My Book Bag is a monthly feature where I’ll be sharing all of the books that I preordered for the month. There are so many amazing stories to look forward to this month so without further ado, here are all the new releases I’ve pre-ordered! Links to each book’s Goodreads page can be found down below if you’d like to read the synopsis.
When We Collided by Emery Lord (Goodreads)
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (Goodreads)
The Mirror King (The Orphan Queen #2) by Jodi Meadows (Goodreads)
Lady Renegades (Rebel Belle #3) by Rachel Hawkins (Goodreads)
Hamilton: A Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Goodreads)
Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw (Goodreads)
The Land of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer (Goodreads)
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater (Goodreads)
The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh (Goodreads)
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (Goodreads)
Welcome to my reading challenges recap for 2016! This is a monthly post where I’ll be updating my progress throughout the year by challenge so you (and I) can see a breakdown of what I’ve read and which goals those books apply to. I’m always open to suggestions in the comments as well!
Read so far: 37 (*slightly* inaccurate graphic because I’ll be finishing two books today and it’s the last day of March)
FLIGHTS OF FANTASY
Read so far: 19
Books that Qualify:
CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE READING CHALLENGE
Read so far: 10
Books that Qualify:
THE RE-READ CHALLENGE
Read so far: 2
Books that Qualify:
February: Superboy: Smallville Attacks (review)
March: The Fellowship of the Ring
2016 TBR PILE READING CHALLENGE
Read so far: 21
Books that Qualify:
March: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (review), Split Second (review), Clockwork Prince (review), Dark Triumph (review), Tiny Pretty Things (review), Madly, Komomo Confiserie Volume 1, Catching Jordan
2016 FINISHING THE SERIES CHALLENGE
*This challenge will fluctuate throughout the year based on whether a new book in the series has been released. A star denotes that I am either finished or current with the series.
Goal: 3-6 series
Series completed so far: 2
Series current with so far: 7
Books that Qualify:
February: Grave Mercy (review), Boomerang (review), Into the Dim* (review), Poison Study (review), The Storyspinner (review), The Assassin’s Blade (review), Reign of Shadows* (review), Shadow and Bone, Ranma 1/2 volume 3
March: The Crown and the Arrow*, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (review), Split Second* (review), The Skylighter* (review), Clockwork Prince (review), Dark Triumph (review), Tiny Pretty Things* (review), Madly*, Komomo Confiserie Volume 1, The Shadow Queen*, Catching Jordan
I’ve been so excited about Spring fashion, particularly because my favorite colors are “in” this season, so there’s been many opportunities to expand my wardrobe. I made up a name for the collection of merchandise I’ll be spotlighting today but all of the pieces of apparel below are part of the Fairytale collection (in case you find yourself browsing the Wildfox website). I love all the cute sayings on these mermaid themed pieces. My favorite is the angry mermaid – “I traded my tail for this?!” but I also really love the “my collection” pink sweatshirt. I can tell you firsthand that Wildfox apparel is some of the most comfortable and well made on the market! I basically live in their Malibu pants and t-shirts from past collections. I’m hoping to infuse my wardrobe with some more of these pieces soon ^.^
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken is the first book in a dystoipian trilogy in which, all of the children in the country are infected with a deadly disease called IAAN. Those who survive IAAN contract supernatural powers which are classified by the government by sectioning them off into different colored categories. Each color is unique to the type of ability and the kids are all placed in camps where they are oppressed by the adults who fear them. The Darkest Minds was the March book of the month for the TBR Pile Reading Challenge Book Club and I’m going to be reviewing it in a different format than usual. A list of discussion questions were posted in regard to the book and I’m going to be answering them here. Before I start, my general feelings about The Darkest Minds were not what I had been hoping for. It may be that I’ve lost interest in dystopian novels but it took me nearly 3 weeks to read this book (which is a really long time for me). There were elements that I enjoyed, such as Bracken’s writing but because it took me so long I was unable to form any type of real attachment to the characters. I did not feel as invested in the story as I might have several years ago which makes me sad. I can’t decide if I’ll be continuing with the series at this point but if I do, it will be sometime unforeseeable future.
*THIS DISCUSSION CONTAINS SPOILERS*
1) If you contracted IAAN, which category would you want to be in? (Red, Fire; Orange, Mind Control; Yellow, Electricity; Blue, Telekinesis; Green, Intelligence)
I really feel as though I would fall into the Green category as I’m often commended on my memory sans a newly contracted ability. Plus, I’m a Ravenclaw so Green would have to be the best fit.
