Monday, June 30, 2014

Wonderland by Tommy Kovac Illustrated by Sonny Liew

Standalone. Disney Press (2008) Library
Among the numerous curiosities that have gone unexplained in the classic tale Alice in Wonderland, perhaps the most perplexing might be who, exactly, is the "Maryann" that the White Rabbit mistakes Alice for at the beginning of the story? Lewis Carroll first made us ponder this and, years later, Walt Disney again made viewers wonder who Maryann might be in his classic feature length film based on Carroll's book. 
In their beautifully executed comic book series Wonderland, readers experience Alice's fantastic world as they've never seen it before. Writer Tommy Kovac's Wonderland is missing Alice herself, but it's still populated by the other characters that make the world such a curiously exciting place. The Queen of Hearts is present, barking orders to lop off people's heads, as is the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and the rest of Wonderland's beloved cast. And there are some new faces, too, including the book's main protagonist, the mysterious Maryann herself. All are beautifully illustrated by Wonderland's artist, Sonny Liew.

I've never read the original story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland so I never knew that she was once mistaken for a girl named Mary Ann. For those who love the original tale and those who are curious about how its story is retold in a different perspective you might like Wonderland.

Mary Ann happens to be the maid for the White Rabbit. She has a duster that talks and complains about being overused. Mary Ann loves to clean so it's only natural that she cleans everything around her no matter how long it takes. She ends up being late in meeting the White Rabbit who tells her all about Alice and how he thought it was her who was wandering around Wonderland. Apparently this Alice has been giving the people of Wonderland a tough
 time namely the Queen of Hearts.

Poor Mary Ann feels down about people not recognizing her. She loves what she does but is sad that no one knows who she is. In Wonderland she carves out a path for herself meeting new people and getting into new, unusual situations just like Alice. Alice in the meantime is around but her name is in passing. I liked this new retelling of Alice's Adventures in in Wonderland from a different perspective. I especially loved the illustrations. It's what made this book amazing. It showed the goofy and wacky side of Mary Ann and Wonderland (although Wonderland is already on the wacky side). Through the illustrations and writing I was able to get to know and like Mary Ann and her obsessive ways to clean everything. 

This might seem like of course it would happen but I didn't really see an cohesion with the story. It didn't feel like it was going anywhere at times. It just seemed like events and obstacles were just added on without any set direction. Thinking back on this book it actually makes sense because after all nothing in Wonderland is exactly normal or perfect. I don't know about that though with this book. I did enjoy reading the story. I especially enjoyed all the art. I think I stared more at the art than anything. Mary Ann also is quite the unexpected heroine. I like how she makes her mark and stays the same while others perception of her change.

Mini Review: Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman

Astronaut Academy #1. First Second (June 2011) Library
Hakata Soy's past life as the leader of a futuristic super team won't stay in the past!
The former space hero is doing his best to keep his head down at Astronaut Academy. Things aren't going so great, though. The most popular girl in school has it in for him. His best friend won't return his calls. And his new roommate is a complete jock who only cares about Fireball.
Hakata just wants to make a fresh start. But how will he find time to study Anti-Gravity Gymnastics and Tactical Randomness when he's got a robot doppelganger on its way to kill him?


In hindsight I wish I would have looked up this book more to make sure It was the right book for me. I thought a school up in space would have been a fun read but for me it was a complete miss. I didn't like how every couple of pages a different POV would show up. There were a lot of characters but even when the story went back to one specific character I was annoyed. It was too jumpy and quick to change. The story didn't stay on one person's situation for a long period of time. It just wore me down so that I couldn't enjoy how they all connected together. 

