Where I’ve been and where I’ll be…

HELLO.

I just realized I never updated this blog with the recent changes to my blogging status. As it is, here is what’s happening:


The Bevy Bibliothèque

Yep, new blog. I missed blogging, but I stopped having fun posting on my own here. The solution? Start a group blog with three of my favorites. This blog will remain around, but any future updates will be posted on the new site. Thank you all who followed Poetry to Prose and I genuinely hope I see you at The Bevy Bibliothèque.

Blog Tour: Shadows by Paula Weston

Hi everyone! After hearing so many great things about Paula Weston’s Shadows, I was excited to join the blog tour for its US release. Check out my review below, follow the rest of the tour stops through the Tundra Books blog, and pick up your copy of Shadows, available now!

Shadows by Paula Weston Shadows by Paula Weston
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Provided by publisher
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

It’s almost a year since Gaby Winters watched her twin brother die. In the sunshine of a new town her body has healed, but her grief is raw and constant. It doesn’t help that every night in her dreams she fights and kills hell-beasts. And then Rafa comes to town. Not only does he look exactly like the guy who’s been appearing in Gaby’s dreams, he tells her things about her brother and her life that cannot be true, things that are dangerous. Who is Rafa? Who are the Rephaim? And who is Gaby? The truth lies in the shadows of her nightmares. – Goodreads

Review:
Although I haven’t read too many paranormal books these last couple of months, I’m always willing to give another one a go in hopes that it’ll offer something refreshing in its storyline. I’ve read a few angel books and, for some reason, I’m always a harsher critic when it comes to these otherworldly beings. Most angel books end up on my “No thank you” list, but that wasn’t the case with Paula Weston’s Shadows.

The thing I loved most about Shadows is how many layers there were to uncover. The main character, Gaby, lost her twin brother in a car accident and, to add to that awful scenario, her memories have so many missing pieces. There was a lot of complexity to Gaby’s story and it would have been so easy to get lost along the way. However, Paula Weston navigated through her journey in a way that was both understandable and fast paced, leaving me eager to learn more with each page turn.

When it comes to most paranormal books I have recognized some formulaic elements, but Paula Weston was able to shake things up a bit with her take on angels. Not only that, but she definitely had a few twists up her sleeve when it came to her characters. There’s one character in particular that really surprised me with how important they ended up being to the story and I’m so excited to see how their role continues to play out in the upcoming books in the series.

As a protagonist, I really loved Gaby. Despite her hazy past, as well as the crazy world of angels (and demons) that she was thrust into, she was never weak. She had so much tenacity and a determination to be as strong as she was before — mentally for now, at least, as she hasn’t quite reached her full warrior potential. That said, Paula Weston definitely supplied plenty of hints of what Gaby is capable of and it’s going to be a real treat to see her continue to grow into that.

Shadows definitely has an edge that’s missing from a lot of paranormal books. To add to the mystery and action, there’s plenty of worldbuilding and character development to go along with those elements. Oh, and a little sexiness, too (yay for a slightly older age bracket for the characters!). In other words, Shadows has a little something for everyone and Paula Weston is sure to deliver more greatness in the next installment, Haze, next year.

Series Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion Books
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Buy It: Amazon

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves. – Goodreads

Review:
Always late to the game! When my brother first read the Percy Jackson series he tried to push the books on me, but I rejected the idea (sidenote: he also read Harry Potter first and I resisted for a while…tsk, tsk, I clearly didn’t learn my lesson). Over the years I went back and forth on whether to read these or not, but what finally settled the decision was hearing Rick Riordan speak at this year’s BEA Children’s Book & Author Breakfast. He was so effing hilarious that I thought, “Okay, I need to give his books a chance!” It took me a few weeks to finally get to them, but when I did, I read them in a matter of days.

Going into the books, I was a little worried about how young they would read. I don’t have too much experience with MG, so in my mind the narrators are always cutesy little things. Ha, no! To be honest, even with the early books when Percy and friends are young, I never found myself thinking, “This is so juvenile!” I was pleasantly surprised by the humor and sarcasm in the pages and every so often, when I was reminded that they were twelve or so, I was all, “Oh…yeah.” Even though the series is technically MG, I love that Rick Riordan wrote a series with a world that is so easy to slip into regardless of age.

Greek mythology, who doesn’t love it? I really enjoyed how Rick Riordan incorporated it into a modern day setting. There was a lot of familiarity with the gods, but he also added his own creativity and flare into them. For example, there was his explanation about the children of Athena which made sense for both his story and the original goddess myth.

The characters! Where to even start with them? I grew so attached to them, laughed with them, worried during their plights, and truly felt like I experienced their quests with them. I was so pleased with the conclusion of the series, but even more excited that more adventures lie ahead with these familiar faces in the Heroes of Olympus books.

Book Review: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★★ 
Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

The epic conclusion to Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most. – Goodreads

Review:
A series ending=much sadness from me.

But…no. Rae Carson delivered such a satisfying conclusion to her Fire and Thorns series that there was almost no time to feel sad. Instead I just felt an overwhelming pride for Elisa because, damn, she went through quite the journey in the span of three books.

Let’s start off with Hector because how much more amazing could he get? MUCH MORE is the answer! I was surprised to find that there were a few chapters from his POV and, I have to admit, a little nervous about it. I don’t like alternating POVs much and I was worried that getting inside his head would change my opinions about him. However, Rae Carson used his chapters to move the story forward and fill a few missing pieces along the way. Because of his demeanor, there was always a degree of mystery to his character and I actually really loved getting to peel back more of his layers through his narration. Whether through his own POV or Elisa’s, Hector proved again why he’s one of my favorites: he’s steadfast, loyal, strong, respects Elisa completely and, oh, yes, he brings the swoons.

Rae Carson’s world building continued to expand in this installment and I enjoyed every aspect of it: from the political drama, the fights, the Spanish influence, and the strong focus on the Godstone. All of these elements made The Bitter Kingdom such a well rounded book. Even when the physical action was slow, Rae Carson kept the energy and stakes going. The side characters grew, too, and there are some *cough*Storm*cough* that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future (PLEASE?!).

I kind of want to write this entire paragraph IN ALL CAPS. Pretend it is. Though I obviously love all aspects of this book and series, the highlight will always be Elisa. It’s pretty rare for me to say that, too, because I’ll be the first to admit that I’m usually looking for the swoons and romance. I got that here, too, but Elisa is such a standout that everything else comes second. Elisa started off as a meek, insecure girl and transformed into such a confident and strong leader by the end. It was a gradual but natural progression for her and I was pumping my fist in the air for her because she made such difficult decisions and showed so much determination. ELISA, YOU ARE MY HERO.

Okay, so there was some sadness that this was the last installment of Elisa’s story, but it was so, so satisfying to have her journey end this way. I don’t think Rae Carson could have written a better ending and I’m so glad I have such a fantastic series to re-read for years to come. If you’re a fan of fantasy, kickass heroines, or just amazing storytelling, this series is for you!

Book Review: Frigid by J. Lynn

Frigid by J. Lynn Frigid by J. Lynn
Release Date: July 15, 2013
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore. He’s never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she’s perfect and she’s everything. But the feelings he has for her, he’s always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.

But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one. – Goodreads

Review:
I’ve only reviewed one or two of J. Lynn’s (aka Jennifer L. Armentrout) other titles on the blog, but her books are always quick, read in one go type reads because she writes in a way that keeps you hooked. I looked forward to Frigid because I knew I was pretty much guaranteed a fun read, but I have to say that this one fell a little flat to me.

Part of my disappointment with Frigid could be the trope of best friends secretly in love, but who am I kidding, I usually eat that stuff up. Here, though, I never got a real understanding for Sydney and Kyler’s friendship so the intensity of feelings between them didn’t make too much sense to me. The sexual tension and banter was lacking, which is unfortunate because I think J. Lynn usually writes those scenes very well.

In the middle of Sydney and Kyler’s sexytimes, there’s also subplot of them being stalked. This could have been interesting except 1) it’s totally obvious who it is, so there’s no real mystery and 2) it only randomly comes up every now and then. I can’t be too disappointed about the lost potential in this plotline because it’s not the reason I read this book, but in the grand scheme of things it felt misplaced.

Overall, I think this was an okay enough read. I didn’t love it, but it didn’t piss me off. However, I would definitely recommend JLA’s other books before this one.