Waiting on Wednesday #5

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Title: A Drop of Night

Author: Stefan Bachmann
Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: March 15, 2016
Pages: 384
Five gifted teenagers are selected out of hundreds of other candidates to fly to France and help with the excavation of a vast, underground palace buried a hundred feet below the suburbs of Paris. Built in the 1780's to hide an aristocratic family and a mad duke during the French Revolution, the palace was sealed after the aristocrats fled there. No one has set foot in it for over two centuries.

Now, in the present day, the teenagers enter with cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art security, scientists and chaperones. And then a brutal accident occurs. No way out. Caught in the dark.

They will have to fight to survive. But are they really alone in the depths?

Why I'm Waiting

Excavation of an underground palace with no way out? Not going to lie: I actually had a dream just like that once...except it was under my grandma's ranch instead of in France. But I'm pretty sure A Drop of Night sounds cooler than my dream. The idea of exploring an underground palace and things going not too right sounds intense and mysterious and I seriously want to read it! 

Are you excited about A Drop of Night? What are you waiting on this week?

Review: A History of Glitter and Blood

Monday, August 10, 2015

Title: A History of Glitter and Blood
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQIA
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: August 18, 2015

I received an eARC of A History of Glitter and Blood from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary (via Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.
But when Beckan's clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn't have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. 
This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.
I wish I knew how I felt about this book. Even days after I finished, I am still a whole mix of emotions. Part of me is confused, frustrated, and a little bored with it, but then there is another part of me that enjoys the characters that were slowly revealed, the societal questions the book highlights by using fairytale creatures, and the way it is a little grotesque in an almost postmodern Brothers Grimm sort of way (if that even makes sense). Yeah, it is a weird book that probably won't be for everyone.

A History in Glitter and Blood has a rocky start. The beginning is confusing and out of order and very, very difficult to follow. There is no slow introduction to this book or easing into the world. You get thrown in the pool and are forced to either sink or swim in a world that is not really explained.  If I didn't feel so guilty about DNFing a book, I probably would have given up very quickly . Really it wasn't until I was whole 45% into it before I actually started to understand what was going on and get into it.

The story follows a group of four fairies--Beckan, Scrap, Josha, and Cricket--who are caught in a war between fairies, gnomes, and tightropers. When the rest of the fairies leave the city, these fairies do what they have to do to survive, and some of them don't. The characters are very complex and damaged, and because of the jumbled nature of the writing, it takes a while to really get to know them. However, after sticking through it, I ended up really appreciating characters that I wasn't even a fan of in the beginning, such as Scrap.

The world is created very slowly, which is part of why it is difficult to get into the book. For the first half, it feels like not a whole lot really happens. It is in some form of introduction to the fairies' situation and flashbacks to the other events before and during the war. So it is all feels like a very long set up for the events happening in the second half. Also I feel like I only got bits and pieces about the different races and never really got the full picture. Honestly I wish that more of the world was explained. But I guess that is part of the history that this book tries to imitate, that no one knows everything and that history is just one person or race's point of view. 

This book tries to do a lot. The book is a commentary on history using the races of mainly fairies, gnomes, and tightropers. (Also don't ask me what a tightroper is. From what I get, they have two toes, spit ropes from their mouths, and apparently spin taffy in their mouths? I don't even know.) The book is written by an unreliable narrator, a fairy named Scrap. Throughout the book, we learn just how much of an unreliable narrator he is, and it is all done in a very unique way of writing a history book. So even though I thought "why is there someone saying they need to add a map or take this part out" at first, this strange writing style becomes clearer. Eventually. It takes a while.

Okay so fair warning, this book is weird. Like really weird. But I kind of like how strange it was. Many stories with fairies and such are too sparkles and good feelings for me. A History of Glitter and Blood is not. Most fairies have bits that have been eaten by gnomes (and even more creepy is that the fairies are so nonchalant about it), three of the main characters work as prostitutes for the gnomes, and racism of these fairytale creatures is a huge part of the story. This is not a happy little story about fairies. It is gritty and grotesque, and I enjoyed that. Though not going to lie, I really am still a little creeped out by the fact that fairies still feel their body parts after they have been cut off or eaten by gnomes. So gross! Mad respect for the idea process that crafted that, but still it gives me the heeby-geebies.

One detail about A History in Glitter and Blood was how surprisingly open it was with sexuality. In fact, sexuality doesn't even seem to be an issue at all! It was actually quite refreshing, and I loved the way it was handled in the book. Relationships between both genders seemed normal, and there was no issue with characters being intimate with both genders. It was very interesting how this was incorporated into the story seamlessly. 

Rating: 3 out of 5. A History in Glitter and Blood is a book that you have to muscle through to really understand. You may want to give up on it because it is weird as hell at first, but when you start to understand it's weirdness, you learn to appreciate it. So while I still feel a bit confused and a bit weirded out by the book, I am glad that I kept reading.

Monthly Rewind: June/ July

Monday, August 3, 2015

Monthly Rewind is a monthly blog feature that looks back on each month, including a bit about each month for me, blog posts, books I've read over the month, my five monthly favorites, and my monthly TBR list.

Long time no talk, lovelies. It's been quite a few busy months. I have read quite a bit but blogged barely any. Lots to working on VISA and school stuff, helping my mom by proofreading her PhD paper,  and traveling to New Mexico and San Diego. Spent my third very tiring and fun week at SDCC! I came back with signed posters from The 100 and DC Legend's of Tomorrow, collectable Skottie Young Marvel pins and Daredevil shirt, and a 62 signed and free books. It's been busy but great!

Books read these two months: 11
June: The Material Girls, Nimona, Ink and Bone, The Memory Hit, Lois Lane: Fallout
July: Silver in the Blood, Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy #2), Illuminae, Everything Everything, Armada, Blood and Salt
Book reviews: 3
Favorite book of the months: June: Nimona   July: Illuminae

TV: Sense8 and Avatar: The Last Airbender
Have you watched this masterpiece yet?! Sense8 is ah-maz-ing! It is a little slow and confusing to start because there are 8 main characters, but by the 3rd episode, I was hooked. I loved all of the characters especially Capheus, Nomi, Sun, and Lito (and Will, Riley, Wolfgang, and Kala. Damn it that's all of them...) I just love all of the representation in the show, and the way that all the characters are there for each other to listen to and comfort but also to protect and kickass. If you need something to watch, watch this!

This July I have been doing an Avatar: The Last Airbender rewatch (and somehow haven't watched any new episodes of my favorite show Teen Wolf, oops). I haven't watched the show in a while and I just turned it on one day and then I just couldn't stop! It is such a fun but complicated show that is just timeless. Plus I feel that Sokka and I are pretty much the same person.

Food: New Mexican Green Chile
Oh boy, it makes me hungry just thinking about it. I only get green chile maybe twice a year when I visit my grandma in New Mexico, and it is really rough because it is my favorite food EVER. It is pretty much just roasted and chopped green chiles, a little flour, a little meat, and water, and I can eat bowls of that gorgeous spicy food. I honestly wish that I didn't bring it up because now I can't eat it!

Beauty/ Fashion: La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid
Other than being a mouthful to say, this product is amazing. I am a super pale person, add that to the fact that I spend most of my time inside reading, and it all equals that I get sunburned very easily. For example, yesterday I went on a walk to the mailbox to mail a letter and back which was about 15 minutes of sun time without sunscreen, and I woke up with a little sunburn. Yeah, welcome to my life. So I always need a good sunscreen that goes with my sensitive skin. But I hate the thick sunscreen-smelling sunscreens! So this one is absolute perfection! It is super light and it doesn't have that gross smell. It doesn't feel like I am wearing anything and is super protecting for my skin. This has saved my skin!

Music: SDCC15 End of the Line playlist
Lines at every convention, especially SDCC, are epically long. Like time it takes to read War and Peace long. So for that, I decided to make playlist to keep me pumped up for the day's adventures. It features music that reminds me of different fandoms and lots of I Fight Dragons. Because you can't have a nerdy playlist without I Fight Dragons?!

Person/Thing: Noelle Stevenson
Guess who I got to meet at SDCC? That's right! The amazing talented Noelle Stevenson! In case you weren't aware, I have been a huge fan of her art and writing for a long long time. I have been following her blog Gingerhaze for years, I own a few of her prints (both Hipster Hobbits and Broship of the Rings), I adore and collect the comics she writes for, I have most of her variant covers that she has drawn (still need to snag the Runaways one!), and of course I have read Nimona online and in the book. Yeah, not obsessed at all. Completely midlevel fangirl right here. So this month I was lucky enough to meet her at Comic Con and get her to sign a Nimona book and a few Lumberjanes comics. I didn't make a total fool out of myself, thank goodness, and it was so great to meet her!

Actually this month's TBR is in my 3rd Annual ARC August post! I am so excited to be doing this challenge and try to read more of my ARCs!

How was June/July for you all? Any favorite that you want to share or have you read any of the books that I have read this month?

3rd Annual ARC August Sign-Up

Thursday, July 30, 2015

ARC August is a challenge created and hosted by Read.Sleep. Repeat. and this challenge could not have come at a better time! My ARCs (and reviews, ugh) have been piling up a bit because I was busy with other things the last few months, i.e. school stuff, SDCC, VISA nightmares, rewatching Avatar The Last Airbender. So I have a few ARCS that need to be read from Netgalley and now a massive pile from SDCC. Also I have a few late ones, yikes! So this is the fun way to cross a few of these ARCs off my list! I can do this, right?

The rules are very simple
  • It may be a physical ARC or and eARC but it MUST be an ARC
  • Yes it can be an ARC that has released as long as it’s an ARC I’m not going to nit pick much
  • HAVE FUN WITH THIS! Feeling like you are being “forced” to read is the best way turn a fun event into a yucky obligation.
  • Update post! I personally will do a post for each Saturday in August but that’s just me. You can update once a week, every other week or once for the whole darn event. This update can be in the form of a blog or tumblr post, vlog, link to your “ARC August 2015″ shelf or even an instagram pic! I want to make this as easy and low pressure as possible for you.

My ARC August Reading Goals

My mission: Complete the following ARCs and give updates on my progress every Friday. I will also be tweeting my progress at @scarletnerded with #ARCAugust.
My reward: Because I have been trying to limit my book buying (kinda...), I get to buy The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness at the end of the month as my reward! And I also get to treat myself to my favorite peanut butter and chocolate ice cream! Dare I say best reward ever?

Release Date: July 28

Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.

But when Beckan's clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn't have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. 

This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

ODY-C Volume 1 by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward
Release Date: June 16

An eye-searing, mind-bending, gender-shattering epic science fiction retelling of Homer's Odyssey starting with the end of a great war in the stars and the beginning of a very long journey home for Odyssia and her crew of warriors. The journey to Ithicaa begins HERE, by Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals) and Christian Ward (Infinite Vacation, Olympus).

Collects ODY-C #1-5.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliot
Release Date: August 18

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test Kal's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Soundless by Richelle Mead
Release Date: November 10

From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore.

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever...
Bream Give Me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg
Release Date: September 8

Taking its title from a group of stories that begin the book, Bream Gives Me Hiccups moves from contemporary L.A. to the dormrooms of an American college to ancient Pompeii, throwing the reader into a universe of social misfits, reimagined scenes from history, and ridiculous overreactions. In one piece, a tense email exchange between a young man and his girlfriend is taken over by the man’s sister, who is obsessed with the Bosnian genocide (The situation reminds me of a little historical blip called the Karadordevo agreement); in another, a college freshman forced to live with a roommate is stunned when one of her ramen packets goes missing (she didn’t have “one” of my ramens. She had a chicken ramen); in another piece, Alexander Graham Bell has teething problems with his invention (I’ve been calling Mabel all day, she doesn’t pick up! Yes, of course I dialed the right number – 2!).

United by Eisenberg’s gift for humor and character, and grouped into chapters that each open with an illustration by award-winning cartoonist Jean Jullien, the witty pieces collected in Bream Gives Me Hiccups explore the various insanities of the modern world, and mark the arrival of a fantastically funny, self-ironic, and original voice.

Are you doing the ARC August challenge too? What ARCs do you have to tackle this month? Are you giving yourself a reward for completing your challenge goal too?

Review: Silver in the Blood

Title: Silver in the Blood
Author: Jessica Day George
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: July 7, 2015

I received an ARC of Silver in the Blood from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary (via Goodreads)
Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate... or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.

I had such high hopes for this book. I even featured it in a WOW, and I was pumped to read it! Because looking at that description and cover, it seems like a book that would be right up my alley. The thing is that the general story is interesting. It really is. In a sentence: these two cousins, Dacia and Lou, travel to Romania and discover that their family is hiding an ancestry of shape shifters and are up to no good. Sound pretty good, right? The mystery and motives of the family were what kept me in the story, and the background of the girls' heritage and the powers of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke were incredibly fascinating. (Especially The Smoke! So awesome!)  Add the gorgeous setting, and it should have a home run! But I just could not get into it.

I think that the main problem that I had was the slow pacing. This story just seemed to drag through the girls' narratives and all of the events just moved at a slow zombie-like crawl. So when action actually started to happen, it felt...off, like it was part of different book. Even when things started to pick up, the pacing in the writing still made these parts seem less exciting than they should have been. However, all of this might be the author's attempt to keep to the historical style, and it just didn't mesh with me. Because I do recognize that the style of writing the letters and the way the girls spoke was most likely historically how girls in this upper class society would write and talk. But it just took a toll on my appreciation of the book.

There was also something off about the character development. At one point there is such a change in the girls' personalities that it seems as if they did a Freaky Friday style personality swap rather than went through any thorough character development. It was jarring to read. Though I will say that I liked Lou's character and personality after her shift. She became more self assured and bold once she got her powers, and it made for some pretty awesome and hilarious situations. Also a lot of the supporting characters were a bit wishy washy especially the girls' cousin, Radu, and it was difficult to understand any characters' actions because they never seemed to be constant. Were they acting out of character? I honestly couldn't tell you.

The "romance" in the book was a bit lackluster. Again, this could be the historical aspect and was how things worked in this time and society. Relationships just seemed so flat. Dacia seemed to show interest in everyone, but it all seemed very superficial. Even with her relationship with Lord Johnny, I really had a hard time understanding if her feelings were, well, real feelings. The only relationship that seemed interesting or developed was Lou and Theo Ardacky, and even then that could have had a bit more chemistry.

There is one aspect that I did really enjoy: references to Dracula and that whole part of the story. I mean it is set in Romania so a Dracula reference should be pretty essential! I loved the way the author morphed the Dracula book and Vlad the Impaler's history into her story background. The Dracula fan in me adored it!

Rating: 2 out of 5. This book was a bit disappointing and just not for me mostly because of the slow pace, but someone who enjoys more historical books might enjoy it more. 

Review: Alive

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Title: Alive
Author: Scott Sigler
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: July 14, 2015

I received an eARC of Alive from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary (via Goodreads)
A young woman awakes trapped in an enclosed space. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. With only her instincts to guide her, she escapes her own confinement—and finds she’s not alone. She frees the others in the room and leads them into a corridor filled with the remains of a war long past. The farther these survivors travel, the worse are the horrors they confront. And as they slowly come to understand what this prison is, they realize that the worst and strangest possibilities they could have imagined don’t even come close to the truth

I was hesitant to write this review. Not because I didn't have anything to say about Alive because that is totally not the case. I could probably talk about this book all day. It is because saying anything might give something about this great story away! Reading this book was such an experience, and I couldn't let any spoiler slip by to ruin that. But this book was so amazing that I couldn't just let it go without raving about it!

I will admit that I didn't start this book with the best attitude. "Oh god, not another teen trapped in someplace with no memory and trying to figure it out why he/she is there. Someone call the press. We got a revolutionary idea right here, pal." Yup, I am big enough to admit that. But the story wouldn't let me keep that attitude! After a few chapters, the story really took off. (And I can tell you that I had to flip back to those beginning chapters to see how interesting they were once I got so much more information.) The story is full of twists and turns and shocks and revelations that kept me in a state of riveted confusion/excitement the entire time. It is an intense roller coaster of a story, and when you get to the big reveal moment, it will be worth it!

Is that vague enough for you? Here are a few little tastes to make sure you read this beauty of a book. The story explores: leadership, survival, self discovery, society, growing up, religion, interesting characters galore, and that is all just scratching the surface. And the diversity in the book gets a nice high-five! The protagonist is fascinating and complicated, and I loved exploring the world of Alive through her eyes and watch her piece together what she is given and deal with the consequences of her and others' actions.

My advice about reading this book: Don't look for spoilers or flip to the end of the book. Don't read reviews that talk about it too much. Don't even talk to friends that have read it because a clue might slip! Just take that vague summary of the girl waking up in a box and devour that book in one sitting. And then come talk to me because I need someone to talk about it with while I wait for the next book in the series!

Rating: 5 out of 5. Reading this book was such a pulse-racing fun experience that explores so much. Pre-order or keep an eye out for this book!

Waiting on Wednesday #4

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Title: Zeroes
Author: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Pages: 560
Ethan, aka "Scam," has a way with words. When he opens his mouth, whatever he wants you to hear comes out. But Ethan isn't just a smooth talker. He has a unique ability to say things he doesn't consciously even know. Sometimes the voice helps, but sometimes it hurts - like now, when the voice has lied and has landed Ethan in a massive mess. So now Ethan needs help. And he needs to go to the last people who would ever want to help him - his former group of friends, the self-named "zeros" who also all possess similarly double-edged abilities, and who are all angry at Ethan for their own respective reasons. Brought back together by Scam's latest mischief, they find themselves entangled in an epic, whirlwind adventure packed with as much interpersonal drama as mind-bending action. 

Why I'm Waiting

I am really excited about this book. I am a big superhero fan, and something that I love more than superheroes is stories that are a commentary on being a superhero and having powers. Because "double-edged abilities"? I am sold! I love the idea of being super without all of the super perks, and exploring all the downfalls about having powers. Mostly though, I totally think my mouth has a mind of its own which gets me into trouble, and I would love to see that as a power.

Are you excited about Zeroes? What are you waiting on this week?