9

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014's New-to-Me Authors


I never managed to complete my new-to-me authors post back in December so here I'm late to the party. In March of 2014, I listed ten authors I'd never read and I'm proud to say that I read five of them last year (okay, was still in the middle of reading the fifth one's book so it counts, alright).

Also, my list contains fifteen authors whoops.

Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone was the first book I read in 2014 and whoa, what the Darkli- I mean, what a book! Siege and Storm introduced me to STURMHOND and delved deeper into the world of the Grisha. Ruin and Rising broke me twice because of the Darkling and STURMHOND (I promise this isn't weird 'cause I always write his name in capitals). From the badass and complex characters to exquisite world-building, the Grisha trilogy is everything a fantasy lover needs in their life.

P.S. Megan wrote a post about reasons to read the Grisha trilogy that you should definitely check out.

A. C. Gaughen's Scarlet is a Robin Hood retelling that first killed me with feels and then with an epic ship. I'm kind of dreading-slash-anticipating (re: avoiding) reading Lady Thief and Lion Heart (which comes out on May 19th!).

'You are my whole heart, Scarlet. And this is breaking it.'

HEARTBREAK ALL AROUND. *sob*

I think Corey Ann Haydu's Life by Committee is one of the most underrated young adult contemporaries of 2014. I know many people cringe whenever a book contains subjects like cheating, slut-shaming, and bullying. However, trust me when I say that this book tackles it in a very realistic and heartbreaking way. I'm in awe of Haydu for writing such a fantastic book that makes you think, think, think long after you've turned the last page of the book and put it away.

Laini Taylor is the queen of beautiful prose. Even the people who aren't a fan of her books admit that her writing is captivating and oh-so-delectable. Taylor has a knack for creating a dark ambiance in her books that I've seldom come across in young adult. Also, I love how all three books and the novella in her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy follows a theme. I know that I'll cherish this trilogy and the novella for a long time to come.

Katrina Leno's debut The Half Life of Molly Pierce was one of my most anticipated titles last year and rightly so. The book is everything I love about the young adult contemporary genre. Leno wrote about a girl with a personality disorder and nailed it. Positive family dynamics and writing that pulls you in, The Half Life of Molly Pierce is definitely a must-read.

There's just something about books about suicide that I find fascinating. Some girls are just messed up because they're miserable and that's what Amy Zhang's Falling into Place is all about. It's what life is all about.

Susan Ee, aah. She's the creator of Raffe and Penryn and a series that's so kickass I'd reread it forever and ever. I love the gore and violence and creatures that Susan Ee is a master of. Seriously, I'm so fucking curious as to what goes on in her mind 'cause I'm hella obsessed with this series. I kind of want to reread World After now (this is a normal occurrence and happens once a day week or so).

Jay Kristoff knows how to tear readers apart in one glorious moment and then over and over until you're used to being torn apart by feelings and friendship and gaaah. By the way, that's me after reading Stormdancer. It got me a while to get into it, but when I did there were tears and feels all over. Why, Kristoff?! I've got a feeling that Kinslayer will probably slay me and Endsinger will be the end of me.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is one hell of a ride. Admittedly, as a child of the 90s, I was a bit nervous about reading it because of the ample amount of 80s reference. But I didn't have to worry all that much because most of them were explained anyway and didn't come in the way of me enjoying the story. I seriously cannot wait for Armada because Cline knows his sci-fi like the back of his hand which is the best thing about reading Ready Player One.

Kieron Gillen wrote a comic and I loved it. The unique premise of The Wicked + The Divine is so thought-provoking with characters that kick ass. I'm very partial to Lucifer and Baal. I need to finish writing my post about it so that everyone can understand how deep my obsession runs.

 Sara Raasch's Snow Like Ashes is a glorious fantasy debut and I love the world she has created. I want to live in Winter because snow all the freaking time!

Marie Lu because daaaamn, The Young Elites. I just love how imperfect Adelina Amouteru is and man, she's not a good person. I can't wait to see how much more bad she becomes in The Rose Society.

I must read her Legend trilogy this year and I will (if Eve and Sandra listen to me).

Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park is a beautiful love story that I want to reread because I feel like I didn't absorb it fully into my system? Eleanor and Park both have multiple layers and that's what I like to read about in a young adult contemporary romance (and cry while doing so).

Also, what were those three words. Eeeeep.

Emery Lord's Open Road Summer reminded me why I love road trips book that involve music. And friendship, of course. Regan and Dee's friendship is so real and close to life that I just can't- ugh, so much love.

I just have to mention Kiersten White because how did I not read any of her books before Illusions of Fate?! So much banter and wit and swoony Finn. Sigh.

9

Review: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
young adult contemporary thriller published by Putnam Juvenile on 13 January 2015
first book in an as yet untitled trilogy

Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family--but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she's falling in love with.

THE RATING



THE REVIEW

Fast-paced and chockfull of adrenaline pumping action, The Conspiracy of Us is an international thriller spanning two continents. A dash of realism with a unique twist involving the conspiracy theory of Alexander the Great and the Diadochi in the same vein as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, with romance thrown in for good measure, The Conspiracy of Us is a highly captivating read.

Avery West's only family is her mother and together, moving from one town to another, they somehow survive. However, all that moving has taught Avery to not get attached because it only brings about friendships that aren't meant to last and pain that she can do without. So it's no surprise when her mother tells her that they're moving out of middle-of-nowhere Maine before the weekend's over. As her mother leaves for a two-day business trip and Avery having had enough, she agrees to be Jack Bishop's date for prom that night.

At prom, things escalate quickly when Stellan gets involved along with whatever Jack is up to. Faced with a choice of meeting a filthy rich Alistair family who she is probably related to, Avery finds herself on a private plane en route to Paris. In Paris, Avery is forced to run for her life amid a wild goose chase for answers about her connection to a family that might just prove fatal for her.

The beginning of The Conspiracy of Us is nothing out of the ordinary but what makes it different from all the other hot-new-guy-at-school-and-a-sudden-excursion-abroad is what comes after it. Yes, there are cheesy lines and Avery isn't always a model decision maker but she's a fleshed out character who tends to make mistakes every now and then. In spite of her mistakes, Avery is clever and a quick learner who isn't about to give up control of her life as the battle for power rages on.

Maggie Hall has done an amazing job of weaving an irresistible plot about conspiracy fiction that I don't think has ever been done before in young adult fiction. Hall has flawlessly captured the quiet grandeur associated with a terrible weight of responsibilities and lavish lifestyles in secret societies. Full of gore, violence, breathtaking locales, swoonworthy scenes and a close look into the blithe lifestyle of the ultra rich, there's not one wasted moment in The Conspiracy of Us. A splendid, heart-stopping start to a trilogy, I highly recommend The Conspiracy of Us!

THE QUOTES

'Is it possible to feel nostalgic for something that never actually happened? If it was, it was a shade of toska. A craving for something you couldn't possibly understand. A craving I was finally letting myself feel, only to wish I hadn't.
'Sometimes I can't tell if you're trying to interrogate me, or kill me, or sleep with me.'

4

Review: Sovereign, Volume 1 by Chris Roberson and Paul Maybury


ABOUT THE BOOK

Sovereign, Volume 1 by Chris Roberson and Paul Maybury
historical high fantasy comics published by Image Comics on 16 December 2014
first volume in Sovereign comic series

An epic fantasy in the tradition of Game of Thrones, Sovereign is set in a world which once knew gods, demons, and magic, and to which all three are returning. New York Times bestseller Chris Roberson joins artist Paul Maybury to tell the story of masked undertakers facing the undead with swords, of civil wars and cultures in collision, and of ancient threats emerging from the ashes of history to menace the future.

Collects Sovereign #1-5, plus extras.

THE RATING


THE REVIEW

Sovereign is a multi-layered, high fantasy that spans different colliding cultures who must fight together to stop the creatures of the other worlds squeezing their way into Khend as the four domains of their world draw close together. The politics and power take a backseat in the face of dangerous inhuman forces. The concept of Sovereign is as complex as it is intense and that's the beauty of it all.

The Luminaries have stepped out of their walls of silence to carry out their sacred duty and warn the Horselords about the coming apocalypse. They're masked outcasts who no longer plan to ignore the world around them. On their journey to Khend, they encounter demons from the unreal inhabiting dead bodies of the lowlanders. As their duty, they tend to the dead by easing their passage into the next world.

Unexpectedly, the emperor of Khend, Sanram Rahn, has died without naming his successor which creates conflict among his three sons. Meanwhile, the travelers from Albelund come across an apparently dead monster, Finback, attempting to attack their ship. They see many a strange things and arrive at the palace at the same time as the Luminaries. In the palace, arguments ensue among the three groups but come to a close when the emperor rises from the dead.

In the Unreal, there are countless domains of which the World Tree is but a small component. When the four domains of the World Tree draw away from it and closer together, a new epoch arrives out of fire and battle at the time of Convergence. This is what the Luminaries fear, that as the walls of their world are weakened, anyone from demons to insane gods will be able to cross into Khend to quell their hunger for light and heat.

Being as multi-layered as Sovereign is, it's not easy to gather what's actually happening right away but it doesn't take long to be enchanted by the vastness of the plot. The story-telling aspect of the comic is well-executed with a plot twist that I didn't see coming. Maybury's rusty artwork goes well with the concept of Sovereign, taking into account the many terrains and kinds of ethnicity. Sovereign gets many points for its originality as well as the world-building. While volume one of Sovereign proved to be compelling enough, I hope the second volume will be better.

THE QUOTES

'The dead feel no shame for what the light will expose, but instead fear what the darkness holds.'
'There are realities beyond the realms of senses, and the world is larger than any of us imagine.'

7

Review: Boomerang by Noelle August


ABOUT THE BOOK

new adult contemporary romance published by William Morrow Paperbacks on 8 July 2014
first book in Boomerang series

Welcome to Boomerang.com, the dating site for the millennial gen with its no-fuss, no-commitments matchups, and where work is steamier than any random hook-up.

Mia Galliano is an aspiring filmmaker. Ethan Vance has just played his last game as a collegiate soccer star. They’re sharp, hungry for success, and they share a secret.

Last night, Ethan and Mia met at a bar, and, well . . . one thing led to another, which led to them waking up the next morning—together. Things turned awkward in a hurry when they found themselves sharing a post hookup taxi . . . to the same place: Boomerang headquarters.

What began as a powerful connection between them is treated to a cold shower courtesy of two major complications. First, Boomerang has a strict policy against co-worker dating. And second, they’re now competitors for only one job at the end of summer.

As their internships come to an end, will they manage to keep their eyes on the future and their hands off each other, or will the pull of attraction put them right back where they started?

THE RATING


THE REVIEW

It is a known fact that new adult can get repetitive, dull, and eye-roll worthy which made me go from being wary about the genre to completely writing it off. I figured I've had enough, but then Boomerang happened. Boomerang has been making enough waves that even I got curious about it. Lighthearted and fun, it promised what most in the genre never do, which meant that there's an actual plot to go with the ample amount of foreplay and sex.

Mia Galliano and Ethan Vance are vying for the same position at Boomerang, a fun, no-fuss dating website. However, they meet at a bar the night before they're to start working at Boomerang and hook up. Waking up next to each other, their combined hangovers and forgetfulness over how the night actually went is hilarious. Awkward banter ensues and much to their surprise, they end up taking the a taxi to the Boomerang headquarters. The discovery that they're going to be each other's competition from now on means that the game is on.

The mystery of how they spent their night together nowhere near solved and their attraction for each other going strong, Mia and Ethan know that a lot is at stake. The fact that the internship is an essential step to having a successful career makes them step back and analyse the whole ordeal of trying to win the position and resisting each other. Told in alternate point of views, it made things rather fun and awkward.

Mia is a strong heroine in that she isn't oh-so-shy when it comes to sex and her body which is very refreshing in a new adult book. Mia and Ethan both experienced issues in their previous relationships but that didn't get in the way of their lives. As such, Ethan isn't one of those guys who turn angsty and self-controlling as a result of a bad relationship. Eventually, in between dating Boomerang customers and working together to impress the investors, Mia and Ethan get to know each other more and become friends of sorts.

The actual details of what happened on their hookup night are present in bits and pieces throughout the book which are pretty entertaining and fun. The positive portrayals of family dynamics, friendships and how they can be crazy in a good way are much appreciated. The aspect of finding one's self, even if it's just about discovering what to do in life, is understandable as it's a natural part of life at age 21. So there are no tortured young people trying to solve their problems with meaningless sex here.

