Tuesday, April 28, 2015

{Blog Tour} ARC Review: Black Iris by Leah Raeder

Title: Black Iris
Author: Leah Raeder
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: April 28th 2015
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She's going to show them all.

(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)


I read Black Iris several months ago and to this day, I still cannot properly express how I feel about it. Black Iris isn't just a book, it's this tangible, living presence that you will feel everywhere. When I would take a break from reading to study or nap, I could feel its words beckoning to me, seducing me and slowly entangling in its dark and sensual web. It lives as you live, it breathes as you breathe and when you turn that final page, you'll end as it ends. Sounds serious? It is.

Laney is the perfect example of what it means to be an underdog, her past experiences are perfect examples of what it means to start from the bottom and kick everyone's ass to get to the top. People bullied her. They belittled her. They looked down on her. It was completely heart breaking to read about but also very empowering because Laney isn't just a fictional characters, she's an amalgamation of all the people who were wronged based on their sexual orientation. She's this big FUCK YOU to the Universe and she's extra badass while doing it. But underneath all that built up anger and more anger, she's still just a girl who got beaten down. She had her moments of vulnerability and uncertainty but instead of letting that fear fester and grow into something worse, she made the proactive choice to do something about it. I am equal parts in love with Laney and terrified of her.

I wouldn't say that Black Iris is completely about romance because while there may have been an Armin and Blythe, it was never really a choice for Laney. It just happened. However, I loved the way Leah Raeder used the book's romance as a plot device to reach out to people. As fluffy as it may sound, I have always felt that love is a universal language, it's something we understand without having to hear spoken words, we can just feel it or sense it and we'll know it's there. Leah Raeder used the potency of romance to demand to be heard by people and it's a call that anyone will eagerly answer, especially when you meet these three.

Every scene with Blythe left me breathless... literally. Seeing her through Laney's eyes was a complete sensory overload, you just feel too much and even when it starts to overwhelm you, you won't want that Blythe experience to stop. Blythe is wild in nature (and not just in a party hard kind of way), there is something manic about her that draws you in, like a tiger in a zoo, you know you shouldn't try to pet it but you'll do it anyway. Her unpredictability and shine made her so enticing and it was so easy to fall in love with her. When you hear Blythe, think skin sliding against skin, breathy words and nails digging deeper and deeper.

While Blythe may have been the wild one, Armin was the slow and sweet caress of a gentle lover. Armin was the level-headed and calm one. And he is so nice. Like, I don't even know what else to say about him, haha. But in between Armin and Blythe stood Laney, she balanced them out. Their dynamic was rhythmic and consistent. It was very interesting to see how they moved together.

Just going to say: the wolf references? So. Badass.

One of the things that got me while I was reading Black Iris was how personal it felt, and I know it was. The way Leah Raeder made me feel while I was reading this book was a completely surreal and unexpected experience. I never thought that I could connect with so many characters at one given moment. It was beautiful and terrifying. Black Iris is Black Iris and I don't know how else to explain it to you.

If you buy this book after reading this review, then... You're welcome.

(At some point, I'm going to come up with a much, much better review than this but right now, everything still feel so raw. In the future, I hope.)


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Title: Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles #1)
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: February 9th 2010
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock--to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)


Oh my god.


I have so many feels in me that I cannot even construct enough proper and coherent sentences for my review... but for you, I will try. But one more OH MY GOD before I start: OHHHHH. MYYYYYY. GOD. Okay, I'm done... Maybe.

There's a part of me that hates myself for taking so long to read Finnikin of the Rock because I have literally had this book in my shelf for four years now and I never bothered to get past the first two pages. But there's a larger part of me that doesn't care that I took so long because in the end, what matters the most is that I read it. And worshipped it. I'm pretty sure that Melina Marchetta isn't even a human being, she must be some kind of genius-goddess-writer-being because my whole Finnikin of the Rock experience was completely out of this world. Seriously. I am still not over the whole thing. Was it even real? I don't even know.

I just want to say, Finnikin has way too much teenaged angst for his age. I was worried he'd bust his gut or something with all the stress he had. (Bro, take a chill pill.) I mean, thanks, Lumatere for putting your future freedom into the hands of a eighteen/nineteen year old. But seriously speaking, all the weight of the world seemed to lie of Finnikin's shoulders. It wasn't only the future of Lumatere that he worried about, but also the uncertainty whether Balthazar, the heir, was alive and even the constant tug of darkness in his heart. Finnikin definitely wasn't perfect, even though he was intelligent, skilled and generally well-rounded, he always seemed to have a hard time suppressing his emotions which was technically against the nature of the Rock people. The unpredictability of his temper and the internal battle regarding his true nature gave him a vulnerability that took away the harshness that threatened to change him. It made him all the more human. I mean, what teenager can say that he's traveled practically all over the nation as an ambassador for this countrymen who were exiled and even those that weren't? That's a heavy burden to carry but still he managed to do it -- of course, not without challenges.

Evanjelin. Oh, man. Don't get me started on that girl. She is literally the Queen of Mindfucks. Evanjelin will make you think one thing end then BOOM SURPRISE it was totally this other thing the whole time. I'm not saying this in a negative way because while she may have screwed with my brain, everything made sense and I found myself nodding along to every twist untangled. But Evanjelin's shady-ness wasn't why I liked her so much, it was mainly because of her strength that completely blew me away. I had never met such a stubborn/determined, brave/reckless, and confusing protagonist ever until her. I can't even properly say what I think of her because it was all so amazingly confusing but in the best way possible. My mind is still recovering from her mindf---ing. But wow, what a gal, such a great and inspiring character. Melina Marchetta is a genius. That is all.

The twists! Don't even get me started on the twists! All I am going to say is that Melina Marchetta was able to connect EVERYTHING with ANYTHING. I don't even know how she was able to do that but just pay attention as you read along... but still, no matter how close you look, you pretty much won't be able to catch 99.99% of what the words of Finnikin of the Rock is hiding.

The only aspect of the book that was sort of iffy for me was the budding romance between Finnikin and Evanjelin. It was very unexpected even though I knew it was going to happen. I didn't really feel it grow between them nor did I see it happening, it just happened. But after a while, I gave up on trying to figure out how it started and just started enjoying it because I have so much ship for those two. They weren't two puzzle pieces that fit each other, no, they clashed and didn't make particular sense together but they still fit, in an odd way. They complemented each other and also contradicted the other, which added spice and a uniqueness to their relationship. Honestly, it took a bit too long but it got there and when it did, Hallelujah!

I cried waaay too many times in this book. I kept telling myself Louisse! *sniffles* Stop crying. *cries* Stop crying. *cries even more* I'll pay you to stop crying. *sobs even more* Just stop. *sobs even more* But even bribing myself didn't work so I had to cry everything out. And I did. I hope that my tears feeds Melina Marchetta's evil writing muse for a long time. *whispers to future readers* Save yourself. *runs away*

I have so much love for so many characters in this book -- even Trevanion, Finnikin's dad, who pretty much just grunted most of the book. I'm kidding, he did a lot in the book. If I ever went to war, he'd be the man I'd want to stand behind, his Guard and him are certified badasses. But if there's one person who I didn't expect to love but 100% adored, it would be Boy Froi. That little bastard thief grew on and got to me and I found myself full-on sobbing at most of his scenes, I don't even know why. I look forward to reading his book (which I thankfully already have, woohoo).

Melina Marchetta has found a creepy, slightly fan in me. I may have to buy all her books just to satisfy my Marchetta fangirl needs. You need to read Finnikin of the Rock. You NEED it. And even if you don't love it, read it for the sake of reading the rest of the series because from what I heard it gets even better. Honestly, I don't think I can take even better because I may spontaneously combust if The Lumatere Chronicles gets even more amazing, haha. But seriously, read it. *peer pressures you through the computer*


Friday, April 17, 2015

Dual Review + Giveaway: Her Dark Curiosity AND A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

Title: Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins
Publication date: January 28th 2014
Buy the book (locally): Fully Booked
(Internationally): Amazon / Barnes and Noble

To defeat the darkness, she must first embrace it.

Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father's island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.

As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.

As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.

With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.

(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)


Oh my.

Oh my, my, my.

Megan Shepherd has definitely done it again and again... and again.

