Bookish Events I'm Going To - let me know if you'll be there, I'd love to meet up!

Taking a little break from events -- more soon!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing (ARC)

The Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing
HarperTeen, 358 pages
US Release Date: September 2, 2014
Format/Source: ARC, via Around the World Tours

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
--------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
“Hope is a precious thing, isn’t it” she says quietly. “And yet, we don’t really appreciate it until it’s gone.”
I kind of hate saying this, but I feel like The Jewel is going to be my new The Selection series. One where I like a lot of the elements, and I kind of have to know what happens…but there are so many other parts that make me SO ANGRY I just can’t say I like the book. It was so frustrating to read and recognize the things I didn’t like, but still have that need of finishing or finding out if what I think is true, actually is true. (Usually it was.) (Actually, it always was.)

Largely, The Jewel was interesting and unique, if not a little…flat. I’ve not encountered a Dystopian world like this yet, but I felt like I knew so little about The Lost City. It had a lot of elements similar to other books—the circular levels and districts that determined your worth, the past of a war that made it this way, the element of a Power (or Augury, in this one) that becomes the ticket to elevating your status.  And that’s all well and good, I just don’t really get a good sense of this world around it. I couldn’t figure out how far in the “future” it was, if even in the future…I guess it’s more of an alternate world? I’ll settle on that one, for ease and clarity.

I liked the element of Auguries and how that affected their Lot number, and opened up a whole unexplored territory of what the Surrogates could do. It was interesting to have Surrogates be a little reminiscent of slavery but still be living in the lap of luxury with their own ladies-in-waiting and maids. If I searched for it or felt like linking it, I could find a lot of historial parallels here—and while I don’t think that was really an intention, it was something that held my interest.

However, I really did not like the romance in this. It’s very much insta-love, and entirely expected. All their parts felt rushed and clich├ęd, without any real development. It just was. While the idea of Companions makes sense, I never liked when Ash and Carnelian were together. I hated Carnelian as a character—she’s too despicable for me to ever get a feel for her, and it made me have no sympathy for any of her parts. I just resented every time she was on the page, because I felt like she was a device meant to make me feel some way without really getting to discover that feeling.

I think what bothered me most about this book was the writing—not that it’s weird or terrible. I just felt like it wasn’t developed well, that a lot of the plotlines that happened did because it was supposed to be that way. Not much of this felt like a natural, flowing story. Like The Duchess was this evil character, but she had moments of weakness and humanity—but those moments felt so fake and calculated. Every time that would happen, it was because I knew she had been too evil and we were just waiting for a “positive” so we would get a rounded character from her. A lot of characters are that way for me; they’re constructed to be just-so and it didn’t feel natural at all.

In the same regard as The Selection, I feel like there is a lot of potential for this series. A lot of the plot itself is interesting, if only because I want to know what’s going to happen, how it will all happen. There’s a lot that can grow from here, that we can eventually learn…I just don’t quite know if it will ever get there.

I’m a bit torn about The Jewel, just because I felt so much that way while reading it. There would be small parts I was into, but it would quickly follow with parts I couldn’t stand. And while I’ll definitely pick up Book 2 just so I can know, I know I’m going to have reservations and doubts going into it.

3 stars

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (ARC)

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray
Harper Teen, 368 pages
Expected US Release Date: November 4, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.
------------------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
This, I think, is the boundary line of adulthood. Not the crap they claim it is -- graduating from high school or losing your virginity or getting your first apartment or whatever. You cross the boundary the first time you're changed forever. You cross it the first time you know you can never go back.
I was a little nervous heading into A Thousand Pieces of You, since I’m a self-admitted time travel hater. I can’t stand time traveling in anything, and I figured this concept of layers of fate would translate the same to me. And it didn’t help when I disliked the beginning pages so much—the storytelling seemed off to me, and I was annoyed with how abstract it felt. I couldn’t grasp at much, and I wanted to give up on it.

However.

I am so, so glad I never did. It quickly turned into this fascinating concept of traveling within your fates, and I was 100% onboard with the idea when it introduced the boundary of only being able to travel to a layer you would actually exist in. THAT was such a tiny but important element that it completely won me over, in every way. It was creative and logical and sensical and brilliant all in one.

Ignoring how I felt about the first few pages, A Thousand Pieces of You just flies by—the pace just keeps picking up and going on and on and you feel like you’re swept away on this amazing, terrifying adventure. The amount of creativity and how stunningly unique all the stories and time periods were just fascinating, and I felt like I fell in love so many times over. Not just with the characters, but with the words and story and the simple idea that all these common words together can still create a breathtaking novel.

I quite liked each character as well, though it took me awhile to come around to Marguerite. Theo I was quick to like and quick to fluctuate on; and Paul pulled me in every single direction. Meeting each of them in each layer was also an interesting facet—while sometimes I felt like they were a little too different to actually be the same character, they relatively retained the same characteristics and personalities throughout. What was solid and true remained, and while it took some digging, a reader can find it and fall in love with them.

