Friday, July 29, 2016

Another Book Slump

So it happens to the best of us, especially when you consistently read. You find yourself in a hungover from a past book and nothing else is good enough. You start book after book after book and just can't connect to anything. In the last two weeks, I started about 8 books and only made progress on one of them, but only by reading a chapter or two every other night.

All of this is because of Red Queen, however, I'm not ready to read the second book yet because the third book is still quite a long time away from being released.



And in the evenings, I've been trying to do some writing. For the last couple months, I've been working on a book, and when I spend too much time reading, I don't get in as much writing as I'd like and then I get writers block because I've spent too much time away from the book, and right now, my book is very important to me.

To help me with this, I'm reading something I know will be good: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. This is my first time reading it, but I've seen enough of the show to know that it is very easily going to make it to my LOVE shelf (although the screening I put the books that end up there need to be a little more strict because in one year, it has filled quickly).



I promise, in August I will be more diligent about my posts, both reviews and other book-related topics.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Oh my goodness! I am not one who reads a lot of poetry; yes, I have a few favorite poems, but it's not what I usually spend my time reading. I don't remember where I heard about this book. It might have been an article or a friend read it, but it somehow made it's way onto my To Be Read list, and when I was looking through it the other day, I saw it and decided I would buy it, but didn't have any intention to read it right away because right now, my currently reading stack is getting a bit ridiculous. But last night, I didn't feel like reading any of my current books, so I picked it up and I was in love.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Why This Book is Amazing

Because this book is poetry, I can't use my usual format with other reviews. But with this book, I'm okay with that because it fits the theme of the book.

The Princess Saves Herself in This One is told in 4 parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. Each part represents a piece of Amanda Lovelace's life and the things that she went through; and then you is her speaking to the reader, ending on a high positive note making you feel like you can go out and accomplish anything. 

While there were parts of the story that I had never been through, so I could only sympathize with her, I found myself empathizing a lot more than I have with any other book. This is what led me to reading it twice through in one sitting, and then going back and reading specific pages countless times over.

"fat
/ fat /
adjective

1.     a descriptive word.
        it has no deeper meaning.
        it should not determine
        the worth
        (or lack thereof)
        of a human being.

-what i know now that i wish i knew then." (p. 16)

This poem is from the princess. I think it's obvious why it is so powerful. If I could go back and tell 12 year old Kelsey, or even 22 year old Kelsey this statement, I would. I did not learn to love my body until I was 24 and I do not want any of my nieces or my future children, or anyone to feel that because they aren't heroine chic thin does not mean they are any less of a person. 

(Source: Giphy)

"i'm not scared
of the monsters

hidden underneath
my bed.

i'm much more scared
of the boys

with messy brown hair,
sleepy eyes,

& mouths
that only know

how to form
half-truths.

-my dragons." (p.38)

"who would
i have
been without
the inspiration
behind my
                        demons?

-probably not a poet." (p. 83)

These two poems are from the damsel. The passages that she wrote about her past relationship(s) resonated with me completely. Through them, I not only felt the pain and sorrow that she felt, but I felt all of the emotions I felt from my less than perfect college relationship. But just like Amanda, I have turned my demons into inspiration; I did not let it hold me back.

I also cried for the first of many times in this section. Here, she discusses the deaths of her oldest sister from a possible suicide and losing her mother to cancer. At this, I just hugged the book to my chest and cried for the longest time. I cannot even begin to imagine that pain, but the poems dedicated to them give you insight to it.

"once upon
a time,
the princess
rose from the ashes
her dragon lovers
made of her
&
crowned herself
the
mother-fucking
queen of
herself.

-how's that for a happily ever after? (p. 87)

(Source: Giphy)
This is the first poem in the queen, and I am sure that this is my anthem. This is where I am in my life. I am not waiting for someone else to save me, I saved myself. Also through this chapter, Amanda writes about finding her true love and their engagement and life together. I don't have that, yet, but reading her words on how he tore through the briars and barbed wire wrapped around her heart, it gives me hope that my soulmate is out there.

"I.    he calls me
        gorgeous.

II.     he reads
         all my
         favorite books
         & then
         asks for
         more.

III.    he knows
         exactly how
         to make my coffee.
         ('light & sweet,
          just like you,' i
         always joke to him.)

IV.   he asks me
        how i am doing
        every single day
        & he
        genuinely
        cares to hear
        the answer.

V.     best of all,
        i know he will
        still love me
        when he
         wakes up
         tomorrow morning.

