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Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
Series: Bhinian Empire #1
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
A Young Adult Novel
Pages: 359
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Romance

       buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
An exotic treat set in an entirely original, fantastical world brimming with deadly mystery, forbidden romance, and heart-stopping adventure.
     Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.
     Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.

Gosh, that cover pretty much blew me out of the water when I first laid eyes on it. Its as exotic as what lies within the pages. I honestly wish I read this novel sooner having not know what I was missing last February when the novel came out.

Magic has fled, and the Bhinian Empire has established control. And within the Empire exists a two child system, one where boys are the strength that resides. The girls are abandoned, unwanted in society, left to be tended for in the City of a Thousand Dolls, training as apprentices in the arts of music, healing, combat, pleasure, beauty, and nobility until they turn sixteen and have a chance to be Redeemed, sold to men as wives, to be made useful in society. But Nisha, abandoned at the gates of the City, too old to truly fit in to any of the houses, tries to figure out who she really is, why she can speak with the cats that follower around, and why her parents left her all those years ago. But mystery ensues when girls in the City start dying, and foul play is involved. And Nisha finds herself in a much deeper mystery when secrets of her past start revealing themselves as it grows closer to her time at the Redeeming.

Absolutely fond of this novel, I really was. Though it took some time to dive into, City of a Thousand Dolls does not take long for the impending mystery to take place. From the get-go, Nisha's life is filled with mystery regarding her upbringing. Not only can she talk to the cats that roam around the City, but she has a mysterious tiger tattoo and wonders about its meaning and what it has to do with her. Even while reading, the mystery revolving around the Bhinian Empire starts to unfold while Nisha takes it upon herself to catch the person killing innocent girls. The story does nothing but rise above what original expectations I had.

Personally, Nisha was hard to connect with while reading. Her status in CoaTD (pardon my abbreviation, spelling it out all the time gets tedious) is the assistant to Matron, who is basically the headmaster of the City. But Nisha feels that she doesn't belong and is considered worthless in the eyes of the Bhinian Empire because she is not concentrated in a single House honing a single skill. But, wouldn't being the assistant to one of the most powerful women in the City be an asset for Nisha? She is able to enter every House in the City and can takes lessons, so isn't she valuable? The structure of the City and the Empire became the roadblock that made Nisha's situation hard to seem realistic in this fantastical world. And while I loved the cats and the fact that Nisha could communicate with them, making them outrageously fantastic side characters, I enjoyed their presence more than I enjoyed Nisha's narration.

Final Summation: If you're looking for a fantasy world with more Eastern influence and a gripping mystery, City of a Thousand Dolls should makes its way to the top of your TBR list. The world-building makes for a typical young adult read, and there are some plot holes regarding Nisha's role in society in order to make her seem like an outcast (that really make her seem like the best candidate), but City of a Thousand Dolls has a captivating element about it, and the writing is done well to the point that I become hooked and unable to put the book down for sections at a time.

Four targets wonderfully slayed

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (52): Tether


Tether by Anna Jarzab
Series: Many-Worlds Trilogy #2
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Everything repeats.
          Sasha expected things to go back to normal once she got back on Earth. But now that she knows parallel worlds are real, and that an alternate version of herself exists in a world called Aurora, her old life no longer seems to make sense . . . and her heart breaks daily for Thomas, the boy she left behind. Troubled by mysterious, often terrifying visions and the echoes of a self she was just beginning to discover, Sasha makes the difficult decision to journey once more through the tandem.
          Thomas is waiting for her on the other side, and so is strange, otherworldly Selene, Sasha’s analog from a third universe. Sasha, Selene, and their other analog, Juliana, have a joint destiny, and a new remarkable power, one that could mean salvation for Selene’s dying planet. With Thomas’s help, Sasha and Selene search for the missing Juliana. But even if they can locate her, is Sasha willing to turn her back on love to pursue a fate she’s not sure she believes in?

Though I wasn't particularly please with Tandem as a whole, I can say that these beautiful covers keep drawing me in, and the parallel universe plot as a whole does pique my interest when Sasha as a character cannot keep me interested in the least. I am curious as to how Jarzeb makes her third analog, Selene, stand out in this second installment, and how does the conflict deepen?
What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (26)

Welcome to the Stacking the Shelves, a feature by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews, post for this week. All weekly updates that have happened around the blog will take place below as well as the books that I have received this week for review. Please don't forget to leave a comment on this post and link me to your Stacking the Shelves so I can see what you've gotten this week and comment back. Thank you!

