Monday, September 25, 2017

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

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Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

5 stars

“There are worse things in the world to be than delicate. If you’re delicate, it means no one has tried to break you.”

Mina’s father is a magician in the South. Her father is feared by everyone and as his daughter she is guilty by association. Mina grows up isolated and alone; constantly told by her father that she is unlovable and the reason her mother killed herself. Mina learns that she isn’t truly human. She died and her father kept her alive by turning her heart into glass. When Mina moves to the Whitespring Castle after her father saves the King’s daughter, Lynet, she decides that the king will allow her to experience love and be loved. Lynet looks like her mother, an exact copy in every way. It’s magical—she was created through snow and the magician’s blood. Lynet doesn’t want to be like her mother and she wants to have her own path. The person she wants to be like is Mina, but how can she be like Mina when Mina tries to kill her? AHHHH! I totally loved this book. I am genuinely pleased and surprised. I knew I would like this book because 1) it’s a Snow-White retelling and I’m a sucker for retellings 2) the blurb compares it to The Bloody Chamber, which I haven’t read, but know I’ll love 3) feminist fantasy I’M SOLD. This book had so much potential and it lived up to it for me. I don’t know if everyone will be obsessed with this book, but I recommend that everyone should check out this book and here’s why.


Bashardoust creates a beautifully cold and bleak world with little emotion within the walls of a kingdom. The tone feels chilly and the characters resemble that because they struggle to show their true emotions—either for political power or because of not knowing how to show them. I loved so many quotes in this novel. I highlighted so many great passages and I was moved to tears at simple scenes between Mina and Lynet that had no weight to the plot, but showed how important their relationship is. Bashardoust does a fantastic job at creating an intense world with intrinsic descriptions and emotionally captivating characters. The writing is wonderfully introspective and cunning in painting the character and the world without giving away too much at one time.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

“Made, created, shaped—all those words meant the same thing: she was something artificial. She was a duplicate, created to live out all the days that had been stolen from her mother.”

The characters in this are so amazing. They are all layered and at times frustrating… humanly frustrating. The story is told in alternating PoVs and timelines— present Lynet, past Mina, and present Mina. This worked out so well and intertwined to create such a riveting plot that had me on the edge of my seat no matter the timeline. This novel is important because it shows that stepmothers and daughters can have a strong bond that is as strong as a real mother-daughter bond. I was so invested in their relationship and resolving the misunderstanding that occurs because I wanted them to be on the same page and be the fierce dynamic duo I knew they could be. These two characters were absolutely lovely. On their own, they have flaws and while I didn’t always root for them at times because of their choices, I always enjoyed reading from their perspective seeing their characters grow. While this is a Snow-White retelling, the core story here is the strength of a mother-daughter relationship that isn’t familial and it’s a theme that isn’t present in YA, much less YA fantasy. It’s so refreshing to see an author—especially a debut author— flipping a typical trope in fantasy that has passed down for generations. Even my favorite fantasy novel, Daughter of the Forest, adheres to the evil stepmother trope, but Girls Made of Snow and Glass shows that the villain doesn’t have to always remain the villain because sometimes the villain wasn’t trying to be one.


“She was her father’s daughter, and what she didn’t have, she would create.”

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: Mina- 5 Lynet- 5

The Villain- It’s known pretty early on that the magician, Mina’s father, is the villain. He’s kind of stereotypical, but I was not expecting him to get as twisted as he did towards the end.


Villain Scale: 4

There’s a romance in here and it’s not with a prince. It’s with Nadia… a female surgeon within the Castle of Whitespring. I think it’s great that there is more representation in YA fantasy, especially since I have a sneaking suspicion that Lynet is bisexual due to a scene with a random boy later in the novel, but regardless of whether she is a lesbian or bisexual, I’m sure her confusion and acceptance over her attraction to a girl will be understood by many young female readers. I personally didn’t feel a strong connection to romance. I also didn’t particularly like Nadia’s character and that’s because she was a little too-faced in certain scenes and I never felt like I was able to truly gather her real intentions until the very end. However, I’m really happy to see a different take on romance in a YA fantasy retelling.


There are other romantic leads with the King and with Felix, Mina’s creation from glass. There were times when I loved the King’s lines, but he was wishy-washy and obsessed with his dead wife. Trying to recreate the past with his dead daughter is too Gatsby for me and that’s why he ended up getting shanked while hunting like Robert Baratheon (a-la-Game of Thrones). Felix was an interesting character and he had similar parallels to Mina’s struggle with being emotionless and being made of glass, but he understood who he was quicker and was able to decipher and discover emotions early on and it made his love story with Mina sweet, but I didn’t really ship it.


To be honest, the only thing I did ship was that Mina and Lynet would realize how much they loved each other and all would be well.


Romance Scale: 3.5

I loved the plot for Girls Made of Snow and Glass so much. The fact that these characters are both strong women, but in different ways, and have magical powers is so awesome. I love stories with magic powers, castles, strong characters, and politics. This novel was so much fun for me and I looked forward to walking around campus and reading this on my phone. If you are going to pick one 2017 debut, make it Girls Made of Snow and Glass because it spins old-age fantasy tropes on their heads and turns a simple story into a breathtaking read. Also this kind of feels like Game of Thrones because it’s cold, there’s a lot of are you the villain or am I?, and it’s fantasy with the occasional court politics thrown in.


Plotastic Scale: BROKE MY SCALE

Cover Thoughts: I love this cover because it represents both Mina and Lynet. It’s ice shards. Obsessed.


Thank you, Netgalley and Flatiron Books, for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read Girls Made of Snow and Glass? What are your thoughts on it? What is your favorite Snow White retelling? What trope are you tired of seeing in fantasy? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Romance Book Haul

 
Hi, everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I'm continuing to upload my book hauls that I prefilmed over the summer and this one focuses on books in the romance genre. 

THE BOOKS:
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So far I've read 4/8 of these books. My favorite is Redeeming Love and I highly recommend it. I have reviews for:
Too Scot to Handle 3.25 stars

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on them? What are your favorite romance reads? Let me know down below in the comments!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Books I've Read in 2017 #20-23

 
Hi, everyone! It's been a bit of a hot minute since I've uploaded a video, but I finally figured out the technical problems I've been having. Here's a review of four books that I've read in 2017. Also I'm so excited because I just hit 101 subscribers on YouTube and I'm so blessed and thankful for each person who has taken the time to watch my videos and liked me enough to subscribe to my channel. Again, thank you so much for reading my blog and watching my videos. It really means the world to me!

THE BOOKS:
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Excerpts from a Film (1942-1987) - A.C. Wise 5 stars This Tor short was absolutely beautiful. It follows a young woman with dreams of becoming a Hollywood star. She wants the world to remember her, but is also haunted by the ghosts of young women who have been forgotten. It's a wonderful story and you can read it for free on Tor's website! Check out my review here.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald - Therese Anne Fowler 4.25 stars The fictionalized account of Zelda Fitzgerald's life and marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald is a very interesting look into a starlet of the past. Zelda played a huge role in the 1920s, but she is, in my opinion, a figure who has been linked to her husband. This novel does an excellent job of showing that she was and wanted to be a woman of her own making, but the time period she lived in didn't allow that to come to fruition.
 Dolores Claiborne - Stephen King 5 stars If you've been watching my videos the last couple of months, then you are probably tired of hearing about this King novel, but it is so good that I can't stop talking about it. Seriously, read this one! It's amazing and one of the best character studies I've ever read.
The Pocketbook of Sunshine and Rain - Nenia Campbell 4.5 stars This is a poetry collection that is worth checking out. There are some great poems and if you want an idea of the style, I read my favorite poem in the video. Check out my review here.

Best of the Bunch:
Dolores Claiborne 

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on them if you have? Do you plan on checking out any of these reads? Let me know down below in the comments!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Tantalized by Nenia Campbell

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Tantalized by Nenia Campbell

4 stars

*Before I start this review, it is important to state that I’m friends with the author, Nenia Campbell, but this has no sway over my feelings or thoughts of this novel.

