Thursday, June 30, 2016

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer | Book Review

SPOILER // SPOILER // SPOILER // SPOILER // SPOILER // SPOILER

First Published: 2008
Paperback
Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating:
When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?
--
To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife to reach the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or to pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fates of two tribes hangs.
Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating and unfathomable, consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life - first discovered in Twilight, then scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse - seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed... forever?
TO READ THE SPOILERS - CLICK "READ MORE"

Breaking Dawn is my second favorite in the Twilight series. It's a return to form of sorts. When it comes to Twilight, I don't shy away from the fact I love the series. But loving something and having no issues with it is not the same thing, and books two and three in the series are actually kind of meh when you get down to it.

Breaking Dawn brought back the things I loved most about Twilight, and added its own little spin on things. 

The story is divided into three parts: the first is told from Bella's pov as we've come accustomed to. The second is actually told from Jacob's pov which was great for many reasons, and in the third we go back to Bella. But a better Bella.

Because what Breaking Dawn does is redeem Bella. Finally, after two books that made me despair of her, she's back and better than ever. She's active. She makes choices. She fights and protects what's important to her - first by proxy when she's too physically weak to do it, and then by sheer bad-ass-ness.
She is useful. She is important to the story and the action. For once, without her (actively) they won't even win the battle. Her relationship with Edward is still the reason those conflicts exist, but she is finally an active part of the solution.

Then there's Jacob. While I was still majorly pissed by him (and Bella's reaction to him) in the first part of the book, the second gave much needed insight into his head, making him a character I could like again - which hasn't been the case since he became a major one. So we got to see the depth of his feeling, his sadness, his sort-of loneliness, his inert leadership. Clever move, Meyer.

Another clever move was making Jacob so damned funny. Seriously, Jacob in this book has a sense of humor and I LOVE it! And pairing him up with Rosalie, even just as a comedic pair, is brilliant. Every time this unlikely due was together on page, I laughed. It added some levity to a somewhat dire situation, and gave us a new dynamic to observe, and it worked beautifully.

Speaking of Rosalie... She was not one of my favorite characters in the books, in fact she was the only Cullen I disliked, but this book did a fantastic job at endearing her to me.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Golden Dynasty by Kristen Ashley | Book Review *Minor Spoilers*

Fantasyland #2
First Published: 2011
Kindle
Adult, Fantasy Romance
Rating:
Circe Quinn goes to sleep at home and wakes up in a corral filled with women wearing sacrificial virgin attire - and she is one of them. She soon finds out that she’s not having a wild dream, she’s living a frightening nightmare where she’s been transported to a barren land populated by a primitive people and in short order, she’s installed very unwillingly on her white throne of horns as their Queen.
Dax Lahn is the king of Suh Tunak, The Horde of the nation of Korwahk and with one look at Circe, he knows she will be his bride and together they will start The Golden Dynasty of legend.
Circe and Lahn are separated by language, culture and the small fact she’s from a parallel universe and has no idea how she got there or how to get home. But facing challenge after challenge, Circe finds her footing as Queen of the brutal Korwahk Horde and wife to its King, then she makes friends then she finds herself falling in love with this primitive land, its people and especially their savage leader.
Immediately upon finishing Wildest Dreams, I picked this one up. And I'm glad to say I enjoyed it as much as its predecessor, even if I still had the same qualms and issues. And a few new ones. It seems like this series is a true guilty pleasure for me.

One night, Circe goes to sleep in her bed on our modern world. She wakes up in a pen filled with woman on a different world. Soon, she finds out she's in the "wife hunt", a tradition of a warring nation in which the warrior's of The Horde hunt, fight for and "claim" a beautiful woman as their bride. This claiming, for someone who is not Korwahk, is rape.

So this is something you need to bare in mind going into this book. The main character is going to get raped in the first couple of chapters by her love interest. It's not graphic or scarring in any way (for you need to then fall in love with their love story, and you can hardly do that haunted by that scene), but it's there. And while the book definitely doesn't encourage rape, it does its best to explain this was not rape in their eyes, for the woman of their nation chosen for this hunt are happy and excited for this chance, and its "their way". It's an integral part of their culture. Still, rape is rape.

So in order to enjoy this love story, you'll need to set that aside. You will need to accept this part of the culture and shake it off along side Circe. I did so, even if occasionally I got very uncomfortable with it all, and I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed the romance.

It feels weird typing these words, though. "Shake off rape". But you kind of can't help it when Circe does it so readily, when the book spends its time showing you Lahn is not a bad guy but a loving guy and such is his people's way and it's not done out of malice (for most of them, anyway).

And Lahn is a good guy. He loves his wife, but more than that he is proud of his wife. Proud of who she is and the fight she has in her, proud to call her his and proud to be called hers. And you kind of have to love that, because there is nothing sexier than a man being proud of his wife's accomplishments. Also, he's hard core alpha-male cave-man brute. You ladies know you love one.

So, yes. Despite the shaky start, despite everything, I adored these two together. I loved how they were and I loved they were ready to make concessions for each other. It's an adjustment for them both, but adjust they do. And they do it scorching hot.

Not to mention, Ashley clearly worked a lot on this book, creating it's own language, with its own rules and grammar. Kudos to that, that takes a lot of effort.

But just like in the first book, Circe sounded a lot younger than her 35 years in her inner monologues and the excessive usage of "cool" and "awesome" and the likes. Not to mention the massive descriptions of clothing and jewelry were still very excessive and I skimmed them. In a way, she sounded a lot like Finnie in her slang and mannerism, which is not the best when you're trying to create two separate heroines, but I can't deny I loved her despite this

It's been a long while since I've binge read a series, but this is exactly what this series made me do. Something tells me it might have the same effect on you guys *wink*

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Wildest Dreams by Kristen Ashley | Book Review

Fantasyland #1
First Published: August 15, 2011
Kindle Edition
Adult, fantasy
Rating:
Seoafin “Finnie” Wilde was taught by her parents that every breath was a treasure and to seek every adventure she could find. And she learns this lesson the hard way when they perish in a plane crash. But she never forgets and when she discovers there is a parallel universe where every person has a twin, she finds a witch who can send her there so she can have the adventure of a lifetime.

But upon arrival in the Winter Wonderland of Lunwyn, she realizes she’s been played by her twin and finds herself walking down the aisle to be wed to The Drakkar.

Thrown into inauspicious circumstances, with years of practice, Finnie bests the challenges and digs into her adventure. But as Frey Drakkar discovers the woman who is his new wife is not Princess Sjofn, a woman he dislikes but instead, his Finnie, a free-spirit with a thirst for venture just like him, without her knowledge he orders his new bride bound to his frozen world, everlasting.

But at the same time Frey plunges Finnie into a web of political intrigue that includes assassination plots, poison, magic, mystery and… dragons.
To tell you the truth, I have never planned on reading this one, or any book in the series. It was a mixture of things; the first being the unappealing covers, the second being the synopsis which was overly long and messily structured (imo).

But I have read another Kristen Ashley novel (Play It Safe) which I loved, so when this one only $0.99 I decided I would get it. For that price, what did I really have to lose? Luckily for this book, I almost immediately found myself in the mood for a romance, and picked it up. There were a lot of things that I liked about it. There were a few I didn't.

But at the end of the day, I decided to rate it based on my enjoyment which was a solid four stars.

In it's essence, it's a pretty simple premise: Finnie lost her parents when she was younger, so when she discovers there exists a parallel universe to ours where they still live and breath (even if it's a different version of them), she jumps on the opportunity to see them again, switching places with that world's Sjofn.

Only turns out it's that Sjofn's wedding day... so now Finnie is getting married, to a frightening beast of a man called Frey Drakkar ("The Dragon") and this Frey doesn't really like Sjofn and so he thinks he doesn't like Finnie.

Thus starts the little adventure that would eventually lead to these two falling in love.

Finne was a good character, and a good person, refusing to let any negativity control her life. She finds joy in whatever and wherever she is, easily excitable, and has a wondering spirit. She fit the Drakkar very well, despite a few hits and glitches along the way (and moments I was shaking my head because shame on you Drakkar!). The Drakkar is a natural born leader, a strategic, imposing figure with a lot of power at his hands, being (essentially), the true king of Finnie's country.

It's a marriage-before-love type of story, which is one of my favorite tropes in historical and this reads very much like an historical in the medieval fantasy world it presents. A fantasy world that is well thought out, but takes second place to the love story itself.

And I honestly, and truly enjoyed that story very much, even if I was a bit sad with the villain.

However, there were a few things that bothered me, and they mostly had to do with the writing. It's not the best... not even close. It took a while for me to get used to it and put it out of my mind enough to concentrate on the story itself. It was all kind of choppy at places and very young, which is a bit weird considering this has some very adult content. 

Or maybe, it felt young because of how Finnie talks and expresses herself. Finnie should be around thirty years old, but I wouldn't put her past twenty-two based on her voice. She sounded so, so young to me. Younger that I, and I am 22 years old. Her inner monologues included a tedious amount of "wow", "cool", "awesome", and the likes. Every new thing she encountered was awesome and freaking beautiful, more than the last one. After a while, I was desensitized to all her exclamations of beauty because they appeared so often and so frequently.

Then there were the descriptions. Good god. How many dresses and items of clothing can you describe to teeny tiny details? It drove me mad. I did not need to know the exact shade and shape of your dress, what fabric it was made from and how many bows and strings and belts it had in it. It gives nothing to the story. I can handle a few dress descriptions in order to establish the fashion and how it differs from ours. But almost every dress and every item of clothing you see? It was too much by far. You can leave some things to the imagination, and it won't take from the story at all.

These two things were the major issues I had with the book, and while they did bother me greatly, I decided to just skim the descriptions and focus and the story and I enjoyed that story enough to one click and start the second book immediately.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Investigating a Murder: The Host | Movie Review [Spoilers!]


The Victim: The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Murder Site: The Big Screen
Accused: Hollywood
Verdict:
Dear Hollywood Producers, a piece of advice: if, in the course of adapting a book to a movie you find yourself discarding half the novel and drastically changing the remaining half... DON'T ADAPT THE NOVEL. 
Saorise Ronan as Melanie/Wanderer
Seriously, can I give a movie minus stars? because if I can, I'm giving this atrocity minus 100 stars.

When I first heard of the movie adaptation to one of my favorite books, I was skeptical, to say the least. Especially considering The Host is not the most visual of novels. But I never, in my wildest dreams, considered the possibility it will be this bad

After ten minutes of watching Hollywood butcher this wonderful story, all I wanted to do was re-read the book so I could cleanse myself of this monstrosity. So I could wash away all the blood from my clothes after being an eye witness to that.

YES I'M BEING DRAMATIC SHUT UP I AM NOT OKAY

For those of you who don't wan't the elaborate reasons, here is a short summary; the movie was boring, the acting not at all believable, the best parts weren't there or have been changed, the romances sprang out of nowhere and was in-your-face and everything I did want to see wasn't there.
THE GOOD 
Does't really need to be elaborated because, dude, there's so little of it. 

But, the souls are beautiful and I love how they did them. 

Earth is made much more sci-fi and futuristic under the palms of Hollywood, but it made for some stunning visual contrast between the shiny cars and sterile clothes and houses of the souls and the nature and desert background of the rebels.

A+ for Max Irons, Chandler Canrerbury and Jake Able's acting. 

THE BAD 
*bare in mind that I'm saying this as a film-major as well as a fan of the book*
**And that this is a really reduced version. I have so many other complaints**

Diane Kruger as The Seeker
Let's start with the first red flag - the first ten minutes of the movie. They were really really weak. Melanie's capture is paced incorrectly which makes it boring instead of exciting and nerve-wrecking. It's very hard to ruin something so inherently blood-pumping as a young girl literally jumping out of a window to escape pursuers. This movie succeeded. 

If it was cut differently, or if it was shot differently, this could have been an epic start to a movie. Instead it's yawn worthy. This issue continues with the rest of the movie, which was sometimes just visually painful because, for a Hollywood movie, it is done really bad.

And then we are thrust into another location and time so quickly we barely manage to get our footing, and the dialogues are vague as shit about everything. I believe people who haven't read the book will be very confused about what is happening. Nothing is properly explained. 

Now comes the part I dreaded - the presentation of Melanie. As Melanie is a voice inside Wanda's head, I was not surprised they used voice-over - though more interesting methods such as us seeing Melanie talking through reflections or seeing "another" Wanda talking to the physical one would've been more visual and engaging choices.

But that wasn't my issue. My issue was the delivery - very stiff and with little emotion, I believed none of it. 
Max Irons as Jared

And then started the plot issues. The big things that made me truly, honestly worried. It started with Melanie giving away Jamie (her little brother)'s existence like he meant nothing to her. Her most guarded secret in the book, the person that took Wanda months to learn about, is treated like a fleeting thought, a by-the-way. Second place (at best) to her romantic love interest, Jared. 

And then, there were the multiple times Melanie used their joined body, most of them for violence. It was almost as if she could do so at will, a vast difference from the book. But it wouldn't have bothered me (or rather, not half as much) if this didn't directly tie in to changing the biggest moment of the book - resulting in a completely different story.

In the movie, Wanda does not chose the humans. 

Instead, she is forced to do so as Melanie causes a car crash that leaves Wanda with barely any choices. The whole story of The Host is Wanda choosing the humans over her own kind. From the beginning, Wanda chose them. Loved them. Changing this doesn't seem like a big thing initially, but it changes the essence of this wonderful story. 

Was it really worth it just to garner some false-action with the shot of the car spinning? 
The movie, in general, seems to belittle Wanda. Wanda may be a kind, gentle Soul/soul, but she was never dumb. In fact, she was smarter and braver than most human. The movie attributes many of her ideas, realizations and actions to Melanie instead, making the human appear to be the true master behind the wings.

Melanie and Wanda's dynamics are not the only ones messed up in the movie, because the relationships just sucked ass.

We get a gazillion scenes of Melanie and Jared kissing. We get it. Kissing is a visual way of affirming love. But how 'bout you show us some scenes of them talking? On something else than their physical attraction, I mean. Let us believe their love, feel it, instead of you telling us with words or kisses. 
in case you were wondering, the end of the world gives away free girlfriend flipping lessons to anyone who may wish for them!
And the movie really worked hard to soften Jared and make him less of a douche toward Wanda so the viewers could really believe this "love triangle".

Jake Abel as Ian
Wanda's relationship with Ian was vastly reduced, as well. They never showed the time they spent getting to know one another, opting to just spring it out of nowhere on us. And shame on them, they never let him say his most beautiful sentence. THE sentence where it becomes clear (to anyone not already convinced) that Ian loves Wanda. Wanda, not Melanie. Wanda, not the body. Wanda

And don't get me started on the Seeker, who is nothing like Book!Seeker. It's another character all together, wasting a wonderful antagonist and making her generic. 

Now, the acting... I really, really wasn't impressed with Saorise Ronan. I acknowledge it's very difficult to play two different characters, in the same body no less. And one of them has no body at all. But I thought she did a poor job with Melanie because it sounded like reading lines. And while her Wanderer was mostly very good, she would sometimes slip into the Melanie-like line-reading style and I would crack because it was so bad. And I wasn't supposed to laugh.

To add to all these, there were so many scenes that never existed in the book, and never would because they were just... no. No because it was bad story telling. No because it changed what the story should be about. No, because if you're already changing stuff than add to the story more than just stupid action sequences. No because what's the point of cutting from the story for those type of scenes? 

After thirty minute, I just stopped caring. I was done with it. I finished it only so I could say I did. 
ZERO STARS

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Host by Stephenie Meyer | Book Review

N/A
First Published: 2008
Paperback
Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Rating:
Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.
The Host is by far my most favorite of Meyer's novels, and one of my favorite books in general. Every time I re-read it, which I do about once a year, I am filled with the same emotions I did the very first time I looked between those pages.*
The premise of this book is like nothing I've read before. Aliens have been used and used again, but how many times do the authors make the aliens better than the humans? Make them a race that has barely any violent tendencies, that treats everyone as equals. A race that has no such concepts as thievery or crime in it. 

You must be wondering what kind of conflict could exist in such a perfect world. Well, mix in some human rebels, an alien who sympathizes with them and two people living in one body and things get a lot more interesting. 

Now, before starting the real review I would like to address the first 100 pages of the book, because some will find it very hard to get past them. Like my mother. Well, get past them. They are absolutely necessary to the plot, and from the second reading on I understood the real beauty and perfection of them, but they are admittedly slow. Don't give up. Read on. You won't regret it! 
Now that we've got that out of the way, my absolute favorite character in this novel is Wanda, the alien main character. Wanda is a pacifist who protects who she loves fiercely and always puts them first. Even if it might have disastrous ramifications to herself. I don't always love self-sacrifice, but here it was done perfect.

The dynamics between her and Melanie were very interesting, especially because through Melanie's memories Wanda learns to love those Mel does. So while Melanie is the complete opposite of Wanda in many ways, they can both agree that their family and loved ones come first, which makes them fit like a glove despite their differences and work together. 

Now, it wouldn't be a Stephenie Meyer novel without some romance in it, right? Well, there is that in this book. And I loved how it played out. At first I was very scared I will hate it because it presents itself as a very complicated love triangle at first glance, but it's not. It never was, as you come to understand at the end of this perfect novel.  

Jared, Melanie's boyfriend, is one of those love interests. To summarize him - he's a jerk. Maybe not to everyone, but certainly to Wanda. Does he have an acceptable good reason? sure. but Wanda has been nothing but a doll the entire time so I really couldn't learn to like him. Especially when the only times he was nice to Wanda, it was for Melanie and no one else.  

There there is Ian
the guy is major swoon!
He reigns at the top of my Book Boyfriend List. As the story goes on, this character develops into one of the most wonderful, loving and kind guys I've ever read of. The guy's freaking awesome! Honestly, he is the first of the rebels to open himself to the possibility Wanda isn't bad and from then on I was in love
Two other noteworthy characters are Jamie, Melanie's adorable brother and Jeb, the Dumbledore of this book. Wise, mysterious and eccentric, he gives Wanda the change to earn her place among the rebels and has earned my eternal love for it. 

And the ending... 
it so beautiful *sniff*
Everything about that ending was beautiful. From what Wanda chose to do to the proof of how much the rebels became her family - and she theirs. It was heartbreaking and courageous and stunning and sad and I can't even with this ending.

*Re-visiting this review made me unable not to re-read the book again. So... I did. 
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Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan | Book Review

The Heroes of Olympus #1
First Published: 2010
Paperback & Kindle
Young Adult, Mythology
Rating:
Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper. His best friend is a kid named Leo, and they’re all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids”, as Leo puts it. What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea — except that everything seems very wrong.
Piper has a secret. Her father, a famous actor, has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he’s in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn’t recognize her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on?
Leo has a way with tools. His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What’s troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all—including Leo—related to a god.
You might be a bit surprised I'm only reading this now. In actuality, this was a re-read because I've finally decided to commit myself to the whole series but I can't remember all that went down in the first couple of books.

I feel kind of sad I don't have a review for the original read because it's a bit harder to compare the two experiences, but The Lost Hero fared a lot better than my re-read of the Percy Jackson series, which took months on months to happen.

The first thing I noticed, which may have gotten past me the first time around, was how smart it was of Riordan to start this series with these heroes. The first time I remember wanting the comfort of my beloved characters; Annabeth, Percy, Grover... But that's precisely why Riordan had to start the series this way. He had to first disconnect it from the Percy Jackson series, and second... make us want the next book (PERCY) like an addict needs his next fix.

What I really enjoyed in this re-read is noticing all the puns, all the play-on-words, all the little hints Riordan throws around all the time. It was discovering a new layer to the story. It was in a whole other level than PJ, I'll tell you that.

So what is the Lost Hero about? The worst enemies of the gods are stirring. And as usual, the gods need their children to do their dirty work. Which is how Jason finds himself in a school bus without any memories, with Piper and Leo who claim they're his best friends.

Jason, Piper and Leo must go on a quest to return Jason's memories, save a father and a goddess. This is the beginning of the Prophecy coming into fruition, and the enemies they're about to face are many and versatile. They will need to use all the weapons in their arsenal - beauty, brains and a whole lot of winging it - to succeed.

So how are these new heroes compared to the OGs?

love love love Leo. He's honestly one of my favorite characters in this whole universe. He's quirky, funny, and so so lovable. The only thing I can't figure out is how many godly creations are going to tell the guys Leo is super important before everyone figure out that LEO IS NOT JUST A SIDEKICK DUMB-ASSES!

Piper is pretty cool. I adore the name because of Charmed (best tv show eva! haha) and Piper is a good character by the power of character growth alone (and other elements). She grows up a lot throughout the gang's short journey, finding a sense of confidence and comfort in herself that she lacked at first.

Then we have Jason. Jason to me is the Captain America of this series. This is not a good thing, as it took me about four movies to finally like Cap as a character, and Civil War for me to actually love him. To me, Jason is a little too perfect, which makes him boring. It wasn't until Cap was put in a test of his morals and loyalties divided that he became interesting. Jason, at this point, is just not interesting to me.

The gods and the monsters we encounter throughout the novel are top notch, as always. Riordan still manages to breathe fresh air into the mythology, with twists and turns and gods awful descriptions that you can wrinkle your nose at.

All in all, a really strong opening to a series.
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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Book Review: Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

First Published: 2007
Paperback
Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating:
"BELLA?"
Edward's soft voice came from behind me. I turned to see him spring lightly up the porch steps, his hair windblown from running. He pulled me into his arms at once, just like he had in the parking lot, and kissed me again.
This kiss frightened me. There was too much tension, too strong an edge to the way his lips crushed mine - like he was afraid we had only so much time left to us.
--
As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob - knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?
Readers captivated by Twilight and New Moon will eagerly devour Eclipse, the much-anticipated third book in Stephenie Meyer's riveting vampire love saga.
Edward's back, Bella is still dependent on others but in a less pathetic manner and all is well with the world again! Well, except.... we still have that annoying love triangle. 
Eclipse was a lot better than New Moon plot-wise, no contest, but that doesn't mean I didn't wish Jacob was erased from the equation. At the very least on the love front. I detest love-triangles. 90% of the time, they ruin my enjoyment of the romance in a book.

And in Eclipse it's especially grating, because Twilight started off as basically the ultimate love story between Edward and Bella. I was behind these two as a couple 100% in book one. But now, how do you expect me to believe they share a pure and deep love if Bella herself doesn't seem so sure of that? In fact, she is so unsure she falls for another guy!

Speaking of Bells, I hoped this book would redeem her to me. It doesn't. For a girl who gave up living when her boyfriend left she is very... fickle. Also, Eclipse emphasizes Bella's most defining feature - she is useless. In the first book, I admired her courage despite this. By the third book, I'm mostly exasperated that her only course of action is sacrifice.

Moving on to Edward. He's better than he was in New Moon, granted, but at this point I feel like I love him more out of loyalty than anything else. He's just so apathetic about this whole thing. His excuse is that he brought it on himself - which, yes, he did - but that doesn't mean you need to appear as if you don't care!

Despite Eclipse being one of my least favorite of the series, it contains one scene that never fails to give me such strong feels. I shall call it the Rejection Scene. Feel free to ask in the comment for explanation, but the bottom line is that it gets me in every way, and I just think that's magical. Even if it's hella painful.

Aside for this scene, my favorite parts of this novel were Rose and Jasper's background. Here are two characters that were always on the sideline, but they get the spotlight for a while and it's cool and it's awesome and it makes you love them so much more and understand them. Especially in the context of the next book ;)
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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dear Community: There Will Always Be Drama... and That's Okay.

So, this is kind of funny, because I don't comment on drama on my blog (at least, I never have so far) and I hate drama (over used, anyway) in books, and still I'm writing this right now.

BUT.

Folks, here's the deal; we are a community that's based on interactions and communication. Whether it's between blogger to readers, bloggers to bloggers, bloggers to authors or authors to readers. All we do is talk to one another, by our being an online community with the sole purpose of discussing what we love.

So, yes. Every once in a while there is going to be drama. It might be that author did that or that blogger said whaaat or #fakereadergirls or whatever.

Fact: every once in a while there is going to be drama in your family, or in your close circle of friends in real life. 

Another fact: those dramatic situations tend to go together. Last year, I had three major dramatic events happen with my friends one after the other. A few months ago, I had some "drama" surrounding myself.

