Monthly Archives: December 2015

Tonight the Streets Are Ours

Tonight the Streets Are Ours

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Recklessly loyal.

That’s how seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley has always thought of herself. Caring for her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But lately she’s grown resentful of everyone—including her needy best friend and her absent mom—taking her loyalty for granted.

Then Arden stumbles upon a website called Tonight the Streets Are Ours, the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter, who gives voice to feelings that Arden has never known how to express. He seems to get her in a way that no one else does, and he hasn’t even met her.

Until Arden sets out on a road trip to find him.

During one crazy night out in New York City filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.

I’m kinda disappointed.

“Hurting people, really, deeply hurting them – that isn’t something you do on purpose. It’s just a by-product of living.”

Not too long ago I read Leila Sales’ This Song Will Save Your Life novel, and I absolutely loved it. It was so heartbreaking and real. But it was one of those books you know you’ll never re-read again, because it hurt so much the first time. But the good kind of hurt, ya know?

Anyways. I didn’t expect this book to come close to what I had with  This Song Will Save Your Life. Honestly I didn’t. I knew better than that.

But I still expected something good. Maybe not great, but still good. And this novel does have many good things about it. But also some bad things that I just couldn’t get past.

I understand this idea of being so loyal to a friend or family member that it’s like you write them a blank check for life. You want to love them so much and you want them to love you back just as much. But the thing is that it’s pretty rare to actually find someone who you love that loves you back just as much.

Sure, they might be your friend and you hang out with them, go to parties with them, talk about boyfriends/girlfriends with them, but would you do anything for them? Would you take the blame for them?

I have this thing called a “2 AM friend.” This is totally something I made up when I was in high school, when I was trying to explain to my mother why I wasn’t being a normal teenage girl and had absolutely no desire to go to parties or really hang out with a lot of my friends outside of school. It wasn’t that I disliked them or anything, but most of those friendships simply existed inside school grounds, but once you left that place, you knew that was the only thing tying you together.

Anyways, this “2 AM friend” is when you get a call at 2 AM from this friend and they need you to either help them or give them a ride or something along those lines, and it’s not life threatening but just something they need your help with, would you get out of bed and drive over to them and help them out? If yes, then you’re their “2 AM friend” and you love them to smithereens. And if your answer is yes, then you need to ask yourself if they would do the same for you.

Because this was the problem. I knew when I was in high school that I would be that “2 AM friend” to a lot of people if they needed me. If one of my friends needed to call me at this time to rant and cry about a boyfriend or something, I would be there, no question. If someone needed me to get in the car and drive somewhere to help them get home from a party because they’re hammered, I would do that.

But then I asked myself if they would do the same thing for me, and most of the time, I realized the answer was a big, fat no. I didn’t even have to think about it.

This novel had the same idea. Arden is the “2 AM friend” for everyone. She wears her heart on her sleeve with all her friends and would do absolutely anything for anyone, anytime. Sometimes they wouldn’t even have to ask, because Arden would just see something they might need and go ahead and help them without being asked.

But lately Arden is beginning to realize that she has very few friends who would do the same for her. And she’s tired of it. People have grown to expect these selfless things from her and she’s exhausted.

“But that’s the thing: when you swear to take someone’s side no matter what, sometimes you have to go to war for them.” 

So she find this blog called Tonight the Streets Are Ours and begins reading about this boy, Peter, who is putting in words all these things Arden is suddenly feeling.

And here’s where I had my problems. Because Arden has a particularly bad day where she planned and spent so much money to make this one special thing work for her and her boyfriend and then he backs out because something else came up, she kind of loses it. And she drives to New York to track down Peter.

Now, before all this, I was thinking Arden was a smart, logical girl . . . And then she somehow thinks driving to New York – a city she has never been in before – to somehow track down this boy who she does not know and could very well be a serial killer, I lost all hope. She does not know Peter’s last name, but she knows he works at a bookstore somewhere in New York. So what does she do?

She gets her best friend to come with her and call every bookstore she can find asking if a Peter works there.

And by the minimal chance they do find a bookstore where a Peter works, who’s to say it’s the same Peter? And how is Peter going to react when Arden introduces herself to basically say “Why, yes, I do read your blog, which is basically reading your diary, and I love everything you write. I’m a fan. Want to get some dinner?”

Yeah, no.

But somehow, this all works out (lo’ and behold) and Arden meets Peter. And he’s not freaked out even slightly by Arden’s behavior. This should also be a hint to Peter’s true character.

I couldn’t buy this. I understand bad days. I understand that sometimes we do rash and stupid things when we meet our tipping point, but driving to New York to track down a blogger Arden has become obsessed with? No. Just no. That’s too far fetched for me.

Now, there are some very good lessons in this book. While Arden’s feelings of being underappreciated are valid and she has every reason to feel that way, there are always two sides to the same story. And this book is a perfect example of that.

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Carry On

Carry On

Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

The most common sentiment about this novel is that this is like a Harry Potter fanfic with HarryxDraco.

This is a completely accurate sentiment.

And I loved every bit of it.

If you know me, you know that I’m obsessed with Rainbow Rowell. I think it would take quite a bit for me to give one of her books a bad review. Particually, I love her novel Fangirl. And if you’ve read Fangirl, then you know that Cath, the main character, is obsessed with the Simon Snow series, which is basically a fanfiction version of Harry Potter. Cath writes Simon Snow fanfiction and is darn good at it. And now, Ms. Rowell made all my dreams come true and wrote an actual book based on Cath’s version of Simon Snow.

I loved everything about this. It was a little slow at the beginning for me, but that didn’t stop me from reading this book in one day. I ripped through this sucker. I ate it. I inhaled it.

fanbows:  Simon/Baz Carry On, Rainbow Rowell:

Firstly, I loved the cast of characters. Of course, you can’t read this book without thinking about Harry Potter – I mean, this is a book about a magic school in England and a chosen boy – Simon Snow – who has been prophesized to defeat a great evil. And Simon and his gang go on adventures all the years they’re at this magical school to defeat evil beings from stealing their magic.

“Just when you think you’re having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.”  

Sound familiar anyone?

But I didn’t mind this. Of course I love Harry Potter (who doesn’t?), but that had nothing to do with my love of this novel.

I loved this because I found Simon adorable, if a bit thick at times (but in an adorable and hug-worthy manner, of course) and Baz hilarious and very loveable, despite the fact that if anyone ever said that to him he would probably bite their face off . . . literally.

I loved Baz’s swagger. Yes, I do mean swag. That boy has it.

“I am going to die kissing Simon Snow. Aleister Crowley, I’m living a charmed life.”  

Baz is so utterly confident and vicious and sarcastic and I loved everything about this boy. I loved that I saw a bit of Draco in him, because personally I’ve always loved Draco, despite his crap decisions, because if you want to get right down to it, Draco sure as heck didn’t have a lot of good choices to begin with.

Baz was born a villain. Born into one of the highest Families there is and expecting to defeat and kill Simon Snow for no other reason that he is the Mage’s Heir and he is seen as the personification of all things good. It’s not actually a question of if he wants to kill Simon . . . but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s complaining about it either.

For a moment – not even a moment, a split second – I imagine him saying, “The truth is, I’m desperately attracted to you.” And then I imagine myself spitting in his face. And then I imagine licking it off his cheek and kissing him. (Because I’m disturbed. Ask Anyone.)

Baz isn’t trying to be good. He doesn’t want to be good. It’s not a question of if he can prevent Simon’s or his own death – he knows he can’t. But he’d like to get to the point where maybe the day they actually face off for the last time, neither would actually be trying to kill the other because they want to, but just because they have to. That’s all he wants.

And while Baz is confident in his prideful, swaggy way, Simon is just as confident. He’s not shy about anything.

Simon is confident he’s not the “chosen one.” He has too much magick in him, and none of it good. He can’t control it.

Both boys are playing roles that were decided for them both long before either was born. And neither can really do anything about it. Sure, they may have choices – Baz could leave his powerful family in their cold castle and Simon could tell the Mage to suck it, but doing either of those things won’t really help anything, not when there are places all over England loosing magick.

There are always choices, but neither Simon nor Baz have any good ones between them.

Simon and Baz from Simon Snow from Fangirl, the fandom within a fandom:

Personally, I would have loved more from this book. I’d love for a sequel, especially after that ending. I would have loved to go more in depth for Penelope and Agatha. Because one thing I can say about Rainbow Rowell is that she doesn’t create background characters.

Penelope is basically Hermione. And Agatha may seem to be the spoiled, beautiful girl who doesn’t know what she wants, but she’s also the girl who wants to break away from magick and live a Normal life, because that’s just the one she prefers. She, too, has been placed in a role – a role next to Simon Snow, because she and he look so perfect together that no one could ever think they weren’t made for each other – and doesn’t really know how to break free from it.

