Monday, March 27, 2017

Review: Frostblood by Elly Blake


Frostblood by Elly Blake
Frostblood Saga #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 10th, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Audible
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 376

Summary (from Goodreads):

The frost king will burn.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

What I liked:

First of all, I quite liked our main character, Ruby, who is a Fireblood. She had been living a life of relative peace in a little village with her mother, who was a healer, when the Frost King's army came and killed her mother and threw her in a cell. Then after having been in there for months, she is rescued by two Frostbloods who need her help to take care of the Frost King.

I like how when Ruby finds herself in this situation, she has what I felt was a relatively realistic war going on in her head over what to do. She doesn't necessarily just accept her mission as what she has to do. She wants to avenge her mother, but this mission could go wrong and she doesn't have any allegiances to anyone anymore.

I like how Ruby, being a Fireblood, is described as being more open with her feelings. Her feelings run hotter or something like that. And Frostbloods are more cold, they hold their feelings in, they aren't as free with them.

I liked Arcus, the mysterious, hooded love interest. He is kinda frosty with Ruby at first and they don't seem to like each other, but eventually they grow on each other and he begins to wish that they could find some other way to accomplish their goal without having to risk Ruby's life. I liked how he was kind of.... vulnerable? I don't know if that's the word I want, but he wears his hood for a reason and he's not just all macho and nothing-bothers-me-because-I'm-a-Tough-Guy.

The monks were a really fun group. After being rescued from the prison, Ruby is taken to an abbey full of monks to recover, train, and learn to control her powers. The main two monks you meet are Brother Thistle and Brother Gamut (sorry if those are spelled wrong, I don't know how to spell them for sure!). Brother Gamut is the abbey's healer. He's always so kind to Ruby.

Brother Thistle is the main one in charge of Ruby's training. I like that he doesn't approach it as 'oh, she's so wonderful, she can do no wrong.' He gets irritated with her for the dumb stuff she does and doesn't just blow it off. I liked that about him.

I also really liked the romance. Ruby and Arcus are complete opposites, just like their fire and ice powers. Ruby is a lot more passionate, Arcus is a lot more closed off. I felt like it was kind of a hate-to-love romance. They really don't get along right away and kind of have to grow on each other. And I love how when Ruby started to realize she was developing feelings for Arcus, she got kind of bold and flirty.

What I didn't like:

I understand that this book is about elemental magic. It's kind of an important part of the book, obviously. But I started to get sick of the near constant mentions of things being hot and cold. Not only when they're talking about their powers either. It wasn't something that bothered me a whole lot, but towards the end I just wanted to shout, "I GET IT ALREADY!"

Another thing that bugged me was the fact that Ruby kept admiring the Frost King's looks. She basically said he's pretty, too bad he's a bad dude. Along with the fact that the Frost King seems like he kind of has eyes for her, it made me think that the romance was gonna be triangular in shape for awhile. But no worries, it's not. But for real, don't romanticize the guy that's exterminating your people, Ruby!!

The final thing that bothered me was the obscene amount of page time spent describing Arcus's eyes. How they were so many different blues and how much Ruby loved seeing them. And how it made her sad when he wore his hood and she couldn't see them. I didn't know that there were so many different ways that you could describe ONE SET OF EYES!

Overall, I really enjoyed Frostblood and I'm excited for Fireblood to come out next year! I really want more of Ruby and Arcus!

Have you read Frostblood? What did you think of it?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Rattled Bones by Shannon M. Parker

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting for...


The Rattled Bones by Shannon M. Parker
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2017
Pages: 304

Summary (from Goodreads):

Unearthing years of buried secrets, Rilla Brae is haunted by ghostly visions tied to the tainted history of a mysterious island in this haunting novel from the author of The Girl Who Fell.

Maine-bred, independent Rilla Brae is no stranger to the deep. She knows the rhythms of hard work and harder seas. But when she experiences the sudden death of her father, the veil between the living and the dead blurs and she begins to be haunted by a girl on a nearby, uninhabited island. The girl floats a song over the waves, and it is as beautiful as it is terrifying. Familiar and distant.

Then Rilla meets Sam, a University of Southern Maine archeology student tasked with excavating the very island where the ghostly girl has appeared. Sam sifts the earth looking for the cultural remains of an island people who were forcibly evicted by the state nearly a hundred years ago. Sam tells Rilla the island has a history no locals talk about—if they know about it at all—due to the shame the events brought to the working waterfront community. All Rilla knows for sure is that the island has always been there—an eerie presence anchored in the stormy sea. Now Sam’s work and the ghostly girl’s song lure Rilla to the island’s shores.

As Rilla helps Sam to unearth the island’s many secrets, Rilla’s visions grow—until the two discover a tragedy kept silent for years. And it’s a tragedy that has everything to do with Rilla’s past.

This book sounds eerie and amazing and I can't wait for it! Is it August yet?

What book are you looking forward to this week? Are you excited for The Rattled Bones?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco


The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
The Bone Witch #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 7th, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Audible
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 400

Summary (from Goodreads):

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

**I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I just waited so long to read it that I just decided to get it as an audiobook and listen to it.**

Since I listened to this as an audiobook, I literally have no idea how to spell anything. So I am pretty much just going to apologize right here and actively try to avoid using words and names that I don't know how to spell.

The Bone Witch is told in two different points of view. The first POV that we see is of a bard, who had a dream that led him to a 17-year-old Tea. This is the present day point of view of the story where he has come to get her story about what led up to her being exiled by the asha community.

The second POV is from Tea, where she recounts her story starting from the point where she discovered that she was a bone witch by accidentally raising her brother from the dead at his funeral. She tells of her initial use of magic and the after effects and of how she came to become an asha apprentice.

Tea from her point of view and Tea from the Bard's point of view felt like two very different characters to me. Granted, Tea's POV takes place over the course of several years, starting from when she is like 10-12. I don't remember exactly how old she was. The Bard's POV takes place over only like a week and she is much older and more confident and sure of herself. She obviously goes through a LOT of growth in this book to get from point A to B, but we don't get to see all of it in this book.

I loved reading about the struggles that Tea went through as a bone witch, one of the most despised types of asha. She is so tough and handles everything as well as can be expected from someone her age, I feel. I had a hard time keeping track of how old she was in the flashbacks. I kept wanting to think that she was older than she was and it got a bit confusing for me, but that could just be a side effect of listening to an audiobook.

I really enjoyed all the relationships in this book. Especially the relationship between Tea and her brother that she brought back from the dead. It seemed like they had a pretty solid relationship while he was alive, but it was made even stronger when she brought him back.

A lot of the characters in this book I really didn't care for in the beginning. Mostly just for the reason that I didn't like most of their attitudes, not necessarily because I found anything wrong with any of them. Surprisingly, all of them grew on me over the course of the book. I really can't think of any character that I just didn't like by the end of the book. I feel like that's surprising for me.

The romance in this book was kind of a mystery throughout the whole thing. There really wasn't any romance in the book but it's mentioned that there were two people that Tea found herself crushing on. Only one of them becomes obvious in the book. During the flashback portions of the book, there really isn't any romance beyond the crush that Tea harbors for one of the two. Most of the talk of love happens in the Bard's point of view.

Despite being a little bit confusing and entirely frustrating because I WANTED TO KNOW, I really liked how the romance was done. I thought it was interesting and it kept me on my toes. But now I'm sad because the book is over and I want MORE!!

There are only two things that bugged me about this book. One was the passage of time in the flashback portions. Mostly because it confused me and it was probably and audiobook problem over a real problem with the book.

The second problem was that I just really don't understand the asha. Maybe I'll get to see more of what their purpose is in the next book, but at this point they just seem like glorified performers to me. They have all this magic and power and training at their disposal and what are they used for? To entertain paying customers at "parties". What's the point? The parties basically consisted of a group of men in a room drinking and eating and requesting certain girls to come talk to them and dance for them. Throughout the whole book, at every party, I was expecting the men to get handsy with the asha because like... they're going to a 'party' and requesting for certain girls to hang out with them in a private room? It feels like a situation where things get handsy. I did really enjoy this book and learning about the asha, but it felt like a really dumb waste of potential for such powerful people.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I need to buy myself a copy of this one because I loved it. And I want to know how to spell things. I would definitely recommend it and I absolutely need the next one because I am dying to know what happens next!

Have you read The Bone Witch? What did you think of it?!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Glimpse Back in Time (#8): The Valiant by Lesley Livingston


A Glimpse Back in Time is a feature where I talk about the interesting history behind the books that I read! If you want to see previous posts for this feature, look here!

Today I will be chatting about...


The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
The Valiant #1
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: February 14th, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

For Women's History Month, I clearly needed to use a book with a strong female main character. I think The Valiant definitely delivers this with Fallon! After being denied a place in her father's war band and being sold into slavery, Fallon is still fierce as ever. She's determined to win enough battles to buy back her freedom. She even refused an offer from someone to buy her contract because she wants to earn it herself, for her honor.

Clearly the way to go with this post would be to talk about female gladiators in ancient Rome. But there really isn't that much information on them that I could find. It just didn't feel like enough to write one of these posts with.

Then I stumbled across a post, possibly by the author. I don't know where I found it, I just have a screenshot on my phone of the important information. In the post, they talk about the Celts and how they were cool with their women battling, ruling tribes, and owning property. Then the post goes on to talk about how Boudica, Celtic queen of the Iceni Tribe, is an example of these badass ladies.

So I am going to use this post to talk about Boudica!

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Boudica was the famous Celtic queen of the Iceni Tribe who led a rebellion against Rome in 60/61 AD.


It is believed that Boudica was born to an elite family around 30 AD. She was around 18 when she married the King of the Iceni tribe, Prasutagus. Prasutagus was allowed to continue his rule with some independence from Rome after they conquered southern England, but when he died with no male heir, the Romans came in an took everything.

Boudica was thought to have objected to this and as a punishment, she was publicly stripped and beaten and her two daughters were raped. Other tribes suffered similar fates, which led to a growing rebelliousness among the tribes.

Boudica promised vengeance and united the tribes to revolt against the Roman occupiers. She led her rebellion to modern-day Colchester, defeating a Roman Legion along the way. Upon arrival they destroyed the city and massacred its inhabitants. What is now modern-day London and St. Albans suffered similar fates. In these three cities alone, it's estimated that over 80,000 people were killed by the rebelling Britons.

The Roman governor had been leading a military campaign in Wales at the start of the rebellion. After his return, he gathered his army to meet the rebels. The Britons had far superior numbers, but the battle between the two armies occurred in a narrow location, which benefitted the Roman army. The Britons could not use their numbers and the Romans had superior weapons. 

By the end of the battle, only about 400 Romans had fallen, while up to 200,000 Britons had perished. It is thought that Boudica and her daughters either took poison to avoid being captured by the Romans or died from their wounds.

Her rebellion almost forced the Romans out of England. Despite the failed rebellion, Boudica is recognized as a national heroine, the embodiment of the struggle for independence.

Sources:


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Have you read The Valiant? What do you think of Boudica and her rebellion?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting for...


Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Pages: 304

Summary (from Goodreads):

Set in a fictional Himalayan kingdom, this is the story of a girl enlisted by a legendary explorer to help him climb the kingdom’s deadliest mountain – only to discover that his true mission may threaten her whole world.

Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer every known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

This book sounds like an epic adventure! Exploration and mountain climbing? I'm glad I can live vicariously through this book from the comfort of my couch.

What book are you waiting for this week? Are you looking forward to Even the Darkest Stars?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Staying In Tips & Essentials

Today, I have am coming to you with a post on my personal staying in tips and essentials. I was contacted by someone from Leesa, a mattress company with a program that donates one mattress for every ten they sell, and asked to share how I spend the perfect night (or day) in!

I may have mentioned this before, but once I read something on Facebook that said there is only one place in the entire 48 continental United States that is over 100 miles from a McDonald's. That place is a flat plain in the middle of South Dakota.

That place is also where I live.

I'm not sad about being so far from a McDonald's. I'm mostly sad about being that far from the nearest Starbucks, Target, or non-questionable Chinese restaurant. Or bookstore, let's be real.

This coupled with the fact that I live 17 miles out of town can definitely lead to a lot of days and nights spent in. Especially during months like this past January when we got so much snow. I spent at least half of the month snowed in or being dug out of snowbanks because I was suffering from cabin fever and tried a little too hard to get to work some days.

Basically, I'm kind of an expert on this.

My days in are usually spent on the couch, rather than in bed. This is simply because of how near it is to a TV. Our antennae picks up ELEVEN channels now! If I can scrounge up the money for an additional TV, I would totally move this party to my bed because it is considerably warmer in there than it is in the living room.

Here are my ESSENTIALS for staying in:

1. First, obviously you will need the ideal comfortable place to laze about. Perhaps your bed? Or other place you can comfortably spend a long period of time. Preferably with lots of space around it to hold everything you could possibly need within your reach.

Like I said, I spend my days in on the couch. It's near the TV (and all the video game systems <3). It's near the fireplace when it's too cold out, which it seems to always be too cold in South Dakota. I've got a side table and the wall by the couch has a deep ledge on it, perfect for holding my books, remotes, mugs, and whatever else I could possibly want.

2. Next, you definitely need fluffy pillows and blankets. I usually have my Yoshi Pillow Pet and a fleece Legend of Zelda throw blanket to snuggle with. If that's not enough, I have an additional big fluffy blanket and a Snuggie within arm's reach as well!

3. A warm cup of coffee is definitely a necessity as well. Or tea, if that's how you roll. Or something else if you're into cold beverages.

Usually I have a water bottle. Sometimes a cup of coffee, but usually I make one and forget about it while I'm waiting for it to cool off. Or sometimes my cat comes along and ruins it like the jerk he is. I like things that are spill proof. Especially in the vicinity of my precious books.

4. SNACKS! I love snacks. I should avoid having them near to the couch though because I am such a mindless eater, which is something that I wish to stop doing so much.

That being said, I usually seem to have some kind of potato chips or something similar nearby when I'm lounging about for the day. :)

5. A book, OBVIOUSLY!! Gotta bring in the bookish aspect to this post!

Within arm's reach right now, I have:

A stack of magazines, which is not technically a book, but still reading material.
Now I Rise by Kiersten White
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Then you should also have a laptop/writing material because if you finish a book, you gotta get your review written or started or at least write down some notes!

And now, here are my TIPS for staying in:

My biggest piece of advice is that you should definitely get everything done that you need to get done before you sit down. Nothing ruins a good time like knowing that you have to get up and do something.

For example, right now I know that I need to get up and finish cleaning my laundry room, but I made the huge mistake of sitting down and getting comfy and now I don't want to get up.

The only other real piece of advice I can offer is to bring everything you might want with you when you sit down so you don't have to keep getting up and going to fetch things. That is a huge drag.

When I sit down, I like to not have to get up, like, ever. 

So yeah, basically that is how I spend my days/nights in! How do you spend yours? What are some of your essentials for spending a day in?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting for...


The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: June 1st, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda’s only hope for escape lies in an arcane, forbidden power that’s buried within her.

In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own.

Basically, if a book has the word 'queen' in the title and has a cover like this beauty, you can guarantee I'm gonna want to read it.

What book are you looking forward to this week? Is The Hundredth Queen on your TBR?