Tantalized follows Jessica Abrahams, a nineteen-year-old who is suicidal and dropped off by her parents at a prestigious university— despite her psychiatrist’s protests. Jessica is reckless when she isn’t on her meds and she is capable of doing anything for fun. She decides to seduce her Comparative Literature professor, Alexander Delacroix. Jess knows she is “fucked up”, but what she doesn’t know is that Professor Delacroix is, too. An intense battle of sexual domination and submission ensues and it may just break Jessica. I read this book three years ago, but I still think about it every now and then. Mainly because this booked is Fucked Up, with a capital F and a capital U. Incredibly Fucked Up. Naturally, it’s my type of book. If you didn’t know, I love dark literature. Some of my favorites from the genre are: Comfort Food,All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Nine Minutes, and Nenia Campbell’s Horrorscape trilogy. Darker themed novels that make me twitch with distaste, feel icky while flipping the pages, and leave me with a feeling needing to take a shower are some of my favorite novels. Novels that make me feel uncomfortable and gauge emotional, psychological pondering, and physical reactions are usually novels that become favorites. (It’s why I love Stephen King so much.) If dark novels aren’t your thing, then steer FAR, FAR away from this book because it gets intense really fast and it is an uncomfortable read.


I read this book in a day. I brought my Kindle to school and read it in classes because I had to know what was going to happen next and what would be the next outlandish and horrible choices Jessica was going to make. I’ve always read Nenia’s books very quickly, but I flew through this one at rapid speed. Nenia has a great way of pulling the reader in and keeping the reader hooked. As much as I usually really enjoy her writing, the sex scenes in this novel were choppy and a little hard to read. However, considering the graphic level of content and sexual situations that is to be expected in a dark erotica novel.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 4

These characters are absolutely horrible. You won’t root for Jessica, but you also don’t want to see her suffer. However, a lot of her suffering is brought on by her own masochist love of pain and she enjoys hurting herself, both physically and mentally. Alexander Delacroix is one of the most uncomfortable romantic leads I’ve ever come across and I love that I felt captivated and uneasy of all the same time. Nenia continues to write strong, detestable characters that are compelling.


Character Scale: 4

Villain Scale: 4.5


This novel is depressing and originally, I was conflicted on the ending, but I just reread the ending and I actually think it’s very fitting. If I were to compare this book to another I would compare it to Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates. Both are novels about student-professor affairs that turn exceedingly darker and more obsessive as the story progresses. I enjoyed both of them immensely and I think that since reading Beasts, it has made me like the ending of Tantalized a lot more. I definitely suggest reading the trigger warnings before picking up this novel because, like I said, it’s dark erotica and it also follows a psychologically unstable protagonist.


Plotastic Scale: 4.25

Cover Thoughts: It’s a typical erotica cover, but it is darker in context than some and it fits the tone of the story.


What are some of your favorite darker novels? Are you fan of darker content or do you stray away from it? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Books I Brought to College

Hi, everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. College is starting for me tomorrow and I have finally settled down into my apartment. Last year I brought a lot of books to college and I didn’t read hardly any of them because I would buy books every now and then and read those new ones. I’m a mood reader and I will only want to read a certain book at a certain time. I love being a mood reader, but sometimes it can be very hindering to me because if I’m not enjoying a book or I don’t feel like reading it, I will not pick up the book. I can go days without reading a book and then finish five books in one day.

This semester I’m taking three English classes and a Harry Potter philosophy class alongside being active member of my university’s color guard and Chi Alpha (nondenominational Christian fellowship) and I have a work study job at my campus. I sadly don’t foresee much of reading in my free time. I will try to make time like I did last year. I read when I walk to classes and that was a fun way to get into a book. The only downside is that it takes me a while to finish a book that way, but at least I’ll be reading. 

Note: Sorry that there are no photos of the books. My Internet connection on campus is very slow and it took me almost thirty minutes to find four photos, so I gave up.

Just Finished
The Beguiled- 3.25 stars I finished this yesterday (finally!) and it’s a good read, but I had extreme issues with the “climax” and the choices that these women made. I just think it glorifies murder and sociopathic/psychopathic tendencies, which is something I have a huge problem with.

Currently Reading
Great Expectations- I’m currently listening to the audiobook and reading it in a physical copy as well. So far, I’m really enjoying it. I’m only 52 pages in and I can’t say what I’ll rate it as of now, but it has potential to be 4 stars or more.
The Screwtape Letters- I’ve been reading this book since March or April and it started as a buddy read with one of my LifeGroup leaders. Then summer came and I turned it into devotionals per chapter. I’m still reading it, but it hasn’t been a main priority. However, I know for sure that I’ll be giving this book anywhere from 4.25-5 stars rating because it is phenomenal. I’m just a slow reader when it comes to C.S. Lewis.
East of Eden- This is my current reread. I always have a reread on-hand and I’ve rereading East of Eden since March. I love this book so much and I pick it up at leisure. It’s amazing. If you haven’t read this book, I highly suggest considering it. It’s a masterpiece.
Great Tales of Horror- I have two more stories left in this collection. The Haunter of the Dark is about 20 pages and I would like to pick that one up sometime soon. The Shadow Out of Time is 50 pages and I’m curious about it. However, I have a weird relationship with Lovecraft. I love him sometimes, hate him others, and just think he’s mediocre. When I look at the 18 works I’ve read by him overall, there are a lot of inconsistencies with his storytelling ability.
The Outsiders- I haven’t started this one yet, but it’s my next “official” carry-around book. It’s super short and I love the movie. I’ve never read this classic and I’m looking forward to finally picking it up.

To Read
Different Seasons- I’m so excited to pick this one up. I love Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me and I’m so excited to see King’s original concept and story that became the iconic films that they are today. I also really want to read Apt Pupil. It’s one of the King novels/novellas that I’m itching to dive into.
The Long Walk- The premise for this is so interesting and I am really interested on checking out the Bachman books.
The Green Mile- This is one of my all-time favorite movies. I have never picked up this book, but I did own a copy of it at one point. I think it’s time I try to get around to it.
The Drawing of Three- I read The Gunslinger in the spring semester and flew through it. So, it’s only fitting to bring the sequel with me. I think I’ll pick this one up soon because I want to know where Roland’s story heads.
Murder on the Orient Express- I want to read this one before the movie comes out. I flew through And Then There Were None last year and it’s a favorite of mine. I’m really excited to dive into another Agatha Christie mystery.
Kushiel’s Dart- This is a novel that really intrigues me and at the moment it’s a fantasy novel I want to have on hand in case I’m itching to pick it up.
Son of the Shadows- I LOVE LOVE LOVE Daughter of the Forest and I consider it to be one of my favorite fantasy novels and I have yet to pick up the sequels. I brought this with me to college for the third time in hopes of picking it up this semester.
A Storm of Swords- I love Game of Thrones and I like A Clash of Kings, but I have to pick up the third book in this series. I brought it with me in case I’m inspired to pick it up.
The Stranger Beside Me- A friend of mine who took a True Crime Lit class recommended this book to me and I’m so excited to dive into this one. I read Zodiac last semester and want to read a true crime novel this semester to keep up the trend.
The Fiery Cross- It’s been over a year since I picked up an Outlander book and that’s just not okay for me. I love this series so much and I’m shocked that I went so long without immersing myself into this world.
Stone Mattress- It’s been a while since I read The Handmaid’s Tale and I’ve been accumulating Atwood’s books like crazy. This short story collection is one I’ve been dying to pick up. Plus, it’s bright yellow and so beautiful.
Invisible Monsters- I have always wanted to read Chuck Palahniuk and I received this as a Christmas present two years ago. I need to pick this up. Also, the cover is badass and I adore it.
The Metamorphosis and Other Stories- I love The Metamorphosis and I’m obsessed with the Barnes & Noble Classics, so I picked up a copy. My original copy is slightly water damaged and I want to read more Kafka.
Brave New World- I planned to pick this up over the summer, but I got a summer job and fell in love with Stephen King, so it fell off of being a priority. I would love to finally pick this one up.
Winter Tide- I won this in a GR giveaway and it incorporates the Cold War and Lovecraftian horror together. I’m here for it.
Uprooted- I’ve been dying to read this book and it’s a standalone fantasy novel, which is super rare and exciting.
You- I want to read something quick and creepy during Halloween. I feel like this would be perfect for reading while watching Stephen King movies on TV.
Obviously, I want get around to read all of these or half of them this semester, but I really want to pick all of these books up and so I brought them with me in hopes that I could pick them up at random and get through them.
What books should I get to first? What books are you planning to read this fall? Did you bring any books to college? Let me know down below in the comments!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