I’ve been seeing some complaints about the sci-fi missing in a novel that’s advertised as sci-fi…and I could see that, actually. But for me it was one of the best parts! I’m not a sci-fi reader by any means—it’s not that I hate it, I’m just not particularly drawn to it. I’ve read some ok sci-fi, some good sci-fi, and some brilliant sci-fi, in all age ranges…but it still isn’t something I will seek out. So when A Thousand Pieces of You turned into a sci-fi-but-not-fully-sci-fi, it totally worked for me. There was a little bit of historical elements, a lot of futuristic things, and a whole lot of contemporary and romance and general storytelling. It was nice to not be completely stuck in one genre, and I thought it worked really well with the story itself.

Quite obviously, I was thrilled with the first book in the Firebird series. Great characters, a wonderful, fast-moving plot with one of the most original, fascinating concepts of “fate traveling” I’ve ever seen—I can’t wait to see what else we have in store for this organization and these characters.

5 stars

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Clearing the Shelf Giveaway: Three (3) 2014 ARCs! (US Only)

I've got too many books, so you get to help me clear the clutter!

ONE (1) lucky winner will win three 2014 ARCs!

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

US Only
(sorry INT!)
Ends October 22, 2014

Please do not leave your email in my comment section.
Enter through the rafflecopter below, and all my usual giveaway policy rules apply.
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
May the odds be ever in your favour!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (ARC)

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) by Rachel Hawkins
Putnam Juvenile (an imprint of Penguin), 345 pages
US Release Date: April 8, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y'all beg for more.
-------------------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
I needed my mentor-person right now. I had figured out as much as I possibly could, so it was time for my Giles or my Professor X or whoever to get here and start explaining.
Rebel Belle isn’t something I’d normally gravitate to (honest truth: because of the cover. I seriously hate pink.), but I kind of had a fiending to read about more kick ass girl characters. And if there’s one that sounds like it will fit the bill, it’s Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins.

I always have a habit of reading acknowledgements before I read the book, and I have to say Rachel’s pitch of Legally Blonde meets The Terminator is spot on. This is such a fun, quirky read. This class president, cotillion Queen kickin’ ass and killing people with her shoes?! That’s so awesome.

I liked the general storyline, why David Stark needs protecting and how it all falls on Harper and Saylor. The history is interesting and makes for endless possibilities as they move through the days. The setting was probably something I loved best—I grew up in Europe and southern California. I have absolutely no idea about the South and southern belles, and I loved the houses and buildings; especially the Tea House and Magnolia House. I really felt like I could picture those places, like I was really there drinking tea or sweeping down the steps.

One of my only issues with this book is that I feel like I had to suspend my reality a bit. More than the obvious, I mean. There are certain situations where I just kept thinking of all the ways the assassin/killer person should have done something, or that if so-and-so had simply done this, it would have worked. (This is kind of hard to discuss without giving away a lot of key elements haha.) It’s not that what happened didn’t work, it was just…unnecessarily complicated for the sake of the story, and I couldn’t help feeling like the better solutions were glaringly obvious.

Still, Rebel Belle was a ton of fun to read. It’s quick and light with just enough heaviness and drama and issues to pull you in and keep going. I loved all the various ways Rachel Hawkins was able to get super kickass ninja skills mixed in with shoe shopping and refraining from curse words. If anything, everyone should read this to meet Harper: she's a little bit of you, a little bit of me, a little bit of everyone with some great superhero-like powers to boot.

3.5 stars

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Weekly Wrap-Up (32): Hello, October. We meet again.

How is it already October?! My goodness, you guys. I just don't understand how a year can go by so freakin' fast. I'm already knee deep in my party planning and holiday happenings, both for personal life and my work. I'm planning my work's Anniversary party--it's in JANUARY!
How's life, everyone? I'm in a weird stage of finally being able to manage work and trying to get back into the swing of life. I'm going to admit that I heavily considered giving up on my blog and going on hiatus…but every single time I seriously thought about it, I became so sad and distraught at the idea that I finally realized it meant I shouldn't do it. I love this piece of my life, and I'm not ready to let it go yet. If ever.
So of course I'm going to ruin any time I may have by…possibly doing NaNoWriMo! Anyone else taking it on? I try it every year for the last 6 years but have only won twice. Maybe this will be the third? A girl can dream.

In case you missed it...
Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things To Mend by Katie Finn
A Blind Spot For Boys by Justina Chen
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Telley
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

Special News
My review of Lies We Tell Ourselves was published in the Australian Times Books magazine!
Check it out here!

Coming up...
Reviews of A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins, and The Jewel by Amy Ewing. I'll share my TBR for the rest of the year, and I've also got way too many books piling up in my house, so it's time to purge some ARCs--which means giveaway time coming soon!

Onto the books!
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer


Throne of Glass (TOG#1) by Sarah J. Maas (I had to have a matching hardcover set!)
Heir of Fire (TOG #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Nightmares! by Jason Segal and Kirsten Miller
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Lullabies by Lang Leav
Winger by Andrew Smith
Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

What books came into your possession recently?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

Because Tough Subjects:
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Telley
Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Because Military:
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
In Honor by Jessi Kirby
Personal Effects by EM Kokie

Because Life Stuff That I Won't Get Into:
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Just One Day & Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Because I Can't See Through My Tears:
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Honorable Mention
Because it wasn't (well…it kind of was Because Life Stuff That I Won't Get Into), but now it most certainly will be:
It's Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

What books were hard for you to read?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!