It happens.

And when you're part of such a group, especially one united by a similar interest, of course we're going to rally around (and against) someone when something happens. Maybe it's mob mentality, and maybe... just maybe... there is nothing wrong with defending something you believe in--so long as you're not doing it in an insulting way aimed at only humiliating the other person.

There is no need to always be like "why is there so much drama in this community" or despair. There is so much drama because we're a community. And a fucking big one at that. Are all the people in the world wonderful cinnamon rolls that must be protected at all costs? 

That's a big, fat NO.

So why do you expect every author, every blogger, every reader to be?

Yes, we have a "lot of drama". Like in real life, everything always seems to happen at once. But you know what? When millions of people are part of a group online... it's hardly surprising there are going to be frictions and the occasional blow ups. It's hardly surprising we're going to find out some authors are dicks, or some bloggers are not saints, or some readers just like to insult and to bash. It's hardly surprising.

Why are you taking this so hard? 

I am a member of many online communities. THEY ALL HAVE DRAMA. This is not something that's exclusive to our readers community, and I don't want to be the bearer of bad news but... it's never going to change. You will never find a drama free community--unless it's one only you are a member of.

If you don't like hearing about these things, then close the tab when you see them. It's okay; no one is going to be upset when you chose not to be a part of that debate, no one is going to lash out on you for "being out of the loop".

But don't be upset with this community, don't despair of it, don't think "why does it have to be like this". 

It has to be like this because this is a band of humans bending together over shared interests. Humans; fight. Humans; are dramatic creatures in everything they do. Humans; can't agree on everything, can't be just logical beings, can't contain their emotions. We're not robots, we're not machines. 

And it's time we all accept this.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Goodbye Letter to The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater | Book Review-ish

The Raven Cycle #4
First Published: 2016
Hardcover
Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating:
Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.
For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.
Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.
I can't believe that it's over. I don't even know if I have the words right now. I feel inadequate compared to the flourish with which this story expressed itself. In my head, I have something more. A way to articulate the thoughts and the feelings and the friendship I found within these pages.

How do I review something like this? What can I say, what can I not?

Blue and Gansey; you two were the reason I went on this journey. It wasn't just the idea about your doomed love and your stolen glances and touches, not so stolen now, although I cannot deny it's a part of it. I cannot pretend I wasn't waiting for THE kiss with a voyeuristic sense of anticipation.

It was that Gansey was a king, a leader, a dreamer.believer, with charisma to spare and attachments no one can sever. If your found family chooses to forget the good in themselves, you'll remember it for them. And I loved you for it.

It was that Blue was magic without being magical herself, a quirky mass of righteousness and hypocrisy (but not in a bad way), a soul desperate to explore and expand and get out of its own skin. To touch the sky. And I loved you for it.

The two of you quieted something in my when I read of you.

Adam and Ronan; I wasn't counting on you two when I started this series. You sneaked up on me, starting out as two of my least favorite people in the book and developing into something more.

It was that Ronan was gruff and abrasive at first glance, but inside he was color and magic and fantasy. A chaos on the verge of breaking down, anytime. As Adam said himself, so much of Ronan is posturing, and beneath it all you find loyalty, love, and dreams.

It was that Adam was so self righteous and above everything at first, but then you realized he's been hurt one too many times to accept unconditional love--what is love? How do recognize love?-- and affection, and friendship. And so he stumbled and he stumbled until he was faced with the truth of love and life.

Of all the stories, your journey affected me the most. You inflamed something in me, a fierce need to see you both settled in a semblance of a HEA. I did not expect to spend most of the final book thinking of you guys. I did not expect your relationship to be THE relationship when I thought of The Raven Cycle.

I started this series anxiously waiting for one KISS. I finished it looking forward to another.

Noah; my cinnamon bun. The one character in this all who would always draw the short stick. You did not deserve any of what happened to you, and yet you kept your spirits up (no pun intended). I wish I could hug you and tell you everything would be okay. I wish that was the truth.

Cabeswater; You magical, fantastical creature. How you protected your magicians. How you fought. How willing you were to come to your humans' aide, when you could. All you wanted was to make their dreams reality; how could you know some dreams are nightmares?

I fell in love with all of you, as you've all fallen for each other. Your friendship is the stuff of legends, and all consuming thing that has it's own thoughts and feelings.

This strange, fantastical journey feels like a dream, one I did not necessarily want to wake up from. I wish there was something more, another book, or three, because I don't feel ready to let you all go.

You gave me the ending you deserved, you gave me the series finale I've been hoping for, but it could never be enough. I could never really tell you goodbye, my weird, otherworldly friends. I could never think of you and "the end" in the same sentence and have it make sense. You're more than words on a page.

