Monday, July 28, 2014

ARC Review: The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

I received an eARC copy of The House of the Four Winds through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Tor Books! 

 eARC, 304 pages
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Tor Books

The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.

Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert with rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.

Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.

The House of the Four Winds was really not for me. The summary includes some of my favorite elements: a kickass heroine, romance, pirates, and adventure. But I could barely get through the first chapter. It seemed to go on forever. The entire thing read like a massive information dump. To compare, it was like reading a history textbook. I don't see the relevance of some of the information given. Yes, I know the authors want to show they have a fleshed-out world. It was definitely creative. But I don't need to know half of it.

If I could have stomached all the worldbuilding thrown at me, I think I would have enjoyed this book. Clarice and Dominick had instant chemistry (even though Clarice was pretending to be a man). There were moments when I found myself smiling at the humor. Unfortunately, between those periods, I wanted to jab my eyes out. I'm sad to say I actually couldn't finish The House of the Four Winds. Maybe I'll try again one day, but for now, it's just not for me.

Would I recommend this book? To hardcore fantasy fans, yes

Would I re-read it? No. I didn't even finish it

Would I read a sequel? No

Next Monday... I'll be reviewing an eARC copy of The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at her blog, Breaking The Spine, spotlighting anticipated upcoming releases. Here’s mine for this Wednesday:

Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back-but that's assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane's arrival was far from accidental, and she's pulled into the heart of a war she's risked everything to avoid.

This book sounds like a wonderful blend of sci-fi and fantasy. I can't wait until October!

What book are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Series Binge: Archetype duology by M.D. Waters

Binge-eating? Binge-watching? How about binge-reading? Sometimes, you just can’t put a book down. You need the sequel. Then you need its sequel. Before you know it, you’ve read a seven-book series in under a week. I confess, I need help. This week, my addiction was…

Hardcover, 384 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Source: Toronto Public Library

Emma wakes in a hospital, with no memory of what came before. Her husband, Declan, a powerful, seductive man, provides her with new memories, but her dreams contradict his stories, showing her a past life she can’t believe possible: memories of war, of a camp where girls are trained to be wives, of love for another man. Something inside her tells her not to speak of this, but she does not know why. She only knows she is at war with herself.

Suppressing those dreams during daylight hours, Emma lets Declan mold her into a happily married woman and begins to fall in love with him. But the day Noah stands before her, the line between her reality and dreams shatters.

In a future where women are a rare commodity, Emma fights for freedom but is held captive by the love of two men—one her husband, the other her worst enemy. If only she could remember which is which. . . .

ARC, 372 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Source: Penguin Canada

Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker.

Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter.

I devoured these books! I cancelled plans for these books! I forgot to eat for these books!

Needless to say, I loved the Archetype duology.

I never would have heard of this series if it wasn't for the Goodreads First Reads giveaway of Prototype. Therefore, all the thanks in the world goes to Goodreads for hosting the giveaway, to Penguin Canada for sending me the ARC, and to M.D. Waters for writing the book. I'm glad I submitted my name, even though it was for book two, because I had a great time reading!

When I first read the summary for Archetype, it brought to mind Margaret Atwood's The Handmaiden's Tale. While they have similarities, with the foremost being the systematic breeding of women, Emma is a modern, kickass heroine. She has an incredible journey not only involving her sexuality, but also memory loss, cloning and a revolution. There were so many layers and twists in this series! I especially loved that I couldn't guess all of them.

Why couldn't I stop reading? It was the guys, Declan and Noah. I love how Waters made me love one and hate one at the start just to switch it around by the end. If an author can make you feel, they're doing a great job. Emma's relationships were the highlights of the series, with a close second being the exciting plot itself.

Sometime Emma's voice was "choppy" (contractions weren't always used), but that didn't stop me from flipping the pages at light speed. I almost wish there was another book in the series, that's how good it was! The story ended where it needed to, though. It didn't drag for a moment. It was fast-paced and amazing. Truly amazing. I can't think of any other word.

I'll miss you, Emma Wade!

Would I recommend this series? Hell, yeah!

Would I re-read it? I want to read it again right now... *picks up book*

Next Monday... I'll be reviewing an e-ARC copy of The House of the Four Winds!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #1

Feature and Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. This is a great way to meet new bloggers, make friends, and get exposure for your own blog. 

This week...

Share a funny YouTube video

I love all the Honest Trailers, but this one makes me cackle, especially at the end.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Judge a Book By Its Cover: The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

Don't judge a book by its cover? Ha. When have I ever not? Every time I go to the bookstore or scroll through lists on Goodreads, I judge books by their covers. So to all the gorgeous books out there, I dedicate this to you...

My pick for this week is...
The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent

Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press

I have no idea what this book is about. I still want to read it. It's simple and elegant. The colors are great. The butterfly almost looks like it's on fire (wait, poor butterfly...).

What books are you judging by their covers this week?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at her blog, Breaking The Spine, spotlighting anticipated upcoming releases. Here’s mine for this Wednesday:

Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

I'm going to be honest: I really don't like the Bloodlines series covers. But that's not going to stop me from reading Adrian and Sydney's next adventure!

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Whatcha Watching? (Week of July 15 to July 21)

There's always something to watch on TV, whether it's a new show or the re-run of an old favorite. Here's what I'm watching this week:


Extant - S01E02 "Extinct"
Sam gives Molly an ultrasound in hope of learning more about her mysterious pregnancy.

The first episode left me with enough questions that I'll tune back in next week. I want to know more about Molly, her husband and robot son, and the secret the ISEA is keeping. Hopefully, the show will remain interesting. If it does, I'll remain a happy viewer throughout the summer.


Defiance - S02E05 "Put the Damage On"

Amanda is terrorized by a stalker; the reasons for her experiences have far reaching ramifications.

I love this show. I love its worldbuilding. I love the characters. The ending of last week was beautiful, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Dominion - S01E05 "Something Borrowed"

Alex begins training with Michael, but a vision causes him to go rogue while on a mission.

There are a lot of familiar actors in this series (Rupert Giles! Charles Widmore! Doreah!), but I was drawn by the storyline. Though at times it feels "off", I enjoy watching Dominion.


Witches of East End - S02E03 "The Old Man and the Key"

Ingrid prepares to move out; Freya tracks down Killian; Dash discovers his blackmailer's identity.

Though this series only has some similarities with its book counterpart, I love the new additions. They really do make things thrilling. I already have a lot of questions, and it's only episode 3!

The Last Ship - S01E04 "El Toro"

A small team heads to the jungles of Nicaragua to find monkeys for Rachel's vaccine trials.

The Last Ship captured me in its first episode. Four weeks later, I'm still in love with it. Unlike some of my other TV shows, I don't feel as if this one could last for multiple seasons and keep its steam. But we'll have to wait and see.

The Leftovers - S01E04 "B.J. and the A.C"

Kevin tries to find out who is responsible for a holiday display; Kevin gets unexpected visitors.

I sometimes find myself bored during The Leftovers, but haven't canned it yet. There's still potential for a great series. I'll keep it on my list for a while longer.


True Blood - S01 

Small-town Louisiana waitress Sookie Stackhouse already is viewed as an oddball by her friends and neighbors, since she can read the minds of those around her. She doesn't exactly help her reputation, though, when she falls for Bill Compton, a 173-year-old vampire who has ``come out of the coffin'' along with many of his undead comrades now that a new synthetic blood has made it possible for vampires to survive without preying on humans. Still, the conservative locals aren't wild about mortal-vampire liaisons, especially Sookie's boss, Sam Merlotte, who carries a torch for her.

I've been meaning to watch True Blood for years. I saw the first episode, "Strange Love", all the way back into 2008. But I was much more innocent back then, and disturbed by the gore and sex. Now I watch Game of Thrones. The twist at the end of "The Mountain and the Viper" almost made me throw up. So I say, "Bring it on, True Blood!"

That's all for this week. If I added anymore, I wouldn't have time for anything else! What are you watching this week?

*show summaries are taken from and show logos are from

Monday, July 14, 2014

Books on Trial: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Books on Trial is a method of reviewing where I decide if books I've read recently are guilty or innocent of the "charges" laid against them by other reviewers, aka the "witnesses". This week's case is for...

 Hardcover, 368 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Toronto Public Library

Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo's life is everything Josie wants: she's popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they're just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.

Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo's boyfriend, he hates her. Jo's mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

The "witness testimonies" are from the top three opinions on Goodreads as of the posting date. The reviews have earned their position based on number of likes. The "testimonies" are:

In the end, 3:59 didn't live up to my expectations. Had the plot and mystery been tighter, the characters better developed and the romance cleaned up, I would have probably really loved this one. Would I recommend this? My first reaction is, "Eh, no." But I do think if the above doesn't bother you much in novels, you may enjoy this one. I would, instead, strongly recommend checking out a sample to see if the writing style works for you and then abandoning all sense of logic at page one.

-Steph Sinclair

For an entertaining thriller, 3:59 does a good job. Some of it is overwhelming or far fetched, and specific parts made me cringe, but it's an action packed read that's great for a quick thrill. 


A promising book, built on solid scientific theories and a well-executed premise of a parallel universe that was ultimately let down by an absurd plot and no character development.

-Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine)

3:59 was actually pretty great. I read 80% of it in a four hour stretch!

The "testimonies" for 3:59 seem to have three issues in common: the romance, the predictably and the plot holes. To be honest, most didn't bother me until after I finished reading. I'm not a very judgmental reader. As long as I don't want to strangle the MC or jab my eyes out, I keep on reading.

The romance between Josie and Nick II (the Nick from Jo's universe) had a strange foundation. Nick I cheated on Josie, and Nick II couldn't stand the sight of Jo. I could see how Nick II could grow to love Josie. But wouldn't Josie be appalled by the sight of Nick II? I mean, he looked just the like the Nick that cheated on her. But, no, I guess not because Josie went to Jo's universe in the first place to spend a day with Nick II. C'mon, girl, he cheated on you with your best friend? Why would you want him back? In any universe? It made Josie seem needy. She could have wanted to switch universes just out of curiosity. I know I would want to.

There were times when the plot was predictable. I knew the animal attacks weren't animal attacks right away. I knew the black bird things - later revealed to be the Nox - were responsible for the deaths. I knew Jo was lying about her world. But the secrets about both of Jo's parents caught me off guard. They were twists for the betterment of the book. I really loved how there wasn't a happy ending for Josie and Nick II, though. It made me angry. It made me feel!

The plot holes were cleverly disguised throughout the book. Only now, as I write this, do I think back to all the things that don't make sense. Here's one that's really chewing on me: why did the Nox attacked Josie's mother in Jo's universe? McNeil stated Josie's Nox "invisibility" originated from Josie being from another universe. But so was Josie's mom. The Nox liked to attack her. Why? It's a plot hole, and it bothers me.

All in all, 3:59 was entertaining! The few surprises and lack of a happy ending kept me guessing (well, I didn't guess after the ending, but you get what I mean). It's worth the read if you want a paranormal/supernatural book with a dash of mystery. But I still find it GUILTY of the claims laid against it by the "witnesses".

Would I recommend 3:59? Yes.

Would I re-read 3:59? No.

Would I read a sequel? I'd put it on my TBR list.

Next Monday... I'll be doing my first Series Binge post on Archetype and Prototype by M.D. Waters (plus an ARC giveaway of Prototype!)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Weekly Writing Stats: July 5 to July 11

Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing...

Weekly Word Count Target
: 10,500 (1,586 per day)

Weekly Word Count Accomplished: 10,769 (1,540 per day)

Verdict: SUCCESS!

But this success is even more successful than usual success...


excited photo: Excited Girl giselle_excited.gif

Now to my favorite stage... EDITING! 

excited photo:  SEINFELD.gif

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Blood Games by Chloe Neill

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at her blog, Breaking The Spine, spotlighting anticipated upcoming releases. Here’s mine for this Wednesday:

Paperback, 352 pages
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: NAL Trade

While Merit didn’t choose to become a vampire or Sentinel of Cadogan House, she vowed to fight for her House and its Master, and she’s managed to forge strong alliances with powerful supernaturals across Chicago. But even though Merit has had wild adventures, this may be her deadliest yet...

A killer is stalking Chicago, preying on humans and leaving his victims with magical souvenirs. The CPD hasn’t been able to track the assailant, and as the body count rises, the city is running out of options. Vampires and humans aren’t on great terms, but murder makes for strange bedfellows. Can Merit find the killer before she becomes a target?

Why do I want this book? One word... METHAN!

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Books on Trial: Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

Hardcover, 397 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Toronto Public Library

Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud - and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths.

But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place.

Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection - and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city - including herself.

The "witness testimonies" are from the top three opinions on Goodreads as of the posting date. The reviews have earned their position based on number of likes. The "testimonies" are:
This book has:

1. A weak, spoiled, wealthy TSTL socialite heroine whose attempts to do good are as laughable as a pet kitten bringing me a half-eaten mouse
2. A love...tri..quadr...hexa...thingamajig
3. A poorly conceived and largely nonsensical setting
4. A love interest with stalkerish tendencies
5. A plot that's 90% romance and 10% story, with not a single bit of subtlety
6. Villains that stand around twirling their mustaches and cackling maniacally

-Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows and Sunshine 

A much more accurate blurb would be: a Romeo and Juliet retelling with magical people who are nowhere as cool as the X-Men.


I’ve rated Mystic City three stars, which means, I enjoyed reading it, all in all. There has been a lot of eye-rolling, a lot of 'Yes-Buts' and a lot of "Do-You-Think-I-Am-Dense", which I will explain shortly, but the heroine was thoroughly likable and brave, the hero attractive, super-powered and mysterious, the romance – although instantly there and super-kitschy – pretty romantic, the villains villainous, the action plenty and rapid and the world-building – although unbelievable – vividly painted in rich, sparkling detail and rather creative...


Mystic City would make a better romance story than fantasy novel.

Lawrence himself said he was inspired by Romeo and Juliet. I think that would have been a better comparison than X-Men or Hunger Games. There really was no action in this book, except for at the end. The first 90% dealt with Aria Rose trying to get back her memory and discover the truth. Which could have been suspenseful and exciting if it wasn't so obvious to the audience what had happened.

Mystic City could have been really good. The world of Mystics in a futuristic Manhattan, as well as the concept behind the story, had promise. The problem lay in its predictability, which made its main character, Aria, look like an idiot. There were times when I found myself screaming at her. The girl wakes up with no memory, and has her manipulative, gangster parents tell her she had a secret romance with the enemy. Their relationship magically ends a century-long cold war between the families. What does she do? Not rebel agaisnt the idea, or wonder if her MANIPULATIVE, GANGSTER parents are lying? No, she accepts it. When she finally starts to question what happened to her, her thoughts fade away whenever she's getting close to the answer. The answer which everyone in the "audience" has known for chapters!

For the most part, I could excuse Aria's blindness to the truth. No one wants to believe their parents are evil. I just wished she would have "woken up" sooner. Especially when she was saying stuff like, "Ooh, I'm so suspicious" (okay, that's a paraphrase). If you were suspicious, you'd be playing around with multiple theories in your head, no matter how batshit crazy they were!

When Aria wasn't blundering around, she was reasonably likable. She believed in equality and wanted it for the people of Manhattan. Her conversations with Hunter were engaging (and sounded nothing like the cheesy love letters they sent to each other). The love thingamajig, as Khanh stated above, seemed unnecessary. I love the way Khanh described it in her full-length "testimony":

A is engaged to B (who is fucking C) while secretly in love with D (but shouldn't be) because D is secretly engaged to E, who graciously sacrifices everything because she loves both A and D.

Really, Davida's sacrifice could have been justified without the engagement to Hunter (D). Hunter and Aria were important to the Mystic cause, and both her friends, as well, so why not just leave it at that? Why add a whole other weird level to this romance?

If you like your fantasy romantic, Mystic City is the book for you. If you're expecting the action of X-Men or The Hunger Games, find something else to read. Therefore, I find Mystic City GUILTY as charged by the testimonies. But, since it wasn't horrendous, I'll still read the sequel, Toxic Heart. One day.

Next week I'll be trying... 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

About the Author
Theo Lawrence is a graduate of Columbia University and the Juilliard School. A Presidential Scholar in the Arts for Voice, he has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and Off-Broadway.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Waiting on Wednesday is an event hosted by Jill at her blog, Breaking The Spine, featuring upcoming releases she’s excited about. Here’s mine for this Wednesday:

Hardcover, 272 pages
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night. 

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret - one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well doesn't sound like something I'd usually read, but I want this book now! The story sounds lovely (in a horrible sort of way). The cover's easy-on-the-eyes, too.

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday?

EDIT: Ah-ha, I've received an advanced copy from NetGalley! I wait no longer...