Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 End of Year Survey

Well, fellow book lovers, the year is finally coming to a close, and with that comes The Perpetual Page-Turner's annual End of Year Survey, which I have decided to join this year. I particularly love how many different questions are present in this survey, though I would like to warn you that I won't be doing all of the questions because, well, some I didn't have a strong answer for. Also, I will try not to have too many repetitious answers, but... I'm sorry if I repeat some titles a lot.

Number Of Books I Read: 121

Number of Re-Reads: 0 (I'm not a huge re-reader, but this year apparently I didn't do it at all...)

Genre I Read The Most From: Fantasy

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?
Picking only one book is a huge 'nope, impossible' for me, so I'm just going to list a few of the best ones I read this year...

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s StoryThe Crimson Petal and the WhiteA Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)StonerNevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)Heartless

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee (Review)
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (Review)
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (Review)
Stoner by John Williams
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (Review)
Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Review)
Heartless by Marissa Meyer (Review)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? 

  • Wildwood by Colin Meloy — I thought this would be another wonderful middle grade fantasy read, but unfortunately all it seemed to do was drag on and on with a plot that just didn't grab me.
 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  
  • Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey — Surprising in a fantastic way!
  • Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard — Another good surprise.
 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
  • Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo — Mainly because I got my mom to read this duology. I feel accomplished.
 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?
  • Best series started: Shades of Magic by V. E. Schwab                             
                                 Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  • Best Sequel: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas                    
                       Crooked Kingdom
    by Leight Bardugo
  • Best Ender: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma by Trenton Lee Stewart
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?
  • Michel Faber. Such a gorgeous writer, I can't get enough of his work.
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
  • And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich — Horror is not something I generally read much of, so I was very pleaed with this one!
  • Illuminae by Jay Kristoff — I'm not huge on space settings, but this was amazing!
 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
  •  A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, and
  • Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
9. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

Ithaca: A Novel of Homer's OdysseyThrough the WoodsHeartless

The Secret KeepersA Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)

Ithaca by Patrick Dillon (Review)
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Review)
Heartless by Marissa Meyer 
The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart (Review)
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab (Review)
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

10. Most memorable character of 2016?
  • Lila Bard from A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
  • Mary Boleyn from The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
  • Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury Sarah J. Maas
  • Kaz/Jesper from Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
11. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?
  • The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
  • Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
  • Stoner by John Williams
  • Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
12. Most Thought-Provoking Book of 2016?
  • Scythe by Neal Shusterman
 13. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 
  • Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  • The Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson
  • Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
 14. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?
How do I pick just one!? This year I actually started marking and typing up some of my favorite quotes from books, so this question actually opens a whole enormous slew of quotes. To save you the time, I decided to go with only two from one particularly lovely book called The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee:

“In this world, some time long ago, far past anyone’s remembering, women as a kind had something so terrible, so awful, so fantastically cruel that they and their daughters and their daughters’ daughters were forever beyond forgiveness until the end of time - unforgiven, distrusted, enslaved, made to suffer for the least offenses committed against any man. What was remembered were the terms of our survival as a class: We were to be docile, beautiful, uncomplaining, pure, and failing that, at the least useful. In return, we might be allowed something like a long life. But if we were not any of these things, by a man’s reckoning, or if perchance we violated their sense of that pact, we would have no protection whatsoever and were to be treated worse than any wild dog or lame horse” (538).

“It was such a hard thing, this virtue, it seemed to me. Keeping it was like having to grip the knife by the blade and defend yourself with the hilt.  Ever since I’d been old enough to know about Virtue in a woman, it had seemed like a bull’s-eye painted on my head in rouge. I was sure, as I was led away, I would be better off without it. It was better to be done with it and be gone” (99).

15. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?
  • Shortest -  Seven Brief lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli, 96 pages
  • Longest - War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, 1273 pages
16. Book That Shocked You The Most
  •   Consequence by Eric Fair
17. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
  • Haruki Murakami: Dance Dance Dance and Colorless Tsukuru and his Years of Pilgrimage (I am a huge Murakami fan)
18. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
  • Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson — So many book blogging people everywhere encouraged this one, I had to give it a shot!
19. Best 2016 debut you read?
  • A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
  • The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
  • The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White
20. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
  • Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
  •  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente
  • Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmel
  • The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
21. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White
22. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?
  • Pit Bull by Bronwen Dickey — This might seem an odd choice, but reading about how many animals are wrongly treated and stereotyped tugged at my heart so much while reading this book. 
23. Hidden Gem of the Year?
  • Kings or Pawns by J. J. Sherwood!
24. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
  • The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee
  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
25. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?
  • Under  the Skin by Michel Faber

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

  • Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson (The Malazan Book of the Fallen #1)
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?
  • A Conjuring of Light by V. E Schwab
  •  Nevernight #2 by Jay Kristoff
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  • The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova
  • Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
  • City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
4. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?
I would personally like to be a bit more active and schedule a much wider variety of posts, ranging from lists, recommendations, discussions, and much more!

5. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
  • Gilded Cage Vic James

See any books you liked or wanted to read? What does your bookish year of 2016 look like?

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Airwoman by Zara Quentin

Airwoman by Zara Quentin. Zara Quentin, 2016. Paperback. 316 pages.

*I received a copy of Airwoman in exchange for an honest review.*

Airwoman is easily one of the more unique fantasy novels that I've read this year, and I am excited to share this book with all of you. When I started reading Airwoman, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Was it going to be like a 'superhero' story? An action adventure? Or something else entirely? But I was intrigued by the premise and the fact that the people in this book had wings and could fly (not to mention the wonderful cover, as well!), so I accepted this book to review in order to find out more. and I was very pleasantly surprised by what I ended up reading.

First off, this is a great adventure book, and I definitely felt entertained for a majority of the book. The beginning portion felt like it moved slightly slow at times, but it definitely picks up and turns into quite an adventurous journey. The pacing seems consistent throughout, though it can seem as if it is a bit on the slow side at times — but this never lasts for long. 

I thought Jade was a really well-written character, and I found that she was able to explore herself throughout the course of this novel. She is initially a rather obedient, meek girl. I could see hints of her more confident, potentially rebellious side, but for the most part she didn't really act out in any way. But as the story progressed, more aspects of Jade's personality begin to emerge, and I was excited to discover a stronger, more confident side of her. Her father's death is tragic and shocking, and I felt that Jade's reaction to his death and her subsequent actions fit really well with the events that took place.

When Jade begins her training with the Traveller Force, I was hoping that there would be more detail about the training practices and their purposes, but unfortunately this section was a bit short (you'll find out why), and it never went into much detail. I found the reactions of those in her training section to be understandable, but also slightly over-dramatic, and I was frustrated to find Jade being singled out for reasons that are hard to justify.

I really loved the world that Quentin created this book, and I wish I knew more about it! While the author provided plenty of insight into how the Dragonverse world worked, I would have appreciated a bit more explanation in order to understand it in a slightly more detailed manner. While the nuances of the world have intricacies that I had to get used to, Airwoman is not an overly difficult fantasy novel to get into and is extremely readable, so I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys adventure, some fantasy, or an intriguing plot.

Before wrapping up this review, I would like to note, however, that I was a bit uncertain when I discovered that this book would feature a 'lesser developed' group of peoples living in a different world that Jade's, but I feel that Quentin handled this topic in a deft manner that allowed it  to flow smoothly.

Quentin's writing style is easy to follow, but this does not in any way mean she is lacking in talent or execution. Descriptions are all done in a manner that is informative, but not overly wordy, and the settings are all described in a manner that really allowed me to imagine the worlds created by the author.

Overall, I am giving Airwoman four stars!

If you want to find out more about the author and what is was like for her to write winged characters, be sure to check her featured guest post!

You might also like:
Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong
Azurite by Megan Dent Nagle
Sun Kissed by Coco Nichole

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #3)
Publication Date: February 21st, 2017
Tor Books
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

From Goodreads:

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic, #3)
The battle between four magical Londons comes to a head in this stunning finale to the New York Times bestselling Shades of Magic trilogy by rising star V. E. Schwab

London's fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies.

You might be seeing this one a lot, but that's only because this series is so great! I recently finished the second book, and I can't wait until the third one comes out. :)

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday: Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Diane over at Bibiophile by the Sea. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Diane's blog, or simple check it out to find more new books to read!

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Johannes Cabal, #1)

Chapter 1: In which a scientist visits hell and a deal is struck

"Walpurgisnacht, the Hexennacht. The last night of April. The night of witches, when evil walks abroad.

He stood at a desolate and lonely place where there would be no interruption, no prying eyes. The air smelled metallic with freshly spilt blood; the body of a decapitated virgin kid goat lay nearby. He had no alloyed metal about him but for a thin-bladed sword of fine steel he held in his right hand; that arm was naked, his shirt sleeve rolled up to the biceps. A silver coin wrapped in paper nestled in his waistcoat pocket. Before him burned a fire of white wood.

His name was Johannes Cabal, and he was summoning a demon."

I haven't officially started this one yet, but I'm thinking about it! It sounds delightfully quirky and entertaining, so I'm hoping to jump into it soon. :)

What do you think? Would you keep reading? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 
If you're enticed by this chapter, be sure to check out the full synopsis on Goodreads!

*Excerpt taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mother Nile by Warren Adler

Mother Nile
Mother Nile by Warren Adler. Stonehouse Press, 2016. Ebook. 382 pages.

*I received a copy of Mother Nile in exchange for an honest review.*

This is my first novel by Warren Adler, and I must say I am very impressed. I had no idea what I was getting into with Mother Nile, but I have seen many people praise and enjoy his other novels, so I felt fairly confident going into this one.

Within the first two chapters, I could tell that this was going to be a very honest, blunt book, and I appreciated that. I could tell that the author was not going to shy away from any topics that may be awkward or uncomfortable for some people, and I like it when authors decide to take risks or refuse to cover anything up. There is some violence and sexual scenes depicted throughout, but none of it is unwarranted. Everything has a purpose, and I think that is truly what helps to set Warren Adler apart from other.

Mother Nile is a complicated story of familiar relationships, power, and politics. It is a story that requires your complete attention in order to make sure you are following along and understanding the complicated political situations within the state. Adler paints vivid, raw pictures of the settings he describes. Egypt is shown with no frills attached, and his descriptions are so strong that I felt as if I could actually imagine myself there in this exact setting.

The characters Adler develops are quite a varied bunch, and I really enjoyed exploring each character's background and impact on the story. Si, short for Osiris, is our main character who is searching for his long-lost half-sister, Isis. I felt as if Adler grabs his readers and throws them right into the action and lives of his characters, which actually worked rather well. Si is a headstrong man who is shown to have fierce determination, and although he is not necessarily a perfect man by any means, I felt myself beginning to understand as the story progressed.

I also enjoyed reading Farrah's story. If you think Si is a strong character, just wait until you meet Farrah. This woman is tough, and she is forced to make a lot of extraordinarily difficult decisions throughout the book. The only problem I had with her character was that I never really felt like I knew who Farrah was. While we did get some insight into her thoughts, I didn't always feel like I was getting to see her from more than a surface level, and because of that I didn't necessarily understand all of her motivations and reasoning for things, or why she acted certain ways.

Adler is clearly a talented writer, and he writes with well-practiced ease, making it a true breeze to read through his story. I also appreciate that he appears to have done thorough research on his settings and history, and although I am not particularly knowledgeable about the time, it is still readily apparent that this is the case. He knows how to set a scene, deliver a twist, and keep you hooked.

Overall, I am giving Mother Nile four stars!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Notable Books of 2016

Well, this year of reading is just about wrapped up! Even though there is still a week left of the year in which I will more than likely be reading a few books, I've decided I need to go ahead and get this post out before the year actually ends.

This year, I read a total of 119 books (so far), which is just about double than any previous years since I started tracking my books on Goodreads. I set my goal at 60 on GR because that's generally around what I tend to do, and I don't like to make a huge unfathomable number as my goal because I don't want to necessarily rush through books. Somehow, however, I apparently sped through way more than I could have ever imagined and ended up with way more than expected. This has been a great year for books. I read so many fabulous new books and authors, and I have also tackled some of the more intimidating books that I've had on my radar for a while, so I definitely feel accomplished this year.

While a majority of the books on this list (>90%) are ones that I loved, I did include a few that might not have been my favorite, but were still a huge accomplishment or important to me in some way or another. Not all of these were five-star reads (though most were), but ones that really stuck out. So without further ado, here are my chosen notable books that I read in 2016 (in no particular order)! (Note: these are not in any order of popularity, only in the order in which I read them, from the beginning of the year to the end)

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story
The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story by Hyeonseo Lee
I received this book for Christmas last year and it thus became the first book I read in 2017, as well as one of the best books I read. This was an unforgettable book about a North Korean defector and every aspect of her life and escape from North Korea. It brought such a unique perspective to North Korea that I didn't expect, as well as exposed the atrocities and fear that are present there. (Review)

Through the Woods
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
So deliciously creepy and wonderful and perfect. I only meant to read the first story, but ended up sitting on the floor of my room and read the entire thing. Whoops. (Review)

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I read both of these books in the Six of Crows duology this year and just fell in love with the setting, the story, and every character. I may or may not have even named my new vehicle after Kaz... (CK Review)

Consequence: A Memoir
Consequence by Eric Fair
This was a dark, heavy read, but I felt it was a topic that isn't often talked about or even one people know much about, and it is definitely something that has stuck with me. (Review)

Tiger Lily
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
This was such a lovely Peter Pan inspired story/retelling, and Anderson's prose was beyond stunning. This wasn't an overly lighthearted book, but instead it was heavy with emotion and meaning, and I don't know, I just loved it.

Infinite Jest
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
So... this is one of those books that I didn't love. I really, really didn't love this book. From a literary/style perspective, I can completely understood why it is so well-regarded; Wallace does really inventive, crazy things with his style and storytelling. From an entertainment aspect, however, I just couldn't get into this. Each day that I sat down to read more, I told myself that I would really focus and 'today would be the day that I broke through the barrier' Yeah, that' didn't happen. Still, this was a huge accomplishment for me, and I'm glad that I did read it.

The Crimson Petal and the White
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
This is the book that sparked my obsession with Michel Faber's writing. The prose was gorgeous and the second person writing style was flawlessly executed. This is a hefty book, but I never felt like I was trudging through it because Faber's excellent writing. (Review)

The Book of Strange New Things
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
And this is the book I read after reading The Crimson Petal and the White because I needed more MIchel Faber. This is also the book tht made me realize just how much range Faber has in his writing style and just how talented he is. I don't know how to describe how this book made me feel, but needless to say I loved it.

Stoner by John Williams
This is another one of those academic novels about a man that don't seem to really have a major plot within them, but it still absolutely gripped me. I felt so many random connections to this story and the main character, and I fell in love with this book.

Kushiel's Dart (Ph├Ędre's Trilogy, #1)
Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
I was blown away by the immense world-building and overall structure that Carey created in this book. This book is an incredible epic fantasy book that absolutely deserves being considered one of the best fantasy books. (Review)

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
Jay Kristoff blew me away with this book: his writing, the intricate story, the character development - it was all incredibly well-done and I enjoyed this assassin story immensely. Because, you know, assassins. (Review)

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
I couldn't not add this book to this list. I was so thrilled with the direction Maas took this series, and her character development is all perfectly timed and executed. I can't wait for the next installment! (Review)

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
I don't think this book is necessarily going to win any major book awards or anything, but I thought the overall concept and world itself was so inventive and just plain fun. There were hidden nods and references to countless books, and everything was just a delight to read. If you like Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair, then you should definitely check out The Invisible Library (or vice versa).

