Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ten Books From my TBR I'd Like to Read at the Beach

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week they have a specific topic for a top ten list. Link up, visit some new blogs and add to your ever growing TBR list! This week's topic is:

Ten Books From my TBR I'd Like to Read at the Beach
Except the beach is too far away and it's winter here.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29415084-the-unexpected-everything https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24611582-the-boy-most-likely-to https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24485867-hello-goodbye-and-everything-in-between https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29848940-the-glittering-court https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15926760-every-day
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29341573-nightfall https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22330323-lets-get-lost https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17185857-the-first-third https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18484795-a-million-miles-away https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27420164-the-square-root-of-summer

When I think of a beach read, I usually think of contemporary stories, or something shorter or lighter. I also like the idea of reading creepy stories at the beach though...in full sunlight, you know? No monsters here, nope!

Thinking of the beach does not help me feel less cold. And it's not even that cold! Though I do have my mini heater on, so it's cold enough. I'd think imagining reading on the beach would be helpful, but nope. Still, it is a nice thought none the less. I miss the beach. I don't get to visit anywhere near often enough. Some summer I'm going to have to take a vacation with no plan but to read and read and read while sitting in the sun and listening to the ocean. 

What books would you read at the beach or recommend as beach reads? Have you read any of these? What book should I read all snuggled up to keep warm?

Monday, May 30, 2016

Review: Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

Title: Black Widow: Forever Red
Author: Margaret Stohl
Series: Black Widow, Book One
Publisher: Marvel Press
Publication Date: 13 October 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

Enter the world of the Avengers’ iconic master spy…

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams…

Black Widow: Forever Red features all the heart-pounding adventure readers expect from Marvel, written by #1 New York Times best-selling author Margaret Stohl. Uncover a new side of the Marvel Universe that will thrill loyal fans and newcomers alike, as Stohl reveals the untold story of Black Widow for the very first time.
(summary from Goodreads)


Kickass and emotional, I want more and more and more.

I wish I hadn't have waited to read this book. You know when you wait desperately for a book, then you get it, but you've built up your expectations so high you just can't bring yourself to read it right away? In case it lets you down? Eh, maybe it's just me. I am weird like that. But Black Widow: Forever Red was one of those books for me. I needn't have worried. This book is awesome. I loved, loved, loved it. It was totally worth the wait, though seriously, I have got to stop being so chicken! I think Stohl got Natasha so very right. I admit I've read few comics, but I adore the MCU and this book slots right in. Honestly, this will be part of the canon for me now, I can't help it, so I'll never quite look at Natasha the same. I could go into how Natasha deserves her own movie - she does - and has so much story to explore - again, she does -  and how it's totally okay to have female heroes (and even villains!) prevalent in media, but I know you already know all that. Black Widow: Forever Red is a great part of this. It's not just filler. Stohl has thoroughly contributed to the story of Black Widow. This book fulfilled all my expectations. It's heart-racing action, emotional drama, evil conspiracy, technology that verges on magic, sassy banter - all that I love! Once I started Black Widow: Forever Red I couldn't stop. I had to finish it in bed and then couldn't sleep for thinking about it. There were times early on that I felt frustrated with the story, as it seemed predictable - I was soon proven wrong though and became so invested in the adventure of Natasha, Ava and Alex. Black Widow: Forever Red alternates between these three point of views and interspersed throughout are after action reports and interviews, and SHIELD memos. I loved these as they built the intensity, alluding to huge things to come further in the book and allowing more insight into Natasha. It ends with one final memo and man. Way to end this book. Stohl, you kill me. And I love it.

I really did love Natasha in this book. And yeah, I kind of wish it was more focused on her than Ava and Alex at times. But as a whole it worked and I appreciated what Ava and Alex added to not only the story but to Natasha herself. Here Natasha is still the hardass, seemingly emotionless spy, willing and able to get the job done no matter what, that we've all seen. And there's also the glimpses of the hurting, caring, sassy, sometimes even awkward person Natasha is. Stohl delves deeper into Natasha's past, not only of the Red Room but her childhood prior to that, and tells part of the story of how Natasha became all she is. And it is horrific, beautiful and tragic. That's how I'd describe Black Widow: Forever Red as a whole too actually. I'd probably consider Ava to be more the book's main character, to be honest. At first I was a tiny, tiny bit put off by that. Of course I came for Black Widow! Ava had to grow on me - really grow on me - but she soon did. She's determined, had her own kickass moments, and her story is as emotional as Natasha's. I respected Ava. Her lack of communication was annoying, but eh, obstacles. The more the truth came to light the more invested I became in Ava as a character. I really like the relationship between her and Natasha. Ava and Alex's relationship I was not as impressed with. It's sweet and meaningful enough, but it was also too insta-love, so fair warning. I didn't hate it though. It grew on me too. Everything Ava and Alex did. They kind of make Black Widow: Forever Red the YA it is. Alex I liked a lot, though I questioned his purpose to begin with. He really found his place in this book and it's wider universe though. He made me laugh and I do like the funny ones. I think Stohl did great with Alex. With all three characters. The way their stories come together had me truly loving this novel. All the feels, as they say. And okay, I just have to mention Tony Stark and Phil Coulson. As a MCU fan I loved seeing the nods to that world and having Tony and Coulson were the best. Tony was of course very Tony. I think I was grinning the whole way though his cameo. As for Coulson, well, he's my favourite always. I adore Agents of SHIELD and have the biggest crush on Coulson, so. With Agents of SHIELD I do miss his interactions with the Avengers so it was great to have that again. To see a little of the evolution of his and Natasha's relationship was cool. And again, that ending. Boom.

I'm a bit of a squeeing, flailing mess for this book now. Black Widow: Forever Red is very much its own thing while also part of something much bigger. Whether you're a fan of the wider Marvel universe or not, you could like this book.

Rating:


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (96)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Share all of the bookish goodies you got during the week!

Bought:

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Arguirre
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann

Goodies:

Harry Potter emoticon buttons from The Harry Potter Alliance - aren't they cute? I always do my best to support The HPA and I simply couldn't resist these.

What new goodies have you added to your shelves? Have you read these books? Which should I read first?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Feature & Follow Friday: Funny Blurb & Featured Blogger

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Rachel over at Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. This is a chance to get to know fellow book bloggers and have them meet you. Be sure to pop over and meet this week's featured blogger! Also, don't forget to pop back over in a couple of days to vote for next week's featured blogger.

This week's featured blogger is ME! Woo! I'm happy to have you!

Give a funny blurb to a book that will 'tickle' those who haven't read the book yet.


Four hobbits, a dwarf, an elf, a wizard, two men and an evil ring. What could go wrong? A three book epic adventure tells us - everything. Join the fellowship as they embark on a quest across Middle Earth, facing enemies and allies in many forms and missing out on breakfast, second breakfast, morning tea, lunch... The lesson? Hobbits acting on empty stomachs should never be underestimated. - The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien

So I admit I felt dread when I read this week's prompt. I don't think I'm much good at humour. But I gave it a try, so how's that? I hope I at least had you snorting or rolling your eyes.

Thank you for visiting and following Pinker Than Fiction! I'll be sure to pop by your blog too!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Title: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Series: Red Rising, Book One
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Publication Date: 25 September 2014
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.

Break the chains. Live for more.
(summary from Goodreads)


An intense, action-packed novel, Red Rising is not to be missed.

So a little before reading this book I started watching the television series Spartacus. I didn't expect to love it as I'm a bit of a sook about violence, but love it I did. A little too much. I can get a bit obsessive, see, so I forced myself to take a break between seasons. Decided to start Red Rising early for book club. I only got a little into it before tossing it aside - hello, Spartacus vibes! Honestly, I had no idea what Red Rising was about aside from the blurb on the book. I was unimpressed with the coincidence, let me tell you. Not seriously, mind you. I was in no way passing judgement on this book, don't get me wrong. Just rolling my eyes and having a laugh at the way the world works. Or Fate, as it may be. And I should get on with actually reviewing Red Rising, right? This book is pretty darn awesome, and in my experience at least, quite original. I loved the mix of Ancient Roman history with science fiction. Thousands of years in the future, planets like Mars colonized, amazing technology, and this futuristic civilization honours and mimics one from way back. It gives Red Rising a sense of new and unknown as well as a familiarity. I should also say that Red Rising may not be for the fainthearted. There's a fight to the last man standing tone to this novel. That's not exact, but you get my drift. It's violent and seriously brutal. The action certainly keeps the pace moving. The story takes place over two years but it never drags. What's done well is it isn't violence for violence sake, necessarily. Brown doesn't hold back but this society is incredibly brutal in nature and his prose fairly reflects that. It's hard hitting and thought-provoking. Red Rising questions ideas of honour, morality, violence and humanity. It's the questions that had me hooked. Do I agree or disagree with Darrow's actions? Is the dream ultimately worth it? How far is too far?

Darrow drives Red Rising for me. I think if I didn't feel some form of connection with Brown's characters, ultimately I couldn't have handled the kind of story Red Rising is. I'm a wimp, I freely admit it. But if I'm invested, it's all good. Honestly, I loved quite a number of Brown's characters. They're all different and they had me, at one time or another, laughing, cheering, disgusted, crying, despairing. I'm not going to go into detail about these characters though because it'd be too easy to delve into spoilers. I'm really looking forward to continuing this series as I'm desperate to see where each and every character journeys next. Darrow I can write about. He's a great character. One that is sure to become iconic. Reckless and impulsive, but when he reigns it in, so smart. At times I loved and hated him. Darrow is somewhat a dark character, both hero and villain. That's what has me invested. How his story will play out has me so intrigued. I can see things going so very well or so very wrong and it's a balance Brown wields masterfully.

Red Rising is a fierce and ruthless story that is sure to shock and remain with you.

Rating: 

 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Waiting on Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. It spotlights soon to be released books that can't come quick enough!

I'm intrigued by...

Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 20 September 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | The Book Depository

The bestselling author of Mosquitoland brings us another batch of unforgettable characters in this tragicomedy about first love and devastating loss.

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.
(summary from Goodreads)


I really enjoyed Arnold's first book, Mosquitoland, so I can't wait to read this one. I'd be interested in that summary alone! 

What book snagged your attention this week?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ten Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week they have a specific topic for a top ten list. Link up, visit some new blogs and add to your ever growing TBR list! This week's topic is:

Ten Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - I loved this book last year. I was eager to read it's sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury, too, desperately awaiting it's arrival in the mail. Unfortunately with a book this popular to not be spoiled you need to avoid the internet, so by the time it did arrive I'd heard enough about it to know I'd hate it and I no longer have any interest in either book. I have finally come to the conclusion that I'm just not a fan of Maas's books. And that's okay.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - I read this a couple of years ago and I wasn't the biggest fan. But I'd been seeing so much love for it that I think I made myself like it more than I really did. Or at least, not admit to disliking it as much as I did. It's hard sometimes to voice the really unpopular opinion, you know? And as I was just getting into blogging at the time, it was even harder. But now I'm okay to say that nope, Maas's books are just not for me.
Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer - When I read this series, many years ago, I liked it well enough. But here's the thing - I skip read the middle two as I hated Jacob. I hated the love triangle. Today I probably would have left New Moon as a DNF and never picked up the rest of the series.
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - So going back through my reviews on Goodreads to figure out what books to include in this list, I saw that I'd given this one 4 stars. Huh. I never even read the rest of the series. I'm not sure I'd still love it that much all these years later.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - I really enjoyed Fangirl and nearly a year later I think I appreciate it ever more.


Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake - Anna Dressed in Blood is one of my fave reads, it's awesome. I liked Girl of Nightmares but it wasn't as good as the first book. I think as time passes I forget details of GoN more and more.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - When I read this in high school, I loved it. I swooned over it! I was in the minority, many of my classmates hated it. I think I'll always appreciate Wuthering Heights as a classic but I wonder if I'd still love it quite as much if I reread it?
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - Alternatively, I struggled with Jane Eyre when I was younger. I appreciate it so much more now.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - I read this not long after it was released, before the movie was a thing. It was still very popular and hyped at the time, as was John Green. I found it very predictable and was disappointed with it. Because I could see the twist coming I wasn't as invested. I think I was too hard on TFiOS for this and maybe it deserves a little more kudos than I've given it.
This Raging Light by Estelle Laure - A friend lent me an ARC of this as I'd been desperate to read it. I really did enjoy it but I was disappointed with aspects of it. Again, I think I was too quick to judge. The more I think about it the more I actually appreciate what upset me and I think I'll have to reread it someday and see for sure. Once more time has passed.

I find I can think of more books that I've begun to love less over time than books that I learn to love more. That's a bit sad. But it's probably more common, yeah? What books have your opinions of changed as time passes?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Title: Flawed
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Series: Flawed, Book One
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 24 March 2016
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

You will be punished…

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found flawed.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.
(summary from Goodreads)


Ahern has a great concept in Flawed but the execution fails.

I've tried reading Ahern's adult fiction novels but could never get into them. There's something about her writing that doesn't appeal to me, and as I started reading Flawed I found it problematic still. Her writing seems too stiff, too forced to me. The argument can be made that it's purposeful here as Celestine strives for logic and perfection, so the writing style suits the story and character point of view. I don't disagree. But I didn't like it. It was a real struggle to get into this book. I honestly worried I wouldn't, but then the story really picks up and I found myself zooming through it, for a time. Celestine's arrest, her trial, her branding - it's intense and makes Flawed un-put-down-able in that moment. This world building, the concept of moral accountability, was really intriguing - and frustrating. It's the judgement and public shaming we see every day through the media and internet on a much larger and scarier scale. It's very thought-provoking. At least, for part of the novel. As engrossing as Flawed became, unfortunately it didn't last long. I was exasperated with the last part of this book. There's no major action, not really. Celestine hangs around basically as a number of people come to provide her - and readers - with relevant information. It's a giant info dump through conversation after conversation after conversation and it is boring and really, just lazy. The intensity and intrigue is not maintained at all, it is a mere blip. A blip that on the whole, does not make Flawed worth reading.