2) What were you initial impressions? Do you like the writing style? Did the prologue pique your interest?
As I stated in my intro, while I did enjoy the writing style, I wasn’t ever fully invested in the story. The prologue definitely did pique my interest as it began with an action scene and left me wanting to know what the sound was and why Ruby was effected. I think The Darkest Minds had a very strong start but it wasn’t until the near end that I got that same sense of wonder.
3) Thoughts on Ruby wiping Liam’s mind? Is it for the best?
I’m really torn on this one! Part of me feels like it was a betrayal of trust but the other part can understand why she did what she did.
4) What do you think about the government’s way of “dealing” with the kids with special powers? Why did they send them to work camps where they were mistreated and abused, instead of trying to understand/study their abilities, or even training the kids and use their powers?
I think the government’s way of dealing the special powers is completely unacceptable. It’s obvious that the adults are terrified of the unknown and they came up with what they believed would be the safest way for them to preserve the society they’re familiar with instead of trying to learn about the abilities and work together to create a safe future for everyone as opposed to a limited group. I don’t think it’s right to separate children from their parents and haul them off into a prison-like atmosphere when they are just beginning to learn about themselves.
5) Ruby is very scared, naive and distrustful (which is completely understandable after what she’s been through). Do you find her to be a believable character? What did you think about her character development?
I never felt any real connection to Ruby which could partially be due to the wall she’s built around herself. I saw definite redeeming qualities within her and I can understand how she would be appealing to other readers, she just didn’t totally resonate with me. As for how believable her character is, if anything, I’m surprised she wasn’t even more distrusting and unwilling to set out with Chubs, Liam and Zu.
6) How did you feel about the relationship between Ruby and Liam? Did you think it was rushed?
I didn’t totally understand how their relationship formed so quickly. I didn’t feel any chemistry between them at all and I was surprised at how much Ruby liked him by the end of the book.
7) Do you think the story line is bullet-proof or did you have any issues with the plot-line and the logic behind the world-building?
I did have some issues with the story and the world-building but with most YA I go into it suspending most disbelief because stories are just that- stories. While they’re engaging and it’s fun to fall into a different world, I find that there’s rarely anything that’s perfect. Not even our own world!
8) Do you think Chubs is okay? Do you have any predictions for how things will turn out for him?
I have to say that I am quite worried about Chubs. He is the character I came closest to developing concern for, especially in the latter half of the book. He seems like such a nice introvert and I hated how he was being treated by his original squad.
9) How do you think things will turn out for Zu? Why do you think Clancy approved her group to leave in the first place?
I think Clancy approved for Zu’s group to leave solely to get her out of the camp. I think he wanted to tear down as many of Ruby’s allies as possible because she’s the only real threat to him when it comes down to it.
10) What are your opinions of Clancy? Is he redeemable? Do you think he really would have run?
In my eyes, Clancy is not redeemable. I thought he was shady the moment he appeared on the page and I never trusted him at all. Things were too controlled and too perfect for him to have been a good person.
11) How do you imagine things panning out for Ruby and Liam? Will he ever get his memories back? Do you think he’ll hold it against Ruby when (or if?) he finds out?
If I had to guess, I would hypothesize that Ruby will learn how to restore Liam’s memories and while he’ll initially feel betrayed by her, he will ultimately end up forgiving her (probably sometime in book 3) and they’ll end up together.
12) How did you react to the end? Did you cry? (Jess BAWLED. For a considerable amount of time. Like, at least half an hour.) Do you plan to read the next book–and if you do, will you jump in soon, or are you going to give some time in between because the end to this one was so traumatizing?
It’s become somewhat of a tradition for me to post photos from the Sakura Matsuri festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens one year late. Maybe this will be the year that I post photos in a timely manner! Last year, Andrew and I started our day at Sundaes and Cones which has amazing ice cream. I had gotten scoops of black sesame and lavender in a cone and I donned one of my favorite ModCloth dresses to match the cherry blossoms. Overall, it was a lovely day!
**Warning! If you haven’t read Clockwork Angel which is the first book in The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare, there will be spoilers ahead. You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare is the second book in The Infernal Devices trilogy and it’s set at the Shadowhunter Academy in London many years prior to the events of The Mortal Instruments series. Clockwork Prince picks up whereClockwork Angel leaves off and I have to say that I loved this second book even more than the first, despite all of the toying it did with my emotions. Like, serious heart wrenching stuff. Also, to all those Will Herondale fangirls: I get it now.
