Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements, #2)Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Steph's Rating: 4 stars
Overall: 4 stars

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: October 21st 2014
Pages: 446

Goodreads Synopsis:

Every touch has its price...

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

Review: 

Looking through my blog, you would realize that I am a die-hard fan and addict of Jennifer L. Armentrout. I think I've given pretty much every single book she's written a happy five out of five stars and then go on to make run-on sentences about why you must read her books. I was actually tempted to give this book a 3-3.5 stars, but my more-than-slight bias to JLA might have effected that rating...Okay, so I didn't give her a perfect score this time, but Stone Cold Touch is still undoubtedly an excellent time-passer that might keep you up a little while to finish. 

The biggest reason why I felt like this wasn't a round 5 was because this book seemed like an intermission. It's a perfectly lengthy book (longer than book one, I believe), but I felt like there was lots of fluff for the purpose of pure fanservice rather than content that tied to the plot more. I'm not complaining about fanservice necessarily, since it was interesting to read *wink*, but we don't really learn anything more about Lilith, the Lilin, and how Layla's heritage affects her abilities. There were only a small number of major points I think JLA really wanted to hit with this book, and while achieved, overall I thought Stone Cold Touch was stalling for time and trying to draw out the suspense. 

Some of said "fluff" is devoted towards gearing up the love triangle subplot between Layla, Zayne, and Roth. I thought it was relatively well written out, but it did feel like a ping-pong match at times between Zayne and Roth since the scenes with Layla just kept on jumping back and forth between the two guys. I've been reading around, and I do see that lots of people have been jumping ship to Team Zayne. For what reason? I myself, do not know. To me, Zayne seemed like an entirely different character from the one we got to know in the first book. Yes, he's known Layla for a lot longer than Roth has, but I don't think that is enough of a reason for him to be her significant other. I saw him mostly as an annoying fly buzzing in a growing relationship between Layla and Roth, and while he was sweet throughout the book, I just don't get as good as a vibe from him. (P.S. Roth is just a darling.)

The big build-up point of this book, of course, was the end. As in the last chapter. Or how about the Very. Last. Page. I actually saw the ending coming a few chapters before, but it's still a killer even when you expect it. The series is only going to be a trilogy, but I think it's safe to say that the end of STC is where the turning point of the story is, and I'm very excited to where Jenn is going to lead this to. Right now though, I see too many unanswered questions and I'm a little worried that the last book is going to end up a bit rushed to fit in all the last minute content. Despite this, I still think this ending is going to be explosive. JLA has once again proven herself to be the queen of throwing wrenches into her stories at the most inopportune times for her readers. The wait for Every Last Breath is going to be excruciatingly difficult, but I cannot wait to see how Layla's story will end!


Steph

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas Cover!

I never found out if there was an actual "cover reveal" for A Court of Thorns and Roses for blogs, but nonetheless, I ended up finding an interview with SJ Maas and the cover for this book on USA Today! I am a super-fan of her books, so I am eagerly awaiting her next fantasy series! She says it incorporates a mash-up of lots of fairy tails, including Beauty and the Beast. Here is the cover and synopsis, the link to her interview/the original post is below:


Synopsis:

When 19-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. 

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it ... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever. 

Perfect for fans of Kristen Cashore and George R.R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Um. Kristen Cashore? Geroge R.R. Martin? Yes, please, and thank you! It seems she's carrying on her Fae theme that is present in the Throne of Glass series, but is making it a more central part of the story. Personally, I like how the cover is eerie and wicked looking, but I wish the girl on the cover wasn't so cartooned-looking. It's pretty much the same sentiment as her first series: I think her books can be geared towards older teens and adults too and the covers downplay the seriousness that is actually present in the books.

Can't wait for this next year--hopefully it'll help pass the time for the next ToG book as well :)

Original Post with Interview:


Steph

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Release Day: Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Happy Release Day to Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout! It's no secret Dani and I are extremo fans of her--and this book is definitely one of the books we have been looking forward to the most this year. I can't wait to get some more......Bambi....! I'm ecstatic to get started on this book (AHEM Amazon--whenever your delivery package decides to turn around, preferably in the next ten minutes...), yet at the same time, it's sad to know that after STC, the only book left in this trilogy is Every Last Kiss.

Regardless, can't wait to get started!

Here's some Stone Cold Touch quick info:

Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements, #2)Synopsis:

Every touch has its price

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted,
but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…




About Jennifer L. Armentrout:  
 
# 1 New York Times and International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.
 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Steph's Rating: 5 stars
Overall Rating: 5 stars

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scribner 
Publication Date: January 17th, 2006
Pages: 288

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing--a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

Steph's Review: 

I believe this is the first time I've ever reviewed a nonfiction book on this blog. We don't even accept review requests that are nonfiction book, but after reading The Glass Castle, I'm debating changing that to not accepting nonfiction except memoirs. 

If this book were fiction, I don't think it would've been as big of a hit as it was. The writing is phenomenal, but if this were only crafted out of sheer imagination, I don't think I would be able to say it was a particularly notable work.

But that's the problem. This book is real--a memoir that recounts events in Jeannette Walls's tumultuous childhood and includes both the bad and the good. I read this and I could not believe that anyone could have such an eventful life in so little time, how children so young in numbers were mature beyond even those who had lived a lifetime. The nomadic lifestyle, the questionable schooling, the financial state--or rather, lack of thereof, the safety issues, the bullying, the hunger, the simple joys, the successes the children have even though they faced this in their entire childhood. It definitely fits the, "Perspective, get some", quote.  Every single chapter of her life--and there are many, many short and powerful chapters--is a completely different adventure to tell. It seems that the Walls's family has suffered every kind of hardship, but have also found happiness in ways the average person would never experience.

No matter how well she writes this book, I don't think anyone will truly understand Walls's life except her own family. On the surface, it seems just like a story about a highly dysfunctional family who happens to do everything opposite of what conventional mainstream society says to do. It's a feat to do such a thing, but at the same time, Wall's reveals to us that nothing was as simple as it seemed. Her two parents are both free and nomadic souls and also seem to have no idea what family is yet at the same time, understand what family is more than anyone else. I don't know if it was Walls's intention to paint an ugly picture of her parents (although I hated both her mother and father by the end), but that was what I felt was expressed through her words.

Her father, Rex, is book-smart and cheeky. He has his moments of brilliance and an undying dream of building The Glass Castle for his family to live in. Fine. Rex Walls's is also an alcoholic, has no idea what street-smarts are, and has absolutely no clue how to take care of his family. Her mother, Mary, doesn't want the responsibility to take care of a family despite having four children. She's selfish, whines, and is more childish than any of her kids. The young siblings have to learn how to fend for themselves and stand on their own two feet. They have to figure out to swim before it's too late.

Even with this not-present parenting, this family always stuck together throughout the odds. Even when the family fought. when the children were unhappy, they always ended up back together until the tipping point. This story was stupendous--a look into a life that you would not expect when looking at someone for the first time in the face. Inevitably, this memoir is a life-changer. It sends a message to readers that people might have experiences that we could never imagine: quite frankly, to never judge a book by its cover.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Steph's Rating: 5 stars
Overall Rating: 5 stars

Publication Date: September 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Books
Pages: 565
Format: Hardcover 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

Steph's Review: *the review itself is for the most part non-spoiler, but the area for my predictions is packed with spoilers for Heir of Fire*

What better way to get back into blogging than with a book that also ended with a bang? I think I've read Heir of Fire three or four times over the one month period that it's been out--in other words, I've just been reading some sort of page from this pretty much every day. Still not over it either. The pretty hardcover is still sitting on my nightstand even though I've got other selections I'm reading. The books in this series release pretty far apart from each other so this obsession is really not good seeing as I've got at least another eleven months to go before book four rolls around.

Celaena has been cast away from Adarlan for her own safety by none other than Chaol Westfall. She's ignoring her duty to the King while she's slumming it in the streets of Wendlyn. She is approached by a menacing Fae warrior, who leads her on orders to the her aunt, and Fae Queen, Maeve. Celaena knows Maeve knows the information that she dearly needs to accomplish solving the mystery of Adarlan's seemingly overnight triumph, but Maeve is withholding that knowledge with a series of conditions. She is sent back to the peaceful demi-Fae town of Mystward, to master her heritage and the magic that has quietly dwelled within her for over ten years. If she proves successful and rediscovers her conscience, she may become the biggest living threat that Adarlan has ever seen. If she fails...everything is over for Terrasen.

Now, I've read tons of reviews for this one. Many people give it five start but then go onto say that it wasn't their favorite book in the series since Crown of Midnight is still their absolute fave. I too, and giving it those five big, obnoxious stars but Heir of Fire is my favorite book within this series so far. I love Crown of Midnight, I do, but I still felt like Crown of Midnight is a "thriller" book of sorts. It's a roller coaster that is exciting and something you'll always remember (at least for me), but once it's over, it's over. Heir of Fire is a much deeper book because of its fantastic character development. In fact, I think this entire book is pretty much dedicated into recreating Celaena's character that will define her for the rest of the series. Heir of Fire is an intermission of sorts, but at the same time also the bridge that is going to connect two vastly differing parts of this series--and I love the new Celaena. HoF also is just a big staging book; its triple POV/triple setting sets up lots of great subplots that will definitely become major contributions to the rest of the story.

There's a lot of mystery shrouding the whole series, but I'd like to think some of that is made known to us with this novel. Along with Celaena's character development, Maas gives us a lot of flashbacks to Celaena's childhood that tell us why Celaena is how she is. The background is a heartbreaking tale and I have to take back every bad thing I said about Celaena--her arrogance, brattiness, and selfishness--that I said about her when I wrote my first thoughts on Throne of Glass. Troubling times are ahead for her, but as long as she stays on the course that she's paved anew, she is going to reach the goal she seeks.

While there is a large focus on Celaena herself, Maas also starts brewing trouble in places Celaena is not even in. Chaol begins to question everything he's ever been trained to know about Adarlan--and also wonders if he's going to follow through with the deal he made with his father to return to his homeland and become the Lord of Anielle whilst giving up his honorable position as Captain of the Guard. Dorian is wondering how much more of his father's dictatorship and oppression he can take, especially when he has two secrets that are imperative to keep hidden from him. Either one of them could ruin him and earn him exile at the least-- and at worst, he'll be digging his own grave if either one is found out. 

I feel like with every book, Sarah J Maas improves her writing to be ever more meticulous than the preceding installment. Her craft is expanding, and I love absolutely everything about it. Can't wait for the next book and also, her new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses!


From Here on Out, There WILL be spoilers for Heir of Fire. These are my predictions for the book 4 that I wrote a while back after my first round of reading. Read at your own risk!


******************


My thoughts and predictions based on what happened in Heir of Fire: If somehow you didn't get the message earlier, there will be some spoilers from here on out for HoF!!!

1. Manon Blackbeak.

I enjoyed reading her POV. This girl is a badass, and she needs to show all the other witchies who's boss. She was such an underdog at the start of the book I feel like (because she chose the "injured" wyvern), but in the end she showed them she was better than everyone else.

So my prediction for her: I think she will clash with Celaena at first, (somehow I feel like it might actually be in book 5, I'll get to the why for that later) but begin to understand that the King is just using them, and who knows, might not actually keep his end of the bargain. If Celaena continues to represent the freedom she is so far, I think Manon and her crew will eventually side with her for the big showdown.

2. Chaol:

I'm sorry, I am no longer on board the ship Chaolaena (rd to #4 as to why :D). I think after Chaol's errr falling out with the King, he will find Celaena and reconcile what happened between them in CoM. I also think Chaol isn't going to be as supportive of the growing Terrasen uprising as we want him to be, since he is still from Adarlan, but in the very least he isn't going to be fighting for the king. As said in the book, he'll fight for Dorian (who I hope will eventually side with Celaena)

3. Dorian.

No. NO NO NO NO NO NO. I'm terrified that Dorian might end up dead, now that he's got that stinking collar around his neck. Since Celaena had to kill the Valg princes (and those collars STILL weren't broken even then)…I just have a bad feeling. But IF everything goes well and Celaena and Chaol can save Dorian from his father's clutches, I know Dorian will be on Celaena's side.

4. Rowan Whitethorn

My fave new character. I really wish he and Celaena didn't separate at the end of HoF, after all Rowan said that Mala thinks they make a good pair. I totally ship Rowan + Celaena now….but I also feel like this isn't ever going to happen. Maas made it clear several times in the book that Celaena / Rowan only felt platonic love for each other and only have the urge to protect each other because they have the carranam bond. Plus, Rowan's already lost his mate and it's also been said that mating bonds go beyond death. A girl can still hope though ;) As long as this book has MORE ROWAN, I'm satisfied. I wonder if we are still going to have a little bit of his POV, seeing as the duo is separated now.

Now for less explanation predictions:

5. I think Celaena is going to return to Rifthold to find Arobynn at the Assassin's Keep and demand for the Amulet of Orynth, which he probably refuses to give her. He probably won't be surprised that she shows up, and probably already knows her heritage at that. I doubt that he knows about the Wyrdkeys though. I hope she kills him, and doesn't fall for any of his sweet talk.

--This is the 'why' for Manon's prediction. If more of the book is going to focus on Celaena's return to Rifthold, I can't see Manon and crew attacking her yet. Maybe at the end of the book, or in book 5?

6. Maeve is going to come back to haunt Celaena. Maybe not in the next book, but when the "revolution" gets bigger, I feel like Celaena is going to be on the verge of victory to have her plans foiled by that Fae Queen.

7. Do I smell and Celaena/Ansel alliance coming?

--On that note in general, maybe the Silent Assassins from the prequels?

8. Please let them save Aedion (or have Aedion break himself out). I feel like if Aedion dies, all of the character development in HoF might crash into bits and pieces. I need to see a reunion between these two.

9. I think the King might find out about Celaena/Aelin in the next book, but as much as I want to see him dead, I don't think he will be AT LEAST until the end of book 5 at the soonest.

I'll update with more predictions as I think of them, and I also feel like these are my predictions for the overall rest of the series instead of solely book 4 :)  


**********************

Steph

Reviving this Blog…

*Scratches Head* So, we've been away for a while. June - September to be exact--four months. But we're going to fix that. I plan on reviving this blog a little bit because I do miss it. I had always originally planned to take a break over the summer because I was overseas on vacation, but I didn't see this hiatus to go all the way into my school year. Well school has been a huge bummer and the work is piling up on me leaving me almost no time for my own hobbies. I'm still busy, but I want to try seeing if I can do minimal amounts of posts--mainly reviews, over the Fri-Sun weekend days. 

First, I'll try just doing reviews of books I've read recently. The poor Goodreads Challenge hasn't been update in a while so it appears as if I'm not going to finish (but I think I will!). This does mean there aren't going to many, if any, Teaser Tuesdays or Waiting on Wednesdays. I probably won't be doing as many blog tours / requested reviews because I simply can't make any kind of time commitment right now because of my own full schedule. There aren't going to be the 15-20 posts per month that used to happen, for now, it'll be more like 5 or 6. If things seem to be working out and my schedule starts clearing out a little bit (things should calm down in November and December sorta-ish-maybe), I can always throw back in some of the lovely extras. 

Can't wait to get back to blogging! I'll take it slow and steady from the start, and we'll see what happens from here!

Upcoming reviews I have on my list to-do--this probably sets me up for the rest of this month:

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Help by Kathryn Stockett 

Steph

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Release Day: The Warrior by Victoria Scott and The One by Kiera Cass!

Two releases marks the end to two fantastic series today! The Warrior is the last installment of the Dante Walker novels, and The One is the last novel to The Selection series. These are definitely both must-reads!

The Warrior by Victoria Scott

Goodreads Synopsis:
The Warrior (Dante Walker, #3) 
War between heaven and hell is coming, but Dante Walker makes it look damn good.

Dante’s girlfriend, Charlie, is fated to save the world. And Aspen, the girl who feels like a sister, is an ordained soldier. In order to help both fulfill their destiny and win the war, Dante must complete liberator training at the Hive, rescue Aspen from hell, and uncover a message hidden on an ancient scroll.

Dante is built for battle, but even he can’t handle the nightmares where spiders crawl from Aspen’s eyes, or the look on Charlie’s face that foretells of devastation. To make matters worse, the enemy seizes every opportunity to break inside the Hive and cripple the liberators. But the day of reckoning is fast approaching, and to stand victorious, Dante will have to embrace something inside himself he never has before—faith.


The One (The Selection, #3)The One by Kiera Cass

Goodreads Synopsis: 

The Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. And now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants.

From the very first page of The Selection, this #1 New York Times bestselling series has captured readers' hearts and swept them away on a captivating journey... Now, in The One, Kiera Cass delivers a satisfying and unforgettable conclusion that will keep readers sighing over this electrifying fairy-tale long after the final page is turned.


For those waiting on The One, the first 10 chapters have been unlocked by your fellow readers! If you're waiting around for The One to arrive on your doorstep, you can preview the book with the 10-chapter teaser. You can find the links to these on Kiera Cass's Facebook page!

Steph
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