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Dumplin’

Dumplin'

Rating: 2 Stars

Synopsis via Goodreads:

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart. 

I had expectations for this book. Good, decent expectations. Expectations that included Dumplin’ being this strong-willed heavyset girl who, yes, has self-doubts and insecurities like the rest of us, but who ultimately scoffs at the size 0 models from Victoria’s Secret and this expectation that girls shouldn’t – and that it is unattractive to – have meat in their thighs and who can’t shop at those stores that only sell sizes 6 and down.

“I guess sometimes the perfection we perceive in others is made up of a whole bunch of tiny imperfections, because some days the damn dress just won’t zip.”  

But that’s not really what I got here.

Dumplin’ shouldn’t have to prove a point to her mother and to herself that she is beautiful just the way she is and that she can still feel good about herself despite her size. And Dumplin’ makes a point to repeat many times that she is completely happy with how she is and what her life is like, if not prone to moments and times of self-pity and doubt, yet she signs up for the local beauty pageant just to prove all this.

Firstly, I don’t really understand that line of thinking. It doesn’t make sense to me that in an effort to make herself confident again about her weight Dumplin’ signs up for a beauty pageant. How is this going to make her confident again? Also, I kind of hated this stigmatism that all the girls who do beauty pageants are shallow, stupid, catty girls who are too skinny. That’s quite the double standard.

Those girls who sign up for those beauty pageants have revolved their world around that one thing. Some girls have a sport, some have an art, and for some girls, that one thing is a beauty pageant.

Now, I do understand Dumplin’s sentiment. I understand that the big stigmatism for girls who enter beauty pageant is that they have to look a certain way, be a certain weight, have certain ideas, and behave a certain way. I understand that Dumplin’ thinks that if she can show to her small town that a girl who isn’t any of those stigmatisms can still enter a beauty pageant and who maybe still won’t win, but who still has every right to be on up that stage, she’ll feel better about herself and might even being doing a good thing. I get that and admire that.

But there are girls who really train for this competition. Who have been looking forward to this one thing for a good chunk of their life. And Dumplin’ just doesn’t get that or respect that. I felt that in some ways, this book was a double standard.

“I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life. I’ve thought too much about what people will say or what they’re gonna think. And sometimes it’s over silly things like going to the grocery store or going to the post office. But there have been times when I really stopped myself from doing something special. All because I was scared someone might look at me and decide I wasn’t good enough. But you don’t have to bother with that nonsense. I wasted all that time so you don’t have to.”  

Now obviously I do think that it’s ridiculous that girls are expected to loose weight right before the pageant. I think it’s horrible that we’re considered “fat” if there’s some giggle in your thighs and maybe we even have a little bit of a muffin top.

But Dumplin’ wasn’t what I expected her to be.

There are good lessons here and a lot of real problems about how women are perceived and what is expected from them in terms of how they look, but I just think it could have been presented better.

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Queen of Shadows

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)

Rating: 5 STARS

Synopsis via Goodreads:

The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

WOW.

Okay, so this took me forever to get to, even though I had been obsessively stalking Goodreads and Pinterest and every other possible outlet relating to this series. But . . . college. I had college, and my education overrides my desire to do nothing but wake up, eat, read, repeat. (At least this is what I tell myself as I remember how much I am paying for said education to get a degree that has absolutely nothing to do with my love of books.)

So speaking of which, I currently live in an apartment on my campus with some other girls, and one of these girls has this habit of saying “WOW” every time we finish watching an episode or movie on the TV. It doesn’t matter what it was we were watching or if it even ended in a cliffhanger or anything, but she will always, without fail, say “WOW” in the cutest manner you can possibly imagine.

I was basically doing this at the end of every chapter of this book. “WOW” was my new favorite (and only) word during the duration of this novel.

Aelin comes back?

"His Fireheart, shut in the dark." ~Rowan Whitethorn, Queen of Shadows. This part makes me cry every time, thinking about the character development between these two.:

WOW.

Aelin confronts Arobynn?

Hi-res (& no text) back cover image for the U.S. edition of QUEEN OF SHADOWS! (Art by Alessandro Taini AKA Talexi.) Totally my favorite dress so far!:

WOW.

Aelin is badass?

Queen of Shadows-- please just release this thing already!! I'm dying of impatience!! (Although totally worth the wait) I need this book!!!!:

WOW.