When I Am Through with You by Stephanie Kuehn

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When I Am Through with You by Stephanie Kuehn

5 stars

“Tragedy is infinitely more interesting than bliss. That’s the allure of self-destruction.”

Ben Gibson has a lot to say about what happened on the trip to the mountain. His first trip out of Treyben and how it slowly became a nightmare. This is Ben’s confession about what happened on the mountain, how nine people went on a school trip and only five returned, and what he had to do for Rose. This novel is intense. It’s dark, twisty, and it doesn’t put a smile on my face. Stephanie Kuehn is gifted with writing loathsome characters who go through horrific events. This novel is unsettling and I feel unsure of myself and the characters. I question their intentions and what really happened. Was everything I just read true or was it all a lie? This is my second Kuehn novel and once again, I’m amazed at her talent. Yes, this is YA, but it doesn’t read like YA. Kuehn has the ability to write novels for a target audience that tiptoe into the adult genre. Her content is dark, barren, emotionless, and helpless. She puts you into the head of our confessor, Ben, and she shows us how hopeless a lot of these teens were when they went onto the mountain and how they remained hopeless after it.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.75

“Be humble,” he said to us. “That’s the only way to survive out there.”

There is a huge cast of characters for this novel. There’s Ben, our lead protagonist, who we quickly learn is behind bars for the murder of his girlfriend, Rose. There’s Rose, a character who can be cruel and is constantly looking for the worst in humanity. Dunc and Archie, two friends who seem to constantly be getting drunk or high. There’s Shelby and Clay, two characters who are there and seem to be going through a lot of personal issues. There’s Avery, a girl who has a crush on Ben. Tomas, Rose’s twin brother and Ben’s least favorite person. Mr. Howe, the teacher who is chaperoning the trip and who wants to help Ben. I don’t won’t to tell you anything about any of these characters, especially Ben. I think it’s best to go into this novel absolutely blind to the characters’ pasts and personal motivations.


Character Scale: 4.5
The Villain- There are many villains in this story, but I think it’s up to the individual reader to decide who was in the wrong and who was in the right. Everyone has their own motivations, but were their motivations justifiable? That’s the question you have to ask yourself and keep in mind while reading this novel.


Villain Scale: 5

There’s a chapter in this novel where everything that goes wrong could possibly go wrong and it was one of the most intense chapters I’ve read in a YA novel. As much as I disliked a lot of these characters and questioned their motives and actions, I really wanted to see them make it off the mountain and I was rooting for them.


I recommend this novel to fans of YA who are looking for an intense psychological thriller or suspense novel. I also recommend it for YA readers who want to read something darker, but aren’t ready for the adult genre. I think Kuehn’s novels are a great bridge between YA thriller and adult thriller because her novels touch on a lot of darker themes.


Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: It’s a creepy cover, but it’s nothing fantastic. It fits the mood and tone of the novel, but it doesn’t catch my eye.


Thank you, First to Read and Dutton Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
 
Are you fan of Stephanie Kuehn? What's your favorite book by her? What are some of your favorite thriller/suspense novels? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Suspense/Thriller & Classics Book Haul

 
Hi, everyone! I hope you are all doing well. Summer is coming to a close for me. I move into my apartment Saturday and start band camp on Sunday. The fall semester is quickly approaching. This is a continuation book haul in a series of book hauls. I accumulated these books from August 2016 to June 2017. You can watch the other genres below:

THE BOOKS:
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 I've read 2/7 and I'm currently reading The Screwtape Letters. I gave both Dolores Claiborne and Animal Farm 5 stars. I highly recommend both of them, but for every different reasons.

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Let me know down below in the comments.