**Warning! If you haven’t read Steelheart which is the first book in the trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, there will be spoilers ahead. You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**
Firefight by Brandon Sanderson is the second book in The Reckoner’s trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. I read (and LOVED) Steelheart almost exactly one year ago and the only reason I have waited so long to start Firefight is because the conclusion, Calamity, is coming out next month and I really didn’t want to have to wait between books. Firefight picks up a short time after Steelheart ended (there is a short story between the two called Mitosis which I ended up reading when I was 3 chapters into Firefight because it kept being mentioned. It ruined Mitosis’s weakness for me which may be why I didn’t love the short story as much as I could have if I had gone in blind). David and Prof end up taking a trip to Babilar or Babylon Restored which is a borough in Manhattan after a High Epic named Regalia sends some of her cronies to Newcago to target The Reckoners.
The world of Babilar is really interesting! In Newcago our characters were surrounded by steel and everything had a very industrial feel whereas in Babilar, there’s water and neon spray paint illuminating the city everywhere. The culture between the people from each town is very unique and there are more free spirited folks living out in the open in Babilar. They even mingle with Epics at parties which is a pretty shocking change for someone like David. A large portion of the town also pray to an Epic that no one has ever seen named Dawnslight who is often regarded as an urban legend. Dawnslight is said to provide the city with food, light and other essential components. On the way to Babilar we also catch a glimpse of the ruin and devastation that land outside of major cities has faced in the age of the Epics. There are barely even any roads left for the characters to safely travel on and they have to be super careful about drawing attention to themselves.
David’s character went through a very natural phase for someone in his position during Firefight. His lifelong goal had been to exact revenge on Steelheart, the epic who killed his father, and he managed to complete that in the first book. Now that Steelheart is gone, David feels a little bit lost and he’s not totally sure what his life objective is. This is a feeling that many 19 year olds experience on a much lesser scale so to see his future fears amplified in Firefight is something I really enjoyed. David lived a very isolated life so he is full of quirks and not everyone takes him as seriously as they should. In Firefight David begins to question his beliefs on Epics and because of his age, he has a difficult time persuading the more senior members of the team. He also deals with newfound fame (the population starts referring to him as Steelslayer) and it causes other Epics to actively seek him out whereas The Reckoners had always operated more secretly in the past. As if that all wasn’t enough, David is also trying to handle his feelings for Megan, the Epic who worked as an undercover part of their team in Steelheart. In Firefight we also meet a new team of Reckoner’s stationed in Babilar. There’s the ice cold Val, the inexperienced but eager Mizzy and the gentle giant Exel. David, Tia and Prof leave Abraham and Colby behind and try to work with the new trio to figure out Regalia’s scheme but they’re suspicious and not overly excited to welcome new Reckoners.
Final Thoughts: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson is the second book in The Reckoners trilogy and the plot is so different and refreshing that it really took the story in a completely unexpected direction without detracting from the first book. Firefight is full of character development, especially for David who completed his life’s mission at 19 years old, and there is a finite shift in the relationships between The Reckoner’s team members. Theories begin being examined on a more philosophical level and our main villain, Regalia, is the anti-Steelheart. She’s been executing a plan since page one which doesn’t become clear until much later and the journey to the end is wild. If you enjoy stories about superheroes and you liked Steelheart you’re basically obligated to continue on with Firefight. I’m just sad I don’t have Calamity in my hands this very moment!
They told David it was impossible–that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart–invincible, immortal, unconquerable–is dead. And he died by David’s hand.
Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there’s no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.
Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David’s willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic–Firefight. And he’s willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers. (via Goodreads)
Now that we’re a full week into January (and the TBR Takedown 3.0 reading challenge has ended) I’ve posted my TBR for the rest of January and it’s quite ambitious if I do say so myself! My TBR is full of fantasy reads (there’s something about Winter that makes me crave high fantasy), many of which I wanted to read in 2015 but never had a chance to. What’re you planning on reading this month?
Pivot Point by Kasie West is the first book in a duology that is inspired by Sliding Doors. The story follows a girl named Addison who has the ability to “Search” the future when she’s faced with a choice so she can determine which path is the best to follow but as the description so perfectly states “knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice any easier.” Usually when anyone so much as mentions sports my eyes tend to glaze over and I’m immediately afflicted with the inability to process anything that’s being said to me. Had I known that Pivot Point would have a subplot so heavily focused on football I never would have read it so I couldn’t be happier that I went into this story blind because Pivot Point is absolutely a new favorite of mine. I had such an enjoyable reading experience and it’s one of few books that have actually kept me not only up but also completely awake past my bedtime because the plot is so exciting.
Our main character Addison lives in a Compound with her parents for people who have special abilities. Everyone in the compound has an ability and there are very strict rules about leaving as well as the degree to which any underage person may use their ability since they aren’t fully grown yet. Naturally, most teens view this as nothing more than a rule set in place by adults who want to maintain control over them. Addison’s power involves Searching which allows her to see two possible paths when she has to make a choice and her best friend Laila can erase memories. In the beginning of the novel, Addison’s parents announce that they’re getting a divorce and Addison has to chose whether to stay in the Compound with her overbearing mother or leave and set out into the Norm world with her lie detector father. They tell her to use her ability to see where she’ll be the happiest and from then on the novel is told in alternating chapters (one in the Norm world and one in the Compound) so Addie can make an informed decision. The events of the timelines in each future would be happening simultaneously and there are several parallels between both futures that enhance the reader’s interest in both timelines. I honestly loved the story for each path and I never wanted to read one more than the other. Despite the multiple plot lines, Pivot Point is easy to follow an each subplot feels just as important as the main story.
Like me, Addie is a bookworm and she has zero interest in sports so because football is a huge component of both timelines, it was easier to read about through the eyes of someone with similar feelings. In one timeline, Addie develops a strong bond with Trevor, a former rising football star who’s injury has kept him out of the game while in the other, Addie dates Duke, the charming and talented quarterback. Despite the love interests, the relationship Addison values most is the one with her best friend Laila. Laila has a difficult home life and she’s much more outgoing and outspoken than Addie. Their personalities perfectly compliment one another and even in the timeline where Addie leaves the Compound, Laila plays a huge part in her future. Everyone in the story, even the parents, are multidimensional with their own unique set of shining qualities and flaws. It’s easy to care for each of them and with every page the reader will feel more invested in their story.
Final Thoughts: Pivot Point by Kasie West is easily a new all time favorite of mine. The story is a fun mix of the contemporary genre and superheroes. It follows a girl named Addison who is using her ability to Search the future in order to make an important choice and the chapter’s in the book alternate between the two possible timelines. Because Addison is the focal point of each story, the simultaneous future timelines are interconnected beautifully. The characters will steal your heart from the beginning and as you near the climax you’ll be unable to let go of the book between your audible gasps. I truly think everyone should read this book!
Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier…
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through… and who she can’t live without. (via Goodreads)
After realizing that I had already made my Goodreads goal, I changed my reading pace in December since between Andrew and I, we have a lot of family to spend time with over the holidays so the days of relaxing and reading during that time seem to be over. I ended up reading a total of seven books in December. Some were new favorites, some were okay and one was pretty terrible. What were your favorite and least favorite books you read this month?
When I was a little middle schooler, Kate Spade and Tiffany & Co. were my intro into the world of fashion and brands. Since I’ve gotten older and wiser I’ve stopped caring about wearing designer clothes and having designer accessories but one thing that’s stayed consistent is my love of Kate Spade. I lost touch with the brand for a bit in high school but it was reinvigorated with new designs during my college years and I found myself lusting after her products once again. I love that Kate Spade often offers my favorite color (light pink) and her products are timeless and classy with a modern twist. There is currently a whole lot of stuff from her recent collections that I would love to add to my own closet so my most recent Polyvore set is a wish list of those items. You can view it in full on Polyvore to see the detailed product pages for each item.
