Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout | Book Review

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
First Published: 2011
Mature Young Adult, fantasy
Starting over sucks.
When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring… until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.
And then he opened his mouth.
Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something… unexpected happens.
The hot alien living next door marks me.
You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.
If I don’t kill him first, that is.
Let's go back to the year 2012. It was a simpler time, (did you ever think you'd refer to high school as "simple"?) with simpler reading tastes. Hey, it's true. Looking back at Obsidian, I am reminded of that.

Once upon a time, I've labeled Obsidian a five star favorite of mine. Now, Obsidian is not a bad book by a long shot, as evident by the very respectable 4-star status. There is a reason it took over Goodreads by storm, popping out around every group and every comment. But at the same time, with my new experience in reading, I wouldn't classify it as a 5 star any longer. And definitely not a "favorite", which is a very coveted label I don't give just any book.

I mean, it's been five years and I haven't finished the series yet. I am still stuck on book one. Maybe this will be the year I take it off my currently reading list.

Anyways, I would classify Obsidian as a quick and fun read with a good amount of action and character development, despite the familiar premise. I mean, girl moves into a new town where she meets beautiful yet odd people. Now, where have we heard that before?

Still, there is something charming about this story.

It starts with our main character, Katy. I kind of had to like her, since we share a last name (different spelling). That being said, Armentrout made her easy to love and relate to. She's a normal girl like you and me (albeit one with a sad background); she loves reading and has a book blog, loves gardening, and doesn't let her shy nature to deter her from being courageous. And she ain't gonna bow down to no jerk.
''I checked out your blog."
Oh. Dear. Baby. Jesus. How did he find it? Wait. More importantly was the fact he HAD found it. Was my blog now googleable? That was awesomesauce with an extra heaping of sauce."
That's why I was a bit annoyed by the fact Armentrout kind of had to dumb her down in order to stretch the tension. I mean, how many weird things and how many secret conversations you have to overhear before you figure out the truth? It's STARING you in the eye!

Those secret conversations have to do with her neighbors, Dee and Daemon. Dee quickly becomes Katy's best friend, with her infection nature (described as Tinker Bell on Crack). But Daemon... Daemon is a whole other story. The guy is gorgeous, and he knows it. In a totally obnoxious kind of way.

I kind of expected to hate the guy, based on the many odes to his jerkiness on GR, but for once getting let down by all the hype was a good thing. I ended up actually liking him. Sure, he's a jerk, but in a kind of charming way. I know, I know, how weird and twisted of me. I just couldn't help it! And I think even the most unconvinced of readers would fall for him once you read his POV in the bonus scenes.

The romance between these two is definitely a selling point for this whole novel, as Armentrout does something not all YA managed to do for me. Which is; convince me her two leads belong together. No one would fit Daemon as well as Katy does, because no one stands up to him or challenges him the way she does.  
"Oh, yeah." Carissa nodded. "They were googley-eyes in class on Friday. It was pretty steamy, the whole 'I'm screwing you with my eyes' thing they had going on."
Katy and Daemon have a love-to-hate and hate-to-love type of relationship, where they banter and fight constantly, but it's always in a way that makes you wonder if they're actually flirting. My favorite part about it is that... well, attraction might not be enough. Katy knows what she wants... and that isn't a guy like Daemon, who acts like the biggest asshat she's ever met most of the time. The small moments she thinks she might be seeing the real Daemon aren't enough to make her want a relationship with him. And I loved that. I love the fact that Daemon is going to need to work and sweat for Katy's love and respect. As he should

Aside for these core people, there is a colorful cast of side characters that added spice and hilarity to the novel, like Carissa and Lesa, Katy's two friends from school, who double as the angel and demon on Katy's shoulder. 
"I don't know. I mean we haven't talked about it. He literally left afterwards, and all he's done since then is poke me with his pen."
"Probably because he wants to poke you with something else." Lesa said dryly.
The triplets, too, were an interesting addition, although we didn't get to see much of them or Matthew in this installment.

One of my major criticism of this novel back when I read it was that some of the conversations felt off. Like once in a while, one sentences that had nothing to do with anything that came before would pop out and I was left blinking in confusion and wondering what prompted it.

