Monday, December 19, 2016

TOUR: The Alchemists of Loom

ISBN: 9781619844421
Pages: 380
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Initial Reaction:
Fangirl's Activities - Creators' Stickers:
Her vengeance. His vision.
Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.
Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.
When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.
He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.
I am finally back with a tour stop! It's been so long that this feels almost foreign. Today I get to share another amazing Elise Kova novel with you all. I read Air Awakens earlier this year and absolutely loved it. While I haven't gotten the chance to finish the series, I've been following Elise Kova on her social media and have been anticipating the release of The Alchemists of Loom.

The Alchemists of Loom has the same fantastic writing that Air Awakens has which introduces a fascinating world with a touch of steampunk thrown in. I loved the vivid descriptions that Elise Kova includes but she leaves enough out so that you can really use your imagination to see the world. The world of Loom has a bunch of different races and I really appreciated how humans weren't the focus. Instead, we have the Fenrhi, a group of gray skinned people who are divided into different guilds to learn specific crafts. We also have the Dragons, who rule this world and have special abilities that are connected to different parts of their body. Because of these abilities, their organs are harvested and implanted to Fenrhi who are then called Chimera. 

When the story starts, we are introduced to Arianna also know as the White Wraith and she loathes the Dragons. She's in the middle of a heist when she stumbles across an injured Dragon. Thinking it to be an easy harvest, she aims to harvest his organs but he surprises her with a request: Take him to the Alchemists Guild and he'll grant her a boon. An offer that she can't resist, so Ari agrees to partner up with her enemy.

This story has no boring moment and the different relationships between the characters is so fascinating. I loved the love-hate relationship between Cvareh and Arianna and also being able to delve more into Ari's past relationships and how they shaped her. The relationship between Florence and Ari was super sweet as well though I'm not sure if it was supposed to go beyond a mentor-student relationship. Another thing I enjoyed immensely was being able to see the story from the opposite side's point of view. Through Ari, you get this twisted image of the Dragon, and while they aren't the perfect race, seeing the story from Leona's perspective opened the doors a lot.

The Alchemists of Loom is such an eye opening tale that introduces fascinating new world. Through all the adventures, the overarching idea of fighting the stereotypical mold society presents in order to live your life to the fullest and to do all the things that you were meant to do. I absolutely cannot wait for the next installment and this just encourages me to hurry and finish the Air Awakens saga. 

Click on the banner for more tour stops!

GIVEAWAY

AUTHOR BIO:
Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the upcoming Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017). 

4 out of 5 stars


Thursday, December 15, 2016

1 Semester Down...


Hello everyone! Today I'm expanding a bit outside my bookish comfort zone and talking about something that I've wanted to explore on this blog for a while. I've debated for a while about writing posts that contain my thoughts on various things that aren't book related and finally decided to start with this topic. 

13074318I just finished my last final a couple of hours ago and am now waiting for my parents to come get me. Technically I should be packing right now, but I can't a true college student unless I procrastinate every aspect of my life right? So as the title of the post implies, I have finished my first semester of college 200+ miles away from my "comfort" zone. A part of me is in shock that one semester is already done while another part feels like I haven't been home in decades. 

Looking back, the past couple of months were both difficult and relatively easy compared to what I hear from my friends. Difficult because I am the absolute worst when it comes to adapting to a new environment but relatively easy because I didn't have a bunch of papers and tests since most of my work was focused on practicing piano. I definitely learned about myself, both socially and academically speaking and it's been both rewarding and discouraging at the same time.

13074313One of the hardest things about the whole college transition had to be meeting new people and developing a routine that worked. Before college, a lot of people talked about this newfound "freedom" they experienced now that their parents weren't hounding after them and therefore they stayed out with friends super late and didn't do their homework until the last minute. Personally, I think I was so anti-social at the start of school that I just hid in my room all the time and there was nothing to do but homework and sleep. I ended up spending a lot of time either in my room or the practice room and I think I'm probably one of the few freshmen on campus that have not stayed up past 1 a.m. 











In terms of the easiest thing, it would have to be my classes. I decided to not test out of a couple classes despite taking the AP level in high school and that definitely helped me a lot in terms of academics. In a nutshell, a lot of my foundation classes were more of a review, but that didn't mean I didn't take any difficult classes that made me want to go slightly crazy. 

13074330This post might be a bit hard to follow, but I'll try to keep the rest of my thoughts brief. Other than classes and social life (or lack of), college wasn't all that bad once I developed a rhythm for my everyday life. I was that kid who Skyped her parents every single day because how else am I supposed to practice speaking Chinese? I also ended up Skyping Claudia every single day which helped a lot because at the end of the day, I had a familiar face to relax and unwind with. I discovered that I was very selectively introverted and had to push myself in different situations if I wanted to get to know a particular person better.

After the first month I knew some people and even if I didn't hang out with them every second of the day, I had people to talk to. I came to college missing the relationships I had back home and was discouraged when I couldn't find them here, but I realized that I had over four years to build those friendships at home while I just met these people. Some people are lucky enough to find that group that they instantly click with, but for others, it takes a bit more time.

For my first semester, I was able to find a group of friends that I was able to grow with over the last couple of months while still strengthening the relationships back home. I also found that the close "spend every second together" group that I craved at the start of the semester would have been so socially draining for the introvert that I am and have grown to appreciate saying "see you later" to people and retreating back to my room to listen to music or watch some YouTube.

I definitely had a lot of expectations and fears coming to college and at this point, it's just become a routine. I don't need to check all these goals off my list after one semester, but the ones that I did check have helped me get this far. 

How about you guys? Anybody a fellow college freshmen or have you been here before? Also, what are your thoughts on these types of posts? I didn't pre-script anything so my thoughts might be a bit jumbled but it was definitely fun just typing some thoughts out. If you like these, let me know and I'll definitely do more! 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Music Monday: 微微一笑很倾城

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Hello everyone! I have a new song to share with you all today. Since I already run a Thursday Tracks feature on the blog which combines a song and a book, I thought I'd start a Monday version in case I have a song to share but don't have a book in mind that comes with it. I also currently don't want to study for my final tomorrow so posting something would be a nice break.

1002729This song is from the OST soundtrack of a Chinese drama called Love O2O which I started watching. I've been debating on whether I want to post a review on the drama once I finished. I started watching over the weekend since classes were over and I confess I'm already on episode 8 as I write this.

Anyway, back to the song - after starting the drama, I looked up the OST soundtrack and have been listening to it non stop while I study for finals. This sound really stood and I just thought it sounded so adorable so here I am sharing it with you guys. 

That's all I really have to say for this post, let me know your thoughts on the song. Have you watched this drama or listened to the OST? If yes, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!



Saturday, December 10, 2016

Review: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

ISBN: 0062369415
Pages: 448
Source: Ebook/Own
Publication Date:
Initial Reaction: September 27, 2016
Stitch Returns - Official Stickers:
Sabriel meets Romeo and Juliet in this stunning and atmospheric novel—the first in a duology—from the author of Cruel Beautyand Crimson Bound.
When the mysterious fog of the Ruining crept over the world, the living died and the dead rose. Only the walled city of Viyara was left untouched.
The heirs of the city’s most powerful—and warring—families, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou share a love deeper than duty, honor, even life itself. But the magic laid on Juliet at birth compels her to punish the enemies of her clan—and Romeo has just killed her cousin Tybalt. Which means he must die.
Paris Catresou has always wanted to serve his family by guarding Juliet. But when his ward tries to escape her fate, magic goes terribly wrong—killing her and leaving Paris bound to Romeo. If he wants to discover the truth of what happened, Paris must delve deep into the city, ally with his worst enemy . . . and perhaps turn against his own clan.
Mahyanai Runajo just wants to protect her city—but she’s the only one who believes it’s in peril. In her desperate hunt for information, she accidentally pulls Juliet from the mouth of death—and finds herself bound to the bitter, angry girl. Runajo quickly discovers Juliet might be the one person who can help her recover the secret to saving Viyara.
Both pairs will find friendship where they least expect it. Both will find that Viyara holds more secrets and dangers than anyone ever expected. And outside the walls, death is waiting. . . .
 
