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Sunday, March 30, 2014

March Recap: Back Into the Swing of Things

March was pretty uneventful for me, but that's a good thing. After an incredibly unproductive February, I was able to get back into the swing of things in March and made good progress on my work, school, blogging, and reading. It feels good to have had a pretty productive month!

I also got to see two great movies:
It's been years since Veronica Mars, the TV show, ended, and years in which Marshmallows have been waiting for a return to our favourite snarky detective. Well, the wait is finally over and it felt like coming home! The Veronica Mars movie DELIVERED on everything the fans have been wanting and waiting for. It was just so perfect! I absolutely loved seeing all the characters again (they even brought back minor ones!) and all the inside jokes were great. If you aren't yet a Veronica Mars fan, then what the heck are you waiting for??

It is with a sigh of relief that I can say that I loved the Divergent movie. There is always concern with book-to-movie adaptations, but I feel like they did Divergent justice with this movie. Sure, it wasn't perfect, but it was definitely on the high end of book-to-movie adaptations. I loved seeing this book brought to life and I loved the lead actors that were cast. My main complaint is actually who they cast for Peter, Will, and Al - these actors all look so similar and were difficult to tell apart! Throw in the actor who played Caleb, whom was also pretty similar looking, and it was just too much. All the other casting choices were good though! And I loved the Veronica Roth cameo.

This month I also binge-watched the first three seasons of American Horror Story. Holy crap, could this show be any more addicting?? I don't think so. The show can actually be pretty silly at times in that bad horror movie kind of way, and yet it's still SO incredibly entertaining! Definitely recommended (and this is coming from a total wimp).

Blog Posts in March:

My Life in February: Olympics, Olympics, Olympics... and Marissa Meyer
Muggle Monday: New Bloomsbury Cover Art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Waiting On Wednesday: Penguin Spring 2014 Catalog
Waiting On Wednesday: Simon & Schuster Spring 2014 Catalog
Top Ten Popular Authors I've Never Read
Top Ten Things On My Harry Potter Bucket List
Review: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer - 5 Stars
Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypress - 3 Stars
Review: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1-0.5) by Sarah J. Maas - 5 Stars
Series Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan - 3 Stars

Best Book Read in March:
I reread Days of Blood and Starlight this month to refresh myself for the upcoming finale, Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Good lord THIS BOOK. It is absolutely spectacular. Laini Taylor is such a phenomenal writer that it is actually unbelievable at times. I am both craving and dreading the soon to be released finale... Excitement is winning out though because I just KNOW it is going to be blow-your-socks-off amazing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Series Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Publisher: Disney
Published: 2005-2009
Pages: 1,741
Source: Bought
Rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis for Book 1, The Lightning Thief:
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

In short: Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a totally fun and easy to read series, but it felt a bit too young for me personally.
Well, it ain't no Harry Potter. But Percy Jackson and the Olympians was pretty cute anyways. Rick Riordan hit the jackpot when he came up with a series that features young demi-gods who get to train at summer camp and fight all manner of mythological monsters in a creatively engaging plot. The pacing is break-neck - too fast for my taste, personally - but great for readers who become impatient with steady-going plots. Rick Riordan also has a knack for writing humorous scenes and clever dialogue - the humour was probably my favourite part of the series.

My main complaint with Percy Jackson and the Olympians is that it felt really young. That may seem like an unfair criticism as the series is intended for middle grade readers, but to me, the best Middle Grade reads are the ones that transcend all age groups and provide enjoyment and richness to all ages of readers. I would argue that this isn't the case with Percy Jackson and the Olympians - the language is simplistic, the characters lack dimension, and the plot lacks complexity and nuance. These are books I would have loved if I had read them as a ten-year-old; as a twenty-something, I can only say that I liked them.

I'm very glad that I have finally read this series that people have been recommending to me for ages! I did enjoy it, truly, and I recognize its popularity and I do feel it is deserving of it. I just wish this series would have been around when I was much younger, when I would have loved the heck out of it and appreciated it a whole lot more. As it is, I would definitely recommend Percy Jackson and the Olympians to reluctant young readers - it is incredibly fast paced and easy to read and they are sure to have a fun time reading it!

Author Links:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Top Ten Things On My Harry Potter Bucket List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I have decided to put my own little spin on this week's theme, Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List - Harry Potter style!

1. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando
(or at Universal Studios Hollywood when construction is completed)

2. See the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Leavesden Studios

3. Watch all of the Harry Potter movies in one day
(this would take about 20 hours... actually, that sounds pretty unpleasant)

4. Listen to the audiobooks
(I never have before! Now I only need to decide between the award-winning narrator Jim Dale or the inimitable Stephen Fry. Thoughts?)

5. Brew my own Butterbeer

6. Have a wand choose me at Ollivander's

7. Try to force my way through Platform 9¾ at King's Cross

8. Backpack around Scotland trying to find Hogwarts

9. Introduce a new generation to Harry Potter

10. Meet my Queen, J.K. Rowling
(yeah, I wish!)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Muggle Monday: New Bloomsbury Cover Art for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I highlight a significant piece of news from the Harry Potter franchise. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this feature: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

Scholastic (US publisher) has already had their Harry Potter makeovers by artist Kazu Kabuishi (see them here, here, and here), so now it's UK Publisher, Bloomsbury's turn, with art by Jonny Duddle!

This new edition will be published September 1, 2014 in both hardback and paperback, along with the other six newly redesigned covers for the rest of the series. Along with the new artwork, this edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone will also feature highlights from J.K. Rowling's writings from Pottermore. This is a separate edition from the fully illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone that will be published by Bloomsbury and Pottermore in autumn 2015, which will feature the illustrations by the insanely talented Jim Kay (the illustrator of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness).

As for the artwork above, I like it! I think I still like Scholastic's redesign a bit more though. I love that Bloomsbury has finally come up with a special title font for the series, akin to Scholastic's unique title font. The cover has a very child-like whimsical feel to it that I think suits the first book perfectly. I do hope that they plan to take the cover art in a darker, more mature direction in future books, however. Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Simon & Schuster Spring 2014 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Simon & Schuster Spring 2014 Catalog:

Killer Instinct by S.E. Green
Date: May 6, 2014
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She’s not evil, but she has certain... urges.
Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. Afterschool job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick.
Because she might be one herself.
Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals—delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder. But with each visceral rush the line of self-control blurs.
And then a young preschool teacher goes missing. Only to return... in parts.
When Lane excitedly gets involved in the hunt for “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer that has come to her hometown, she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her birth dad and her own dark past. And once the Decapitator contacts Lane directly, Lane knows she is no longer invisible or safe. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim...

What is it with the recent trend of books about serial killers? There seems to be a lot of books from the point of view of serial killers or potential serial killers these days. It's a bit disturbing... but I can't deny there's something intrinsically intriguing about learning about their mindset. It is for this reason that I am curious about Killer Instinct.

Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne
Date: May 13, 2014
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Ten-year-old Jack Foster has stepped through a doorway and into quite a different London.
Londinium is a smoky, dark, and dangerous place, home to mischievous metal fairies and fearsome clockwork dragons that breathe scalding steam. The people wear goggles to protect their eyes, brass grill insets in their nostrils to filter air, or mechanical limbs to replace missing ones.
Over it all rules the Lady, and the Lady has demanded a new son—a perfect flesh-and-blood child. She has chosen Jack.
Jack’s wonder at the magic and steam-powered marvels in Londinium lasts until he learns he is the pawn in a very dangerous game. The consequences are deadly, and his only hope of escape, of returning home, lies with a legendary clockwork bird.
The Gearwing grants wishes. Or it did, before it was broken. Before it was killed.
But some things don’t stay dead forever.

OOH LOOK! A book featuring an alternate steampunk London! With an absolutely darling cover and title to boot. Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times just calls to me! *grabby hands*

Raging Star by Moira Young
Date: May 13, 2014
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Saba is ready to seize her destiny and defeat DeMalo and the Tonton...until she meets him and he confounds all her expectations with his seductive vision of a healed earth, a New Eden. DeMalo wants Saba to join him, in life and work, to create and build a healthy, stable, sustainable world…for the chosen few. The few who can pay.
Jack’s choice is clear: to fight DeMalo and try to stop New Eden. Still uncertain, her connection with DeMalo a secret, Saba commits herself to the fight. Joined by her brother, Lugh, anxious for the land in New Eden, Saba leads an inexperienced guerilla band against the powerfully charismatic DeMalo, in command of his settlers and the Tonton militia. What chance do they have? Saba must act. And be willing to pay the price.

I freaking LOVED Blood Red Road, the first book in the Dust Lands Trilogy, and yet I still haven't gotten around to reading the sequel, Rebel Heart. Don't worry though, it's definitely on my list to read ASAP before the final book, Raging Star, is released. Note: this series is actually published by Random House in Canada, but I've chosen to include it with its American publisher, Simon & Schuster, for this week's Waiting on Wednesday post.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
Date: May 27, 2014
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In the long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary's own brother. Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Dark Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell. The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris — but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons? When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee — even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned . . . Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the world in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!

