Monday, September 26, 2016

Gold & Glory • Like a River Glorious

Like a River Glorious book cover
Leah Westfall has traveled across the country, enduring all the tragedies and triumphs of the pioneer life. In Like a River Glorious, she has finally arrived in California and settled in with her friends, all of them determined to make their fortunes and find prosperity in the Gold Rush. With Leah’s special affinity for finding gold, their small settlement starts to prosper – and that eventually leads to Leah’s selfish Uncle Hiram discovering her location. In a story of kidnapping and sabotage, revenge and revelation, Leah is determined to stand up to her uncle once and for all and to save her friends – no matter what the cost.

I really liked Like a River Glorious! Reading the second novel in a series generally makes me nervous, as I usually have formed expectations for it after finishing the first. Thankfully, this book did not disappoint at all. I was thoroughly impressed by Carson’s storytelling, as the events in this chapter of Leah’s life unfolded beautifully and organically. It was nearly impossible to stop reading once I’d started, simply because I had to know what would happen next! I also appreciated, yet again, the attention to detail that Carson has. She integrates new elements of the pioneer life, as well as mining settlements, into her story, and it really gave me a strong sense of the time and place I was reading about. And, of course, I still had so much love for the entire cast of characters, both familiar and new, as Carson really does succeed in making them very distinctive personalities that pop off the page. All in all, Carson can definitely say she’s got another excellent installment in this series under her belt, and I am so looking forward to whatever is going to happen in the third and final book of this trilogy.

Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #2
Previous Book in the Series: Walk on Earth a Stranger
Publisher: Greenwillow | Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Source: ARC downloaded from Edelweiss (Thanks!)

After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram.

Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.

The second epic historical fantasy in the Gold Seer trilogy by Rae Carson, the acclaimed author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

I'm really excited that there is a tour-wide giveaway that'll be held for my US followers! You've got a chance to win one of three finished copies of Like a River Glorious! Enter via the Rafflecopter below.

Tour Schedule:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Sunday Mix #33

It's Sunday, and you know what that means - it's time for The Sunday Mix! In case you weren't already aware of what this feature consists of, I choose some of my favorite posts (bookish or otherwise) to share on this here blog in the hopes of getting you to check out some incredible, thought-provoking, fun content all around the web. Here's to hoping you enjoy this week's links!
  • Have you ever come across a tweet from Brooding YA Hero? It has some of the most hilarious (and likely true) statements and observations from that perspective. Jen got creative and created some wallpapers from those tweets that totally made me laugh out loud. 
  • I've got a soft spot for an excellent fairytale retelling, as I'm sure many of you do as well. Cait talks about what makes for a perfect fairytale retelling might look like, and I agree with a ton of what she's got to say.
  • Josephine talks about multiracial representation in books. I loved seeing her personal take on the matter as a child of mixed race. While I'm technically full Filipino by blood, I also identify as an American (born and now currently living here), so I find that I'm always interested in reading books that have characters with similar backgrounds. 
  • When you discover a favorite author, do you binge all their books right away or do you save some for a rainy day? Lauren talks about saving books from her favorites to read. I generally tend to binge all of the books when I fall in love with an author, so it was interesting to see a different take.
  • My favorite Cinderella-inspired film of all time is Ever After. I love the way the elements of the classic tale were integrated into the storyline, but I also love how it's unique and funny and all sorts of wonderful. If you have yet to watch it, check out Lindsey's post for more detailed reasons why you should.
  • I've gotten better at having some modicum of control over my book purchases. It was interesting to read Bekka's post on how she chooses what books to buy. These days, there are only three reasons that I personally buy books: 1) It's part of a series I'm obsessed with, 2) I've read an ARC and absolutely loved it or 3) it's by an author who is an all-time favorite. What about you?
  • Do you have a particular comfort zone when it comes to reading? I know I tend to linger between fantasy and contemporary reads and don't necessarily go out of my way to read other genres. Gillian talks about stepping out of your reading comfort zone. I think it's interesting how it sometimes works out, and how it sometimes does not.
  • For all budding bookstagrammers out there, you might want to check out Josephine's ideas for bookstagram backgrounds. I'm definitely a pretty casual bookstagrammer, but always looking for ways to improve - and this post is an excellent one for inspiration.
  • While I've always found romantic break-ups to be popular fodder for fiction, friendship breakups are actually an emotionally intense experience that I would find really interesting to read about. It is reading stories like this one from Gayle Forman that make me feel less alone when I think about the friends I've loved and lost already in the course of my lifetime. 
  • I'm a pretty big fan of both of Karma Brown's published novels (Come Away with Me and The Choices We Make), so I was really interested when this article offered the chance to get to know her a little bit better. (P.S. If you love women's fiction with strong themes and complex characters, Karma's books are excellent reading choices.)
  • Diversity is something that I will always feel the need to see more of in the books I read. It's definitely an ever changing conversation in the publishing world, and I think that's really important! Susan Dennard actually touches upon diversity in books in this interview.
  • I'm a really fast reader, and I like reading enough to want to have a book in hand just about every day. I do feel, however, that it's really important to give yourself time away from reading or books on occasion, and I really liked Kelly's post because it was the same observation.
Have you read any interesting posts lately? Feel free to share in the comments!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Alexa's A-Z | Throne of Glass Series (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to the final stop of this blog tour! I seriously get excited about the blog tours we organize for the Throne of Glass series, simply because it is celebrated in creative ways. The participants are always enthusiastic and creative, and just in case you've missed it, here are all of this year's posts:

As the last stop on this tour, I debated for a long time about what I wanted to do for a post. I've already shared my ten reasons you should be on Team Celaena, and last year, I talked about where I wanted to travel with characters from the series. I finally set my heart on talking about the different reasons I love this series - twenty-six of them, to be exact. Without further ado, here's my official A-Z of why I love TOG! You can watch the video first, and then you can see more of my thoughts in the post below.

Aelin Ashryver Galathynius
Obviously, there is really no better way to begin this alphabet by talking about the irresistible, impossible true Queen of Terrasen – Aelin Ashryver Galathynius. I wrote an entire post dedicated to ten reasons you should be on her team, and these reasons all totally stand the test of two more additional books in this series. Aelin is the badass female that is the centerpiece of this epic saga. She is not a perfect heroine, by any means, but that just makes me love her all the more.

Battle Scenes
This series involves a lot of fight and battle scenes, and I just want to take a minute to talk about how some of these epic confrontations just blow my mind with how awesome they are. Whether it is a battle of swords, words or magic, I’ve found that Sarah has this magical ability to keep me on the edge of my seat and worrying repeatedly about what the outcome is going to be.

Chaol Westfall
Before anything else, I have to say this: I love Chaol Westfall with all of my heart, and that hasn’t changed over the course of the five books that have been released in this series. This Captain of the Guard won my heart easily, and my love just grows with every instance of character growth that I witness with his story. I truly believe that all that he has experienced has changed him in many ways, and that it was a necessary, natural way for him to grow as a person.

Dorian Havilliard
Speaking of experiences, Dorian Havilliard has certainly been through his fair share of ups and downs. I also have an incredible amount of love for him, ever since he revealed that he was more than just a devil-may-care prince, that he was in fact made of stronger, braver, better stuff than his father ever was or could be. It’s been so great to see Dorian coming into his own as the series progresses!

Elide Lochan
Say a big hello to my newfound favorite – Elide Lochan! I love this gal so, so much that it’s ridiculous, especially considering she’s only really been around for two of the books. I won’t tell you too much about who she is specifically, but I will say that I admire her personality. She’s brave, determined, clever and resilient, and she never lets suffering or circumstances define who she is.

While I haven’t mentioned the entirety of the squad yet, I have to say that, in my mind, I’ve created this gigantic Throne of Glass squad featuring all of my wonderful, beloved favorites in one big group of friends. It’s really quite epic to see my favorites working together, helping each other out and just becoming a solid group of individuals who understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses and histories. I don’t only love the big group dynamic though; I also really enjoy the one-on-one relationships too!

Growth (Characters)
I alluded to this a little bit with Aelin, Chaol and Dorian, but I love seeing it play out with a lot of these characters as the series continues. It feels like you’re really getting an intimate look at their growth when you read this series from the very beginning, as by the fifth book, a lot of things – circumstances, relationships, the world – have changed. I love that it parallels a realistic human journey, where people are shaped by the things they go through, and the people they meet.

Heart + the Feels
Let’s just put it this way, friends – every single book in the Throne of Glass series has managed to make me laugh out loud, giggle like a schoolgirl, cry like I would never run out of tears, yell like I was personally attacked, hold my breath as the tension rises and just hug the book with a huge smile on my face when I finished. It’s no easy feat to get a reader to care so deeply for a story, and Sarah manages it perfectly.

Intricate Plotting
With every succeeding book in the series, Sarah just manages to make the plot even more complex and detailed than it was before. She really builds on the stories that have come before, including elements of the past novels in the later ones that you might not have expected to show up or that you might have had questions about. It is mind-blowing to me to see the way Sarah incorporates all of this in a way that ties it all together even better.

Just So Quotable
I have quite a few favorite quotes from this series on the whole. Sarah might phrase it in the simplest of ways, but the statements she includes in her stories can strike just the right chord. “Rattle the stars.” “She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.” Honestly, her one liners can be such a punch in the gut, and I will forever be quoting the series (especially these two quotes that I love)!

Kiss and Tell (aka Romance)
While romances are not necessary for my enjoyment of a tale, I love that Sarah makes it a part of this series. She really knows how to write swoony moments, and to build up the romantic tension between two characters until the reader almost can’t stand it. (The pay-off is worth it, by the way.) I still get silly grins because of certain romantic scenes in certain books in this series because they are that wonderful.

If I could be anyone in the Throne of Glass world, I would be Lysandra. I love her deeply and truly and unequivocally. She is one badass gal who can certainly hold her own in a world that threatens to level her otherwise, and I loved the combination of brawn and brains this gal possesses. She’s extremely loyal, and also possesses an intuitive wisdom when it comes to understanding the way other people happen to be.

Manon Blackbeak
Oh my Wyrd, I love Manon! She’s just as fierce and formidable a gal as Aelin happens to be, only she also happens to be one of the witches. Without spoiling anything at all, I can tell you that Manon has a backbone made of steel and really rises up to all of the challenges that stand in her way. She is seriously a force to be reckoned with, and I know I’d want her on my side in a heartbeat!

Not Just a Sidekick (Fleetfoot & Abraxos)
Let’s talk about the animals in this series, shall we? The two main ones to mention are, of course, Fleetfoot, Aelin’s puppy, and Abraxos, Manon’s wyvern, and they are wonderful. They are companions to their owners, they are stalwart friends in times of trouble and I just happen to want to have a Fleetfoot and Abraxos of my very own, thank you very much. I like that Sarah incorporated them into the story, and gave them their own personalities (though we definitely see more of Abraxos).

On the Writing
Personally, I really love Sarah’s writing style. I always find myself tabbing passages to return to, whether it’s because I think they’re funny or clever or memorable. Not only do I love revisiting my favorite bits, but I also find Sarah’s writing really easy to read through (as in, I can power through one of her books in about eight hours depending on their length). And, of course, I can’t forget to mention how much her writing always inspires and challenges me to keep at my own writing in the hopes of telling a story as epic as hers one day.

Sarah has employed multiple perspective to tell the stories in the Throne of Glass series from the very beginning. It provides a way for readers to get to know different characters intimately, for one thing. But it also aids in making the world and the story bigger than it was before, as well as giving you different views of fixed points in this story.

I absolutely love that there are so many strong female characters in this series. They are warriors of weapons and words, but they are also girls who enjoy the pleasure of fine clothing and dining. It’s the fact that they can be both girly and feminine, and yet still be such excellent warriors (that they can occasionally even shock and best the men) that really gets to me. When I grow up, I want to be like all of them.

Rowan Whitethorn
Oh, Rowan, oh Fae warrior, you are certainly something else. He was definitely intimidating upon the reader’s first encounter with him, but he gradually is revealed to be more than the first impression he leaves on us. He is still the fierce Fae fighter, sure. But he’s also got his own vulnerabilities, and a well of deep emotion behind that strength – and it just makes it all too easy to love him.

Sass + Humor
Did I mention how much this series amuses me? I love reading series that have my kind of humor blended into the narrative, and the Throne of Glass series has that in spades. I love the sass. I love all the sarcastic quips and the one-liners tossed out by these characters. It either makes me giggle uncontrollably whenever I come across one of them or makes me smirk like a knowing fool. It’s cleverly integrated humor, and I cannot get enough of it.

The Thirteen
First, let me link you to the post that Louisse puttogether for this tour introducing Manon and her Thirteen. Once you’re done checking that out, come back! Anyway, I love the Thirteen. They’re badass warrior gals who have pledged their loyalty and lives to Manon, which means they’re basically honed weapons that she can use when necessary. I think it’s so cool that these ladies all basically live, work, play and fight together, and it makes me wish for a Thirteen of my own.

Unexpected (Yet Clever) Twists
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that Sarah is one of the few authors who manages to write stories that I honestly can’t predict anything about. I’ve tried (and there’s only been one instance which I actually got right) many times, and failed, and I’m totally okay with that. I never know what to expect next with each part of Aelin’s story… Well, that’s not true. I know to expect something epic, awesome and totally in sync with character and story development, but I can’t guess specifics!

I love a story with a good villain, and the Throne of Glass series boasts quite a few villainous characters. I love that Sarah makes them unapologetically evil and allows them to act accordingly. I also love that there always is just a hint of humanity or vulnerability in them. It’s not enough to pardon their actions, of course, but it’s enough to help readers get a better idea of who they are and not just what they do.

Wolf of the North, Aedion Ashryver
If I could pick a character to be my big brother (and let me tell you, I’ve always wanted one), I would choose Aedion. His loyalty, his love, his sacrifice – the combination just made me fall in love with him immediately. I really love that he’s always ready to face things (physical or emotional) head on, and that he is willing to work at it until he figures out the best approach to it. He is a fierce, wild warrior, and I love him so.

eXpanding World
Just like the characters and the story continues to grow, the world has also gotten so much bigger than what we first learn about in Throne of Glass. Erilea is a huge place, and there are so many different cities and villages and terrains and cultures spread out all over it. I love that we’ve gotten to know so much more about this place, and that there is definitely still more to it than we think we know.

Yes, Magic is Real
I was a little confused initially by the magic in this series. But after a couple of rereads, I’ve gotten a better sense of the different types and capacities that exist in this story. It’s an interesting mix, and potentially very confusing and unrestrained. Yet somehow, Sarah has managed to wrangle it all into something that’s marginally understandable (though never fully comprehensible because it’s magic) and definitely adds an enchanting aspect to this tale.

Zeal for a Series
And, for the very last reason I love this series, I wanted to mention the fans. I’ve been extremely lucky to get to interact with some of the most talented, passionate people who share my immense love for the Throne of Glass series. Whether it’s squealing over illustrations or swooning over quotes, musing about fan casts and playlists and possibilities, it’s such an honor to be a part of Sarah’s massive (and ever growing) fan base.

We have an international giveaway for our fellow Throne of Glass fans, and I'm super duper excited about it! One winner is going to win a signed copy of Empire of Storms, a Throne of Glass tote bag, one set of lip balms (Dorian, Chaol, Rowan) and one Celaena soap (c/o Behind the Pages) & Throne of Glass buttons (c/o ThroneofGlassPH). All you've got to do is enter via the Rafflecopter form below:

Empire of Storms book cover
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #5
Previous Books in the Series: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, The Assassin's Blade, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Buy the Book: Amazon | Target | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Book Depository | WHSmith | Kobo | iBooks | Audible

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don't.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tunes & Tales: Here We Go Again

I really, really, really love Demi Lovato, y'all. I have mad respect for her voice, and I just think that she's really awesome for being honest and vocal about her struggles in real life. I've loved listening to all her albums ever since the first one was released, but Here We Go Again is certainly one I've returned to time and again. It's just got such great tunes, and I absolutely love the title song too!

VIBE: pop through and through
WHY: I just really like Demi Lovato.
TRY: Here We Go Again is my absolute favorite! 

How do you get here under my skin?
Swore that I’d never let you back in
Should’ve known better than trying to let you go
‘Cause here we go, go, go again
Hard as I try, I know I can’t quit
Something about you is so addictive
We’re falling together
You’d think that by now I’d know
‘Cause here we go, go, go again

Solo / The Mistake
I can’t believe I fell for this
I fell through the hole down at the bottom of your soul
Didn’t think you could go so low
Look at what you’ve done
You losing me is what you’ve won
Got me planning to go solo

U Got Nothin' On Me / 99 Days
Laughing as we gazed under the moon
You kissed me and it never felt too soon
Hard to believe that anything could tear us apart
Then you break my heart
Now I know who you are
(U got nothin’ on me)
I see I should have known it from the start
(U got nothin’ on me)
You can’t tell me lies
Don’t even try because this is goodbye

Falling Over Me / This Adventure Ends
The room is still but we’re about to fall
And all the names that brought us here just simply fade away
Who you are is falling over me
Who you are is everything I need
I’m hoping, I’m waiting, I’m praying you are the one
I’m hoping, I’m waiting, I’m praying you are the one

Quiet / Speechless
It’s much too quiet in here
I wanna disappear
I can hear myself thinking too clear
It’s too quiet in here
Make it all go away
Why can’t we break this silence finally?

