Waiting on Wednesday: Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino.  As soon as I heard that the freaking co-creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra would be releasing a new fantasy book in October of 2016 I basically screamed and added it to my Goodreads shelf / preordered the heck out of the title.  Without even reading the description I would be 100% behind this book because OHMYGOD.  The story follows a twelve year old who lives in a world where art is outlawed.  Each artist has a creative spirit that manifests in the form of a birdlike creature called a Genius and when Giacomo discovers he has one, he has to hide out before he’s punished or killed.  For those still in need of convincing, Rebel Genius has already been blurbed by Leigh Bardugo and Marie Lu!

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A new fantasy-adventure series from the co-creator of the hit animated shows Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra!

In twelve-year-old Giacomo’s Renaissance-inspired world, art is powerful, dangerous, and outlawed. Every artist possesses a Genius, a birdlike creature that is the living embodiment of an artist’s creative spirit. Those caught with one face a punished akin to death, so when Giacomo discovers he has a Genius, he knows he’s in serious trouble.

Luckily, he finds safety in a secret studio where young artists and their Geniuses train in sacred geometry to channel their creative energies as weapons. But when a murderous artist goes after the three Sacred Tools–objects that would allow him to destroy the world and everyone in his path–Giacomo and his friends must risk their lives to stop him. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor (Into the Dim #1)

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor is the first book in a new series about time travel which is pitched as the YA Outlander.  I was a little bit nervous going into the book since I do not like Outlander but after loving Passenger I thought there was still hope.  I was wrong.  I finished Into the Dim so I could review it but that was definitely done begrudgingly.  Into the Dim follows Hope Walton as she takes a trip to Scotland to visit her mother’s family after she passes and discovers that she comes from a long line of time travelers.

My main issue with the book is that I didn’t care about the characters at all.  Hope is the type of special snowflake character that has an eidetic memory so she can quote passages from books word for word no matter how much time passes.  Her intelligence level far exceeds that of any average person and yet she still manages to make bad decisions when she visits the past to save the mother she thought to be deceased.  Hope also suffers from anxiety and claustrophobia but it feels very forced, as if the author had to give her some ailment to offset her intelligence.  Everyone feels things differently but as someone who suffers from anxiety, it was hard to believe Hope’s.  It seemed like her anxiety would manifest in a very formulaic way whenever the author desired a minor conflict.  Hope is also guilty of slut-shaming the type of “cheerleader” girl who’s she’s never even interacted with since she’s home schooled.  I understand that she and her mother value intelligence but it doesn’t mean they should look down upon and judge young people with other interests.

Into the Dim

The beginning of the book is very slow moving and while the story does pick up in the latter half, I couldn’t get into it at that point after having been bored for so long.  I also had issues with the explanation behind the time travel and it felt like Tesla was solely mentioned to give credibility to the author’s theory.  This is a device that can be used well but I found it unsatisfying and similar to the feelings I had while reading Armada.  There’s also a love interest from a rival group of time travelers and again, I just couldn’t get myself to care.  Because of their parents rivalry there’s a bit of a forbidden love situation but it’s not done well.

Final Thoughts: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor is the first book in a new series about time travel.  The characters and narrative fell flat for me and I do not foresee myself continuing with further books.  The story has a very slow start, the time travel is not very interesting but most of all, the characters feel contrived and forgettable.  If you’re still curious you should check out Into the Dim and I wish you a more enjoyable reading experience than I had.

Rating 2

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.      Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail,Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: February TBR

I’m back on BookTube today with my February TBR! A little late considering we’re already 8 days into February, but better late than never.  I’ve already finished reading Grave Mercy which I reviewed last week and boy did I love it!  I’m so happy I kicked my month off with such a great read.  January and so far February have been great reading months so far and I really hope I keep this momentum up for the rest of 2016.  What are you planning on reading this month?

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Wish List Worthy: Cardcaptor Sakura Clothing Line

Living Dead’s newest collection is based on Cardcaptor Sakura and I am over the moon about it! Clothing is a huge part of Sakura’s life and I love that there are so many styles based on many of the outfits she dons in the anime / manga.  My favorite dress in the collection is the Cardcaptor skater because it’s based on the most iconic of Sakura’s outfits.  In case you haven’t noticed, I kind of love the color pink and I really love the bow on the front and the little angel wings on the back on the dress.  My favorite pair of leggings are the Star Wand leggings because I love the soft pearlized pink coloring and Sakura’s Star Wand is my favorite that she uses.  There are plenty of other beautiful styles as well but I’m hoping to at least get one of these to wear to an anime convention in the future! The full line can be viewed in Living Dead’s online store!

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Kristin

BookTube: January 2016 Wrap Up

Welcome to my January Wrap Up! I read a total of 10 books in January (9 novels and 1 short story!) so I’m pretty happy with my reading progress so far! I outlined which books applied to the reading challenges I signed up for earlier this week, but here are reviews in video form for everything I read since I haven’t gotten to write reviews for all of the books just yet.  What was your favorite read of January?

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Kristin

Wish List Worthy: Star Wars Tsum Tsum’s

I have been telling myself for a while that Tsum Tsums will be a slippery slope for me if I cave in and start going all out.  I’ve been exerting the utmost self control when I see them enter the Disney Store on Tsum Tsum Tuesday’s (the first Tuesday of each month) and I’ve managed to only buy some favorites thus far (the Christmas collection, Minnie, Peter Pan & Hook) but trust me when I say that the struggle is real.  Enter, my downfall.  Star Wars Tsum Tsums guys! STAR WARS! TSUM TSUMS! I have just been waiting for the day that this collection would be released and I’m super hoping this won’t be some type of gateway for me but GUH I need so many of them. ESPECIALLY Han and Leia. And Boba Fett.And R2. And Chewy.  These beautiful little bb’s come out on February 16th.

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Tsum Tsum - Star Wars

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Tea & Book Chat: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin #1)

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is the first book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy.  It’s a series I put in my Series I Plan to Read in 2016 video since I’ve heard such wonderful things about it from several credible sources.  Plus, it follows an assassin so that certainly caught my interest.  As someone who hadn’t really enjoyed historical novels in the past (until I learned I recently that I actually LOVE them see: Hamilton and Passenger), I had been expecting to have a difficult time getting into Grave Mercy but I was completely wrong.  Once I learned everyone’s names (which was a little bit confusing in the beginning), I found I had no problem enjoying the story and reading at my normal pace.

Our main character is named Ismae and she is the daughter of Mortain, the Saint of Death.  After a horrible childhood with an even worse stepfather, he sells her to a farmer for three coins.  Ismae has a scar on her leg from her mother attempting to abort her so she is viewed as undesirable.  On her wedding night, she get whisked away by a man who takes her to a convent that serves Mortain and after being tested, she accepts her new role as an assassin of Death.  I was shocked at how quickly Isame was willing to accept her new job offer but after being wronged by so many people I suppose I should’ve seen that coming.  I had honestly expected her to be hemming and hawing for a good portion of the novel but I’m so happy it was a quick decision because the remaining pages were used to tell a very captivating tale.  I love Ismae as a character.  She is eager to learn and serve her convent and despite what might seem like an impulsive first decision, she is very thoughtful in her actions henceforth.  I also love Duvall who strongly values family and puts his sister, the Duchess Anne above all else.  He protects her in ways that none of her other trusted advisers do.  Additionally, I also grew very fond of Duvall’s most trusted men, but particularly Beast.  These characters have secured a place in my heart and I cannot wait to find out more about them.

Grave Mercy

Seeing as how this is an historical novel, I would be remiss not to mention the intriguing setting of Brittany in the 15th century.  After completing the novel, I read the author’s note, only to find out how historically accurate all of her characters (with the exception of two) and much of the plot were (minus the whole Death’s daughter as an assassin thing).  For me, it is fascinating to learn about history when I can feel a deep connection to the characters involved instead of the dry recounts found in modern textbooks so everything about this story really worked for me.  I had so many feelings about what was going on and especially toward the latter half of the book I could feel my heart pounding in my chest while I read.  The fantasy elements interwoven in Grave Mercy enhanced the overall story and would add just as much if they were only metaphorical.  I love everything about the lore of the assassins, the tense atmosphere due to French threats in Brittany and the fate of these beloved pawns in an intricate political game.  As I understand it, the second book focuses on another character who meet in this book, but I’m still eager to find out more of the story!

Final Thoughts: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is the first book in the His Dark Assassin trilogy and it follows Ismae, an assassin who serves as her father Mortain, the Saint of Death.  I was completely captivated by Isame’s tale and the political situations in 15th century Brittany.  Robin LaFevers totally nailed it and I would highly recommend giving this series a read if you’re into historical fiction with fantasy elements.

Rating 5

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart? (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is a novel I had wanted to read since I first hear about it.  The premise is very different from any other YA I’ve ever read and while I enjoyed reading the book (seriously, I read it in two days and could not put it down), I had a lot of issues with the book as a whole.  As such, I’ve had a difficult time figuring out an appropriate star rating forFirsts.  As far as enjoyment levels go, I did enjoy it, especially for it’s originality, but as far as morally, I feel awful giving this book a high rating.  The struggle is real.

Firsts follows Mercedes, a girl who has an open door policy for virgins.  She gives them the coaching they need during their first time so they’ll be able to give their girlfriends the first time that Mercedes herself never had.  I’m sure you can see where my issues are stemming from.  Outwardly, Mercedes is a likable character and for some reason she believes she’s doing a good thing.  Her parents are very absent from her life and she even tries to flaunt some of her escapades in front of her mother in the hopes that “Kim” (as Mercy calls her), will start handing out parental advice or laying down ground rules. I personally believe that if you’re in a committed relationship with someone, you should not sleep with anyone else unless you both have some kind of mutual agreement that you established.  I would also argue that Mercy is the lesser of two evils as she was not in a relationship with anyone else nor was she actively seeking out guys with girlfriends but it’s hard not to imagine that she put herself in her classmates shoes at any point.  So overall, my biggest issue with this novel is the morality of it.  I found it exceptionally interesting that Mercy hated grey area and was only drawn to subjects like math and science where there’s one correct answer instead of English where there’s grey area when she chooses to life her life mostly in grey area. I’m not saying Mercy doesn’t deserve another chance but I wish she would’ve put more thought into her actions.  I also wish it would’ve been driven home more that Mercy sleeping with guys with girlfriends is wrong and instead of guys in general.

Firsts

All of that aside, I was amazed that Laurie Elizabeth Flynn was still able to make me like Mercy.  I did not at all agree with her choices but she is an intelligent girl (which is why it’s so hard to believe that she believed she was doing a good thing).  Throughout the book I just hoped for Mercy to get her life in order and to stop allowing so many boys to take advantage of her.  Despite her situation, Mercy is best friends with an avid churchgoer named Angela who has no idea what she’s been up to in the privacy of her own home so that was an interesting juxtaposition.  Mercy also genuinely cares for Angela and tries to protect her innocence since she abandoned hers long ago.  I felt terrible when I found out what happened to Mercy as a young teen but it still doesn’t justify her actions.  I was very surprised that there wasn’t more involvement or consequences from Mercy’s school or from her parents after the inevitable fallout from her extracurricular activities.  Mercy’s classmates resorted to slut shaming her which is unfortunate but I had been expecting that from the beginning. I don’t think that’s right under any circumstance but I can understand why some girls were so angry with her. I just wish they had gone about their reactions differently.

Final Thoughts:  Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is an original YA novels about a girl named Mercy who sleeps with virgins in an effort to allow them to give their girlfriends the perfect first time she never experienced.  The book is well written and manages to make Mercy a likable character but it’s impossible to agree with what she’s doing.  There seems to be a lot of morally grey area tied to issues that should be black and white. Even after writing my review, my feelings are still very mixed on this one.

Rating 3

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.  (via Goodreads)

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Waiting on Wednesday: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing Nevernight by Jay Kristoff which is the first book in a new fantasy series!  I mentioned Nevernight in the last Top Ten Tuesday I partook in.  The incredibly beautiful and spooky cover was released last week and what’s even more exciting is that Meg from Cuddlebuggery did the typography for the book! How awesome is that?!  I am honestly just obsessed with this cover.  I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve pulled it up just to analyze it further.  Nevernight is about a girl who becomes an apprentice to a group of deadly assassins and she’s hellbent on getting revenge so it sounds like things are going to get interesting very quickly!

Nevernight

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she wanders a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and its thugs. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the hearth of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.

Revenge. (via Goodreads)

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BookTube: Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 YA Badasses

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is Top 5 Badasses! For some reason my mind just automatically assumed that we were supposed to pick female characters so that’s what I did! Who are your favorite badasses in literature?

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