Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Winter - Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles has come to an end with Winter.

Winter is a lovely princess, the step-daughter of Queen Levena. She is admired by all the Lunar people, and despite the three scars on her face, it is said she's more beautiful than the Queen. And unlike to Queen, she does not need to use her glamour to make it appear she's beautiful. She just is. But not using her glamour, means her mind plays tricks on her.

Winter despises her stepmother. She doesn't like the way Levena treats the people of Luna. She doesn't like the way Levena treats her. She knows Levena would never approve of her feelings for Jacin, the palace guard.

But now, it's time for Winter to stand up to her stepmother. She joins Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress and Thorne in their effort to launch a revolution and de-throne Levena.

Meyer does a great job of building up to the war. She also answers questions we have had since book one. We learn more about the disease, Letumosis, and how the shells were treated. We see Cinder's reactions and thoughts about what to do if she wins and becomes Queen Selene. We learn more about the class system in Lunar, the Nobles vs the Shells.

The Lunar Chronicles was one that I loved at first, but then started to loose some interest. But I'm glad I stuck with it, and finished the series. It was great. Even the play on Snow White in this one.

Blood Kiss - J.R. Ward

I'm a huge JR Ward fan, so spending the week before Christmas, curled up with her latest book, was great!

Blood Kiss is the beginning of a new series, a spin-off to her very popular Black Dagger Brotherhood. We meet new characters, as well as check in with some favourite Brothers. 

Here is the story of Paradise, the blooded daughter of the king's First Advisor. As a member of the elite glymera, she's expected to marry into the elite, have children, have servants, and live a very boring and restrictive life. But she wants more. She applies, and gets accepted into the Black Dagger Brotherhood's training program, where she not only learns to fight, but learns how tough she really is!

Craeg is the opposite of Paradise. He is poor.  He wants to train with the Brotherhood, and eventually, take revenge on those he feels caused his father's death; the glymera.

The story of Paradise and Craeg was great. But what made this book even better was the return of Butch and Marissa. We haven't heard much of them recently, so it was great to see them again.

Marissa must deal with the death of a badly beaten Jane Doe that shows up to her clinic. Not wanting to burden Butch with everything, she keeps it inside. Butch meanwhile, must deal with the ghosts from his own past. Together, they must try to find their way back to one another.

It was nice to get back to the Brotherhood, and meet new characters too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fairest - Marissa Meyer

I am a huge Cinderella fan. I have a collection of different Cinderella books. So years ago, when Cinder came out, I gobbled it. But as the series continued, I felt it lost a little something. But I still wanted to see it through, so I continued on.

Fairest is a novella, the story of Queen Levana, and fits in between book 3, Cress and book 4, Winter. And it fits nicely.

Queen Levana is not a nice queen. Since we're talking fairy tales, think of the Evil Queen and Maleficent, rolled into one. And that would be Queen Levana.

Fairest is her story. I almost expected to like her. Often, when a novella comes out, with the "other side" of the story, there's something almost humane about this character, and although you still do not like them, you soften a little towards them.

Not here! I love how Meyer keeps true to the Levana from her previous books. There are times you want to feel bad for her, you may also start to pity her, but Meyer reminds you, that she is evil. Pure and simple.

Having not been as eager towards the series as I had previously been, Fairest was fantastic. It's gotten me excited again. I am looking forward to seeing how this story ends.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Compounders - Julie Trettel

The Compounders is the debut of Julie Trettel. It's book 1 in a new dystopia series. And it covers alot!!!

The United States of America is going through some turmoil and Mike Jenkins wants to protect his family. He builds an amazing bunker and moves several families in. Here they live, not knowing what's happened to their country, in safety.

After several years of living in isolation, the Elders decide to open the bunker doors. They are allowed outside, but limited time. Holly Jenkins is thrilled to have her freedom and solitude. She sneaks up a mountain to her "special" place to enjoy some quiet time to reflect on the things going on in her life.

And here, she meets Griffon. He tells her about his village and what has happened. The United States of America no longer exists. There is martial law. Food is limited. There is no religion or books. It is worse than Holly's father could have ever imagined.

I was given the book, in exchange for an honest Amazon and Goodreads review (I'll post them shortly). I loved the story. I'm a dystopia fan, and this is probably one of the more realistic ones I've read. I also enjoyed how Holly grew, not just age-wise, but she matured and found herself.

But here's what I struggled with. Holly. I know she's growing and changing and learning what's important and finding her way (and that sentence has too many ands). Holly struggles with her feelings for Milo, her best friends brother and the pastor's son. The Elders would like to see them as a couple. Holly has feelings for him, but she's not sure he's the one. Then she meets Griffon. He makes her feel like no one else. But while she spends her Sundays-Wednesdays with Milo, she secretly makes her way to the cave on Thursdays-Saturdays to be with Griffon.

Then all hell breaks loose and Griffon is shot. She brings him and his family into the bunker for protection. She finds her strength and decides she needs to help the small town. And here she becomes close with Griffon's friend, Jared. And now she's confused about her feelings for him. Yes, she's a teenager. Yes, she flips flops in and out of love, but just when you start loving the story-line, you get sucked into this. Sorry.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Writer's Workshop - Quote

1. Share a quote you love.

This week, I chose MamaKat's first prompt, sharing a quote I love. I'll be honest, it took me awhile to think of one. Not because I couldn't think of one, but because there are many I love. They range from cute As you wish (Princess Bride) to funny Do you think God gets stoned? I think so....look at the platypus (Robin Williams). Being a teacher and Canadian, Justin Trudeau has a great one too; I am a teacher. It's how I define myself. A good teacher isn't someone who gives the answers out to their kids but is understanding of needs and challenges and gives tools to help other people succeed. 

But in the end, I chose this one from Maya Angelou. I mean, doesn't it really sum things up?

I've been thinking a lot about my dad recently. This quote really sums him up. Everyone who met him will tell you what a great man he was. They may not recall what he said, exactly, and while many will remember things he did, what made him great was how he made you feel.

Ethan commented once about a friend. He referred to the child as a "frennemie". When I asked him to explain, he couldn't really tell me what this child said or did, but it was how the other child sometimes made him feel.

This summer, Ethan and I spent the day with one of my childhood friends and her partner. We had a great time. Ethan excitedly told his dad about our great day. But again, it wasn't a thing she said or a specific thing she did that made Ethan love our day. It was how she made him feel.  In fact, he's already asking if we'll see her again next summer!

I think Maya Angelou was an amazing woman. And this one quote is one I think everyone should remember.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Kiss Kill Love Him Still - Jamie Blair & Dawn Rae Miller

I'm a huge Dawn Rae Miller fan. Her books have never let me down, so when I heard she co-wrote a new book, well, I just had to get it.

On Goodreads, Dawn Rae Miller has said, "If you like Pretty Little Liars, John Tucker Must Die and/or Gossip Girl, you'll enjoy Kiss Kill Love Him Still". Well, while I've never seen PLL and don't really recall John Tucker, I did enjoy GG, so of course this would be for me!

Kiss Kill Love Him Still is an easy read. And I can so see it as a TV show. The characters are lovable, yet not likable. They are horrible people, yet they are not. They have bad attitudes yet are funny. They are probably the most shallow characters you'll meet. And since you know this, there's no surprise! You just enjoy the story.

Jackson Landis is found dead. At first, it's unsure if it's accidental, suicidal, drug-related or homicide.

Reggie is distraught. She was his drug dealer. He exchanged sex for drugs, but the thing is, she fell for him. She was also with him the night he died, but he got a text and kicked her out.

Haddie is an overweight, frumpy student who works at the library. In exchange for sex, Haddie wrote Jackson his term papers. Oh, and she too fell in love with him. But if her father ever found out that her purity ring was just for show, she'd loose her trust fund. Hopefully Jackson took this secret to his grave.

Livie is Jackson's girlfriend. Only she's ignorant of his extra-curricular activities. Her activities include shoplifting, which Jackson has videos of. She can only hope to find them before someone else does and she's arrested for grand larceny.

Val is the girlfriend of Jackson's roommate. But she's also in love with Livie. And Jackson knew this, so he was blackmailing her.

Each girl has their reason to love him, yet want him dead. Which one did it? Or did any of them?

Kiss Kill Love Him Still is told in the point of view of each girl. We see their love, hate and fear. And we learn that Jackson had a lot of secrets. And while he was good at keeping secrets, he also shared small bits, as protection. So whoever killed him, must have wanted their secret dead along with him!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Dear Mum

Hi mum,

I know today is a hard day for everyone, but especially hard for you. It's been a year since dad left us. You were at his side. You were so sad, and I remember you saying how you and dad had a deal, that you would leave first.

But mom, despite how hard this year has been, I have to say how proud I am of you.

Rasool and I have different memories of our mother. When I was in primary school, you worked full time. I remember you coming to my school when I got into trouble. I remember taking the bus downtown to meet you. We'd go for a late lunch, then go home. I remember how the bottom of your desk drawer was filled with shoes!

When Rasool was in primary school, you stayed home. And this was great for us. But it means he remembers you differently than I.

When dad passed away, I worried about you. I still do, but you have amazed me. The strong mother I remember is here. I was scared that you would not be able to handle his passing. And while it has been hard, you have remained strong. Over the course of this year you have:

*  Faced many obstacles, and you have never given up.

* Stood up to me when I told you what I thought.

* Shown more forgiveness than I could ever imagine possessing.

You continue to teach Ethan. You continue to show Hailey your love.

You are an amazingly strong woman.

I'm so proud to call you my mom.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Writer's Workshop - Roman Bucket List

Create a December Bucket List

Can you believe it's already December? Where has the year gone? This month is full of exciting things. Christmas break, Christmas in Rome, end of semester projects. Best of all, we're heading to Rome for Christmas, so of course I need to create a Roman Bucket List!

1. Take a tour of the Vatican

2. Climb the Spanish Steps

3. Christmas market
I'm told there are many great markets to visit! All the sites I've seen say the one at Piazza Navona is a must! 

4. Christmas Day Walking Tour
Seeing how it's just the three of us in Rome, and we don't know anyone, we've booked ourselves a Christmas Day Walking Tour 

5. Ice Skating at Sant'Angel
Doesn't this look wonderful?
6.  Santa Maria Maggiore Christmas Crib
Apparently there are many nativity scenes to be seen. But this one is carved in marble. Gotta see it in person!

7. Menorah in Piazza Barberini
There's apparently a large Jewish community in Rome. I did not know that. And I need to see for myself how large this truly is!

8. Check out the Colosseum
I mean, can you really go to Rome and miss this?

9. Gelato
When in Rome, eat gelato! 

10. Dinner with this fabulous lady
And her family!!!

Courtney and her family will be in Rome on the 26th. So the Nisbets' and Williams' are getting together for dinner!!! Am soooo looking forward to seeing this lovely lady again. 

Blood Vengeance - Tessa Dawn

The Blood Curse series is definitely one of my least known favourites. It's got everything any vampire fan would want. Vampires, bad-asses, fights, and, in most cases HEA.

Blood Vengeance does not disappoint. This is Ramsey Olaru's story. He's the big, brutal Sentinel who fights with a pitchfork Trident! He learns that Tiffany Matthews, the queen's bestie, is his destiny. Tiffany is no stranger to the world of vampires, and is not thrilled with the idea of being someone, yet along some beast's, destiny.

There are many series out there, that you get to book seven, and there are no more surprises. While you still love the characters and storylines, part of you thinks I could write this. Not here. Tessa Dawn has thrown in all kinds of surprises, you never expected.

In Blood Vengeance we learn a little more about the history of the House of Jadon and how they survived the initial curse. We see a softer, humorous side to Ramsey. We see the tight bond of friendship, between not just Brooke and Tiffany, but the men brothers of the House of Jadon. Now, no destiny can occur without it's struggles, but the obstacle here is one you would not expect. One you never knew could happen. The Dark Ones will do anything, anything to get ride of the Light Ones. But, will they win this time?