The dialogue also made no sense to me. Well it made sense but it was so clear cut. I am so and so and this is happening to me. It didn't flow right or get me excited about what was happening. I know Zero Gravity is geared toward a younger crowd but I read children's books all the time and love them. Why couldn't I love this one too? I guess Zero Gravity just wasn't for me.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

Kat, Incorrigible #1. Atheneum Books (April 2011) Library
Nineteenth century England is not the place to be practicing magic.
In this prim and proper world, twelve-year-old Katherine Ann Stephenson is at a loss: Her sisters, Elissa and Angeline, have recently entered Society and now gossip incessantly in whispers; her foolish brother, Charles, has gambled the family deep into debt; and Stepmama wants nothing to do with them at all. What can Kat do but take matters into her own hands?
Luckily Kat has inherited her mother's magical talents and has the courage to use them -- if she can only learn how. But with her sister Elissa's intended 
fiancĂ©, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat's magical potential; her sister Angeline creating romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, even Kat's reckless heroism will be tested to the utmost. Will her powers be enough to win her sisters their true loves?

I couldn't have asked for a better book to read if I had my own magical abilities to summon one to me. Kat, Incorrigible is absolutely adorable with a spunky heroine that will do anything for her sisters even if they don't want her help. The setting takes place during the times of Jane Austin and the Bronte Sisters where girls of a certain age had dowries and were married off to the highest bidder. In a world that puts restrictions on its girls Kat is determined to break the rules to save her sisters love lives. Not only does their happiness hang in the balance but possibly their very lives. 

Elissa, Kat's eldest sister is slated to be married to Sir Neville whose rumors about him are that of the neglect and murder of his first wife. Elissa is the typical girl of that age who does everything in a proper way and simply cannot abide by her sister's use of witchcraft - of course they do it anyways and hide it from her so they can avoid the endless lecture they would be sure to receive. Elissa is deemed to be acting like a Gothic heroine by her sisters by sacrificing her happiness for the good of their family after their brother Charlie's gambling got them deep into debt. Elissa's so dramatic, she's hilarious! - Especially when her two sisters are calling her out on her actions to save the family over her own happiness. I found myself giggling at her dramatic and foolish ways and the arguments that ensued between the three sisters. The sisters are always arguing but there is a great sense of loyalty and a bond that makes their arguments heart-warming. They really care about each other and it shows.

Angeline is the second eldest sister. She has a dry, sarcastic humor that made me love her character from the start. She's the most like Kat in that she says it like it is and has a very, very mischievous side to her. Angeline is very close with Elissa which leaves Kat feeling left out sometimes; the reason being that they are of course closer to the same age and they knew their mother. Kat discovers that Angeline has taken her mother's magical books to find herself her true love. Angeline ends up getting herself in a ridiculous situation which again left me laughing and turning the pages. Angeline is by no means a proper lady like her sister but she does want to find love and a way to get her sister out of her mess. It was sweet to think she was using a magic that is clearly frowned upon by everyone especially their Stepmother,  to save her sister. Again, the bond the Stephenson sisters have was a wonderful thing to read about.

Now Kat is a rebel. I like my heroines when they are as spunky as Kat. She has a mind of her own and does what she can to help her sisters out. She discovers that she has her own magical abilities herself but they might not only be from her mother being a witch... Kat's very powerful and that is noticed by a couple of people including the evil Sir Neville and a magical Order that her mother used to be a part of. The Order wants to tutor her but the way they run; Kat is not so sure she can trust them. I like that Kat generally depends on herself to help herself. She's very independent and a worthy heroine for girls to look up too. 

I know it's a clichĂ© but Kat, Incorrigible was magical. It has a rebellious heroine, a great sister bond, and magic! Burgis truly crafted a story that is by all accounts is amazing. I loved this book so much I'm getting the two other one's from the library right away. If any of what this book has to offer interests you READ THIS BOOK.

2014 Summer Reading Program Update #4

Books read from 6/21/14 - 6/28/14:


Book #1
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Pages: 361
Thoughts: So good! Way better than I expected. I loved that the romance for me was slow and unexpected. This series is going to be good I can tell.