I read Crimson Bound earlier this year and completely loved it so when I found out that Rosamund Hodge was coming out with a new novel I was so excited. She creates such fascinating retellings of classic stories that are dark but so gripping and refreshing.

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire takes the ageless tale of Romeo and Juliet and completely spins it on its head. In a post apocalyptic world that is slowly being turned into a zombie wasteland, we follow 2 different story lines as the young and passionate seek to find their place in a messed up world. Thank goodness for familiar names because there were some parts that just seemed so random and confusing. 

The world that Rosamund Hodge creates is so incredibly fascinating. There's a fog called the Ruining in the world that is slowly killing everyone and turning people into zombies. The walled city of Viyara is the only place in the world that remains untouched and in order to keep the out, the magic that protects the city demands a blood sacrifice. That magic has been demanding more sacrifices than usual, the powerful families of the city have a hidden agenda of their own, and the Sisterhood that controls the sacrifices could care less about the impending doom of the city. 

We are introduced to four characters, the fighters of the younger generation. Runajo is a passionate and cold member of the Sisterhood who is determined to save the city and stop the corruption. Juliet is the pride of her family, a girl marked to magic to become an emotional weapon, but rebels against her family's wishes. Paris is the one appointed to be her Guardian when Tybalt was murdered, but finds himself working with his kinsman's murderer in an attempt to uncover his own family's corruption. And last but certainly not least, we have Romeo, hot headed and passion extraordinaire. There's also Vai, the King of Cats, ruler of the streets that the rich dare not tread and essentially saves Paris and Romeo from getting killed. 

There are so many crazy moments in this story and I loved how different it was from the original tale but included some key details. I wish that some parts could have been more fleshed out and I came to the realization that Rosamund Hodge always creates such confusing but fascinating plots that are just hard to wrap your mind around. This one is definitely one of the more confusing ones to follow but when some pieces click into place, it's the coolest feeling over. 

I loved following the story from the two different storylines and seeing how things come together. At the ending...there was some frustration with certain things but since this is a duology, that just makes me more excited for the second novel to see how everything wraps up.
4 out of 5 stars


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Review: Three Dark Crowns

28374007Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
ISBN: 0062385437
Pages:398
Source: Own/Ebook

Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Initial Reaction: 
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When kingdom come, there will be one.
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown.
I am back with a review!! I actually read this book almost two months ago and just never got around to writing a review and I didn't want to do homework so here we are. Three Dark Crowns was hands down one of my most anticipated releases of this year and I'm so glad I was able to read it amidst the craziness of school because it DID NOT disappoint!

Triplet queens trying to kill each other for the throne sounds strangely creepy and it was. The beginning was a bit confusing because there was so much about about this world that I had to learn about their customs and it was so fascinating. The world that Kendare Blake creates is honestly amazing and the complexity of the traditions and characters is incredible. A land where a queen rules but in order to achieve that power, she must demonstrate her skills and then kill her triplets within a year. There is so much scheming and misunderstanding but that just drives the plot forward. Honestly, I don't think there is one boring part of this book.

I thought it would be really easy to figure out who would be the victor or at least develop a bias among the queens but it's honestly impossible. I love how all three queens - Katharine, Mirabella, and Arsinoe - were all so different and complex. To describe each briefly, Katharine is a doll that the Poisoners are constantly treating like a voodoo doll and sticking needles into her, but with the introduction of certain characters, she really blossoms and shows her true potential. Mirabella is the one everyone expects to be queen because she shows the most potential with her ability to control the elements, but she loves her sisters which is something that is not allowed. Arsinoe is such a determined girl who knows that her abilities do not live up to her Naturalist standards, but she's still so strong willed.

In addition to these characters, all of the supporting characters are so well developed. From the fanatic priestess and Mirabella's loyal friends, to the friendship between Arsinoe and Jules, to the twisted power hungry Poisoners, Kendare Blake takes the time to really craft every individual. 

