Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Reviewing: Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

Hellooo, lovelies. Today, for the first time in ages, I read something. I was pleased. I threw confetti. I danced in a circle. Beforehand, I had been staring at my August TBR and thinking "wow, I feel absolutely zero motivation to do anything." And then I realized I'd put a novella on my list. YES. SOMETHING SHORT. (I thought it would be best to ease back in to former reading habits, or else my already shriveled brain would suffer a complete collapse).

As I'd said before, I'd been wanting to read Gilded Ashes for a while, because A) Rosamund Hodge is fabulous and B) it is set in the same world of Cruel Beauty-- WHICH I LOVE.

(Also, Ignifex makes an appearance, except he is not referred to as Ignifex, because, well, obviously, the main character doesn't know his name. I nearly shrieked with joy when it dawned on me that he was in the book).

Orphan Maia doesn't see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia's father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother's approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they'll all be struck dead by the curse.

Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn't believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What's the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she'll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.

As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn't believe in love. Anax can't help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can't help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother's deadly bargain?


The world is still gorgeous (although I wish there were more details on its background), and Rosamund Hodge's descriptions are definitely 80% of why I love her books. The amount of detail she puts into describing each emotion is immaculate, and each sentence is tailored to perfection.

The other 20% is the characters. None of them feel two-dimensional. None of the characters in Gilded Ashes are reduced to only evil-stepmother, evil step-sisters, or ever-cheerful Cinderella. Each character has a reason for why they are what they are. Which is, of course, awesome. I am a firm believer that everyone needs a purpose. No one is bad for no reason, just as no one is good without reason.

Maia is no where near the same person as Nyx (the main character of Cruel Beauty). She is sweet and gentle and kind because she's trying to protect others from the wrath of her mother (who is a ghost). She's terrified of showing her real feelings, and she's hidden them for so long that sometimes it's as though she forgets she has them.

This is not a dual-POV novella. We never get to see what it's like in Anax's mind, only Maia's. Anax was an interesting character, although I admit that I found him a little unlikable at the beginning. He improves-- but I didn't love his character. He was just mediocre, in my opinion.

Another thing: Rosamund Hodge does not do happy endings. She dangles it in front of your face and you think Oh, yes, this is exactly the goodness that these characters deserve and then NOPE. There are tears and blood and so much happens that you wind up gaping at the book-- sort of happy, but mostly just shocked.

Rosamund Hodge does bittersweet endings.

Mostly bitter.

While I loved this novella to bits, the ending felt way too rushed. It felt like things were at a very nice pace-- and then everything bad that could possibly happen, happens. Don't get me wrong-- I actually like it when things go wrong in books. Destruction, chaos... it tends to liven things up a bit. But... it felt overdone.

Would I recommend reading this book? ABSOLUTELY. Would I recommend reading Cruel Beauty first? It's not necessary, but if you want a better understanding of the world, you probably should.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Liebster Award { 3 }

I was tagged by Rebekah @ Worldsmithing and Worldbuilding for the Liebster Award! 1) Thank you. 2) You are awesome. 3) *hands you virtual cake*

I'll try to find enough people to nominate to continue the awesomeness, but I might have to cut the number down since I... don't know a lot of bloggers, especially those with smaller amounts of followers. (I will admit I am very bad at finding new blogs to read-- if you have some favorites, let me know!).

11 Things About Moi:

1. I started driving recently, and the first time I saw another car on the opposite lane I flipped out and nearly drove into a ditch. (Not a proud moment).
2. I have a very high tolerance for cold temperatures, but I hate the heat.
3. I got back into drawing and have been trying a few new styles-- my favorite so far is realism.
4. My favorite color is lime green. Then red, then black.
5. My mom always gets frustrated with me when I get shoes, because they're always black.
6. I can't stand tea, but I love coffee.
7. I have only once cooked something other than ramen noodles, eggs, and bacon.
8. I have been in 17 of the fifty states.
9. I speak tid-bits of Chinese and Korean, although I've never been in either country.
10. However, I have been in Taiwan, and the two main languages there are Chinese and Taiwanese. Chinese is the easier of the two. Also, Fun Fact: Taiwanese people do not speak Chinese with harsh "h" "sh" and "r" sounds. And so I also speak Chinese without a strong "mainland" accent.
11. My favorite animals have always been horses, followed closely by dogs.

Rebekah's Questions:

1. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what? If not, why?

Yep. It feels weird if I write without it. Recently, I finished a second draft and I listened to the following album throughout the entire process.

It really depends on what kind of feeling I want. Music is all about emotion, so I think it's important to feel what your characters are feeling. I listened to a lot of sad songs (one of them being "Not About Angels" by Birdy) while writing a book about a ghost.

2. Do you have a certain type of character that you always love/root for? (I.e. the orphan hero, the bad boy/girl with a heart of gold, the loveable rogue). Why do you like them?