Rowan shows up in all his glory?

Queen of Shadows // Throne Of Glass ~ Sarah J.  Mass   Aelin and Rowan I love these two:

WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW.

Aelin being heartbreaking and badass and amazing and sexy and inspiring and an assassin and a queen and HIS FREAKIN’ FIREHEART!?

Aelin missing her carranam, Queen of Shadows:

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.

OKAY. OKAY.

So.

(Personally, I would like to point out to all you Choal and Dorian shippers that I TOLD YOU SO.)(MWAHAHAHAHAH.)

Okay . . . I’m done.

I think Heir of Fire is still my favorite of this series so far, but Queen of Shadows is a very close second. The reason being that Heir of Fire had so much magic and fae and, well . . . and Rowan Whitethorn. Sooooo . . . no competition, really.

Don’t get me wrong – there is much, much Rowan action going on here. There are many Rowan and Aelin scenes going on.

There are also bathtub scenes.

Yes.

Bathtub. Scenes.

(Rowan may or may not be a part of these scenes.)

Holy crap--this Rowan fan-art is AMAZING/perfect. [Rowan by taratjah]:

I think the only problem I encountered in this book seems to be the same thing everyone is having trouble swallowing. And that would be the unabashed three-sixty Choal’s character took here.

He becomes so bitter and angry and points the blame at everyone but himself for where Dorian is now and why the world is the way it is now. He blames Aelin for not being there when everything went down in the last book, Heir of Fire, and basically takes every hurtful thing he could possibly say to Aelin and shoves it all in her face.

“If you’re a monster, I’m a monster.”  

The amount of unjust there is overwhelming. because while Choal blames everything on Aelin – even the things that she had absolutely no control over – he isn’t really trying to make anything better himself. At least when Aelin messes up or looses someone she loves (*coughSamcough*), she doesn’t roll over and die or blame anyone else. No, Aelin gets back up and plots and schemes and gets her revenge. She takes the broken pieces of her soul and pieces it all back together to make herself stronger.

“Sometimes there won’t be a right choice, just the best of several bad options.”  

To be fair, I never particularly liked Choal to begin with. He and Dorian never did anything for me, personally, and the only reason I gave either of them any real thought was because I expected Aelin to end up with one of them. But I never really cared all that much. All I care about is Aelin. (And now, Rowan, thank goodness.)

If you had asked me after the second book who I preferred, I would have said Choal. Because while I don’t care about him and never did, I did not hate him, either. But now . . . now there isn’t much of a redeeming factor.

It was like Choal’s character was taken and made into the most unappealing character imaginable, and I felt that it might have been a little overdone.

I don’t know. But, again, this whole aspect of the book is so minor to me that it had no impact of my overall rating anyways. I’m rating this book for Aelin, not Choal.

I need to talk about Arobynn now.

My Best Enemy by Orpheelin.deviantart.com on @deviantART:

It’s no secret that everyone hates, loathes Arobynn Hamel. I think I can confidently say that we were all just waiting for Aelin to go back just so we could see her kill the man.

However, I was very happy with how all those scenes with Aelin and Arobynn were handled. Personally, I didn’t know what I was hoping for, but I got it nonetheless.

While Arobynn Hamel is a despicable character, has been one of two people who have caused Aelin the most pain in her life – both emotionally and physically – he is also the man who rescued Aelin and raised her. And he may have raised her in the most bloodthirsty and brutal way possible, but he also made her strong.

But mostly, this is still the man who raised Aelin, who taught her most of everything she knows. And even though Aelin may hate the man – as she should – there will still be that little bit of her soul that won’t want to kill him. He deserves death, of course . . . but Aelin may want to give him one last chance, one last chance for her to get rid of him without having to kill him. Because she will kill him without hesitation, gladly, but she’ll offer Arobynn the chance he never gave her: to run.

I admired this about her. Aelin knew exactly what was going to happen, what Arobynn was going to say, what he was going to plan, but she still had the inkling of hope that he would prove her wrong, even after all this time and after all the pain he has caused her. Because ultimately this is still the man who raised her, the man who she wanted nothing more than love from when she was growing up.

I understand that.

There was just a lot of great relief in this book for me. The right people die (finally!) and even though things are far from over, Aelin in back, and she’s breathing fire.

I may have gone overboard with the sparkles in this one, but I don’t give two shits! >:):

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Filed under 5 star books