As an avid reader, I have read a lot of sequels that did not live up to expectations (save for a few written by genius authors) and I just glad to be able to say that Megan Shepherd has managed to deliver a book that lived up to my expectations, and a little bit more.

Her Dark Curiosity takes place a short while after the events of The Madman's Daughter and as you read the first few pages, you'll already know that some crazy shit stuff is about to go down. Juliet is struggling to make a cure and she's relapsing, someone or something is killing civilians and there may or may not be something sinister at hand relating to Juliet's father's experiments (the signs point to hell yes). Her Dark Curiosity is definitely darker than its predecessor and more complex, which is one of the things I really loved about this book. Megan Shepherd dug deep into the dark, dark core of this one and gave it an unexpected light.

The internal conflict going on within Juliet was extremely fascinating to read about. It wasn't just her recovering from the events of The Madman's Daughter, it was deeper than it. The constant battle between her innate goodness and the unshakeable evil inside of her completely reeled me in. Juliet was a contradiction as a person and it worked for her, she was characterized perfectly but the push and pull between her different sides added a unique quality to her that truly called to me. I wouldn't say that Juliet matured from the previous book because Juliet has always been mature; you will notice with the way she analyzed, observed and thought things through that she is a genuinely intelligent and grown up lady. When I found out that Her Dark Curiosity was influenced by Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I first thought that it pertained to Edward/The Beast but as I read on, I felt that there were parts of Juliet that warred with each other. Just like Edward, which led me to think that the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reference could also be applied to Juliet. Which is why I applaud Megan Shepherd for being able to create such a wonderfully complex yet appealing character.

Another character I want to commend Megan Shepherd for writing is Edward. I didn't appreciate him that much in the previous book but in Her Dark Curiosity, I was able to connect with him more and truly "get" his character. (In the first book, I was 100% on Team Montgomery but in this one, I am 111% on Team Edward. Swoon!) Like I mentioned above, Edward and Juliet were similar to each other and because of that, I was able to get a proper feel of his character. Tortured. Lonely. Torn. Just a few words to describe Edward at first glance, but as Megan Shepherd delves into different aspects of his person, you truly get to see him in different lights. There were way too many instances wherein I wanted to give him a good cuddle because daaaym, that boy is something else. And don't even get me started on The Beast. There was something weirdly erotic about him, no matter how sinister he seemed. I will admit that his character managed to seduce me one too many times... and I don't regret it. The contrast between the two aspects of Edward was... alluring, to say the least.

While the previous book focused more on Juliet's father's crazy island, the setting of this novel shed more light in the happenings of London. It was interesting to see how each event was linked to the next, from Dr. Moreau's involvement with the King's Club and other things that are too spoiler-y to mention. All I am going to say is that unexpected and slightly insane things will happen, especially when you reach the latter part of the book. The whole novel itself was filled with tight twists and sharp turns that managed to have me stuck to the book pretty much the whole day. I was completely engrossed. So. Much. Crazy.

In terms of other parts of the book that made it so dang enjoyable, it was mostly the characters that gave the book character. The different events in the novel made it exciting and daring but the people in it gave it life; from Montgomery's shift as a person to Lucy's helpful disposition, I felt like I was going out to meet friends I hadn't seen in a long time. One character that wormed his way deeper into my heart was Balthazar. I can't even properly express how much I absolutely adore that man. I literally just wanted to hug him throughout the whole book.

And don't even get me started on the romance. I pretty much wanted to steal both Edward and Montgomery away just to end Juliet's confusion. Though her love for Montgomery is a solid thing, too many rough things have happened between them that are not too easy to forgive nor forget. The love between the two was visceral and so real that it demanded to be acknowledge but it was also too raw and a bit distrustful, I honestly felt bad for them. And Edward too. (Let me comfort you, Edward. Hohoho.)

All in all, Her Dark Curiosity was a wonderful read. The way Megan Shepherd coupled a great plot with her beautifully distinct writing made the experience all the more enjoyable. If you loved The Madman's Daughter, then you need this sequel. Need. Also, I am just so relieved that I have A Cold Legacy in my hands. BRB, reading now.


Title: A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter #3)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins
Publication date: January 27th 2015
Buy the book (locally): Fully Booked
(Internationally): Amazon / Barnes and Noble

After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)


Megan Shepherd does not stop. At all.

A Cold Legacy wasn't as disturbingly enticing as The Madman's Daughter nor was it as creepy as Her Dark Curiosity. A Cold Legacy was a slow shiver that you feel creeping your body and you just won't be able to help yourself to be enthralled by the mystery of Ballentyne's halls.

Juliet and co. are on the run because of reasons and of course something is going. And something did happen. Elizabeth, Juliet's warden, sends her to her family's ancestral home, Ballentyne, wherein Juliet and co. are met with a mixture of cold shoulders and warm welcomes. Ballentyne comes complete with a house full of helpers who you'll immediately notice are a bit different than your average human being. And since A Cold Legacy was inspired by Frankenstein, it's obvious that a dead thing or two will be reanimated... yay!

If there's one thing that plagues Juliet the most, it's knowing that her father's blood runs in her veins carrying his mad genius-ness along with it. While this is a recurring issue for her, Megan Shepherd still manages to dig even deeper into the recesses of Juliet to show her very person and her insecurities. Aside from that, her shoulders have even more weight on them since she was declared as the heiress of the von Stein family, inheriting everything and everyone belonging to the family (*cough*and their secrets*cough*). A lot of responsibilities have been given to Juliet and her learning to prioritize and see the importance of things added a certain depth to her character that wasn't there before. I was definitely satisfied with the way she handled herself throughout the whole book; making hard decisions and learning from her experiences. But even though she was "whole" most of the book, she is still just a girl and the cracks within her made her all the more believable as a person. Also, I bow down to Juliet's science magic powers.

I can't really get too into what happened in the book without spoiling what happened in this one and Her Dark Curiosity but I will say that someone from the previous book comes back and a lot of intense things happen. But I felt that this was secondary to the events in the manor they were in, regarding Juliert, the von Stein secret and of course, Edward. I was actually relieved to see that Megan Shepherd didn't rehash Edward's issues from the last book, instead she managed to connect something completely different and turn the idea into something new (you'll know what I'm talking about once you read the book).

The only thing that kind of put me off with the book was Lucy. I liked her in the previous books because she was a great friend to Juliet and also because she had a backbone and stood for what she believed in. The reason I didn't particularly like her in this one was because of her attitude in regards to Edward and all her peer pressuring. Girl is cray, guys. And yeah, to the very end, I didn't like her. Sorry (not really sorry). But hey, there were other characters whom I ended up really liking like McKenna, Moira, creepy kid Hensley and as always, Balthazar! Oh. My. Balthazar. How I completely adore him. I literally just wanted to take him and keep him in my pocket the whole time. (And the goat bits? So much awww.)

And can I just say? Montgomery is an absolute sweetheart. He's the kind of guy you fall in love with and stay in love with even though you think you've buried all that love somewhere deep. He and Juliet are not perfect, they hurt each other without meaning to and they have disagreements but in the end, they are a unit. They work together and they talk to each other.  Juliet and Montgomery do not let their problems fester and turn into an incurable disease, they work hard to find a remedy for that injury and slowly mend it. Their love is a quiet but passionate thing that you won't be able to help but feel. I ship those two so much.

A Cold Legacy is a stunning conclusion to The Madman's Daughter trilogy, I enjoyed it from the beginning to the very end (and yes, the ending was very satisfying). If you haven't read this series yet, I suggest you start now because you are missing out. Seriously. I am pretty much a fan of Megan Shepherd's... forever.

Her Dark Curiosity and A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd are available at Fully Booked.
Just wanted to say a quick thank you to the amazing people at Fully Booked (Trish, Angel, Yvonne and co.) who made this all possible. You all ROCK.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (47)

Waiting on Wednesday/s are hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine in which you choose a book or books that you're excited and waiting for.
This week's Waiting on Wednesday book is...

Title: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication date: September 1st 2015
Pre-order the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Sarah J. Maas's New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series reaches new heights in this sweeping fourth volume.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)

Why am I excited for this book:

Any fan of Sarah J. Maas will understand why I am ridiculously excited for this book. But if you're not yet a fan, read the first three books (Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire) and you'll see. Sarah J. Maas is pretty much a Fantasy goddess author person, haha.

What's your WoW pick this week? Leave us a link and we'll check it out! :)