Following the events of Clockwork Prince, Charlotte is threatened by her fellow Shadowhunters and she is given an ultimatum by the Clave to either find The Magister or uncover compelling information about his whereabouts within two weeks time or she’ll lose the institute to the Lightwoods. So as I’m sure you can imagine, the stakes and stress levels are at an all time high for our characters. I loved learning more about The Magister and his colored past in Clockwork Prince. While I obviously hate him, he is my favorite type of villain to hate. He’s calculated and patient which is an admirable combo when used for good but in him, I’m incredibly nervous. Clockwork Prince also gives much more depth to its side characters, even those who may have seemed minor turn into much bigger players as the story plays out. I can barely put into words how excited I felt while reading Clockwork Prince and again, I’m just blown away by how Cassandra Clare got me so incredibly attached to these characters.
Okay, so it would be remiss to write this review without talking about the romance. In Clockwork Angel I felt that my place on Team Jem was solidified by the story’s end but everything I thought I knew was basically tossed upside down in this second installment. My ship has changed BUT I am still irrecoverably heartbroken over my feelings so I cannot even begin to place myself in Tessa’s headspace because if my insides are this torn, forget about Tessa’s. The whole time she described her feelings I was nodding and being like “I know Tessa, I know.” I need Clockwork Princess immediately because I NEED to know how this will be resolved. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m going to leave it at that.
Final Thoughts: Clockwork Prince is the near-perfect follow up to Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. This second piece of the story is a quick paced adventure that’ll have your heart racing and your emotions running rampid. I will give you fair warning that upon finishing you will be unable to function until you can begin reading Clockwork Princess. I honestly just want to talk about this book with everyone because I was blown away by the story, the character development and the Shadowhunter lore. I honestly feel like this is a must read series.
In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.
With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.
Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?
As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart. (via Goodreads)
Hi everyone! Today I’m here with a new video called My Intimidating TBR Pile Tag. It’s a tag that was created by Lindsey of Lindsey Rey and it spotlights some of the books on my TBR that I haven’t gotten to for a multitude of reasons. Let me know if you’ve read any of them or if there are any that I should bump up my list!
**Warning! If you haven’t read Grave Mercy which is the first book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers, there will be spoilers ahead. You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers is the second book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy but as it is a companion series, it follows a different set of characters than those in Grave Mercy. The main story continues from book one with the Duchess fighting against those backstabbing her and plotting to take her reign of Brittany away from her. This time around, we see the story progress through Sybella’s point of view with Beast as a major character as well. Sybella is a character you may remember from Grave Mercy as she is one of Ismae’s half sisters, or daughters of Mortain, who was trained at the same convent, while Beast is one of the two men Duval placed his trust in. I have to say that while I did love Dark Triumph, I did not quite enjoy it as much as I did Grave Mercy.
Dark Triumph is a darker tale than Grave Mercy. We’re clued into some of Sybella’s supposed madness as we see it through Ismae’s eyes in Grave Mercy but in Dark Triumph we are able to delve deeper and find out firsthand why Sybella suffers the way she does. I really enjoyed the progression of Sybella’s character and the growth she undergoes during her tumultuous time in the D’Albret household. Sybella is chosen to go undercover in his household as she has the best cover of any of the other assassins, D’Albret believes her to be his daughter. I bet you can gather where some of her psychological issues are stemming from. Sybella is extremely hard on herself and it’s not until she opens herself up in the latter half of the book that she finally begins to accept her past and live more in the present.
The love story between Sybella and Beast is absolutely adorable. Their characters are such great compliments for one another and there’s a darkness that dwells in each of them which explains why they’re so drawn to each other. I also appreciate that there attraction is largely non-physical. Sybella looks past Beast’s physical appearance and she loves him for who he is and Beast wholly accepts Sybella and all of her past. Their relationship develops and they establish a bond built on mutual respect. If I have one complaint about Dark Triumph, it’s that while I enjoyed the Sybella and Beast story and there were definite things happening to move the overarching plot along, I felt like their story often distracted from the elements I loved in Grave Mercy which left me wishing for more information about the politics and further information about the occurrences in Ismae and Duval’s household. Also, I would’ve just liked to see more Duval in general.
Final Thoughts: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers is the follow up to Grave Mercy but it takes us to D’Albret’s house while he continues to plot against the Duchess. The story focuses on Sybella and Beast, two strong characters with dark pasts who are coming to terms with their place in the world while forging a slow burn romantic relationship. As the name suggests, Dark Triumph is a much darker story than Grave Mercy and it’s much more psychological and character driven at its heart. I’m looking forward to reading Mortal Heart and learning more about Annith before this historical fantasy comes to a close.