Book #2
Life is But a Dream by Brian James
Pages: 234
Thoughts: I've been waiting so long to read this that I'm so happy it didn't disappoint. it was another great read and I just am so happy how it ended. Just wonderful.

Book #3
Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman
Pages: 187
Thoughts: This graphic novel is of course not geared towards me but the dialogue and many changes of POV makes it so that I don't think I would have liked it even if I was the "right age".

Book #4
Bee Summers by Melanie Dugan
Pages: 191
Thoughts: A somber read but makes me think of what is really important in life.

Book #5 
The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson
Pages: 126
Thoughts: This is how you make a graphic novel geared towards a younger audience. It's also a dystopian so it kind of had me before I even started.

Book #6
The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter
Pages: 282
Thoughts: The most interesting ending ever. A really great story with awesome characters.

Overall: I've read fourteen books toward my goal of forty. I've really done well this week to get back on track. I've read a couple of graphic novels (finally) for my yearly graphic novel challenge. It's been a really great week.

Note: This post was supposed to be published yesterday.

My tbr books for 6/28/14 - 7/5/14:

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson

Standalone. Graphic Universe (April 2012) Library
My parents are gone, so I'm responsible for my little brother Todd. I have to make sure we stay alive. Many kids are sick or starving, and fierce gangs are stealing and destroying everything they find. Lots of people have given up, but here on Grand Avenue, some of us are surviving, because of me.

I figured out how to give the kids on Grand Avenue food, homes, and protection against the gangs. But Tom Logan and his army are determined to take away what we've built and rule the streets themselves. How long can we keep fighting them off? We need to find another place for us to live safely.

A strong place, a secret place.

In a world like this, someone has to take charge. 

The Girl Who Owned a City is set in a future where all kids aged twelve and under are the only ones immune to a disease that wiped out the adult population. It mirrors other post-apocalyptic books in that it shows how people will do anything to survive by either doing it the right way - creating a stable society that helps each other out - or the wrong way - creating factions of gangs and thugs that steal from the weak. In this instance, the only survivors are kids. They must find a way to coexist and survive or they'll end up wiping each other out.

I needed some edge to my recent graphic novel (GN) reads. Recently I read a GN book geared towards a younger audience which fell flat. I needed something exciting and a story that I knew I would enjoy right away. I love post-apocalyptic/dystopian reads so I was hooked before I even flipped a page. 

Lisa is just trying to get by with her younger brother Todd. Food is scarce but she's been smart by finding food in all the right places. She soon finds that with her strategy and the knowledge that the other kids have in her block they can all survive against the gangs stealing their resources. It turns into an all out battle against the opposing gangs once Lisa figures out a way to maintain a successful society in her community. I love that it's Lisa's ability to strategize and think of solutions that makes her a great leader. In the back flap of the book it says why O.T. Nelson wanted to write the book: because he wanted kids "to realize that they are important and that they have the ability to think and make a difference." I thought that idea came across clearly throughout this book. Although this is a gruesome setting to be in I can see the theme portrayed in the book being welcomed by readers for generations.

The artwork in this book was amazingly well done. It's what made me want to pick up this book in the first place. That cover screams bad ass protagonist which is a type of character I will always want to read about. The Girl Who Owned a City's message was told really nicely in such a short amount of time. Add that with the awesome illustrations and this was a great graphic novel read.

The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter

Standalone. Feiwel & Friends (Sept. 2010) Library
Life in a small town can be pretty boring when everyone avoids you like the plague. But after their father unwittingly sends them to stay with an aunt who’s away on holiday, the Hardscrabble children take off on an adventure that begins in the seedy streets of London and ends in a peculiar sea village where legend has it a monstrous creature lives who is half boy and half animal. . . .                                                                                        
In this wickedly dark, unusual, and compelling novel, Ellen Potter masterfully tells the tale of one deliciously strange family and a secret that changes everything.


Well that was an interesting ending... I've never been given such an unforeseen ending to a story like I have with this book. It left me so speechless that I have to conclude that Ellen Potter is a genius.

