Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

From Goodreads:

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Rating: 5 stars – because apparently that’s the maximum allowed ;)

I should probably start this review by saying that I adore Rainbow Rowell and she can do no wrong in my book. I have read all of her books and I am pretty much one of those “crazies” obsessing over the release of Carry On. With that said, Fangirl is my absolute favorite Rainbow Rowell book! I went through a phase when I might have went a bit overboard and made Fangirl inspired shoes and necklaces and wore them everywhere. I drove everyone insane with constantly talking about the book, buying it as gifts, and then harassing everyone to read it. To all those affected by my undying love of Fangirl, I am sorry. But also, you are welcome; I know your life is now much better having read this fantastic book.

I first read Fangirl last year, but at that time I wasn’t blogging so I never wrote a review for it. Since then I re-read the book multiple times and my love for the book only increases with each read. I recently borrowed the audiobook from the library and listened to it on repeat a few times and just like that my obsession returned with a vengeance. :D

This is a young adult contemporary novel with new adult elements, unlike anything I’ve read before. It is a character driven novel and Rowell created very memorable, relatable, and endearing characters. The book is narrated from Cath Avery’s point of view and it takes us on an epic journey of her first year of college. The story focuses on Cath’s relationships and just coping with life in general. The story begins with Cath moving in the dorm at University of Nebraska, a different dorm than her twin sister Wren. During the summer before college, Wren told Cath that she wants to live with someone else and get some separation. Cath struggles with this and we soon find out just how opposite the two twins are. Cath is an introvert while Wren is an extrovert. Although Wren is not around for some parts of the book, we still get quick glimpses into her personality and character. Wren is trying to change her ways by distancing herself from “childish” fandoms and constant fanfiction. Cath on the other hand cannot leave behind the world of Simon Snow, a replacement of sorts for the Harry Potter world. I loved the fact that at the core of the story Cath was a socially awkward nerd, with lots of social anxiety, and while she developed over the course of her freshman year she remained a nerd and maintained her personal identity. She didn’t change who she was in order to please others, she didn’t get a makeover, and she didn’t become a social butterfly; she remained true to herself. Cath is very quirky, fun, loyal, smart, and extremely witty. She spends most of her time in her dorm room writing fanfiction. She writes fanfiction for Simon Snow and in the fanfic community her pen name, Magicath, is followed by thousands of fans that hang on to her every word. It’s almost like the socially awkward nerd that she is in real life ceases to exist when she enters the fanfic world.

“To really be a nerd, she'd decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.” 

I can’t say much about the story without ruining it. All I can say is that there are many secondary characters that are introduced as the story moves along and that they are all very well developed. The twins’ parents provide some insight into the way they grew up and explain many aspects of their personalities and how they developed. While both had the same issues with their parents, those problems shaped the girls in very different ways. The novel touched on very important issues, like drinking, mental illness, and abandonment in a very realistic way. I liked the fact that Rowell explored Cath’s relationship with her father and her mother. In most YA novels it seems like the parents are some abstract characters that are never involved with their teen’s life. There was a lot of family drama and there were situations when my heart broke for Cath, but there was also hope and romance; the best kind of romance that I grew to always expect from Rowell. There is no insta-love to be found in this book. The romance aspect is beautifully written and it describes all the terrifying emotions that come when falling in love for the first time. However, even though there is romance is the book, the main focus of the novel is not the romance aspect but rather Cath’s coming of age, finding herself, and being independent. 

“I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”

Rowell’s writing is absolutely flawless. The pace of the novel was perfect allowing us to embark with Cath on an epic journey of her entire freshman year. Nothing was rushed; Rowell took her time in developing not only her characters, but also the relationships they share. Each and every relationship that develops as the book progresses is extremely deep and beautifully written.

“‘I always get lost in the library’, he said,’no matter how many times I go. In fact, I think I get lost there more, the more that I go. Like it’s getting to know me and revealing new passages’’”.

I think that Fangirl was written as an encouragement for fans everywhere. It captures the good and the bad; the freedom and happiness we find in our fandoms, and the hardships we as fans endure at the hands of those who like to put us down. It encourages us to keep doing what makes us happy regardless of people telling us that we should “grow out” of it and leave it behind. There are many book characters I can relate to, but never has a character resonated with me as much as Cath.

“No," Cath said, "Seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.” 

As I was writing this review I found myself struggling with picking the right words to describe the magnificence of Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell is a remarkable storyteller with an astonishing ability to develop unforgettable characters.  All I can say is that if you are a fan of anything, belong to a fandom big or small, this is the book for you. You are going to love it!

Lastly, when you finish this book, especially if you belong to a fandom and write fanfiction, make sure to read the acknowledgements. It will warm your heart! Thank you Rainbow Rowell for the great gift of Fangirl!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Stacking the Shelves #2

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga’s Reviews. Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, physical or virtual. This includes books you buy from your local bookstore or online, ebooks, ARCs, and books you borrow from your friends or library.
If you want to find out more about Stacking the Shelves, please visit the official launch page!

My July book haul was quite massive so I decided to write two posts. BookOutlet had tons of books from my wishlist and I had 2 coupons, so I ended up with lots and lots of goodies. YAY! I only received my first order, which is just perfect for splitting my haul between two posts. :)

Physical Books:
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
I read this book a while back and absolutely loved it; it’s a beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a few extra twists. This was the first book I ever wrote a review for. You can read my review of Cruel Beauty here.

Masque of the Red Death & Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
To be honest I don’t know anything about this duology, but I saw it on BookOutlet and decided I should check them out. These beautiful covers are what drew me to purchase the books and I am looking forward to reading them.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
I cannot wait to read this! I’ve only heard amazing things about it on all the blogs I follow.

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
Again, this is a book that seemed to get a lot of love on Booktube and blogs I follow so I had to get my hands on it.

Winterspell by Claire Legrand
I absolutely love The Nutcracker and when I saw that this is a retelling of that story, I absolutely had to get this on my shelf!

Every You Every Me by David Levithan
I recently read Every Day by David Levithan and absolutely fell in love with his writing style; so when I saw this available on BookOutlet I jumped right on it.

The Spectacular Now by Tim Harp
This has been around for a while and it seems like pretty much everyone has either read the book or seen the movie. I haven’t done either, but I plan to fix that soon.

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
This is another book that I happened to come across while browsing BookOutlet that I know nothing about. However, the description seemed very intriguing and I sometimes love a good old fashioned standalone that I can devour in one sitting.

Coldspell by Jackson Pearce
I recently read As You Wish by Jackson Pearce and really enjoyed her storytelling abilities. Coldspell is the last book in the Retold Fairytales Series and while I don’t have the first 3 books in the series, I found this at a very good price so I had to grab it. I will purchase the rest as soon as I find time to read them.

Purity by Jackson Pearce
This is a standalone, and as I found As You Wish an extremely adorable story, I thought I should get more from this amazing author.

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
I know nothing about this book except that a few of my book friends own it, so I thought it would an opportunity to buy and discuss with them once I read it.

37 Things I love (in no particular order) by Kekla Magoon
This is another book I seemed to just come across while browsing BookOutlet that just captured my attention so I decided to give it a try.


The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy: Daughter of Smoke and Bone; Days of Blood and Starlight; and, Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
I already own the hardcover box set for this trilogy, but they were on the Kindle Daily Deal for $1.99 each and I couldn’t pass on the opportunity.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
I’ve had this book on my wishlist for a while and I still think I will need to get this in hardcover because that cover is just too pretty, but again this was on sale for one day only at $1.99 and I had to get it for my kindle.

Borrowed Books:
The Diviners by Libba Bray
I actually own a physical copy of this book as well. I bought it a few months ago, but never got around to it. When I saw it available at my local library as an audiobook I checked it out to enjoy during my daily commute. I heard great things about this book and with the sequel being released soon it’s time for me to finally check it out.

Links to Reviews Posted in July:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

If you read any of these books, let me know your thoughts in the comments below; you can include links to reviews. I always read them :)  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

From Goodreads:
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.

Rating: 5 Stars

Shadow & Bone is the first book in the Grisha Trilogy and what an epic start to the series it has been. I was first drawn to this book because of its beautiful cover and the map inside the cover. I ended up purchasing the book on the spot. Did I mention it has a map? I love books with maps! I actually purchased this book a while back but didn’t get the chance to read it until recently and now I am absolutely obsessed with the world Leigh Bardugo has created. Why did I wait this long to read this??? The series is now complete with both Siege & Storm and Ruin & Rising having been released. I am currently reading Ruin & Rising, but I first wanted to share my thoughts and love for the book that started it all for me.

There are so many different things I loved in this novel that it’s difficult to find a good place to start my review and avoid all spoilers.  Bardugo is a remarkable storyteller with outstanding world building skills and an impressive ability to develop unforgettable characters. The fantasy world, Ravka, which Bardugo has created was inspired by Tsarist Russia of the early 1800s. I found this world to be absolutely fascinating and unique, setting it apart in my mind from all other fantasy books I’ve read. The historic feel of the novel provided a sense of nostalgia for me; as I am from Romania, I spend most of my school years learning about the Russian Empire history, as parts of Romania came under the rule of Imperial Russia. Bardugo managed to create a beautiful marriage of Russian mythology and folklore in order to deliver one of the best fantasy reads.

The novel starts with a short prologue in which we meet two orphaned children, Alina and Mal, and we get a glimpse into the time they spent together. Alina is the main character, she grows up to be a scrawny and sickly looking girl, with no particular gifts or talents and is completely insecure. She always felt like she was different and she never fit in with the other orphans. Mal on the other hand grows up to be a fantastic tracker, the best actually, a handsome guy that all girls tend to swoon over, he exudes confidence, and can find a way to fit in with anyone.

Ravka, once a great nation, is now split in two by the Shadow Fold, a place of impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on all humans that dare to cross it. As Alina and Mal, along with a regimen of soldiers and trackers, try to cross the fold they are under the attack of the Volcra. When Mal is in danger of being killed by the Volcra, Alina unleashes a power she never knew she had until it burst out of her in the midst of the Volcra attack. Her powers are not only unique but they are Ravka’s only hope of destroying the Shadow Fold and along with it all the Volcra.

Once her powers are revealed, Alina is taken away to the royal court to be trained alongside other Grisha, a magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. The Grisha world is filled with magical powers and abilities, but even in this world Alina stands out, not being able to fit in with the other Grisha. There are 3 categories of Grisha described at the very beginning of the book: Corporalki (The Order of the Living and The Dead), Ethrealki (The Order of Summoners) and Materialki (The order of Fabrikators). I would bookmark this page and refer back to it as necessary.

The villain of this story is probably the best I have ever read. There are so many mixed emotions when it comes to Bardugo’s villain. You sometimes love him and sometimes hate him, fully trust him one moment and turn around to completely distrust him the next. He is powerful, enigmatic, seductive, handsome, and cruel at times. He is at the center of this amazing story and he will leave you exhausted from conflicting emotions that change with each page. He is the one villain you will love to hate.

There are many secondary characters that come into play. Bardugo took her time in developing these characters so much so that sometimes I found myself hoping that some characters would be involved in most scenes and I constantly wondered what they were up to when they weren’t around. I absolutely loved the fact that I never knew who was good and who was bad. I was constantly doubting and second guessing everyone’s intentions and motives.

I was blown away by the amount of detail Bardugo included in her world, the building of Ravka, the magical elements, and the characters she created. The pace she set for the novel was great: the beginning of the story was extremely fast paced making sure that the reader is completely engrossed in the story and has a hard time putting the book down; the middle of the book had a somewhat slower pace that focused more on the world building and developing the characters and their relationships; and, an astonishing ending with major twists that will leave you reaching for the sequel. What more could I ask for? This book has it all: mystery, romance, adventure, action, and magic. Shadow and Bone is without a doubt a new obsession for me and I cannot wait to see how the story ends. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

A Dark Psychological Drama

From Goodreads:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Rating: 4 Stars

I recently picked up We Were Liars as an audiobook from my local library and I am very glad I did. This book had a lot of hype surrounding it when it was released and I must say it didn’t disappoint. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is a very unique read with a great protagonist that will have you guessing until the very end.

The protagonist, Cadence Sinclair Eastman, belongs to a very wealthy, dysfunctional family. I found it very hard to relate any of the characters; there is a lot of fighting between Cady’s mother and her aunts over inheritance, a grandfather that seems somewhat racist and controlling, and the “liars” who although appear to be pretty close, end up avoiding Cady in her moment of need. But even though I couldn’t relate to the characters, Lockhart managed to get me very invested in them and I couldn’t wait to find out where their story would take me.

We first meet the “liars” in summer 15: Cadence, Mirren, Johnny, and Gat are a group of teenagers trying to break away from all the family drama. Although he is not the main character or the narrator of this story, my favorite character was Gat. He is of Indian heritage and is the “adopted” cousin of the group. He seemed to be the one character that spoke his mind and challenged the family’s actions as well as their prejudices against him and his remaining family. During summer 15 we start to get a glimpse into all of the “liars” lives, when all of a sudden something tragic happens to Cady; she washes up on shore with hypothermia and brain damage. The Sinclairs find that the best way to deal with this is to just ignore the problems.

During the following school year we realize just how bad Cady’s condition is. She appears to be healthy, as the doctors can’t find anything medically wrong with her, but she can’t eat, she can’t really sleep, she has major headaches, and worse she can’t remember what happened during summer 15 that has caused her amnesia. During summer 16, Cady’s mother decides that she shouldn’t return to the island, but instead go on a European trip with her father. During this trip Cady desperately tries to reach out to the liars, not only to try and understand what happened to her, but to see how their summer is going. However, all of her e-mails are left unanswered.

Fast forward to summer 17, and Cady returns to her family’s island, where everything seems to be different. Nobody wants to tell her what happened during summer 15 when her life seems to have been turned upside down. The doctors advised her mother that it is best for Cady to remember in her own time, so the Liars, her aunts, her other cousins, and her grandfather, all avoid her questions. Cady becomes a somewhat unreliable narrator as she is only able to provide snippets of information. This approach was genius; it allowed the reader to join Cady on a journey unlike any other.

I am somewhat of a psychology fanatic, but I must say that besides knowing that Cady must have experienced a traumatic event that made her brain shut down, I had no additional theories or guesses as to what that could be. I was lost through most of the book, as Cady was our narrator, but everything was revealed by the end.  I cannot tell you what it is because that would ruin the entire journey.

This was a very short read, under 300 pages, but it was a very beautifully written story filled with joy, sadness, love, deceit, and so much more. It appears that the feelings associated with this book are either “loved it” or “hated it” and nothing in the middle. I fall into the first category and I urge you to give it a try. With it being such a short read, there is not much to lose, but there is so much to gain.  What the Liars did and what truly happened during summer 15 caught me completely off-guard and I loved it. An absolutely brilliant, dark, and tragic drama that will leave you flabbergasted!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Stacking The Shelves [1]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga’s Reviews. Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, physical or virtual. This includes books you buy from your local bookstore or online, ebooks, ARCs, and books you borrow from your friends or library.

If you want to find out more about Stacking the Shelves, please visit the official launch page!
This is my first Stacking the Shelves post. Moving forward, my plan is to write a Staking the Shelves post monthly or semi-monthly, depending on what I am getting and how much reading time I manage as I plan to also include a recap of reviews and such in my post.

Physical books:

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

There was so much excitement surrounding this book in the book community that I couldn’t help myself. Also, I recently found a book club at a local bookstore that I wanted to attend; The Wrath and the Dawn was the June pick at book club so I made sure to read this prior to attending book club. This was my first time attending a book club and I loved it. Also the author, Renee Ahdieh, attended our meeting and it was the best experience ever. I wrote a full review for The Wrath and the Dawn here.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

I am so excited to start reading this book! This novel was picked as the August read for the new book club I am attending, so I will definitely be reading it sometime at the beginning of August. There is so much hype surrounding this book. The bookseller at the store was very excited when I picked it up, saying she thought it was the best book of 2015 for her. I cannot wait to start reading it!

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book and I was very excited when it got picked as the July read at book club. Everyone seems to say that it is a very heartwarming story with an unforgettable protagonist so I am quite ready to get to it. I will probably start reading this sometime over the 4th of July weekend.

Something Strange and Deadly & A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard


I was very fortunate to attend a book signing a few weeks ago for Susan Dennard and Sarah J Maas. The bookstore where the event was hosted only had paperbacks of these 2 books and hardcover for Strange Ever After. I don’t like mismatched series, so I ended up buying only Strange Ever After for the signing. This month, I was very happy to find the first two books in the series available in hardcover at Bookoutlet.com (I love them—so many great book at amazing prices), so I made sure to get them before they went out of stock. Now that my series is complete, I hope to read it sometime in the fall.


The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

I was able to get this as a kindle deal and I couldn’t be happier. So many of the blogs I follow rave about this novel so I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity of snatching it up when the ebook went on sale. I am looking forward to reading it, however, I did hear that it has a major cliffhanger, so I think I will wait until the sequel is released before diving in.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

This is my first book by Victoria Schwab *hangs head in shame*. I’ve heard so many great things about all of her works that when this was listed as a kindle deal, I had to get it. Now, I cannot wait to read it. Hopefully very soon!

Time’s Mirror by Rysa Walker

This is the second novella in The Chronos Files series; the order of the series is Timebound (book 1); Time’s Echo (1st novella), Time’s Edge (book 2). I’ve only read the first book and first novella, but I’ve already purchased the second book and Time’s Mirror, which was released on June 30. Even though I haven’t read all the books available in the series, I can still say with absolute certainty that it is the best time travel series I’ve read so far.

Borrowed Books:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I was able to borrow this as an audiobook from my local library. I listened to it during my commute staring at the beginning of June. I am currently working on a review for this novel this and will post sometime in July.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

This is also an audiobook borrowed from my local library. I started listening to it during my daily commute right after finishing We Were Liars. I am about half way done and I absolutely love it. I cannot wait to finish it and write my review.


Another Day

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC for this book from NetGalley. I already started reading it and I really like it so far. If you read Every Day, this is its twin book; it’s the same story from Rhiannon’s point of view. If you didn’t read Every Day, you can still read this as it stands on its own. I will post a review for it as soon as I finish reading it.

Links to Reviews posted in June:

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Definace by C.J. Redwine
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
As You Wish by Jackson Pearce

This wraps up my June bookhaul! Hopefully I didn’t ramble too much and was able to keep you interested. This was my very first bookhaul post, so please don’t be shy and leave me some feedback.  I’ll be back in July with a pretty major bookhaul I think ;)

Have you read any of these books?

If you reviewed any of them, make sure to leave a link in the comments below :)