Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Joint Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Title: Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: July 10, 2012
Genre(s): High Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Format: Finished Copy
Pages: 512
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
Juhina's Thoughts: I've had Seraphina on my to read list ever since it came out. I've always been fascinated in reading about dragons (blame that on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) so when Seraphina came out back in 2012, I've been eyeing it ever since. I finally got the chance to read it when Random House Canada sent me a copy. It seemed to be the perfect time because Shadow Scale (the sequel in this duology) is coming out in March of this year. Seraphina is a big book, 400+ pages of world building, new vocabulary that needed a glossary to list them all, and many characters. For the first 50 to 70%, the book focused on the world building. It took me a while to get through it because I'm an action kind of girl. I like my world building alongside an exciting plot. This doesn't mean I didn't appreciate all the world building, I was just sort of lost because the glossary and character lists were unfortunately at the end of the book, so I only saw them after I finished reading it. I really liked Seraphina, she was independent, responsible, but at the same time she acted her age. The action happened in the last 20% or so of the book. I was pleasantly surprised by the turn of events and I liked how unpredictable the ending was. I wasn't impressed by the romance though, it felt very underdeveloped and I wished it was developed a bit more early on the book. I am excited to check out Shadow Scale because now that the world building is all laid out, we can focus on the plot and Seraphina's journey.
Lobna's Thoughts: I was a bit wary starting this book because I'm really not into dragons. This is usually because most can become a bit childish. Seraphina was definitely something different. It introduces us into this world with all these different creatures and rules that everyone lives by. It was, as Juhina said, a lot to take in because of the complexity of their world. Since there wasn't much action throughout the majority of the book, it made it kind of hard to read, I think I spent about a week reading this one. I did thoroughly enjoy the little bit of romance we were given at the end and really hope to see it develop in the second book. Seraphina does leave everything out in the open at the end and so we aren't fully sure of what might happen in Shadow Scale, I do hope we get more of what the first book lacked! Nevertheless, I absolutely enjoyed this book regardless of the tiny flaws and would absolutely recommend it. 
Next up, Shadow Scale...a massive 600 page ending!  

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Juhina's month in photos [February+March]

So I thought I would make a post showing you guys what I did for the past month as well as my TBR for next month! 

Only managed to read seven books but that's okay. Here are their ratings:

Mr.Kiss and Tell - 4/5
Better than Perfect - 3/5
Whatever Life Throws at You - 4.5/5
Bunheads - 3/5
A Great and Terrible Beauty - 2/5
Trouble - 4.5/5
Into the Darkest Corner - 4/5

It's February 28th and I'm around 20% into I'll Meet You There, here's hoping to finishing it before the month is over! 

These are the books I'll be reading in March! Not pictures is Outlander, which I'll be reading up to page 300

The GTA girls' monthly meet up! We finally were able to agree on a book to read in February and it was A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

February is when I really sat down and started watching The 100 and fell in love with Bellamy

I was able to see Kingsman this month and man was it bloody fantastic! 
Also, this pokemon like creature was found on the windshield of my car.. as a product of my windshield freezing over

I was also able to attend the #RHCBloggerPreview which contained a ton of awesome books as well as some encouragement from Chuck Bass <3 Check out my video recap and book haul here

Our The Rosie Project liveshow for the Contemporary Lovers group will be on March 15th at 7PM EST. Join us if you have read The Rosie Project and want to discuss! I'll leave the link to the group right here.

Exciting news! You guys chose Outlander for March and we thought we would make it fun and do a read along and watch along of the book and show! Go here for all the information but this will be split in two months. Chapters 1 to end of 23 + first 6 episodes in March, while second half of the book and next 6 episodes in april! We will have a liveshow halfway and one at the end. 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places

Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Niven
Publisher: Random House Canada
Publication date: January 6, 2015

Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Realistic Fiction)
Source: Unsolicited copy
Format: ARC 
Pages: 388
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
All the Bright Places broke me. I managed to read it during a buddy single sitting read. I could not put the book down and by the end of it my face was a hot mess. I couldn't breathe through my nose or read through the tears. This book was heartbreaking, beautiful, breathtaking, emotional, and full of life, hope, and dreams. I went into it knowing so many people loved it, and quite frankly I now completely understand their obsessive love and how this book, that wasn't even on my radar before I received it on my doorstep, is the next big contemporary novel. It doesn't hurt that it already got picked up for a movie and is in the middle of casting. 
I have never read a point of view like Finch's. I daren't close my eyes for one second in fear of being left behind with his running thoughts. If I had one word to describe his chapters it would be exhilarating. It was so hard trying to catch up to him. I was fascinated and completely immersed during his chapters. Jennifer Niven made everything so damn believable, and truly captured the way writers should write about mental illnesses. Finch's character is so strange and beautiful and you can't help but fall in love with him. I know my friend and I did. As for Violet, I felt she is sometimes overshadowed by Finch in reader's eyes but I really enjoyed her chapters too. Some people said it was unnecessary to have a dual POV but I believe seeing everything and Finch through Violet's eyes is really an eye opener for the readers. Violet and Finch's story is tragically beautiful. The struggle they both go through is so real that you can't help but root for them and wish them eternal happiness. I have not fully connected with book characters as much as I did with those two for a while. 
All the Bright Places deserves all the praise it got. It is its own book and comparing it to other contemporaries truly doesn't do it justice. It is the story of two unlikely teens getting together and fighting their own battles while trying to pursue happiness. It isn't the cookie cutter tragic teen story, I hope it is the start for the redefining of realistic contemporary YA fiction. Teens are people and they are all unique and different. Only when we start telling each of their stories can we really understand the complexity of life and people around us. All the Bright Places taught me that and so much more. To give you an indication of how loved this book is, I read this for a book club where out of the five people, four of them gave this book the full 5 stars. 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: February 10, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 400
The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.
I needed some time after reading this book to gather my thoughts and think about how I wanted to write this review. The Last Time We Say Goodbye deals with suicide, a very hard topic to read about and not sob through the entire book. This book was just amazing in so many ways.
The story begins a few weeks after Lex's brother, Tyler, has committed suicide. Her therapist has recommended that she start writing in this journal to let out some of the feelings that she's been keeping inside. Through these journal entries, we can see the struggles that she's facing and the things she refuses to tell anyone else. What I liked most about these entries was that we are able to connect with Lex emotionally, I could feel the pain and sadness she was going through and it really felt like I was right in her place. 
Soon after Lex starts writing in her journal, she starts seeing Tyler's ghost throughout the house. She keeps thinking that there's still more to his story and that she must find out what happened that night that would push him to end his life. 
The thing about this book is that it doesn't focus as much on Tyler's suicide as it does on the events that occur after. When all the surrounding people move on and forget, you're still stuck with a loss that is too difficult to get over. How do you move on from losing your own brother? We are able to see what it's like to be part of a family who's lost someone to suicide and this book describes it in the only way possible: heart-wrenching and bitter-sweet.
On a side note. I listened to All I Want by Kodaline on repeat while reading this book. It seemed to be a fitting song. Oh and don't forget a box of tissues as well.  