Adventures work in peculiar ways, Lucia now thought. You wished and wished for one, then suddenly, without even knowing how, you were in one. It was just as exhilarating as you imagined it would be from the novels. Until something happened, like a nighttime ride in a funeral carriage and the murder of a little white pony. Then you forgot all about the novels, and instead remembered the news stories about unfortunate kids who ended up decapitated in the woods.

The Hardscrabble children live in a small town where they are met with scrutiny every day. It has a lot to do with the mysterious disappearance of their mother years before and it also has to do with the fact that the Hardscrabble children are unlike any other siblings you've ever met. Otto is the oldest, instead of speaking he uses hand signals that only his siblings have been able to decipher. He wears a scarf around his neck and never takes it off. No one dares try to take the challenge to do it themselves. You see there is a rumor going around that Otto is a deranged killer and he himself strangled his mother with that very scarf. Otto likes things that are abnormal or weird. He's an animal lover too. He has this quiet demeanor he comes off very gentle and sweet in the book. He can be sulky and moody sometimes and he has his reasons and on him it's kind of adorable. He has the added bonus of looking rather strange and acting strange which makes him into a very interesting and notable character. 

Lucia (pronounced Lu -CHEE-a) is very close with Otto and believes that without her, he couldn't make it... whatever that means. She's a bit stuck up but not in an overly annoying way. She's very protective of her family which comes out more than her haughty attitude. The youngest is Max who may be considered a know-it-all by Lucia but he really does know it all. He has an extensive knowledge about everything. His optimistic attitude in the beginning of the story led me to believe he would be very shy but he ended up being almost the complete opposite. Max sometimes goes into a trance where he thinks thoughtfully and deeply about something. He's very good at figuring things out but tends to be more rational than his other siblings. Him and Lucia squabble a lot because of their clashing personalities. They both become closer with one another which was nice to experience. All of the Hardscrabble children's personalities are very distinctive. Their personalities are what shined in this story. Their story and personalities felt so real as I was reading The Kneebone Boy. They really came alive.

Their story takes them to meet their great aunt Haddie who's a bit of an oddball herself. They didn't know about her until Otto came across a letter by her written to their father. Their father's name is Casper and he paints portraits for down and out royalty. He occasionally will go away and send them to Mrs. Carnival's (who has to be the rudest babysitter ever and most of the children's motivation to not tell their father where they really are) house but this time he sent them somewhere else. Over a series of events they wind up at their aunt Haddie's. The Hardscrabble children start meddling into the local legend of the Kneebone Boy and the secrets that lie within their family. They discover astonishing things about both the legend and their family that left me speechless. Potter crafts this story and its characters so well. I love that the narrator was one of the children, the uniqueness of Otto, Lucia, and Max, as well as how it all turned out. It's just a really unexpected and amazing story. This is one of the best storytelling and writing I've seen in a while so I'd recommend checking it out yourself.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blog Tour: Bee Summers by Melanie Dugan

Standalone. UpStart Press (May 2014) TLC Book Tours
The spring Melissa (Lissy) Singer is eleven years old her mother walks out of the house and never returns. That summer Lissy's father, a migratory beekeeper, takes her along with him on his travels. The trip and the people she meets change her life. Over the years that follow, Melissa tries to unlock the mystery of her mother’s disappearance and struggles to come to terms with her loss. 


Before reading Bee Summers I had the impression it was going to be like The Secret Life of Bees. The premise never alluded to it being the same but I couldn't help see the similarities with Lissy and her bees. What I got instead was a story that expanded a whole lifetime of questions, pain, sadness, and a quiet resolution that will resonate within the hearts of readers. 

I assumed too much about this book. I assumed it was going to be like another and I assumed it was going to be about one child's summer after her mother leaves. It was so much more than that. One day Lissy wakes up to the quiet of the morning and an uneasiness settles onto her. Her mother is nowhere to be found. Bee Summers chronicles her first summer with her beekeeper father waiting for her mother to come home as well as how her mother's disappearance affects her life later on. You see Lissy trying to cope with her mother's sudden absence. She knows her mother's gone but her father refuses to let on why. She grows concerned that her mother has cancer and throughout her life makes up stories as to why she isn't around. Her father tries to protect her from the truth. He silently deals with his wife's absence while taking care of his daughter. You can tell he really cares for his daughter and wants only to protect her from her mother's mistakes. 

Lissy deals with a lot of teasing and the loss of her best friend after that first summer. She retreats into books and eventually into writing. She has her eccentric Aunt Hetty to lean on, a writer to believe in her, an apple farmer to remind her of her origins, and Opal a sweet woman who provides her with motherly support. Each person roles evolves throughout the book. Some in a negative way and the others fade away from her life. It was sad to see Lissy grow up without her mother and have to endure her town's scrutiny. It was 1966 I believe so I guess I understand the gossip especially since it's a small town. But, she mentioned that she had a few friends in passing in her younger years. It really frustrated me to think that people regarded her pain with taunts and giggles rather than with support. As you read about her growing up and becoming a writer there is still the sense of that lost girl looking for her mother. She keeps holding on to this little girl and her mother that left her. It's a really somber book although I love how the story ended. Her views about herself, her father, and her mother transformed before my eyes. Realization hit her and it was extremely satisfying to see her leave that lost little girl behind. Bee Summers was an unexpected but welcoming read. It really made me think of how we need to let go of the past to move forward and be happy. Also, how we are such stubborn beings but if we continue that way we will miss out on something great.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for letting me read and review Bee Summers!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

2014 Summer Reading Program Update #3

Books read from 6/7/14 - 6/14/14:

Book #1
Splintered by A.G. Howard
Pages: 371
Thoughts: Not what I expected. I enjoyed going into a dark version of Wonderland.

Book #2
Wonderland by Tommy Kovac
Pages: 160
Thoughts: Nice to read right after Splintered. Loved the illustrations in this graphic novel.

Overall: I've read eight books towards by goal of forty. I didn't get to read Poison Study or much of any other books. Finals have arrived so after this week I hope to be reading more.

My tbr books for 6/14/14 - 6/21/14:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me #1. HarperCollins (Nov. 2011) Own
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Let me first say that Shatter Me was one of those books I was hesitant to read for the longest time. It sounded kind of interesting. I mean a girl who has the power to kill you with her touch? That's pretty cool. But, I just didn't think I was going to like it... I don't know why. I guess for one I didn't get the obsession people had with the book covers which are on most blogs I've visited. Also, the plot didn't make the book sound like I needed to drop everything and read it right away. It just sounded alright. Why do those words make me cringe? Because I do this to myself all the time. I see this popular book and think "Nah, I'll read it if I have the time." Years later I fall in love with its story and its characters and I'm hitting myself over the head for waiting so long to read this amazingly wonderful read. Shatter Me was so engaging, so romantic, so everything! The only plus side to my blunder was that I got to read the series all in one go. That I do not regret.

I've already read the whole series. I promise not to spoil the story for anyone reading this. Just keep in mind that I loved this series and I might not be able to explain in a coherent way how much I truly love it.

Juliette has been ostracized her entire life. She constantly goes from school to school and is seen as a threat in each one. Her parents blame her for everything that is wrong in their life. Her existence is not wanted. Juliette was finally given up three years ago to the authorities after a tragic death caused by Juliette. She tried to tell people it was an accident but of course no one believes she is anything except a monster. Juliette can't forgive herself for what's she done. She is a shell of a girl when we meet her. She's been living in an asylum for 264 days where she sits and looks at the world outside and hopes and wishes for escape. Then someone new walks into her life. A handsome boy who looks so familiar... She soon discovers herself in the position of being forced to be a weapon for The Reestablishment, an organization that was supposed to save people from lack of food and water. Instead, The Reestablishment brought on terror to its people and a government that seeks to annihilate anyone who stands in their way. 

