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    ......well, kind of.

    This is a tag stolen (with love) from Beatrice @ Dreamland Book Blog. Also known as the "You're Not Good Enough" tag, today's character death match goes like this:

    • Write thirty character names on slips of paper 
    • Put them in a hat 
    • Randomly draw them in pairs
    • Use a pair to answer every question!  

    I'm not sure how y'all feel about these kinds of tags, but I absolutely love them. So sans further ado, let's get to it!

    1. You only have one more spot on your spelling bee team. Who gets it?


    Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle) vs. Achilles (The Song of Achilles)

    Ohhhh, this is hard. To be honest, I wouldn't feel particularly confident with either of them? Achilles straight (hah) up wouldn't care, and Eragon's.....well....a bit of an idiot.

    But I think at the end of the day, Achilles's royal education would leave him with a fairly well-developed lexicon. So I'd go with him.

    2. Both characters want to kill you. Whom would you kill first to have a better chance of survival?



    Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter) vs. Narcissa Black (Harry Potter)


    Oooh.....another tough one. I feel like we didn't learn a lot about Narcissa's skill level in the books? But she's an Official death-eater (if I remember correctly), and Draco's just....a hot mess. So though it'd break my heart, I'd kill Narcissa.

    3. You're on the bachelor/bachelorette and down to two characters. Who gets your rose?


    Deryn Sharp (Leviathan) vs. Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl)

    Considering that Artemis is 12, Deryn is my queen, and I sure as hell ain't straight, I think we all know the answer.

    4. You've been chosen for the Hunger Games. Who's most likely to volunteer in your place?


    Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) vs. Noah Czerny (The Raven Cycle)

    Another difficult one! I think I'm going with Hermione, though. I think she views the world through a much more black-and-white lens in terms of morality, but Noah just kind of smudges his way through existence. Then again, he's really loyal to Blue and other close friends! And he'd almost be guaranteed to win. I think Hermione would volunteer more readily, though.

    5. You're stranded on an island and must engage in cannibalism to survive. Whom do you eat?


    Simon Spier (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) vs. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

    Ahhh, nooooo!! Don't make me pick between these two! Simon is super precious, and Anne brings sunshine and cheer to every day. I don't think either would be a huge asset in terms of survival knowledge, so......maybe Simon? *ducks the flying tomatoes* I like him more as a person, but I think Anne's optimism would be important to walking away from the situation with minimum mental damage.

    6. You're the next Marvel superhero (with your own TV show, of course). Who's your sidekick?


    Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit) vs. Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)

    Bilbo, for sure! He's already proven he has serious questing chops, and he has a magic ring that makes him turn invisible. Plus, he's super pragmatic. 

    7. You're a manager of an avocado company. Whom would you fire for poor communication skills?


    Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows Duology) vs. Éowyn (The Lord of the Rings)

    Definitely Kaz! Éowyn isn't the friendliest person in the entire world, but I'd feel a lot more confident with her on my communications staff than I would with Kaz.

    Although......if Kaz ended up pissed at me, it would basically signal the end of my life. So mayyyybe Éowyn, then??

    8. You've just finished a book in which your favorite character dies. Which of these two characters is more likely to comfort you?


    Bartimaeus (The Bartimaeus Sequence) vs. Sir Lancelot (The Once and Future King)

    Lancelot isn't the cuddliest of people, but I think almost anyone would be cuddlier than Bartimaeus.

    9. Ugh, it's high school. Who would most likely be part of the popular clique?


    Eponine (Les Miserables) vs. Anthony Lockwood (Lockwood and Co.)

    Definitely Lockwood! He's very charismatic and friendly, whereas Eponine is at best antisocial and at worst downright cruel.

    (She's still my queen, though.)

    10. The day has arrived; you're finally a year older! Who would have the nerve to forget your birthday?


    Jo March (Little Women) vs. Aziraphale (Good Omens)

    I think Jo! She definitely wouldn't do it on purpose, but accidentally forgetting a friend's birthday because her mind is going in a million directions at once sounds very Jo. Aziraphale, on the other hand, probably wrote it in all 28 of his planners and scheduled several phone reminders.

    11. You've just found an upcoming YouTube star! Whom is it more likely to be?


    Scarlett Dragna (Caraval) vs. Carver Briggs (Goodbye Days)

    Oooh, this is really hard! Probably Carver? I feel like he's pretty likable, even if he's not the most popular. On the other hand, Scarlett would be way too shy and "dignified" to put herself and her content out there like that.

    12. Sleepover time! Unfortunately, you can only invite one person. Who would it be?


    Javert (Les Miserables) vs. Arya Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire)

    This is a no-brainer. As much as I love Javert, he's really not a bonding, sleepover type of person. So definitely Arya!

    13. Bam, you're pregnant. Who's the father/mother?


    Maura Sargent (The Raven Cycle) vs. Boromir (The Lord of the Rings)

    Well, I should freaking hope it's Maura. She's such a great mom, and Boromir is.....more of an idiot than Eragon.

    14. You've just written a super important text. Who would see it and not reply?


    Simon Snow (Carry On) vs. Jesper Fahey (Six of Crows Duology)

    Ahhhh!! I feel like......neither?? Both Simon and Jesper would be super attentive if something were seriously wrong with me. But I mayyyyy have to go with Jesper? He's such a sweetheart, but I feel he might not reply if he were in the middle of a gambling game.

    15. You've just woken up, and it's time for breakfast. Your mom's been replaced by.....whom?


    The Gray Man (The Raven Cycle) vs. Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)

    Ahhhhh......as much as I adore Luna, I don't think she's quite ready to be a parent. And The Gray Man is an awesome mostly-father to Blue. So I have to go with him.

    ---

    Whew! That was a lot of fun to put together; I hope y'all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! So, let's chat. Which fictional character would you want as your superhero sidekick? Who would get your rose? Who are your favorite characters? Comment below, and have an amazing night <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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    Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

    The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

    So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

    The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

    No Star Rating - DNF

    Hahahaha.....ha.....ha.

    Well.

    I DNF'd (did not finish, gave up upon) this book around page 60. Though I usually don't post reviews of my DNFs, since I think I can't provide a full picture of the story, I'm making an exception for Flame in the Mist.

    I LOVED The Wrath & the Dawn, Renee Ahdieh's debut, so I was pretty excited for Flame in the Mist. However, the fragmentary, melodramatic writing style Ahdieh began to use in The Rose & the Dagger was used in full force here. I love when authors bend grammar rules to great effect, but it gets really old really quickly if you do it too much. Unfortunately, it seemed like 2/3 of the sentences in Flame in the Mist were fragments. Every time I ran across a fragment, I was jerked out of the story and had to make a conscious effort to immerse myself again. I think they were supposed to make the story dramatic and heart-racing, but those feelings dulled very quickly to a distant feeling that disconnected me from all of the characters and action. The pages just crawled by.

    I wanted to find out more about Kenshin and the Emperor, but I just can't trudge through this book any longer. I hope some of you like this more than I did!

    Caraval by Stephanie Garber

    Remember, it’s only a game…

    Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

    But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

    Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

    Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away


    4/5 unlikely couples.
    Last December, the only book anyone would talk about was Caraval. Because it looked so unique!! And cool!! And swoon worthy!! And wow!!

    I didn't think it looked all that great, and then when most people were inevitably disappointed in the actual book, my standards were lowered even more. Perhaps that's part of the reason I was blown away by Caraval - but I think it was more than that, too.

    As you may have noticed, the most important thing about a book for me is always how well it's written. Always. And the gripping, vivid prose employed in Caraval swept me right off my feet and into the book. The imagination exhibited in Caraval impressed me as well, and - this is where I differ most from other readers - I really liked the characters.

    Scarlett was such a breath of fresh air from typical YA protagonists. She's not a "badass" Mary-Sue (though I do appreciate those in moderate amounts); she's an average, naive girl with lots of flaws and a unique perspective on the world. She holds traditionalist views in some cases yet is forward-thinking in others. I saw a lot of people railing against this, but I don't really get why. You may not agree with everything she does, and you may think you're smarter than she is, but the whole point of fiction is to expose us to points of view and motives we might not have considered before. Besides Scarlett, Tella was The Most Badass of All (loved her!!), and Julian and Dante were SO interesting. So was Casper. And Legend. And pretty much everyone.

    The one critique I had is that the ending is a bit confusing. All the layers of deception unpeel at once, and it took me a little bit to understand what was true and what wasn't. However, I would recommend Caraval if you're looking for a thrilling, magical romance with a heaping cup of adventure and mystery! 

    Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

    When you can't beat the odds, change the game.

    Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
     


    3/5 smiley face starry nights.
    This.....freaking.....series.

    *sigh*

    I SO SO BADLY wanted to love this and Six of Crows. Unfortunately, I just couldn't.

    Although Crooked Kingdom was decently well-written and had an interesting plot, very little of that mattered in the end. Leigh Bardugo chose to make this a very character-driven story, so this is a rare time when the characters had the power to make or break the book for me.

    Unfortunately, they broke it. Kind of badly.

    Kaz and Wylan were the only characters I could connect to. Everyone else was completely generic, bland, and cookie-cutter. It felt like a lot of their words, motives, and descriptions were pulled right out of a writer's reference book. And that hurt so much more in this case than it usually does because the characters had the potential to be amazing. They just....weren't. And as a consequence, the whole story suffered.

    The intriguing plot salvaged this a little bit because I was interested to see how all the plot lines would resolve themselves. But overall, I was pretty happy when the story finally ended.

    I wish I'd liked this more than I did. Unfortunately, I just don't think this was the series for me.

    ---

    Let's chat! Have you read any of these books? What books are you a black sheep about? What are your most recent reads? Comment below, and remember that you are all very beautiful pickles.

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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    Hey, guys!

    I have quite a few reading quirks, but the weirdest one may be this: I almost never DNF books.

    DNF (vb.) - an acronym consisting of the words "did not finish", meaning to give up on a book before one reaches the end.

    Yesterday, I DNF'd my ninth book ever: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh. Renee Ahdieh is* of my favorite authors, so I was super disappointed that I didn't like Flame in the Mist. Without further ado, here are a few thoughts I had while (attempting) to read FitM!

    *was

    ---

    1. Why are there. So many fragments, intended to create.
    Dramatic effect.

    2. MARIKO. BABE. PLEASE STOP BEING SO MELODRAMATIC.
    or is that just the writing style??

    3. Lowkey I really like the Emperor?

    4. AND I LIKE KENSHIN.

    5. And what's his face. The boy in the prologue.

    6. So basically everyone except Mariko, the main character. Lovely.

    7. To DNF or not to DNF? That is the question.

    8. I kind of want to taste rice wine now?? I mean I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like it, but I want to try.

    9. Okay, but if I DNF it, I'll have driven all the way to the library to get it for nothing.

    10. This is perhaps the most slowly paced book I've read since Les Miserables. At least Les Mis was well-written, which compensated somewhat.

    11. I've read fifty pages in two weeks. F*ck it. I'm DNFing.

    ---

    Let's chat! Have you DNF'd any books lately? Have you read/do you want to read Flame in the Mist? What did you think of it? Have you read any of Renee Ahdieh's other works? Comment below, and have an awesome day <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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  • 06/16/17--08:27: My Top 10 LGBT+ Books

  • So here I am, your local pansexual nerd, wandering innocently around the Internets. And then I start to stumble across a few bloggers who have done pride posts this month, and then a few more, and then a few more, and then a bunch more....

    And then I come to an atrocious realization.

    I, your local pansexual nerd, have not done a pride post yet.

    *bangs head against wall*

    SO. Without further delay (because there has already been far too much), here are ten book recommendations in honor of this pride month. <3

    (as always, titles are links to reviews for those that have them!)


    29939390

    This book was such a pleasant surprise?? I walked in totally unsuspecting of the gay I was about to encounter, and I stumbled across such a pure, sweet f/f relationship. I'll avoid going in more detail to avoid spoilers, but man. This one is so sweet <3


    22299763

    If you've read my blog recently, you may know I hold a less-than-complementary view of this book as a whole. However, the m/m romance was so beautifully crafted and written; it was the main thing that kept me interested in the story. Shippity ship ship!!


    19547856

    Perhaps THE iconic YA LGBT+ novel, Simon vs. is one of the cutest books I've ever read. It's heartwarming and sweet with a wonderful, gay narrator - definitely a must for any of y'all who enjoy fluffy romance.


    11250317

    AND THEN WE HAVE TSOA.

    Public Service Announcement: This book will rip your heart out and STOMP on it. Be prepared to bawl. It's been a year, and I'm still not over it.


    25246752

    This book takes a different approach than the others on my list; it's not fiction, but memoir. I'm usually not a fan of YouTubers with book deals, but Tyler Oakley stands out as the hands-down exception. His book is hilarious and engaging, tracing the trials and travails of discovering your sexuality and coming out. For people who are more into memoir than fiction, this is the perfect pick.


    17378527

    I may not be the biggest fan of The Raven Cycle as a whole, but The Raven King is downright amazing. Ronan and Adam are one of those couples it's impossible to not ship, and their dynamic is one of the sweetest, strongest bonds of any couple on this list. Who doesn't like Pynch, after all?

    4. The King's Men by Nora Sakavic

    23667559

    Wait?! There's stuff out there better than Stiefvater??

    *cue the Stiefvater fans dying of shock*

    The answer, of course, is hell yeah there is. Stiefvater is good, but Sakavic is awesome. TKM had me on the edge of my seat the whole time, turning the pages as fast as I could read in order to get to The Moment. I also found the way in which Neil and Andrew's romantic relationship evolved to be very well-thought-out and realistic, showing that not every couple goes to marriage and puppies right away.


    43814

    Let's make a brief foray out of the world of YA and venture into the adult section of the bookstore for a moment, because TVL is too amazing not to list. Lestat is an incredible narrator with an awesome, snarky voice, and he's by far my favorite bi character ever. For those who like paranormal and romance, this is a must-read.


    32768522

    It's no secret that LGBT+ rep in fantasy is a lot rarer than it is in contemporary. (For some reason, fantasy authors seem to think dragon riders are realistic but gay people who, y'know, actually exist in the real world, aren't? Mcscuse me, honey, but I have something to tell you.) As an avid fantasy reader, I would definitely christen Carry On the quintessential, hands-down best LGBT+ fantasy novel. Though it begins as an intentional Harry Potter spinoff, it evolves into one of the most unique fantasies I've ever read. It completely turns the Chosen One trope on its head, and don't even get me started on the romance. Though Simon and Baz end up in love, they get there in different ways. And they're just SO.

    FREAKING.

    ADORABLE.


    24755394

    And finally, the best LGBT+ novel I have ever read in my life. It Looks Like This is one of those books you want to force everyone to read, because it's just that important. It deals with how hard it is to be an LGBT+ kid in a homophobic, conservative home where you have to deal with the threat of conversion therapy or being kicked out on the street every single day. I'm lucky enough to have a mostly supportive family, but I go to a Christian, conservative school where many of my friends don't have that fortune.

    If you've ever considered yourself a supporter of our community and rights, please, please read this book.

    Honorable Mentions (cause apparently I don't think this post is gay enough yet):



    Bonus - My Gay TBR:


    ---

    Let's chat! Have you read any of the books I featured? What did you think? What are your favorite LGBT+ books or characters? Any type of LGBT+ rep you'd like to see more? Comment below, and remember that you are all very beautiful pickles. <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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  • 06/18/17--07:09: Current TBR Pile #23

  • GUYS. GUYS, I THINK THE SIZE OF MY TBR PILE IS ACTUALLY DECREASING.

    WHAAAAAAT?!?

    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


    I saw this at Barnes and Noble a couple weeks ago when I went to purchase Connor Franta's book, and I read a few pages out of curiosity about the hype.

    Holy crap, guys. This looks so good.

    (Not gonna lie: I'm kind of glad I read Caraval before I stumbled across this; they seem quite similar, and I don't think Caraval can hold a candle to The Night Circus.)

    Dragonbane by Sherrilyn Kenyon


    This is another one I saw at Barnes and Noble. I think it's a part of a much larger series, but I also think the mythology is more or less explained based on the preview I read. Plus, it looks pretty well-written and unique.

    Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore


    HELL YES. GIVE ME ALL THE IRREVERENT HUMOR.

    Candide by Voltaire


    There's something I just love about reading classic novels. They're relics of ages gone by, people passed away, and thoughts and philosophies we probably now consider either common-sense or archaic. Reading a classic novel, especially one that was popular or controversial in its time, is the closest thing I can think of to time travel. Candide looks humorous yet well-written, so I think it'll be one of the next classic books I pick up.

    The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier


    Another classic! And this one is from the Queen of Horror herself, Daphne du Maurier. I like horror, but not horror that's tooooo scary, so this time travel thriller seems like a good fit for me.

    The Secret History by Donna Tartt


    I was introduced to this book by the lovely Madeline, and it looks like just my thing. Again, it's creepy and eerie without giving me nightmares, and the writing style is just wonderful.

    ---

    Let's chat! Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What books are on your TBR? Do you like classic novels? Comment below, and remember that you are all very beautiful pickles. <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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    Hey, guys! Today, I'm teaming up with The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly bookish list link-up. This week, I'll be sharing ten series I haven't started yet.....but totally will.
    Eventually.

    Probably.

    (pictured: the first book in each series.)

    10. Reboot by Amy Tintera



    I'm usually not a fan of dystopian, but this looks like a really unique and well-written series. Plus, I've heard SO many good things about Amy Tintera's other books.

    9. The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss



    Ahhh, I was SO hesitant to "officially" put this on the TBR pile for a long time. As shameful as it is to admit it, I was intimidated by the length.....even though it looks really well-written. At last, however, I gave in. From the previews I've read, this series definitely gives me a Brandon Sanderson/Robert Jordan feel?

    8. The Half Bad Trilogy by Sally Green



    I LOVE when authors break typical writing convention, so these books look perfect for me!

    7. Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore


    Small (well, young. I'm still very small) Ellie lowkey boycotted these because she thought the name "Lorien" was stolen from J.R.R. Tolkien, one of her all-time favorite authors. Fast forward five years, and her curiosity about the series is finally overpowering her disgust at the plagiarism. (For the love of God, people, if you're going to accidentally copy a fellow author, try not to do it to a super famous one. At least look your names up before you publish them, for the Lord's sake.)

    6. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy



    I'VE WANTED TO READ THIS FOR SO SO LONG. It sounds just like my thing: unique, suspenseful middle-grade with a snarky protagonist.

    5. Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness


    For the longest time, I didn't know what this book was about. I just heard everyone screaming "CHAOS WALKING CHAOS WALKING" and was like "that sounds like the walking dead or some crap, count me out". But now I am counting myself back in, because I read a preview and it actually looks.....really good?

    (But if the dog dies, I swear I will DNF right then and there.)

    4. Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman



    Only the first book of this series is out right now, but SO many of my fabulous bloggy friends have recommended it. And really, the premise looks like one of the most interesting I've seen in a long time. So of course I must try it!

    ....eventually

    3. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan



    I really don't want to read Percy Jackson, mostly because I'm 98% sure it could never live up to the hype. But I adore middle-grade, so I DO want to try me some Riordan. Magnus Chase looks like a great place to start! And that cover, man.

    2. Villains by V.E. Schwab


    SHE'S ANNOUNCED A SEQUEL, WHICH OFFICIALLY MAKES IT A SERIES, OKAY?

    Villains is another series that sounds seriously unique and looks very well-written. I really need to try some Schwab; sometimes, I feel like the only blogger who hasn't yet?? So I might start my Schwab Quest with Villains, or perhaps with

    1. The Shades of Magic Trilogy by V.E. Schwab



    THESE BOOKS SOUND SO AMAZING AND KELL SOUNDS SO AMAZING AND EVERYTHING SOUNDS SO AMAZING AND IT'S BEEN ON MY TBR FOR A YEAR AND I STILL HAVEN'T READ IT? What even, Ellie. Someone just throw these books at me already.

    ---

    Let's chat! Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Are any on your TBR? What series do YOU still need to read? Comment below, and have an awesome day. <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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  • 06/22/17--10:53: Library Haul + Mini Reviews















  • Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia - I totally didn't expect to love this as much as I did! Although I didn't think I'd like Eliza, I ended up loving her. And Zappia's writing is always amazing <3 5/5 stars.

    Curse of the Night Wolf by Paul Stewart - Not as good as Phantom of Blood Alley, but a good introduction to the series! I loved getting more of Barnaby's backstory. However, some of the plot seemed pretty predictable. 4/5.

    Return of the Emerald Skull by Paul Stewart - Started out good, but ended up.....weird. 3/5.

    Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh - Haha.....haha.....ha. Click here to see my review of Flame in the Mist, and click here for some more detailed thoughts on why I DNFd it.

    The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich - I know a lot of people gave this one and two star ratings on Goodreads, and although I see why, I definitely don't agree. The engaging + real writing style, thrilling + unique plot, and adorable characters swept me off my feet. Even though you can tell this is a debut, it's still a pretty good one. 4/5.