Before I fall too fast, kiss me quick but make it last
So I can see how badly this will hurt me when you say goodbye
Keep it sweet, keep it slow
Let the future pass and don’t let go
But tonight, I could fall too soon under this beautiful moonlight […]
Run away so I can breathe
Even though you’re far from suffocating me
I can’t set my hopes too high because every hello ends with a goodbye
But you’re so hypnotizing
You’ve got me laughing while I sing
You’ve got me smiling in my sleep
And I can see this unraveling
Your love is where I’m fallin’
But please don’t catch me

Every Time You Lie / Right of First Refusal
How long’s it gonna take before you see that she’s no me?
I knew better than to let you break my heart
This soul you’ll never see again won’t be showing scars
You still love her
I can see it in your eyes
The truth is all that I can hear every time you lie

Got Dynamite / Heir of Fire
Underneath the surface, there’s so much you need to know
And you might feel like you’re drowning
But that’s what I need to let go
Tell me what you got to break down the walls
You just might need dynamite

Stop The World / A Court of Mist of Fury
I don’t know why, I don’t know why I’m so afraid
I don’t know how, I don’t know how to fix the pain
We’re living a lie, living a lie
This needs to change
We’re out of time, we’re out of time
And it’s still the same
We can’t stop the world, but there’s so much more that we could do
You can’t stop this girl from falling more in love with you
You said “Nobody has to know. Give us time to grow. And take it slow.”
But I’d stop the world if it finally let us be alone

World of Chances / City of Heavenly Fire
I’ve got a world of chances for you
Chances that you’re burning through
Oh, I’m going my own way
My faith has lost its strength again
Oh, it’s been too hard to stay
We’re falling off the edge again
We’re at an end
We’re at an end

Remember December / Mockingjay
You said you wouldn’t let them change your mind
‘Cause when we’re together, fire melts the ice
Our hearts are both on overdrive
Come with me, let’s run tonight
Don’t let these memories get left behind
Don’t surrender, surrender, surrender
Please remember, remember December
We were so in love back then
Are you listening to what they say?
Don’t go that way
Remember, remember December
Please remember
Don’t surrender

Everything You're Not / Last Will and Testament
A meaningless diversion
That is all that you ever meant to me, me, me, me […]
I want a gentleman who treats me like a queen
I need respect, I need love, nothing in between
I will not spell it out for you if you can’t see
‘Cause you’re not worth it
You don’t deserve it

Gift of a Friend / The Start of Me and You
Someone who knows when you’re lost and you’re scared
There through the highs and the lows
Someone to count on
Someone who cares
Beside you wherever you go […]
When your hope crashes down
Shattering to the ground
You, you feel all alone
When you don't know which way to go
There's no signs leading you home
You're not alone
The world comes to life and everything’s right
From beginning to end, when you have a friend by your side
That helps you to find the beauty you are
When you open your heart and believe in
The gift of a friend

So Far So Great / Famous in Love
Off to the races, I’m going places
Might be a long shot
Not gonna waste it
This is the big break and it’s calling my name
So far, so great, get with it
At least, that’s how I see it
Having a dream’s just the beginning
So far, so great, believe it
Can’t take away this feeling
Taking a ride with chance on my side
Yeah, I can’t wait
So far, so great

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

BookTube Review • Dark Horses

When I was still in my teens, I devoured the Gossip Girl series from Cecily von Ziegesar. So when I got the chance to read her latest novel Dark Horses, you can bet your fern (this expression cracks me up) that I took the opportunity. The novel is a dual perspective story that revolves around a troubled teen and a troublemaker of a horse, and the bond that forms between them when they meet at an equine therapy camp. While I didn't love all of it, I definitely thought it was easy to read. For more of my thoughts, check out my video review below!

(P.S. I received a copy of the novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, as part of BookTube tours.)


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