Saturday, September 22, 2012

Music to Read To... Or Not??

I know a lot of people have differing opinions on music, and really sounds in general, while they read. Personally, I can almost never read if there is a conversation going on around me or if the tv is on--unless it's sports. But, I can tolerate any and all music. In fact, a lot of time I find that the right music makes my reading experience more dynamic. Different types of books and/or scenes call for different kinds of music. I even have a playlist in my iTunes entitled "How to Read a Book". Most of it is from movie soundtracks, but there are a few other things as well. Here are a few things I keep on repeat for while I'm reading:

For epic battle scenes:

The Battle from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, composed by Harry Gregson-Williams

Guardians at the Gate, by Audiomachine

For a romantic scene or happy ending:

Tristan & Yvaine from Stardust, composed by Ilan Eshkeri

Your Hands Are Cold from Pride & Prejudice (2005), composed by Dario Marianelli

For basically any part of a good dystopian:

Shelter by Greenwheel

What Shall We Die For from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, composed by Hans Zimmer

So that's just a teeny tiny little bit of what I listen to when I read. If you'd like to know more, just ask! I love sharing, it's actually kind of sad. I'd also love to know your opinions on music while you read and/or what you listen to when you read! :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Abandon (Possession #3) Cover Reveal!

I am so excited to be helping unveil the cover for the third book in Elana Johnson's Possession series, Abandon, hosted by AToMR Tours. I actually haven't gotten around to reading the second book (EEK!) but I quite enjoyed the first. Not only are we getting a stunning new cover, but Elana is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader, and it's so easy!

But first, without further ado, the cover:

Isn't it pretty?? And it looks so good with the others.

Now for that contest! Elana is running a Pinterest contest for the cover. She wants to get 500 pins (or repins) over the next  two days. If we can get that many, she'll pick someone who pinned the cover to win a $50 Amazon gift card. It's so easy to do this. All you have to do is click over to Elana’s blog for details
seduced by power,
broken by control,
and consumed by love...

Vi has made her choice between Jag and Zenn, and the Resistance may have suffered for it. But with the Thinkers as strong as ever, the rebels still have a job to do. Vi knows better than anyone that there's more at stake than a few broken hearts.

But there is a traitor among them...and the choices he makes could lead to the total destruction of everything Vi has fought for.

Vi, Jag, and Zenn must set their problems aside for the Resistance to have any hope of ending the Thinkers' reign. Their success means everything...and their failure means death.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2)

Title: The Crown of Embers
Author: Rae Carson
Series: Fire and Thorns #2
Release date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow
Format: ARC
Pages: 410
Source: Borrowed
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions.

As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds.
I put off reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns for quite a while, and was schooled on that when I read it and loved it. What actually spurred me was that I borrowed an ARC of The Crown of Embers, so I was lucky to finish the first and immediately begin the second. This sequel absolutely did not disappoint! I just might have loved it more than the first, it's that good.

We saw Elisa grow up so immensely in The Girl of Fire and Thorns that it's hard to believe she has any left to do, but boy does she. Yes, she's a hero to her country and their queen, but that doesn't mean her rule is accepted without questions or with complete trust. She has to fight for everything she wants to accomplish and cannot trust most of those within her court. In order to harness the power of her godstone and better rule her adopted country, Elisa must go on a perilous journey to the ends of the earth.

I just love Elisa. She started off so pitifully in the previous book and she became just the greatest character to root for. You can't help but love her and the fight within her. She has such love for a country that was not her own until recently and she will sacrifice everything and anything for the good of her people, even her own happiness. Like I said, I just love her.

I absolutely could not get over the romance in this one! I loved her relationship with Humberto for it's sweetness and innocence, but that love and loss has shaped Elisa. Humberto was her first love, someone she'll never forget, but it also prepared her for her great love, whose name I'm not mentioning. Their relationship is founded upon trust and respect for the other. The relationship is slow-burning and so, so fulfilling when acted upon. I was melting into a little pool of jelly at parts and crying with frustration at others. I might love this book simply for the romance, but everything else was so well done I couldn't. :)

We see a whole other side of Joy D'Arena in The Crown of Embers. Elisa's journey takes her to the exotic and mysterious islands of the country, a place that I loved exploring with her. I love the well-developed world and its beauty that just leaps from the page.

If you liked The Girl of Fire and Thorns, you will be blown away by The Crown of Embers. I cannot recommend this sequel enough. It's the epitome of young adult fantasy done perfectly. I might just be crying in my bed every night waiting for The Bitter Kingdom...


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Throne of Glass
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Release date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Pages: 416
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
 I've been quite excited for Throne of Glass for a good long while, and reasonably so. This is just the type of book I've always had the biggest weakness for, fantasy set in a medieval kind of time with a sprinkling of magic! Nothing gets better than that, and I just can't get enough of them, especially recently, though some have definitely been better than others. I believe that Throne of Glass is a solid addition to the ranks of YA fantasy, though certainly not the best I've read.

Throne of Glass had a wonderfully engaging and fast-paced plot. We're treated to lots of sword fights, palace intrigue, glittering balls, secret passages, and mystery. These were all fun parts of the story and a large part of what kept me reading. I was invested in solving the mystery of the palace killings and the results of the  competition of the champions. The book is over four hundred pages, but it definitely didn't feel that long.

Celaena is definitely not a simpering, cowering, helpless protagonist. She has a sharp comment for anyone who riles her up and can easily back up her words with actions. I never knew what she was going to say next. I also liked her grit. She doesn't back down, even when things are looking bad. It would be so easy to for an author to rely on someone else to swoop in and save her when the going gets tough at the end, but instead she grinds her teeth and gets through it. That is a much better character to me.

My complaints lie in the predictability of the plot and the love triangle. While I did think the plot was engaging, I figured it out way too quickly and could almost predict what was going to happen next. The love triangle felt forced, especially on the part of Prince Dorian. He didn't feel genuine in his affections, whereas Chaol seemed earnest. Honestly, I didn't feel like a love triangle was remotely necessary here.

Despite my complaints, I do feel that Throne of Glass was a good and entertaining read. I think there's some work to be done for the sequel, but there is quite a lot of potential for this series and I will definitely be looking forward to what happens next. I look forward to meeting Celaena again!

Risk a paper cut? This light fantasy will endear readers to Celaena and her plight, making them willing to risk her rapier wit, something much more intimidating than a measly paper cut.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Goddess Interrupted (Goddess #2) by Aimee Carter

Release date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Pages: 296
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.

As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.

Henry's first wife, Persephone.
I enjoyed The Goddess Test, but didn't love it. I liked the idea behind the tests and liked the way the gods were depicted. All the things I liked about The Goddess Test were present in Goddess Interrupted, but boy oh boy did I like it SO much better! I liked that Aimee Carter went deeper into mythology into the story of Kronos and the Olympians taking him down, which is not an aspect of the mythology I've read much fiction about. OOH, and I LOVED getting to meet Persephone! More about that later. :)

Kate has passed the seemingly impossible test. She's immortal. You'd think she would have some time to rest! But no, the father of the gods and most powerful of the Titans, Kronos, has been let out. When he was captured before, it took the power of all of the gods, and Henry has been taken hostage by Kronos. In a seemingly hopeless situation, Kate proves her mettle. And this is why I love her. She is seemingly powerless in the this situation. But she steps up to the plate and helps those she's grown to love. I did find her a little annoying at times, and very unwilling to notice the things right in front of her face, but the stronger traits of Kate's character outshine the weaker ones.

I liked the increased action here, and adored the slightly deeper look into mythology. Honestly, before this book I was aware of the Titans, but was unaware of their real relation to the Olympians. (Now, of course, I'm taking Greek & Roman Mythology and just know WAY too much of the weird details. :) College.) I was fascinated by the idea, and liked seeing more sides to each of the characters and how they faced a life and death situation, since Kate was really the only one risking anything in the first book.

And OH MY GOODNESS that ending. Sometimes I get so incensed at super cliffhanger endings, but this one just made me that much more excited for the final book in the trilogy, not to mention it fit very well and while it was a surprise, it also wasn't. I'm glad it didn't just come flying out from left field.

If you liked The Goddess Test you are in for a treat here. We get all of the romance, action, backstabbing, drama, and mythology that we loved in the first, but to an even higher degree. Goddess Interrupted is such a fun and captivating read.

Risk a paper cut? Zeus, king of all the gods, shall send his thunder upon you and magically...somehow...fix your poor fingers should something happen to them. Yeah.