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!


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


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
Source: Own/Ebook

Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Initial Reaction: 
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