Thursday, December 31, 2015

The 2015 End of Year Survey

It's the end of the year, so that means it's time to reflect on what my year looked like in reading! So I'm doing Jamie's End of Year survey again. And, disclaimer: these were about the books I READ in 2015. If they were published in other years, that didn't matter to me. Also, clearly I like cheating. :D


2015 Reading Stats!
Number Of Books You Read: 117, currently (will be 118 by midnight)
Number of Re-Reads: 8
Genre You Read The Most From: a mix of fantasy and contemporary

Best in Books!
1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
Backlist: The Scorpio Races
2015 Release: Six of Crows and Play On! (I can't decide, I just can't)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Falling Kingdoms and Fangirl. Both were a HUGE disappointment, especially Rainbow Rowell's. Man, I wanted to love it, but I just... didn't.

 3. Most Surprising Book?
The Fixer. I was really surprised by how much I loved this book!
Dissonance, also. Freaking enjoyed this book, and I didn't think I would honestly.
 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Probably The Kiss of Deception! I think there were quite a few people who read it based on my recommendation or, more accurately, my constant fangirling (and there was definite pushing on some of them. Haha).

 5. Best Series You Started? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender?
Series Starter: Six of Crows, hands down!
Sequel: The Heart of Betrayal. YEAH BABY!
Series Ender: Ruin and Rising! So, so perfect.

 6. Favorite New Author You Discovered?
 Mindy McGinnis and Emery Lord! Love these ladies' books A LOT.

7. Best Book from a Genre You Don’t Typically Read/Was Out of Your Comfort Zone?
A Madness So Discreet! Historical fic isn't usually my thing, but boy, I might have to change that after reading this book!

 8. Most Action-Packed/Thrilling/Unputdownable Book of the Year?
Illuminae! I seriously couldn't put it down. I think I read it early in the night and finished around 6 a.m. Also definitely action-packed and thrilling!

 9. Book You Read That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
The Scorpio Races! I'm actually already planning the reread since I still want to review it but don't know if I can now that it's been 4 months since I've read it. Plus it deserves a second look. So obviously a reread is in order, in either way.

10. Favorite Book Cover?

11. Most Memorable Character?
 Kaaaaaaaaaz, but also lol Sturmhond too. (I just love Leigh's characters a lot, okay).

 12. Most Beautifully Written Book?
Salt to the Sea. The writing is just gorgeous, and goddamn, this book is beautiful. Heartbreaking, gun-wrenching, but beautiful.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2015?
 Play On by Michelle Smith. It's been a long, LONG time since a book has hit me so hard, that has been so much exactly what I never knew I needed to read. So much of my life was reflected in it, making it super relatable to me.
Also All the Rage. It made me think so much about society, rape culture, and how we view women and their place. It made me angry, but also glad that I'm a feminist.

 14. Book You Can’t Believe You Waited UNTIL 2015 to Finally Read?
Throne of Glass. Though I didn't *love* it, I really enjoyed the story and adored the characters. I'm excited to continue! I still can't believe it took me so long to freaking read it, too. 

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?
"I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick." "It's late for that, Puck." -Scorpio Races

"You are the only person who can build emotional barriers, but you're also the only person who topple them. Other people can't knock down the walls you've built, no matter how much they love you. You have to tear them down yourself, because there's something worth seeing on the other side." -Open Road Summer

*for full list: see TTT*

16. Shortest & Longest Book?
Shortest: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde @ 92 pages.
Longest: Illuminae @ 599 pages.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most?
Black Iris. This whole book was kinda shocking, tbh.

Kaz and Inej. MY BABIES.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Vic and Reagan - Just Visiting
Reagan and Dee - Open Road Summer

20. Favorite Book from an Author You’ve Read Previously
Tessa Ever After by Brighton Walsh.

21. Best Book That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
 Faking Normal! Kaitlin rec'd this one to me, and I freaking LOVED it.