-5 things you made me think weren't possible." (p. 102)

Having been told by someone you loved and trusted that they couldn't love you anymore because of a mistake you made when they had made the same mistake multiple times over, the last one helps me know that not every person is that way.

In you, every poem is an inspiration, a push to better yourself, to save yourself. Every single poem is a battle cry for the brokenhearted, the lost, the lonely. They raise you up and tell you that you deserve every ounce of respect and love as every other person on this planet does. This last section brings everything full circle.

"when
someone
offers to
save you
make it
your mission
to
                   save yourself.

-i believe in you." (p. 152)

(Source: Giphy)
Rating: 10/10
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 152

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

My third book on my list of #MakeMeRead is finished and all I have to say is that I really wanted to like this book, and I did enjoy parts of it, but really this book has caused me more of a headache than anything else. And that's hard to say because the parts of the book that were good, I really loved, and I feel like there was so much potential, if it had maybe just been set up a little differently, or if it didn't take so long to explain what the plot was really about, then maybe I would feel differently about the book. I don't want to say that it disappointed me, but I just felt exhausted by the end and was glad to be done with it.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Five Sentence Summary

Mayavati, Maya, is a princess of the realm Bharata, which is on the verge of war; she is being forced to marry a suitor from a surrounding kingdom, but her father has told her that if she does, the others will attack, so she is better off killing herself. Maya is about to go through with her fathers plan when a cloaked man named Amar saves her and whisks her off to the enchanting city of Akaran, and awaiting her is a life that she only thought possible in the bedtime stories she told her younger sister, Gauri. However, the palace she now calls home holds many secrets that are impossibly dangerous and she is drawn into its power; this only conflicts with her growing feelings for Amar, who treats her as his equal, something she is not used to, and she cannot deny this pull to him, as if they have known each other in a previous lifetime. As days pass, Maya finds memories of her previous lives and begins to question Amar's motives and devotion when she is reunited with an old friend, Nritti. Through the book, Maya faces many trials, rights wrongs, and learns that it doesn't matter who you trust if you don't trust yourself.

Paramount Moments and Dissatisfying Instances

  • So one of the things that I really like about this book is that Amar and Maya are equals. He stresses to her when they meet that he is not above her, or she above him. This is completely different from anything Maya has known as her father has multiple brides, and later in the story, her brother does as well. I feel like this is something important that needs to be stressed more. It doesn't matter what type of relationship you're in, there needs to be a balance, one person cannot always be on top. I love that that is a key part of the relationship between them.
"I make this bond to you in blood, not flowers," he said. "Come with me and you shall be an empress with the moon for your throne and constellations to wear in your hair. Come with me and I promise you that we will always be equals." (p. 69)

  • Another thing that I like about the book is that Maya pretty much saves herself and Amar. Yes, she has her damsel in distress moments, and someone comes to her aid, but everyone does, that's what friends and family are. Maya knows that she has to fix the situations she has gotten herself into, she takes responsibility for her mistakes, and she works to repair them, not just for herself, but for her kingdom. It was refreshing to read about someone who felt very real, at least in that regard.
(Source: Giphy)
  • In the first few chapters, the big thing is Maya's horoscope, how she is partnered with death and brings destruction; she brings fear to everyone. And she technically ends up marrying death, but I feel that it just became an afterthought of the story, when it should have been a very important factor in the story.
  • I understand that every story needs to have an air of mystery when it comes to the plot, but this book just takes way too long to get to it. Instead of giving us a little bit of an answer here, and a little bit there, it waits until its last pages to answer all of your questions at once, I feel like by then, it's too little, too late. And I feel like it makes the book somewhat confusing; it's like you have the edge pieces to a puzzle, but only a few random center pieces and you don't know what the picture is supposed to be.
(Source: Giphy)
  • I do not understand why Aman kept his face hidden. It just went over my head, I guess. I feel like his explanation made no sense.
"'What?' he coaxed, his voice hovering between a growl and a question.
'I can't even see your face...'
I said nothing. Amar leaned forward, and I felt the silken trails of his hood brush across my neck. My breath constricted. 'Is that what you want? An unguarded gaze can spill a thousand secrets.'' (p. 123)

The Star-Touched Queen definitely has its high points that make the story incredibly enjoyable. The Night Bazaar was probably my favorite of all the locations that were visited through the story. While at times the descriptions were a little too flowery and over the top for my tastes, I will forever dream of picking jeweled fruits off of fragrant trees and tasting the sweetness of the fruit. And Roshani Chokshi has done a wonderful job of making a very feminist character and an equal relationship that is a wonderful role model. 

But sadly, for me, the story felt too choppy and I found myself trying to keep up with what was going on. I spent more time re-reading passages for clarification, and often not finding any, than I have on any book in a long time. Although the story was wrapped up in a neat little bow, the contents in the middle were disconcerting.

Despite that though, I want to read the book again. Part of me wants to see if I'll understand it better a second time around. But also, I'm just not ready to say goodbye to the beautiful world of Akaran. So Chokshi must have done something right.

(Source: Giphy)
Rating: 5/10
Pages: 342 (hardcover)
Series: The Star-Touched Queen
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My second book for #MakeMeRead read-a-thon is the incredibly interesting novel Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Two years ago, I flipped through the graphic novel version of the books and it piqued my interest, but for me, there wasn't enough narrative for me to really love the book. This lead to me buying to actual book and it has sat on my bookshelf ever since, unread. For that reason, and the upcoming movie release, is what made me choose it for this challenge, although it had nowhere near the amount of votes that  Red Queen did, only coming in with just over 80 votes.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Five Sentence Summary

Jacob Portman grew up listening to stories and looking at pictures of the children that his grandfather lived with in a childrens home in an island off of Wales; but as he grew older, the stories became more myth than fact, and like his parents, began believing his grandfathers stories were just that. After Jacob finds his grandfather on the verge of death after being attacked by a monster, Jacob is plagued by his grandfathers last words and the terrifying image of the thing that killed him. Through a series of events, Jacob convinces his father to go to the island so he can make peace with his grandfathers past, and maybe learn the truth about his mysterious death; but what Jacob finds is a wormhole back to September 3, 1940 and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob learns about the children and their abilities, as well as how is grandfather played a role in their lives, Jacob also learns of the dangers that go along with being Peculiar and that Jacob himself is also in danger from the same creatures that killed his grandfather, the wights and hollowgasts (hollows). In the end, Jacob must decide if he wants to spend the rest of his life waiting for the wights to take him out, or continue on this adventure with the Peculiar children and say goodbye to his former life.

Paramount Moments and Dissatisfying Moments
  • I do like the uniqueness of this world that Riggs has created. The mixture of being stuck in one day continuously and the abilities of the peculiar children make for an interesting experience for the reader and make you think that anything is possible.
(Source: Giphy)
  • The bond shared between Jacob and his grandfather is sweet; even as he gets older and stops believing the stories, he still has a bond with him that Jacob doesn't have with his father or that his father had with the grandfather. It really shows that it is important for children to have a connection with an important adult in their lives that they feel they can be completely themselves with.
"Really, Jake, you were closer to him than I ever was. I don't know-there was just something unspoken between the two of you." (p. 87)
  • The photos throughout the book add an interesting touch to the book and help immerse you in the world. While there is nothing hauntingly scary about them, they are peculiar and interesting and they make you wonder about the story behind it.
"All of the pictures in this book are authentic, vintage found photographs...They were lent from the personal archives of ten collectors, people who have spent years and countless hours hunting through giant bins of unsorted snapshots at flea markets and antiques malls and yard sales to find a transcendent few, rescuing images of historical significance and arresting beauty from obscurity...." (p. 350)
  • I felt like Ransom Riggs had a tendency to get carried away with his vocabulary, adding to much description, being too repetitive, and using bigger words unnecessarily. One of the best writing lessons I ever learned was just because you can use a big or seldom used word doesn't mean you need to. You need to know your audience and it needs to work with the story you're trying to tell or the point you're trying to get across. I felt like some words were picked out the thesaurus at random. 
(Source: Giphy)
  • None of the characters had anything that really made me attach to them; I didn't find myself needing to know what happened to them. Aside from their abilities that made the peculiar, I found them quite average.
Despite Riggs love for adjectives, he does a good job of not telling the reader too much. You learn what you need to know and he leaves it with enough mystery that you want to know more about the world he has invented. And he does a good job of creating an interesting villain that you don't see coming, as well as the villains motives. 

For me, the book wasn't a page turner and I occasionally found myself thinking about something else and then having to re-read what I had just read because I felt like Riggs was rambling. I wasn't completely disappointed with the books, but I expected more. I have heard such wonderful things about it from friends and strangers alike, so I do feel a little let down. I know I will read the other books in the series, but I won't be rushing to start them. 

Rating: 6/10
Pages: 348 (hardcover)
Series: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult

Monday, July 11, 2016

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

So I know this is silly, but I really wanted to  not like Red Queen. Almost everyone I know loves it; it has amazing reviews everywhere. I wanted to be different and not like it; to see through the story that so many love. But that didn't happen.

Red Queen was the first book on my #MakeMeRead list with over 140 votes for it. I begrudgingly started reading it Saturday morning, wishing I could finish the other books I've started and am much more in to. But by Chapter 2, Victoria Aveyard pulled me into the world of Reds vs. Silvers and the spunky main character Mare Barrow who I felt myself relating to on multiple levels. With my busy weekend, I found myself wanting to be able to just sit and read and follow Mare's journey without putting the book down. That didn't happen, but while I was reading it, I was 100% engaged.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Five Sentence Summary

The world is divided by blood, Red and Silver; Reds are commoners, nothing special about them, just like you and me; the Silvers are special, they have abilities that make them godlike and give them power over the Reds. Mare Barrow is 17 with months to go until she is conscripted to the army to fight a battle that has been going on for more than a century, and her friend, Kilorn, who was supposed to be safe from that life, will shortly be on his way to the war front. Mare tries to find a way to save them both, and ends up damaging her family even more when a handsome stranger, Cal a prince in distguise, saves her from her future by getting her a job in the palace working as a servant for the Silver king and queen. Mare's first day as a servant ends up being more than anything Mare expected when during Queenstrial, a show where the royal family picks girls from the high houses to marry their sons, she finds herself falling to her death towards an electric force field, only to live and discover that she has a power that is more than any Silver has ever had. Forced into a lie of pretending to be a Silver and marry the second prince, Maven, Mare finds herself trying to hide who she really is, bring down the Silvers, and learn who she really can trust.

Paramount Moments and Dissatisfying Instances
  • The world that Victoria Aveyard has created is not like one that's been written about a million times. Yes, it's a dystopia, and so it has similar features to other dystopian novels, but there a key features in this novel that you don't read in every single book, and that is one of the things that I look for in books.
  • Mare has an incredibly sad story. Her three older brothers have been sent off to the war; she can't find a job; she ruins her sisters career when she is trying to save her and Kilorn's lives from the war; she isn't the favorite child; and she lives in a poor little town under the reign of Silvers who don't care. You root for her from the beginning.
(Source: Giphy)
  • I have such a clear image of all of the characters because Aveyard does a magnificent job of bringing them all to life. When Elara is searching through Mare's mind, I can feel her searching mine. When Mare is fighting Evangeline in Training, I found myself fearful of Evangeline's metal spiders and blows, trying to take her down before Red blood is drawn and Mare is discovered. You are right there in the action the entire time.
  • I never saw the ultimate betrayal coming. I hoped against hope that Maven was really on Mare's side; that maybe even Elara was on her side. I wanted Maven to be good so bad. I did not want to be wrong about him, even though in the back of my mind, it felt too easy and I chided myself and Mare for not knowing better. Even in the beginning, Mare tells herself "At least I won't have to deal with a good liar," (p.97) when he proposes to her. But the overwhelming theme of the book is "anyone can betray anyone." (p. 225).
(Source: Giphy)
  • I honestly don't know who I want to win Mare's heart, if anyone. They all have their faults, Maven especially. As much as I believe that Mare doesn't have to end up with anyone in the end, I know that because this is YA, she will.
When I started Red Queen, all I knew about it was that it was about a world divided by blood, and that Mare found out that she had a power that she shouldn't have; so I went into this book pretty blind, and I think that is partly why I enjoyed it so much. So often, I already know a lot about the book because of all of the hype it's received or friends have talked about different plot lines around me; but here, everything was a mystery and it was so fun watching it pan out in front of me.

(Source: Giphy)
I really like the idea of the Scarlet Guard. I feel like until Maven got involved, they were going about things the right way. And I love Farley. She is strong, determined, smart; she runs the Guard in a way in which she is respected, but does not give off the vibe that she can be walked all over. Her plans are smart and calculated, and she doesn't go in a place without knowing her way out.

"Out of the shadows of the wagon, hardly visible in the dim light of Will's single blue candle, a woman rises to her feet. Girl, I should say, since she barely looks older than me. But she's much taller with the air of an old warrior. The gun at her hip, tucked into a red sash belt stamped with suns, is certainly not authorized...She is a foreigner, an outlander, and an outlaw at that. Just the person I want to see." (p. 23)

I wanted to love Cal, I really did. He saved Mare from conscription, he took her to see her family, he saved her time after time because he felt drawn to her, he saw something more in her than just her blood. But he was so much his fathers child. Maybe I feel that way because I have felt what it's like being stuck in someone's shadow, so I favored Maven more. But Cal also saw lives lost as okay if it meant they gained in the war, which is wrong on so many levels.

I also wanted to love Kilorn. He's the boy next door, the childhood best friend, the guy that knows Mare inside and out. But I felt that he joined the Scarlet Guard just to make Mare mad; she was parading around as a Silver, so he's going to join the Guard and take down her new world. His motives just felt childish to me. Yes, it's a good cause, but it's only a good cause if you believe in it, and I don't feel that he always believed in it for the right reasons.

"'You bargained for me too, to save me from conscription,' Kilorn says softly, finally understanding the price I've paid. 'You have a bad habit of trying to save me...'
Kilorn backs away, flinching when the cycle revs up. Then he smirks at me, his features curling into an expression that used to make me want to punch him.
'I'll tell Farley you said hello.'
The cycle growls like a beast, tearing me away from Kilron and the Stilts and my old life. Fear curls through me like a poison, until I'm scared from head to toe. But not for myself. Not anymore. I'm scared for Kilorn, for the idiotic thing he's going to do.
He's going to find Farley. And he's going to join her." (pp. 166-167)

I loved Maven until the very last second. I kept waiting for him to save Mare, to save Cal, to take down his mother. I held on to any shred of hope that he would realize the mistake he had made. But by the time I was reading the Epilogue, I knew that Maven was the real villain. We knew Elara was evil from the beginning, but Maven won me over. Yes, in the back of my head I knew he was his mothers child and that I shouldn't trust anyone, but I pushed those voices away and let myself fall for him and now I sit here brokenhearted with no one to trust.

(Source: Giphy)
I'm glad that I finally read this book, I know what everyone is talking about now. Of course, I can't read the next one until I finish the #MakeMeRead challenge, so I have to wait a little bit, but I'm excited for when that time comes.

Rating: 10/10
Pages: 383 (hardcover)
Series: Red Queen
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopia

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chosen: House of Night by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

A lot happens in the 3rd House of Night book, and it all only takes course over a few days. I found myself becoming annoyed with Zoey more in this book; she is making a lot of basic mistakes that people in books/movies/TV shows always make. And just like every other character, her mistakes pile up, they're found out, and she falls hard.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Five Sentence Summary

It's been a month since Heath was taken captive my the dead un-dead and Zoey saved him and made an arch enemy of Neferet; luckily, she is on winter break, so Zoey doesn't have to worry about the repercussions, and yet, she hasn't told any of her friends. She has also has yet to deal with her multiple boyfriend and Imprinting problem, and when she tries to fix it, she only gets herself deeper in trouble. But Zoey has somewhat teamed up with Aphrodite to try and save Stevie Rae from losing her humanity. Zoey's problems only intensify when one of the teachers turns up dead and it looks like her step-fathers People of Faith community might be behind it. By the end of the novel, Zoey has righted some things, but the negatives outnumber the positives, and she is left alone to deal with the consequences.

Moments That Made an Impression
  • So, the birthday scene in the beginning, I really thought that maybe her friends were just joking with her and that they had actually planned a really good birthday for her. I totally get why she hates her birthday; anyone I've known to have birthdays anywhere around Christmas, or any holiday, I separate it. I don't want them to feel like I'm trying to combine their birthday with another holiday like Zoey felt. But she should have said something to her friends beforehand.
  • Zoey and Aphrodite's bond that's building makes me happy. Zoey is really stepping out on a limb to support Aphrodite when she shows an Earth affinity and the others don't agree that she should be able to join the Dark Daughters again. And because Aphrodite is the only other person whose mind Neferet can't read, Zoey is able to confide in her about Stevie Rae. It makes me sad that Aphrodite loses her mark at the end of the book because Zoey is really going to need someone now that she's lost all of her friends.
(Source: Giphy)
  • I've always been told that if something is too good to be true, it is. And I've learned this lesson enough times in my life to know that that statement is true. So the fact that Zoey fell for Loren, an adult vamp that is a hot Poet Laureate, she should have known better. Especially since she knows that Neferet is evil, she should be wary of adult vamps. And she should know what type of target she is. And if she really paid attention to how Loren was treating her, she would have seen it and she could have prevented so much.
  • I am so glad that after this book, Stevie Rae isn't going to be dead creepy. I have some vague memories of what happens with her in the next book, but I know that she isn't all dead and nasty smelling. And I'm really intrigued by the red crescent that she has and what will happen with it.
  • Although Zoey still refers to herself as being slutty with her multiple relationship (which, she was dishonest, not slutty), she does tell her friends to stop calling Aphrodite names. So I'm glad that the female hate is lessening a little bit.
(Source: Giphy)
  • Also, I have forgotten to mention this in the other reviews, but I love Nala! If it's not obvious to everyone, I love animals, and I love cats, and Nala reminds me of my Lovin' Spoonful, only he is a boy so he would be a grumpy old man, which he totally is. But he's also a pillow hog and the sweetest cat ever. My Panda Bear is a sweetie also, but he's nothing like Nala.
(Panda Bear
Source: Kelsey Darling)
(Lovin' Spoonful
Source: Kelsey Darling)
During this series, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the phrase "the path to hell is paved with good intentions." Zoey has a lot of good intentions with trying to handle everything on her own, but she could have handled everything a lot better. She could have filled her friends in on it once Neferet left for her vacation and they could have taken care of Stevie Rae then, and they probably would have understood better why she hadn't told them when Neferet was around. 

As for Blake, that was just plain stupid. Although we never learn hold old he is, Zoey thinks he is around 20-21; she was 16 when he started pursuing her. Sure, that's only a 4 year age difference, but she is still a minor. I'm sure the vamps have a bit of a different moral code, but he is her teacher. She is a fledgling, he is a vamp. She was being an idiot. 

(Source: Giphy)
Neferet has evil written all over her; even when I read it the first time, I could tell in the first book that she was not a good person. Reading these books through again (although the farther into the series I get, the more I don't remember), I can see all of her evil motives before Zoey does. 

My hopes for the next book are that we learn more about Stevie Rae; that we figure out what the hell happened with Aphrodite; and that Zoey's friends give her a hard time about all the shit she's pulled, but they find a way to work through it and can take down Neferet.

Rating: 7/10
Pages: 307 (paperback)
Series: House of Night
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Betrayed: House of Night by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

The exciting sequel to Marked! This one is exciting for a few reasons. There's a lot of action, it gets extremely steamy, and it delves a little more into the vampyre world and learn so much more stuff. In this book, the series really starts moving and setting everything up for later books. Also, in this book, a few of the things I know happened from my first time reading happened, so it's nice getting some clarity on my vague memories. I'm still really glad that I'm re-reading this series.

(Credit: Kelsey Darling)

Five Sentence Summary

It's been one month since Zoey saved her almost-ex-boyfriend, Heath, from the evil spirits on Samhain and taken over the Dark Daughters. Zoey and Erik have started dating, she is ignoring Heath to the best of her abilities, and she is starting to feel a little more normal, despite the fact that she is completely abnormal for a fledgling. But then students from Zoey's human life start to go missing and it is looking like vampyres are involved. Then Loren Blake, the very hot adult vamp teacher, enters Zoey's life and she feels an instant attraction to him. Feeling stressed about the new emotions with Erik and Loren, Zoey leaves school one day, she runs into Heath, drinks his blood, and they are now Imprinted; but being Imprinted turns out to be a life saver. But none of this matters when Zoey loses someone close to her, nothing else matters, especially when learning that someone she trusts is at the center of it.

(Source: Giphy)

Likes & Dislikes
(Warning: After this, there are spoilers)
  • I know this was an issue with the first one, and I'm sure it will be an issue for the rest of the series, but I cannot stand the "hag from hell" and "skank" and "slut" comments. I know they're 16 and they do not understand how damaging those words are. And I know that the authors wouldn't condone those words being used against real people, but it feels like they are used so much more in this book. Those statements are so cruel and hurtful. Judging a person because of their sexuality and promiscuity, or the opposite, is wrong. Just because it isn't your life style doesn't mean that it's wrong.
  • The only other thing that kind of annoyed me was that in the first few chapters, they recap a lot of the first book. I hate when books do this. I know not everyone does this, but even when new books in the series are released, I always re-read the ones prior to it. I don't need it to tell me what I already know.
(Source: Giphy)
  • Zoey, in regards to her vampyrism, makes some huge strides. I mean, she has her seriously teenager moments, but when she is in High Priestess in training mode, she takes everything more serious and tries to make the moves that she knows Nyx would want instead of taking the easy way.
  • The scenes with Zoey and Loren are extremely hott! A little cheesy (the whole poetry reading thing is a bit much for me), and a little wrong, given the fact that she's a minor and he's a teacher, but I have a feeling anyone would have a hard time turning Loren down. And aside from some inappropiate lingering, nothing happens.
Commentary

So like I said, this one has a little bit more going on in it, which makes sense; you expect that each book has a little more drama as you become more familiar with the world it takes place in and more characters are introduced. The big things in this one are: Zoey's love rectangle (since it's 3 guys, not two); Zoey and Aphrodite; the gang and their affinities; Neferet; and Stevie Rae.

The love rectangle is a bit annoying because Zoey knows that what she is doing is wrong, but she does it anyways. Her current boyfriend is absent for a chunk of the book. He's in LA (I think) for a monologue competition, so this is how Zoey finds herself in situations with Loren and Heath. 

Loren Blake is the Poet Laureate and is extremely young and extremely hott. When Zoey finds herself alone with him in the computer lab, they connect through a love of writing and their discussion for the changes she wants to make to the Dark Daughters. Later though is when things heat up between them. They run into each other outside and Loren uses Zoey and her tattoos as his muse. The scene is extremely intense, but Loren, knowing better, breaks off the eye contact and leaves. But that doesn't stop him from writing a haiku about her that is more than a little suggestive.

"Ancient Queen awake
A chrysalis not yet formed
Will your wings unfold?" (p. 69)

After that, he leaves to support his students in the competition, so Zoey doesn't have to worry about him for the rest of the book.

Zoey has done a good job of ignoring Heath's phone calls and texts the past month, but when Zoey leaves campus one day to clear her head, she runs into him. They talk, and then Heath cuts his neck and Zoey drinks from him, and they Imprint, which for a fledgling is a big no no. Zoey regrets the inappropriate contact, but her lust for blood, especially Heath's, is only intensifying. Luckily, the Imprinting turns out to be a good thing when Heath goes missing. Through the bond they share, Zoey is able to locate him and uncover a deep, dark secret.

In this book, Zoey starts to feel a little bit for Aphrodite. At a Parents Day, Zoey learns that Aphrodite's parents are less than accepting of her and are extremely disappointed that she is losing her social status. Zoey also hears a horrible conversation between Neferet and Aphrodite in which Neferet very cruelly tells Aphrodite that her visions are no longer valid, that Nyx has taken away her gift. Neferet makes sure that the whole school knows not to listen to Aphrodite. She has also lost her friends since she's lost her title. But when Aphrodite has a vision that helps save Zoey's grandmother, Zoey beings to second guess her feelings about Aphrodite. It's not like they're braiding each others hair and painting their nails together at the end of the novel, but Zoey knows that there is something more to Aphrodite and that Neferet isn't right about her.

In Marked, Zoey learns that she has an affinity for all 5 elements. In Betrayed,we learn that Erin, Shawnee, Damian, and Stevie Rae also have affinities for the elements that Zoey gave them the first time they cast a circle. This is a seriously big deal and plays a part at the end of the book, as I'm sure the rest of the series.

"Confused, I followed his hand to see a beautiful silver thread of light connecting each of my four friends-the four personifications of the elements-and making a boundary of power within the candles that had already lit the circumference." (p. 208)

The first book somewhat alluded to the true side of Neferet, but I think you don't notice it until you read Betrayed, or unless it's a re-read and you know what's coming. Neferet isn't the perfect mother figure that Zoey had once thought. Although she can't put her finger on it, Zoey finds her intuition telling her more and more not to tell Neferet things, and boy is it good she doesn't. By the end of the book, both the reader and Zoey that Neferet is not as good as she portrays herself to be.

(Source: Giphy)
So the part with Stevie Rae was the horrible thing I remembered half way through the first book and although I knew it didn't happen in the first book, I couldn't remember how long I was going to have to wait until this horrible thing happened. This morning, I found out. Just after Stevie Rae learns she has an Earth affinity, and Zoey casts her first Dark Daughters circle, Stevie Rae's body rejects the change and dies in Zoey's arm. The description of Zoey's feelings had me crying at work, although I know I would have cried much harder if I had read it at home. I was overcome with emotion.

"'I'm staying with you. I won't let you be alone,' I said.
She grasped my hand and I was shocked by how cold hers was. 'I'm scared, Z.'
'I know, I'm scared too. But we'll get through this together. I promise.'" (p. 217)

"'Would you tell mamma and daddy that I love them?' I could understand her, but she sounded weak, and her voice was filled with a terrible wetness.
'Of course I will,' I said quickly.'
'And do something else for me?'
'Anything.'
'You don't really have a mamma or a daddy, so would you tell my mamma that you're their daughter now? I think I'd worry about them less if I know y'all have each other.'" (p. 220)

"Stevie Rae shut her eyes. She took a few more gurgling breaths. Then I felt her go completely limp in my arms and she didn't breathe again. Her lips opened just a little, as if she was smiling. Blood trickled from her mouth, her eyes, nose, and ears, but I couldn't smell it. All I could smell were the scent of earth. Then, with an enormous rush of meadow-filled wind, the green candle went out, and my best friend died." (p.220-221)

All I could think was "This is how I would feel if my best friend died." I love when an author can evoke such emotion from me, but it was very hard to read. But don't forget about Stevie Rae too quickly. Anything is possible in literature.