The Vegetarian
The Vegetarian  by Han Kang
This was one of those books that was just plain odd, but odd in a way that absolutely worked and made me feel unable to put this book down. Kang is clearly a talented writer, and I hope to read more from her next year! (Review)

Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon
Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon by Bronwen Dickey
This book was so informative about the origins of the stigmas and stereotypes associated with the pit bull breed, as well as quite a few other breeds. I highly recommend this book to just about anyway, honestly, because I feel that this is something which needs to be read. (Review)

War and Peace
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
I did it! I have been wanting to tackle this book for ages, and I am happy to report that I accomplished that goal. I started September 1st and made sure to stay on track with ~11 pages a day, planning to wrap up mid-December, and it worked perfectly! I actually enjoyed quite a bit of this massive tome, which I'll admit was a bit surprising. If you've been eyeing this one, I say give it a go! The most difficult parts to get through for me were the extensive war/military sections, but I promise it's possible! Tolstoy has some incredibly interesting commentary on history as well.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)
Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Just about every aspect of this book blew me away. The concept itself was so intriguing, and I was impressed by how Shusterman handled such a dark concept with such maturity and thoughtfulness. This book will really make you think. (Review)

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Based on the review I just posted for Heartless, I'm pretty sure it's fairly obvious that this book would be on here. I had so much fun reading this book, and I was immensely pleased with Meyer's Alice in Wonderland-inspired retelling featuring the pre-Queen of Hearts. (Review)

Did you read any of these books? What are some of your best books of 2016? Comment below!

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless by Marissa Meyer. Feiwel & Friends, 2016. Hardcover. 449.

I'm a sucker for retellings and I also love Alice in Wonderland, so a retelling set in the wonderful world Lewis Carroll created sounded perfect, especially considering it's about the Queen of Hearts before becoming the Queen — this definitely sounded like it would hit the sweet spot of books for me. And it did. 

Before I begin my review, I'd just like make a quick note that  I have not yet read Meyer's Lunar Chronicles, so I really had no idea what to expect from Meyer going into Heartless. I haven't been particularly interested in the Lunar Chronicles, but I may eventually get around to them. Or I might not. I'm not sure. Anyway, let's review Heartless!

I don't even know how to put into words how incredible this book was. This was everything I wanted. I know there have been some mixed reviews on this, and I completely understand each and every one of them and both their negative and positive points, but I personally enjoyed reading this book so much that I could not help but fall in love with it.

The biggest aspect of this book that I loved was the world itself, which also includes Meyer's exquisite writing and description. This world had whimsy and wonder and such a sharp attention to detail that I was incredibly captivated by everything. I never wanted to leave. Everything in this book had a personality, from the doorknobs to the candles, and I love that kind of thing. Some of my favorite parts of books are when authors mention tiny details of background happenings that are quirky or just add more fleshed out layers of worldbuilding. It made everything feel so authentically Alice in Wonderland, and I felt so sucked into the world.

Another great part of Heartless was the witty dialogue. Page after page of wit, banter, rhymes — it made this book such an enjoyable experience and a breeze to read. I didn't want it to stop. It also had darkness.  Oh boy, it had darkness. Heartless went so subtlety from a whimsy, sweet romance, to hidden madness and unease, then complete anger and darkness and I loved it.

Now, here's what's tricky to explain. In the beginning and first half of the book, I wasn't overly impressed with the plot and the romance that was happening. It was entertaining and I enjoyed it, but the purpose of the book so far didn't seem overly strong  was this just a book about her not wanting to marry the king and trying to find a way to open her bakery and run off with her true love? (Answer: Yes and no) But the fact is that the world building and the writing and the details were all done so well that I didn't even care and I just enjoyed it for what it was without dissecting anything. Plus, it felt like there were enough subtle hints about things that I had a feeling more might happen. And boy did it. There is definitely a lot more to this book than meets the eye.