I can't say I have been totally keen on the new additions to the original Mortal Instruments trilogy. I thought City of Glass was a great ending! But as long as new books are going to be written in the series, I guess I'm going to keep reading through to the end because I do still feel invested in the characters. I do hope City of Heavenly Fire will be a worthwhile and epic finale to this series!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Simon & Schuster Spring 2014 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Simon & Schuster Spring 2014 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Review: The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass #0.1-0.5) by Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: March 4, 2014
Pages: 448
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 Stars

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan's most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin's Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas - together in one edition for the first time - Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn's orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

In short: The Assassin's Blade shows that Sarah J. Maas excels as a storyteller, even in novella format.
Now THIS is how novellas should be done. Too often when I read series novellas, the characters are underdeveloped, the story is superfluous, and I'm left thinking, "What is the point?"; I could easily read the series and skip the novellas and it would make absolutely no difference because the novellas are inessential and unimportant. But THESE Throne of Glass prequel novellas!! They are not only relevant and significant to the overall series story, but they are also each as strong and entertaining as an actual full-length novel.

I don't know how Sarah J. Maas does it, but somehow she is able to give the reader a feel for what Celaena is all about within the first few pages of the first novella, The Assassin and the Pirate Lord. Those who were turned off by Celaena's cockiness and inactivity in Throne of Glass should definitely give these novellas a read as Celaena demonstrates another side of herself as a gutsy and tenacious heroine with a heart of gold. And then there's Sam. Following Throne of Glass, I was firmly Team Chaol, but even I was swayed and swooned by Sam and his hate-turned-love relationship with Celaena.

Sarah J. Maas excels as a storyteller, not only when it comes to tension-ridden romances, but also no-holds-barred action scenes and gut-wrenching heartbreak and feels. And the fact that she is able to accomplish all this in short novella format when you would normally have to turn to novels to get this much depth? Well, that's just genius. My only regrets are a) that I didn't read these prequel novellas before reading Throne of Glass, and b) that I haven't read Crown of Midnight yet (seriously, what am I waiting for?!).

Previously, my review of Throne of Glass.

Other Reviews:
Looking for the Panacea
Lunar Rainbows
YA Book Queen

Author Links:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: Penguin Spring 2014 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Penguin Spring 2014 Catalog:

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Date: April 8, 2014
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Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him--and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

I wouldn't say Rebel Belle is my typical read, but it caught my interest because it reminded me of one of my favourite TV shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Plus, I always hear great things about Rachel Hawkins' sense of humour and her ability to write witty banter!

Curiosity by Gary Blackwood
Date: April 10, 2014
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Philadelphia, PA, 1835. Rufus, a twelve-year-old chess prodigy, is recruited by a shady showman named Maelzel to secretly operate a mechanical chess player called the Turk. The Turk wows ticket-paying audience members and players, who do not realize that Rufus, the true chess master, is hidden inside the contraption. But Rufus’s job working the automaton must be kept secret, and he fears he may never be able to escape his unscrupulous master. And what has happened to the previous operators of the Turk, who seem to disappear as soon as Maelzel no longer needs them? Creeping suspense, plenty of mystery, and cameos from Edgar Allan Poe and P. T. Barnum mark Gary Blackwood’s triumphant return to middle grade fiction.

Curiosity, a steampunk-ish historical middle grade novel, reminds me of a lot of another book I enjoyed of the same genre, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, so I'm thinking I would enjoy Curiosity as well. And I'm totally in love with the idea of a featured cameo from Edgar Allan Poe!

The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer
Date: April 22, 2014
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Sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape from the coastal cities or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.

The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery.

I always find alternate histories fascinating. Combine that with steampunk and I'm good to read! I've not yet read anything by Andrea Cremer, but I've been curious about many of her books in the past. The Inventor's Secret definitely sounds right up my alley so I'm excited for it!

Inland by Kat Rosenfield
Date: June 12, 2014
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After nine years spent suffocating in the arid expanses of the Midwest, far from the sea where her mother drowned, Callie Morgan and her estranged father are returning to the coast. And miraculously, Callie can finally breathe easily. No more sudden, clawing attacks and week-long hospital stays. No more wary, pitying glances from classmates and teachers. She can be more than a sickly freak, coughing her way between nondescript inland towns every year.
But something waits for Callie in the water. Just as her life begins to feel like her own, with an almost-family and a first love and a circle of loud-mouthed friends, her body starts to rebel in new ways. She finds herself fighting the intoxicating pull of the black waters right outside her window. Her dreams turn wild and real, and she wakes up with salt water in her hair. Family secrets and whispering doubts flood her brain as she leads herself and those around her into danger, jeopardizing everything she once longed for. Is it madness, or is there a voice, beckoning her to come to the sea’s deepest heart; to come home?