Hm. I guess I root for characters who use a lot of sarcasm and seem cold and aloof on the outside, but are actually just as emotional as anyone else and are constantly aware of other people's feelings. So... bad boy/girl with a heart of gold.

I'm not really sure why I like them. It's pretty corny to say that I feel like I relate to them, but on a certain level, I feel like I do, so...

3. Has your taste in books changed much in the past ten years? Do you find that you like a certain type of book now better than you did then?

I was five ten years ago.

Obviously, the answer is yes to both, but even if it was three years instead of ten, the answer would still be yes-- my taste in books has changed dramatically. I got into action, suspense, and dystopian books. Recently, I've been wanting to read more horror. Three years ago, I was allll about that contemporary.

4. What literary trope or cliche do you hate the most? Which one really doesn't bother you?

I don't know if this counts, but it's happened in so many YA books that I'm gonna role with it. The main character falls in love with a dude that's been

A) Stalking the MC.
B) Making many verbal jabs that are meant to hurt the MC.
C) Physically threatening the MC.

Reading about a relationship like this always ticks me off.

For one that doesn't bother me, I'd have to say... the character not listening to a person who tells them a specific location is haunted or something like that. I mean, you know the character is in a scary book. They don't. If someone told you a house was haunted, would you believe them?

5. Name one book that you love that no one else seems to have read. Include a picture and a link so the rest of us can check it out. 

Um... I don't know about love, but I like So. B It quite a lot and would definitely recommend it.

Click on the pic to go to the GR page!
6. Do you prefer contemporary novels or historical fiction? Why?

That's a hard one. I would have to say historical fiction. I've read a few contemporary books, and they all feel mediocre to me. Maybe I'm just not reading the right ones.

7. If you write (stories, novels, poetry, anything other than blog posts), do you write with the hope to publish, or just for fun?

I write with the hope to publish. I really want to get my ideas and novels out there. I have for as long as I can remember.

8. Why did you start your blog? What keeps you posting?

I started my blog when my sister did, and I thought it looked really cool. What keeps me posting... I don't really know. I guess I like having a place to write down my thoughts.

9. If the internet disappeared overnight, how would you feel? Do you think life would be better or worse, and why?


B) I think it would be worse. We live in a world that is so dependent on internet and being able to connect that everyone would flip out. Also, I go to an online school. Call me a giant nerd, but the idea of "cutting class" freaks me out.

10. If you could have tea (or coffee) and a chat with any author living or dead, who would you pick? What would you want to ask? 

First of all, it would be coffee.

Secondly, I'm not sure. Maybe Vivian Vande Velde? Maggie Steifvater? Neal Shusterman? I CANNOT PICK ONE.

11. What do you like best about your writing or your blog? Why?

I like my dialogue in my writing.

I've been told it's good. ;)

My Questions

1. Who is your favorite superhero and why?
2. Top three genres? Why do you love them?
3. Have you ever written or started a book? If yes, where do you get inspiration to write? If no, have you ever wanted to?
4. What is the first book you remember reading? Did you like it?
5. Check your Goodreads. What is the book farthest back on your TBR? Do you still want to read it?
6. If you had to pick one character out of all the books you have read to switch places with, who would you pick?
7. Do you try to read a book before the movie/tv show comes out, after it comes out, or is it no big deal if you never read it?
8. On that topic, what's your favorite book to movie/tv show?
9. What's your opinion on fairytale retellings? Do you love them, or do you feel like they ruin the magic of the original?
10. Have you ever wanted to get a tattoo? Do you have one?
11. Are there any countries that you want to travel to? If so, why that country?

I Nominate... 

Skylar @ Life of a Random
Sophia @ Ravens and Writing Desks
Aneta @ The Graffiti On the Wall

... and anyone else that wants to join in! Leave a link in the comments and I'll make sure to drop by and check out your post.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Beautiful People || Friendship Edition

Click the pic for more info about Beautiful People!
Beautiful People is hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky at Further Up and Further In. They are both completely awesome and deserve all the cake.

The characters I chose are Quinn (17) and Luna (19), the sisters in that post-apocolyptic, alien-filled, also weapon-filled book I've mentioned on both this blog and on Twitter.

1. How long have they known each other, and how close are they?

They've known each other their whole lives. It's hard to say exactly how close they are. I mean, they trust each other with their lives, but at the same time, they're afraid to address certain "issues" within their friendship. They both struggle with sharing how they feel, but most of the time, they know the other person understands anyways. 

2. What’s their earliest memory of being best friends?

Luna remembers taking care of Quinn as a little girl, huddled in the backseat of her dad's old truck while her parents tried to get away from the wide-spread panic and all the attacks.

Quinn remembers throwing her Barbie doll at Luna when they were fighting. (Pleasant, as she always is).

3. Do they fight? How long do they typically fight for?

See above.

They fight a lot. Because of how unwilling they are to talk about how they feel while simultaneously being afraid of pushing the other person away, there's less talking and more poisonous looks and bitter retorts. Their fights last a while, and Luna is typically the first to try and smooth things over. Quinn tends to simultaneously want to confront the problem and ignore it. A lot of how she's kept herself together is by ignoring how she feels.

4. Are their personalities similar or do they compliment each other?

Quinn is a ball of negative energy.

Luna is a ball of noticeably less negative energy.

They're both stubborn and loyal, but Quinn tends to feel things in the extremes. She struggles with showing her feelings more than Luna and is cold and aggressive. This stems from the fact that she has never seen a world without war. Luna, on the other hand, is warmer and more accepting. She holds more responsibility than Quinn, which often results in her blaming herself for things that go wrong. Her positive outlook on life is what's kept her from destroying herself with guilt and worry.

5. Who is the leader of their friendship (if anyone)?


6. Do have any secrets from each other?

No. Even if they try to hide things, the other finds out soon enough, just by reading how the other one reacts to certain topics.

7. How well do they know each other’s quirks and habits?

As well as their own, and, occasionally, better.

8. What kind of things do they like to do together?

Is it bad that I laughed a little?

Talk, I suppose. Tease. Engage in playful verbal combat. They live in a world where you don't spend time doing things you enjoy. You spend time doing what you need to survive.

9. Describe each character’s fashion style (use pictures if you’d like!) How are their styles different/similar?

Hm. Well, Quinn wears dark colors. She likes combat boots, loose t-shirts, and leather. Luna likes flannel, cargo pants, and layers. 

I imagine that if they could dress however they wanted, they would look something like this:

10. How would their lives be different without each other?

They would both be dead.

I tried to think of something more... pleasant, but I came up empty. Maybe Luna would have lived, but Quinn wouldn't have made it past a couple years.

On that lovely note, thanks for reading! ^_^

Monday, August 3, 2015

August TBR + Notice

All links go to PDF forms of the books, and all author links go to the Goodread's pages of each author. Each of these books are for sure going to be read this month and also will have reviews on my blog. It's possible that I will read other books, but they likely won't have reviews here.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

I've heard a lot of good things about this book, and I've wanted to read it for ages. I feel like this will be a very character-centric book, instead of focusing on the world or setting. (Which pleases me). Plus, it's about to be a movie.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Dude. Fae? I'm in. All in. Even though I didn't really love Throne of Glass, I'm willing to give this one a chance (BECAUSE FAE).

Plus, Feyre sounds boss. She killed a wolf before she even knew anything about the Fae. Maybe it was attacking her and there was a desperate lunge for survival, but still.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I've actually started this book before. Usually, if I don't read a book in a day, I forget I even meant to read it in the first place, and this was one of those times. Oops.

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

I'm reading this for the same reason I'm reading Gilded Ashes. I loved Cruel Beauty (even though the ending wasn't very satisfying) and I love twisted fairytale retellings.

Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

Reason stated above.

I know there's only five, but school is starting soon (*sobs*) and so I won't be able to spend as much time reading and writing. Blogging will probably slow back down, but I've been planning a few posts, so if it does slow down, it shouldn't be immediate. Hopefully, reviews will still be coming, maybe with a few update posts thrown in just to keep you posted on how many tears I will crying over school and having to write huge essays again. (I know you love my whining).

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Short Review: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.

What inspired me to read a children's horror/fantasy book was a Tumblr post including GIFs from the movie. I hadn't even known there was a book (oops) but once I did I really wanted to read it before I found the movie online and watched it come to life.

But it wasn't only the GIFs that made me want to watch. It was this quote:

It was a story, I learned when people began to read it, that children experienced as an adventure, but which gave adults nightmares. It’s the strangest book I’ve written, it took the longest time to write, and it’s the book I’m proudest of. 
-Neil Gaiman 

So I found a PDF file of Coraline online (teehee) and got started.

CORALINE DISCOVERED THE DOOR a little while after they moved into the house. 

It starts out as very many children's books do (brief description of where the MC is, his/her current situation, etc.), and the writing style is short and crisp. It's really easy to grasp, but it doesn't seem to lose anything (like detailed descriptions and whatnot). Through the simple descriptions and words the images seem to come alive even more, if you know what I mean. 

But you know, from the first page, that this is going to be an "odd" book.

“The reason you cannot see the mouse circus,” said the man upstairs, “is that the mice are not yet ready and rehearsed. Also, they refuse to play the songs I have written for them. All the songs I have written for the mice to play go oompah oompah. But the white mice will only play toodle oodle, like that. I am thinking of trying them on different types of cheese.” 
This delighted me.

The book does have a bit more telling instead of showing but I really liked it. The way the author put things (rather bluntly) made the book humorous in some spots and quite scary in others.

Even things you think are insignificant tie together and end up meaning so much more.

It was brilliantly done and I would recommend this book to anyone, child or not.