Cath is an interesting character. I'm not sure that I can ever say I truly loved her character, and I think that is where a lot of the reviews turn negative. She's an endearing character in some ways - her sweet disposition, her passion for baking, her wittiness — but she's also a bit frustrating and not always the nicest person, such as her making fun of people, her refusal to be honest with the king, etc. But the thing about this is that I'm not sure if we're really meant to fall in love with her. I certainly empathized with her and, on the whole, loved reading about her and her personality, but I can see where she might have rubbed some people the wrong way. Her development and dynamic features, however, were incredibly well-done, and I can't say that enough. I felt her passion and dream to open a bakery and her desire not to  ignore her dreams and just do what was required by her parents. Cath didn't have the strongest backbone of the characters for the entire story necessarily, but I admired how she grew and developed more confidence and strength in herself as the story progressed. And I sort of love the final result. The entire change that Cath goes through was just remarkable in my opinion, and while I'm not one that necessarily thirsts for revenge in circumstances, I completely understand how pain and rage can turn people into someone they don't know anymore.

Jest was lovely. I loved his wit, charm, and his overall suave. He seemed so innocent and adorable in the beginning, but we soon learn that he has a quite more than to him than is apparent to the eye. He carries with him an air of mystery that matches his level of charm and humor.

And then we have the king, a man that I liked and disliked at the same time. He was adorable in some ways, but I can also completely understand how infuriating he is - and, frankly, how infuriating all of Hearts. They are not a society that likes to confront and deal with conflict, but instead prefer to brush it under the rug and pretend it never happened. I can completely understand this outlook, but it's not exactly a wise way in which to live one's life.

The rest of the characters, such as Hatta, Haigha, the turtle, Mary Ann, and many others were all a delight to read about. I'm not going to go into much more detail on much more than I have, however, because I think this book is fun to go into and explore all on your own.

And a quick warning: Heartless will make you want to eat any and all baked goods in sight, or you will want to go buy or make delicious treats and pastries, so be warned!

Overall, Heartless gets five stars from me!

You might also like:
Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Tiger's Watch by Julia Ember

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

The Tiger's Watch by Julia Ember
Publication Date: August 2017
Harmony Ink Press

From Goodreads:

The Tiger's Watch (Ashes of Gold, #1)
Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a Inhabiter, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn't question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an Inhabiter’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

I have been seeing this book everywhere, and I every time I see it I become more intrigued. The cover itself is beautiful and really intriguing. I'm always a little wary of romantic plots that appear like the one mentioned in this summary, but I have high hopes for this!

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday: For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Diane over at Bibiophile by the Sea. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Diane's blog, or simple check it out to find more new books to read!

For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

For the Most Beautiful

Chapter 1
"High summer on the slopes of Mount Ida. Sweat trickling down his forehead, flies buzzing around his herd with their incessant thrumming, the stench of the goats thick in his nostrils mixed with the salt of the sea air from the north. He pushes the hair back from his brow and looks up to the sky. The sun, Apulunas' chariot, is at the height of its course.

The middle of the day.

He moves to the shade of an olive tree, his dog following at his heels. The cool darkness beneath the shimmering leaves envelops him and eases the heat on the back of his as he picks up a loaf of bread wrapped in stiff linen and his leather pouch, filled with wine."
This isn't the most action-packed introduction, but I think it really gives some hints at the style of the author's writing, and it makes me pretty intrigued to find out where she's going with everything. From what I can gather, For the Most Beautiful is a tale of the Trojan war told through the eyes of some women from the time period. I haven't started this book just yet, but I am about to do so as soon as I finish up a few that I am almost done with, and I am really excited for it! I believe this book came out last year in the UK, and it's U.S. debut is January 10, 2017! This copy is an ARC provided by NetGalley, so I hope to dive in soon. :)

What do you think? Would you keep reading? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 
If you're enticed by this chapter, be sure to check out the full synopsis on Goodreads!

*Excerpt taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.