22. Newest Fictional Crush?
 hi, Kaz. but also helloooooo Jason *heart eyes emoji*
from Six of Crows and Tessa Ever After

23. Best 2015 Debut You Read?
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh!! MY FAVE EVER. SHAZI & KHALID. <333
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. Though I wasn't quite happy with the end product, I still highly enjoyed it!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Uprooted by Naomi Novik. So, so vivid and imaginative and such lovely writing and omg what a FANTASTICALLY built world.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
The Girl at Midnight. The banter between the characters had me cackling like a hyena throughout. Plus it was just so much fun to read!
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. This was such a cute, adorable read and Simon was such a cute, adorable MC who made me smile.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry?
 Ugly cried in All the Bright Places, Play On, and Salt to the Sea. I'm such a baby when it comes to books.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
 Play On! I don't know if this one would ever have gotten on my radar if it hadn't been for Meredith. I signed up for a Katie McG-type of story WITH BASEBALL and what I got was everything I never knew I wanted in a story.
Naked by Stacey Trombley. This was such a quiet debut that needs way, way more attention! 

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab. HOW DARE THIS BOOK. HOW. DARE.

29. Most Unique Book You Read?
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I mean, what even is this book?

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad?
Unteachable by Leah Raeder. Just, no. Fucking no with this book. It was a mess, and I haaaaated it.

Your Blogging/Bookish Life!
1. New Favorite Book Blog You Discovered?
 Sarah @ Kerosene Lit! I love her posts and her personality. So glad we've "met" on here and that we can fangirl over Killian and OUAT together!
Inge @ Whimsicality - not a book blog, but one of my FAVES ever! She focuses on mental health, which I think is SO important.

2. Favorite Review That You Wrote?
I think it's the one I wrote for The Heart of Betrayal. I freaking love this series, and this book, and I'm really proud of this review.

3. Best Discussion/Non-Review Post You Had On Your Blog?
You Can't Sit With Us. I wrote about making friends and socializing within this community, and it was the first post that ever got so much attention from people. 

4. Best Event That You Participated In?
Book Expo of America. What a glorious event that!
The Lunar Ball. One of my close friends and I took a road trip up north for the Marissa Meyer signing, and it was SO. MUCH. FUN!

5. Best Moment of Bookish/Blogging Life?
Meeting Val and Shannon IRL in New York. <333 I love these girls so much, and I'm super glad we became friends and went to BEA together. Sharing that experience with them was amazing, and I cannot wait for round 2 in Chicago, with Amber too this time.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog?
Is Twitter Replacing Blog Interaction? This is based mostly on comments. I don't think a discussion of mine has EVER gotten as many replies from people. It made me so happy to see that, esp from first timers to my blog!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I'm Not a Marketing Tool: I was really proud of this post, but it didn't get the views or comments I thought it would. I was hoping it'd be more relatable for people, but. I still stand by everything I said, and I'm going back to blogging for ME in 2016.

9. Best Bookish Discovery?
Evie's store. Her designs are my FAVES. I want them all. Evie, keep making beautiful designs. JUST TAKE ALL MY MONEY.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I breezed past my Goodreads challenge of 100 two whole months early! I also FINALLY completed a Bookish Bingo board. It was the summer edition, and I was super proud of it.

Looking Ahead!
1. One Book You Didn’t Get to In 2015 But Will Be Your #1 Priority in 2016?
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Also her Lumatere series now that I finally have all of the books!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating for 2016?

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
The Girl from Everywhere and Ivory and Bone. :)
*full list: see TTT*

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
Series Enders: The Raven King and The Beauty of Darkness. Two of my all-time fave series, and they're both coming to an end in 2016. FOREVER CRYING.
Sequel: A Gathering of Shadows. Loved the first book and cannot WAIT for more!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
Bring ARC count down to 0 on NetGalley! I *WILL* DO THIS.

6. 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend to Everyone:
Firsts! It's gotten such polarizing reactions so far, but I think it's worth a try. :) I also freaking loved Passenger and Paige in Progress!


If you did the End of Year Survey too, feel free to link me up! I'd love to blog hop and see what books made everyone else's lists. :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best Fictional Boys to Ring in the New Year With

I didn't originally have a post idea for today. My End of Year survey is going up tomorrow. There were discussions I could have written, but I honestly didn't feel like doing any of them. And I didn't wanna post another review (not even sure I HAD one ready to publish). So I took to Twitter (as one does), and the oh so lovely Brighton Walsh suggested 'best book boyfriends to ring in the New Year with' and I was sold. 