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Juhina's "currently" post - books, shows, music

So I have been meaning to do a post like this for a while. On the youtube channel I do a currently reading and currently watching korean dramas from time to time. I thought I would do something similar on the blog!

Since this is a book blog, let's start off with this one. These are the books that I am currently reading at the time of making this post. I am

Into the Darkest CornerA Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)

I am 100 pages into Into the Darkest Corner and boy is it addicting. This is an adult mystery thriller and it is super creepy and unsettling. I am buddy reading it and I'm having so much fun with all the theorizing going on. 

I am only on the second chapter of A Great and Terrible Beauty. This is the book club pick with the awesome GTA girls and I wasn't 100% impressed with the first chapter. Still, it is set in a boarding school, in England… and there are supernatural elements involved. 

Are you ready? there are several shows I'm currently watching right now. Some I do watch but I have paused, or they're on hiatus, so this won't be as long as mentioning everything that I watch. Other tv shows I watched not pictured (The Good Wife, Revenge, Awkward, and Madam Secretary)

Grey's Anatomy: This show tugs at my heartstrings like no other show has ever done. I pretty much cry on every.single.episode. The show also gets better and better with each new season

Reign: A new addition to my watch list. I'm also up to date and I am loving the 16th century setting as well as the strong female protagonist. 

The Mentalist: I am two episodes behind, but this show aired its series finale on the third week of february. I am so sad that it's over because I love Patrick Jane and the whole team. 

The 100: Another new addition. The newest actually. Surprisingly when I first watched episode one, I truly disliked the show, but I picked it up several months later and marathon-ed the whole thing. Bellarke all the way and I truly love the strong female protagonist in this show too. 

Nashville: A show I never thought I would enjoy but surprisingly it is addicting. I ended up marathoning all three seasons last year and now I'm up to date. I do get frustrated with Raina's story arc but other than that, it is highly enjoyable. Have I mentioned it centers around country musicians?

Modern Family: This show never gets old. Its writing is witty, funny, and laugh out loud. I honestly hope it never gets cancelled. 

The Mindy Project: This show had its ups and downs but the last couple of episodes were superb. I love Mindy Kaling and anything she writes and is involved in is guaranteed to be hilarious

Jane the Virgin: One of the few fall shows I picked up for 2014-2015. The telenovela feel of it is what makes it so unique. Also Rafael's handsome face doesn't hurt. 

File:Healer-p1.jpg File:Pride and Prejudice (Korean Drama)-p1.jpg

Healer: I am on episode 18 of this superb drama. I will probably be done with the whole drama (20 episodes) by the time this post is up. I had my doubts initially about it but the writing and the acting proved me wrong. I love how engaging and addicting the show is. 

Pride and Prejudice: I seem to only have around two to three episodes but this show suffers from an overload of information syndrome. I am so lost. So much politics and conspiring going on that I've pretty much given up on understanding what the hell is going on. I will be finishing it because I do want to figure out who's the bad guy in the show and the murder mystery too.

Here are some potential korean dramas I'll be checking out
Hyde, Jekyll and I 06
Jekyll and Hyde: A drama about a CEO of a theme park that suffers from split personality
Heart to Heart: About a girl with a social phobia that suffers from severe blushing
Kill Me, Heal Me: About a guy with seven different personalities 
Spy: A mother, son drama where one is a spy for North Korea, the other for South Korea

it has not escaped my attention that 3 of these 4 dramas center around psychological/mental illnesses. I am ver excited to see how the korean drama world tackles such topics! Also, Spy has Kim Jaejoong as the lead. That's all I need to know.. but with the bonus of a spy plot? i'm in.  

I pretty much get all my music through Songza's blogged 200 playlist. I'm telling you guys, this is the best thing ever. 

I am currently obsessed with The Do. I listen to both Trustful Hands and Despair constantly.

I'm also listening to Kiesza's Sound of a Woman album on repeat. 

A couple of other songs I discovered on Songza I think you should check out

And that's a wrap!