I'm not much of a fan of Ahern's characters either, to be honest. I found Celestine very off-putting. It's hard to connect with her and her story, to feel much empathy for her. Sure, her situation sucks but it's not emotionally impacting. Celestine never develops with any real depth. Her shifts in motivation or emotion are too quick, coming out of nowhere. Plus, Celestine is the least proactive person ever. She's guided throughout the entirety of the book and it is boring. Many of Ahern's secondary characters are at least fascinating but they are terribly underutilised. I really don't understand Carrick at all. Celestine yearns for him, yet they never even speak to each other! We're meant to believe in this all-encompassing, deep connection between them...but I really don't. It's ridiculous. For just a boy in the next cell for a tiny part of the novel, Carrick is given a lot of weight to carry within this story. It doesn't work. In much the same way there's Art, who is supposedly the love of Celestine's life...who also pulls a disappearing act. Yeah, okay. This is the case for many of Ahern's characters. Apparently they're meaningful and necessary, yet they hardly make an appearance in the story. What we are told about them may be interesting but it's not enough. There's no grit to Flawed. Judge Crevan and Juniper are the most frustrating of Ahern's underused characters. Crevan is the villain of Flawed and when he's part of the story he stands out. Ahern writes him with chilling intensity. But for so much of the book he's a side note. As for Juniper, Celestine's sister, Ahern writes her early on in a way that alludes to her being more than we see. But that build up is for nothing. Juniper is just another tool to push Celestine, like the reporter, like Alpha, like her Grandfather. There only to provide relevant info, no more, no less. The only secondary character I felt got some good development was Celestine's mother. The way she chooses to fight back, just a little? Woo! It's unfortunate Ahern chose to use her characters in such a way because Celestine is simply not enough to hold this story on her own. I ended Flawed disappointed and frustrated. And screaming "the snowglobe, you idiot!" I'm sure Celestine will figure it out in the next book. When someone tells her. Am I right?

The potential is there for Flawed to be so much greater. It's sad - and honestly, annoying - that it just didn't get there. 

Rating: 



Saturday, May 21, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (95)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Share all of the bookish goodies you got during the week!

Lots of new books added to my reading pile this week! 

Bought:

Half Wild by Sally Green
Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder
Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder


The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (signed)


The Raven's Prophecy Tarot by Maggie Stiefvater

Borrowed:

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Compulsion by Martina Boone
Hate is Such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoud
Golden by Jessi Kirby
This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
After the Woods by Kim Savage
Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth
A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood

Won:

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, with huge thanks to Kristy @ Book Nerd Reviews and Read Me. Love Me. Share Me.

I am beyond excited to read a number of these books, most especially The Raven King and The Unexpected Everything! I read Half Bad last week and have just started Half Wild. Oh, how I wish I could stop time to just read and read and read!

What new books did you get? Have you read any of the above? What should I absolutely read next?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Feature & Follow Friday: Ten Favourite Contemporary YA Reads

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Rachel over at Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. This is a chance to get to know fellow book bloggers and have them meet you. Be sure to pop over and meet this week's featured bloggers! Also, don't forget to pop back over in a couple of days to vote for next week's featured blogger.

So this week's topic is Ten Reasons You Love Your Fave Genre, but we actually did something like that not too long ago in February. So if you'd like to read that again, please visit my post Ten Reasons You Read Your Favourite Genre. I chose Contemporary YA as my fave genre, so to post something that relates to this weeks topic, I've decided to list...

Ten Favourite Contemporary YA Reads
(In no particular order)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4374400-if-i-stay https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6786718-the-day-after-forever https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19547856-simon-vs-the-homo-sapiens-agenda https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51738.Just_Listen https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9961796-lola-and-the-boy-next-door
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17237214-two-boys-kissing https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17661416-made-you-up https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12000020-aristotle-and-dante-discover-the-secrets-of-the-universe https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18189606-since-you-ve-been-gone https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12294652-my-life-next-door

And that's barely scratching the surface. I'm definitely a fan of contemporary romance, can't you tell? I just love the emotion of contemporary YA.

What is your fave genre? Why do you love it? Are you a fan of contemporary YA? If so, what book is a fave of yours?