When I was looking through my shelves, I actually didn't have a TON of them in mind. I used to give out the book boyfriend award to everyone, but I guess I've gotten more picky and choosey? Haha. Anyway, I decided to stick with boys from books I read in 2015 (since I've done a few posts like this with my all-time faves before). And it's funny that Brighton mentioned this, because one of HER fictional guys is on my list. :D


Charming, fun, and incredibly upbeat about almost everything, Jason would be one of the BEST dates to bring to a New Year's Eve party. It would be a grand time, I'm sure. And you can bet he'd make sure you get that midnight kiss at the end. ;)

A weird choice perhaps, but if you're into the dangerous, silent type, Kaz is your man. He may not be the life of the party, but he's a good person to have in your corner. And someone who may not be fun to hang with so much as addictive to be around. Plus, c'mon, if I had the chance to ring in the New Year with anyone, I'd want it to be Kaaaaaz. <3

Just imagine a warm blanket on wet sand, the cool breeze across your face, and your hand in the safe cocoon of Sean's. Who needs a party when you can sit on the beach in the dark, watching the wild water horses splash around, celebrating the new year with a guy who may have few words but whose actions speak much louder?

Warner's the type who would probably want to ring in the new year in a fancy restaurant so he has an excuse to dress up in the most fashionable wear. No casual clothes here. Suit and tie, pretty dress, candlelit dinner. Romantic atmosphere to set the mood, which will lead to the subsequent kiss at the end. :D

Asher is HILARIOUS and celebrating the New Year with him would be a hella good time. He's funny, smart, and quick to laugh. And he would probably pull some pranks, maybe even do some dares. Most likely leave the party to go make trouble elsewhere. A night out with him would be full of surprises!

I'm sure Max is the type of boy who goes to an event with a book so he can stay tucked away from people and just read quietly. But he can also be fun and let loose, and he'd probably challenge you to a trivia game. It would be a relaxed and casual night, spent with someone who is unfailingly lovely.

I can imagine Rafe is the type of guy who would throw an elaborate, glorious party and invite everyone to join him. The decorations would be ridiculously flamboyant, the food impressive, and the costumes hilarious. And he'd be at the center of it all, but he'd still make time for his date.

A tattooed, Mohawked guy who likes the weird and the unusual. A night out with him on New Year's Eve would be an adventure for sure. And for dessert? Some of Micah's deliciously baked goods. He's damn good at it, and he's also good at keeping you company, and entertained throughout. 

Oh man, was this a lot of fun to cook up and write. Much thanks to Brighton for tossing the idea my way and letting me run with it. All of these guys are so different, and their ideas of a New Year's Eve evening would be vast, I can tell. But at least you'd know you'd get the midnight kiss at the end. (I mean, that's all that matters here really). :p

Which fictional boys would YOU love to ring in the New Year with? Would any of these lovely lads make your list? :D

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

(47) Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases from January to June

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic: Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2016...

***in no particular order***

From favorite authors: THE RAVEN KING. MAKE WAY FOR THE RAVEN KING. Seriously though, my most anticipated from this list, and since I'm rereading the series right now, I'm dying even more for this book. But I'm also scared BC DEATH AND GANSEY AND KISSING THAT KILLS. and h e l p. I'm also excited about A Gathering of Shadows (and This Savage Song, of course, but I cannot wait for AGOS more)The Rose and the DaggerWhen We Collided, and The Unexpected Everything. Rachel Harris is one of my FAVES ever, and luckily, she's got two releases this year instead of one. But I only put The Natural History of Us on this list because it's the one I want the most! You're Still the One comes out in February though, if you like country music and her other adult series. :D

I also cannot wait to read And I DarkenOutrun the MoonTraitor Angels, and The Forbidden Orchard. I've read a book by Kiersten White before, but this has got to be the one I want the most. A historical fiction retelling of Vlad the Impaler? GIMME. Also excited about Stacey Lee's new one even though I still haven't read her debut (I'M GETTING THERE, ALL RIGHT?). Same goes for Anne Blankman's book. I haven't read her WWII duology yet, but you can bet it's on my list. Oh, and I still haven't read Sharon Biggs Walker's A Mad, Wicked Folly, but I WANT her new one so badly. Historical fic isn't usually my "thing" but I want all of the above ASAP. It's kinda hilarious almost half of my list is dominated by historical fiction, but you know, maybe my tastes are changing a little bit with this genre. I've always loved war stories, but I do want to branch out more!

