Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tunes & Tales: English Rain

I'm a relatively new Gabrielle Aplin fan, as I only really became obsessed with her music in late 2015. I find her voice incredibly distinctive and easy to listen to, and find that I often turn to her debut album English Rain when I want something tried and true. It's definitely a testament to her singing and songwriting skills!

VIBE: thoughtful + clever lyrics paired with simple melodies
WHY: It's easy listening, plus she has an amazing voice.

TRY: Panic Cord is the one I like best, though I think Please Don't Say You Love Me is great too!

This meant more to you than it did to me
I was full of doubt and you believed
The more that you keep coming over
The more I know it's over, dear
We're just a box of souvenirs
And maybe I pulled the panic cord

Keep on Walking / Winning
Something’s happening you can’t see
(On your way, go on your way)
We are rolling on stormy seas
(On your way, go on your way)
You don’t like when I disagree
(On your way, go on your way)
The lies you’re spinning, you’re changing me
(On your way, go on your way)
But all that glitters is not gold
From the bruises flowers grow
I feel so much better now you’re not around
There’s no one to kick me while I’m down
No one to burn my bridges anymore
So keep on walking
‘Cause I’m not here to make you feel good
To dry up your tears and apologise for you
I feel so much better now you’re not around
So keep on walking out

Please Don't Say You Love Me / The Elite
Heavy words are hard to take
Under pressure precious things can break
And how we feel is hard to fake
So let's not give the game away
Just please don't say you love me
'Cause I might not say it back
Doesn't mean my heart stops skipping when you look at me like that
There's no need to worry when you see just where we're at
Just please don't say you love me
'Cause I might not say it back

How Do You Feel Today? / Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
The sound of your laugh has a ring of weariness
The night has a thousand eyes and your smile of heaviness
I've always asked for nothing but you've found it hard to see
So I gathered all I had and laid it down before your feet
I gathered all I had
So how do you feel today?

Cause they say home is where your heart is set in stone
Is where you go when you're alone
Is where you go to rest your bones
It's not just where you lay your head
It's not just where you make your bed
As long as we're together, does it matter where we go?
Home home home home

Salvation / Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom
You are the avalanche
One world away
My make believing
While I'm wide awake
Just a trick of light
To bring me back around again
Those wild eyes
A psychedelic silhouette
I never meant to fall for you but I
Was buried underneath and
All that I could see was white
My salvation

Ready to Question / Child of the Prophecy
Is there something I'm not seeing?
Something you're not telling me?
‘Cause I've been hearing different stories
I don't know what to believe [...]
I'm ready to question
That life is a blessing
Give me a sign, am I'll following blind?
Is there any one listening?
Is there anyone listening?
I don't know

The Power of Love / Daughter of the Forest
The power of love
A force from above
Cleaning my soul
Flame on burn desire
Love with tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love your goal

Alive / Heir of Fire
Just one step
A different day
Would I know you at all?
Would I know you at all?
When your kingdom falls
And your family fade
But it wasn't your fault
It was never your fault
And I realise
You have to feel alive
And all your worries will escape through the door
And you'll wake up all alone on the floor
It's not too late
Just rely on me now

Show me that you’re human, you won’t break
Like a thief in the light,
You can’t hide, you can’t hide
From your shadow
It’s the only thing you own
And you don’t need to pretend
That perfection is your friend
‘Cause we’re all broken.

November / The Winner's Crime
You made me high then you swooped so low
From a hummingbird to a silent crow
I was on your side but then I saw it change [...]
Oh how can I forgive?
Those words will stain forever

Start of Time / Winter
When you walked into the room just then
It's like the sun came out
It's like the sun came out
And the day is clear
My voice is just a whisper
Louder than the screams you hear
It's like the sun came out

Take Me Away / The Light Fantastic
I bear far more cracks
Than the human eye can see
Is it fair to be perplexed
And try explain what’s underneath
With my success?
'Cause there’s nothing’s left
I am tortured by myself
I am haunted by the fear of someone else
I am fading, I’m a ghost
Disconnected from the things I love the most

Evaporate / Blue-Eyed Devil
When it's too hard and too late
When I'm too tired to run away
When it can't stay the way it was
I need you ‘cause
You smash the trouble I can't take
And all the pieces of the break
Evaporate, evaporate, evaporate

Wake Up With Me / The Goal
And wake up with me
Open up your eyes
Breath easy
You and I can make our escape
And give the pain to yesterday
Feel a fresher light on your face

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thirst for Revenge • A Darkly Beating Heart

A Darkly Beating Heart book cover
After her failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her to spend the summer in Tokyo. Reiko is angry and vengeful, and she’s hellbent on hurting the people she’s closest to, and it is their hope that she will learn to control her emotions there. During her stay, Reiko visits Kuramagi, a historic village. There, she finds that she is able to slip back in time and become Miyu, a girl with a spirit that is equally vengeful to Reiko’s own. When she uncovers the truth about the village and about Miyu, Reiko must find the strength to confront Miyu’s demons… and her own.

Plot? It’s a pretty straightforward affair, really, that plays out exactly as the summary describes. While many of the elements (being sent to another country, learning about the history of a village and the legends they hold, and the magic of being able to time travel) will be familiar to readers, what makes it unique is the specific character and legends that it revolves around. I found it to be pretty compelling, and packed with just the right amount of detail considering the brevity of the novel. (I also strongly feel like this would make for a really good anime film.)

Characters? Reiko is the most interesting character I’ve encountered in a while, and that’s even though she’s really hard to like. To quote my initial thoughts on Goodreads, “she’s angry and confused and hellbent on revenge for the stuff she’s gone through”. While it certainly makes her a force to be reckoned with, and a bit difficult to get to know, I always got the sense that there was a little more to her than met the eye – and I was right about that. The other characters (Miyu included) simply faded into the background, in my opinion. Though it would have been nice to have them fleshed out a teensy bit more, I didn’t mind overly much because of my strong fascination with Reiko.

Writing? I’ve read two previous novels from Smith (Sekret and Skandal, which are really good reads as well that focus on psychic teen Russian spies – yep, you read that right), and I can certainly say that her writing style is still pretty consistent in this novel. It was so easy to read, and I was swept up in the story from beginning to end. Smith doesn’t particularly embellish on details, but I didn’t really find that to be a bad thing since I could conjure up an idea of the setting and characters based on what few descriptions we are given.

Overall? I was definitely pleasantly surprised by this story! I was a little wary initially because Reiko is definitely unlikable throughout most of the story, and she’s really focused on revenge and anger and hurting other people. But I found that I couldn’t stop reading once I’d started, and that I couldn’t help being fascinated with this girl who was so completely the opposite of me in nearly every single way. It was definitely different from most Japanese-inspired tales I’ve read, and that too is something I liked.

What's your favorite anime?

There is really only one anime series that I’ve seen multiple times, and it still breaks my heart every single time – Fushigi Yuugi. I’m obsessed. I love the story, love the world, love the magic, love the characters, love the feels. And I would honestly watch it again from start to finish in a heartbeat, even though I know I’m in for a world of heartbreak when I do.

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith
Other Books by This Author: Sekret, Skandal, Dreamstrider
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | Publication Date: October 25, 2016
Source: ARC received from the publisher (Thanks!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Violent Delights Have Violent Ends • Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire book cover
I’ll freely admit that I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about Bright Smoke, Cold Fire when I decided to read it last month. Why? Well, I’ve read Cruel Beauty and simply found it okay. I skipped Crimson Bound because Alyssa told me about it and I decided it wasn’t for me. Also, I had seen a couple of reviews on Goodreads for this novel, which made me even more uncertain about it. So, even though I was really excited at the prospect of reading a story that draws inspiration from Romeo and Juliet (my personal Shakespeare fave, simply because it was my first), I was still wary.

In Bright Smoke, Cold Fire, Mahyanai Romeo and Juliet Catresou have the fate of falling in love, defying their families and bearing nothing but sorrow because of their choices. But this novel also is about more than just these two star-crossed lovers. It’s about Viyara, a walled city on the brink of destruction because of the Ruining, a mysterious fog that kills the living and raises the dead. It’s about Paris Catresou’s desire to prove his worth to his family, to discover what he wants for himself and to right the wrongs he discovers in the city’s underbelly. It’s about Mahyanai Runajo’s belief that the city is in mortal peril, and her determination to save it no matter what the cost might be. It is about secrets and magic, death and justice, and how the fate of one city and all that dwell in it rests in the hands of these four characters.

I’m honestly quite surprised by how much I enjoyed Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. Perhaps this is, in part, due to my low expectations going into it, but I’d like to think it is because Hodge managed to impress me with her spin on Romeo & Juliet. I was honestly swept up in the story straight away, eagerly pinpointing the similarities to the Shakespeare play (and to Sabriel, which is another one of this book’s comp titles). Admittedly, the characters were definitely underdeveloped, and I could have used just the tiniest bit more detail when it came to the world itself. But the plot kept me turning the pages, and pretty eager to learn what was coming next for our heroes and heroines. I didn’t realize this was going to be a series until I was two thirds of the way through this novel, which was slightly irksome. However, it’s definitely not enough to prevent me from wanting to pick it up and find out how it all ends – and that’s a really good sign. I’m pleased I liked Bright Smoke, Cold Fire more than I thought I would. Though I don’t think it will be everyone’s cup of tea (it's very weird), I personally found it a page-turner and look forward to seeing what happens next.

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge | Series: Untitled #1
Other Books by the Author: Cruel Beauty, Crimson Bound
Publisher: Balzer + Bray | Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Source: ARC downloaded from Edelweiss (Thanks!)

Monday, October 17, 2016

{Bookish} Style Files: Pique Week Edition

This month, I'm incredibly pleased to be participating in Pique Week! Now, you may be wondering, just what is Pique Week? In a nutshell, it's a biannual weeklong celebration of upcoming titles from Abrams, as well as letting you guys know about Pique Beyond (which is Abrams new publisher-inclusive website devoted entirely to YA books - check it out!). There are going to be all sorts of posts from a lot of different folks, and my contribution is in the form of one of my favorite blog features - {Bookish} Style Files. I picked out three titles from Abrams to showcase for you today, and hopefully, I will pique (see what I did there?) your interest.

The Graces (pub date: 9/6/2016) is a young adult novel centered around a narrator known only as River. She's the new girl in town, and like many of the town residents, finds herself drawn to the Graces - Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer. The Graces are rumoured to be a family of witches, and River will do anything to become one of them. I read this novel earlier this year, and found it incredibly fascinating (even though I could also see why many people would find it difficult to read). I think it's a very readable, very interesting YA witches novel, and worthy of a read for sure.

Iron Cast (pub date: 10/11/2016) centers around Corinne and Ada, two best friends who met because they were recruited into the same gangster's circle. By night, these two hemopaths - people with "afflicted" blood who can create illusions through art - perform onstage at the Cast Iron club. By day, they con the elite in Boston. When things fall apart for them and the club, the girls must work together to find the answers to these puzzling circumstances - all while never knowing who to trust. This novel sounds amazing and I'm certainly looking forward to reading it soon!

RoseBlood (pub date: 1/10/2017) is a book that I was super excited about when I first heard of it (and I'm thrilled I picked up the ARC at NYCC)! At its heart, it is basically inspired by the Phantom of the Opera. Rune Germain has an affliction linked to her operatic talent, and has made a horrifying mistake that she's trying to hide. Her mother winds up sending her to a French arts conservatory, located in an opera house rumoured to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. At RoseBlood, Rune befriends Thorne - a masked, elusive violinist who guides her musical transformation through otherworldly means. But Thorne is hiding a secret agenda of his own. Now, honestly, if that doesn't sound fantastic to you, then you don't know what you could (potentially) be missing!

I hope you discovered a book you'd like to check out from among the current + upcoming Abrams book releases! If you're interested in checking out other titles from Abrams, feel free to go and visit Pique Beyond for more.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Pleasure and The Pain • Empire of Storms

Empire of Storms book cover
I almost decided not to do a full review for Empire of Storms, simply because I didn’t feel that there were adequate words for me to express all my thoughts on it (and I still don't think this post will express everything I'd like to say since I'm avoiding spoilers of any sort, though I'd be happy to discuss further with other people in private conversations). It kept me reading all through the night, and when I finally finished the novel the next morning, I just felt thoroughly hungover – in the best way, of course, if that’s at all possible when you think of a hangover. I just felt emotionally wrecked by the story, by what had befallen the characters I loved so much within the pages of this novel, by the way each chapter built up to that monumental ending. Honestly, Sarah J. Maas has slayed me yet again with another one of her novels, and I love the pleasure and pain that brings to my heart.

Before I go into a little more detail, let me tell you what I can about Empire of Storms. This is the fifth installment of the Throne of Glass series, and Aelin Ashryver Galathynius is ready to raise hell in order to take back her kingdom and to save the continent of Erilea from an evil fate. As she prepares herself for the biggest, toughest fight she is ever going to face, she surrounds herself with friends-turned-family and various allies to strengthen her cause. Sprinkled with revelations about the past, epic battle scenes, sass and romance, and a pretty epic journey, Empire of Storms is another solid addition.

Since I can’t really figure out all of the things I want to chat about without babbling overmuch, I decided to just go with a list format of the things I absolutely adored. (I’m cheating a little bit, because I listed all of these things in my initial thoughts on Goodreads, but hey, I’m expanding on them, so there.)
  • The way Aelin’s journey continues. I have been with Aelin from the very beginning of her journey in this series. Our favorite fire-breathing bitch queen has grown so, so much. She has been through so many things, both good and bad, and they have all honed her into the woman, the queen that she is in the latest installment in the series. 
  • The people we’ve come to know and love. I have certainly mentioned many a time, particularly since Queen of Shadows, that the Throne of Glass gang is definitely one I’d consider #squadgoals. Aelin. Dorian. Chaol. Rowan. Aedion. Lysandra. Manon. Elide. Asterin. Lorcan. Gavriel. Fenrys. These individuals, with unique personality traits and histories, leap off the page, and it is truly fun to see them interact with one another and as part of the entire group.
  • The compelling plot structure with the multiple perspectives. I am a huge fan of the way Sarah integrates a variety of perspectives into her story. I feel like it shows the different aspects of the saga and the world, and it also allows readers to really get to know the different characters we are following.
  • The romance. I’m not going to talk about specific couples. Rather, I just wanted to mention how much I love that romance is incorporated as part of the story. It is, to me, totally natural to fall in love and form attachments with people, even in the face of impending battle (or doom), and I love seeing how Sarah orchestrates these connections. (Admittedly, of all the elements in this particular novel, this is also the one I was personally least invested in overall.)
  • The humor and the sass. If there is one thing that has truly become clear to me with this novel, it is the fact that I absolutely love the way Sarah incorporates humor into her writing. I’m obsessed with how the brand of humor is just my cup of tea, and totally made me laugh out loud multiple times. I tabbed so many scenes just because they made me giggle.

These are just a portion of the things that I loved about Empire of Storms, and really, the series as a whole. (I actually shared twenty-six reasons I love the series, if you wanted to check that out.) I think that this novel is another brilliant addition to a series that I really do love (though I'm not without a few very, very small reservations), and I’m both really looking forward to the next one and really sad that it is going to be the very last. (Though I’m admittedly super excited about the Chaol novella, because Chaol is my favorite.) I really cannot wait to see how Sarah writes the conclusion to Aelin’s story, and I have full faith that she’s going to do it wonderfully.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas Series: Throne of Glass #5
Publisher: Bloomsbury | Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Source: Hardcover purchased via Books of Wonder


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