Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Non-human Characters

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic highlights characters that share specific qualities. This could be literally anything under the sun: gender, race, location, beliefs, names, magical powers, etc. In no particular order, here are ten great books with non-human characters: 

What are your favorite books with non-human characters? What do you think of the books that I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gem Books

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Happy Tuesday! I’m really excited about this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme because we’re sharing our Top Ten Hidden Gem Books– who isn’t excited to talk about fantastic books that deserve more praise? There are so many amazing books out there that deserve a larger audience and that aren’t talked about or read often enough. Narrowing down this list to only ten books was not easy, but I did it! In no particular order, here are ten hidden gem books that I highly recommend:

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What are some of your favorite books that deserve more time in the spotlight? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Tags

The Joy of Christmas Book Tag

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MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!! I come to you on this wonderful day of holiday cheer and festivities with another Christmas themed book tag. Thanks so much to Michelle @ Book Adventures for tagging me in the Joy of Christmas Book Tag!

29236299-21) Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real, what book release(s) are you most anticipating?

I know it has already been released, but I’m really looking forward to reading Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Hopefully it’s as good as Illuminae, if not better!

the night circus cover2) Christmas Songs & Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing its praises?

Oh, which of my many beloved favorite books should I choose? Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how amazing The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern is because I read it a few years ago around Christmastime. Not only is it beautifully written, but it’s also a gripping, mysterious, and captivating read!

123941003) Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?

The world-building in Seraphina by Rachel Hartman is fantastic. From the politics of the kingdom of Goredd to the dragons themselves, Hartman does an excellent job acquainting the reader with her fantastical setting.

jane eyre cover4) A Christmas Carol: Favorite classic or one that you want to read

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is one of my favorite classics, but I haven’t read it in two years. Recently I’ve been feeling the itch to reread it– hopefully I’ll have time over this winter break.

135884395) Christmas Sweets: What book would you love to receive for Christmas

I have so many books sitting on my bedroom floor waiting to be read that I’d honestly be fine with getting no books for Christmas. I already received the book that I really wanted for my birthday: The Truth About Style by Stacy London.

paper towns cover6) Candles in the Window: What book gives you that warm fuzzy feeling

There are so many that I could mention, but I think I’m going to go with Paper Towns by John Green. I have such fond memories of reading it in high school and for me it carries a kind of nostalgic weight.

7) Christmas Trees & Decorations: What are some of your favorite book covers?

I’m in love with the Penguin English Library collection. They’re simple but so gorgeous!

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A stormy book for another stormy day 🌸☁️💨

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8) Christmas Joy: What are some of your favorite things about Christmas and/or some of your favorite Christmas memories?

I have so many amazing memories of childhood Christmases and holiday traditions. I love everything about this time of year: baking treats with my mom, decorating the tree, singing Christmas songs, and celebrating Christmas Eve with all of my family at my house. It’s the best time of year! ❤

YOU!! I’m not going to tag anyone specifically, but feel free to join in if you’re feeling particularly festive!

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas if you celebrate! What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? Let me know in the comments section below!

Happy Holidays!

Yours,

HOLLY

ARCs, Books

ARC Review: SHADOW SCALE

shadow scale coverAuthor: Rachel Hartman

Number of Pages: 608

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Release Date: March 10, 2015

“The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?”

– Goodreads.com

***I received this ARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

 After several long years, the eagerly awaited sequel to Seraphina has finally arrived! I loved Seraphina, so I certainly had high expectations for Shadow Scale. Although I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book, this sequel was nevertheless a worthwhile read!

Besides Rachel Hartman’s amazing writing style, my favorite aspect of this book is the meticulous attention to detail regarding everything in Seraphina’s fantasy world. Each kingdom has different languages, cultures, and customs that are explained in the story with surprising clarity and ease. I don’t know how the author was able to keep them all straight in her head! The politics of the kingdoms are also quite complicated, as are the backgrounds and personalities of the characters. It’s always apparent when an author really pours their effort into fully fleshing out a fictional world, as is the case with this novel.

Seraphina is a fantastic main character. Not only is she fascinating because of what she is- half dragon, half human!- but she is also a well-rounded, balanced female character. Often times girls are portrayed as either stone cold or soft and fragile, but Seraphina is strong, independent, and compassionate all at the same time. She isn’t afraid to show her emotional side, but she also understands when it is necessary to buckle down and be tough. She has her own interests and passions (primarily music) and although she does have a love interest, she doesn’t require his constant presence in order to function (unlike some female characters in YA fiction…). I really admire the multidimensional young woman that Rachel Hartman has created in this story, and I wish that there were more girls like her in YA fiction.

Speaking of her love interest, I also really liked how romance isn’t an enormous part of this novel. Yes, it is certainly present- and thank goodness, because Prince Lucian is such a great guy!- but it is not really emphasized until the end of the novel when everything is coming to a close. The focus is largely on the action and adventure that Seraphina experiences, which is refreshing to read about in a genre plagued by a need for romantic relationships. Along with her romantic relationship with Prince Lucian, she also highly values her friendships with Glissenda, Abdo, and Orma.

I could go on and on about all of the things I love about this sequel. Jannoula, the main antagonist, was so twisted! You almost sympathize for her because of her tragic past, but at the same time she’s so evil that you can’t really like her. She was such a dynamic, unpredictable character and she added an important element of suspense and drama to this story. Also, I really liked learning more about Seraphina’s mind garden, which reminded me a lot of Sherlock’s “mind palace” in the BBC TV series “Sherlock”. Watching it change over time was very intriguing, and it offered a unique look directly inside of the main character’s mind.

My main complaint is that the first half of this novel had a rather slow pace. Until the twists and turns started happening, it seemed like the story was dragging quite a bit. After that, though, the plot really started to quicken and thicken (yay rhyming!) and I couldn’t put the book down. Moreover, I sort of had an issue with the ending of this book, particularly with what happens in the epilogue. I won’t spoil it, but it seemed out of character for Seraphina to just settle for something that she was so passionate about. Personally, I think she should have insisted that it turn out differently, even though what actually occurred did make some logical sense. She was such a strong character, and I really wanted to see her go after what she really wanted! However, I can see why it would realistically make sense for her to sit back and let things take their course.

Overall, I really enjoyed this sequel even though it wasn’t as amazing as the first novel. I don’t know if there will be a third book in this series, but I really hope so!

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely! I would definitely suggest reading the first book, though, because I think it would be really confusing if you started with this one. This is a great book for anyone who is interested in reading an excellent YA fantasy story that is thought-provoking, action-packed, and unique!

Have you read Seraphina or Shadow Scale? What are your thoughts on either or both of them? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY