Book Review: The Blazing Star by Imani Josey (minor spoilers)

the-blazing-star

Publisher: Wise Ink

Date of Publication: December 6th, 2016

Dates Read: December 11th – 13th, 2016

Description:

Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.

But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?

She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Great.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My Rating: ★★★★☆

After some deliberation, I will be giving this a score of 3.5 / 5.

When I think of this book as a whole, I really did enjoy it. Josey’s writing was vivid and beautiful and pulled me into Portia’s story from the start. There were a lot of characters to remember, but they all had different personalities and contributed different things to this book. Their interactions and exchange of words definitely had me laughing.

I think one of my favourite aspects of this book is that there are a lot of powerful Women in it – in fact, most of them are powerful WoC, which is good to see on the page. Huzzah for girl power!

I also enjoyed watching Portia grow into her own powerful woman, though it did not happen right away. Portia is not perfect, and has her own struggles. Her journey through this book is never straight, and there are plenty of twists to throw her off course, but they also helped her character development, to the point where she is not the same person at the end that she at the beginning.

With all of these positives in mind, I did have a few concerns, as well.

This first part may be a little spoiler-y, but it is evident at the beginning that Portia and her sister don’t always get along so well. When I got to the end, I expected there to be some kind of make-up, some kind of banding together as twin sisters. Instead, however, they’re even further apart (spoiler: quite literally), and it seems as though the twinning bit will happen in the next book. Maybe I’m much too hopeful, but I kind of wish there had been more reconciliation between Portia and Alex in this book. I love reading stories about family members, and not getting that forgiveness or togetherness by the end was kind of sad.

In addition, there’s a long-winded explanation at one point, and I was pretty confused by it. I guess I could have re-read it, but this explanation spanned a few pages, and I was not up for re-reading that entire passage. I was also thrown off by some of the time changes, which I feel could have been marked better, because sometimes Portia would do things one after another, which, realistically, would have taken more time to do. You know what I mean?

Oh, and I wish there had been more time spent discussing Portia’s training, instead of seeing one lesson and discussing the rest only in passing. I feel like her training was important to her development, and it would have been nice to see it happen.

During Portia’s first days in Ancient Egypt, one of her first options for getting out is taken away from her very quickly. Honestly, I feel like the way in which this option was removed was too easy. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but I just wish there had been more time spent on option #1 and then having it crash and burn, which would have made losing that option hurt a little more.

And, yes, there was romance, and yes, it was maybe a little too insta-love and complicated. Don’t get me wrong, I think the romance was cute (my notes for this book say “awwww romance”), but it maybe happened a little too quickly, with not a lot of information.

At the end of the day, however, I liked this book and never felt the need to put it down. I’m looking forward to seeing where Josey takes the sequel!

Overall: While not perfect, it is a fun, beautifully written story that’s full of powerful women and lots of magic!

 

Advertisements

Bookish Resolutions and Plans for the New Year

Hello everyone! Can you believe we’re nearing the end of 2016? This year has been pretty rough for almost everyone I know, so I can understand that many people are more than ready to move on into the new year, where more adventures, possibilities, and books await!

As my last post of 2016, I’m going to talk about my goals for 2017, and after that I’m going to discuss how my blogging is going to change (again) for 2017. No more babbling, let’s get into it!

Bookish Resolutions

1. READ EVERY DAY

A couple of months ago I decided to count how many books I own and how many of them I have actually read. You know what the percentage was? 44%. I have read fewer than half of the books I own. No, it’s not a joke, it’s actually pretty sad. In order to get through more of these books, I want to start reading at least a chapter per day, whether that’s before bed or on the bus on the way to school, or anywhere in between. I’m pretty stressed by the number of books I own, so I should really start reading them to relieve some of that stress.

 

2. READ MORE SEQUELS

I have read plenty of first books, but there are about 15 series I own of which I have not read the rest, or even at least the second book. I own a lot of sequels, but there’s always something else to read or something else to do. In 2017 I want to focus on sending these sequels some love and continuing on with the stories I’ve already started. These series include:

  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
  • The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa
  • Prisoners of Peace by Erin Bow
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
  • A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes
  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
  • The Gypsy King by Maureen Fergus
  • Reboot by Amy Tintera
  • Firebird by Claudia Gray
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

 

3. BUY ONLY SEQUELS

To go hand in hand with the last resolution, I want to stop buying so many books and save my money for other things – I am becoming an adult, after all. One way I plan to do this is to only buy the sequels to series I already own. My exceptions for this rule are: if I loved a book I borrowed from the library, and if there’s a book signing for an author I want to read. Other than that, no buying new series, Rebecca!

 

4. USE THE LIBRARY

I have recently started using my public library to read more books to stop myself from buying any and every book I want to read. I want to continue doing this in 2017, as well, since it saves me money and saves room on my shelves!

 

5. DON’T PRESSURE YOURSELF WITH A READING GOAL

After having to shift my reading goal for 2 years in a row due to a busier schedule than I intended, I’m going to try something new this year: I’m setting my Goodreads goal to 1 book. I will read what I read, and I don’t want to pressure myself into reading a certain amount, especially if I end up falling way behind as I have been for a while.

 

The Future of this Blog

First thing’s first: I love book blogging. I love blogging in general, as writing is something that I have always enjoyed and am usually pretty good at, if I do say so myself. Getting the chance to blog about books, reading, and writing, has been so much fun, and while my blog is not where I’d ideally like it to be, I’m still happy that I made the decision to switch from Tumblr to WordPress.

I have come to a realization lately that will directly affect my activity on this blog. You see, I have been treating this blog like a full-time job, when I already have a full-time job as a university student, and a part-time job as a library assistant. I realized that while I enjoy doing this, it’s just not realistic for me to try to think up posts everyday, while simultaneously getting an education, working, and attempting to read a lot. I’m sure there are people who have much better time management than I, and I applaud those who can do all of these things, but it just is not working out for me.

So, in the new year my blog will not have a set posting schedule. I want to shift my focus back onto my schooling so I can get the grades necessary for grad school, since that’s likely where I’m heading. I am still hoping to post at least once or twice per week, but I’m not going to promise any specific posts. I will post what I can, when I can. Like I said, I love blogging too much to give it up, but I’m changing tactics so I can hopefully get my life back in order. I hope you all understand that.

I will continue to post on Twitter and Instagram, and of course I’ll keep my Goodreads updated, so if you want to see what I’m reading on the daily, you should follow me on those sites!

I think that’s about it for now. Tell me about your bookish resolutions in the comments below!

As always, thank you very much for reading this, and for supporting me while I figure things out. I really appreciate each and every one of you.

I wish you all a happy, safe, and adventurous new year!

~Becca ❤

Book Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

lab-lost

Publisher: Sourcefire Books

Date of Publication: September 6th, 2016

Dates Read: November 3rd – 24th, 2016

Description:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Buy It From: Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

My Rating: ★★★★★

It’s actually a little closer to 4.5 stars for me, but Goodreads STILL doesn’t allow half stars!

Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I know it looks like I took a long time to read it, but that’s because I was in the middle of final assignment season. Trust me, I never wanted to put this book down, and only did because of school.

Where do I even start with this book? The descriptions were so vivid and lively, making me feel like I was right there with the characters. The development of the magical aspect and Los Lagos was well done and sucked me right in, for sure. The pacing was good and didn’t slow down at all for me. Each chapter was carefully crafted and vital to the story, even if it didn’t quite make sense until closer to the ending. There were definitely some surprising moments, ones that had me at the edge of my seat, and ones that had me talking to the pages as if I had any sort of influence on the characters’ decisions. I absolutely adore Córdova’s writing, and am definitely exciting to read more by her!

I enjoyed that such a large focus of this book was on Alejandra’s family, which is always refreshing and fun to read about. Especially since they’re magical! Hooray for magic! Hooray for magical women!

There was still some romance, although it was not as important as the love between family members. With that in mind, I’m very happy with who Alejandra “ends up with”, despite it not being a focal point.

Honestly, the only reason why I took away half a star was because I wish we got to learn more about Rishi. In my eyes she’s an important character, but I feel like I only know her at the surface. It would have been nice to get to know her as well as we got to know the other main characters.

With all of this in mind, I still absolutely adored this book. The world was wonderfully built and the characters had a certain kind of chemistry between them, making for an adventurous, intense, and, in the end, heart-warming story.

Overall: A lovely book that I hope you’ll read!

Julia Ember’s 12 Days of Diversity Readathon – Day 1

ICYMI, I am participating in Julia Ember’s 12 Days of Diversity Readathon! You can find all the info on the readathon on Ember’s blog, and check out my TBR on my last post.

Anyway, the first day of the readathon was yesterday, and here are my stats!

Current Read: Marian by Ella Lyons

Pages Read: 24

Total Pages Read: 24

Books Finished: 0

Thoughts on Day 1

  • I started late because I was out for most of the day
  • I can still feel a bit of a reading slump in me, but I really want to do well on this readathon so I’ll have to force myself to read. How do you get out of a reading slump?
  • I’m not going to get much reading done today, either, since I was needed at work longer than I expected to be needed
  • Still hoping I can finish Marian tonight, nonetheless!

It wasn’t a perfect Day 1, but here’s hoping for a better Day 2!

Hope you’re all doing well, and if you’re participating too, let me know which books you’re reading!

Talk soon.

~Becca

12 Days of Diversity Readathon TBR!

I know my School’s Out Readathon 2.0 ending yesterday, but I’m looking for any excuse to force myself to read more before the end of the year, especially if it involves reading more diversely! For this reason, I have decided to join Julia Ember’s 12 Days of Diversity Readathon! Starting today, December 19th, up until December 30th, I will be attempting to read at least one book from each category listed on the linked blog post! The theme for this readathon is retellings, which I’m super excited about!

Here are my picks and their respective categories:

RELEASED IN 2016: And I Darken by Kiersten White

and-i-darken

Description

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

 

PROTAGONISTS OF COLOUR: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

TSOCM

Description

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom – until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: an ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry – except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy – insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother, Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though – swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them…

 

LGBTQIA: Ash by Malinda Lo

ash

Description

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

 

NON-WESTERN STORIES AND MYTHS: A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston

a-thousand-nights

Description

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

 

SMALL PUBLISHER: Marian by Ella Lyons

marian

Description

When Marian Banner moves to the glittering city of Nottingham with her father, Sir Erik the Fortunate, her entire life changes. She is no longer allowed to run about the countryside in trousers and braids, climbing fences and shooting turkeys, but is thrust into a life of dresses and jewels and dancing lessons, none of which Marian is particularly pleased about. Her dark mood changes when she meets a tiny whip of a girl called Robin Hood. Robin is fierce and brave, and wants more than anything to become a knight, regardless of her gender. Together they explore the city, becoming fast friends along the way.

As time passes, their friendship into something bigger and scarier and far more wonderful. But then Marian’s father is killed in service to the king and she catches the king’s eye.

Can Robin save her one more? Or will Marian discover how to save herself?

 

As much as I would like to aim for Reindeer or even Badass Santa status, it’s probably not realistic for me. I’ll just work on posting nice photos of each of the books I read on Instagram haha.

Huge thank you to Julia Ember for hosting this readathon, and I hope some of you lovely readers also plan on participating!

Until tomorrow, friends!

 

~Becca

Days 6 & 7 Stats, and Readathon Wrap Up!

Major apologies for missing a day! I turned out to be a lot busier this week than I thought I’d be…

Days 6 & 7

Pages read: 10

Thoughts on Days 6 & 7

  • not very happy with my reading performance during these last two days, not going to lie
  • some last-minute plans came up and messed with my entire schedule

 

Readathon Wrap Up

Total Pages Read: 352

Total Books Finished: 1

The Blazing Star by Imani Josey – ★★★★☆

Books Unfinished:

Ever the Hunted by Erin Sumnerill

To Hear the Ocean Sigh by Bryant A. Loney

Readathon Thoughts:

  • I did much worse this time around than the first time. I’m attributing this to the fact that it’s the holiday season, and I’ve got more to do in December than I do in April.
  • The good thing is that the one book I read was really good! I’ll post my review for it by the end of the year, but I hope you’ll look into it nonetheless!

 

So, as you can see this School’s Out Readathon 2.0 did not go as well as I had wanted it to. After I read The Blazing Star, I fell into this huge reading slump where I just didn’t want to read ever. I managed to get a few pages in, but not nearly as much as I had wanted to. I’ll be participating in the #12DaysofDiversity readathon starting tomorrow (which is also when my TBR for it will be going up), so hopefully I can get a lot more read before the end of the year!

Thank you to everyone who participated – especially you, Andree (shoutout!). I’m hoping to improve upon this readathon a bit by April, which is likely when the next one will be, so stay tuned!

~ Becca

 

Day Five Stats

Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to the sixth day of the readathon! Can you believe it’s almost over? Where has the time gone???

Here are my stats so far:

Pages read today: 0 😦

Total pages read: 342

Books finished: 1

Thoughts on Day 5:

  • I think I’m in a reading slump, because I never feel like reading
  • Instead I cleaned my room and watched Netflix. Eep!

Day 6 Housekeeping:

  • Today’s photo challenge prompt is FREEBIE, so do whatever you want!

 

Thanks for keeping up with me, folks, and have a wonderful day ❤

~Becca

Day Four Stats

Yikes I’ve been really bad with posting my updates on time, sorry folks!

Here are my stats so far:

Pages read today: 39 (according to iBooks, although it’s off of the actual book length)

Total pages read: 342

Books finished: 1

Thoughts on Day 4:

  • Didn’t get as much reading done today because I wanted to clean up my room.
  • I started another book, To Hear the Ocean Sigh by Bryant A. Loney

Day 5 Housekeeping:

  • Today’s photo challenge prompt is TREAT YOURSELF.

 

Hope you’re all doing well! Sorry I’ve been really bad at this, I didn’t expect to have as much to do as I ended up having. I meant it when I said that this is an at-your-own-pace, super casual readathon xD

~ Becca

Day Three Stats

Hello! Once again I was working through the day change, so this post is a little late.

Here are my stats so far:

Pages read today: 36 (according to iBooks, although it’s off of the actual book length)

Total pages read: 36

Books finished: 1

Thoughts on Day 3:

  • Yay for finishing a book!
  • Boo for not getting very far into the next book, EVER THE HUNTED by Erin Summerill
  • I had to work a whole lot, so not a lot of reading was done.

Day 4 Housekeeping:

  • Because I don’t work tomorrow, I will be hosting reading sprints at the following times: 9:30 AM-10AM, 12PM-1PM, and 2:30PM-3PM, all EST. Watch my Twitter for the sprint starts!
  • Today’s photo challenge prompt is CELEBRATION.

~ Becca

Day Two Stats

Hello! Sorry this is late, I was working when the readathon day changed!

Here are my stats so far:

Pages read today: 149 (according to iBooks, although it’s off of the actual book length)

Total pages read: 270

Books finished: 0

Thoughts on Day 2:

  • I’m a little annoyed with myself for not finishing this book during day 2, but luckily I’m almost near the end so I should be able to finish it by the end of day 3!
  • I’m still liking this book
  • I was awake at 4:30AM, so I got a little extra reading time in before work haha

 

Day 3 Housekeeping:

  • I’ve got even more works shifts today than yesterday,
  • Today’s photo challenge prompt is WARM AND COZY.

 

That’s it for today! How is the readathon going for you? Are you enjoying what you’re reading?

~ Becca