So, yeah, I don't consider Obsidian a 5 star read, but it's a great one nonetheless!
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Sunday, January 14, 2018

2018 Goal: Read 10 Standalones

Okay, so I want to introduce the first goal of 2018 for me. I'm going real small this year, as all I really want is to have a better reading year without too much pressure to... how to say... preform.

So the first thing I want to challenge myself is to read 10 standalones (you can already see the first one on the board, Foolish Hearts, which also happens to be my first 5 stars of 2018!).

Now, I don't count series of standalones for this one because those are kind of my comfort zone - a series of (usually) romantic standalones with intertwining characters. The emphasis is on the intertwining. That kind of negates the standalone part of things.

And that would be a challenge I finish in, like, two months lol
You can come back to this page throughout the year to see my progress!

Potential reads (from my physical shelves)
The Upside of Unrequited, Coraline, Wild Beauty, There's Someone Inside Your House, The Fill in Boyfriend, Iron Cast, Turtles All the Way Down, Release, Red Hill, The Handmaid's Tale, A Skinful of Shadows, Heartless, Landlines, Cloud Atlas

I have a ton more standalones on my kindle, but I really want to focus on my physical shelves for this post. Mostly so you guys could shame me for it if I end up not reading them lol

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak | Book Review

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak
First Published: 2015
Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
"When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."
Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD...for four hours. She's totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she'll never see him again.
Except, Stella's life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?
But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?
It's always a good idea to kick a new reading year with something light and fluffy to get you in the reading groove, and the Heartbreakers Chronicles was the perfect pick for such a task, even as it sprinkles some more serious topics along the way!

For those who don't know, one trope I always love in contemporary romance is the star and the normal girl (or the reverse, although I can't think of any). There is just something captivating about the dilemmas and conflicts that arise from such a union, where it isn't usually lack of love between the couple but more so the circumstances that keep coming in their way.

As for contemporary YA in that category, The Heartbreakers is a fairly good example. It's the type of book that kind of sweeps you off and the next thing you know it's 3 a.m. in the morning somehow and you've finished reading.

It's just... cute. It's really cute. The relationship between Stella and Oliver is cute, the relationship between the three twins is cute (I feel weird calling them triplets for some reason), and the relationship between the band members is cute. The way they embrace Stella into their fold instantly is... say it with me... CUTE! And they're cute because of the way they flow, like real friends, and real siblings, and real crushes. It's smooth where it needs to be an awkward where it should.

Also: they're all really funny and witty, which... I love.

But the novel is not just cute and funny. It has some serious issues, since the setting is the backdrop to Stella's coming of age story, as she struggles with finding her own individual identity outside of her siblings, as well as with the concept of death as her sister is sick and she could potentially lose her.

However, those heavy subjects definitely don't overshadow the light, fluffy vibe the novel's got going, so if you're not looking for that you can rest assured, and if you are... pick up the Fault in Our Stars or some other soul-crushing novel instead.

The highlight of the book is definitely The Heartbreakers as a group. As I said before, these four guys feel like great friends, and when they're away from the limelight they even feel like normal guys. Albeit sort of rich ones. My favorite boy of the bunch HAD to be Alec. I have a thing for the silent yet observant and thoughtful types.

But Alec is not the main male characters of this novel - Oliver is. He is the guy Stella meets at a coffee shop one day without realizing who he is. He's the one who calls her to their suite when they find out they're in the same hotel. He's the one who kind of adorably falls in love with her. He is also the one I had kind of mixed feelings about. I loved who he was with Stella, but sometimes, he would slip into his stage persona, and that one was confident and sure of himself to the point of being slightly obnoxious. Stella always kind of shut him down when those happened, but those moments stopped me from loving him.

But Stella brings him back to himself - the sweet, kind, attentive, occasionally awkward guy who can just hang around and chill with the people he loves most. Still confident, but in an attractive way.

And aren't those the best relationships--ones where you make each other better by being together?
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Monday, January 8, 2018

8th Annual End Of Year Survey – 2017 edition!!

Okay, so I've decided to participate in 2017 year-end survey... way too late, but whatever. I'd like to at least pretend I've been active in 2017 lol

Looking back at my year in reading is... difficult.
Number of Books You Read: 68
Number of Re-Reads: 20 (holy hell. I did NOT realize this lol you can kind of tell my state-of-mind this year by the number of books I re-read because re-reads comfort me)
Genre You Read The Most Of: Contemporary

Okay, before moving on, I'd just like to mention that 2017 was the worst year I have had for reading since high-school. Seriously. 68 books to last year's 101, of which 13 are manga series and 20 are re-reads. I have technically read only 35 books this year. That's... crazy, for me. 

Just for comparison's sake and everything... I have already read 3 books this 2018, and I've started the year on Jan 4 when I got back from my vacation in London (no reading was to be had on that vacation sadly lol) 
1. Best Book You Read in 2017
I'm not going to consider re-reads in this one, but they [The Host, Written in Red series, The Queen's Thief series, On the Island & Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Sustained, Midnight Secretary and Tramps Like Us, etc] were definitely some of my favorite reads of 2017 even though I have read them previously... some multiple times #sorrynotsorry

Yep. There are only three books I can consider "favorites" when looking back on 2017 when I exclude re-reads and Manga... For prosperity's sake (mainly, making this post look a little more dignified lol) I'm going to name my favorite manga/comics from this year!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn't?

I love Krisitin Cashore. Her Graceling series is one of my top favorites (talk about books I need to re-read asap!) so I was super excited for Jane, Unlimited. Unfortunately, I just found it to be a collection of cool, but ultimately unfinished and underutilized ideas, some which were stronger than the others. I kind of wish each reality (but one that I just don't want at all) had gotten its own full-length novel...

3. Most Surprising Book You Read?

Since 2017 was kind of a weak reading year, I don't really have any "bad surprise" novel. I just dropped a ton of books this year if they didn't work out for me, and those are not considered read so...

But this one was a surprise because it's a kindle freebie and my mother fell in love with it. Like, one clicking all the installment in the series in love with. I didn't actually get that far in the series (only the first novel. I got kind of annoyed that the novel ends by beginning the next plotline instead of leaving that for the next book tbh but I do plan to continue) but it's very rare for my mom to obsess over a series like that soooo... surprise?

4. Book You "Pushed" The Most People to Read (And They Did)?

Does The Host counts? It's not a book I've read for the first time in 2017, but then there really isn't a 2017 only book that I've been pushing on people, and certainly not one that I've actually gotten them to read. The only one to qualify is The Host. I've been pushing it on people for, like, five years, and I've so far gotten quite a few of them to try it out.


5. Best Series You Started in 2017

Best Sequel of 2017

Best Series Ender of 2017

The Wrath & The Dawn and The Superlative series is definitely two series that saved 2017 for me lol I've started the Superlative in 2016 and loved it, and gotten books 2&3 just in time to close 2017 on a good note. The Wrath and the Dawn series was closer to the beginning of 2017 but man did I adore this series. SO FREAKIN GOOD!

6. Favorite New Author You Discovered in 2017?
Renee Ahdieh, hands down. She swept me off my feet with the Wrath and the Dawn.

7. Best Book From a Genre You Don't Typically Read/Was Out of Your Comfort Zone?
Um... N/A lol As you can tell from my reading count, it was hard enough to stick to my comfort zone, I definitely didn't try to step out of it lol

8. Most Action Packed/Thrilling/Unputdownable Book of the Year?

Okay, so The Wrath and the Dawn was definitely the most unputdownable. The Gentleman's Guide had to most action, in terms of things kept going wrong... all the time! That's not a bad thing, btw. I loved the book (and the ship). But I kept flipping ahead trying to see when things will slow down and my babies will finally get a chance to breathe a little bit!

9. Book You Read in 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Um... technically, none. I'll probably re-read The Host again, as I do every year, and maybe even Sustained, On the Island and The King of Attolia since I enjoyed those re-reads immensely. I'll definitely be re-reading Tramps like Us and Midnight Secretary again as well, since I do that almost yearly anyways. I have a feeling I'll be re-reading The Wrath & The Dawn at some point as well, but I can't say "next year" on that one.

Therefore, I have chosen Keishichou Tokuhanka 007 which I have been re-reading every year anyway because each time a new chapter has released I read the entire manga up to it first. Like Midnight Secretary and Tramps Like Us, this is definitely a manga with a high re-read value for me. I simply enjoy the manga each time I read it as if it was the first time. So this is highly likely to become an annual re-read for me the same way the other two manga are.

10. Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2017?

Okay, the version above is The Wrath & The Dawn I have on my kindle (I put the other one before because it's the more recognizable). I wish this cover came in the hardcover 'cause I want to buy the hardcovers but I love this cover so much more than the hardcover one. Anyways, I love the colors of it, I love the font, I love the beauty of the woman described on it (those cheekbones, man!). It's just gorgeous to me.

The Sea of Tranquility was a re-read, but 'cmon. You've got to include this cover in this montage. It's just... beautiful! The way the melting ice-cream on the asphalt creates the two silhouette, the way it grows into what looks like a sea, the way it's both calming and yet... there is something unsettling about it. The fallen cup of ice-cream screams of something lost, of something... bad. Just describing this makes me want to do a re-read again! haha

And finally, Eliza. I love the combination of a real person with the doodles. I love how this cover is basically describing Eliza and her existence in a sort of mid-plane between reality and fiction. How it brings these characters that she has created into the real world, in the same way her story does for a lot of people. I love that it doesn't show her face because, in a lot of ways, Eliza's true face is in the world and characters she draws. It just... it speaks to me, this cover. I LOVE IT.

11. Most Memorable Character of 2017?

Oooookay. I'm excluding re-reads again, otherwise, this will just be a list filled with them. But I just want to give honorable mentions to Wanda (bless her), Gen (my precious thief), Simon and Meg (I want them to kiss already. I need to finish the series but I don't want to goddamnit), TJ and Anna, and the various manga characters I re-read last year because of how awesome they are.

So, thus, I have chosen the lovely Shahrzad and Kuze & Fuyuki. Again, choosing 007 (that title is way too long to write every single time) is a bit of a cheat since I have been following these two characters for years, re-reading every single time a new chapter has dropped, but since I have finished their series just this year I'm counting it.

Shazi is just such a great woman. She is strong and smart, devoted and brave. She makes the hard choices, but she can also acknowledge when she is wrong and change her course. She is full of love, and kindness, and is all around a total badass. I LOVE HER.

Kuze and Fuyu are individually great characters, as much as they are an incredible couple. They're funny, smart, and brave. Kuze is surly and serious but with a heart of gold (that is totally devoted to Fuyu *heart eyes*). Fuyuki is kind, sweet and a bit of a scaredy-cat about certain things, but she always put everybody's safety and feelings before her own.

These three are definitely my favorites! Honorable mentions to Monty from the Gentleman's Guide lol.

12. Most Beautifully Written Book Read in 2017

13. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2017?
Unfortunately, N/A. I can't say any new book I've read has done that to me. The Wrath & The Dawn was close, and Eliza and her Monsters had some moments like that, but nothing life-changing. Although this may be N/A on better reading years as well since it's really hard for me to put that label on a novel.

14. Book You Can't Believe You Waited Until 2017 to Finally Read

Does this count considering it came out in 2016? I saw it all around but never got to checking it out and then I was both happy and sad that I've waited. Happy because I could binge the duology, sad that I have waited to join the fun!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From a Book You Read in 2017?
"A small shift in gravity between us and suddenly all my stars are out of alignment, planets knocked out of their orbits, and I'm left stumbling, without a map or heading, through the bewildering territory of being in love with your best friend" -- The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue 
“There is a small monster in my brain that controls my doubt.
The doubt itself is a stupid thing, without sense or feeling, blind and straining at the end of a long chain. The monster though, is smart. It's always watching, and when I am completely sure of myself, it unchains the doubt and lets it run wild. even when I know it's coming, I can't stop it.” --Eliza and her Monsters
Wolves were big and scary and so fluffy, how could anyone resist hugging one just to feel all that fur? -- Written In Red (re-read)
“It's not the face, but the expressions on it. It's not the voice, but what you say. It's not how you look in that body, but the things you do with it. You are beautiful.” -- The Host (Re-Read)
“The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead in the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day.” -- The King of Attolia (re-read)
“I want her – this fearless, stunning woman. And I want the kids. Those perfect, awful, amazing children – whom she loves with every inch of her soul. I want them to be mine. Mine to hold, mine to protect and teach. Their joy, their laughter, their love. I want to come home to it, bask in it, be the reason for it.

But even more than that, I want to deserve them.” -- Sustained (re-read)
“Daylight won’t protect you from anything. Bad things happen all the time; they don’t wait until after dinner” -- The Sea of Tranquility (re-read)
“Murderer, monster, madman... Khalid may very well be all of those things. But he's also loved. By me and by my father. But, most of all, by Shazi. With her, he is as fiercely loved as he loves.” -- The Wrath and the Dawn
“I don't fit in your world."
"Neither do I," he said, his expression tender yet resolute. "So let's make our own. We've done it before.” -- On the Island (re-read)
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?
17. Book That Shocked you The Most
Umm... can't think of any based on my read list...

18. OTP of the Year (You Will Go Down With This Ship!)
From new books (or manga I finished this year):

1. Fuyuki & Kuze / Keishichou Tokuhanka 007 (sucky gifs made by me)

2. Shazi & Khalid / The Wrath & The Dawn series - I just loved them together. They made me love a murdering king, and root for their relationship 100%.  

From Re-Reads: Meg & Simon for life!! / Written in Red Series, Gen & Irene / The Queen's Thief series, Jake & Chelsea /Sustained, Wanda & Ian / The Host, TJ & Anna / On the Island, Sumire & Momo / Tramps Like Us, Callie & Gabriel / Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

As you can see - a ton of old couples. That's probably because I re-read mostly books with couples I will die for lol Like, aside for Harry Potter maybe, I kind of need to adore a main couple and want to re-visit their romance, even if it's just a side plot, for me to actually decide to re-read the novel. It's just how I roll haha

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship of the Year
Honestly? Melanie and Wanda from the Host. The way they begin as enemies and end up almost sisters is always such a great reading experience. There isn't any non-romantic relationship that tops that in the other novels I've read (although there already is one for my 2018 reads!)

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
I kind of liked all the books in this series equally, and they're just... such great fun! Highly recommend them when you need a read to de-stress with.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Honestly, the reason I didn't pick it up immediately is that a. the cover didn't attract me and b. the synopsis didn't really grab me... but then it was about 2 dollars on kindle so I decided to check it out since it was such a fan favorite and nearly hit myself with a club for being so stupid about it before. 

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?
I feel so ashamed. There isn't really one! They're all old crushes. I guess there is Khalid, but I also feel like I crush on him and Shazi as a couple more than I do him alone?? Does that make sense?? 

23. Best 2017 debut you read?
It's also the only debut I've read, but as far as they go its pretty great! I loved the characters and their relationships :)

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
*Runs away because I don't haaaave a new book for this oooneeee*

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Definitely this one.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

A few oldies did too, but from the new ones...

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

A very specific outcome in this one crushed my soul in the worst possible ways...

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

I suppose Jane, Unlimited is the only correct answer for this one, since I haven't read a multiple-outcome novel in a long time and it was definitely the most unique format I've read this year. 

I'm also including Eliza because of the combination of text messages, drawings and story snippets that acomany many of the chapters. 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?
2017 was my worst blogging year as well as reading year. I have no answer for this one as I've read very few blog posts and have even stopped looking at my favorite blogs because of it. Hopefully, I'm going to return to all those in 2018.

P.S I did discover bookstagram the past few months, and I love it!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?
I guess The Wrath & The Dawn? Again, I've written about 20 reviews on the blog in 2017 and I barely remember what I wrote for any of them...

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
When You Just Have to Break Up... With a Genre. Just had a ton of fun writing that one.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I'm INTL. That means... I don't really have any, sadly.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?
Good question...

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Doing it... 

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Umm.. My bargain posts lol (I'm not crying, you're crying)

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
How to Watch 16 Anime in One Month (Or So) - I kind of really wanted someone to talk to about these anime haha

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
BOOKSTAGRAM. And book subscription boxes, specifically Owlcrate. Best. Thing. Ever. 

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Yep, the GR one. But only thanks to counting in manga. Which counts, right? Right?
1. One Book You Didn’t Get to in 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?
Ummm.... I guess Illuminae. I have the hardcover and it looks BEAUTIFUL. Also, I really want to know the source of "am I not merciful?"!!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?
HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER by Maya Banks! Five years of waiting will come to an end this February (hopefully). Oh, and Puddin' by Julia Murphy - the sequel to Dumplin' <3

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
No idea. I kind of fall into debuts, rather than look for them. They pop up around GR or Bookstagram and I add them to my list and by accident I read them the year they come out ¯\_(=/)_/¯

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?
See point 2.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

Actually blog and read. I am setting my goals low this year... 

Thanks for reading this far, if you have, and let's all have a great and successful 2018!