What are YOUR most anticipated 2016 releases for the first half of the year? Did any of mine make your list? Guys, it looks like 2016 is gonna be such a great year in books. I. CANNOT. WAIT. :D

Monday, December 28, 2015

A High Stakes Adventure

Title: Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)
Author: Susan Dennard
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 5th, 2016!
*ARC borrowed from my lovely friend, Val, who also reviewed the book today so go check hers out!

From Goodreads...

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

My Review!
I’ve been waiting for this book for over a year. I remember joining Susan’s newsletter back when she first started it, and at that point, I’m fairly certain she had just sold the proposal for The Witchlands series. So I’ve been hearing about this book since forever, it feels like. And I built it up so much that, when I finally had a copy of it sitting in my room, I kept pushing it away. I was afraid of the hype. I was afraid of high expectations and being disappointed and ruining a book I’d waited on for so long. And I’m so, so, so happy to say that “No, I wasn’t disappointed.” No, the hype didn’t kill it. I’m saying that it’s worth the wait, and that it’s so deserving of the excitement it’s been receiving in the community.

I have to be honest, though, it took me a long time to actually get INTO the story. It reminded me of Uprooted in that way. I picked up that book, put it down, and re-started it so many times over the course of a few weeks. Truthwitch was, not gonna lie, a little hard to get into because of the sheer amount of information being thrown at you. I’m not talking about info-dumps though. But it’s always hard for me to get situated comfortably in a new fantasy world, so I slogged through the beginning instead of just breezing through it. Sometimes it took me out of the story, but boy, was it worth the slow pace.

You’ll first meet Safiya von Hasstrel. Stubborn, reckless, not intimidated by danger and big men. She’s strong, she’s fearless, and she knows how to kick serious ass. But she’s also quick to anger, slow to forgive, and knows just how to get herself into trouble. She’s the type of person who runs headfirst into a fight, which is the complete opposite of Iseult, her best friend and Threadsister. Iseult was the calm and cool one, the person who followed Safi’s plans but who was always the one to clean up the mess. Just as fearless, and just as strong, the two of them made the most perfect duo. Through everything that happens, the two girls have each other, no matter what. And it is their friendship that turned out to be the best part of this book. It was so wonderful to have that here, a bond so strong that it’s unbreakable, and with two girls who will literally go to the ends of the earth for one another.

The friendship actually gave me more feels than the possibilities of romance. I’m just not totally convinced of anything yet, even though I can basically see how it’s going to play out. There was some great ship moments with a certain Captain of the sea, Merik, though. A guy with more than one side to him, and someone who just wants to do the right thing, even if it’s going to cost him. The second dude, Aeduan, in the story is a mystery. A Bloodwitch, a monk. A guy who seems to have his own motives for everything, but you never know what that is. He’s definitely got my attention, though. ;)

The book was slow at first, but there was a lot of action going on! Fights, trouble, danger, chases, high-seas adventures. From one moment to the next, our two leading ladies never stop moving. And they never stop being kickass heroines, which I loved. The four POVs were not at all hard to handle, and I cannot wait to see how the slowly-evolving storylines and subplots come together. Since there are 4 books in the series, there is going to be a lot of change and the stakes will get higher and I’m excited for all of the unraveling. And I’m looking forward to falling even more in love with these characters and their stories. <3

Full of magic and with an action-packed plot, Truthwitch had my attention from the first page up until the very last. The female friendship was empowering and wonderful, and the fantasy world was fully and richly detailed so that I actually felt like it was real. And lastly I want to say: can I have the sequel yet? :)


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Flying Under the Radar

I try every year to read books that don't get a lot of attention. In my first two years, a lot of those kinda books were self-published or indie ones. And I LOVED sifting through the bad to find those gems that reminded me so much of why I read. But apparently I failed really hard at this during 2015. Because when Nick asked what our favorite under-the-radar reads of the year were, I was drawing a blank. I came up with two of them quickly, but I could not believe that was it, so I went to Goodreads and searched through my year in books. And I only found two more. So, four in total! AHHH. This saddens me. 

A goal now, for 2016, is to read more under-the-radar books, and to get back into treasure hunting for gems in the self-published world. I hadn't realized how much I let that go in 2015. Most of the books I read were either a) popular backlist titles, b) popular new releases, or c) authors I already fell in love with in previous years. Sure, I did read a lot of books whose authors were new to me, but most of them were ones that I'd heard about through others FREQUENTLY. So they were, to the blogosphere, already hyped up enough on their own. But there were at least 4 books I LOVED that I would consider under-the-radar. And I want to talk about them again!

Yeah, I know this one isn't surprising. You might be tired of hearing me talk about it. But any excuse where I can show it off, I will do that! It is so special. One of the best books I've read dealing with mental illness. It was so positive, and wonderful, and it was super relatable to me, which was a lot of the reason why I loved it so much. There were so many aspects of it that made me go: oh, oh this is my LIFE. It was everything I never knew I wanted in a story.

I signed up for the blog tour for this one on a whim. I've read quite a few books about prostitution, but none like this. Especially not in a young adult novel! I thought the author took such care with the sex slavery aspect. But it was not the whole of the book. The focus was on the main character's journey as she tried to readjust to life outside of the last 3 years of it. And it was such a beautiful journey to see a girl who felt so broken and dirty survive, rise up, and find the strength to live again.

I think Jennifer Mathieu is SUCH an underrated author! After loving The Truth About Alice, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Devoted. These are two wonderful YA books with some of the best teenage voices. I especially loved the one above and how it explored the cult-like thinking of a certain church and its patrons. And it was a story of one girl's courageous move to get herself out of that life and choose her own path! I thought that was something so incredible to read about.

This book was exquisite! (AND SO IS THAT COVER, MY GOD). The combination of prose and verse was done in such a way that I flew through this book in just a couple of hours. It was easy to follow along with, easy to get to know the characters and their motives (which I was nervous about because of the way it's written). And I loved that these two MCs were daring to dream of better futures for themselves, and that they refused to play this game disguised as tradition.

So yeah, these are some of the books I loved this year that I want more people to read! And they're all SO different, so hopefully they appeal to at least one person out there. I also want to add Descent by Tara Fuller. It's the final book in her Kissed by Death series. I didn't put it on here by itself because it's not the first book, but I still wanted to talk about it since I think it's a very good underrated YA series! Y'all need to read these books I mentioned. JUST TRUST ME ON THIS. :D

And I really do want to make reading more quiet books a goal in 2016! It'll be hard, because everyone seems to find out about the trad published books before I do, and their excitement causes the hype that makes me add them to my TBR. But I especially want to dig into the self-published and indie books again. There are SO MANY gems, and I need to discover them all! I mean, one of my all-time favorite series is indie. I want another treasure like the AoA series, so here's to finding them!

Are there any books you loved this year that you would consider under-the-radar? AND I WANT NAMES HERE! I need to make sure I'm reading the good stuff. :D

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Please Sir, I Want Some More

This might be weird, and atypical, but I’m pretty much always cool with books or series ending. Like, I read it, and then I love on it a few days (maybe a few weeks, if it stays on my mind), and then I move on. This isn’t to say I forget them completely, but my memory is shit anyway, and that happens quite frequently. And even if something is an all-time fave, I can forget A LOT of details about it. But that’s okay for me. If I want to reread, I can always do that. So I don’t generally focus on the same books for long periods of time. And when they’re finished, I shelve them. Sometimes I look at the pretties and pet them like old friends. But it's not hard for me to close the door on a book completely. And I rarely EVER want more of it.