Boomerang comes with drama, fun, and heated moments yet I wasn't completely won over by it. For me, Boomerang was missing a spark that would have made it amazing for me. I guess that has to do with a tad bit of predictability that comes attached with rom-coms. Despite that minor issue, I do look forward to reading more from Noelle August aka the author duo, Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger. Overall, Boomerang is a much-needed fun, smexy addition to the new adult genre.

THE QUOTES

'I wonder if Ethan feels like I do sometimes. Like I'm playing at adulthood. At being confident in totally strange situations.' 
'I want to be able to look at a person and say, 'I want you.' Or 'I really like you so much.' It's like none of us – not me, not any of my friends, no one I know, will ever just put themselves out there and say, 'I want to be with you.' We're all scared of giving up the power of being the person who cares less.'

17

The Musing Mind: The Thing About Goal Phobia

Ponderings with little bursts of cartoon art.

goal phobia [/ɡəʊl/ /ˈfəʊbɪə/]: An act of avoiding goals like the plague because they're scary and useless.

Hi, I'm a goal-phobic!

I'm also perfectionist which is awesome and great!

Err. I'm also a procrastinator which doesn't make for a good combination with perfectionism. (It takes me hours to do what you can probably do in a half).

Oh, and that's not all because I'm also passionate which means that if I'm motivated enough, I can read a book in under 4 hours.

As all of that is relative, what you can take away is that goals don't always help you in not losing focus. Or maybe that's just me because I'm usually all 'in your multiple faces, goals.'

The yellow bird knows stuff. (Source)

Step One is Easy


Setting goals for yourself is the easiest part; staying focused and wanting to achieve said goals doesn't come so easily. Especially when you're known for your impulsiveness like I am.

Back in 2014, I was foolish and crazy (I'm still foolish and crazy, it's just a different year so bear with me) when I wrote down ten bookish goals. Naturally, I failed in accomplishing all of them. It's a real glass half full or half empty situation going on here.

That's what I've been saying! (Source)
Let's focus on the fact that I've been wanting to read 100 books in a year since 2011 or so but I keep failing because that's just how I roll. 2015 is the year that I'm finally not aiming for 100 in the back of my mind. I'm going for 75 and I'm sticking to that number and I might just fail again.

(Despite just proclaiming that I'm a goal-phobic).

Obviously, I'm not a goal-oriented person that I once aspired to be. It's just that I like to push myself in at least one aspect of life. With goals. Ew.

You see, that's the problem. Right now, I'm pretty positive about finishing series because I managed to finish five last year. I'm clearly one of those people who rely on their past accomplishments for the likelihood of future success. Yet when I set an actual goal of let's say finishing ten series, you're damn right I'll fail. And fail so hard because I can't handle quantification.

Tending Towards Failure


Every year in January, the one thing I get really, really excited about is setting up my Goodreads challenge (and anticipating what color it'll be because that's important). In other aspects of my life, I'm mostly with this squirrel.

I feel ya, squirrel. (Source)
But then time passes and I go from feeling giddy over the feeling that I'd be able to accomplish my goals to procrastinating and losing all the patience and the passion I had for the goal. I end up feeling irked at myself and that's no fun. It's like I'm the squirrel again.

Both, but don't pay attention to that. (Source)
However, as the year closes in, I remember all the things I set out to do and go about trying to achieve them in the time frame that I originally went for. And let me tell you this, that never works because procrastination is better.

And sleeping. Never forget that. (Source)

Shaking it Off

It all boils down to the fact that I can't take a challenge as a casual thing. Other people set a goal, go about accomplishing it and ta da, it's done. For me, for the most part, I focus so much on the gotta-get-it-done-gotta-get-it-done part than the fun part is non-existent. I finally had a custom bookshelf made last year (that took me a week to paint). But that's not really an accomplishment to me because I've been wanting one ever since I was eleven or so. To me, the time it takes to accomplish a goal takes out all of the feelings associated with it y'know.

Shut it, turtle. (Source)
So yes, ideally I'd like to cut goal phobia in half, before it cuts me in half. But I guess I'm still learning.

Encore. (Source)