Honestly, I did not know what to expect with this book and I was pretty blown away by the result. Like I mentioned above, there is a lot of scheming and misunderstanding which throws a lot of complications into the competition. While I definitely did not expect certain events and how they unfolded, this book served as a great introduction to a world that I cannot wait to explore more. 

4 out of 5 stars


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

December TBR

Hello everyone! It feels like 500 years since I've actually posted something bookish related and not a bunch of updates on how I've been MIA and not actually posting anything to follow up. 2016 is almost over and I have read less than 10 books in the past four months which is driving me crazy. So today, I'm going to be sharing with everyone a couple of books that I am determined to read before the end of the year. Hopefully I can finish them all!

大家好! 我今天終於有一個書的博客文章和大家分享。2016 年幾乎結束,我在過去四個月讀了少於十本書讓我快瘋了。今天,我要跟大家分享一些我決定在年底前想讀的書。希望我可以讀完所有的書!

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(Click the covers to go to Goodreads!)
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Most of these books are ones that I've wanted to read for a while but never got around to, or are recent releases that I'm super excited for. I did receive one for review so I definitely need to get that one read and reviewed before Christmas. I threw The Book Thief in just as a reread since I brought it all the way to college with me and didn't read it yet. 

這些書是我已經一段時間想讀了但沒有時間或新出來的書。有一本書是作者給了我所以我需要在聖誕節前讀完和寫我的想法跟大家分享。我包括 The Book Thief 因為我把它帶到大學來但我沒有時間重讀所以我絕對要在2016年結束前有機會重讀他。

Alright, that's my list! I feel like six books shouldn't be too hard but with my terrible slump who knows what will happen. Fingers crossed I get through them all and break out of my slump in time for the New Year! 

好吧,這些是我計劃在十二月閱讀的書。六本書應該不會很難所以希望我能讀完他們。



Friday, November 18, 2016

College Ramblings: Dear Future Me

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Dear Future Me,

I was asked to write a letter to myself talking about my college experience and my dreams for the future. Knowing me, I was pretty speechless because I have no idea what my future holds. So let's just go over some basics: We're studying music education with a piano concentration and the hopes of achieving an English minor and we go to a pretty small college in Massachusetts which is 5 hours away from home.

One of the things that was suggested for me to write was about choosing the right career for my future. I chose to be a music education because it was something my parents always encouraged in me and I've been playing piano since I was 5 so it made sense. Plus, my parents believe it's a way to support myself post college so that I can have a stable job while pursuing my other interests (English). 

As the end to my first semester draws closer, here are some things that I have learned...

Music is not easy to study. I know a lot of the information right now from previous classes that I've taken but overall it's a very challenging and time consuming major. Next semester I'm taking 10 classes and three of them are 0 credits (yay music) and the typical student here is taking 4-5 classes. 

Time Management is everything! As of right now, you are still really bad at managing time and spend a lot of time scrolling through YouTube when you probably could be doing something productive (like reading and writing reviews for this blog.) 

Scholarships are your best friend. I'm very clueless when it comes to how my education is being paid since I'm blessed enough to have my parents providing for me. However, it never hurts to ask about other scholarships that you can apply for. For people with student loans knowledge is power, so researching and taking the time to understand your terms before graduation will save you a ton of money. For example, a company called Earnest specializes in student loan refinancing and saves individuals an average $20,000 over the term of their loan. Also, this might seem like a no brainer but renew your FAFSA every year (and read their emails.) I know people who are funding almost 100% of their education through scholarships.

On-Campus jobs are a great bonus. I don't have a job this semester but I am applying for one next semester and my friends that do have jobs are helping to fund their education while gaining some extra pocket money which I'm sure everyone wants.

For the future, I don't really know what I want to happen. I hope that I won't die under the pressure of homework and piano practicing. I hope that I can have the motivation to keep practicing even though at times I know I won't want to. I hope that I can making lasting friendships even though I'm kind of anti-social and interacting with people isn't one of my strong suits. I hope that I can keep my friendships from high school and make them even stronger.

I feel like I"m rambling now, so I'll wrap it up here. Future Me, I hope you're enjoying what you are doing and that you are happy. Best of luck!!

This post is in collaboration with Earnest. 