All I remember from the next book is that everything intensifies even more, and I think I remember a character that is introduced, but other than that, I don't know what I'm getting into, and I'm excited to find out.

Rating: 7/10
Pages: 310
Series: House of Night
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Marked: House of Night by P.C. Cast of Kristin Cast

I first read the House of Night series in 2009 when I was 17/18. I had some horrible flu/bronchitis mixture that was not going away, I cannot remember how much school I missed. I know I purchased Marked before becoming sick, and was in love with the series, so I asked my parents to buy me the next one, and the next, until I read through all of the ones that had been published at the time. I'm sure my staying up late reading did not help me get better any quicker, but I loved the series. But when I went to college, I didn't keep up with the series.

Recently, I was at HPB and I saw them on one of the shelves, so I purchased the first 3. It's been long enough since I read it that I just barely remembered what happened, really only the gist of it and a few of the characters. It has definitely been interesting reading it again through the eyes of a 25 year old.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

Five Sentence Summary

The House of Night series takes place in a world where vampyre's are real, but they aren't exactly accepted. On a normal day, 16 year old Zoey is marked by a tracker vampyre and ends up at the House of Night, which is where marked fledglings go to learn about becoming a vamp and make the transition. But nothing about Zoey's transition is normal: her crescent moon mark is fully colored in, instead of just an outline, and she discovers that she has an affinity for all five elements, something that no High Priestess has ever had, let alone a fledgling. But as Zoey is learning to deal with all of these life changes, she is also dealing with queen b* Aphrodite and the secret society of Dark Daughters (not really secret, but you know) and their ploys to destroy Zoey and her group of friends. The more Zoey learns about this new life and gifts that have been thrust upon her, she also learns that "darkness does not always equate to evil, just as light does no always bring good" (p. 41).

Likes & Dislikes
  • I love that in this world of vampyre's, people know they're real. In so many stories, they are some hidden faction of the world, myths and legends that people don't believe in. 
  • I also love that in this world, vampryre's are matriarchal and very pro-feminism.
    • While on this, I really don't like regular use of calling people sluts in the book. I know it has more to do with the age of the characters rather than what the authors feel, because I follow Kristin Cast on many different social media websites and she has never given off a vibe of woman shaming, especially since the structure of the society that she and her mother have written about is so feminist, so I try to overlook it. But I really hate slut shaming.
(Source: Giphy)
  • P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast are wonderful writers. They build this amazing world of magic and mystery and they really help immerse you in the world without giving away any secrets that ruin the plot. The characters feel real, like I really could go to Oklahoma and find them and meet them and that I would be great friends with them. I have this beautiful vision of the school and the grounds and I can see myself roaming the corridors. They have done such an amazing job bringing everything to life for their readers.
  • One thing that bothers me is the characters use of profanity, or lack there of. I don't need profanity in a book to enjoy it, but I cannot take a person seriously when they say poopie instead of shit. If you're going to swear, just swear. It annoys the hell out of me when people say fudge instead of fuck. We all know what you mean and you sound ridiculous.
Commentary

I love that P.C. and Kristin are mother and daughter and have written this series together. I think it shows how much they love and appreciate each other to be able to work together for so long on something that has come together so brilliantly. It makes me love this series even more. I am all for family solidarity! The fact that they are spectacular writers is the cherry on the cake!

(Source: Pinterest)
When I read this the first time, I remember agreeing with so many things that the characters said and felt, probably because of the age similarities between myself and I. This time when I read it, I found myself annoyed at stuff that they said and I had to remind myself that they are only teenagers and that I used to be the same way. That is one thing that I love about reading books again when you're older; everything holds a different meaning to you a second time through.

But also reading through this a second time was confusing. There are things that I sort of remember from later books, and one thing that I clearly remember and wish I didn't. So I find myself trying to piece together these books from memory, instead of just reading and enjoying the book.

I love the central group of characters in this series; I wish that they were real and they all hold qualities of what I look for in my friends. Stevie Rae is probably my favorite with her sweet, southern charm. She reminds me of my best friend: knows when I need to laugh, knows when to tell me the truth, and fiercely loyal.

Overall, I don't think I enjoyed the series as much as I did last time, but it was still an amazing read and I'm excited to see how the series plays out.

Rating: 8/10
Pages: 306 (paperback)
Series: House of Night
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy