This Month: March & April 2015

May 03, 2015

this month

I kind of went poof! these past two months, which is why I was only able to publish two miserable posts… But it was about animated covers and The Winner’s Curse so I’m basically forgiven, right?! :P

But in all seriousness, lately I’ve been feeling really unmotivated to blog. It’s as though my obsession with blogging and books is slowly being replaced with something else (more about that in a later post), and even though I have post ideas and books to review, I just can’t bring myself to sit down and write them. O cursed Blogger’s Block, why dost thou strike me???

Enough moping, though. This post will be longish because quite a bit happened in both May and April, but I’ll try to keep things brief. Try. ;) (I’m not the best with short essays.)

  • My first driving lesson: I thought manual cars were easy to manage, but HELL NO. They are scary and a huge pain in the ass for sure. So needless to say, my first driving lesson was a disaster. My car’s engine died a few times in the middle of the road and I got honked by everyone around me. D: At least I had a nice driving instructor! I’ve gotten a bit used to it now, but there are still so many things to memorize before you can past the test. GULP.
  • My final piano exam! A lot of you may not know this, but I play the piano, and on the last day of March, I sat for my final piano exam. It was thirty minutes of terror, but I am so glad it’s over now. My results should be coming out in about a week’s time. O_O
  • I’m furthering my studies abroad! The days of decisions is past! It’s been a really stressful time for both my parents and myself, because college applications and essays are just the tip of the iceberg — we had to plan out our finances carefully as well, since education is really becoming crazy expensive. But finally, everything is all settled (thanks to my parents and a really sweet and awesome admissions counselor), and I will be studying in the US end of August! *waves pom poms* I’ll be majoring in Digital Art, and will be taking a minor in Japanese, so I’ll get to learn the language — which I’ve been trying to do for a while now — in a class. Eeeep!
  • I watched Age of Ultron: … And it was slightly disappointing. I suppose that was to be expected, since it was my most anticipated film this year and I had huge expectations. I loved the humor and the action and the overall story, but for some reason there was a huge emotional gap between me and the characters — especially the new ones. And that took away a lot of the impact and made me feel like something big was missing. But hey, I’ll always remain a Marvel fan, and I’m still eagerly waiting for Captain America: Civil War next year! But you know what I would REALLY appreciate? A BLACK WIDOW MOVIE.

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ALL I CAN DO IS GUSH: The Winner’s Curse, Marie Rutkoski

Apr 03, 2015

Title: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Source: Purchased
BUY IT: The Book Depository | Amazon

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love… 
 
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.  
 
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 
 
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 
 
Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
[This] was what curiosity had bought her: fifty keystones for a singer who refused to sing, a friend who wasn’t her friend, some one who was hers and yet would never be hers.

Hi there, this is Meg’s ghost, who will be reviewing The Winner’s Curse in her place, because the person has died and drifted up to bookish heaven.

I’m not lying when I say that I had ridiculously high — yet slightly guarded — expectations when I started The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski a week ago. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might have seen one, or maybe two, or how about three hundred five-star reviews for this book. And bloody hell, man, unlike Kestrel, those reviews told the truth. Welcome to the first five-star review on the blog.

So what made this book so fantastically amazingly jaw-droppingly good?

EVERYTHING.

There’s Kestrel — gosh, I love Kestrel. It’s not because she’s one of those stereotypical YA heroines with a shitload of courage and kindness and goodness in their hearts. No, it’s because she’s so different from that. She’s cold and calculating, sharply intelligent and full of wit, able to assess a situation from all angles. She is not above blackmail and manipulation, and she has a stone-hard pride that gets in her way more than just a few times. Sometimes her actions and choices made me wince, but at the same time, I could see and understand why she did what she did, why she said what she did. And I admired her for it. And the choice she made near the end of the book? I COULD UNDERSTAND THAT TOO, BUT THAT DIDN’T MAKE MY HEART HURT ANY LESS. *dies*

And Arin. Oh, boy, Arin. He is as good a strategist and as clever as Kestrel is, but also warmer and kinder, and probably more emotional. But I think that that was what made the two of them fit together so well like puzzle pieces. He came across as one of those broody love interests at first, but my opinion of him quickly changed as I got to know his character more, and discovered that his appearance wasn’t everything. I was barely halfway through the book before I began shipping him and Kestrel hard.

Forbidden romance has never been so heart-wrenching or so perfect at the same time. If you know me, you know that I’m not a romance person. Most romance stories in YA have me rolling my eyes and sighing impatiently, but I think shoujo manga and anime are slowly beginning to change me. xD The slow-burning romance in this book had me flipping the pages, desperate for some kind of progress. Arin’s loyalty and kindness hurt, as did Kestrel’s coldness, but in the good kind of way. I can’t imagine how their relationship will be like in the sequel now.

The other characters, as minor as they were, also had a surprising amount of depth to them — particularly Ronan and Jess and Irex and General Trajan, Kestrel’s father. The general came across as cold and uncaring for his daughter at first, but as the story went on, I realized that he had a huge love for her that may not have shown through his words, but definitely did through his actions.

In addition to the wonderful characters and romance, the world building was equally as amazing. The Winner’s Curse is set in a world where the Valorian Empire has conquered the country of Herran and taken its people as slaves. Without dumping too much information, Marie Rutkoski managed to paint such an intricately detailed and very, very real world. In just little more than 350 pages, I learned about Valorian culture and practices, Herrani beliefs and traditions, and a little of both these countries’ history. Honestly, it was amazing how developed Rutkoski’s world was in this first book, and I have a feeling that we haven’t even scraped the surface of its depth yet.

The Winner’s Curse wins the prize for being the first five-star review on my blog (er, not to mention the first five stars I’ve given a book in a long time — since Leigh Bardugo’s Ruin and Rising last year), and if that and this review aren’t reasons enough for you to GET OFF YOUR ASSES AND GO READ THIS NOW, then my dear friends, I am afraid that you are a lost cause. Because this book is lovely. It’s more than lovely. It’s magical and epic and absolutely beautiful.

SO READ ITTTT. (In other words: OH, STITCH.)

Rating: ★★★★★

The Age of Animated Covers (ASDFJKL;QSJHB!)

Mar 27, 2015

Animated book covers.

I’m sure you’ve heard of them. They’re basically covers… THAT MOVE.

Now, now, calm down! ;)

Animated covers aren’t really a new invention (they’ve been around since 2013, at least), but they were too pretty not to feature on my blog, so I wanted to share with you guys some of my favorite animated covers! It’s only a matter of time before these sweet babies take over normal covers and bookstores begin featuring them on their websites or on LED screens (how about physical books with lightweight screens displaying moving covers?!), and honestly? I can’t wait. So here are 20 of my absolute favorites, with #1 being the best!

20 | The 5th Wave

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I love the holographic 3D effect going on here! It reminds me of how the line between who’s human and who’s not becomes distorted, as the Others ravage the earth and humanity wave by wave. And also, it just gives off this creepy vibe that totally fits the story. And the cool thing is that this animated cover is fanmade — hats off to the animator, man. *claps*

19 | Spellcaster

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Simple, but so elegant! *O* It really does make the book seem more magical, and I love how the flame illuminates the beautiful textured background of the cover. I can just imagine this cover sitting on a beautifully carved wooden table and lighting up that corner of the room with a warm and mysterious glow.

18 | Asylum

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OMG. CREEPY. I already loved the spookiness of Asylum‘s static cover, but with the ghostly figure shaking from side-to-side now, it makes things ten times scarier. Me likey. I’ve been meaning to read this book, but the mixed to negative reviews have put me off, unfortunately… Have any of you guys read it? I love the cover, so I’m hoping that the story lives up to it.

17 | The Beginning of Everything

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Eeep, one of my favorite contemporaries of all time! Even though I wish they hadn’t changed the original title (Severed Heads, Broken Hearts), I have to say that this cover, with the rollercoaster going through so many loop-de-loops, fits the story very well. The Beginning of Everything is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, laughter, and heartwarming romance. And the most unexpected ending ever. Love!

16 | The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

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Based on what I know of this book (since I haven’t read it yet, though I’m planning to), this animated cover looks really fitting! And I love the use of colors here — they give off a very psychedelic feeling, which is kind of how the mood of the whole story is like, I think. And am I the only one really digging the serif fonts used, too?

15 | The Scarlets

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This is the first time I’m seeing a novella get its own animated cover… and I love it! I like how it seems like blood is seeping through the textured cloth-looking black background, before fading away to show an ivory-white skull. Lives up to the title The Scarlets.

14 | Days of Blood and Starlight

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Those blinking stars! The flickering firelight! I liked the simpleness of this edition of covers, and the animation just made it look even more stunning. I love how the flame of fire seems to be popping out from the background — looks so cool. And imagine a blown-up version of the animated cover hanging on your wall as a poster. It’ll make any room look absolutely gorge. <3

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Hmm, Let’s See… Burn, Rewrite or Re-Read?

Feb 26, 2015

tagged

Last month, I got tagged to do the Burn, Rewrite, or Re-Read Challenge by Lina @ Every Book A World! It’s a new challenge Lina adapted from jessethereader’s video on it — and guys, I just watched the video and JESSE IS HILARIOUS — so I’m excited to be one of the firsts (I think?) to do it. Thanks, Lina! <3

I think you're supposed to randomly choose books on your "read" list, so I used a random number generator to pick books on my GR shelf! LET US BEGIN.

Round 1!

BURN: The Blessed by Tonya Hurley

Since the other two books are clearly out of the question… I’m going to have to burn you, The Blessed. Not that I’ll feel too bad doing it, #sorrynotsorry. I read this book about three years ago, so I can’t really recall much about it other than that it was incredibly weird and mediocre at the same time. But it was also my first print ARC, so it kind of has a soft spot in my heart. Not worthy of a re-read, though. :P

RE-READ: This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers

Holy shit, you guys. This book. THIS BOOK. One of my all-time favorites! Like The Blessed, I read this one ages ago (like, right when I first started blogging), but it’s still managed to stick with me all this time. It’s set during a zombie apocalypse, but unlike other books of the genre, it doesn’t focus on zombies, but rather on a girl’s and her friends’ mental states and their wills to survive. And it does so BEAUTIFULLY. The raw emotion behind the narration is so real and so easy to empathize with. Seriously. I need to get myself a copy of this book and re-read the hell out of it. (AND THERE’S A SPINOFF/SEQUEL, TOOOOO.)

REWRITE: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Please don’t get me wrong — I adore The Hobbit. It’s probably my favorite book out of the entire saga (but I haven’t finished the series yet, so I guess I can’t really judge), and if I had a choice, I would totally re-read it too. Except that, um, This Is Not A Test was already perfect. >< So I'll probably rewrite this only to remove some of the long-winded descriptions of scenery, though they aren't as bad as in The Two Towers, admittedly.

Round 2!

RE-READ: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Another one of my all-time favorites! I love, love, love the idea behind the entire His Dark Materials trilogy (even though I still haven’t managed to get past The Amber Spyglass — yikes), and I remember having the time of my life when I read this beauty when I was still a kid. I’ve read this book twice now, but I’m all ready for another re-read, and hopefully I’ll finish the series soon, too!

BURN: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

When I first heard about Dualed, months before its release, I was SO EXCITED. It sounded like nothing I’d ever read before — a fight to the death between two yous in a futuristic setting. Dystopia + sci-fi = the perfect blend. And dystopia was still a huge thing back in 2013 (now, though, contemporaries are quickly taking over the scene). Unfortunately, when I managed to get my hands on an ARC, I was disappointed. Floppy world-building, shallow characters, and a romance I couldn’t cheer on. Yeah. No. A definite burn.

REWRITE: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’ll probably rewrite this to make sure Gatsby gets a happy ending and Daisy drowns in the sea just outside her house. (Nah, just kidding. I just want Gatsby to be have a nice ending. Daisy can go do whatever she wants. :/)

Round 3!

REWRITE: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Another book I was insanely excited for… only be disappointed once I actually read it. I had a hard time between choosing which book to rewrite — Level 2 or When You Were Mine? I finally settled on this one because I felt that it has so much potential and I was expecting quite a bit from it. I haven’t read the sequel yet, though, so I might change my mind if I get to it. (Also, am I the only one who’s not too happy about the title change? It happened quite a while back, but I prefer “Level 2″ over “The Memory of After.” *shrug*)

RE-READ: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

With such a creative and original premise, Crewel was definitely a favorite of the year when I read it back in 2013. The characters were well fleshed-out, the story SO FREAKING AMAZING, and the romance pretty okay (even with the love triangle — which really didn’t bother me that much, surprisingly), so I would love to re-read it again, and then get to the sequel, which I still need to read. Definitely a huge recommendation if you’re looking for dystopia that’s different from anything else you’ve read, and that will for sure stick with you for a long time!

BURN: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

Believe it or not, I was actually insanely excited for this book when I first heard about it. And as you know, I’m not usually excited for contemporary romances (maybe I was just in a really lovey-dovey mood then, who knows?). But when I read it, I was disappointed. The romance wasn’t swoon-worthy. The characters weren’t anything special. And the story, which could have been interesting, was just meh. I don’t want to burn this book, because I didn’t hate it, but out of the three here, this was the one I disliked most. Sorry! ><

So yup! That’s it for my Burn, Rewrite or Re-Read Challenge! Thanks again to Lina for tagging me — I had lots of fun!

Can’t let this awesomely cruel challenge die out now, can we? >:) So, I tag…

Over to you! Do you agree with the choices I made for these books? What books would YOU burn, rewrite or re-read?

Valentine’s Day Special: Who is Your Fictional Boyfriend?

Feb 14, 2015

valentinesss

Oh man, it took me forever to make the words stick on that gif, haha (so many frames T_T)! But hello, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Obviously, I’m spending this not-very incredibly special day alone at home, catching up on my shows. And if you’re reading this, it means you’re in the same situation as me, too. But you know what? We don’t NEED to be alone. We’re readers. We’re watchers. We’re wanderers between reality and fiction. And it’s time for us to have our very own special Valentine’s Day. Which is why I created this short quiz for all of us forever aloners out there — to find out who our fictional boyfriends are (because that’s the fun part, right?!).

I’ve included a bunch of characters from some of my favorite books/manga, so give it a go and see who you get! And hopefully they’ll match up with your kind of personality, haha. >_<

Have fun!

What did you think of the quiz? Who did you get? Do you think that they suited you or was this thing completely out of whack? Leave your thoughts below and have a HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!