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


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thursday Tracks: Only One

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Hello everyone! I'm back with another Thursday Tracks post and I have so many songs right now it was hard choosing one but I've made a list so hopefully I'll be able to share all of the songs with you guys. Anyway, this week I thought I'd share Only One by Apink which is the title song off their 3rd album titled Pink Revolution.

I never heard of any Apink songs prior to the release of this album but I have to say I'm completely in love with pretty much all their songs. Since I can't understand a big chunk of the text, the words "You are my only one baby" has just been stuck in my head for the past week. 

Now to pair this with a book, I was going to go with a book that is number one in my heart but as all book lovers know that is a virtually impossible task. Therefore I decided to choose a book that is currently on my TBR pile that I hope to read before the month ends. 

18498569The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
ISBN: 978-1-144342-846-0
Pages: 400
Publication Date: August 24, 2014

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam—a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion—a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .”On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office—leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist—an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .
Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand—and fear—the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?
Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.


What have you been listening to? Let me know in the comments below~

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bookish Style: Book Shopping

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Hello everyone! Welcome to my first Bookish Style post! This is a topic that I've wanted to try branching into for a while but never actually did. Today's post is in collaboration with Stylewe, an online retail store, that kindly reached out to me. Be sure to check out the logo at the bottom of the post to see the amazing things they have on their site.

Since I'm a book blogger, I was a bit surprised to be receiving an email asking for a collaboration from a clothing store, but us readers have to be fashionable too right? I decided to look around the site and pick out an outside that I might wear if I was going book shopping. Now that I'm in the Boston area for college, there are so many awesome small bookshops that are just waiting to be explored so I drew my inspiration from there.

Outfit 1: Cute and Chic
Shop Mini dresses - Apricot Cotton Embroidery Sleeveless Mini Dress online. Discover unique designers fashion at StyleWe.com.: Shop Satchels - Green Small PU Casual Satchel online. Discover unique designers fashion at StyleWe.com.: Shop Mini Dresses - Black Casual A-line Lycra Sweater Dress online. Discover unique designers fashion at StyleWe.com.:
Mini Dress - $77.99
Green Satchel - $64.00
Black A-Line Sweater Dress - $73.00

I've been loving a good dress these days and these are two that just caught my eye. The mini dress looks super light and comfortable for the summer while the long sleeved dress lets you look chic while still keeping your arms warm. And can we please talk about how adorable that bag it! The cat ears and everything~

Outfit 2: Casual
Shop T-Shirts - Black Pierced Casual Rayon T-Shirt online. Discover unique designers fashion at StyleWe.com.: Shop Backpacks - Multicolor Casual Small PU Backpack online. Discover unique designers fashion at StyleWe.com.: Shop Jeans - Dark Blue Polyester Pockets Plain Casual Skinny Leg Jean online. Discover unique designers fashion at StyleWe.com.:
Black Casual T-Shirt - $42.00
Multicolored PU Backpack - $68.00
Casual Skinny Jeans - $86.00

I'm a super casual person when it comes to dressing and a pair of jeans with a t-shirt is always my go to. The black t-shirt here has some nice lace detail and cutouts which make it a tad bit more fancy than a plain black tee. The backpack is another thing that I'm completely in love with. I would choose a backpack over a handbag any day and this one just has such a cute pattern and design, it looks like a perfect schoolgirl backpack that you see in cartoons!

Additional Links:
Check out other amazing bags HERE
Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals

In collaboration with
Stylewe



Friday, October 14, 2016

TOUR: The Daemoniac

ISBN: 0997236248
Pages: 334
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Publication Date: October 12, 2016
Initial Reaction:
Image result for line sticker ghost
It's August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim's throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.
But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.
From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York's richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?
Kat Ross has done it again with her magical writing! The Daemoniac is this haunting read that takes place in 1888 New York City just a couple weeks before Jack the Ripper unleashes his terror on London. In New York City, another killer is walking the streets and our MC is convinced that it's the work of demonic posession. Harry is the younger sister of Detective Myrtle Pell and with no connections, she sets off to solve this case. Determined to solve the case of Mr. Hyde, she works with her best friend John Weston to uncover the secrets of the upper class.

