Monday, June 30, 2014

Strange Chemistry

Today I just wanted to write up a post to talk about Strange Chemistry. Strange Chemistry is a publisher that many of my must read books are a part of- I'm sure you've seen me talk about Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen as one of my most anticipated reads, and my most anticipated debut of the year, and after I read it, one of my favorites. I recently picked up another that I was really excited about, Feather Bound by Sarah Raughley, and I was also amazed by that book. Unfortunately, I was emailing a blogger friend (Rebecca over at The Library Canary) who told me that Strange Chemistry had shut down.

Strange Chemistry has published books that are truly unique. As a blogger, I can say that their books and stories stood out to me just from flipping through Listopias on Goodreads, finding debuts and books that I'd be interested in reading more about. I can honestly say that a lot of Strange Chemistry books were ones that got me excited and intrigued. The books themselves are fantastic quality as well-  little details ensure that these books are something special. I'm sort of in shock that this publisher is closing- it feels like I'd only just discovered how incredible they are and now they're gone. But I can say that these stories are still definitely amazing and should be told. A lot of Strange Chemistry authors are dealing with a lot of stress and shock from this. My heart goes out to you all, and as a reader I'm not giving up on discovering your stories; I cannot wait to hear more from the authors that have been a part of this group. 

The Library Canary also did a fantastic farewell post to Strange Chemistry that inspired me to share my own thoughts. She also calls for everyone to read these books and share the love for some awesome stories so that these fantastic authors can find a new publisher as well. I'll be posting my Feather Bound review shortly, and my Stolen Songbird is already on the blog, but I'll just say that those two books are both fantastic and entirely different from any I've read. Looking at multiple bookshelves and piles of books, that's saying something. 

So, Strange Chemistry, I miss you and your wonderful books already. I think I'll always treasure what I've read and found from your books. To the authors, I can't even imagine how difficult of a time this is for you. Your stories are wonderful and you're in my thoughts. 

From the paper world,

The First Half of 2014 Bonus - Top Five Favorite Covers

I wanted to include some bonus material for The First Half of 2014, and since many of you know I love talking about book covers, I thought I'd share my five favorite from books I've read this year. 

Second Star
This title is so evocative of the book and the story within. Reading this story made me want to grab a surf board and start learning like Wendy, and the surreal feel of this story sort of transfers onto the cover as well.

Unhinged (Splintered, #2)
You've probably heard me gush about this cover before. If not, I can quickly summarize. Morpheus. Beautiful color scheme. Intricate details that fit the cover character and story. Morpheus. 

Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter, #2)
I adore the dramatic coloring of this cover, and the cover model's dress is gorgeous! It also reflects some of the changes Juliet has undergone since the first book yet also how her character has remained the same in some aspects as well. And of course the dramatic red accent that is a constant in this series' book covers. 

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)
This is a cover with true attention to detail. The title looks like Lara Jean scrawled it on in Sharpie, and the room is filled with pictures that I think I heard Jenny Han had brought, and as you look at the cover and its continuation onto the back you see small, truly personal touches that took this cover and made it into a real part of the book.

Gilded (Gilded, #1)
I remember seeing Christina Farley do a video when Gilded's cover was released talking about the different aspects of the cover and how each detail contributed to the story and the culture. Not only is this a stunning cover with a beautiful blue scheme, but it's really rooted in the mythology and details that Christina Farley brought to the story.

I hope you all have enjoyed The First Half of 2014, and I'm so happy I was able to share this with you. Although the series began as a spontaneous little whim of mine, I wanted to expand it and really explore the books I've read since I have really branched out into the various YA genres this year and hope to continue to do so. Of course, any book suggestions are welcome in the comments and I'd love to discuss with you!

From the paper world,

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The First Half of 2014 Grand Finale - Top 5 Books I've Read So Far ThisYear

I really wanted to make this as difficult for myself as possible, didn't I? In all honesty, though, I loved picking the different categories and giving my recommendations from them. However, I wanted to recommend my top 5 from any of the lists, the true best of the best for me. I tried to pick ones that made me feel something extra when I was reading them, that fully immersed me in the story and these are also from a wide range of genres (we've even got a contemporary on this list!). 2014 has been a fantastic, book filled year thus far and I cannot wait to see what other fabulous books are coming. 

Also, because I couldn't pick and I can add on to this, there are three honorable mentions at the bottom. I've talked about all of these in the other lists, so if you want my thoughts on them feel free to check out the other 'First Half of 2014' posts and see my thoughts as well as the other winners for this series. 

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)

Honorable Mention:
Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)      Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)    Sweetly (Fairytale Retellings, #2)
Rebel Belle

Thank you so much for joining me for The First Half of 2014! I hope you enjoyed reading about this series, and I had so much fun coming up with the different genres and trying to pick out just the right books for it. I hope the rest of 2014 is a fantastic reading year, and well year in general too, for everyone, and see you soon! Also, stay tuned tomorrow because there may be some bonus material coming your way!

From the paper world,

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The First Half of 2014 Part V - Top Five Paranormal

For a genre that's traditionally been one of my favorites, I read some paranormal this year, but I've branched out into quite a few other genres as well. However, I wanted to share my picks of paranormals as well for the first half of 2014. As usual, if you have any paranormal favorites I would love to hear about them! 

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle, #1)no. 1 - Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
This was a book I had heard a lot about, namely everyone saying they loved the cover. For me, the cover's not a favorite, but the story within definitely is. Harper is absolutely wonderful- snarky and flawed but she develops into an even better character as the story progresses. And her witty banter with David? Absolutely priceless. While I wasn't a fan of Harper's past friends and circle, she really becomes someone unique in this story and I can't wait to see how her tale continues on. Also, Rachel Hawkins's writing style is fabulous, and I had to pick up Hex Hall because I loved how fast paced and engaging the writing is. 

I loved how this story incorporated some elements of Greek mythology to it, yet was its own story, idea, and plot. The narration jumps between past and present, yet does so in a way that just gives the reader the full context of the events, and by the end I was ready to continue on with a series that has unique and witty characters and a fast paced plot.

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6)
To be completely and fully honest, City of Heavenly Fire is not my favorite book of The Mortal Instruments. However, despite my qualms with it, this is the finale of a series that I've enjoyed and treasured for years, and so I thought it appropriate to include it on my list. I think series finales are books with a lot of expectations on them, but COHF is definitely a fan favorite and a great conclusion to a hugely popular series.

Speaking of series finales, let's talk about Emerald Green. I love how the entire Precious Stone trilogy is comprised of a really unique take on time travel as well as fast paced books with lighthearted characters. Is there insta-love? Yes, but since whole books encompass a few days it doesn't feel as rushed and underdeveloped as some, and Gwen is definitely a flawed but likeable character. She had me laughing, cheering her on, and truly loving this ending to a unique and wonderful trilogy.

Gilded was a 2014 debut I was really excited about. I mean, that cover's amazing and I was super excited about reading a book set in Korea- I'd yet to read one in Seoul and my inner wanderlust and reader was curious. I picked Gilded up after reading a book I hadn't much enjoyed, yet I fell in love with the world, rich background, and story. Jae wasn't my favorite protagonist because of her recklessness, but overall I thought she became a better character and her story is definitely just getting started and is already fantastic. I can't wait for Silvern and more of Jae's tale in Korea!

From the paper world,

Friday, June 27, 2014

The First Half of 2014 Part IV - Top Five Fantasy and Retellings

Today's books have come from what are probably two of the genres that I have especially enjoyed this year. Fairy tale retellings, and retellings in general, are some of my favorite reads and so I found some wonderful ones this year. However, I stumbled across a few fantasy reads that were excellent as well, and since fantasy is a genre that I normally don't read as often, I was thrilled to have read some great books from it.

It's day four so let me know what your picks are and let me know your thoughts! I'm so excited to share my picks for this list, these books were really wonderful!

Unhinged (Splintered, #2)no. 1 - Unhinged by A.G. Howard
Are you surprised? Of course this Alice in Wonderland retelling trilogy is among my favorite book series ever, and Unhinged was absolutely incredible. I was kept in suspense the entire time, and I loved returning to this world and characters (especially my beloved Morpheus!) and this is a sequel that's thrilling, an excellent continuation, and leaves you ready for Ensnared!

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)no. 2 - Cress by Marissa Meyer
This is by far my favorite book in The Lunar Chronicles thus far. While each is great, Cress's storyline was fast paced, filled with action and incredible characters. I loved the witty banter and group that we see in this book, and Cress is an awesome addition to the leading ladies of The Lunar Chronicles. This was a book I couldn't put down, and it has made an already awesome series become one of my favorites. While we won't be getting Winter until November 2015, I'm definitely excited for more of this series with the prequel Fairest that's coming out in January. 

I really loved this second book in Jackson Pearce's retellings series. The characters were really wonderful- each was unique, well developed, and their personalities complemented each other well. I loved the sibling dynamic and bond between Ansel and Gretchen, and the mystery that fills the story as well. I found the characters to be memorable and engaging, and the story was well written and fast paced without dragging. I found myself immersed in the world of this small town and Gretchen's quest for answers.

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)
This was the 2014 debut I was looking forward to the most, and Stolen Songbird was really wonderful. I had, for some reason, thought it was a paranormal instead of a fantasy before I'd picked the book up, but this is an incredible fantasy that shines. The world that Danielle L. Jensen has created is intricate, beautiful, and riddled with mystery. I loved seeing Celine's character grow, and how her and Tristan got to know each other. This book is one that has me very excited to read its sequel as well, Hidden Huntress, which comes out in 2015.

Incarnate (Newsoul, #1)

Incarnate is a book that I discovered through a readalong, and I'm so happy I did. The world in this fantasy is absolutely incredible- it's truly unlike any concept I've read. This book has elements that are unusual in YA and Ana is a great lead. I fell in love with the world building and the characters.

From the paper world,

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The First Half of 2014 Part III - Top Five Contemporary

As many of you readers already know, I'm not the biggest contemporary reader. For various reasons, this genre is simply not one of my favorites. However, this year I've been introduced to several wonderful contemporaries thanks to friends like Sunny and Juhina, and random serendipitous occasions that led to me picking up some really great contemporaries this first half of the year, and so I'm excited to share my top five of those with you.

If I'm not mistaken, this is a contemporary written by the author of Venom, a YA historical fiction series that ended recently. I read Venom and really enjoyed it, but I hadn't been overly interested in a contemporary read. However, bloggers everywhere were writing incredible reviews of this book, and bloggers who I typically get book recommendations from were loving this, so I picked it up. I'm glad I did! A lot of times books with hype don't live up to it, but this was a fun book filled with character development and with a really unique premise.

I have read almost all of Jenny Han's books over the years. Most people rave about The Summer I Turned Pretty series, but to be honest I disliked those books. I was nervous about picking up this book, but after again hearing incredible reviews and being honestly interested in the premise of this book, I wanted to pick it up. I fell in love. This book had me giggling out loud, cheering on the protagonist, following along the emotional journey, and the ending left me ready to continue on with this duology. Finishing this book made me create a 'can't wait books of 2015' Goodreads shelf so I could put P.S. I Still Love You on it. The characters are wonderful and realistic, and the story itself is completely adorable. 

I had been nervous about this series, especially when I enjoyed Burn for Burn but wasn't in love with it. Fire with Fire surprised me with how much I adored it. The characters developed even more, and I found myself immersed in the story. Lillia was definitely my favorite character in this story, and issues I had with the first book were explained by the end of this one. The ending of this book had me stop and go read back through the books immediately, and I am so excited for Ashes to Ashes. This series is fast paced, impossible to put down, and a riveting drama.

Stargirl (Stargirl, #1)
Sunny basically had me read this book when she'd heard I never read it. This is a really unique read, and there's a lot to learn from it. To be completely honest, it's not my favorite read. I thought it was a good book, but some of the things Stargirl does I didn't think were entirely appropriate despite her good intentions, and so I ended up having to take a break from the story. However the reason this is on the list is because of how it affected me. I found myself inspired by Stargirl with her general goodwill and compassion for humanity. I think that's why the book lingered with me, and why I agree it's influential and a positive way to look at humanity.

Juhina told me about the Contemporary Lovers' readalong for this book, and after hearing everyone talk about it (notice a themes for how I end up picking a contemporary to read? sound off with your recommendations in the comments!) and so I read this one. This is another book that I didn't love, but it made me think, albeit for completely different reasons than Stargirl. Love Letters is the story of Laurel coming into her own in the aftermath of her sister's death. I was interested in how the letters reflected something about who it was addressed to, and how Laurel changes as the story goes on.

So there are some of my contemporary reads from this year! 

From the paper world,

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The First Half of 2014 Part II - Top Five Dystopian and Post Apocalyptic

Welcome back to The First Half of 2014 mini series! For day two, let's talk dystopians and post apocalyptics. I know, not the most cheerful of subject material, but this year I have found several really awesome books that come from these genres. A few were recommended by friends, and some I'd just heard amazing things about. Let me know what your top five are in the comments, and without further ado, here are mine!

This was a dystopian that was completely unusual for me. I'm not much of a dystopian fan, but Article 5 was wonderful. First, the society was different from other dystopians in that it wasn't a complete departure from the modern world. This is not the Panem of The Hunger Games or the factions of Divergent. Article 5 is akin to the modern world with some dramatic modifications. Ember is an awesome narrator and protagonist, and I loved reading about her. And Chase of course. Thanks to Juhina for the recommendation!

I was really debating on how to categorize The Arcana Chronicles, but since I read so much paranormal and I'm already going to have trouble narrowing down the list, I thought it would be best to spread out the books as much as possible. Poison Princess takes place in a post apocalyptic setting, and while the characters are interesting in the book, what really steals the show is the action. The world goes out with a bang and suddenly Evie is caught in the fight of a lifetime.

The second installment of The Arcana Chronicles completely blew me away. This is a fantastic sequel that, for me, surpassed its predecessor. I loved the insight we got into the characters, especially my favorite of the series, Death. The paranormal aspects were furthered in this novel, and really solidified my love for this series. Let me know if I'm right or not in the comments, but I'm hoping that this series is more than a trilogy. I want more than three books of these characters!

Champion (Legend, #3)This was a dystopian series conclusion that I absolutely adored. I know I'm in the minority here, but I loved Legend, wasn't the biggest fan of Prodigy, and so I was nervous about Champion. However, I was truly wowed by this book. It brought back all of the lovable qualities of the characters from the first book, since the characters had really bothered me in Book 2, and there was action and plot development galore. I was really impressed with the plot twists and the unfolding of a seemingly impossible dilemma. I think the ending was one of the best. It showed a lot of maturity and development in the characters, and I was truly content and happy with the way Marie Lu ended this series. (Also, looking ahead in 2014 is anyone else super excited for her new series The Young Elites? I read the 50 page sampler Marie Lu linked on her Twitter and fell in love with it!)

You've probably discovered by now that I'm a huge fan of great characters in books. Angelfall definitely had these. Raffe and Penryn are probably two of my favorite snarky YA characters ever. I loved Penryns wit and how well Raffe's commentary and her retorts complemented each other. These two's dynamics made the book absolutely memorable. This post apocalyptic and dystopian book is overrun with violence, desolation, and a takeover. While I wasn't a fan of the second book in comparison to the first, Angelfall is definitely fantastic and I cannot wait for book three- hopefully it will be the return of some of the elements I loved in Angelfall.

So, while I'm not the biggest fan of dystopians and post-apocalyptic stories, I found that these are really stand out novels to me. If you loved these too and have any recommendations that are along the same lines, please feel free to let me know in the comments!

From the paper world,

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The First Half of 2014 Part I - Top Five Historical Fiction and ScienceFiction

Today I'm starting a new mini-series celebrating the fact that we are halfway through 2014, and I have discovered some really great books this year that I'd like to share with you all! Today I wanted to start with Science Fiction and Historical Fiction. These are two genres that I haven't read as much of before 2014, but thankfully this year I found quite a few that I've loved within the first six months of 2014. Historical fiction particuarlly was a genre that generally hadn't appealed to me, so I'm really happy to have several new beloved historical fiction YA to share with you.

In no particular order...

My first completed read of the year, and what a fantastic start to 2014. I've reviewed this on both Goodreads and the blog, and basically this is a great science fiction that's intense, a tale of survival and excellent character development.

I don't know why I delayed picking this sequel up for so long. Dark Triumph is the second book in His Fair Assassins series, and Sybella's tale was beautifully written. I loved seeing more of the story that had started in Grave Mercy, and especially meeting the new characters and seeing the returning ones once more. I adored this book and reviewed it on Goodreads.

I read this as part of a readalong that A Book Utopia hosted, and it came at the perfect time for me. I had read a book that I was feeling very disappointed in, and it was a series ending book so I'm sure many readers can agree how pivotal those can often be. I felt as if I were in a reading funk- not a slump but just not as engaged with what I was reading. This science fiction with a lighthearted feel and witty writing and characters instantly cured me, and I thought it was a great sci-fi read.

The Red Necklace (French Revolution, #1)

This is a historical fiction set in the dramatic period of the French Revolution. The writing, characters, and intricate weaving of magic and history in this book completely captivated me. I had never heard anything about this book but it's really wonderful and part of a duology if I'm not mistaken. 

This 2014 debut is unique, as it's about a girl with supernatural abilities set in Soviet Russia. Yulia is interesting, resourceful, and has a dry wit and style that makes her narration memorable. I loved the group dynamics in this story, and also how the setting and time period are so unique.

So, here is the start of a series where I can look back at the first half of 2014 and share some of my favorite reads with you all. Let me know what your favorite sci-fi and historical ficiton reads were down in the comments below!

From the paper world,

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monthly Wrap Up - May 2014

What I Read...

Sekret (Sekret, #1)Sekret by Lindsay Smith
I read this along with Cassi of My Thoughts... Literally!
4 Stars

3.5 Stars

4 Stars

3 Stars

No Rating Given

5 Stars

3 Stars

No Rating Given

3.5 Stars

3.5 Stars

3 Stars

4 Stars

3 Stars

5 Stars

4 Stars

That's a total of 15 books read this month! I ended up reading quite a few books back-to-back, and there were a variety of books this month. Some I loved, some I liked, and a few were not favorites, but I still managed to read through. There were quite a few goodreads reviews posted, but I'll get to those in the next section. I was so happy to finish two books from my DNF pile- Abandon by Meg Cabot and Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd. Abandon I had been reading and wanted to start another book, so it was simply put aside temporarily. I was really annoyed with some of the characters in Her Dark Curiosity when I was first reading it, so I had set it aside and finished it this month.

What I Reviewed...

What I Posted...

...and more! Check out the archive in the sidebar for a full list of last month's posts!

Challenge Check In!

2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
19 Reviews posted for the 2014 TBR Pile Challenge!


1 Review posted for the 2014 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Books Devoured and That Artsy Reader Girl.

10 Reviews posted for the 2014 Prequel & Sequel Challenge!
26 Points

4 Reviews posted for the 2014 Summer Reading Program.

How did your month go? I hope everyone who went to BEA had a fantastic time, and in general I hope you had a lovely month!

From the paper world,