    ---

    Let's chat! Favorite photo? Do you use libraries a lot? What books have you recently read (any of these?)? And what was your last 5 star read? Comment below, and have an incredible day <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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  • 06/24/17--20:18: Mid-Year Book Roundup!

  • Hey, guys! This time of year, it seems like everyone's posting lists of the best books they've read so far this year. I love reading those posts, but I also wanted to do something that's not so similar to the top ten books of the year posts I always do in late December. Thusly, I have stolen this tag/survey/thing from the lovely Bekka @ Pretty Deadly Reviews!

    (as always, book titles are links to reviews for those that have them)

    Best Book Read in 2017 So Far


    I've read so many awesome books this year, but the hands down best has to be The Martian. (And this is coming from someone who hates both sci-fi and survival stories!) But this sci-fi survival novel was addicting and mesmerizing, mainly due to the hilarious, engaging voice. (I'm never doubting my grandma's book tastes again!)

    Best Sequel Read This Year


    Without a doubt, The Raven King by Nora Sakavic. (Sequel to The Foxhole Court.) I enjoyed TFC but had some issues with it; however, TRK absolutely blew me away. From the gripping writing to the high stakes to the awesome characters, it turned me from a Sakavic Skeptic to Sakavic Trash,

    New Release You Haven't Read Yet But Want To


    I thought I was all caught up on my new release game, but evidently not. For some shameful reason, I have yet to read Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee. This book about a seventh-grader discovering she's bi is just the kind of thing I needed a few years ago, when I was in the exact same position. Plus, the author's daughter is bi, and the author went to great pains to make sure everything was accurate and respectful. CAN I GET AN AMEN?

    Most Anticipated Release for Late 2017


    *SCREAMING*

    If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I'm absolute trash for The Blackthorn Key series. Middle-grade! Magic! Mystery! Explosions! Suspense! EVERYTHING I LOVE ROLLED INTO ONE SERIES. The third book is coming out on September 5th, and I COULD NOT be more hyped.

    Biggest Disappointment of the Year So Far


    Definitely Windwitchby Susan Dennard. I absolutely loved Truthwitch, so I was insanely excited for the sequel. But somewhere between the confusing storyline and slow pacing, I was really let down. (I did enjoy the f/f romance, sibling relationships, and EVERYTHING ISEULT AND AEDUAN, though, so I do plan on reading the next book!)

    Biggest Surprise


    Again, The Martian takes the cake! But Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore comes in at a close second. This DaVinci Code-esque mystery centers around the strange patrons of a 24-hour bookstore, and I was immediately sucked into the mystery and the snarky, clever voice of the narrator. For some reason, I thought it would be really predictable and typical and so put off reading it. I couldn't have been more wrong, however!

    (Plus, that cover GLOWS. in the DARK. IT GLOWS IN THE FREAKING DARK, PEOPLE.)

    New Favorite Author


    Ooh, this is a tough one! I don't think it's valid for me to deem someone a favorite author if I've only read one of their works, but there are still a lot of candidates. At the end of the day, I think I have to pick Paul Stewart, author of the Barnaby Grimes series. This new favorite middle-grade series of mine centers around a messenger boy in Victorian England and his adventures solving supernatural mysteries in London's dark underbelly. The reads are quick, thrilling, and fun! No matter the book, I end up both grinning madly and barely hanging on to the edge of my seat.


    Runners-up: Nora Sakavic, Francesca Zappia, and Ryohgo Narita.

    Newest Fictional Crush


    Not gonna lie, it took me a long time to think of this one - probably because this character was one of, like, two things I liked about Wintersong. But I definitely had a crush on the Goblin King. 

    Newest Favorite Character


    Ahhh, this one's super difficult as well! (Though it's for the opposite reason - there are too many lovely characters to pick just one!) But if I HAD to favor one of my children, keeping in mind how recently I read the book, I would go with Caden from The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich. So many people on Goodreads are saying that the characters are generic or flat, and I just ???? are we reading the same book ???? Because Caden is SUCH a sweetie while also being really multi-dimensional and realistic. I can't even describe him succinctly because of all the interesting facets of his personality.

    A Book That Made You Cry


    Let me just say: as a member of the LGBT+ community, I 100% recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand what it's like to be LGBT+ in today's society. 

    (Hint: not pretty.)

    This is one of those books that's so real and so important you want to give a copy to everyone on Earth. If you only ever read one book I recommend, read this one.

    A Book That Made You Happy

    And The Love Interest takes the cake again! Seriously, I couldn't stop the happy butterflies while reading this book. The whole thing is just so dang CUTE.

    Favorite Adaption You Saw This Year

    *dashes over to movie notebook*

    *returns*


    Your Name is an awesome time-travel, supernatural mystery with a hefty dose of cuteness. It's based on the novel by Makoto Shinkai, and I'd totally recommend it to any of y'all who like Studio Ghibli!

    Favorite Book Post You've Done This Year


    Ahhh, that's so hard! But at the end of the day, I have to go with "10 Thoughts While Reading Durarara". It's my all-time favorite anime, and reading the light novels was a ton of fun.

    The Most Beautiful Book You Bought This Year


    YET ANOTHER TOUGH ONE. But I'm going to choose my most recent purchase: The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble's Braids by Michael McClung. LOOK AT THAT COVER, FOLKS. L O O K A T I T.

    Books You Need to Read Before the End of the Year


    To list a few.

    ---

    Let's chat! What are the best books you've read this year? New favorite characters and authors? And what books do you have to read before the end of the year? Comment below, and have an awesome day. <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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    *hastily assembles barricade*

    *scrambles behind it*

    *shouts through megaphone from behind the safety of my fortress*

    Hey, guys! It often seems like the blogosphere gets overrun by certain popular books that everyone reviews, reads, and enjoys. However, I think we all have a few popular books that it seems everyone's read but us. So in honor of that, here are some popular books I haven't read yet - and really don't plan to.

    5. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon



    Besides sounding straight-up uninteresting, I've heard so many people in the terminally and chronically ill communities talk about how inaccurate and offensive the "representation" is. I'll pass, thank you.

    4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green



    Ooh! I'm sensing a trend!

    Besides the fact that I don't like a) contemporaries, b) contemporary romances, or c) contemporary straight romances, I'm also not a fan of John Green. After being thoroughly underwhelmed by Paper Towns, it'll take a lot to get me to try another one of his books. And if I do, TFIOS will definitely not be the one.

    3. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer


    Everyone but me: "THE LUNAR CHRONICLES IS SO WELL-WRITTEN AND AMAZING AND EVERYTHING AND AHHHHH."

    Me, scratching my head: "Are we reading the same books????"

    I've tried, fam. I've tried so many times. But I can never get past the first chapter. While I love the concept, Cinder comes across as the Ultimate Snowflake. And the writing is just....bland?

    (I may try Heartless, though.)

    2. This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab



    #sorrynotsorry

    Look, folks. Shades of Magic and Villains are both high on my TBR. So it's not that I dislike Schwab; in fact, I think the majority of her books look awesome! But this one in particular? The premise sounds typical and predictable and does not interest me in the slightest.

    Whoops.

    1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


    Aside from ALL the homophobia/acephobia/sexism/racism controversy swirling around SJM, I am firmly of the opinion that her writing is dreadfully amateurish. I've read chapters from Throne of Glass, Empire of Storms, and Heir of Fire, and I had to drag myself through every sentence. So I'll take a pass on these, thank.

    (Plus, it seems totally unoriginal ??? just ??? YA Game of Thrones ??? and I don't even like Game of Thrones ???)

    ---

    Let's chat! What popular books haven't you read? Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Comment below, and have an awesome day <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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  • 06/28/17--10:11: Dear July | Sincerely, June


  • - I (kind of) got an internship! I want to study political science in college, so I've always wanted to intern on a campaign. I've been working around five hours a day almost daily on the campaign of the Democrat planning to challenge the Republican representative from my Congressional District. YES, I KNOW I PROBABLY JUST BORED Y'ALL TO DEATH IN TWO SENTENCES. *bangs pots and pans to wake you up* Seriously, though, it's been incredibly fun and rewarding so far, even though I haven't been doing super high-level stuff.


    - I read 7 books this month. Which isn't great, but it's not horrible, either. Best: The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two. Worst: Note to Self.

    (I might also finish The Kite Runner before the end of the month? Probably.)

    - I binged House of Cards. I started watching this show.....a year ago? I remember being pretty "meh" about it, probably because n o t h i n g will ever compare to The West Wing. I put it aside, but I recently picked it up again and just!! SO GOOD.

    - Have a playlist.



    - I'll post about this again closer to the date, but I'll be going on a one to two week hiatus due to family vacation. I'll be hanging on my aunt's farm, browsing some of Seattle's famous bookstores, and meeting one of my best online friends IRL! (*internal screaming*)

    - I'm also headed to AnimeIowa! This will be my first time attending an anime con, so I'm pretty psyched. I'll (probably) be cosplaying Lorna from Over the Garden Wall and Asuna from Sword Art Online.

    - I NEED TO GET WORKING ON MY SUMMER GOALS. Guys. Remember this list of summer goals I posted a month ago? I've barely made any progress. *cry* Special priority: watching anime, writing, and service hours.


    ....because SO many bloggers put out awesome content this month.

    Savannah @ Scattered Scriblings recommended 7 must-reads for your summer TBR and shared 7 books on her own. Well, my TBR's just exploded.

    Serena @ Poetree shared her thoughts on reconciling faith and political party. We so often associate these religions with conservatism and those beliefs with liberalism, but there are so many people in different places on multiple spectrums!

    Anna @ Annaish compiled a list of LGBT+ books representing a plethora of sexualities and genders. As a member of the LGBT+ comm, it was so awesome to see an ally take the time to create such a great list.

    Finally, Loren @ Let's Be Lost wrote a beautiful post about All Time Low's new album in a pretty unique way. Seriously, guys, you HAVE to check this one out.


    How was your June? What did you read, listen to, and watch? Any cool July plans? Comment below, and have an incredible day. <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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    Note to Self by Connor Franta

    In his New York Times bestselling memoir, A Work in Progress, Connor Franta shared his journey from small-town Midwestern boy to full-fledged Internet sensation. Exploring his past with humor and astounding insight, Connor reminded his fans of why they first fell in love with him on YouTube—and revealed to newcomers how he relates to his millions of dedicated followers.

    Now, two years later, Connor is ready to bring to light a side of himself he’s rarely shown on or off camera. In this diary-like look at his life since A Work In Progress, Connor talks about his battles with clinical depression, social anxiety, self-love, and acceptance; his desire to maintain an authentic self in a world that values shares and likes over true connections; his struggles with love and loss; and his renewed efforts to be in the moment—with others and himself.


    Told through short essays, letters to his past and future selves, poetry, and original photography, Note to Self is a raw, in-the-moment look at the fascinating interior life of a young creator turning inward in order to move forward.


    3/5 trenchcoat-wearing angels.
    I love Connor Franta's videos. I like his online personality. I think he's an incredibly talented filmmaker and entrepreneur. But is he a good writer?

    Ehhh. Not so much.


    I'm an avid writer and reader, and I frequently beta read others' works. For those reasons, I read this book (as I read everything) through a very critical, analytical lens. And through that lens, I observed that almost everything in this book had a great concept behind it. The ideas behind the poems and essays were awesome, and they could have been amazing works if executed correctly. But were they executed well? 
    For the most part, no. Most of the poems were bland, and most of the essays came off as pretentious and privileged. 


    However, there were exceptions.

    When Franta got down off his soap box and let himself go, the writing was awesome. The essays about depression? They punched me in the gut. The poems about his breakup? They threw me to the ground. The words were raw. They were desperate. And those pages were the ones worth reading. They are the ones I'll remember.

    Overall? If you're a fan of Franta, I'd probably recommend this. If you're not, I'd give it a pass.

    The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

    There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

    Caden is a Nice: the boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: the brooding, dark-souled guy who is dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose the Nice or the Bad?

    Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be—whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

    What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

    4/5 unconventional resting places.
    The Love Interest was by far my most anticipated 2017 release. I think a lot of people felt the same way. And yet it has a pretty crappy rating on Goodreads with a plethora of 1 and 2 star reviews. So I'll say this, too: I understand the reasons behind most of the criticism. This is a debut novel, and you can definitely tell. But I still enjoyed it. Why's that?

    Firstly, this book made me feel something. Dietrich may not have the finesse of an experienced writer, but he's got the raw emotion down. I was heavily invested in this story; I was constantly grinning yet on the edge of my seat. I always felt invested in the characters. 

    The quality of the characters are another criticism most people have, but I don't buy it. Caden is sUCH A PRECIOUS BEAN, and Juliet and Natalie are such refreshing takes on the "strong heroine" trope. 

    A lot of people seem to be calling out Dyl and Caden for being generic or flat. Young one, that's their job. The whole plot of this book is that they're forced to pretend to be generic stereotypes in order to woo Juliet. If they don't have moments of flatness, they would go the entire book without doing the one thing the book is supposed to document them doing. And they've been training their entire lives to be That One Stereotype. The organization they were forced into working for fucked them up badly. I'd be shocked if they were able to flip a switch and turn into dazzling, brilliant, multi-dimensional dreamboats of characters the moment they're out of Juliet's sight. In reality, they struggled. They struggled with the lines between what they were and what they had to be, what they wanted to have and what they were doomed to get. And that, to me, made them real.

    In conclusion? If you're looking for a fun, quick book with LGBT+ or sci-fi elements, look no further! I really enjoyed this, and it was a great pick for pride month.


    Phantom of Blood Alley by Paul Stewart

    Barnaby Grimes is a tick-tock lad, high-stacking his way across the rooftops of his city in search of adventure and mystery. In each tale, he encounters a supernatural force and must battle the horrors that await him.

    In this new adventure, Barnaby finds himself in the fiercely competitive world of early photography, where the rewards are immense but so are the risks. After an experiment goes disastrously wrong, Barnaby is on the trail of a mad chemist with a talent for disappearing into thin air. . . .




    5/5 no-nosed nut jobs.
    THIS. *GESTURES FRANTICALLY* T H I S.

    THIS is why I love middle-grade so much. So often, YA and adult seem like they're trying hard to be a Proper Book. But Phantom of Blood Alley doesn't try. It simply overflows, spilling out of its binding and into my living room. It is unapologetically itself, and so is Barnaby Grimes, one of my new favorite protagonists. 

    This book is both humorous and suspenseful, topped with a cup of adventure and a liberal sprinkling of surprise. An eerie, supernatural mystery is snaking through London's underbelly and curling around its corners, and it's up to young messenger-turned-detective Barnaby Grimes to figure out what's going on. My eyes were practically tripping over themselves and the words, rushing to get to the next line to find out what happened next. I was both grinning madly and on the edge of my seat the whole time. It's only the best kind of book that does that to you, and Phantom of Blood Alley is certainly the best kind of book.

    ---

    Let's chat! What are the best and worst books you've read lately? Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Comment below, and have an awesome day <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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  • 07/04/17--19:19: Current TBR Pile #24

  • *reappears from the void*

    Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore


    Some of y'all who've been around here for a while may have noticed the following about me: I'm a very irreverent person. I have zero problem with religious freedom*, and I take great joy in poking fun at not just Christianity, but religious institution in general. The humor in this book looks like it's right up my alley :)

    *though I do have a problem with the fact that we live in a world where I actually have to clarify that

    The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness


    I've been hearing SO MUCH about the Chaos Walking books over the years, so I've finally decided to try them! They look kind of eerie, which I love :)

    Noteworthy by Riley Redgate


    I love the concept behind this one! And Redgate appears to be a great writer, lending her prose the extra zing I need to enjoy any contemporary.

    The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss


    I WAS SCARED OF THIS FOR SO LONG BECAUSE OF HOW LENGTHY IT IS. But yet I want to read it?! So I'm finally officially putting it on the TBR. Wish me luck.

    I Crawl Through It by A.S. King



    Cait @ Paper Fury gave this surreal novel a scaldingly bad review, which is, of course, my cue for putting it on the TBR.

    (No shade at Cait. We just have very different reading tastes, lol.)

    The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valante


    The Girl Who Soared Above Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two was the best book I read in June, so I'm really excited for the next installment in this series!

    ---

    Let's chat! Have you read any of these books? What books are on your TBR pile? Do you like surrealist and magical realist novels? Comment below, and have a fabulous 4th of July <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

    P.S. SPEAKING OF BREXIT 1776.








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    BUT WAIT. THERE'S MORE.

    5.  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes



    In my last post on this topic, I featured Everything, Everything and The Fault in Our Stars. The story is the same with Me Before You: outcry from the chronically and terminally ill communities + bland writing + typical plot = a no-go for Ellie.

    4. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han



    Well, I don't like contemporaries and I don't like romances and I usually don't like things that scream heterosexuality (my gay ass would like to see more than one sexuality consistently represented in YA, thanks), so I'm passing on this one. I can see why people like it, and it looks fairly well-written! The concept is just totally not my thing.

    3. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard



    I admit, the Red Queen books look very well-written. However, the sheer number of tired, overused tropes thrown at me in the five pages I read sent me away for good.

    2. Divergent by Veronica Roth



    Some of you really old readers might remember that I featured this series in the second post I ever did, a list of some of the books I planned on reading in 2015. (Dear Lord, was it that long ago?) But I didn't read this series in 2015.....or 2016.....and now I'm sure I won't be reading it in 2017 or any subsequent year. The concept seems fairly interesting, but Roth's writing puts me to sleep.

    1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas



    OOOH. SJM has made it onto BOTH lists.

    As I explained last time, I find SJM's writing amateurish and boring every time I try it. Plus, none of anything she's ever written feels unique. Oh, what, you have an idea for a bunch of different "fairy courts"? Congrats! Your world is just like every Dungeons and Dragons universe ever. You have an idea for a special snowflake heroine who gets a ton of magic powers? Congrats! You're just like every  other bad fantasy author ever.

    Why ??? does ??? the hype ???? exist ????

    ---

    Hopefully, y'all don't want to kill me too much now. XD Let's chat! Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What are some popular books you haven't read? Comment below, and have an awesome day <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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    Stolen with love from Beth @ Reading Every Night because she always does the most fun tags <3

    APPLES
    Ah. Healthy food. It's deep, meaningful, and won a lot of awards but, um, isn't really your thing.



    I LOWKEY FEEL KIND OF BAD FOR SAYING THIS ONE. I loved Pi, and surrealism is one of my favorite genres. But the writing.....*screams into a pillow*

    MILK CHOCOLATE
    A book you'd recommend to absolutely EVERYONE.



    *slides dramatically into room* dID SOMEONE SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THE MOST PERFECT BOOK EVER TO BLESS MANKIND??

    Any of y'all who've hung around here for any length of time are probably sick and tired of hearing me scream about this book. BUT GUYS. It's a brilliantly humorous yet heartrending MG read. Tudor England. Apothecary's apprentice. Mystery. Murder. Magic. EXPLOSIONS. Friendships that make my heart melt. Suspense that makes me scream.

    If you like Percy Jackson or Artemis Fowl, you're sure to love The Blackthorn Key.

    *gently places the book in your hands*

    *sidles out of room*

    BLACK JELLYBEANS
    Why do these exist??



    I almost couldn't think of an answer for this one, but then I remembered that this book exists.

    CHOCOLATE KISSES
    Awww! This book has the best romance.



    THERE ARE SO MANY I COULD PICK. But in the end, I have to go with the duology that always pops first into my head when I think of adorable couples - Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, featuring the PERFECT romance of Jesper/Wylan. <3


    VERY WORTHY RUNNERS-UP ^^^

    JUMBO LOLLIPOP
    This book took forever to get through, but hey! You did it!



    1,400 pages ain't short, y'all. Despite the lengthiness of the prose, however, it's quite beautiful and thought-provoking if you properly sink your teeth into it. This was a long read but a favorite one!

    COTTON CANDY
    Admit it, you loved this when you were younger.



    You don't like Winnie-the-Pooh? Then I don't like you, Martha.

    ---

    *infomercial background music*

    BUT WAIT.

    THERE'S MORE.

    In about a week, I'll depart from Cornland, USA (also known as Iowa) to spend ten days vacationing halfway across the country (visiting the most fabulous Gwen, whose most fabulous blog y'all should definitely check out). Shortly after my Return to Cornland, I'll be off again to an anime convention for three days! I'll try to post as much as I can, but comments, posts, and my general online existence will inevitably take a dip. Therefore, I'd love to have a few guest posters! Email me here with your post idea(s) and a link to your blog (if you've got one) if you're interested. Anything pertaining to books or writing would be awesome, and other topics could be cool to feature as well :)

    ---

    Well, I think that's finally it! What book would you recommend to everyone? Which books did you love as a kid? And who are your favorite fictional couples? Comment below, and have an amazing day <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie
    SaveSave

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    The other day, I came to quite the startling conclusion.

    The majority of the books I read are YA, but the majority of the books I like are not.

    Out of my 30 all-time favorite books, only one or two are YA. Most are either Middle-Grade (ages 8-12) or adult.

    You might not consider this startling, except that I'm a teenager. YA books are written specifically for people in my age group (and I read a ton of them), but pretty much none have ever stuck with me.

    Why do I love so few YA books?

    Imagine a tightrope, if you will. MG is one platform, adult is the other, and YA is the fragile string that connects them. YA books must toe the thin line between adult and MG. Their plots must be unique and enchanting without requiring much suspension of disbelief, if any. The characters must feel like adults without being adults. The books must have adult themes (note that I mean themes that require mental maturity to process, not necessarily themes that focus heavily on sex or violence) and treat the readers like intellectual equals to the author while at the same time enchanting and exciting us with raw delight and thrill. YA books must balance the appeal of MG with the very different appeal of adult, because we, the target audience, are so precariously balanced between those two age ranges. We're constantly shifting from one to the other since this is the time in our lives when there's the most mental growth. Plus, people at the young end of this age range are often wildly different from those at the old end.

    And I think that that grey-area characteristic of YA is what makes it so easy to mess up and so hard for me to love it. When authors try to balance all this, it often feels like they're trying too hard. That strained and almost fake quality seeps through almost every YA book I've ever read, in varying degrees. (For example, it was rife in Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones but almost nonexistent (a rarity) in Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.) It's so frequent that a YA book is too childish for me in some parts, too adult in others, and trying too hard all over. 

    That being said, I know there are tons of people - from ten-year-olds to adults - who love YA! So maybe this is partially just me?

    Let's chat! What's your favorite age range? What are your thoughts on YA - the direction it's going, your favorite and least favorite things about the genre, etc? Comment below, and have an awesome day. <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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  • 07/12/17--15:13: Harry Potter Book Tag!

  • Hey, y'all! I know tags aren't everybody's favorite, but they're fun + easy for me to put together while on vacation/somewhat-hiatus. I hope you enjoy this one!

    (Btw, I get the distinct feeling that I've done this tag before? But I can't find it anywhere on the blog, and it looks really fun. So here we go: The HP Spells Tag, a (Possible) Sequel.)

    PORTUS: A BOOKISH WORLD YOU WISH YOU COULD VISIT


    Is there any other answer?

    (And yes, Martha, Middle-earth is better than Hogwarts.)

    PRIOR INCANTO: THE LAST BOOK YOU READ


    As of the time of me typing this, it's (hold onto your hats) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles III - Art and Design. This fabulous book chronicles the art and design processes behind the sets and costumes in the second hobbit movie! It's pretty expensive at full price, I think, but if you can ask for it as a gift or get it on sale, it's definitely worth the slight splurge!



    Here are a couple sample pages I found online. LOOK AT THE AWESOMENESS, FOLKS.

    ALOHAMORA: FAVORITE SERIES STARTER


    *SCREAMING*

    If you're a political junkie like me (though you're probably not), I completely recommend this political thriller. Imagine The West Wing in novel format.

    I KNOW, RIGHT?

    AGUAMENTI: A BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY


    If you didn't cry during this book, a) you're a liar, because everyone cries during this book.

    SONORUS: A BOOK YOU THINK EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT


    Everyone who has ever heard me get asked this question, ever: *groans*

    Me: *sidles up to you* MAY I INTRODUCE YOU TO THE FABULOUSNESS THAT IS THE BLACKTHORN KEY?

    Tudor England. An apothecary's apprentice and his amazing squad. Middle-grade. Magic. Mystery. Murder. Explosions. Friendships that make your heart melt. Suspense that makes you scream.

    If you like Rick Riordan or Eoin Colfer, you'll 100% love The Blackthorn Key, pinky promise.

    ACCIO: AN UPCOMING RELEASE YOU WANT IN YOUR HANDS RIGHT NOW


    Guess which series this book is a part of.


    I'M ACTUALLY SOBBING WAITING FOR THIS ONE, GUYS.

    IMPERIO: A BOOK YOU HAD TO READ FOR SCHOOL


    Goodness me! I've had to read a ton of books for school, so that's a lot to pick from. So here are two, my favorite and least favorite.

    Least favorite: The Sacred Acre by Mark Tabb. Required read for incoming sophomores. It's a horribly-written book about sports, and God, and people who love God, and prayer, and God, and God. 

    (I go to Christian school, in case you can't tell.)

    Favorite: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. Required read for advanced Freshman English. I can't speak highly enough about this incredibly hilarious and heartwarming play; it instantly became one of my all-time favorite works of literature. If you ever get the chance to see or read it, go for it!

    CRUCIO: A BOOK THAT WAS PAINFUL TO READ


    I mean. I DNFd this. (Here's why.) So yeah, I'd say it was pretty painful.

    A FEW PAINFULLY WORTHY RUNNERS-UP:


    STUPEFY: A BOOK WITH A SHOCKING TWIST OR SPOILER


    JESUS CHRIST, JORDAN.

    View spoiler by highlighting the following text: YOU MEAN YOU SPEND TWO BOOKS TELLING ME WHO THE DARK LORD IS ONLY TO HAVE EVERYONE BE LIKE "oops. that person we all thought the Dark Lord was was really just a minor henchman." WHAT.

    FINITE INCANTATUM: BEST SERIES CONCLUSION


    Read in one sitting. Blood and guts and glory and gay. Love and hate and pain and gritty, cold reality. Also a lame cover, but we ignore that part.

    AVADA KEVADRA: A BOOK THAT COULD KILL


    Well, a book that killed me was this one: the best book I read in 2016. Merrick is hauntingly sorrowful, eerily poignant, beautifully written, and has absolutely incredible characters. I honestly can't articulate enough praise for this novel.

    ANAPEO: AN AUTHOR WHOSE BOOKS ALWAYS GET YOU OUT OF A SLUMP


    Francesca Zappia, 100%! Eliza and Her Monsters and Made You Up (especially EaHM) both got me out of slumps, and I'm saving her Wattpad serial The Children of Hypnos for my next slump.

    ARRESTO MOMENTUM: A BOOK YOU DROPPED EVERYTHING TO READ



    I'm sensing a theme.

    ---

    Let's chat! What are your favorite series finales and openers? An upcoming release you need ASAP? A book that was torture to read? Comment below, and have an awesome day. <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

    P.S. I JUST WATCHED THE 2017 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST MOVIE TODAY AND hOlY cRaP-
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  • 07/14/17--07:59: Mark of the Plague
  •  




    Then the Archangel's Fire exploded.

    It boomed like a dozen cannons. Chunks of stone and shattered tile blew everywhere, scattering over the houses nearby and the streets below. Fragments smashed off the chimney behind where I lay. They ricocheted into me, ceramic needles raking my skin.

    I clawed my way back over the peak of the roof and looked at what I'd done.




    There, in the side of Tom's house, was a hole big enough to fit two men.

    I slid down what remained of the roof of the house next door and tumbled into Tom's.

    Tom knelt in the doorway to his bedroom, shivering, almost shaking. He was sweating, buckets pouring down his brow. His skin was pale, almost ashen. His eyes twitched, as if unable to focus. 

    He wobbled, his hand against the frame.




    He stuck his legs under him and tried to rise. He wobbled again, then fell, dragging me back to the floor.

    "Hello, Christopher," he said. "Did you know there's a hole in my house?"

    "Is there?" I put his arm around my shoulders. His sweat dripped onto my collar. "Let's see where it goes."

    We staggered toward the hole.

    He crinkled his nose. "This smells funny."

    "Does it?"

    "I've smelled this before. It's like..." His eyes went wide. "You didn't!"

    "I did. Sorry." And with that, I heaved him onto the roof.




    He toppled over and rolled into the cool night air. I grabbed my lantern and crawled out after him.

    "Come on now, Tom," I said. "We have to hurry."

    "Oh, hello, Christopher," he said. "Did you know there's a hole in my house?"

    Shouts rose from below. "Please, Tom," I said. "We have to go. Please. I need you to trust me."

    "That sounds dangerous."

    I couldn't argue with him there.

    ---

    Goodreads | Amazon | I'm not being paid to promote this book, but I wouldn't object if I were.

    Let's chat! Which was your favorite photo? What's a favorite recent read? And what are some of your favorite fictional moments/scenes? Comment below, and have an awesome day. <3 

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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    Hey, guys! With the recent release of Wonder Woman, there's been a ton of comic book and superhero buzz around the community. So I thought today would be the best time to do this quick and fun tag combining books with superheroes! I hope y'all enjoy <3

    SIDEKICK: BEST SUPPORTING CHARACTER

    Credit to Merwild on DeviantArt. Go check out her SoC art; it's incredible!
    OF COURSE THE FIRST QUESTION'S THE HARDEST. There are so many amazing options to choose from. But I thiiiiiink I'll have to go with Wylan van Eck of the Six of Crows duology. There wasn't a lot I liked about SoC, but Wylan was a diamond in the rough.

    A very few very worthy runners-up:

    Boyboy (City of Saints and Thieves) - Noah + Ronan (The Raven King) - Literally Every Single Character, I Kid You Not (Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis) - Toby (It Looks Like This)

    KRYPTONITE: YOUR LEAST FAVORITE TROPE

    UGH THERE ARE SO MANY HORRIBLE ONES. Maaaaaybe "damsel in distress needs big strong man to save her"? But "special snowflake heroine is the oNlY oNe!!!!! who can save the day,""brooding bad boy," and "heterosexuality" are close behind.

    COSTUME CHANGE: BEST COVER CHANGE


    The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice is the first that comes to mind. Memnoch the Devil is a close second, though.

    DAILY PLANET: YOUR DREAM FICTIONAL OCCUPATION



    I'd love to be an assassin in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series!

    JUSTICE LEAGUE: BEST SQUAD


    You say the Gangsey or Kaz's squad, and I say to think again, Martha.

    SUPER VILLAIN: BEST ANTIHERO

    Again, credit to Merwild!
    OH MY GOD. I'm such a sucker for antiheroes and read so many of them. But I guess if I HAD to pick one, I'd have to go with everyone's favorite Barrel bastard: Kaz Brekker.

    VERY WORTHY RUNNERS-UP:

    Baz (Carry On) - Bartimaeus (The Amulet of Samarkand) - Lestat de Lioncourt (The Vampire Lestat)

    THE BATCAVE: FICTIONAL CHARACTER'S HOME YOU'D LIKE TO LIVE IN





    Erebor, of course. What other answer is there?

    Spoiler: none. 

    TRAINING MONTAGE: BEST CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT



    THIS BEAN RIGHT HERE.

    ---

    Let's chat! Who are your favorite antiheroes? Supporting characters? Literary squads? What about least favorite tropes and fictional dream jobs? Comment below, and have an incredible day. <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie
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  • 07/18/17--17:12: My Immediate TBR










  • Hey, guys! I know I often share snapshots from my definite and maybe TBRs on here, but I thought I'd do something a little different today - share the books I'm most likely to read next.

    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe - This is a required read for Academic Decathlon, which is why it's going on the "immediate" list. I've actually started it, and I'm really not liking it so far - which is weird, since I usually love AcaDec reads, and this is very similar in style to the previous years'. Well, fingers crossed it will improve!

    Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys - Another required read, this one for all incoming Juniors. I'm pretty nervous to tackle this one - everyone seems to love it, but what if I don't? I can't DNF it. And it's not a book I ever would have picked up outside school. Fingers crossed again!

    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - One of America's most classic novels, this is - you guessed it - another required read, this time for AP Lang and Comp. Our teacher plans to test us to death on this one, so I'm waiting until just before school starts to dive into it. That way, I'll have everything fresh in my brain when the massacre begins.

    Sword Art Online: Progressive, Vol. 2 by Reki Kawahara - I guess this post is already outdated! I just finished SAOP2 (wow, that's quite an acronym) this morning. Although not as good as the first volume, it was still intriguing, thrilling, and fun! Hopefully, I'll be able to pick up the next two volumes before AnimeIowa. 4/5.

    The Thief by Stephanie Landsem - Like Things Fall Apart, I've started this one already. Just a few hours ago, in fact! So far, it's surprisingly gripping and well-written. I didn't expect to like it too much because it's Christian fiction, and I'm agnostic, but it's really good!

    ---

    Let's chat! Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What books have you had to read for school, and how did you like them? What's on your immediate TBR? Comment below, and have a fabulous day. <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie

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  • 07/20/17--16:26: Current TBR Pile #25

  • GUYS. I AM SO SO CLOSE TO CATCHING Y'ALL UP WITH MY TBR.

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams


    I've wanted to read this classic for a long time, but I'm somehow just now getting around to putting it on the TBR? For shame, me.

    The King's Scrolls by Jaye L. Knight


    This is.....not a book I would've thought I'd read a year ago. It's Christian fiction, and I'm quite firmly agnostic. However, I recently read and surprisingly loved the first book in this series, so I'm now eagerly hoping for the sequel! Maybe Christmas?

    Dies: A Sentence by Vanessa Place


    What it sounds like. A book-long sentence that's about death and, being surrealist, makes no sense.

    COUNT ME IN.

    Karneval Omnibus, Vol. 4 by Touya Mikanagi


    For all you woefully uneducated children who don't know what Karneval is, allow me to explain: an awesome anime and manga series about an agency of steampunk superheroes in an alternate sci-fi history. This 2-in-1 ("omnibus") volume contains installments 7 and 8 of the manga series, which pick up where the anime left off. I JUST ORDERED THIS FROM BARNES AND NOBLE AND AM SO HYPED FOR IT TO ARRIVE, GUYS.

    Complete Poems, 1904-1962 by E.E. Cummings


    Besides being one of the most accomplished poets of the 20th century, E.E. Cummings is my personal favorite poet. I've been dying to get my hands on a complete collection forever.

    The Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling by Rudyard Kipling


    Kipling's more traditional poetry style isn't something I'd typically like, but I've been reading a lot of his stuff lately and, surprisingly, enjoying it. I'd love to have a collection of his work to bookmark, highlight, and notate to my heart's content!

    ---

    Today's my last day on vacation; I'll finally be home late tomorrow night. I've had a fun time, but I'm excited to see my dog, attend AnimeIowa, and (believe it or not) start my summer homework! And, of course, I'll have more time to interact with you all :) so let's chat! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you like poetry? And what's on your current TBR pile? Comment below, and have a fabulous evening. <3

    Namarië,
    Ellie
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