What caught my attention at first was the writing. That might sound silly because with a book it's all about the writing. However, Mafi's writing throughout the story is very distinctive. It made me connect with Juliette right away. It made me see inside her head. A head filled with pain and words. She has this poetic sort of way of thinking which makes sense since with everyone hating her and all she used books to escape. She captures her thoughts in a journal that she isn't supposed to have with words that might never be known by anyone else but her. Sometimes Juliette says things in an overly dramatic way. Although, for the most part the writings flow makes it so that you realize she's just saying something in the moment and it doesn't matter in the long scheme of things. I wouldn't call Juliette dramatic at all though. She's only had a couple of thoughts that were worded strangely. Mostly, I saw Juliette as someone given a tough break in life. She's also someone who really cares about being good. There's a time where the book details examples of what she's done for other people without any recognition. It was really sad to read how she was written off by everyone including those she was nice too. I couldn't help feel for her. She didn't deserve what she got handed in life. It reminded me how people who get a bad wrap are never given a chance. Some people are worth that chance like Juliette was.

Different cultures, languages, everything is seen as a threat to the Reestablishment. Our differences are why the world is the way it is. The environment is going haywire. There are hardly any animals around. Birds haven't been seen in years. People are dying by the thousands. All this is brought on by people not taking care of the Earth. This story is a little bit scary if you think about it because it's a possibility in the future - a far off future but the future nonetheless if people don't wake up to the world around them including me. This book had a subtle way of showing what can lie in our destiny.

Adam is the mysterious boy that looks a little too familiar to Juliette. You don't really know where his allegiances lie even towards the end of the book. He becomes this silent protector and friend for Juliette. It's heartbreakingly sweet how he treats her sometimes because Juliette has never had anyone who cared to look at her other than something inhuman or wrong. Here's this guy who shows up out of the blue who accepts her for who she is. I questioned his motives throughout the whole book though. The way in which Juliette reacted to things made me think maybe he's not who he says he is. She really kept me on my toes on who to trust with Adam and crazy boy Warner. Warner is this boy bent for power. He's literally obsessed with Juliette. OBSESSED. He's kind of daunting. He does show Juliette his soft side at times but he's kind of unhinged so I was worried about what he would do the whole time. 

So I know how this story goes but even the second time reading Shatter Me in such a short span of time made me so happy. Especially since I know how it all goes down. I cannot stress enough how much I love Juliette as a character. She really grew in this book and has plans to do more growing in upcoming books. Shatter Me and Juliette really took me by surprise. The writing is so good and the protagonist made me really care for her. It's such a good book and only gets better from here. By the way if you've only read Shatter Me do yourself a favor and read Destroy Me next. You will not regret it. And you won't regret reading this series!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

2014 Summer Reading Program Update #2

Books read from 5/10/14 - 6/7/14:

Book #1
The Dirt Diary by Anna Staniszewski
Pages: 246
Thoughts: Very sweet story. A lot of growth in the main character.

Book #2
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean
Pages: 208
Thoughts: Such a wonderful story. It was very quirky and emotional.

Book #3
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Pages: 434
Thoughts: Great epic fantasy and start to a new series.

Overall: I've read six books towards my goal of forty. I'm behind but plan to catch up in the next two weeks.

My tbr books for 6/7/14 - 6/14/14:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Blog Tour: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling #1. Harper (July 2014) TLC Tours
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.
Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.
But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

A hidden princess, an evil sorceress, and a kingdom in turmoil. The Queen of the Tearling presents the basic qualities of a fantasy world but through a new perspective. That is through the eyes of 19 year old Kelsea. Kelsea has been hidden away her whole life learning all about the kingdom she must one day rule. The time comes that she has to face her destiny so she makes the journey with her mother's former guards to her new kingdom. Along the way she discovers that the kingdom her mother left her with isn't what she expected. She learns of the mass killings, rape, and slavery that's been going on while she was growing up in seclusion. It's up to her to take back her kingdom and create a peaceful land for her people. However, before peace comes the inevitable battle between good and evil. The evil coming in the form of The Red Queen, a sorceress from another land that will do anything to keep the world just as chaotic as the day she came into rule.