Truly, something more.
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Thursday, June 9, 2016

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer | Book Review

SPOILER // SPOILER // SPOILER // SPOILER // SPOILER // SPOILER 
First Published: 2006
Paperback
Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating:
I knew we were both in mortal danger. Still, in that instant, I felt well. Whole. I could feel my heart racing in my chest, the blood pulsing hot and fast through my veins again. My lungs filled deep with the sweet scent that came off his skin. It was like there had never been any hole in my chest. I was perfect - not healed, but as if there had never been a wound in the first place.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. TRIED TO WRITE IT WITHOUT IT BUT IT JUST DIDN'T WORK

I've previously mentioned the Twilight Saga is one of my favorite series, so this rating might come as a shock. To be completely honest, I really enjoyed New Moon the first... three times I read it or so. It wasn't until I was more versed with reading that all the issues I had with it sprang at me all of the sudden.

And once I realized all those things, I couldn't unknow it.

Because in terms of plot, this book would now make me throw it against the wall in a raging fit. Like, I'll be the first to protect the Twilight Saga - I still proudly admit to loving it, even when people scoff at me. But this book... This book...

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Terror Attack in Israel

Breaking our regular schedule for some real time, real life stuff.

This is not going to be overly organized our thought out or stylized or anything, I just need to TALK and tag, you're it.

So, today. Today started as a good day. It ended with three dead, one critically wounded and three more severely injured.

Two terrorist (maybe three) walk into a restaurant. This is not the start of a joke. Reports indicate they went into a restaurant, ordered food, acted like any other costumer. They wore suits and had some bags, but nothing unusual. Until they took out guns and started shooting everywhere, going out of the restaurant to shot into another. Total mayhem.

In minutes, it's like this: every whatsapp group I'm in sends a: "IS EVERYONE ALRIGHT?" message. Replies come in, I do the same in other groups. Some people are not answering - time to personally call them. They don't pick up once, twice, nuggets of worry creep in.

They couldn't be... no, no, there's no reason for them to be there at that time. They're okay.

Luckily, this time the voice of reason is correct. No one I love or know has been hurt, that I know of right now. But someone else is not that lucky. Some's children, parents, best friends were just killed for absolutely no reason.

Sometimes, I fucking hate all this. HATE.

Not even going to check for grammatical mistakes in this one, I'm hitting publish and going to bed before I drive myself insane with all the thinking. Maybe tomorrow I'll erase this. Maybe not.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Journey of a Coward | Finding Courage in your Opinions

I started blogging in 2012. I was shy of eighteen, and a coward.

Do you know the term coming out of your shell? At eighteen, I wasn't anywhere near my shell. I was burrowed deep, deep inside. I had just started opening my eyes, just started letting people in, just started smiling to people I didn't know and taking life a little easier.

But the shell was still in place, and I was afraid.

Blogging was something that started naturally. I found Goodreads, discovered a whole digital world of people who love reading and could talk books with me, and jumped right into it. I felt like a Digidestined receiving her digivice and transporting into another world. The real world I was meant to be in all along.

I was hungry and desperate for conversation on things I loved. To bring my thoughts--those thoughts that so often stayed in my head only because I was frightened of voicing them, frightened of saying the wrong thing, frightened to offend or annihilate--out there. To people who didn't know me, but would speak to me.

And still, I was afraid.

Well, that's not quite true. At first, I had no fear in this new fantastic world. I had only excitement. Finally, I could use my voice -- without ever opening my mouth, without potentially showing those around me how messed up, or geeky, or nerdy I was. Because in the internet you both exist and don't, you're both there and simultaneously nowhere at all. It was safe. Or so I thought.

Then I started seeing the drama. Started seeing how people attacked and trolled, how people were still close-minded and obscene about things that differed from them. How there was still derision and hate and anger - stronger than in real life, maybe, where you could watch your actions unfold and affect.

Because online, you're both there and nowhere... and your victims are just pieces of digital data online. You're Tom to their Jerry. Even if you throw a bomb at them, they're going to bounce right off. No harm done. Only these "fictional people" do exist. You may walk by them on the street and never know it, but they have a corporeal body and they bleed and they hurt. And so, my fear returned.

Every time I read a popular novel, I was filled with anxiety. Because what if I didn't like it? what if those predators turned their claws and fangs on me? How would I deal? At eighteen, I couldn't deal. This was a truth I knew about myself, but had no yet accepted. A truth I would never come to accept, which was the only reason I could make myself grow out of it. But I'm running ahead of the story.

Back to eighteen; so at eighteen, I made unconscious decisions to... cushion my ratings. I say unconscious because I was not aware of doing it. I gave books three and three and a half stars ratings that now, looking back, were two, two and a half star reads for me. In my mind, the three/three and a half ratings were the lesser evil. A safe balance between what I really thought... and what was dangerous territory. 

Sure, the book wasn't that great, and I felt nothing for the characters, and the romance felt flat, and the world building sucked but... hey, I didn't hate it, right? This is a phrase that kept popping often in my reviews... I didn't hate the book. Like that's some glowing endorsement. 

My words were still pretty harsh, and the books I truly hated received no such treatment, but most of the books received the "average" rating. A part of me figured, I think, that if the rating wasn't one/two stars, then the trolls won't come and the lions won't attack, because they won't have the energy to actually read the review and see I spoke of exactly one positive in the whole novel.

They keep their energies for the really bad ratings.

But again, I wasn't aware of doing that. Now, stronger and more firm (and definitely unapologetic) about my opinions, I can see that. I can almost map the way this all worked out in my brain, can almost feel the nudging of my subconscious danger, danger, move with caution. 

So, at eighteen, I was a coward. At nineteen, I was a creature of habit. I was a year into collage, found a source of strength in the friends I made there, was faced with some shitty life situations and went past them. I felt more comfortable in me, but that fearful habit to protect myself remained. I was still careful.

At twenty, I started to have a strong grasp on who I am. I stopped shying away from my opinions in public. I found my voice and the strength to defend what I believed in. I was no longer putrefied of speaking in public; I knew the pounding in my heart is going to be difficult, but I also knew it won't stop me. 

I became comfortable in who I am. I forgot to say "sorry" all the time, forgot to hesitate in a conversation. I was still shy, I would still agonies for days before making the first step in anything, but once I took that step I was all in.

I was infinitely stronger, and infinitely more myself. 

And so I started becoming displeased with my blog, with my online self, which continued to project a lesser self instead of who I am. Continued to show me a coward instead of a warrior.

At twenty one, I stopped apologizing. I started being firm and strict in my opinions. This trickled into my blog life, and brought on a wave of "oldies". I wanted my reviews to reflect who I am, and by doing so I realized the distressing truth of how afraid I was when I was younger.

Eighteen is not young. I was a late bloomer, for sure. It was just four short years ago, but if feels like a lifetime away.

I started a new blog, a blog that was my place to be and to exist and think exactly what I want to think and if someone doesn't like that, click away. I started to become unafraid of hate because, dude, I don't understand hate myself. I would never hate your for your opinions and beliefs if they vary from mine. 

I might not understand them, I might even think you're a complete moron--but I would keep those to myself, and I would definitely never comment and tell you it to your face. I would never be disrespectful towards you, and no, I won't hate you. My hatred is few and limited, and I keep it for people who have seriously wronged me in RL. And even then, it tends to dissipate the farther away I am from it.

And if you want to hate my opinions, hate my thoughts, hate the fact I have either of which and it's not exactly the way you look at life... well, I'm sorry to tell you, this doesn't mean there is anything wrong with me. If anything, it says something about you.

It took four years of blogging to get me to this point. It took the end of my last year of high-school where I met the first friend that forced me closer to that shell, two years of collage where I meet six fantastic people who balanced my trio and gave us strength, it took a year a half in the army and dealing with the unfairness of a system in real life as an adult that has to count on herself.

I FIND COURAGE IN MY OPINIONS. 
I AN NOT ASHAMED OF THEM.
I AM NOT AFRAID OF YOUR HATE.

And neither should you.

But the thing is; don't try to rush things. Don't beat yourself up if you're not there. You're growing into yourself, whether you're sixteen or sixty it doesn't matter. Don't try to force yourself to reach this place. I am happy with where I am today, but I am fully aware that in four years, I may be in a completely different place.

The way you feel about yourself is not something you can control.  I can honestly tell you that at eighteen, I hated the person I was. I can still remember and reprimand myself on conversations I had four years ago, when I should have said something but didn't. I was miserable with my weak self.

You can always strive to be better, to face things that scare you, to try to find your footing. But you can never force yourself to love yourself. Instead, you have to let yourself grow, you have to try to become a self you can love.

And finally, if you're read this far... I love you. I appreciate your opinions. I am never going to hold them against you; the farthest away you can take me is to say "I disagree, but it's okay if you think otherwise".

And to me, y'all are beautiful.

So if you need someone to talk to, I'm here.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa | DNF Review

First Published: 2010
Paperback
Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating:
Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.
Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.
DNF at 50%
This was such a painful review to write, you guys. I was almost 100% sure I would love this book because I really enjoyed  the first and then to have this happen... I even held a candle of hope that I'll return to finish this novel when I first wrote this review.

Alas, it was not in the stars.

I WAS BORED OUT OF MY MIND
The one thing I would've never expected in a million years of this books was to be so hella boring. Especially after the last book. Maybe it's me, because even running away from a dragon didn't manage to awaken any excitement in me.

I felt like reading my grocery list would've been more stimulating. Don't ask me why I felt this way when no one else seems to. I just did. I had to force every sentence I read, to try hold down my attention to the book one minute at a time to no avail.

I have no idea what happened. It's far easier for me to pin down what went wrong on the characters front.

I COULDN'T STAND MEGHAN. 
Where is the girl I met in The Iron King and when does she come back? Meghan was a brave, kind, clever girl. Now's she's whiny, annoying and stupid? Maybe she's a changeling? 'Cause that would've been one heck of a twist. But something tells me this is too much to hope for.

I want the girl who held her own in an unfamiliar world. The girl who fooled and outsmarted fairies and trolls. The girl who beat Machina. Not this pathetic excuse of her.

Especially not one exhibiting such a fierce case of THE BELLA SYNDROME


SPOILER ALERT!