But sometimes, sometimes there are books I start reading that latch on, and won’t let go. Sometimes, there are books that I just want to read forever. I don’t want them to end at all! It happens SO rarely that I wanted to share the 3 distinct cases of this year. And also share because the books are super different from one another, and I’m especially surprised by the fact that one of these is even on this list.

I’m shocked by A Madness So Discreet. I had no idea what to expect from it, and I had no idea that it would become so special to me. And I had NO idea that I would be begging for a sequel. That I would be stoked if she made it a series with the two main characters, Grace and Thornhollow, solving crimes and getting into trouble and bantering with each other forever. I WANT A SEQUEL, DAMN IT! I’m dying for more of them. And that doesn’t usually happen! It’s very rare when I want a companion or a sequel to a definitively ENDED book. But with Madness, I could have kept going for hundreds of pages, and I would not have gotten bored. Guaranteed.

For the other two books, The Scorpio Races and Six of Crows, I just can’t stop thinking about them. I read SoC back in June; it was one of the first books I read from BEA, and it’s one of my all-time favorites. I immediately wanted to reread it after finishing. It was just THAT good, and I didn’t want to leave the world or its characters. And I still think about it from time to time. Same with Scorpio Races. I tried REALLY hard to savor that book, but man, it still didn’t take me long to finish. But I didn’t want it to end! I could have read another 400+ pages of that story. And I wanted to, oh how I wanted to. So I’m already dying for a reread, especially since I still haven’t reviewed the book and don’t feel like my memory is good enough to try to do that after 4 months. But really, do I NEED an excuse to reread this book? Haha. It’s just too damn amazing not to!

But most of the time, my philosophy is: if it’s finished, leave it alone! I’m not even very thrilled about people wanting to make prequel movies on different Hunger Games before the 74th one. The movies franchise and books ended on a spectacularly high note. LEAVE THEM ALONE. (But damn it if I wouldn’t be the first on in the theater if they made a prequel about Finnick’s games). I’m a *little* done with more Harry Potter stuff, too. Like, I’ll definitely go see Fantastic Beasts and such, but I feel very “meh” when I hear of another announcement. I love the series, the books AND the movies, but I’m cool if they stay that way. I USED to want more, but I think I phased out of that. But also it’s weird though that I’m okay with Cassandra Clare staying in the Shadowhunter world. Maybe it’s because her series are set in different periods with different characters, who knows? Or like with Star Wars, I’m incredibly excited about this new one, even though it’s been years since the last. But with Fast and Furious, I’d really like the series to just STOP. It basically just depends on whether or not the thought of something MORE makes me happy, even when I’m satisfied with the ending. But again, it’s very rare when it happens!

Am I the only one who mostly feels satisfied with books ending, even if they are favorites? Or do you feel the same way? Are there books (or movie franchises) that YOU wished would never end? Let’s talk! :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Pirate and the Violinist

Title: Passenger (Passenger, #1)
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: January 5th, 2016!!
*I received a physical ARC from the lovely Disney people at BEA.

From Goodreads....

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

My Review!
This was my first Alexandra Bracken book, and it will NOT be the last! There is something so gorgeous about her writing, and the way she wove together the past and present. I’m not a huge fan of time-travel books, even though I love history, because the mechanics of it can just fly over my head. But there were no info-dumps here, no ridiculously long-winded explanations. That aspect of the book, the time-travel, was easy to understand and believe. But the characters? Oh, the characters were my favorite part!

Henrietta “Etta” Spencer first appears to be this obedient, quiet girl. One who lets others choose her path, and one who puts the violin above everything else. But she loves playing. She loves the discipline, even though it makes her a perfectionist who cannot stand mistakes. But when tragedy strikes, and life unravels, she starts questioning her choices and reevaluating what’s important. And she no longer has the passion for the violin, though she won’t back out of honoring her loved one. That’s when she’s pushed through time and thrust into the year 1776 and sent on a quest that she has no choice but to accept. Through it all, Etta doesn’t give up. She doesn’t cower and she doesn’t lose hope. She fights; she survives. She uses her skills, her mother’s stories, and her intelligence to save her skin and that of a boy who is dealing with his own troubles. She was well within her rights to break down, to just let herself be pushed around. But Etta was so strong, though she had her moments of weakness, especially when it came to her short temper and stubborn rebellion and her blind curiosity.Her growth was absolutely wonderful and I loved her character.