Oooh, I love the premise for Inland and I think it has so much potential! Having always lived inland myself, I've always longed to live by the sea. Never before has that translated to waking up with salt water in my hair and the sea beckoning to me though! Very intriguing.

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Penguin Spring 2014 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Penguin Spring 2014 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

Publisher: Greenwillow
Published: March 4, 2014
Pages: 352
Source: For Review from HarperCollins/Edelweiss
Rating: 3 Stars

When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.
But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.

In short: Death Sworn was not especially memorable, but I did appreciate Leah Cypress' ability to create such a darkly atmospheric world.
It's definitely not a good sign that I am sitting down to write a review for Death Sworn a month after I finished reading it and I have already forgotten quite a few of the details. Sure, I probably shouldn't have waited so long to write my review, but to be honest, that isn't normally a problem for me because I actually have a pretty excellent memory normally. I rarely have problems remembering scenes and plot points from books I've read so to say that I have forgotten much of Death Sworn means that it did little to impress me and was not particularly memorable.

That's not to say that I disliked Death Sworn. I don't recall the details of course, but I do recall enjoying it enough. I was intrigued with the darkly atmospheric world that Leah Cypress has created. Immediately we are introduced to an ominous mystery and feeling of unease simmering just below the surface. I love reading about magic and assassins and I think Leah Cypress delivered an original premise combining the two. I was definitely unclear on some of the aspects of the world and certain plot points, but overall I think the dark tones and the rich atmosphere of the world were my favourite parts of Death Sworn.

On the other hand, from what I recall of the characters in Death Sworn, they were pretty inconsistent and largely frustrating. Ditto with the romance. Hey, I like forbidden romance as much as the next girl, but can we please stop with the whiplash-inducing personality changes? Because of this, I felt distant from the characters for most of Death Sworn. I was still occasionally intrigued by the characters and their actions, but they were really lacking the oomph that makes great characters memorable.

Overall, Death Sworn was an unfortunately forgettable book that was lacking specialness. BUT I do think that Leah Cypress has a definite talent for creating enigmatic and shadowy settings and tones that intrigue and tantalize. While my experience with Death Sworn isn't enough to convince me to move forward with this series, it has confirmed my committal to read Leah Cypress' previous book, Mistwood, which many people seem to love.

Other Reviews:
Ex Libris
The Daily Prophet
Supernatural Snark

Author Links:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Published: February 4, 2014
Pages: 550
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 Stars

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.
Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.
When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

In short: Cress by Marissa Meyer is just as compulsively readable as Cinder and Scarlet and has even more to offer.
I don't know what to say about Cress that I haven't already said about Cinder and Scarlet. Cress delivers on every bit of the exciting adventure, the amusing dialogue, and the totally lovable characters that were present in Cinder and Scarlet. And in some ways, Cress managed to impress me even MORE than the previous books, which I didn't think was possible. It's one thing to have a strong and inventive storyline and a strong point of view like we get in Cinder, but now with Cress, the series has evolved to a multi-layered storyline and numerous POVs and yet it never feels convoluted, which is impressive. Cress is just as compulsively readable as Cinder and Scarlet and yet it has even more to offer.

I absolutely love the strength that Cinder and Scarlet bring to the group, but I think I love Cress most of all because she is more relatable to me personally. She is totally endearing with her social awkwardness and totally realistic with her anxiety. And even though she is not as outwardly strong as Cinder and Scarlet, she is brave in her own way. And when you throw in Thorne (my pretend lover) as the love interest? Well, that's just perfect. Their relationship isn't as heated as Scarlet and Wolf's, but there is a vulnerability and tenderness to it that was just so sweet.

Marissa Meyer has done it again and has proven herself to be a master storyteller in this latest instalment in The Lunar Chronicles. I am blown away with how she manages to keep the series consistently strong, always fast paced, and with never any filler. I love her imagination, I love her humour, and above all, I love her characters. I really cannot wait to return to the gang and have new characters join them! Winter is coming!

Previously, my reviews of Cinder and Scarlet.

Other Reviews:
Megan Likes Books
More Than Just Magic
The Social Potato

Author Links:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Top Ten Popular Authors I've Never Read

Sarah Dessen - Gayle Forman - Meg Cabot - Shannon Hale - Libba Bray
James Patterson - Agatha Christie - John Green - Judy Blume - Stephen King

BEHOLD MY SHAME. Yes, sadly, it's true. I have not read any books by any of the above authors. It's not that I don't WANT to or that I have any particular reason for staying away. It's just that I... you know... haven't got around to it yet... BUT I do plan on trying out their books someday! I swear it! I am bound to enjoy them at least a little bit if these authors are so popular, right?

So I ask you, are there any authors listed above that I MUST READ right away?? And which of their books should I start with? Advice would be greatly appreciated!