READ IN: January

January, you were good to me. Even though classes started up again, I managed to read a whooping (not really ha) 14 books, most of which I adored. Though I tend to read more if I purchase ebook editions, reading from physical copies is just more magical. Books that made it to my favourites shelf this month are Unite MeMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, The Program, Before Jamaica Lane and both of the Miss Peregrine’s Chrildren books. If you want to check out any books from the list, just click their names and you’ll be redirected to their Goodreads pages! Can’t wait for February with all those new releases!

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5 Stars
Unite Me (ebook) by Tahereh Mafi, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

4 Stars
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children / Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, World After by Susan Ee, Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young, The Program by Suzanne Young, Unravel Me by Mafi

3 Stars
Shatter Me by Mafi, Someone You Already Know by Sarahbeth Chaplin, Erased by Jennifer Rush, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

2 Stars
Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill, The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

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BOOK REVIEW: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

13138635Series: Starbound #1
Publication Date: December 10th 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Genres: Young adult, science fiction, romance, fantasy
My Rating: 4 stars
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It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.  Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever? Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

This book though. These Broken Stars was most definitely my most anticipated release of 2013, with that cover luring me in like sirens do sailors at sea ever since its release announcement. I mean, that cover is probably the most beautiful thing I had seen all year. It has the perfect space odyssey/mythology ratio that just did it for me even way before I knew what the whole story was about. I was so, so happy when These Broken Stars became everything I had hoped for. I finished it in three hours without a single break because, yup, it was that good.titanic2
These Broken Stars has been helmed as ‘Titanic in space’ so often I couldn’t pass a chance to mention it. It’s a perfect tagline, really, for a story about two star-crossed lovers who travel through space on one of the most advanced ships ever built. Here’s the thing, though, where These Broken Stars manages to make a name of it’s very own – we leave behind the Titanic disaster element of the story fairly early on, morphing into a haunting survival story that reveals evermore injustices of this sci-fi dystopian universe. After the Icarus crashes on an unknown planet, the two leads are faced with an unexplored terrain, an eerie presence that radiates through the lands, and whether or not to they have the will and reason to make it out of this tragedy alive.
Fantasy-Grass-Field-640x400The book’s opening chapters are incredibly spot-on. We meet both main characters, Lilac LaRoux – daughter to the richest man in the galaxy – and Tarver Merendsen – the youngest war hero of said galaxy – right in the beginning. We immediately know they’re going to be in each other’s lives for far longer than initially set up as, and yet you keep wondering that maybe their stories aren’t going to intertwine for long at all. And that is what makes the crash and their subsequent journey together so much more compelling, because as much as we have learned about them as individuals, they have both so far acted out choices that would have had them not cross paths ever again. Most of the time, early meetings throw me off because I’d rather have a little bit of mystery within the plot, but both Lilac’s and Tarver’s inner monologues work their magic so convincingly, I didn’t mind once. There are doubts about their standpoints all the way through the story, and I think it takes a lot of skill to create characters that are both likable one instance and then dislikeable the next as they temporarily fall back into old patterns. It’s the easiest way to just go ahead and form perfect heroes and heroines out of words who do nothing wrong or who have a character development as fast as light travels, but Kaufman and Spooner have done a wonderful job to create real people instead of plot twist agents. Lilac and Tarver are both stubborn and condescending at times, and yet they are loyal, steadfast and compassionate, too. They both start off the journey with different morals and goals, yet manage to find a common ground throughout their track across the planet’s grass planes and rocky hills, and there’s just something about the connection they form that resonated deeply with me. They really just work so well together. The backdrop of the galaxy being but a small map due to the invention of hyperspace travel further made for such a unique mash with what Lilac and Tarver have to face at the end of the road, and that originality had be tear through the pages as fast as I could. The final 30% or so of the book had me gasping over every new chapter, there are so many bizarre things happening that made for a grandiose finale.
ImageThe book’s structure is something that I feel needs a special mention, because every chapter has a 1-page-preface of sorts that consists of dialogue only from an interview being conducted with Tarver that took place at the end of the book. It created a heart-stopping suspense as well as some funny moments. I honestly can’t wait for the second book to arrive, even though that one will be about two new characters, but I’m 100% convinced it will be just as epic as this one. There’s a lot to tell about Kaufman and Spooner’s universe, and I can’t wait to see it unfold!