Nicholas Carter is a pirate who is so much more than meets the eye. We meet him in the middle of a full-blown war on the waters, in the middle of him killing someone (It’s like OH HAI NIC… WAIT WHAT). He’s rough around the edges, quiet, contemplative. His eyes take everything in even when his mouth is done speaking. And he’s someone who gets the job done, and his job currently? Bringing Etta to the Ironwoods. But he knows he’s essentially throwing her into the lion’s den, so he stays to protect her, just in case. And because of that, and Ironwoods offer, he’s tossed throughout the centuries with her, on the quest for a mysterious object whose origins are covered in lies. Nicholas doesn’t have much trouble assimilating, even though he’s never felt like he truly belongs anywhere. But with Etta, he starts to understand what love and home and life feels like, what it means to belong. Because of his race and his past, he’s never been able to shake off the feeling of helplessness and the constant insults thrown his way. But Etta sees past all of that, and looks inside, to a guy who just wants to be worth something.

Their romance was slow and sweet and agonizingly beautiful. In each other, they both find a place to belong, especially when they’re torn from their homes and tossed into worlds that are constantly trying to push them down. Through it all, Etta and Nicholas are forced to depend on each other, to put their trust into someone they just met. It helps form a connection between them, and they start to care for each other, even when that trust is tenuous at best. The love that develops between them was so real and genuine, a love that gives them something to fall back on when they don’t know what to do or how they’ll get out of the mess they’re in. A love that shows both Etta and Nicholas that appearances aren’t everything, and that the heart is what counts.

I loved how Alexandra used this book to tackle the subjects of feminism and slavery, of race and prejudices. Throwing a 21st century girl into the heart of a time where women were considered the inferior gender was certainly bound to create sparks of anger and rebellion. I loved that Etta didn’t stand for it, that she questioned the laws, and that she stood up for Nicholas even when she was told to be quiet. Because of the slave laws, Nicholas being born to a woman in captivity left him branded a slave too. It’s a label that has never gone away, even when he’s proven himself over and over again that he’s a good, hardworking man. It’s a label that Nicholas would very much like to leave behind. And I loved that, through Etta’s perspective and that of the man himself, we’re able to catch a glimpse of what it was like back then and how it affected people of all races and status. And we see just how much humanity has changed (though it is not truly equal for everyone even in this age, especially for women and minorities, which the author also talks about).

One of my favorite parts of this book was also the history! Like I said above, I LOVE history. I love reading stories set in the past, which is hilarious since I don’t read historical fiction. Like, ever. (I think I’m just very picky when it comes to them). I like historical books that don’t make me feel like I’m slogging through the story, like I can’t understand anything if I haven’t researched the time period. The author certainly piles on the details, but in such a way that it flows with the story. That it just adds another layer to an already richly developed book. And the two POVs were DISTINCT. They were different; they felt like a 21st century woman and a pirate from 1776. It was never hard to distinguish where they were at and who was speaking. I also loved that it was told in 3rd person and that I could still connect with both characters.

I think maybe my only gripe (gripe is a strong word, more like a minor “eh, it could have been better but I don’t really care anyway because I loved the book too much”) with this was the secondary characters. There were many; ones that helped the characters and others that were set out to destroy them. Most of them had developed relationships with the MCs, though we didn’t see them much throughout the story. Like Etta’s mom, who is wonderful and clearly protective of her daughter. They had a great relationship, but when Etta time-travels we lose that, though her mom is always at the back of her mind through everything. I loved Chase and Captain Hall too, and I wish we’d gotten more of those two. I also would love the Ironwoods to play a heavier role in Wayfarer. I feel like the surface was barely scratched with them.

I’m almost mad at myself for reading this so early, since I’m dying after that cliffhanger. But the pain was totally worth it (ask me this again in a few months, and I’ll probably tell you to shut up). Passenger was just a beautifully written book that cleverly interweaves the past and present, with characters that come from two completely different times but who find in each other a common ground and a place to belong, and a story that takes the readers on a whirlwind of an adventure.