Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review: The Vengeful Half

ISBN: 978-0692641941
Pages: 316
Source: YA Bound Book Tours
Publication: March 3, 2016
Initial Reaction:
Olivia might look human, but she’s grown up with a heavy secret: her mother is a potion-maker who fled her home in a parallel world, the Hidden Lands.
Alfred is the blind, charismatic young heir to the illegal potions trade. When Olivia's mother is kidnapped by the magic dealers with whom she once made a bad bargain, she has no choice but to trust Alfred's offer of help. They travel to a strange new world of bootlegged American pop culture, lifelike doll people, and reincarnation. Alfred finds himself putting his position on the line to defend Olivia against his family’s conniving plans. Maybe he has morals…or maybe he’s just falling in love.
When Olivia escapes from an attack by a curiously familiar sorceress, she learns that potion dealers weren’t the only thing Mom was hiding from. Dark secrets lurk in Olivia’s past, and now Olivia must kill or be killed by the girl with whom she once shared everything...
The author drew illustrations! I have to admit, that was the driving factor for me with this story. The Vengeful Half is a fun fantasy novel with a fascinating story line and illustrations that add a bit of wit and humor. Olivia is a normal teenager until a blind heir to an illegal potion empire comes asking for help from her mother to lift the curse she placed on his grandfather. His arrival turns her world upside with her mother being kidnapped and her being thrust into a world out of a fantasy movie with political intrigue and social injustice.

Like I mentioned before, the illustrations were a huge thing for me. They added a lot of inside dialogue and jokes along with some character profiles that made the story a lot of fun to read. I didn't know what to expect with the illustrations but I'm kind of in love with them. They're not super simple but they're not elaborate either. It's like the author decided to sketch some scenes throughout the story to see how things would play out if the novel turned into a comic.

Okay, beside the illustrations, I loved how the author included so much history and world building. It's always fascinating to see the foundations of fantasy worlds and we get to learn about all the critical events through Olivia as she tries to understand the world that she is truly from. Everything from the history lessons to the flashbacks. The society from the high elite to the poor working class is introduced with so much history that it was just so exciting.

As for characters, I was so afraid there would be some sort of love triangle but everything turned out okay. Since this is the first book in a series, I'm glad to see how the relationships were established and I can't wait to see them grow. There are some questions I have about a couple of details and I have a certain ship in mind but I'll just have to wait to see how things unfold.

The plot is riveting and definitely keeps you engaged however it might be the fact that I'm fighting jetlag right now or I just got too caught up in the history to pay attention to current detail, but I found myself getting confused throughout the story in terms of what was going on. Despite that, it's definitely worth the read and I'm definitely keeping an eye out on the future books!
3.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Riv Adventures: Lunch at 春水堂

Hello everyone! Today I've got another lunch adventure to share with you guys! It is currently Day 4 of Taiwan and we've been a department store for three out of the four days. My cousin took us to a little restaurant inside a department store for lunch and I went a little picture crazy. 

I actually restrained myself and didn't get bubble tea until the fourth day and it tasted so delicious! I ordered a jasmine milk tea with boba and the boba pearls were so tiny I almost choked the first time. They're like little bullets if you're not careful!

My mom ordered some sort of milk tea and it tasted so bitter in comparison to the bubble tea. She didn't know that her tea didn't come with boba so she ended up ordering two tea cups full of little boba pearls. I wish I got a picture before she dumped it into the tea pot.

As you can probably tell from the mouthwatering photos, the food was absolutely delicious. I shared that gigantic bowl of noodles with my cousin and I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of the Chinese medicine taste but it was still delicious.

My personal favorite out of everything has to be the fried doughnuts though I don't think that's the accurate name for those heavenly golden pieces of dough. The fries were also pretty good (of course) and the taro cake was amazing (but hot).

My sister actually remembered the last time we came here to eat and I couldn't even remember ever eating here. The restaurant itself is really relaxing with the simple wooden fixtures and paintings. The people there are also super nice though we still got some looks for speaking English.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Riv Adventures: Lunch at the Garden Villa


Hello everyone! I'm finally back with another post and I can't even begin to tell you how great it feels to be back. The past week was pure craziness from packing for vacation to graduating high school. My brain hasn't even completely processed the fact that I am no longer a high school student. Emoji 
While I continue to freak out internally, I knew that with my trip to Taiwan this summer, I wanted to incorporate some lifestyle/travel posts into this blog so here I am with my first one. I'm fighting jet lag to this get this up on the same day that it happened so here it goes.

Today we went to eat at a fancy buffet luncheon located inside a hotel called The Garden Villa. Once I get my vlog up for this week, I'll link it HERE and you guys can see more of the interior since I forgot to take pictures. But I did get pictures of the food so I guess that's the important part.

They had a pretty good vegetarian selection which was great since Claudia's staying with me for the next six weeks and we were afraid that she wouldn't be able to eat a lot of things. We ended up stuffing ourselves up and I have to confess that I'm kind of in love with truffle butter. They had this little station with a bunch of cheese, crackers, bread, and two different butter spreads. I might have died and went to heaven.

This restaurant also had a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN which gives it immediate bonus points. My sister was stuffing her face with chocolate covered marshmallows. I tried to be a bit more healthy so I decided to cover some pineapple with chocolate and it turned out to be pretty good.

The best part of all the food is definitely the crème brûlée which I remembered loving the last time I came here over two years ago. Since it's expensive and pretty hard to make, it's almost like a luxury food and it tasted absolutely delicious!!

So that's my little food diary post for the Garden Villa! It's not super high scale fancy but since it's in a hotel, there is a certain air of fancy. It was kind of hilarious walking around with Claudia and trying to sneak pictures while speaking English. I'm not sure what got us more stares. EmojiEmoji

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top Favorite 2016 Releases So Far

Hello everyone! This week's topic for Top Ten is to list your favorite 2016 releases so far. I have six that I've read and really enjoyed (out of the few 2016 releases I have read) and three that I haven't read yet but I'm really excited to get to. With that being said, let's get started!

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater - Words cannot express how much I LOVED this book. Definitely one of my favorites of this year. This book was an absolutely beautiful conclusion to a beautiful series.
The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon - I was so excited when I heard Amy Harmon was releasing a fantasy novel and this book was absolutely everything I ever wanted and more. It's fantastic, beautiful, and perfect.
The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross - I picked this up for a blog tour and I was so blown away by this novel. It's a fun mix of history and fantasy and I cannot wait for the second book!

The Syndicate by Sophie Davis - Sophie Davis has been an author that I have loved for a long time now so I was so excited when I got the chance to review an ARC of this novel. It's so much fun and full of time travel and historical awesomeness!
Love Me, Love Me Not by Alyxandra Harvey - I read my first Alyxandra Harvey last year and I loved it. Love Me, Love Me Not did not disappoint. It was a great combination of lyrical writing and star crossed lovers. 
Eleanor by Jason Gurley - This book was something that I was no expecting but I absolutely loved it. It's so beautifully written and definitely leaves an imprint on you after you finish.

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski - I promise I will read this trilogy this summer! It's HAPPENING!
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken - I haven't read her Darkest Minds trilogy but I love the concept of this book and I really want to get to it soon.
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard - This is a book that everyone and their mother has read and loved and I want to read it so badly but I want to read Susan Dennard's other trilogy first so this one will have to wait :(

So that's my list! Sorry for my recent absence on the blog, I've been sick and so busy with high school graduation and packing and everything. Anyway, let me know what made it on your list this week!!

Cover Reveal: Blood of the Prophet

Blood of the Prophet
Kat Ross
(The Fourth Element, #2)
Publication date: September 12th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Visionary. Alchemist. Savior. Saint.
The Prophet Zarathustra has been called many things. Now he spends his time drawing pictures of weird-looking goats. That’s what happens when you’ve been stuck in a prison cell for two hundred years. But the man who might be mad, and is definitely supposed to be dead, has suddenly become very valuable again…
It’s only been a few weeks since Nazafareen escaped the King’s dungeons with her daēva, Darius. She hoped never to set foot in the empire again, but the search for the Prophet has led them to the ancient city of Karnopolis. They have to find him before Alexander of Macydon burns Persepolae, and Darius’s mother with it. But they’re not the only ones looking.
The necromancer Balthazar has his own plans for the Prophet, and so does the sinister spymaster of the Numerators. As Nazafareen is drawn in to a dangerous game of cat and mouse, her newfound powers take a decidedly dark turn. Only the Prophet understands the secret of her gift, but the price of that knowledge may turn out to be more than Nazafareen is willing to pay…
Sequel to:

Author Bio:
Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2016

Hello everyone! I'm so excited about this week's topic because I got to go through Goodreads and get all excited about all the amazing books coming out later this year. I'm actually surprised that I only have 1 non-fantasy book so if you have any good ones that aren't fantasy let me know in the comments! Also, I want to quickly apologize for being absent the last couple of days because I was was really sick but I'm better and back so let's get into this post!

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake - It's been so long since I read Anna Dressed in Blood, but I still go through my Goodreads quotes and laugh at all of Cas's great lines. While I have yet to read her Antigoddess books, Three Dark Crowns sounds SO GOOD and I just can't wait for it come out.
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin - I mentioned this in a Waiting on Wednesday post a while ago. While NK Jemisin books are often hit or miss with me, I still love her worlds and writing style and I mean, her covers are on point!
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas - I don't know if I'm qualified to include this since I haven't read any of the books yet but with the release of this book, I can finally get started on the series so I'm super excited for that. 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer - Marissa Meyer wrote this and it's about the Queen of Hearts. That alone is enough reason for me to read this.
The Midnight Star by Marie Lu - I think this is the last book in the Young Elites trilogy (?) and I've been dying to pick it up for the longest time. I still have to finish the Legend trilogy but after meeting Marie Lu at BookCon last year, I would probably be excited to read anything she writes.
Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch - I read the first book a while back and while I haven't read the second, I remember really liking the first so with the release of this book I can go marathon the entire trilogy!

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - Laini Taylor wrote this. She's brilliant so I must read (plus the cover!)
The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen - I havne't finished the first book yet, I'm only about 50% through but I own a physical copy so I feel like I need to own the entire trilogy. I've heard from Regan at PeruseProject that the second book gets better so I'm excited to continue.
From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon - Did you guys read my review on The Bird and The Sword? Amy Harmon is actually QUEEN and this is a historical fiction novel set in Italy which just sounds like it's going to break my heart!

I'm literally dying in anticipation because I can't wait to get my hands on all of these amazing books. If I missed one that was on your list, let me know because my TBR can never be big enough!