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WAITING ON WEDNESDAY: Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

This week’s Waiting on Wednesday pick is none other than Maybe Someday by the marvelous Colleen Hoover! This is Hoover’s seventh book release, and while I have been smitten with her Slammed series for a good two years now, I can’t say I have ever felt like fangirling this much over anything ever to be published in this genre/age category! Because Maybe Someday isn’t just a book, it also comes with its very own soundtrack album composed and performed by the very talented Peter Griffin! I can’t even begin to tell you how absolutely exhilarating this mixing of the mediums is for me because it seems like forever that I’ve waited for something this epic to happen. Since I study both English Literature and Musicology I’m just thrilled beyond words, really. While Maybe Someday releases on March 18th through Atria Books, you can already check out and buy some of the soundtrack over here! My favourite is definitely the title song so far! Oh March, you seem so far away!

ImageAt twenty-two years old, aspiring musician Sydney Blake has a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her good friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers Hunter cheating on her with Tori—and she is left trying to decide what to do next. Sydney becomes captivated by her mysterious neighbor, Ridge Lawson. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the daily guitar playing he does out on his balcony. She can feel the harmony and vibrations in his music. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either: He seems to have finally found his muse. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one…

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17788403-maybe-someday

Worlds You’d Never Want To Live In!

toptentuesdayThe Broke and the Bookish are hosts to the awesome Top Ten Tuesday feature, and I’ve decided to do this one on my blog every last Tuesday of the month. I initially wanted to do it on a weekly basis but let’s be honest here, my BA thesis and final music exam will be taking a toll on my free time once the summer semester starts, so why not make it a part of my monthly schedule instead!

This week is a list of worlds you’d never want to live in, and to no one’s surprise, it’s basically also Top Ten Dystopia’s You’d Be Scared Shitless Living In! Colorful language right there! (Be prepared, I’m going to be a lit-tle sarcastic with this!)

1. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley): I don’t know about you, but giving up the likes of religion, poetry, danger, freedom, goodness, sin and unhappiness just doesn’t do it for me in the long run.

2. Under The Never Sky (Veronica Rossi): Having to chose between living in dome cities and virtual worlds or life outside in the wild and be fried by violent Aether storms? Nah, neither is really my thing.

3. The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins): I think that’s pretty self-explanatory.

4. Angelfall (Susan Ee): I’m not too fond of an apocalypse’s side effects, really. Are evil angels still popular?

5. Perfect Ruin (Lauren DeStefano): I would be dead within a day having said something or other against the government and being executed a dissident. I don’t do well with authority figures that try to crush my curiosty for the world.

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6. Divergent (Veronica Roth): I just don’t feel like being part of the government’s whole gene pool-cleansing program (and being executed for wanting to be honest, kind, intelligent, brave and helpful isn’t nice, either)

7. Shadow and Bone (Leigh Bardugo): The Darkling and his Shadow Fold obsession isn’t a thing of beauty. Monsters roaming the continent (which is veiled in complete darkness)? Not a happy place.

8. Article 5 (Kirsten Simmons): I don’t do well with old men trying to tell me what to do with my life and forcing me into the role of a submissive housewife. Really don’t.

9. The Program (Suzanne Young): Always being afraid of showing how I really feel because The Program (an anti-suicide movement) is lurking to get rid of my memories to suffocate any kindling of unhappiness? Doesn’t sound so good.

10. Delirium (Lauren Oliver): A world without love? Well, that’s just terrible!

BOOK REVIEW: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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Series: Vampire Academy #1
Publication Date: August 16th 2007 by Razorbill
Genres: Young adult, urban/dark fantasy, paranormal romance
My Rating: 5 Stars
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger… Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.
 