When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convnt were only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.
But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for… (via Goodreads)
Hi everyone! I’m back with my next installment of Little Loves. Little Loves is a post series I created as a way to acknowledge and appreciate more of the little things that are making me happy every day.
💖 MY NEW BOOKSHELVES (I could honestly end this little loves post here but there’s a ton to catch up on from my Holiday Edition!) 💖 SPRING because Cherry Blossoms<3 – they’ve always been my favorite part of welcoming the warm weather 💖 My new Cherry Blossom Nike sneakers 💖 Too Faced’s Sweet Peach spring eye shadow paletteTiny Pretty Things by Sonia Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton – I’ve only just started this one but I already love it. It’s full of ballerinas~💖 Kate Spade’s newest collection which speaks to my heart, hence already ordering a ton from it 💖 The Pivot Point duology by Kasie West which is the perfect blend of sci-fi and contemporary 💖 Ice Cream Cone season is back 💖 Daredevil Season 2 has debuted on Netflix & Andrew and I are dedicating the weekend to binge-watching it 💖 Homemade Mexican food – guacamole, enchiladas, quesadillas & veggie tacos are some of my favorite dinners 💖 My newest Harry Potter Funkos which look lovely on my shelf 💖 Joining Frodo & gang on their journey to Mount Doom during my Fellowship of the Ring re-read 💖 Finally being able to display my lovely Disney statues 💖 Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare – I never thought I would love any of her books after having lackluster feelings toward The Mortal Instruments but holy cow, The Infernal Devices is everything💖 Spines With Wines because I get to see Melissa & Cassie and talk about books 💖 Cadbury mini eggs and Cadbury creme eggs… and Reese’s eggs. Really most chocolate Easter candy 💖 My new Harry Potter Signature hardcovers with slipcases 💖 Pink and Mint everything 💖 Treinta Unsweetened Green Iced Teas from Starbucks – my signature drink 💖 Our new couch because it’s really nice to have a place to sit! 💖 As always, spending time with Andrew 💖
Tiny Pretty Things is the first book in a series by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton focusing on the competitive world of ballet. As soon as I heard the pitch (Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars) I knew this book would be something I would enjoy. There’s something so fascinating to me about these girls who have such dedication to their talent, follow a strict set of rules and how cutthroat they can be toward one another because they’re competing in an industry with such limited job placement. The story focuses on three main characters, Bette, Gigi and June and it follows them throughout an entire year at their prestigious Manhattan ballet school. The book is full of drama and it’ll constantly keep you on your toes, never giving you a clear indication of who to trust. This is one book I devoured and I plan to read the sequel as soon as it debuts.
Tiny Pretty Things has three main POVs that the story is told from. June is a half Korean girl who is always cast in the understudy role. She struggles with never having known her father and she after an incident, she never allows herself to get close to anyone else at the school. Gigi is the new girl and unlike the majority of her class, she’s of African American descent. She’s much more carefree, having moved from California, and she is by far the most personable, grounded and genuine of the girls. Lastly, there’s Bette, the stereotypical mean girl and Queen Bee of the ballerinas. She’s constantly trying to juggle living up to her sister’s legacy, her alcoholic and mostly absent mother, and her own insecurities. Each character has a compelling point of view of the events that occur while they’re at school and I especially appreciated the diversity between each of them. There were moments where I felt like each girl was my favorite character. There are other students who play a predominant role in the story from love interests, to frenemies and even to teachers. Tiny Pretty Thingsis a book I would suggest reading for the characters alone, though if you struggle with unreliable narrators, you may take issue with the story.
On top of the compelling characters, I also fell in love with the setting of the story. I love that it takes place in Manhattan and having lived in or under an hour away from Manhattan for almost my whole life, I will never tire of seeing the city through someone else’s eyes. Add the ballet school to the mix, which allows for the excitement of finding out who will be cast in which roles and just how far certain dancers will go to achieve their goals, and I was completely hooked. The entire time I was reading, I felt as though I was so close to unraveling a mystery but no matter how close I came, there were still pieces missing. Even as certain things are revealed, there’s still more unanswered questions to keep you wondering. Tiny Pretty Things also deals with many serious issues that teenagers face including bullying, racism, eating disorders and drug addiction and it’s all done very well.
Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best. (via Goodreads)