This story is definitely different from the previous books I have read by Kat Ross but it was still absolutely amazing. If you're looking for a nice spooky read for the month then this is definitely something you should pick up. I'm not a big reader of scary books because I'm often reading late at night and The Daemoniac definitely gave me a couple of jump scares. 

The writing style just reflects the story so perfectly and paints a haunting picture of New York City that I never saw before. Growing up in NYC, it's definitely a different view and one that was absolutely fascinating to read about. It's pretty obvious that the high society of New York is corrupt but taking a little journey into the deep dark passageways was just so fun. Additionally, the characters were just so well developed, especially Harry. Kat Ross just knows how to create characters who stand out and just grab your interest. It was so cool that our MC's full name is Harrison rather than a feminine version. Harry's growth throughout the story is just incredible since she starts as a young naive girl who wants some of her sister's fame and connections to someone with considerable knowledge and wisdom.

The supporting characters are just as amazing and the journey they take throughout the story continues to blow my mind. From the SPR to all the different connections that Harry finds in order to solve the crime, there is just so much that this story delivers that it's an absolute joy to read. The Daemoniac is definitely a great read for this time of the year but it's one that will be fun any time. The pacing and mysterious allure of the story just keeps the pages turning! 

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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.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Friday, September 30, 2016

Review: Soulless

ISBN: B014ONKO9K
Pages: 395
Source: YA Bound Book Tours
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Initial Reaction:
Cute hamster!! - Creators' Stickers:
Welcome to Soulless.
We are the generation that laughs at death.
Reincarnation; what was once considered a gift of immortality has become an eternity of nightmares.
Nadia Richards lives in a world plagued by reincarnation, a system of recycling souls where all past memories, personalities and traumatic events are relived daily in disjointed sequences. Trapped within their own warped realities, not even the richest and most powerful are saved from their own minds unraveling. Madness is the new human nature, and civilizations are crumpling beneath themselves trying to outrun it. 
Within a society that ignores death, Nadia appears to be the one exception to the reincarnation trap. Born without any reincarnated memories and with printless eyes, the hot tempered 19 year old quickly becomes the ultimate prize to all those wishing to end the vicious cycle, or for some, to ensure they could evade death forever.
Look at me, getting so many reviews up! Okay I head a deadline for this one but still, it got me reading which is a relief. This book drew me in because of the gorgeous artwork on the cover and while the synopsis didn't exactly seem up my alley, I thought I'd give it a try. Soulless is a dystopian novel with a dark premise. For generations, people are being reborn with all the memories from their previous lives. In order to bring peace amidst the chaos, a group called the Elites rise up and build the broken society except the world they put in order glorifies them and them only while the rest of the population is left to fight for themselves. 

Our main character is part of the lower class and she has a special predicament. While everyone else in the world has some sort of special pattern in their iris that identifies who they were in their previous lives, Nadia doesn't have anything. Her eyes are completely blank and that makes her a target. We follow Nadia as she is taken into a prison and becomes a personal pin cushion to a crazed doctor and her escape and life as a fugitive. The characters are so complex and frustrating at the same time. 

With Nadia, it was a bit of a struggle seeing her constantly having to fight for her life and there were times where I just didn't know how much longer she could keep going. She honestly goes through some terrible things but it always gets to a point where I'm purely reading to see if she makes it through. Our other main character is a brooding and slightly mental terrorist by the name of Diesel. He's so bipolar it drives me insane sometimes. He'll be "sweet" and do some nice things but then he'll turn around and be so rude and I just want to punch him. With the characters, it was a bit of a hit or miss but in the end it was just incredible to see how amazingly complex everyone was from our MCs to the Mad Dogs to the snobby Elites. 

This book was a bit more...bloody than I originally expected but it goes with the harsh cutthroat world. One of the biggest points about this book that I really liked was how Jacinta Maree focused on the action of the story over the romance. I don't think there was a certain confirmation of the romance until well past the 50% mark. While the book started off a bit slow, the emphasis was all on the build up and letting everything fall into place. I've heard so many amazing things about the next book in the series and with how things wrapped up in this book I'm definitely intrigued. Soulless is just a really action packed novel that views life, death, and society in a much darker lens.

3.5 out of 5 stars