VAMPIRE ACADEMYVampire Academy, oh Vampire Academy, wherefore art named Vampire Academy? I know that’s probably a tad bit too dramatic, but Richelle Mead’s young adult series has gotten a lot of flack over the years since Twilight became a successful franchise. Apparently, if there’s vampire in the title and if it’s aimed at teenage girls, nowadays that inevitably means the book is going to suck balls and will be either a copy of Stephanie Meyer’s romance or of the television show The Vampire Diaries. But believe me, the book title’s impression couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a sad, sad world where vampires have become synonymous with weak female leads and romantic fools of male protagonists that can’t decide whether they’re the good or the bad guys. That’s why I feel like Vampire Academy has the potential to put the genre back into perspective. Back with the first literary vampires – Lord Ruthven and Carmilla – the genre started out as a way for the Other – women, homosexuals etc. – to break free from patriarchal world views, and Mead is perfect to re-establish a series of books that manage to capture not only the struggle of womanhood to break free of such chains (which is sadly still needed, especially with Bella Swan as a role model for millions of young girls), but also a bold new approach as to how the vampire species evolved. While a lot of books of the genre build their worlds and vampire societies on old literary works (mainly Dracula and Carmilla), Mead went deeper into Slavic myths and based hers on ones barely explored. In a time in which Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn’t the TV show to turn to, Mead contributes to a positive turnaround with originality and kickass heroines a la Buffy Summers and Faith Lehane. Funnily enough, her two female protagonists are pretty similar to those two characters. ST-VLADIMIR-vampire-academy-14330157-800-531Vampire Academy revolves around Rose Hathaway, a half-vampire, half-human Dhampir, who along with her best friend Lissa Dragomir, a royal vampire (or Moroi), ran away from St. Vladimir’s Academy prior to the book’s opening chapter. After a 2-year-absence from the school, the two are retrieved and brought back to campus by its guardians – dhampir protectors. With Lissa being the last of the royal line of the Dragomir, Rose finds herself having to work extra hard in order to not be expelled and still be able to become Lissa’s guardian upon graduation. Settling back in isn’t as easy as they expected when there are anonymous threats being made against Lissa that Rose is determined to undermine. Rose, an active fighter, stands out with her open sexuality, quick wit and unshakable loyalty, while Lissa, a more passive protagonist, struggles with depression and not only peer pressure but that of an entire royal line. Lissa may seem like a damsel-in-distress type of character, but she ultimately rises to the occasion and becomes her own fighter, relying more on her telepathic Moroi magic to find a footing.
With Moroi attending Vampire Academy to learn of their history and magic, the dhampir train to become their bodyguards against the third vampire species – the soulless Strigoi. Since all of Mead’s vampire characteristics are deeply rooted in Slavic mythology and based on their centuries-old superstitions, there are twists to every aspect that create a darker tone to the High School setting of the story. But Rose and Lissa not only struggle to become better versions of themselves, they also have to face a society that seems stuck in their old ways and needs some help (or, you know, upheaval) to return to their old glory.

IMG_7562I could pretty much write you a 50-page-essay on why I am in love with Mead’s characters and world building, but let’s just say that next to a brilliant vampire mythology, the first book in the series also features badass heroines, an awesome sister-before-misters mentality, a decent amount of romance (hey there, Dimitri and Christian), evil fiends and twists that keep the plot balanced enough in order to enjoy it as a young adult novel as well as a great representation of modern vampire literature.

 

 
 
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TEASER TUESDAY (#1): Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Should Be Reading. I’ve decided to make this a feature on my blog because I love, love, love to pick up books that I know nothing about, and sometimes a single quote can be all it takes for me to fall in love with a story, so combine these two and you have the perfect meme for me, really! Here are the rules:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two “teaser” sentences from that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists!

13538873So I guess you could say Neel owes me a few favors, except that so many favors have passed between us now that they are no longer distinguishable as individual acts, just a bright haze of loyalty. Our friendship is a nebula.

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