The Queen of the Tearling is the type of book that makes you hunker down and read it in one sitting. It's over 400 pages but the story is so well conceived and interesting that it makes the time go by easily. The first thing I should mention about this book is that unlike it's been promoted you should not go into it thinking it's going to be like The Hunger Games or The Game of Thrones. I think that misconception has lead some people to be disappointed in this book which is too bad because it's a great read. I was really surprised by how much I liked the plot and the magic that came with it.

Kelsea is described as a plain girl who loves to read. She's intelligent and cares for her people. She's the only one with power that actually does something about the state that her land is in. Before she comes into rule there is a treaty in place between her kingdom and Mortmesne. Each month she has to ship off a number of people to Mortmesne so that they don't invade. Those people are used for slave labor, gifts to nobles, and for sex. Everyone is terrified by The Red Queen's wrath but Kelsea decides it's time to take a stand. The way in which her people are living is not right and she intends to do something about it. I really like Kelsea's conviction to help her people. The events of this first book follow her on her journey to being crown queen and her first actions as queen. Although war hasn't started you can see it looming in the air and she's doing all she can to be ready for it.

Kelsea has a couple of companions to help her rule. Mainly she has Lazarus or the Mace,  a fearsome warrior that everyone is afraid of. I love the Mace. He always has Kelsea's back and even when he's knocked down a peg he's still a very loyal friend. Another kind of anonymous companion is the Fetch, a very mysterious thief that wants the restoration of Tearling as much as Kelsea does. There is no romance in this book but the Fetch seems like the likely answer for the next couple of books. He's stolen thousands from the royalty and is as feared by everyone as the Mace is. He's not a noble thief but he seems to at least care that people are being treated like animals so he's okay in my book. 

There are a lot of negative reviews for this book. I don't know what I missed - I really enjoyed reading this story and can't wait to see how it progresses. It is a long book but it's worth reading. Kelsea does comment that the men around her are handsome but I find nothing wrong with that. She's a girl who likes guys. I don't see the problem. There is one thing that bothers me. She is seen as plain with a little more weight on her than I guess is acceptable. She comments on her looks a little much. I can understand why she would but you've got millions of people to govern so I wish she would get over it. I wish she would be more confident in who she was. I do like she's considered "plain" though. Every other instance she'd be this gorgeous beauty that all the men would fall over. There's a lot more important stuff going on and her leadership is what matter the most.

Overall I loved diving into this fantasy world. The magic of the Tearling Sapphire provides great originality and such a fun and cool aspect to this story. I'm really excited to see where Johansen will take Kelsea on her battle for her land's freedom from tyranny.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

May 2014 Wrap Up

My favorite place in the world to be is at the beach. I love the sun and salty ocean air. It just makes me feel alive. I am so excited to start going to the beach and having long lazy days out in the sun hanging out with my friends. I still have three weeks left of school which has taken considerable amount of my time already but I have reviews coming up that hopefully make up for my absence this May. 

This May I read 4 books and 1 picture book.

Books and picture books I've read:

Such a small display of books I've read in May but I've enjoyed all the books on here. Torn Away was my favorite. I ended up reading only 3 books for the Clean Sweep ARC Challenge.

Bear with me but I'm thinking of changing my blog design. All the white is getting to me.

I want to try to be more active this month. Summer always renews my energy so I'm hoping it does so for my blogging activity. I hate that I missed so many great posts so I'll try to catch up on my favorite blogs to follow. Hope you all have a great month full of reading and relaxation!