Recent Events & Past Reviews:
 

+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +

For Review:

Thank you to Flux, Simon & Schuster, Random House, and ABRAMS for the books this week

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Friday Hops (6/19/14)


*Leave a comment below with you're post. Follow and I'll follow back*
With Google Friend Connect going away, don't forget to follow up with the blog with e-mail and Bloglovin' and stay connected!

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Follow Friday (#40)

What are your favorite books of 2014 so far?.


I really only have one favorite book so far this year, the only book that I happened to give five stars, and that is Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis. Runner up is City of a Thousand Dolls.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (51): In a Handful of Dust


In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #2
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
The only thing bigger than the world is fear.
        Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.
        When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.
        In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.
I absolutely loved NOT A DROP TO DRINK, so you can guess how highly anticipated I am to dive into the second installment of the series. Mindy McGinnis has a wonderful way with words and characters that held onto me and never let go. And her way with dialogue blew me out of the water in regards to how realistic it all was. I was craving the story of Lucy and Lynn to continue, and I know that my heart will go out to them in this second installment. And I really hope there is more Stebbs, because he was my favorite (:

What are you waiting on? Comment below so I can wait with you!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cover Reveal: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

You could have guessed my surprise when I checked Twitter and saw the buzz about Jodi Meadow's new novel coming out in March 2015. And that surprise included a COVER REVEAL!!!! So, scroll down to see the beauty in all of it's glory, as well as the synopsis of what the novel is about.

It's really pretty in my opinion (:


Though I feel that the title overtakes the entire cover


Tell me what you think in the comments below


And you can click on the cover to visit Jodi Meadow's site and see a larger version of the cover and some questions that she answers about the cover itself in regards to the novel.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Review: Rain by Amanda Sun

Rain by Amanda Sun
Series: Paper Gods #2
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
A Young Adult Novel
Pages: 304
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Paranormal, Romance

       buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
American Katie Green has decided to stay in Japan. She's started to build a life in the city of Shizuoka, and she can't imagine leaving behind her friends, her aunt and especially Tomohiro, the guy she's fallen in love with. But her return is not as simple as she thought. She's flunking out of Japanese school and committing cultural faux pas wherever she goes. Tomohiro is also struggling—as a Kami, his connection to the ancient gods of Japan and his power to bring drawings to life have begun to spiral out of control.
When Tomo decides to stop drawing, the ink finds other ways to seep into his life—blackouts, threatening messages and the appearance of unexplained sketches. Unsure how to help Tomo, Katie turns to an unexpected source for help—Jun, her former friend and a Kami with an agenda of his own. But is Jun really the ally he claims to be? In order to save themselves, Katie and Tomohiro must unravel the truth about Tomo's dark ancestry, as well as Katie's, and confront one of the darkest gods in Japanese legend.
*An advanced readers copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

My anticipation for Rain over the past year is what I think made me like this book less than the first book. Of course I enjoyed Rain, but to give it a three rating rather than a four rating was due to the bumps in the roads by the plot holes that arose throughout the novel.

Rain starts out right where the end of Ink with Katie remaining in Japan. The beautiful and vivid imagery of Japanese culture as Katie and her friends, Yuki and Tanaka, make their way to a firework festival, something that I cannot wait to attend when I study abroad in Japan, is what really captivates me about the writing and the background of the Paper Gods series. Amanda Sun thankfully provides some recap surrounding characters and the end of the first novel, Ink, helping me remember what had happened at the end of the previous book after a year of reading it.

But after the first few chapters, Ink starts to become very patchy. Some chapters focus on finding out information about the Kami, the descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu; some chapters focused on Tomohiro's blackouts and breakdowns; some chapters focused on school life; some chapters focused on Jun and Tomohiro bitching at each other; and some chapters focused on Katie's wavering feelings between Tomohiro and Jun. Meanwhile, I felt that a lot of information was dropped abruptly just to make things finally click after chapters and chapters of filler. And then plot holes, mainly Tomohiro's pregnant friend Shiori, and Jun, popping up all over the place unexplained just to cause conflict. And Shiori's conflict was just positively irking. All of it made Rain difficult to get through from time to time.

The relationship conflict within Rain happened to be, what I believe, a downfall of this novel. The love triangle relationship that Katie doesn't stop herself from falling into. The extremely bitchy jealous girls on both Tomohiro and Jun's side because they both fawn over Katie. And just Katie's overall actions surrounding her relationship with Tomohiro whether it be her going behind his back to see and speak with Jun, or her sparking feelings for Jun/her dreams with him that frustrate me. The unnecessary addition of a second potential love interest in this novel when the star-crossed lovers aspect of Tomohiro and Katie is working out so well! Tomohiro is such a sweet, gentle, and protective person around Katie and only wishes for her happiness and well-being even if it means that they cannot be together. Why does Jun need to be added to the mix? It is fine to leave the fact that Jun likes Katie, that is all well and dandy, but don't ruin a perfectly good relationship between Tomohiro and Katie by having her start to feel things for another boy. It is just so redundant in YA that it's ridiculous. And even if Amanda Sun was going for a manga-esque feel with her novel, even the love triangles in manga are over played.

I wish there was much more involvement with the secondary characters because they were much more interesting than the conflict between Tomohiro and Jun and Katie. Yuki was absolutely stupendous as Katie's best friend. And Ishikawa, who I thought was going to be bedridden the entire novel, his appearance and interaction with Katie and Tomohiro made him interesting to get to know. And as a main character, Tomohiro, I felt, was extremely realistic and an outstanding guy for Katie despite his fatal flaw, being a Kami, and the evil forces that are after him and his power. He, despite his feelings, understands the importance of her safety and her happiness, even if it means that he cannot be in the picture. But we all know that Katie is too stubborn, and will do anything to help Tomohiro control his Kami side. And Katie's dedication is her double-edge sword that both makes her and breaks her character.

The one thing that I really enjoyed in Ink that they didn't keep in Rain was the little flipbook pictures in the margins of the pages. This is just my personal preference, but what I enjoyed about those images was how the reader could flip the pages and make the pictures move, just like how the characters can make their images move in the novel. Making the readers Paper Gods was such a cute and inventive idea, that I'm sad they didn't keep in the sequel. Though, the artwork in the pages does continue and is still stunning as ever.

Final Summation: Rain, though did not live up to my expectations, did captivate me. Though some parts throughout the novel became boring, and the plot holes and love triangle made the road to reading the book quite unsettling, I did come to enjoy Rain by the end of the novel. I hope that the unanswered questions that Amanda Sun has left at the conclusion of Rain are answered in the final installment of this series, and I honestly do not know what to expect in this final novel, but I can''t wait to find out.
Three targets slayed

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (25)

Welcome to the Stacking the Shelves post for this week. All weekly updates that have happened around the blog will take place below as well as the books that I have received this week for review. Please don't forget to leave a comment on this post and link me to your Stacking the Shelves so I can see what you've gotten this week and comment back. Thank you!

A Week in Review:


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Review Books
From the Library:
e-book

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Hops (6/13/14)


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Follow Friday (#39)

Armchair Travel! Tell us about your favorite book in a setting you’d like to visit 

(a real place for this question).

Since I had just finished Rain, the sequel to the book Ink, (Paper Gods #2) I would definitely love to go an visit Japan. I couldn't get enough from just reading about the festivals and the food (I've been craving okonomiyaki since my semester up at college ended and none of my Japanese friends are around to make it, nor do I have a Japanese food market around me so I can buy the ingredients). But, I have already started my application for study abroad in Tokyo for my upcoming spring semester, so I need to crack down on my studying of Japanese and all the places that I want to visit while I'm there studying for half a year. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt
A Young Adult Novel
Pages: 492
Genre: High Fantasy, Romance

       buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.
*An Advanced Reader's Copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

Sometimes, we come across a book that is so original and powerful that is changes the way we look at our daily lives, the way we live and the way we love.

Kiss of Deception is not that book.

Kiss of Deception By Mary Pearson is the story of Lia, a princess who rejects her duty to marry a faraway prince in favor of freedom and runs away from her responsibilities as royalty.  Once settled, Lia falls into a love triangle with an assassin and the prince she rejected.  Pearson is a talented writer, and that is perhaps one of the only redeeming qualities of this maddeningly bland and confusing book.  Easy to understand, and yet not sacrificing substance in favor of comprehension, Pearson has the potential to write an amazing book, but she doesn’t in Kiss of Deception.   

First things first, let’s talk about this plot, or rather the fact that there really isn’t one. If you are tired of the Love Triangle Epidemic that has been plaguing the Young Adult section of bookstores and libraries, do not pick up this book. While Pearson is an incredibly talented writer, she seems to have committed the cardinal sin of writing by allowing a love triangle to be the plot of the story.   It gets to the point where a reader may not even care what happens to Lia, and at points, I kind of wish that the torture of this plot-line would end.  Pearson tries to save the originality of the story with a unique plot twist that plays off the traditional ideas of a love triangle (and I’ll admit, you will not see it coming), but in the end, this plot twist does absolutely nothing for the plot and is more of an inside joke between the reader and author.   There was a point while reading this where I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room rather than continue with the same, silly and bland plot.
         
Next problem in Kiss of Deception is its characters. Pearson’s side characters are good, not necessarily complex, but good enough to support a couple interesting subplots and honestly, you could just read a novella on Lia’s friends. Pearson’s main characters, on the other hand, are so boring and genetic. Lia is the same heroine as almost every other heroine you've read in the past four years; she’s brave, she’s noble, loyal, kind, caring but she’s flawed because Lia is also so stubborn and arrogant about her skills and who cares?!  Lia does the same thing every heroine seems to do: she runs away from a life of privilege (but unbearable responsibility), she falls in love with a moody, but pure hearted hero and, of course, magically has everything work out. There is nothing special about her or her romantic interests. 
            
The two lovers in this book aren’t really worth comment. They are same two romantic interests that you see in every single love triangle, one’s kind, and open and sweet and the other is brooding and dark and sexual. The plot twist kind of saves these two characters, but not really because the plot twist has no effect on the plot. 

Kiss of Deception is not a book I would recommend to my friends, but perhaps I would give it to a thirteen year old who just wanted to read a love story. However, my main problem with Kiss of Deception is that it didn’t do anything to me. It didn’t make me feel good about life or love, it didn’t change the way I looked at something, or make me wish for an adventure. It didn’t do anything, and a story should do something to a reader, add on to the person they are. And if a book can’t do that, then we have a problem.
Only two targets slayed




Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (50): Gates of Thread and Stone


Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee
Series: Gates of Thread and Stone #1
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.


In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.
Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.
I'm really excited about this one and I wish that August could come faster just so I can read it! So many of my favorite authors have said nothing but great things about the world building and the characters, so I hope I feel the same when I read it! Also, I have a thing for all things time ever since finished Bioshock Infinite, so if these threads are anything like tears then I'm already in love with this book haha!

What are you waiting on? Comment below so I can wait with you!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Blast & Giveaway: Hexed by Michelle Krys



Hexed by Michelle Krys
Series: The Witch Hunter #1
Publication Date: June 10, 2014 
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 384 
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Purchase: Amazon Barnes & Noble IndieBound

If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.
About the Author
Hi there! I'm the author of the YA novel HEXED, slated for publication with Delacorte Press/Random House Children's Books Spring 2014. I'm repped by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary Services. Visit me at michellekrys.com or follow @MichelleKrys on Twitter.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: Pawn by Aimee Carter

Pawn by Aimee Carter
Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion #1
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
A Young Adult novel
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 343
Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction
       buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
YOU CAN BE A VII IF YOU GIVE EVERYTHING.
 For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.
 If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked - surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.
 There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed, and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.
A hard copy of the novel was provided by Harlequin Teen for an honest review 


Do NOT let the first chapter fool you or even turn you away from this novel, it is so much more than the dystopian trope that it sets itself up as. I would have dropped Pawn in a heartbeat if the synopsis didn't enthrall me, because that very first chapter is what makes or breaks it. Because, like every other dystopian Young Adult novel that has risen to fame over the past couple of years, the first chapter goes a little something like this: There is a female. She lives in a futuristic world where the old word was ravaged by something terrible, overpopulation. She is not supposed to have existed, because she is an Extra, a second child.  Extras, criminals, or the elderly are sent to a place called Elsewhere. People are sectioned off in society. A test on one's seventeenth birthday decides their fate in society. Its a number system, I - VII, tattooed on the back of the neck. The higher the number, the more prosperous one is in life. Guards, called Shields, patrol the streets on a daily basis. Breaking the law is punishable by death.