Homemade Decadence Cookbook Review

I’m back! Been out for a while, between school getting crazy both spring 2014 and fall 2014 semesters and this past summer not exactly being the most stress-free and easy summer (my wonderful grandfather passed away), I haven’t had too much time to read books, much less post about them. In fact, looking at my Goodreads challenge status, in my push to read 75 books this year, I’ve only read 34. So there hasn’t been much to write about, since all I’ve really read are A&P, health information management, medical terminology, and nutrition textbooks, and those aren’t exactly books I want to review. Although if you follow me on twitter, you did see my rants about my terrible Medical Terminology textbook! But today, I have a small review for you! The lovely wonderful people at Birchbox/Birchbloggers had a giveaway in November for Joy the Baker’s cookbook Homemade Decadence, and lucky me, I won a copy! So the weekend after I received my copy, I went out, bought some ingredients, and made a recipe from the book, as well as read all the recipes, since finals were finally over. So let’s get to what I think about it.


First of all, this book is gorgeous, and I love a gorgeous cookbook. I think gorgeous food photography is important in a cookbook, since it gives you an example of what your food should look like, and it makes you want to make and eat all the things in the book. This book accomplishes that on the cover. I want that cake in my life, please. Someone give me an excuse to make that cake.

And the pictures along with the recipes are all lovely too. The picture of the Brown Sugar-Rosemary Cheesecake with a pool of bourbon-burnt caramel sauce makes me want a slice. See:


And just seeing the title “Blueberry-Goat Cheese Ice Cream” made me know I was in dire need of an ice cream maker so I could have this amazing creation in my life (confession: I have a weakness for goat cheese).

The recipe from this book that I picked to make was the Underbaked Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet Cake. I picked this because it looked delicious and it also looked like a simple recipe, and while I want to make the more complex recipes in this book, the weekend after finals are over is not the time to do such a thing. this recipe looked like one that even my post-finals brain could handle. And it was. And when I took it out of the oven, it was perfectly gooey and chocolatey and wonderful. Full disclosure, the entire bag of chocolate chips may have fallen into the dough, but it called for a cup and when I measured out the cup, there weren’t too many left in the bag, so it worked just fine. Meera (you’ve seen her posts on the blog too) and I ate a few pieces of that cake ourselves, and I may have had a little bit for breakfast the next morning. It looked pretty and it tasted perfect. My version looked very similar to the cookbook version.


One of the things I liked most about this cookbook is how it was laid out. You have five categories: brunch; cookies, brownies, and bars; pies, crumbles, and cobblers; layer cakes, cupcakes, and skillet cakes; and ice cream social. At the beginning of each section was a list of the recipes within that section. And I loved that scattered through the sections were different tips to help you with the food in each section. In the brunch section there were ideas for toast toppings, in the cookies, brownies, and bars section there were tips for how to best ship cookies to make sure they arrive at their destination intact, along with what type of cookies are best for shipping, in the pies, crumbles, and cobblers section there were a bunch of different pie crust recipes and tips for how to make a perfect pie crust, in the layer cakes, cupcakes, and skillet cakes section, there were tips for how to get a cake out of the pan without loosing chunks of it (also know as one of the saddest baking tragedies) and how to frost a cake, and in the ice cream social section there were treat and topping suggestions to make your ice cream as awesome as possible, complete with the best matches for the different ice cream recipes.

And if you’re wondering if it’s all sweet recipes, no it isn’t. It’s mostly sweets, but in the brunch section there are drinks and recipes for savory things like roasted-potato breakfast nachos, braised kale and egg breakfast sandwiches, and french onion quiche. So there is a small amount of savory things in here.

Basically, Joy Wilson made a wonderful cookbook for us all to use, and I can’t wait to try more of the fabulous recipes inside of it. Thank you so much to Birchbloggers and Birchbox for selecting me as a winner for this cookbook! It had been hanging out in my Amazon shopping cart for a while, but I hadn’t been sure. Now I’m so glad that I have it!

Disclaimer: This was provided to me by Birchbloggers/Birchbox as part of a contest that I won. But the opinions in this post are all mine, I really think the food in here looks flawless!

Update on Books to be Released in 2014

WE HAVE A RELEASE DATE FOR THE THIRD DARKEST MINDS BOOK!!!! While it may still not have a title or a cover, we have a release date: September 16. So we have The Infinite Sea and TDM 3 released on the same day. I think I might die from excitement. And I don’t even know which book I’ll start reading first. But I bet they’ll both be great!

We also have a little more information the release of This Shattered World, it will be released sometime in December. Not sure what exact day, but we know that much more now.

So there’s a little more for us to look forward to now. So excited about TDM 3. The wait is agony. And I basically know that as there are two books released that day that I’m super excited about, I’ll definitely have a test in some class the next day. Because that’s how life does for me.

January Wrap Up and February Wrap Up will probably be put together, as I haven’t had much time for reading since classes started up. And my March TBR will probably be long from that.

Most Anticipated Books of 2014

Book Post Title PictureNew books coming out in 2014! There are so many good ones that I can’t wait for, but I managed to narrow it down to 16 books. I tried for 14, but I couldn’t decide on a few. Some of these are follow-ups, some are first in series, some are stand-alones, and they all look great. So let’s get to it!

  • Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Diana Gabaldon, Outlander book 8). It’s June of 1778 and the Revolutionary War is in full swing, and the hard winter at Valley Forge has ended. Also in the 20th century, Brianna has had her husband disappear into the past, her son kidnapped, and is facing up to a criminal. I’m not sure if this is the final book in this series or not, but I cannot wait to read it. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is due to be released on June 10, 2014.
  • Lady Thief (A.C. Gaughen, Scarlet book 2). The second in this trio of books on the Robin Hood legend with Lady Marian disguised as Will Scarlet, a professional thief in Robin Hood’s gang. In this book, her secret that she is nobility is out in the open. She is being forced to marry Sir Guy, who was part of the reason she assumed the identity of Will in the first place, and the marriage threatens the love that she has found with Robin. Prince John is coming to Nottingham to announce the new sheriff, and he has plans that revolve around Scarlet. She has to now behave as a lady of the court, but she is doing so to help Robin. Lady Thief is due to be released February 11, 2014.
  • The Blood of Olympus (Rick Riordan, The Heroes of Olympus book 5). Our favorite heroes are racing to defeat Gaea before the Feast of Spes, before two demigods are sacrificed to wake her. In case that wasn’t enough, Camp Jupiter’s Legion is getting closer to Camp Half Blood, with Octavian leading the charge to attack the Greek demigod camp, and our heroes on the Argo II are having visions of a battle at Camp Half Blood. They hope the Athena Parthenos statue will reach the demigods in time to stop the war between the Romans and the Greeks. And the gods are still between their Roman and Greek personalities, and of no real help to the demigods. Just in case this doesn’t sound stressful enough, Riordan has all but said (at least I think he hasn’t fully said it) that one of the seven (Percy, Annabeth, Leo, Hazel, Frank, Piper, and Jason) won’t survive. And then this morning he tweeted “Everything is proceeding according to plan. *diabolical laughter*” when someone asked him how writing Blood of Olympus was going. So you know, no reason to worry about how the final book in the Heroes of Olympus series will devastate the fandom and all. The Blood of Olympus is due to be released October 7, 2014.
  • Cress (Marissa Meyer, Lunar Chronicles book 3). Cinder, Captain Thorne, Scarlet, and Wolf are all on the run and trying to stay ahead of Queen Levana, ruler of the Lunar people. Their best hope lies with Cress, a talented hacker in the service of Queen Levana, who has been locked on a satellite all her life, only with her netscreens for company. Cress is rescued from her satellite, but it is a rescue that comes with a cost, and now she along with Cinder and Scarlet may be the only ones who can save the world from Levana, who will do whatever she has to to see her marriage to Emperor Kai take place. This book I believe pulls the fairy tale of Rapunzel into the series, with Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood being the first two books. Cress is due to be released February 4.
  • The Unbound (Victoria Schwab, The Archived book 2). Following the story of Mackenzie, who is trying to solve the mystery of people just disappearing and leaving no trace. She’s trying to find out who the culprit is before she loses her job as Keeper, her memories, and her life. Still have to read The Archived, so I’ll probably marathon through the two books at the same time. The Unbound is due to be released January 28.
  • The One (Kiera Cass, The Selection book 3). America is approaching the end of the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart, and it is getting more vicious all the time. At the same time, the threats outside the palace grow more and more every day. America now realizes just what she may lose and how much she’ll have to fight for the future she wants to have. And while I’m not one to fall for the books just because of the cover art, the covers in this series are truly stunning, making it worth buying in physical form instead of digital form, just to have them on the shelf when not being read. The One is due to be released May 6.
  • The Infinite Sea (Rick Yancy, The 5th Wave book 2). The follow-up to Rick Yancy’s amazing start of The 5th Wave series, we rejoin Cassie, Ben, and Ringer on their mission to save the human race from The Other’s, who’s only mission is to cause the extinction of all the humans on earth. AND EVAN IS ALIVE, RIGHT?! Waiting to find out that alone is agony for me. I can’t wait to get back into this world, it’s so wonderful to read about all that Yancy has created. Although come on Rick, you missed the chance to name this book The 6th Wave. And I also can’t wait to see the cover for this book. I’m just excited for every part of it. The Infinite Sea is due to be released September 16. And watch, I’ll have some test the day after it’s released.
  • Into the Still Blue (Veronica Rossi, Under the Never Sky book 3). The conclusion to the Under the Never Sky trilogy, the Dwellers and the Outsiders must be united to save the world, and the race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Perry and Aria team up to start a rescue mission to save Cinder, because he is their key to the Still Blue, and also their friend and they can’t just leave him. I haven’t read this series yet, but I have book one, so I’ll probably just marathon through the series when this one comes out. Into the Still Blue is due to be released January 28.
  • The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Michelle Hodkin, Mara Dyer series book 3). This is the “mind-blowing conclusion” of the Mara Dyer trilogy, and is another series I haven’t started yet, and plan to marathon through when it’s released. The Retribution of Mara Dyer is due to be released June 10.
  • Such Sweet Sorrow (Jenny Trout). Jenny Trout, who’s 50 Shades of Grey recaps are completely hilarious, and who’s The Boss series, written under the name Abigail Barnette, are some of my favorites, has taken the stories of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet and combined them. Romeo and Hamlet must work together to take on the Underworld, that is filled with all sorts of monsters for Romeo to restore Juliet to life. Hamlet was left with the key to the Afterjord when his father died, and when Romeo asks to go through to find Juliet, he sees this as a chance to avenge his father’s death. Such Sweet Sorrow is due to be released February 4.
  • Mortal Heart (Robin LaFever, His Fair Assassins book 3). The third book in the awesome His Fair Assassins series, the first one focusing on Ismae, the second one focusing on Sybella, this one will be focusing on Annith! Having watched her sisters go into and out of the convent all her life to carry out their work for St. Mortain, who’s convent they are all in service to, Annith waits to be sent on her own mission. But she discovers she is being groomed by the Abbess to become the Seeress of the convent and spend the rest of her life in the stone womb of the convent, and she decides to strike out on her own. She wants to be an assassin and work out of the convent like Ismae and Sybella, not be trapped in the center of the convent forever. This series is a wonderful one, and I can’t wait to read a book about Annith. Mortal Heart is due to be released November 4.
  • Untitled Darkest Minds book (Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds book 3). The exciting third book in The Darkest Minds series. What will happen to Ruby, Chubs, Liam, Vida, Cole, and ugh, Clancy? Did Jude somehow miraculously survive the explosion? (Can we really get lucky with another survival after Chubs survived being shot?) ARE WE GOING TO SEE ZU AGAIN?! Will they find what they need to about the disease that has taken over the children of America? How will it end? I love this series. Along with not having a title for this book, we still don’t have a release date. So stay tuned for the title, release date, and cover!
  • This Shattered World (Amie Kaufman, Starbound book 2). This book opens six months after the events that took place in These Broken Stars, and is a companion novel to the first book. This book “follows a new pair of star-crossed lovers”, a rebel fighting for all that is his home and a soldier who is on a mission to eradicate the rebellion. And they are both facing a darkness in the newly terraformed world. There is no cover and no release date as of yet for this book.
  • Dorothy Must Die (Danielle Page, Dorothy Must Die book 1). The first book in a new series! Oz is in trouble. You can’t trust the “good” witches. The yellow brick road is crumbling. All of his has happened because Dorothy came back to Oz and seized power. Amy Gumm, the “other girl from Kansas”, has been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked; and she has four tasks to complete: remove the heart from the Tin Man, take the Scarecrow’s brain, steal the Lion’s courage, and after those three things, and only after those three things, kill Dorothy. This story looks awesome, and I cannot wait to read it! Dorothy Must Die is due to be released April 1.
  • Landline (Rainbow Rowell). Georgie and Neal’s marriage is in trouble, and when Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go with him to Omaha for Christmas because of work, Neal surprises her by packing up him and their kids and going to Omaha anyways. She wonders if all is lost for the two of them, but that night she discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. She thinks that this may be a way to save their marriage before it even has started, or it may be a way to never let their marriage happen at all. After reading Fangirl, I love Rainbow Rowell and can’t wait to read more of her books! Landline is due to be released July 8.
  • Uninvited (Sophie Jordan, Uninvited book 1). Described as “The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report . . . about a teen girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she’s destined to become a murderer.” Davy Hamilton loses everything after her test, and she can only relate to Sean, who carries the same predisposition in his genes. But because he carries those genes, she isn’t sure she can trust him. And she’s also not sure she can trust herself. Uninvited is due to be released January 28.

So those are the books I’m most looking forward to this year. For the ones that have yet to have titles, release dates, or covers, I’ll probably post when those pieces of information are released. These books are listed in no particular order, and I’ll probably review them when I get to read them.

January TBR

Book Post Title PictureSo yesterday I did my December Wrap Up, and today I’m doing my January TBR! For the month of January I’m planning to read 8 books, so let’s get to it!

January TBRThe first book I plan to read in January is The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan. The final book in the Kane Chronicles, Carter and Sadie are in their final battle with Apophis, the Chaos snake. They have only three days to fight him and restore Ma’at or else all is lost. With this they only have a few trainees from the Brooklyn House to help them, and divided magicians among all the nomes, as well as gods who are disappearing, and the ones who have not yet disappeared are weak. Hopefully they’ll find a way to fix everything and destroy Apophis. Can’t wait to jump into this one.

The next book I’ll be reading is Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. Yes, I know, this one has been on my list for a while, so hopefully I’ll get to the awesome assassin Ismae and her world. This book looks really awesome, and I need to get on it so I can get to Dark Triumph soon, and Mortal Heart when it’s released!

I’m also going to try to read Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler this month. Another book that has been on my list for a few months, I’ve gotta read this one. It looks like a quick, fun read so I really should get to it. Yeesh.

I plan to read Eona by Alison Goodman. After loving everything about Eon, I need to get to this one! Her secret is out and Eona is also now one of the only surviving Dragoneyes, as ten of the others were murdered in the last book. After the brother of the emperor who died in the first book staged a takeover of the title emperor, Eona is on the path to help Kygo, the son of the deceased emperor and rightful Pearl Emperor, to get his throne back. The only other surviving Dragoneye is Lord Ido, the Rat Dragoneye. This book promises to be at least as gripping as Eon was, and I can’t wait to see how everything plays out.

I’m going to read Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, the second book in the Lunar Chronicles. It looks like we get to rejoin Cinder about where the last book left off and see if she is able to escape from prison and get to Africa. Scarlet is “halfway around the world” from where Cinder is, and is hunting for her missing grandmother, making a deal with Wolf, who she doesn’t really trust to look for her. On the search, she runs into Cinder, and they all are running from the Lunar queen Levana, and trying to stay ahead of her to help Prince Kai.

While I’m still finishing Promises in Death by J.D. Robb (I started at the end of December and haven’t completed it yet), I’ll also be reading Kindred in Death. An NYPSD captain’s 16-year-old daughter has been horrifically murdered, and the captain has requested Eve to investigate the murder. Dallas investigates in her awesome, tough style to find who did it, looking for every clue and any bit of overconfidence that could lead the killer to make a mistake. It looks like it will be another awesome In Death book to read.

I want to read Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier, the second book in the Ruby Red trilogy. I’m not totally sure what’s going to happen in this book, but time traveling and mystery, I’m sure it will be awesome.

And finally I’ll be continuing on A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood comes out June 10, and I still have to finish An Echo in the Bone, so I figure by the time my mom finishes WiMOHB, I’ll be just finishing Echo, and totally ready to read the last book.

I’m thinking of doing a post about my most anticipated books of 2014, so we’ll see if I can get my research done for that. I’d like to have those dates written down as well.

December Wrap Up

Book Post Title PictureAnd here we are at the start of another reading year. A year ago I began writing about what I read, and I’ve pretty much kept up with it. As I said in my last post, I had a goal of reading 100 books in 2013 and I only reached 94. This year, I’ve decided to go with a goal of 75 books in 2014. School is hectic, applying to nursing school will be hectic, and studying for my TEAS test will be time consuming, so I had to be realistic this time.

So, in the month of December I read 7 books. Not as much as I wanted, but between finals, finals exhaustion, family time for the holidays and my sister’s birthday, there went a ton of my time. But it was all good, and hey, I got a B in my human anatomy class! Be warned when reading the recap, major spoilers abound about the books, so if you see the title and haven’t read it, beware!

The first book I read was Eon by Alison Goodman, but as I read that before I published the November Wrap Up/December TBR, you can find my review for that amazing book there.

The next book I read during December was No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong. Book 7 in the Women of the Otherworld series, focusing on Jamie Vegas, the necromancer in this series. I picked this up almost immediately after I finished Eon, because I couldn’t wait to get back into Armstrong’s world. Jamie is taking part in a tv special where her and two other “necromancers” are going to talk with the spirit of Marilyn Monroe and she is being haunted in a way she isn’t used to. Throughout this book she tries to figure out exactly what is going on and how to stop the haunting that is happening to her. In this book we also get to see Eve, the awesome witch-turned-angel and Jeremy, everyone’s favorite alpha wolf, who Jamie has had a thing for since she met him in her first appearance in this series. It was great to FINALLY see Jamie and Jeremy get together. It’s only perfection. Loved this book and I can’t wait to read the next one!

I also read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell in December. This book as been making its way around booktube and book blogs, and oh, the hype around this book was so true. I loved every moment I got to spend with Cath and see what happened in her world. Cath is a fan of Simon Snow, which is kind of the book’s equivalent of Harry Potter. And when you say she’s a fan, what that really means is she’s a complete superfan who has her room decorated in Simon Snow stuff, brings posters with her to her new dorm room at college, writes fanfic about Snow as “magicath”, wears clothes that sometimes are Snow themed, and goes to all the midnight releases. And she is just wonderful. She and her twin sister, Wren, go to university and everything changes for her, she no longer lives with her sister but with her new (completely AWESOME) roommate, Reagan. And Reagan’s friend Levi is always hanging around. Cath still tries to write installments in her Simon fanfic story while she’s in school, and she also writes for a fiction writing class, and does partner writing with a guy in her class, Nick. When Nick stole her story additions and told her he was turning the story in only under her name, I was so angry for her. Just hated that he did that to her. But when she got her vengeance by reminding him that he wanted it to be his story when he needed her to sign her name to get it published, haha oh I loved it! Go Cath! I cried a little at some of the stuff between Cath and Wren and their dad, it was a little sad but it ended pretty well. And I was glad when their dad stepped in to stop Wren from basically destroying her life. I was so glad Cath had so awesome a roommate as Reagan, who was just what her shy personality needed to help her out in adapting to life. And Levi was just the perfect guy to hang around Cath. If I had a criticism I’d have to say he was almost too perfect and dammit where are the guys who are really like him? But I loved that they got together halfway through the book instead of at the end, because we got to see their relationship bloom in the last half of the book. I’d have to say this book was just my favorite book of December. It was just so awesome. This has hooked me into her writing and I can’t wait to read Eleanor and Park now, and Landline when it comes out later this year. If you haven’t read this one yet, READ IT!!!! Seriously.

The next book I finished was Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken, after reading the short story In Time. I loved both of these stories, In Time focusing on everyone’s favorite adorable little girl in the story, Zu and Gabe, the adult who picked her up and was trying to earn his status as a skip tracer. It follows the two of them in their journey across the country, and it was a great in between story for between The Darkest Minds and Never Fade. And Never Fade was just great. I was so excited to read this and I just tore through it in a very short time period. Which might have been dumb to do because now I have to wait for the untitled third book in the series, really crossing my fingers for another novella in between Never Fade and the third one. The characters in this book were awesome, both the originals, Ruby, Liam, and CHUBS!!!! ( I KNEW HE COULDN’T BE DEAD!!!!), and the new characters like Vida, Cole, and Jude. And dammit Clancy came back. Ugh, I cannot stand him. When Ruby’s Children’s League team goes in for a rescue mission on one prisoner, and the description is so much like Liam, I was slightly terrified and slightly excited. AND THEN IT WAS COLE! And while he was awesome, I was slightly sad it wasn’t Liam. But since that happened later on, I was okay. I loved the different names people had for Ruby, honestly. Cole calling her Gem and Jude calling her Roo. I loved Jude. He was just a sweet kid and I cried serious tears when it turned out he was dead. I really hope that by some miracle he isn’t, but since I already got that with Chubs, I may not get it again with Jude. And Vida was just awesome. Girl had one foul vocabulary and I liked that she would actually use it, instead of just something like “Vida swore and ran at me…” or something. Yes, she was slightly bitchy, but she was a wonderful character and I can’t wait to see more of her. Cole was kind of a dick sometimes, but he was a very important part of the story, especially the big revelation about him, which was just an awesome one. He is definitely not the same as Liam, except for appearances. And yes, as I said, he was kind of a dick, but he interested me a lot, so I put up with it. Chubs in this book was slightly different from Chubs in the first book. After his father helped him recover, he went up north for a bit, then got falsified papers to make him a skip tracer. I hurt for him when it was revealed that he had to turn a kid in to get his status as a skip tracer. But I was so glad to see him okay that it was good. When Liam (FINALLY) made his appearance in the book, I was so scared for him. He was so sick and it was just not good. But I loved that you could tell he remembered something about Ruby many times. And when he finally remembered everything, I was so happy. And then so upset when Liam was mad and not talking. I mean, I understood, but still I wanted them back. This was another wonderful installment, and I really can’t wait for the third one, I know it’s gonna be amazing! I could say so much more about this book, but I’ve said so much I think I should stop!

The next book I finished was The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan. The second installment in the Kane Chronicles trilogy and it was so great. I had some trouble getting through The Red Pyramid, not because I didn’t like it, but because there was so much to it. With The Throne of Fire I had no such problems. All of the things that happened to Carter and Sadie were interesting, from being chased by a goddess and a god through London to running through the Kremlin and the adventures in the Egyptian desert and the Duat, everything was great. Trying to figure out what was wrong with Walter, and the hopes that they’ll find a cure for him, made for a good side plot in this story. Bes was such a great character, and I was so sad when he lost his self and everything with that. It just made me hurt, and I hope they can find some way to give him something back in The Serpent’s Shadow. The battle against Apophis and Desjardins not only joining forces with Carter and Sadie during the battle, but giving his life to delay Apophis from rising for a little longer was great. As always, Riordan writes amazing tales. I cannot wait to read the finale in this trilogy.

And finally I read Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I am such a sucker for fairy tale retellings, and a story about Cinderella being a cyborg in a futuristic, slightly dystopian society was just awesome. I admit I did kind of guess the big reveal about the Lunar princess who everyone thought was dead, but that’s okay. I think it was probably written to make me guess that. Cinder was such an interesting character, and her relationship with Prince Kai was fun to read too. I loved Iko the android and her defective personality chip. Made her such a fun side character. And poor Peony. It made me so sad to see her die just after Cinder was able to get some of the antidote needed to heal her from the plague. The Lunar queen was such an interesting, horrible character that I couldn’t help but kind of love to hate her. This is one of the best fairy tale retellings I read all year, can’t wait to read Scarlet and Cress this year.

Since this post has gotten a little long with the book reviews, I’m going to split the wrap up and TBR into two posts, the TBR to come tomorrow. So till then!

2013 Wrap Up and Top 13 Books of ’13!

Book Post Title Picture

Oh my goodness, we have made it through another year! Happy 2014 everyone!

So for 2013 my goal was to read 100 books. And I… fell short. BY 6 BOOKS!!!! Ugh. All that studying got in my way. But I accomplished my goals of school, so I guess I’ll accept that I only read 94 books (haha, only).

I read some awesome books this year, and quite a few awesome series (serieses? I know that’s wrong but it’s kinda cool.) I also read some not so awesome books (City of Fallen Angels, I’m looking at you). And I even read some books that I had to put down repeatedly because I would feel rage coming on (Beautiful Disaster, I’m side-eyeing the shit out of you). And yes, there were some books I started and simply could never finish, such as The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, which I conveniently lost my place in 1/4 of the way through. I also couldn’t finish City of Lost Souls, even on an audiobook, because I just could not handle Clary and Jace for one more second. Sorry Ms. Clare.

I picked 13 books/series that were my top favorites of the year. Yes I combined stand-alones and series because I really couldn’t decide on the books in the series that I included. They are in no order, they are just the ones that I loved the most.

  •  The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan (The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian). Oh I loved reading all about the life of Percy Jackson and his friends in this series. As I’ve said all year, Rick Riordan hooks me in from the beginning and when I finish I want more. And speaking of Rick Riordan series, the next title on my list is:
  • The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan (The Lost Hero, The Son of Neptune, The Mark of Athena, and The House of Hades). These ones were slightly darker than the PJO series, and the wait between The Mark of Athena and The House of Hades was terrible. This series is not yet complete, we still have The Blood of Olympus to read soon. Oh booooy… Love these books.
  • The Darkest Minds Series by Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds, In Time, and Never Fade). This series was a wonderfully dark and addictive series that I can’t wait to read the final installment of and I hope that Ms. Bracken does another short story between Never Fade and the final (still untitled) book. Yes, I did think they were slightly creepy, but I did not mind it at all, I could not put the books down ever.
  • A Million Suns and Shades of Earth by Beth Revis. I started reading this trilogy in 2012, and loved the last two books in it so much. Yes, the cover change drove me nuts, but the content of the books, sci-fi fantasy, were perfect all the same.
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Oh this book. This beautiful, painful book. The final bits of this book absolutely destroyed me and the whole thing was just so wonderful. If you’ve seen the movie with Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, but haven’t read the book, please read the book. They left so much out in the movie and some of the parts they left out were so wonderful.
  • The Infernal Devices Trilogy by Cassandra Clare (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, Clockwork Princess). This series was everything The Mortal Instruments series wasn’t. It was much better written than TMI was, and the characters were so much more interesting. I loved reading about Will, Jem, Tess, Charlotte, and Henry and all the others. I also loved seeing the creations and backstories on many people, places, and things in TMI, and loved seeing ancestry of certain TMI characters. And while some may not have loved the ending, I really did.
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Oh this book, this lovely, wonderful book. I read this in December, so look for more about it in the December Wrap Up post, but this book was just so wonderful. I loved Cath and Wren and Reagan and Levi. It was so great. Now I have to read Eleanor and Park because Rowell has me hooked on her writing.
  • The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth (Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant). Yay dystopia! Tris was such a great character, and while the ending of this series may have been (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) painful, it was a great series and I sort of understand why Roth wrote the ending the way she did. READ THESE BOOKS BEFORE THE MOVIE COMES OUT! The movie will be great though, can’t wait to see it.
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy. Alien invasion, dis-trust of everyone, and some awesome characters made this book so great. I had no clue who to believe and who not to believe and was hooked through every sentence. I cannot wait for The Infinite Sea to come out, pre-ordered and everything. Although I can say I’m only slightly disappointed the second book won’t be titled “The 6th Wave”.
  • Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu (Legend, Prodigy, Champion). Wow this series was great. Everything about it from the covers to the type-color in each book for Day to the plot was awesome. Although dammit that ending! June, you should have set Day straight!!! ARGH! But the world was so cool and the characters were awesome, I’m so glad I picked the series up. Hopefully Ms. Lu will write something new in the next few years.
  • The Women of the Underworld Series by Kelley Armstrong (Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, Industrial Magic, Haunted, Broken, and No Humans Involved). Meera started me on this series this past summer and it has been so fun so far. I love that they have Elena,  female werewolf, as one of the main characters. All the women in these books are awesome, and some of them started as kind of wimpy and really grew in the books. I still have six more to go in this series, and I’m sure they’re all gonna be awesome!
  • The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing). This was a really cool trilogy to start me on Libba Bray books. Gemma was a great teen protagonist and this trilogy was dark and captivating and beautiful. I love historical fiction, so that excited me too. And the ending was really great for Anne, Gemma, and Felicity.
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer. The first in the Lunar Chronicles, I read this in December, so again, I’ll get to review it more later. But it was a great read, I love fairy tale retellings. I also went straight to Books A Million and picked up Scarlet (on sale too!!!) after finishing this book. And I’ll be pre-ordering Cress and Winter too. It’s gonna be great.

So that’s my list of Top 13 of ’13. I’ll get to the December Wrap Up/January TBR post tomorrow. Hopefully.

November Wrap Up/December TBR

So classes are done until January. And I can finally read again! And I even passed my exams so everything is good. So let’s get straight to the wrap up!

Book Post Title Picture

So the first book I read in November was Broken by Kelley Armstrong. We went back to Elena the awesome werewolf’s point of view. Really, I love Elena. In this one she was pregnant, which had its own entertainment factor watching her and Jeremy and Clay all kind of struggle with their worry and over-protectiveness. They had to steal a letter and accidentally opened a portal from the underworld, letting a few zombies loose in modern-day Toronto. And possibly even Jack the Ripper, who the letter was supposedly written by. This book follows them trying to close the portal and we see return characters like Jamie as well as new characters. I love these books. They’re always so interesting to read.

I also read Champion by Marie Lu. Which was amazing and I couldn’t put it down. The final book in the Legend series, June and Day are working hard for the Republic and at first June still doesn’t know Day is dying. It was wonderful and frustrating and happy and sad all at the same time. And the ending… well, if you read it you know what I mean. And if you haven’t, I really don’t want to spoil it.

I read Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb. This one was a whole new level of interesting, bringing religion into it in a different way. A Catholic priest gets poisoned while in the midst of a funeral mass, and then a big-name preacher gets poisoned while in the middle of one of his televised services. Eve has to go through whole new levels to find the killer and some of it is hard for her to deal with. I always like visiting the world J.D. Robb creates, so many books in this series and it never gets old.

In preparation for the release of the Catching Fire movie (which was awesome and they stuck to the book much better than the first movie. They also had a bigger budget, which helps too.), I read Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Really don’t need to review this book at all, it’s been read so much. If you haven’t read the series, just read it. This is a wonderful second book in a trilogy.

And finally I read Eon by Alison Goodman. This book was addictive and I had trouble putting it down, even to study for finals. But I managed to. And would pick it up the second I could to read more. Then of course I got tricked by the book at the end thinking I still had a few chapters left, but it was the first chapter of the next book. Which luckily, I already bought. Because the ending… oh my that ending! The world Alison Goodman built in the first book alone was a wonderful one. As it was a book about dragons and dragoneyes, she had to build a fantasy world, basing it with origins from Japanese and Chinese cultures. I can’t wait to read the next book, Eona. I’m so glad I bought both of them at the same time!

December TBR

Okay, so for the month of December, I’m free from school and ten books away from reaching 100 books for the year of 2013! So the first book I’ll be reading is No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong. And this book is about Jamie, our lovely medium! She’s no longer a side character! Girlfriend gets her own book! I hope she and Jeremy finally get together, because oh yes, I ship them!

I’m also going to be reading The Throne of Fire and The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan. I was going to read The Throne of Fire in November, but finals happened. I’m sorry Mr. Riordan! I can’t wait to read the continuation of the Kane Chronicles. Sadie and Carter are awesome, along with all their friends! And some enemies too. I already read The Son of Sobek, I couldn’t help myself. IT WAS CARTER KANE AND PERCY JACKSON! What would you expect me to do?? Luckily it was pretty spoiler free on what happened in the last two books of the Kane Chronicles, so that’s cool. Love Riordan books.

I’m going to be reading Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. The first book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy, I’ve had this one sitting on my unread shelf for a while after watching some reviews of it on YouTube. It sounds really good, and now I need to get around to reading it.

I’ll be reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Again, I’ve had this book on my shelf for a while, and this whole Lunar Chronicles series looks really amazing. I’m a sucker for fairy tales and retellings of fairy tales, so I can’t wait to catch up on this series!

I’m going to read Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler, one of her I guess memoir books. After loving Mindy Kalling’s book, I think this one will be entertaining too.

Thanks to Amazon’s Black Friday offer of 10% off any one book, I got Never Fade, the second book in The Darkest Minds series by Alexandra Bracken. I absolutely cannot wait to read this one, after the painful ending of The Darkest Minds. PLEASE LET RUBY FIND LIAM!!! AND LET CHUBS BE OKAY! I really love these books, and need to get a hard copy of The Darkest Minds so I can start getting other people to read it.

I’ll be reading Promises in Death by J.D. Robb, book number 28 of 38, I think it is now. One of these days I really will catch up on this whole series. But then I won’t know what to do with myself while I wait for the new one, so I’m not in too big of a hurry to do that. I love my visits with Eve and Roarke. And I just read the description for this one and I think I’ll be crying a little bit. Crap.

I’ll be reading Eona by Alison Goodman. Really, after all that happened in the first one, there’s no way I can make myself wait too long to read this book too. I want to finish it before I start classes again so I don’t have to separate myself from it to study like with Eon.

And finally, I’ll be continuing A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon. I have a three-week vacation coming up, maybe I’ll be able to finish this one. Could happen.

So that’s my ambition from the month of December! We’ll see how it all goes.Sorry I’ve been so infrequent about this, but school really took up all my world. I basically read when I was on the bus to and from school, and no other time. Glad I have some time now, and hey, maybe I’ll even get the next wrap up and TBR post up on time!

I may do a year wrap up, just to do a quick recap, if anyone’s interested. Not totally sure I will or not. Maybe a favorite books of 2013 thing. Not sure. If anyone has a request, let me know in the comments!

September/October Wrap Up

Book Post Title Picture          Finally! I know! School just kind of slammed me and I had no time to do anything. I mean, I read one book in the month of September! One! So, let’s get to the Wrap Up, and the next post will be the November TBR.

10 October13          So, in the month of September I read The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy. This book, oh my gods, this book!!! I loved it so much, and I cannot wait for The Infinite Sea! I loved the characters in it; Cassie Sammy, Ben Parrish, Evan, Vorsch, BEAR! Who didn’t love the dynamic due of Cassie and Bear? “Shut up, Bear. Don’t look at me like that, Bear.” They were great. There were some awesome pairings in this, besides Cassie and Bear. There was also Zombie and Nugget, who were just great to watch. Zombie was the only person who really took care of little Nugget. And man, all the twists! Tracker chips to screw with the soldiers minds, the virus, Wonderland (that program that the aliens “left” here… yeah.), silencers like the one who shot Cassie. And I really loved the way Yancy wrote dialogue. Like when Evan tells Cassie that she can’t leave the house for three to four more weeks: “Three more weeks? Who does this teenage version of the Brawny Paper Towel Man think he’s kidding?!” Cassie waking up after being shot by the silencer thinking that Evan’s house can’t be heaven. And when her and Evan were heading for the military base where She knew Sammy had been taken and they got attacked, Cassie found her pet log, Howard. Howard was a brief character, but he was a wonderful one. I loved when she broke into the base and shoved a tracker chip up Dr. Pam’s nose. Cassie’s kinda awesome, guys. And Ben/Zombie, oh, he was great too. I was glad when he realized what was going on, it was just such an awesome part to watch unfold. And as I said, I loved watching Zombie take care of our little Sammy/Nugget. And how Sammy just kept believing that Cassie was going to come for him, even when people told him he’d be wrong. And the Cassie-Ben “reunion” when she saw him at the base and she tried to tell him that they knew each other, “I sat behind you in honors chemistry”. And at the end of the book, with Evan coming DOWN THE VENTS and saving things and giving them the chance to get away. Please let Evan be alive. HE HAS TO BE ALIVE! HE’S ALIVE RIGHT?! I like Yancy’s style of writing, I like how he kept me guessing all the time with things like Evan and was he an alien. I just never knew who to trust and who to not trust. Which I really loved about this. Can it just be May 2014 so I can read the next book. Although let’s not lie about it, I’m slightly disappointed it won’t be titled The 6th Wave. Not too much though.

In October I read a few more books. The first book I read was The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. I actually started reading this book in September when I finished The 5th Wave, I just was so busy that I didn’t finish it until October. This is Book 1 in the Kane Chronicles. This is a series that may not be completely on the same level as our beloved PJO and Heroes of Olympus Series, however, it’s definitely a great story for the first book of a series. Carter and Sadie Kane are the children of Egyptian magicians, are magicians themselves (although they don’t know this in the beginning), and may even be descended from the pharaohs of Egypt. At the begining of the book, they see their father get taken to the underworld, and start out on a quest to save him, as well as to stop the ancient god Set, who their father released before he disappeared. They travel all over the place using the Duat, and are protected by such awesome characters as the cat goddess Bast, who has been protecting Sadie for years as her cat, Muffin. Bast is kind of an awesome character. While I felt that the book moved a little slower than other Riordan books, I still loved it, and thought it was a great book, and can’t wait to get the other ones in this trilogy.

I also read Strangers of Death by J.D. Robb. I absolutely love the books in the In Death series. This one starts out with a man murdered and his wife coming home from vacation. Eve just doesn’t like the widow, believing that she’s reacted too coldly throughout everything that has happened to her. And you know our girl Eve; when there’s something that strikes Eve as suspicious, she keeps digging into it until her suspicions are proven right or wrong. Things in this book connect with other things that we don’t even see happen, and the simplest things are connected, whether or not you see it coming. It was a great installment in the series. And of course, seeing Eve, Roarke, Peabody, McNabb, Charles and Louise, and the lovely Troy Trueheart, along with all the other cast of series regulars just makes this book better.

The book I was most excited to read in October, and that it felt like waiting was agony was The House of Hades by Rick Riordan. First, let’s start with Riordan’s lovely dedication of the book to his fans. Oh Riordan, you awesome, wonderful, little troll. Laughing at our pain. But still, we love you. And OHMYGOD THIS BOOK YOU GUYS THIS BOOK!!! So after the end of Mark of Athena, where we leave Percy and Annabeth falling, hanging off a cliff, into Tartarus, this book starts off basically right where Athena left off. As we all know, Riordan gave new meaning to the term “cliff-hanger”. The first chapter is from the perspective of Hazel, and we get other perspectives, Leo, Piper, Jason, Frank, Percy, and Annabeth. And when we meet up with Percy and Annabeth, they’re falling into Tartarus, and things just don’t get better for them once they land. We’ll get back to them in a bit, as I have way more to say about those two than I do about most of the other things, so let’s start with the other characters. Everyone in this book seemed to grow up a lot during the book. Seeing Percy and Annabeth fall into Tartarus took a lot out of the team, plus without two of their best leaders, everyone else has a lot more to do. Piper seemed to grow, and Frank and Leo definitely had some big changes come to them in this book. Jason… Jason, just go sit in a corner, okay? Within the first minutes of a fight, Jason heads straight into a trap. To quote Christine of polandbananasBOOKS: #JasonFail. Luckily, Leo is pretty good at this fight and handles by himself just fine, and is able to tell Jason he just wasted a Peter Pan-like entrance because everything was already wrapped up.
Let’s just talk about Jason for a minute. By the end of the book he did seem to be doing a little better, but all throughout that book he was kinda dumb. All he had to do was take the southern wind horses that he needed when the ship was disabled, but instead, he went to chat with Auster. Big fight happening on the ship? Oh Jason’s just gonna fall into a dream sleep. Yes, you were a little good in the fight with Hazel, working with her well, but only after she figured out what to do. The Legion ghosts didn’t even listen to you in the fight at the House of Hades. But okay, by the final battle after Percy and Annabeth have come through the Doors of Death, you did have a good line, and you did do well there. Maybe you’ll be better by the next book.
And Leo! Leo was a character who had definite growth in this book, and I loved seeing every second of it. Watching him handle that fight when Jason was in the trap was awesome. I was shouting “OH HELL NO! YOU DID NOT JUST TAKE LEO’S BELT!” But he got it back, and got the guys on his side (loved seeing them mess things up at the Legion’s army outside of Camp Half Blood). And when the ship was attacked and Leo was flying through the air, I just knew he was about to end up at Calypso’s Island. Which was a hilarious moment when that was confirmed. “You wrecked my table!” Leo may have just crash landed on the beach, but we have to be way more concerned about the table. And when he was working to fix everything, seeing him fix stuff for her, even though they didn’t get along, was great. As was him getting her to make that fireproof pouch for Frank’s piece of wood. That was really a cool moment. And of course Calypso started to like him, and boom, there’s the raft to take him away. I really hope that we get to see him go back to the island and rescue her from it, because I just think the two of them together would be sweet. And him after the island, he definitely was not like he had been. While he was still goofy and awesome and lovable as Leo always is, there was a sadder, kind of deeper (I guess) side to him.
Piper, well, Piper did grow a little more during this book. Still, shooting fruit out of that horn isn’t gonna work forever, my girl. Now that Annabeth is back, maybe you could get her to teach you a few more things about fighting so you don’t have to depend on hitting someone with a watermelon? Her best moments were definitely when she was convincing monsters to fight each other, telling them it’d be fun, and when Frank had her fighting the empousa’s in the battle by charmspeaking them and telling them gossipy things: “Your makeup is smeared! Your friend called you ugly! That one is making a face behind your back!” Yeah, that was an awesome part. And she also did pretty damn good when Khione attacked the ship, charmspeaking to Festus to make him turn on. She wasn’t half bad in this book.
And then there was Hazel. Hazel had serious awesome moments in this book. Learning to control her magic, and with it, control the Mist. That was awesome. And when she screamed and pulled all the jewels from the walls in the cave, that was brilliant too. I liked that the book started with a Hazel chapter, and I really liked all the Hazel chapters that came after. I’ve always thought she was an interesting character, and I like learning anything about her that I possibly can. Her first time manipulating the Mist against Sciron was really great. Also, the farting polecat. Only Riordan could come up with this kind of stuff, guys.
Frank was another character with some great growth in this book. When he helped Triptolemus find another python for his chariot, he really did well. It was also cool to see Ares/Mars in that scene, to see how much the personality problem the gods are facing right now is really affecting them. Although, really Troptolemus, is it that hard for you to find your own damn python? AND HOW DARE YOU TURN NICO DI ANGELO INTO CORN?! Luckily, Frank came through and saved his friends. And then when he became the commander of the Legion, that was just so awesome to watch. And when things were smoothed out between him, Hazel, and Leo, it only got better. Yes, I love Frank and Hazel. And when the rubble fell between Frank and Hazel, I started to get teary and scared that I was going to lose one of them.
I’d really like to see a Nico POV in the next book. He interests me. Although, did anyone else not see the “Nico loves/loved Percy” thing coming? I just feel like I never saw any hints for it before. I’m okay with that being a storyline, it’s cool. I just feel somewhat like it was just thrown in there. I guess I need to go back and reread the PJO books. Darn. Or maybe he just hid his feelings really well. But as always, Nico may be the most awesome side character ever, which is why he needs his own POV, even if it’s just one chapter. Although, it’s pretty fun to watch him just skulk in the back and scare other characters. And do things like call forth the ghosts to have them fight. Nico’s pretty awesome, guys.
WE GOT TO SEE GROVER! And also Rachel Elizabeth Dare. As they went to meet with Octavian and Reyna. I like Reyna. I loved when it was revealed that she and her sister were on Circe’s island when Percy destroyed it, and that just made her character even more interesting. I’m also glad that she’s still fighting Octavian on that whole destroying the Greeks thing. At least the praetor sees sense! Also having Grover turn the spears of the Roman guards into Christmas trees using his pipes was cool. I really like seeing Grover, and there hasn’t been nearly as much of him in this series. Understandably so, but still. It makes me excited when he shows up. Also, Coach Hedge going to be Daddy Hedge, adorable. I’m so on the lookout for fanfics about that, someone please make it happen. Can you just imagine how awesome? It made me sad to see Reyna lose Scipio. But way to make it to where Reyna needed to get, Scipio. May you rest in piece. Hopefully Nico, Reyna, Coach Hedge, and the statue of Athena make it back to Camp Half Blood in time.
Alright, now for the two characters who I have the most things to say about: Percy and Annabeth, our beloved Percabeth. It was just so hard reading their chapters, we see them in such a struggle that we’re not used to seeing these two in. They’re Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase. They handle everything just fine. But here, from the moment they landed in Tartarus, things weren’t easy. Drinking the fire water just to stay alive, watching them struggle when they were on their own, seeing Percy just so out of his element, even with the “water” there, oh it was hard. And EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER that was from one of their POVs was so stressful, I feel like I only half-read the chapters in between them, just rushing to get back to the two of them. It was the worst reunion ever, the two of them with all the monsters they had killed over the years, and that part with the curses on the two of them, just so hard to read. It was entertaining to watch Annabeth outwitting monsters there though. Getting Damasen to treat Percy by asking if Bob overstated his talents. And her and Percy getting Nyx upset by telling her that her house wasn’t in the brochure for best places to stop in Tartarus, and then asking for a picture with her and her favorite child. That was possibly one of the most entertaining moments in Tartarus, and in the entire book. Although I’m afraid one of these days, that trick isn’t going to work and then the dynamic duo will be in trouble. Also, Bob. I loved Bob helping Percy and Annabeth throughout Tartarus, going from Iapetus, fighting Percy and falling into the River Lethe, to Bob, an awesome, lovable giant with his pet, Small Bob. I loved that part, “I shall call him Small Bob!” Going to the Doors of Death, fighting TARTARUS! TARTARUS TAKES A SHAPE AND PERCY FIGHTS HIM! I was freaking out in that part. And all through the book, knowing that someone had to hold the Doors of Death so they could get out, I was so afraid that Percy was going to stay behind and hold the doors and be separated from Annabeth again. Bob and Damasen coming to their aid, and Bob holding the doors for them, Annabeth repeatedly kicking her foot in the door to keep it open for Percy, Percy saying goodbye to Bob, the ride up in the elevator to the other side of the doors of death. IT WAS SO STRESSFUL AND TERRIBLE! But also so wonderful. And does anyone else have a sinking feeling that Percy is going to somehow try to go back to rescue Bob and Damasen from Tartarus? Because I have a sinking feeling. May it be wrong.
But all in all, it was another great installment in the Heroes of Olympus series, and it took me a day to read. Which means a day of bliss followed by a year of agony, waiting for The Blood of Olympus. Although, this book ended about ten times less stressful than The Mark of Athena did, so at least the waiting isn’t as agonizing. I wonder who’s going to die in the final book. Can it just be that douche Octavian? Because I really wouldn’t mourn that death at all, to be honest. And I’d mourn any other death that happened. Yes, even Jason.

Another book I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of on my doorstep to be read was Allegiant by Veronica Roth. It was released on October 22. On October 23, I had a test in Anatomy and Physiology on the muscular system, SO I HAD TO WAIT A WHOLE EXTRA DAY TO READ IT AFTER GETTING IT! I can’t even describe how sucky it was to look at it sitting there all shiny and new, and not be able to dive in. So the second I left class on Wednesday I was pulling it out of my school bag and reading it, while walking to the bus stop. So much happened in this book! It started fast, with Tris lying under truth serum, and it just never let go until the final scene. Okay, it kind of let go when Four was narrating the last few chapters. I’ll be honest, the Four POV chapters didn’t excite me all that much. I liked the Tris ones best.  And oh, that ending! I hoped it wouldn’t happen the way it did. I’d have been okay if it was Caleb, but no. Tris had to do what she always did, only this time it didn’t end well. I honestly cried, although more when Christina reacted to the news than when Four did. Her grief felt more painful for me. I really loved learning so much about the world, the genetically pures and unpures, what happened in the other cities in America. It was really cool. Although I feel like when dystopian books have to wrap everything up in three books, things can feel a little rushed in the last book. I almost wish there was one more book to see how everything works out, government systems after the corruption that was in place for three books is changed, daily life, everything. But I loved this book, and when I finished it, I moved the whole series to my “favorite completed series” bookshelf.

I read a Veronica Roth short story, The Transfer, which was pretty interesting. This takes place when Four is still Tobias in Abnegation, on the days before and day of his Choosing Ceremony. Tori also gives him his aptitude test, with him getting Abnegation results because it’s what his father, Marcus wanted. We see Tobias at home with his father, and see just how terrible Marcus really was to Tobias. I was so glad to see Tobias choose Dauntless. I obviously knew he would choose that, but reading up to that point, and Tobias not really thinking that way until the moment he got to the ceremony was just so interesting to see. And then seeing him in his fear landscape, with his four fears, was so good. Seeing Amir name him Four, seeing the beginnings of his firendship with Amir, it was all great. While I may not have loved his voice in Allegiant, in The Transfer, it was great.

I read Haunted by Kelley Armstrong as well. This is another of the Women of the Underworld series, and it focused on Eve, the mother of Savannah. Savannah was the ward of Paige Winterbourne in the last two books in the series (Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic). In those books we heard a little bit about Eve, but in this one we get to see Eve herself. Another awesome woman named Eve. In Industrial Magic, Eve promised the Fates a favor if they let Paige and Lucas return to the world of the living. In Haunted, the Fates call on that favor, wanting Eve to hunt down one of the worst escapees from the ghost world, the Nix. The Nix inhabits bodies of people such as Lizzie Borden, and gets them to kill others, then leaves them behind to face the consequences on their own. Teaming up with an angel, Eve hunts her down, but is almost always a little behind. She goes into some awesome places in the ghost world, as well as some terrible places. I really liked this one in the WOTU series, it was incredibly interesting, and Eve is an awesome main character. While the ending wasn’t a perfect one, I liked it, it didn’t frustrate me. Eve is right up there with Elena as an awesome main in this series.

In anticipation of the November release of Champion, I read Prodigy by Marie Lu. I really loved the first book in this series, Legend, and Champion was not a disappointing second book, as some middle books in trilogies can be. June and Day are wonderful in this book, even if a little frustrating at times. I was also relieved to see that Tess was okay, after not completely knowing in Legend. Razor was a character that I just didn’t like from the moment we met him. He just didn’t seem trustworthy. At least June seemed to pick up on that eventually. Kaede, I’ll miss you. You were one awesome chick, and also one hell of a pilot. I was glad when she came over into the Colonies and got June and Day out. Also, seeing the Colonies of America? Kinda awesome. At first, they seemed all wonderful and glittering prosperity, but they turned out to be at least as bad as the Republic to some of their citizens, if not worse. Anden, I want to trust you. I think that you really mean well, and want to be a good Elector Primo. Thank you for releasing Eden and giving him the care that he needed. Although I was kind of skeptical to the idea that Anden had released Eden. I was afraid it would be too good to be true. But no Anden, you may not have June. June belongs with Day. I got all girly and happy when Day gave June that little paperclip ring. It was so cute. Throughout the book June and Day had great moments. Day all worried and trying to care for June when she was sick. Man, worrying about June having the plague was not cool. From the moment she started to not feel well, I had an uneasy feeling. And finally, the ending. OH MY HOLY SHIT THAT ENDING! WHAT EVEN?! First with Day climbing up the building in Denver and announcing his support for Anden, I got chills at that part. But then I realized there were still too many pages left in the book. Finding out Day had a bad growth on his hippocampus was terrible. And seeing him trying to “save” June by letting her go and telling her to accept Anden’s offer of becoming a princeps-elect. Just no. June, you saw something was wrong with Day. YOU COULD HAVE SAID SOMETHING! I hope the next book picks up at that spot and June stops Day from being dumb. I can’t wait to read Champion!

I read The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. Holy shit. This book. This book was amazing. I really could not stop reading it. Which was kind of a problem, since it was on my kindle and sometimes the battery would run really low. I’d be running looking for my charger and a place to plug it in. (Yes, I know that this wouldn’t happen with “real” books, but the kindle store was selling this book for either free or $.99 at one point, and I wanted to read it.) We follow Ruby through life after a plague takes out the majority of children under 13, when Ruby is about 10. And the kids that are left have mind powers of one type or another. Ruby gets taken to Camp Thurmond, which is claimed by the government to be a rehabilitation camp for the kids. They’re all classified as different colors, with reds, oranges, and yellows being the most dangerous. Ruby gets classified as a green and lives at the camp for about six years, working and living an awful life. It was unsettling reading that part just because it was so terrible and the thought of it happening upset me a little. She becomes so beaten down and hopeless at the camp. And then one of the doctors at the camp from The Children’s League breaks her out, telling her that her secret, that she’s not a green, is about to be discovered. She then escapes from the people who helped her escape, and goes on a kinda awesome road trip through the Shenandoah Valley with Liam, Chubs, and Zu. Liam, Chubs, and Zu are looking for East River and The Slip Kid, a place for the escaped children to live and the Slip Kid, an Orange who has escaped custody many times, and started East River. I loved that they traveled through the Shenandoah Valley, as it’s near my home and I go there a bit every year. The Slip Kid was one of the many people in this book who I wanted to believe was good, but just couldn’t do it. Yes he sort of helped Ruby with her powers. But I didn’t like him. I was sad to see Zu leave the group, as I love her and she’s adorable. But hopefully she’ll get to California safely and we’ll see her reunite with the others later on. I was also very glad she got out before things got bad. I was so glad Chubs came for Ruby and they were able to get away from the PSF agents. I was glad that Liam came back and was okay too. I really hope Chubs didn’t die. CHUBS CAN’T DIE! He’s too cool. And Then Liam and Ruby. Oh my god that broke my heart. Just as much as learning what happened to Ruby and her parents broke my heart. I really need him to find her again and for them to be together. I just need Ruby and Liam, okay?! Props to Ms. Bracken for having a scene where Ruby talks about having had a map of the D.C. Metro System on her wall when she was a child. So many people call it the Subway system, and that’s wrong. I take the metro a lot, so when I see people refer to it correctly, it makes me very happy. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of Never Fade, be it on Kindle or hardcover. I must read it!

Finally, I read Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. This book was interesting. Gwen comes from a family of time travelers, and her family thinks the gene for it has passed her by and gone to her cousin Charlotte instead. However, she ends up being the one who can travel through time, and is the final person in the circle of twelve, the Ruby. She starts traveling with Gideon, and she tries to unearth the mystery of why her mother hid her real birth date, her ability (she can see ghosts), and basically take a crash course in everything time travelers need to know, history, manners, and all. I loved that her best friend Leslie is such an important part of the plot, which is something that some books don’t really cover. She helps Gwen when she starts traveling through time, looking things up for her. She also convinces Gwen that she has to tell her mother that she has the gene, as Gwen is afraid to tell anyone else. I also loved the costumes that Gwen gets to wear, the wardrobe mistress (sorry, forgot her name) was awesome. The end scene when Gwen and Gideon visit Gwen’s great grandmother and Lucy and Paul are in the scene. That was awesome. And all the reveals between the prologue and that one scene were amazing. Are we going to have vampires in this, with all the talking about Transylvania? The count in there was really kind of creepy, what with all his mind abilities. He’s just not someone I like so far. AND WHO WAS TRYING TO KILL GWEN AND GIDEON?! In that sword fight scene? WHO?! I think I’ll definitely have to read Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green.

So that’s what I read in September and October. Next I’ll put up my November TBR, which I’m already about halfway through. So year. Back soon!

Meera’s Movie Reviews – Frozen

Hey everyone, Meera again with a review for Frozen.  This is an extra early review for this movie since it doesn’t come out for a couple of weeks. Seriously, I haven’t even started seeing commercials for it yet.  Since this is early and I really don’t want to give anything away, I’m just going to say SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS, just to be safe.  I absolutely loved this movie for so many different reasons.  I’ll tell you right now, I’m totally Disney biased and am such a sucker for just about anything they release, so I don’t know how an actual critique of this movie will be.  So before I get into this, I’ll do a little disclaimer.  I pretty much had very medium expectations for this movie before I saw it.  Since I’ve only seen maybe two trailers prior and I had absolutely no idea what the story was about or what I was getting.  All I saw was a snowman, a reindeer, two princesses and the fact that it’s the newest Disney movie.  With all this in mind, I went to the theater not super excited, but that kind of excited you get when you get free stuff. 

Now about the actual movie, I think it was absolutely amazing!  It managed to capture the essence of old favorite Disney classics and as you sit there watching it, you really can’t help but feel like a kid again watching a brand new Disney princess singing her heart out on the screen.  They definitely did their usual thing by picking a style of music and running through the movie with it.  Sleeping Beauty had an opera style, The Princess and The Frog had a New Orleans/Cajun style, and Frozen, at least in my opinion really had a Broadway feel to their songs.  I can really see this transitioning well to the stage.  And on the topic of songs, just a teaser, this movie has one of the saddest summer songs I’ve ever heard in my life.  Voices were amazing. They had Idina Menzel singing and I am so proud that I was able to recognize it. I kept thinking, “I know this voice! I know this voice!”  That may be why I can really see this on stage.  Her voice is just perfect for it.

Story and characters really were the strongest element in Frozen.  The story actually takes place during the summer and an eternal winter is cast over the land.  To be honest, once I got that feeling of a classic Disney princess movie, I was expecting a similar formula.  The whole, “princess on a quest/love story” formula, but it was different. I remember a while back, just after Tangled was released, Disney stated that they were going to change things up.  It really didn’t hit me just how they changed until I saw this movie.  They moved from a formula of “Romantic Love” and instead are really focusing on “Familial Love”.  It was extremely evident in Brave and was just solidified in Frozen.  An amazing thing happened while I was watching it.  About half way through the movie, I realized that I’d seen something like this before.  Turns out, it was based on a fairy tale entitled “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Anderson and I remembered a version of the story from a 1995 animated adaptation by the same name.  Seriously, my biggest geek moment during this movie was watching it and knowing who the author was before seeing the credits.  This is another reason the movie will really leave you with a sense of nostalgia.  It’s one of Disney’s fairy tales, taken from one of the most well-known authors, who also wrote The Little Mermaid. However, with Disney’s reputation with fairy tales, I’m really interested to see how the original story is.  If it’s as different as The Little Mermaid was from its original story then I’m really nervous.  Okay, enough about me geeking out over fairy tale authors and on to the characters.  You almost instantly love them, especially Olaf the snowman. He was mainly in the story to serve at comic relief, but he’s also a link between the sisters’ childhood and present selves.  He was hilarious! While you’re watching, just look at his facial expressions.  He’s such a happy character and you just can’t help but like him. The human characters are great an all. There’s the strong female lead and her conflicts with others that drive the story, and that’s great, but to me, Olaf stole the show from the moment we hear him speak.  The princesses, Anna and Elsa, are great additions to the Disney princess lineup. They show all the markings of the others in that category like strength and guts. I would comment on the animation and graphics, which were beautiful by the way, but I get the feeling that we have all come to expect excellence in the animation/graphics department from Disney. 

Overall, definitely will give Frozen a 5 out of 5! It was just amazing. It really takes you back, for those who grew up with classic Disney movies, and based on the reactions in the theater, it was truly a beautiful, magical, delight for children just starting their Disney journey.

How was this review? I feel like I said “Disney” in just about every sentence and I tried my best to get a good review across without revealing anything vital. I really hope you enjoy watching it! Hopefully, if my plans for this weekend work out, I may do Thor 2.  But I will warn you, I will be geeking out like crazy because LOKI!

So what have we learned about Meera from these reviews? She’s a sci-fi and fairy tale/mythology geek who loves Disney, thinks the book is better, and unashamedly has a serious weakness for villains and British men.

Meera’s Movie Reviews – Ender’s Game

Hi all, Meera here with a review for Ender’s Game.  Bit late with this review since opening weekend has come and gone, but as this is my first fleshed out review, I’m giving myself a little wiggle room.  First of all, I loved this movie.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen a sci-fi movie like this and even though it was certainly not as good as the book, I would still highly recommend it.  Just don’t go to the theater expecting to see all the stuff from the book on the screen and you’ll be a much happier movie-goer. Next is my critique so SPOILER ALERT!

Now, as far as a critique, I’ll begin with the bad.  I think the biggest fault I found with this was the story.  Not that it wasn’t good. It was actually really good, but I’ll get to that later.  The problem I had with it was the whole “it wasn’t like the book” thing.  Hardcore fans of the book will definitely find fault with this movie and if you compare it to the book, you’ll likely think they messed up a lot, which they did, but it’s really understandable why they did things the way they did.  There were a lot of things that were changed from the book.  The book, for the most part takes place over a span of about 5 years so we get to see a lot of growth in Ender and I was a bit excited to see that.  The movie seems to take place over the span of a year, two at most.  The age he is through the entire movie is about the age he was during the climax of the book.  Personally, I would have liked to see tiny, six year old Ender and watch him grow from that to the age he was in the movie. All they would have needed to do was cast for a young Ender. Some of the characters he encounters and befriends during his time at the Battle School were simply there for casting convenience.  There was definitely a bully problem for Ender and they did manage to convey that, but not nearly to the extent that the book had it.  I think the only friendship they got semi-correct was with Petra Arkanian.  She is shown as an older sister figure and a best friend who takes Ender in and helps him out which really works out well in the movie.  My only issue with her was that I couldn’t shake the feeling that the film makers were trying to get us to ship Ender and Petra.  The book has her as a helpful older sister figure, but she draws a line to show that while she may be helping him, she is still competition.  There were also quite a few omissions that I just couldn’t look past.  Ender’s brother plays a really large role in his psychological battles and I feel like that part really wasn’t developed much at all in the movie.  It was mentioned but I’m not sure how much that fear of turning out like his brother came across.  Another omission, though I can understand why they didn’t include this, is the mention of Ender’s brother and sister and the things they do while Ender is at Battle School.  This inclusion in the books is more of a set up for much later books.  I also found a minor problem with graphics, but that may just be me being picky. The scenes in the battle room with the zero gravity just didn’t work too well for me.  It wasn’t done too badly. Like I said, it’s me being picky, but I felt like their movements looked too animated at certain parts.

I know I said spoilers at the beginning, but I still hope I didn’t reveal anything too major.  Can’t say the same for this part so once again, SPOILER ALERT!

Now for the good!  It will likely be a lot of me gushing about how good the movie is and a lot of “amazing”s and exclamation points so be prepared.  I think one of my favorite things about this movie was the acting. It was exceptional!  It might just be me being a geek, but I absolutely loved seeing Harrison Ford in this movie and did an amazing job playing Graff!  I was definitely surprised by the casting choice for Anderson.  Viola Davis as Anderson was great and definitely did her job of acting as a foil to Ford’s Graff, but I was thrown especially since Anderson was a male in the books.  It’s one of those little, nit-picking things that really doesn’t take away from the movie at all. I think Ford’s Graff and Davis’s Anderson are excellent together.  Now Asa Butterfield.  This kid was perfect for the role of Ender!  Not only does he have the look, but I love how he was able to perfectly convey Ender’s psychological ups and downs during the movie especially at the end! He was just so great! Here’s that gushing part I warned you about! I just loved him as Ender so much! The more I dwell on the movie, the more I love him! Next, the graphics. Yes, I know I mentioned graphics in the bad section, but that was one of those really specific, picky things.  This is for overall graphics, especially during the simulations. It was really beautifully done and is exactly what you would expect from a good sci-fi movie.  These graphics are definitely worth watching in IMAX and it’s really a shame that it wasn’t in 3D because that would have been so amazing! There’s really not much more to say on graphics because it’s one of those, “just watch and see” sort of things, but just wait ‘til the simulation scenes near the end and you’ll see those great graphics I was talking about. Lastly, the story.  The story, while it won’t please fans of the book, was actually very well crafted and stood well on its own even with the omissions from the book.  The people I know who haven’t read the book said it was a really great story.  If you haven’t read the book and you’re a sci-fi geek, then I think you can truly and fully appreciate this movie as it is: a great sci-fi story and movie. I know there’s really not much for me to say about the story too, mainly because it’ll be me just gushing about how good it is.

Overall, I would give Ender’s Game 4 out of 5 and that’s likely because I have that whole, “The book was better” mentality, but I think that even if I hadn’t read the book, it would still get a 4 out of 5.

End of review! How’d I do? Eventually, I would like to have a rating system that is just my own instead of a scale of 1 to 5. I know that 1 to 5 is easier since it’s already known to most people, but I do really like the idea of having my own rating system.  I’m also wondering which movies I should review.  So far, I’m thinking I’ll do the ones I get screeners for and the ones I see on opening weekend.  Anyways, there’s a chance I’m seeing Frozen tomorrow so if I get to, I’ll see about crafting a review for it! ‘Til next time!