is true that two women cannot produce a child together, but the way this situation was handled in the book didn't sit well with me.

Ultimately, if you are a big fantasy reader, I would not suggest Ever the Hunted. Maybe if you haven't read much fantasy, you will enjoy it. But if you read a lot of YA fantasy, you have probably read this book countless times before. Also, if reading diversely is something that is very important to you, you will probably want to pass on this one. As for me, I don't think I will be checking out the next book in this series.





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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #128: 5 star reads of 2016


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2016


Although I thought nothing could beat 2015 in books, this year did it! I definitely had my fair share of disappointment, but overall I had a great reading year! All of these were five star amazing reads that I will most definitely be reading again and again!



A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
And I Darken by Kiersten White
The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard
Caraval by Stephanie Garber



Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Wintersong by S.Jae-Jones


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
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Monday, December 26, 2016

ARC Review: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard


Title: RoseBlood
Author: A.G. Howard
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 432
Add to Goodreads

//I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review//

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

Two things drew me to RoseBlood. First, it's written by A.G. Howard who has literally never disappointed me. I adored her Splintered series and am already in love with the Haunted Hearts Legacy. Second, I am HUGE Phantom fan. I've read the book and its unofficial sequel and I've seen the broadway show and its official sequel. When I saw that one of my favorite authors was writing a retelling of one of my favorite stories, I knew I would have to read it as soon as possible!

The very first thing I realized about RoseBlood was that it wasn't actually a retelling, but more of a modern day continuation of the original story. Of course, the Phantom is still a key figure in this story. If you're asking yourself how that's possible in a modern-day continuation of his story from the 1800s, just trust me when I say it all works out. Apart from Erik, there are two main players - Rune, a gifted singer and RoseBlood's newest student, and Thorn, who regards the Phantom as his father.

Both Rune and Thorn were fantastic characters and this really was their story. On their own, each of them are strong, talented characters with their own tragic pasts to contend with. I loved Rune and found her to be extremely easy to sympathize with, more so as the story went on. I liked that she was independent while still reacting believably to danger, unlike some of the "strong women" that often show up in fantasy. Thorn was an amazing love interest who made Rune's safety his priority while always acknowledging that she was fully capable of taking care of herself. Their romance was entirely swoon-worthy! The unusual, soul-deep connection they shared gave me all the feels and honestly I would love to have seen even more of them together! (Maybe we can get novellas like we did with the Splintered trilogy?)

While the Phantom was a part of this story, he certainly wasn't the center of attention and I feel as if he was less developed than the other characters because of it. I think this was mostly okay though, since Erik is such a well-known character already. We already know his backstory and this just builds on it, often in very unexpected ways. I'll admit the additions to his story threw me off a bit, but I can definitely appreciate the originality. This Erik has a bit more to him than the one you already know.

As always, A.G. Howard has crafted a totally unique and immersive world. I felt like I could perfectly picture the gorgeous, gothic surroundings she painted from the opera house to the Phantom's lair to the chapel and the graveyard. I loved trying to work out exactly what the secret passageways would look like and how they'd work. My absolute favorite was the aviary, which you definitely want to know more about (trust me).

I did have a bit of a hard time getting going with RoseBlood. The story was extremely interesting, but it starts off very slow. A good chunk of the story is just Rune settling into her new school, meeting new friends, and facing off with the resident mean girls. Once things finally picked up after Rune and Thorn met, I couldn't put it down! I loved that I never quite knew what the big picture was and new things were constantly being revealed. While it ended up being much different than what I expected, I really did love it!

My biggest gripe about RoseBlood is that it started so slow. The elements that surprised and confused me were also the bits that made this such a unique continuation of the Phantom's story. If you go into RoseBlood without too many preconceived ideas about what you're going to read, chances are you're going to love it! A.G. Howard has created a gorgeous world with amazing new characters to integrate with the old and the romance is to die for! If you're a fan of retellings or Phantom of the Opera, this is one you definitely shouldn't miss.



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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

What's this? Not a Weekly Recap? It may be the first I've ever missed... But today is Christmas!
Since I'm sure a lot of people are spending today with families and not reading blogs
(& MC and I are both off the blog today) I thought I'd post a bit of Disney fun instead.


Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016 End of Year Survey




Number Of Books You Read: 103 (as of today)
Number of Re-Reads: 2
Genre You Read The Most From: YA Fantasy



1. Best Book Top 3 Books You Read In 2016?
Shadow and Bone, A Court of Mist and Fury, Caraval

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead - I expected fantasy and got historical fiction

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Caraval by Stephanie Garber

5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?
Series started: And I Darken by Kiersten White
Sequel: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Series ender: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?
Stephanie Garber, S. Jae-Jones

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Royal We by Heather Cocks

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?
RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

11. Most memorable character of 2016?
Male: The Darkling - The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
Female: Lada Dragwlya - And I Darken by Kiersten White

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?
I don't have an answer for this because I'm terrible with quotes.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?
Shortest: Stygian by Santino Hassell
Longest: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Pines by Blake Crouch

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Rhysand and Feyre - A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Jackaby and Abigail - Jackaby by William Ritter

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
The Architect of Song - A.G. Howard

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?
The Darkling - The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

23. Best 2016 debut you read?
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Caraval by Stephanie Garber

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepeteys

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?
Caraval by Stephanie Garber

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo



1. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?
The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (Spoiler: I secretly like writing bad reviews)

2. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
That time I posted before the blog ratings with no justification

3. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
ALA in Orlando

4. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?
Meeting other bookish people at ALA

5. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Overcoming reading and blogging slumps

6. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
The Plight of Book Bloggers in 2016

7. Best bookish discovery?
#booksfortrade

8.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Several! You can see all my challenges here!



1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?
Now I Rise by Kiersten White

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

5. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
Caraval by Stephanie Garber & Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones



The annual end of year survey was created by The Perpetual Page-Turner! I'll be linking up here!
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Friday, December 23, 2016

ARC Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver


Title: Replica (Replica #1)
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins

Pages: 520
Add to Goodreads

Lyra

From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.

But when a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.

Gemma

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April.

But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two human models, or replicas, 24 and 72—and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learnes terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.

Two girls, two stories, one novel.

Replica is a book that requires a little bit of explanation before we even discuss the plot and the book's strengths and weaknesses. Replica tells the story of two girls, Lyra and Gemma. The book is written as two completely separate stories and you can choose how you would like to read them. You can either read Lyra's story and then Gemma's, Gemma's and then Lyra's, or alternate chapters as you go. I chose to start with Lyra and alternate every chapter. I definitely recommend alternating chapters, because it really keeps you in touch with both girls throughout the entire story.

Gemma is a girl from a rich family, but she has been sick for most of her life and has therefore missed out on a lot of experiences. One day, frustrated with her situation, she stumbles upon a connection between her father and Haven, a mysterious research facility in Florida that seems to be shrouded in secrecy. Lyra is a replica. She lives in Haven with hundreds of other replicas and knows very little of the outside world. When Gemma and Lyra's worlds suddenly collide, the foundation of everything they know is shaken and their lives are changed forever.

I was definitely intrigued by Replica as soon as I heard about it, and I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed this story and was kept guessing throughout the whole book. Some of the twists really took me by surprise. I was blown away by some of the things that certain characters were capable of. There were a few plot points that were a little bit too convenient, however. A few things fell into place too easily. I still really enjoyed the book despite these issues, but they kept it from being a five star read for me.

One of my favorite aspects of Replica was the characters. At first I was more interested in Lyra, because her story starts with a lot of excitement and intrigue. As I kept reading, though, I really became invested in Gemma and her story. I think by the end of the book I liked Gemma just a tiny bit more than Lyra, but I still cared about both girls. I also adored the secondary characters, primarily April, Pete, and Luke.

I think Pete might have been my favorite thing about the entire book. I loved him so much. However, as much as I loved Pete and Luke, I don't think the "romance" between them and Gemma was really necessary. I put romance in quotes because it was so small that it barely existed. There was a slight hinting at a love triangle, but it never really developed. The romance aspect of the book was so trivial that it really didn't need to be there at all. This wasn't a book that needed romance; it was a great story on it's own without adding in any kind of love story. I do understand what Lauren Oliver was trying to accomplish by including romance in the story, but I think it should have been either left out completely or developed a lot more to prove her point.

I definitely want to pick up the next book in this series and see how the story develops. I really want to know what happens to Gemma and Lyra and how they deal with the fallout of the events at the end of the book. I am intrigued to learn how many books will be in this series. I think it would be quite apropos to have this series as a duology. The dual storyline is a very cool writing technique, but it might get old after a while if this series continues on and on. Although, regardless, I will probably still check out whatever comes next for Gemma and Lyra.




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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Horror Challenge: 2016 wrap-up


Congratulations on completing the 2016 Horror Reading Challenge! I hope you had fun this year and met all your goals! My goal for 2016 was Horror Hound and I was able to just make it! This post contains my personal wrap up, challenge badges for your blog, and the end of year giveaway!


WHAT I READ

4.5 - 5 Star Books



3 - 4 Star Books



1.5 - 2 Star Books




BADGES
Grab the badge that correlates to the final number of books you
read for the challenge this year. (Just save and upload to your blog.)

Running Scared badge: 1-5 books
Brave Reader badge: 6-10 books
Fearless badge: 11-15 books
Horror Hound badge: 16+ books

 



GIVEAWAY
(International as long as BD ships to you!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dystopia Reading Challenge: 2016 wrap-up


Congratulations on completing the 2016 Dystopia Reading Challenge! In this post you'll find my personal wrap-up, badges to grab for your blog, and the end of year giveaway! My goal this year was Leader and I was able to meet my goals! I hope you were too!


WHAT I READ

4.5 - 5 Star Books



3.5 - 4 Star Books



2.5 - 3 Star Books



1 - 2 Star Books




BADGES
Grab the badge that correlates to the final number of books you
read for the challenge this year. (Just save and upload to your blog.)

Recruit badge: 1-5 books
Rebel badge: 6-10 books
Revolutionist badge: 11-15 books
Leader badge: 16+ books

 



GIVEAWAY
(International, as long as BD ships to you!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway



You can sign up for the 2017 Dystopia Reading Challenge HERE!
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