Winterspell by Claire Legrand is a YA fantasy stand alone novel that is a retelling of the classic Christmas tale, The Nutcracker. The description alone and the whimsical wintery cover had me so excited to spend some of my December in the world of Cane but I can honestly say I have never been so disappointed in something that initially seemed so promising. I had numerous issues with the book which I’ll outline below but if you would also like to see a video discussion of the book you can watch the most recent episode of the Spines with Wines Book Club. The first issue is that Winterspell has little to do with The Nutcracker. The author took this magical story and twisted it into something that is completely different, and not in a good way. I understand wanting to stray from the source material in order to create an original story, but without being told Winterspell is a Nutcracker retelling, it would be near impossible to draw any parallels between the two tales.
The biggest issue that I had with Winterspell is the overabundance of sexualization within the story. Our main character Clara begins training with her jealous and overprotective Godfather at a young age and he instructs her to “press oneself to a wall’s contours and slide along it… like you would a lover.” She also develops feelings for a statue, “Something, she often thought, alone in her bedroom, like need,” and she would send her Godfather away so she could share private moments. With a statue. That makes her feel heat when she touches it. I kid you not. Said statue happens to come to life a little later on and his first suggestion to Clara is that they both take off all of their clothes. We also have the Dr. Frankenstein-esque Dr. Victor who is not only a pedophile, but he also takes pleasure in torturing little orphan girls by chopping them up. Then there’s Anise, the fairy queen and the only character I actually liked, who immediately invites Clara to sleep in her bed and shares kisses with her. The entire time I was reading I did not get the impression that Clara is of an age where all of these adults should be trying to take advantage of her. It definitely happens in real life and that type of story has it’s place, but how it’s connected to The Nutcracker is beyond me.
The first hundred something pages of Winterspell are spent describing Concordia, the corrupt government in New York while Clara lives and the majority of it drags on and feels irrelevant to the story. Then once Clara is transported to Cane, and we reach Book 3, the Summer Palace, the story actually becomes interesting. Until we get to Book 4. Once Clara returns to Concordia, everything is tied up there within 30 pages which seems like too quick of a resolution after being about half the book. The two things I will give Claire Legrand are that 1) her writing style is quite lovely and if the plot and characters had been completely different I could see myself having liked this book and 2) she did a great job of world-building with Cane. The characters who are intended to be the “good guys” have morals too questionable and make mistakes too large to ever be redeemed in this reader’s eyes and I would love if I never had to read about a character like Dr. Victor for the rest of my life. I also really disliked Clara as a main character. I had completely ambivalent feelings toward her the whole time I read and once I finished and spent some time reflecting I realized how much she bothered me. She is extremely contradictory in nature, and she gives up on finding her father too quickly once she realizes she has all this extra time in Cane to hang out at a brothel with her new friends.
Final Thoughts: Winterspell by Claire Legrand is a YA retelling of The Nutcracker which follows a little girl named Clara after she’s transported to Cane. If you’re looking for a whimsical and uplifting holiday read, this is not the book to pick up. The characters have very questionable morals (even the “good guys”), the main character is oversexualized beyond reason, she also has feelings for a statue and the overall story is a chore to get through. If I hadn’t had to read this novel for book club, I would’ve given up very early on. Not my cup of tea!
The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince…but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.
New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.
Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.
Her home is destroyed, her father abducted—by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets—and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed—if she leaves at all.
Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.
I’m so excited to be sharing my December Book Haul with you all today! This was a very big month for my book buying because I ended up picking up a ton of collectible editions to add to my library (I mentioned in my Bookish New Years Resolutions post yesterday that I’m going to try to to be more thoughtful about my book buying and invest in collectible editions of favorites that I want to display on my shelves). Overall, I’m just so pleased with my haul even though I wasn’t supposed to buy that many books last month. My favorite set to show off are my new Harry Potter books! What were some of your favorite books you acquired last month?
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 Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman. Traitor Angels is a historical YA novel which I couldn’t be more excited about because it follows Elizabeth Milton, the daughter of John Milton who spends her days transcribing that masterpiece you may have heard of, Paradise Lost. But at night, Elizabeth spends her time learning sword fighting and languages. Her father ends up gets kidnapped by the king and she spends the majority of the novel following his cryptic clues along with a handsome Italian man. I’m just so excited to get my hands on a copy! It comes out on May 3rd, along with MANY other must-buys (*cough* ACOMAF, The Rose and the Dagger & The Unexpected Everything *cough*).
Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects.
Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.
Until one night the reason becomes clear: the king’s man arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?
When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father…and tear apart the very fabric of society. (via Goodreads)
Top Ten Tuesday’s are a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which anyone who participates creates a Top Ten list of books based on a weekly prompt they provide (the list for advance topics can be found by clicking the link above).
This is my first time participating in Top Ten Tuesdays after reading plenty of everyone else’s posts throughout 2015. I thought bookish resolutions would be the perfect place to jump in since it’s January which means it’s a great time for new beginnings and fresh starts! I’m not necessarily going to be creating a post for the topic every single Tuesday but I’ll definitely be joining in on the topics I find most interesting.
1) Reading goals
In 2015 I set my Goodreads reading goal at 100 books and I ended up surpassing my goal by 8 books which I’m very proud of considering that I had some slow months in the latter half of the year. I’ve decided to set the same 100 book goal for myself this year because I have a lot going on (ie. wedding planning) and since I was satisfied at the end of 2015, I’ll be happy if I reach or surpass the same goal in 2016! I also want to complete all of the 2016 Reading Challenges I signed up for!
2 Reviewing goals
I did a fantastic job of reviewing the majority of books I read in 2015 and I want to continue on that path in 2016. There were a few reviews that I wish I would’ve written a little closer to when I had finished reading (just because procrastinating bothers me, not because I feel like it effected the content of the review in any way).
3 Book Buying Goals
Unlike most people, my book buying goal doesn’t necessarily have to do with buying less books or spending less money on books because a big goal for me in 2016 is to build an even better Book Collection. I really want to invest in collectible editions of some of my favorites (I’m particularly eying some Folio Society editions). I also want to make a huge effort to read my new release books right away instead of letting them sit on my shelf until they end up in a video like this.
4 Book Photography Goals
I mentioned in my End of the Year Survey that I’ve gotten really critical of my photos to the point where I don’t post as much as I want to because I feel like the reality of my photos don’t live up to the ~expectations~ I hold myself to (it’s RLY hard to get good photos when you leave for work before the sun rises and come home after it sets). I want to make an effort to take a bunch of photos on weekends that I can edit and post throughout the week. My goal is to to post at least one Bookstagram Photo a day (Monday – Friday) for all of 2016. Ambitious, I know!
5 BookTube Goals
I’m really proud of how consistently I was able to post videos on my BookTube channel in 2015. February will be my one year mark and there’s a good chance I will hit 100 videos by that time! (Thanks in huge part to Andrew’s incredible editing skills). In 2016 I want to keep doing what I’ve been doing because it’s my favorite non-work-thing-that-I-treat-like-a-work-thing that I do.
6 Read-a-thon Goals
I want to actively participate in at least 3 read-a-thons this year. I’m currently working on the TBR Takedown 3.0 event which runs through the 10th and I’m definitely planning on participating in BookTube-A-Thon again because that was one of my favorites. I’m also considering RYBSAT. I’ve always wished I could do Deweys 24 Hour Read-A-Thon but I’m an old lady so there’s no way I could stay up for 24 hours reading. There have been numerous times where I’ve tried to read before bed and woke up to my book falling on my face.
7 Book Blogging Community Goals
2015 was the year that I discovered what a huge community of book bloggers there are, thanks in large part to Alexa of Alexa Loves Books who hosted the Book Bloggers Love-A-Thon. I met the majority of book bloggers I interact with regularly during that event and I couldn’t be more thankful! I want to participate in so many more events like this in 2016 (like the OTSP Secret Sister Project, TBTB Secret Santa which is how I met Michelle of Pink Polka Dot Books and I’ll definitely be doing the Love-A-Thon again). I’m really looking forward to making even more online friends that may someday turn into IRL friends. I also want to attend more bookish events since there are SO many in NYC. I feel like I have no excuse for not going to them all! And lastly, I want to make an effort to comment more on the sites that I follow and read every single day. There are probably a ton of people who don’t even know that I keep up with all of their post because of my lack of comments but I swear I’m there and I’m listening!
8 Book Unhaul Goals
I really need to do a major book unhaul and purge my current collection of books I’m never going to re-read, books I thought were okay but I don’t have shelf space for, books I really dislike but I’ve kept so I can hold them up for negative questions in BookTube tag videos and just some old ones that I’ve lost interest in. I just need to make sure I can find a good place to donate my babies and to know that they’ll be loved once I let them go!
9 Goodreads Goals
My number one Goodreads goal (besides the year challenge I previously mentioned) is to keep extremely organized shelves so my end of the year posts will be easier to complete. I remember last year seeing the billion shelves many book bloggers have and thinking yikes! that seems like a nightmare to keep up with. Then I did all of these end of the year posts and I kept thinking, WHY DIDN’T I CREATE MORE GOODREADS SHELVES?!
10 Bookish Organization Goals
Since 2016 started I’ve been using Hazel of Stay Bookish’s Book Blog Planner and I’m pretty obsessed with it! The design is just beautiful and it’s really helped me stay organized so far. I may have even outlined some things I want to do in December of 2016 because that’s how far ahead it’s inspiring me to plan. I also want to make sure that I always carry TWO notebooks (one for blog ideas and one for BookTube ideas) with me at all times. The amount of times I’ve had a great idea and forgotten it due to not writing it down is unacceptable. Lastly, I’m going to continue keeping an iPhone list of books read by month in addition to Goodreads updates because I’ve been doing this since 2012 so it’s really just pure habit at this point.
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill is a cute contemporary YA novel that will allow you to feel like you’re on vacation and traveling through London. I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages as it’s been recommended to me by numerous people so I’m glad that I can cross it off my list and now say that I too enjoyed it! The story follows Julia and her high school class who are traveling to London for a week during the year to absorb the culture but sadly her best friend is unable to attend. She gets stuck being paired with an obnoxious and immature classmate named Jason and from the moment they get on the plane until the very end, hilarity ensues.
Meant to Be features a slow burn love / hate romance (my favorite!) but the pacing of the events in the story feel action packed. Throughout the trip, our main character Julia is juggling several men while she sorts out her feelings, something she’s never had to do before and it shows. She can be annoying at times (she’s your typical overachieving know-it-all) but she also has a much softer side that believes in everyone having an MTB (or meant to be). Her partner Jason is one of the most immature YA guys I’ve ever read about and I could easily relate to her frustrations about him. Julia is such a rigid rule follower that a free spirit like Jason often clashes with her in most situations. The one thing I found slightly unbelievable were all of the awkward moments Julia found herself in. It just seemed like too much to happen to one person but despite all of her faults, I found myself rooting for her.
My favorite part of this book was exploring London with Julia and Jason. Lauren Morrill makes the reader feel as though they’re also a first time tourist which is something I hadn’t been expecting. They visited a ton of historical sites (such as Stratford-Upon-Avon, The Globe Theater, The London Eye and even Harrod’s) that I’ve always been dying to see but they also spent time during their trip doing several offbeat things which enhanced their cultural experience even further. I found the overall plot to be predictable but it didn’t at all take away from the enjoyment I felt while reading the story. I love witnessing character growth, especially when the main character is an uptight person who’s thrusted out of their comfort zone (and even more especially when said character is experiencing that growth in a place like London). Julia modeled her dream relationship off that of her parents and I loved that comparison throughout the story. Since Julia is away and doesn’t have a ton of access to phone calls she really has to rely on herself to sort out her beliefs and the way she chooses to act which I really appreciated.
Final Thoughts: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill is a darling contemporary novel perfect for anyone looking to lose themselves in a slow burn romance. It’s also ideal for anyone with a case of wanderlust because traveling through London in Morrill’s words is so vivid that it’ll leave you feeling like you’re on a vacation of your own. The plot of the novel is predictable but it’s everything the description and cover promise to be- swoony, engaging and fun!
A girl with it all planned out discovers a romance she never expected in this funny debut about a class trip to London that HelloGiggles.com says you’ll love “if you’re into swoony romances with a little bit of history thrown in.”
This spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love. Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be. (via Goodreads)