Monday, November 7, 2016

College Update: I'm Still Alive

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Hello everyone! Welcome back to another post! It has been ages since I've posted something and I feel so bad for not keeping this blog running. As you can tell from the title of this post, this is my first college post and I've been thinking about doing these more often since I am a first-year and there are a lot of things I think would be fun to share with everyone.

There are a couple of things I thought I'd address in this one to start. First, I am in such a bad reading slump right now I don't even know what is wrong with me. I haven't read more than 5 books a month since June which is very unheard of for me. The scary thing is that my Goodreads Reading Challenge used to be ahead of schedule but now I'm on track. If I continue being in this slump I'm afraid I'm going to be behind very soon. 

Something new that I have discovered about myself is that my identity as an Asian American particularly a Taiwanese American means a lot more to me than I thought. I might do a whole post on this once I get my thoughts together but lately I've just been trying to hone my speaking and reading skills a lot more. So to build up on that, I've been thinking about adding Mandarin text to my posts whether I do English followed by Mandarin translation or an entire post in Mandarin. I just thought I'd play around with it and improve my ability to recognize characters. So let's give that a try...

大家好!今天我終於有一個新的博客文章,跟大家分享。大學開始以後,我變了很忙然後不想讀書...好難過哦。我上個月只讀了三本書和只寫了四個文章在博客上。我不知道為什麼我不想讀因為有好多新的書我想讀。真的很奇怪!我希望我能再次開始讀。還有你們有什麼想法我包括中文翻譯的想法。請告訴我在下面的評論!

Alright! That took a lot longer than I thought but I actually really enjoyed how challenging it was to figure out all the words. That's all I have for this update and fingers crossed I read something mind blowing and get back into the swing of post really soon!! Thank you so much for reading!!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Review: Illusions of Fate

ISBN: 0062135899
Pages: 278
Source: Own/Ebook
Publication Date: September 9, 2015
Initial Reaction:
Disney Marie - Official Stickers:
Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.
“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”
Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.
Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.
 
(This review is so overdue I am ashamed but I finally got around to editing my bullet points and putting them into sentences...better late than never...)
This book has been pretty raved about across the internet and it took be way too long to see what the hype was all about. I picked this book up half out of boredom and half out of curiosity and was completely swept away into this magical world. Even though I feel like everyone was talking about it when it first released, I actually managed to go into the story pretty blind which just made the whole experience all the more magical. 

Right from the start, Illusions of Fate takes you on this rollercoaster adventure into a world that is cold and gray. I've noticed that I really like the juxtaposition between a prim and proper world versus a colorful and wild one. At first, I was a bit confused over what was going on but Kiersten White quickly clears that up and sets into motion the overarching plot while throwing in different bits about the history of the world. 

Jessamin is such an intriguing character as she's born of a Melei mother and an Albion father - she's essentially a combination of the two worlds. The Albion world looks upon her with distaste because she has a sense of fire within that clashes with their rigid society. She travels to Albion to study at the university her father teaches at and gets swept up in a dark and deceitful world of magic when she meets Finn. We have Lord Downpike who plays the evil villain who wants to take over the world and in order to do that, he needs access to all the powers which he believes Finn has the key. 

Honestly, there were some parts of the story that were just so dark it caught me off guard but nothing was ever too terrible to handle. Lord Downpike is just so many shades of messed up that as the story unfolded and his identity was revealed, I was just completely blown away. On the topic of Downpike, he uses ravens to be his eyes around the city and I must mention my favorite raven of all fiction: Sir Bird. Even his name is perfect! (Sorry Chainsaw...) Sir Bird plays such an important role and I just...you must read this book to find out! Another side character I want to mention briefly is Eleanor. She's the younger sister of one of Albion's elites and while she doesn't have a ton of magical ability, she definitely knows how to use her abilities to her advantage. Also, she's just such a bright person compared to the rest of dreary Albion.

Illusions of Fate just left me completely mind blown and I can't believe that Kiersten White managed to create such fantastic story and characters in under 300 words. I definitely need to pick up more of her books in the future and I'm secretly hoping for another story in this world. 

4 out of 5 stars