Stranger Things Book Tag

Stranger Book Tag

In celebration of the arrival of Season 2 of Stranger Things to Netflix, I decided I wanted to do a Stranger Things-themed book tag! I went out in search specifically for an existing tag with this name and my favorite was found here, but she did not link to the tag’s creator so I’m not sure from where it originally came. If you know, let me know in the comments and I will happily link to the original post.

Feel free to do this tag if you’d like and take the banner I created! I’m not tagging anyone specific as it’s a bit of an old tag, but if you do it feel free to link back to this post and let me know in the comments so I can go read yours ^_^

#1 The Vanishing of Will Beyers

The first book in a series that left you intrigued and slightly confused.

The-Queen-of-the-Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen | I loved this book and have read it twice, but I still remember the initial confusion about the setting of this novel. There’s a map but throughout the novel are hints that this story is set in some sort of distant future in which Harry Potter and modern medicine were lost…Oh, and there’s magic. Sounds crazy right?! It’s all explained in the second book, though.

#2 The Upside Down

A book with a setting you’d never want to live in.

White-Cat-220x330

White Cat by Holly Black | I’m not even finished reading this book yet, but I already know I would not want to live in this world! They live in an alternative universe where mob-like families seem rule the world and gloves are a social requirement so that people know they haven’t been “worked” on, in other words been affected by the powers of others. Yikes!

#3 Eleven

A book you own that is somewhat damaged but loved to pieces.

tokillamocking

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee | I probably got this book in 8th or 9th grade when it was required reading for English class. I would’ve never known it would become one of the oldest books in my collection and one I still cherish and count as one that has shaped the kind of person I aim to be. The pages have somewhat yellowed and the cover is a little worn but I’ll probably keep it as long as I can.

#4 Mike, Lucas, and Dustin

A trilogy you always go to when you need a pick me up.

illuminaefiles

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff | I really had to think about the series I wanted to choose for this category as most of my trilogies are fantasies with high stakes and not books I pick up to lift my mood or spirits, more so for excitement. But The Illuminae Files books are filled with a lot of laughs and good humor despite the space monsters and overall peril. If I didn’t have a never-ending TBR I would probably pick these books up more often. As it is, I will have to wait until NEXT YEAR for the final installment which is hopefully a fun and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.

#5 The Demogorgan

A book with a terrifying beast you wouldn’t want to meet in an alley.

uprooted

Uprooted by Naomi Novik | Maybe it’s because I just read this book, but I feel like the antagonist is super scary because of how unpredictable it must be for the general public and how hateful it is toward humanity. The Wood has the power to create horrifying monsters of unsuspecting humans and wizards, and also has really creepy creatures of its own that I know I wouldn’t stand a chance against.

#6 Dr. Brenner

A book series with a villain who is both manipulative and dedicated.

Grisha-trilogy-1024x521

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo | I feel like so many villains are manipulative and dedicated but also really nuanced these days. But I do think that the Darkling of The Grisha Trilogy really takes the cake. He’s so dedicated to his cause and that of the oppressed Grisha, it’s hard not to sympathize with him. He’s also so manipulative that he gets caught up in it himself when trying to turn Alina to his side.

#7 Nancy Wheeler

A book you didn’t expect to love.

wewerel

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | I recently reread this book this past summer and I still have a really soft spot for it. It still makes me cry super hard, even now that I read it knowing what’s going to happen. It was such a random purchase for me at the time that I bought it (since I’m not a big fan of contemporary YA) that I think this book is definitely one that has caught me off guard to become one that I love.

#8 Hawkins, Indiana

A book with a setting that is just a little bit strange.

vassa

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter | The setting of this book is actually A LOT bit strange. It’s set in Brooklyn, which is strange enough to me because I’ve never been to New York, but it’s also really strange in that a chain of convenience stores called BY’s spins in the air and is surrounded by the spiked heads of shoplifters, many of whom we can deduce might have been set up by the evil hands wandering the store. It’s also pretty strange how the magic operating the stores also keep the locals, including law enforcement, from ever thinking to try and obtain justice.

End Note

I hope you enjoyed this book tag! It was a lot of fun thinking of good books I’d like to share for each category. Before I go, I also wanted to let you know what’s coming up on Betwined Reads. I’ve got three new posts planned for the last three days of October, all related to NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what that is…Google it. Or you can wait until tomorrow for my first post explaining my plans for the event and some potentially useful tidbits for success this November! ^_^

Who else is ecstatic for the return of Stranger Things?!

loripaint

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

Advertisements

Uprooted by Naomi Novik | Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

Released: May 19, 2015
Pages: 435 pages (paperback)
Theme(s): Magic, human nature, friendship, tolls of war, value of life
Genre(s): YA / Fantasy / Fairytale
Age Group: 14+

★★½

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But when the dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

My Thoughts

Uprooted is a standalone, fantasy novel that has been on my radar for a long time. I love fairytales of all sorts so this book’s summary seemed right up my alley, especially I was in the mood for what I thought might be a little light-hearted romance. That it is not; but nevertheless  I enjoyed it tremendously. It was beautifully told and the story really resonated with me, probably because of how unflinchingly honest it was about human nature and relationships.

I didn’t fall in love with this book all at once. It took me a little while to really get into the story, especially as the protagonist Agnieszka at first felt like a Mary Sue. But we soon find what makes her special and her follies are given somewhat of an explanation and, thus, turn into her personal strengths.

I really enjoyed how the story was told. The novel is written entirely from the perspective of Agnieszka, as if she’s telling this story to us directly, with hints of something like foreshadowing which is never too heavy handed but is a subtle reminder of no matter how dark things become that she’s made it out. My only critique in terms of style is that at times the story seemed to drag and force you to put aside your questions to be stumbling around in the moment with Agnieszka.

Why You Should Read It

  1. Strong Female Friendship. Agnieszka’s main driving force throughout the novel is protecting her best friend Kasia. Much of their lives are defined by the knowledge that either of them might be whisked away by the Dragon, although everyone believes it will be Kasia who everyone sees as special. After Agnieszka is chosen, we get to see the aftermath and how they grow closer after the Wood tries to tear them apart.
  2. A Beautiful Mad World. If you’re someone who loves vivid and fantastic world-building and imagery, then I think you will enjoy this book. As I was reading I felt I could see the world unfolding in my mind’s eye like a cinematic experience. The world is essentially a character in the story, magnificent and terrifying. It reminds me of nothing else I’ve read in recent years. Or ever.
  3. Horror & Suspense. Although it is at times a slow-burner, this is the most suspenseful novel I’ve read in a long time. There are moments where I felt like I was reading a psychological thriller. The antagonist is the Wood, which is ever creeping up upon the villages and has the power to corrupt people’s minds and bodies. The country is low on wizards so it is near impossible to tell if someone has been corrupted until they have snapped and are causing pain and suffering in their neighbors and loved ones.

My biggest criticism of the book after having now read the whole thing is that it feels a bit disjointed. I was terrified of the antagonistic force throughout the entire novel, which caused a lot of suspense. But finding out the “why” of it all didn’t do much to satisfy me, maybe because of how out of nowhere it came after the rest of the novel with no real hints. I also felt there was a lack of justice that was just devastating because of how much pain and sorrow the Wood had caused.

I do like where how the novel ends with Agnieszka and the Dragon, as it feels very believable and realistic. But also hopeful.

Have you read Uprooted? What did you think?

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

Tower of Dawn | Spoiler Talk

[WARNING: Do not read if you haven’t read Queen of Shadows (QoS)Empire of Storms (EoS) or are planning to read Tower of Dawn (ToD).]

After I finished reading ToD last month, I realized that I personally would have been fine having skipped that book and just spoiling myself in preparation for the final installment of the Throne of Glass series. Although, I think it is skippable, I do not know how important Chaol, Nesryn, or any of the new characters will be in the final book, which is why I attempted to pull out the most important tidbits from ToD and share them in this post.

There a few reasons why I don’t think ToD was worth the time or money that I will detail below before I jump into the spoilers.

  1. Before jumping into this book, I already despised Chaol and was indifferent to Nesryn, and nothing about this book changed my opinions on them. If you like these characters, you might find this book a worth while read and in which case I recommend not continuing to read this post!
  2. This book was just too damned long. It took forever for me to read because there was just so little happening in the first part especially. Most of the time with SJM books, I have found the pay off in the end worth continuing on. But in this book, I’m not sure any of the revelations justify the time wasted trying to finish the book, unless you’re a die-hard Chaol fan.
  3. Finally, I don’t think that this book illustrates how far SJM has come as a author. I’ve read almost every book she’s written at this point (I still see no reason to pick up The Assassin’s Blade). I know this is an unpopular opinion but Throne of Glass was horrible. It was so derivative of other popular YA novels and Celaena was one of the worst Mary Sue’s I’ve ever seen disguised as an assassin. But I’ve kept reading. And since Heir of Fire and A Court of Mist and Fury, I’ve had complete faith in her ability to churn out great rollercoaster books.

That being said, I have no doubt that ToD was just filler book. She’s been publishing two books per year and this year it caught up with her and she had to publish something this fall. I don’t fault her for it and I don’t fully regret reading this book. I just feel like writing this post will make have made the experience worth it.

Quick Recap

I’m not going to summarize the entire book; that would take forever. I just want to set up the novel before I jump into the spoilers I think will be important to know/remember to ready for the final book.

towerofdawn

Set during the events of EoS, ToD opens with Chaol & Nesryn having reached the Southern Continent at Antica where they travelled to in order to find someone who could heal Chaol after his accident at the end of QoS which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Antica is known the world around for their healers, second only, perhaps, to the Fae healers of Wendlyn.

They were also charged to act as diplomats and convince the khagan to join Adarlan and Terrasen in their war against Duke Perrington (aka Erawan)’s forces in Morath. Unfortunately for them, the khagan recently suffered the death of one of his children and the family is in mourning that renders any war negotiation inappropriate. Therefore, Chaol & Nesryn must cosy up to his remaining children who are nearly all vying to become the heir to the khaganate.

Now that we’re all caught up, I’ll proceed with all the spoilers you’ll find necessary if you plan to read the seventh and final book in the Throne of Glass series, which still does currently not have a title and is tentatively slated for a Fall 2018 release.

Spoilers

#1 Chaol and Nesryn, who are friends with benefits at the beginning of the novel, find new lovers.

Chaol falls in love with his healer, Yrene, who is the unofficial heir to the position of Healer on High. She is eager to leave Antica in order to help her homeland of Fenharrow in the war. She also hates Chaol as the former Captain of the Guard to the Adarlan king who slaughtered and enslaved her people. So naturally she falls in love with him while he’s all broody about his disability and his wavering loyalty to Nesryn.

Nesryn, meanwhile, grows close to Prince Sartaq who commands their country’s army of ruk riders. The ruk is an enormous eagle-like bird that just might stand a chance against the witch’s wyverns. In ToD Nesryn joins Sartaq as he investigates who is abducting ruk eggs. In a moment of fear that he might die, he reveals he loves her and the book ends with Sartaq as the presumed heir to the khaganate, even after he’s revealed his feelings for Nesryn.

#2 Magical healers may hold the key to saving people whose bodies have been invested by the Valg.

Yrene discovers by healing the dark magic that lingered in Chaol’s back preventing him from being able to walk how her own healing power may be used to combat people who have been completely taken over. Her suspicion is tested and proven at the climax ToD when they discover a Valg has been impersonating khagan’s pregnant daughter Duva.

Yrene and Chaol also suspect that Maeve and Valg are aware of the strength of this power, which explains why the Valg hunt Yrene throughout the novel as she tries to learn the root of the dark magic lingering in Chaol and why Maeve has kept the Fae healers (and secret source of the healing power in the Southern Continent) so close to her.

#3 Aelin’s evil Fae aunt Maeve is not really her aunt but a freakin’ Valg princess.

That’s right. Maeve is a Valg princess who is the reason the Valg princes turned their sights on this world. She ran away from them and they came looking for her, which is the cause of the first great war. And because of her powers, she was able to trick the most powerful Fae in this world Mab & Mora that she was their sister.

This all is revealed by a chatty stygian spider while she holds Nesryn and Sartaq prisoner. These spiders, which (according to the Throne of Glass wikia) were introduced in Heir of Fire, are revealed to be Valg handmaidens to Maeve, guarding the portal to the other world from which they came. (If you remembered these spider things, props to you! I certainly did not. I laughed out loud when they were introduced at a pretty serious moment.)

End Note

If you’ve read this book yourself and think I have neglected to note any important spoilers feel free to let me know & I might add them to my list along with a link to your blog in thanks! Also feel free to let me know if I got anything wrong or if  you think that ToD was worth reading. Although I wouldn’t have minded skipping this one, I still rated it three stars on Goodreads because it was enjoyable at times. But I do also wish I had used my time to read books I know will be so much better.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

October ’17 TBR + Goals

I was hesitant to make this post, especially considering how busy I’ve been and how I’d like to use as much as possible of my time working on writing this month. Nevertheless, October is my favorite month, and there are a bunch of books that I think would be perfect reads for this time of year!

For this month’s TBR I have a list of books from which I will most likely pull my reads, but I by no means hope to attempt to read all of them! That would be madness, and highly unadvisable if I want to get anything else done this month. I’m hoping to read at least three

 

[In no particular order]

  1. It by Stephen King
  2. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales & Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
  3. White Cat by Holly Black
  4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  5. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
  6. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Goals

#1 Prioritize the blog each week. Last month I let the blog slide as I got busier with work and wanted to spend more time reading to finally catch up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge, which I did manage to finally do after months of being behind!

#2 Get my grad school application materials organized. Last month I decided I definitely still wanted to return to grad school for my doctorate. I want to be prepared well in advance of my deadlines so that I’m not in a panic when everything’s due (likely around December). This will entail asking for my letters of recommendation, tidying up writing samples, and likely writing some personal statements.

#3 Be ready to kick NaNoWriMo 2017’s butt. It’s been three years since I won, and I want this year to end my losing streak!

End Note

I’m hoping to have a writing-related post up this week on Wednesday. I Skyped with my writing buddy last night and her excitement for her story revived my own so I’d like to start dedicated more time to it after work. Fortunately my next full day off work is Wednesday so I’m hoping to get a lot done then, including some blog posts. So hopefully I will see you then with my next post!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

A Book Haul of eBooks and Fairytales

A few weeks ago after I learned my free time would be severely limited as result of my new job, I decided to treat myself to some new books. As I was browsing for the books I would purchase, I realized one of the books of an author I was looking into was free in its Kindle edition for Amazon Prime members, so I downloaded some others I found that interested me as well.

In general, I’m fairly restrained when it comes to buying books, so I rarely get the chance to do a haul. Therefore, I decided to seize the day do one today (at long last)!

This book haul comes at a time when I’m kicking my writing into full gear, which is why I want to get my hands on everything that looks like it might inspire my own novel. Therefore, you’ll find that many of these books are in the genre(s) in which I want to write: fantasy.

Amazon Prime Free eBooks

 

Heist Society by Ally Carter. This book is the reason I began searching for what other eBooks were conveniently available for free download on Amazon Prime. I saw an interview where Leigh Bardugo recommended Carter’s work for anyone interested in heist books like Six of Crows. I’m skeptical (based on its cringe-y cover), but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised!

The Spy with No Name by Jeff Maysh. This book and author I’ve never heard of, but I like a good mystery and the intrigue of spies. Not sure when I’ll read this book, though, as there are so many amazing books I want to read right now. This one smells to me like one buffer book when I need something random to fill my time when I don’t feel like jumping into something super thought provoking.

Air Awakens by Elise Kova. The is the first book in a series I’ve seen talked about a lot in the book blogging community! I’ve intentionally kept myself in the dark as to what this book is about, but I’m happy to have the opportunity to finally see if this book, and series, is for me.

Fallout (Lois Lane) by Gwenda Bond. This book I’ve already DNF-ed. I didn’t have the highest of expectations for this book, but I did have an open mind as I’ve been eagerly anticipating Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman. This book very quickly lost me. I compared it to fan fiction on Goodreads, but honestly that’s unfair to fan fiction as I’ve read far better written fan-written stories with realistic, nuanced characters.

Thieving Forest by Martha Conway. This book, like most of the others on this list, is one that I know next to nothing about. I haven’t even reread the summary to remind myself why I decided to download it. I just saw the medal on it and decided to trust that distinction. Like The Spy with No Name, this is one I’ll probably save for when I’m between books and don’t know quite what I’m in the mood for.

Fairytale-Inspired Books

 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This is a book that has been on my radar for a long-time and the main reason I’ve put it off is I’m not a fan of the U.S. edition cover and the price of the hardback was too high for me. I was able to order it at a reasonable price in paperback and I feel like this book is coming to me at the perfect time as I just feel like this book will inspire my own writing.

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter. This book was recommended by Leigh Bardugo in an interview I watched on YouTube in which she was asked what she recommended (redundant…leaving it anyway). I loved the summary so I decided to put it on my wishlist for a time like this when I wanted to treat myself.

What’s Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi. Because I’ve just been reading Mr. Fox, I’ve been reminded what a beautiful writer Oyeyemi is and I decided to finally spring for this anthology. I had put it off for the same reasons that I put off Uprooted for so long, but I’m excited to finally be able to read these short stories and, hopefully, have her magic rub off on me!

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. This book is not technically out yet, but it is a vanity purchase I made earlier this month. Many of the stories in this anthology are already available for free online, but I wanted to be able to put the pretty book to put on my shelves. I love Leigh Bardugo’s books and she is on my short list of authors whose books I will instantly purchase, which brings me to the final book in my haul…

&

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo! Ok, so this is not technically a fairytale, but the argument could be made that it is a similar kind of genre! Not that I’m a genre expert… I am not a big fan of Wonder Woman, as I did not grow up with any of her shows and have never been too impressed by “strong women” dressed in leotards. I’m not really a DC Comics fan either (based on my experience with their lame movies), but a lot of feminists I respect LOVE the character of Wonder Woman and I’m hoping this book will make me love her too! ^_^

End Note

I hope you enjoyed this post! I am not in the habit of doing a lot of book hauls, as I rarely buy/acquire enough books to warrant one. Another book that didn’t make this list because I won’t have it for a few more days is Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas, her latest Throne of Glass installment. It comes out early next month, so I’m excited even though it’s centered on Chaol, a character I’ve never really liked.

Today I’ve been working on my blog in between chores. You can expect to see a few more posts later this week as we head into September. Until then, let me know if you’ve read any of these books in the comments down below.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

 

A Very Fantastical Book Birthday to…

Hiya!

Welcome back to the blog! I’m still busy at work on my end-of-the-semester projects, but I wanted to make sure to wish Sarah J. Maas and her latest book a happy book birthday! Today, May 2, 2017, the third installment in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series debuts. I was so excited to learn last week that Amazon would ship me this book on its release date, meaning I could get reading straight away!

However, I am hoping to hold out until this semester is officially over until I start reading this tome, primarily because it would prevent me from being productive. But also because it would mean I wouldn’t have a chance to reread A Court of Mist and Fury (#2) which I’d really like to do before I read this one.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Released: May 2, 2017
Pages:
696 pages (hardcover)
Genre(s):
New adult / Romance / Fantasy / Fairytale Retelling
Age Group:
 14+ (Likely to be graphic)

Summary

Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

End Note

It’s very likely this will be one of the first books I read this month. I’m hoping to have the patience so I can indeed reread the ACOMAF first. Later this week, I plan to work on my May ’17 TBR so stay tuned for that. My summer begins in about two weeks and I’m so pumped to read more and have the free time to write and blog as well.

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram.