Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

           A Court of Thrones and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thrones and Roses #1
Release Date: May 5, 2015 
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's 
Source: Library 
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!
So this book. As I'm sitting here trying to write this review, I feel this sadness coming over me. Sadness, because unfortunalty, unlike the rest of the world, I didn't LOVELOVELOVELOVE A Court of Thorns and Roses. Frankly, I was bored through most of the book and the only reason I finished it was this childish "maybe it'll get better" mentality. Spoiler: it didn't. While the world and Feyre were my favorite part of this book, I wasn't a fan of the romance, the plot was disappointing for various reasons, and the pacing was SLOOOOOOW even though I loved the main character (and Lucien!) and the world was utterly fantastic!

So lets get into the review with a positive spin! Feyre was kickass and I loved her. She's strong willed and does whatever she can to help her family. She has to use her brain and all the skills she's acquired throughout the years to help her survive and I LOVED that about her. The aspects of this book that brought in East of the Sun and West of the Moon were some of my favorites and I actually enjoyed it a lot! I did guess the answer to a certain riddle as soon as I read it because the answer was so obvious but other wise, I enjoyed reading about how Feyre would save herself and the man she loved. I should at this time also mention Lucien, a young (well, he's not young actually. He's really rather old!) Fae who you'll meet early on in the book and he is by far one of the best aspects of this book! He was prickly and hilarious and loyal to boot and I loved him. I can't wait for more!

The world was my absolute favorite aspect of this novel and I can't rave about it enough. First, the book has a MAP which we know is always a wonderful thing but besides the map, so much of this world is almost perfection. From the beautiful landscapes I could picture in my head, to the sad and at times scary history, Sarah J. Maas's abilities to create a vivid world that I'd fall in love with was a true delight. Fair warning, a lot of the history of this world is told at paragraph lengths but told as it's told in a story like format, I actually enjoyed it a lot. For the first time, I think I didn't mind info dumps.

Now, this is sort of a Beauty and the Beast/East of the Sun and West of the Moon retelling so I was excited for the Beauty and the Beast because hello, it's my favorite fairy tale because of the hate to love romance. I was honestly hoping that Tamlin and Feyre's love story would be a hate to love story but sadly...it wasn't. Honestly, I didn't like the romance between Feyre and Tamlin because it was...bland. There wasn't enough arguing and sparks were not flying and I wasn't shipping them together. Also, lets not forget Stockholm syndrome because everyone always talks about it in B&B and I felt like it wasn't any different here! Reysand, when he enters the picture, was actually far more engaging and lively but I'm not happy with the love triangle ish vibe I'm getting from this. BUT even if I didn't like it, it wasn't a bad romance at all. Frankly, the romance just wasn't for me and as many, many people have loved it, I'm clearly the black sheep of the blogsphere (as always). This is however, a New Adult novel, and as such, there is steamy, sexy scenes in this book that lots of people loved. Since I found the romance lack luster, I wasn't as interested in the sexy times either.

Honestly, y'all, plenty of people have loved this book and I can understand why but it just wasn't for me. Sarah J. Maas's writing, however, has improved quite a bit and the world cerated in this book was phenomenal. It love when an author can transport me to their world and show me how everything comes together. The biggest thing I'm wondering is what the next book is going to be about. My thought? I kinda want Rhysand to get together with Feyre's older sister (I don't remember her name at all) because 1) no love triangle and 2) I think she needs some love!

It’s an okay book. I don’t dislike it but I'll probably not re-read this book. I would recommend it to some people but it won't be the first book to pop into my mind.
Couldn't understand the hype. 
 
I actually LOVE this cover! It's beautiful and I LOVE the red and when you have the cover in your hand, you can actually see the details in the outfit.
ACOTAR was in a word, boring. I ended up wanting more from the romance/the world/the plot. A good start to a new series but not the best.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Glimpse of India: Introduction

Still working on this graphic! 
Hello everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful day! Today I want to introduce a new feature on my blog! I've been debating about doing this for a while and now that I really feel up to it, I'm excited to get started in sharing these posts with you guys! 

Where did the inspiration come from?

Well, for those of you who don't know, even though I'm an American citizen, I was born in India. I moved to this wonderful country at the age of six and it was a very crazy time. I remember the first thought of seeing Atlanta out of the airplane's window were the soaring skyscrapers. I'd been in large cities in India but there was something so different about America. I mean, it was America. Before we left, we had to spend about a year getting our passports and Visa's (which is an incredibly long and arduous process might I add), I was so excited to go to this new place. My dad had moved to the U.S. in 2000 so I'd heard plenty of stories. So after I moved, it quickly became apparent that we weren't leaving. My dad applied for a Green card and when my dad said no to a job offer in India after about five year, our Green cards came and there was no going back. 

Why did I want to start this?

While I was extremely excited about this, I knew that it wasn't going to be easy to adapt to an American lifestyle. Coming from two vastly different cultures was hard and I still don't have it down. The more years that passed and the more ignorance I came across, I decided that I wanted to speak up more. I wanted to talk and educate more people about my culture, my first country, and so much more. 

With so much talk about diversity in books and entertainment and in blogging, I wanted to throw my hat into the game. There are so many misconceptions about India and the culture and the people that I thought "why not create a feature all about India?" I am Indian born but an American citizen and I love both countries dearly. With so much in the world already about the U.S. I thought I'd share more about my homeland, the country where I was born and even with its faults, I will always love. These posts are as much for me as they are for you. I want people to see India as more than just a developing country with dirty streets where cows roam free. India's a beautiful, vast country of different people from all walks of life. All of the major world religions can be found here and India has one of the richest histories of all the countries of the world.

So there you have it! Now, I don't know when I'll be posting new installments but there will be a lot of them. The next installment is going to tell you more about me so that everyone knows what kinds of preconceptions/POV my other posts will have! I have posts about family, religions, entertainment, and so much more!

I hope you're as excited for this new endeavor as I am. It's a very personal project and I'm okay if you're not interested in it...just don't tell me ;) 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Missing: Menstrual Cycle's In Books

*THIS POST WAS WRITTEN AT 2 AM. I TRIED TO BE AS COHERENT AS POSSIBLE BUT I MIGHT HAVE FAILED. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.*
Some of you are probably cringing or shaking your head or something from the title of this post but it's a topic I've been thinking for a long time about writing so now I'm talking about it. So, there. 

*ahem*

On a regular basis, for one week a month, this is what happens to me: 
It's starts like this:
When PMSing (premenstrual syndrome usually kicks in 1-2 weeks before your period): 
 "Oh, here it comes. I can do this! I GOT THIS!"
And then BAM all of a sudden I'm all: 
"WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY"
Or 
"I AM ANGRY STAY AWAY IF YOU WANT TO LIVE"
And then we're back to: 
"PLEASE MAKE IT STOP PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE"
But also: 
"WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF" 
What everyone should do during this time: 
AND THEN A FEW DAYS LATER 
"I SURVIVED I LIVED I AM OKAY YESSSSS" 
Only to realize that I have to do this again NEXT month  

What is this catastrophe I'm describing? The menstrual cycle (or more commonly know as "period")! And you're probably wondering WHY I'm talking about this here on a mainly book blog but my friends, there is a reason for this post. I've been noticing for a while that books don't mention their female leads or characters having their periods and this baffles me! Most women get their periods (unless they're on birth control, exercise heavily on a regular basis, and a lot of other reasons--so no, I'm not trying to exclude anyone from this topic) go through a wide range of emotions during this time. The gifs above are mainly for me and my emotions but others might be able to relate. But something we've all got in common? We all get our periods! 

So why don't the women of fiction go through the same? I can understand if people don't mention it for whatever reason, but really? Why don't people talk about this topic or have their characters experience such a natural things? Periods, believe it or not, play a large part in the lives of females. Having pain killers and sanitary products on hand was always a concern of mine. I've even passed out from the extreme pain so I have to be super careful. 

Women have to worry about their cycles so that they can make sure they don't have unwanted pregnancies or plan to get pregnant. I worry about the pain and how it's going to hinder my ability to do certain tasks and I hate that more fictional women don't go through the same process. Even if they're on birth control, it still affects them to some degree. For me, it hinders my ability to concentrate or do anything but snuggle up in bed with a hot beverage and Netflix. The pain is really bad for me and pain killers don't really do all that much. Some women on birth control can have their cycles be controlled (hence the name) but that's not a route I want to take (for personal reasons I won't be discussing here). 

Honestly, I want the stigmas surrounding periods to end in all genres of books. If you're writing a contemporary or fantasy or something else, your female character(s) will should have a period (unless they won't for some person so that's different--and it's not like EVERY girl in books will have a reason to NOT get her period). But I'm going to talk about 3 stigmas surrounding periods that come to mind that could be why it's not talked about more: 

Stigma 1: Ew....this is a gross topic! No one wants to talk about it 

Maybe I'm wrong--I totally could be--but I've never seen anyone talk about periods and the lack of before in the book blogging. I once read a blog post about a prominent YouTube beauty guru who verbally (writtenly?) reiterated how "gross" or "uncomfortable" it was to talk about periods and sanitary products and such things surrounding this topic. Even now, talking about periods in front of men or younger people isn't a "good" thing. It's deemed inappropriate and people shy away from talking about it. 

Even though this affects millions and millions of females around the world, no one wants to talk about it because it's a "gross" topic. Talking about periods illicits negative stereotypes (one of which I will talk about below) or brings about discussions about other topics that people don't want to discuss. It's all just disheartening and I wish it wasn't. 

Having a menstrual cycle is a very normal thing that can be a part of a females life from age 10 to their late 40s so why is it deemed dirty or gross? Why do people cringe or shudder when the word "period" or "menstrual cycle" is brought up or when a woman isn't in a good mood. And speaking of moods, things brings me to my next stigma: 

Stigma 2: Women who get angry, upset, sad, etc. are b****** on their periods

If you're unhappy, you're on your period. If you're mad, you're on your period. Sad? Period. If you'e any other emotion bedsides happy, people assume you're on your period. Because women on periods are always, always b******! And this, my friends, is a stigma I hate. I loathe it. Abhor it. Get the picture? (HA you probably think I'm on my period now because I'm so snarky.)

Anyways, this stigma silences women who want to talk about this freely and that's not okay. Furthermore, it also shames women when they're going through something natural and makes them sound as if they're some disease no one wants to catch. Society wants women to always be the happy-go-lucky, don't-have-any-thought-opinions-feelings-that-might-make-you-feel-otherwise person that being on their period is the default. Some women I know have to fight hard to not have any change of emotions when their hormones are all over the place that they exhaust themselves from trying so hard. And why do they try so hard? Because for some women, having thoughts or opinions that call out issues or go against the norm can lead to lots of hate and instills fear in them. 

This idea that women on their periods should be shamed or hated or are hurtful or think differently is sad, demeaning, and dangerous. It's never okay to call out a women's feelings of anger, sadness, etc. as a product of being on her period. Yes, some women's emotions can be everywhere but that doesn't make them any less of a person. So lets end this stigma shall we?

**All of the gifs are used to describe MY emotions. I am in no way, shape or form attempting to reinforce this stigma!**

Stigma 3: Wait? Women's health is important? Why? 

Unless you live deep, deep, deep under a rock , you know all of the policing that happens in women's health. Old, white men try to determine what women can and can't do with their bodies all of the time and pass legislation that is more harmful than helpful. And I believe that this is one of the reasons people don't talk about periods (or write about them): women's health isn't given as much importance as it should be. Why should women be given sanitary products at affordable prices? Why should they decide what happens to their bodies? Why should they decide anything about their bodies? Why why why why why?

The answer is simply: half of this world has to deal with these problems. Half of this world needs sanitary products and the ability to reclaim their bodies as theirs. While this stigma can talk about many, many (it's sad just how many issues there are too) issues, I want to focus on periods. For example, in many part of the world, periods are deemed to be disgusting and shameful things that should be hidden from the world. In some countries, women are forbidden to go outside when on their periods and this is extremely sad. If their emotions are too volatile, abuse can be used against them to silence it. 

As another example, one closer to home, after Hurricane Katrina there was not an organization for women's health and the one organization that attempted to help women would only give a few sanitary products for an entire week. Yep, read that again if you don't believe me. Rosianna Halse Rojas made an excellent video that tackled taxing tampons (mostly about the UK but good none the less) and the inequality that comes with helping women. Women's health is important to talk about and when we begin to discuss it more, this can remove the stigma surrounding periods. 

In the end, I think it's important for fictional women in books to have periods. I wish more books talked about how having a period can affect that girl's life. For example, Kristin Cashore's FIRE is an excellent example of this! Fire is shown to be having her period and how this effects her and the world around her. So I don't spoil anything, that's all I will say but I remember reading and loving the fact that Fire had to go through having her period.

Adult books, on occasion, can be good at discussing their periods but it's not as prevalent as I'd like it to be. While I am always (ALWAYS) up for more diversity in books, I think it's also fair to ask for realistic things as well. Periods happen whether you like it or not so why don't more authors write about it? Why don't girls in high school forget a pad and have to ask their friend? Or are in so much pain that they can't save the world? It's so frustrating and annoying and ridiculous that something like this is basically non-exisent from books (and media and entertainment but those are topics for another day!)

What do you all think? Do you agree or disagree or have some other thought? Have I not read enough books to make this assumption? Do you know any books that mention periods? Lemme know please! 

Gifs: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 6 | 7 | 8 |

Friday, July 3, 2015

Movie Review: Jurassic World

Release Date: June 12, 2015 
Director: Colin Trevorrow 
Cast: 
Chris Pratt as Owen 
Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire 
Ty Simpkins as Gray
Nick Robinson as Zach 

Review

Honestly, I wasn't going to watch this movie in theaters. While I loved Jurassic Park and liked the next two sequels well enough, I wasn't as interested in seeing Jurassic World in theaters. Seeing it on DVD would have sufficed because Hollywood, in my opinion, is just making sequels left and right because they've got no new ideas BUT my younger brother wanted to see this movie and my parents didn't want him to go alone. So, I bought the popcorn (we all know that movie theater popcorn is the best EVER) and the drinks and sat down to be sorely disappointed. And now I'm here today to tell you guys that I actually enjoyed the movie!

I read in some review of the movie that this movie was the closet to an actual sequel Jurassic Park has actually had and after seeing Jurassic Park yesterday, I have to agree. The one thing that review (I'll see if I can find it) and I agreed on completely was that the best part of this entire movie was the actual park itself. In JP, John Hammond's dream was to see the park and in JW, that dream was achieved. The amazing arial views, the attractions, and the CGI were absolutely amazing in showing how Hammond's dream would look in reality. Frankly, I LOVED the world and yes, I realize that it's not realistic in any way, I couldn't help but want to go to Jurassic World. Obviously without the killer dinosaur on the loose but still.

But I found some things to be problematic. First of all, JW wasn't a science fiction movie at all. While it dabbled in science and paleontology, it only touched the surface and I honestly wanted more science. But I could have put that aside--the Indominus rex is a newly minted dinosaur--to enjoy this movie but as a die hard fan of Jurassic Park, I couldn't help but want more science.

Second, the idea that to keep people coming back to Jurassic World the people would need to unveil new attraction to the park and in this case, a new dinosaur, was ridiculous. This is a park with dinosaurs. You think people won't keep coming back? I think the money hungry, corporate sponsorship chasers of this movie made me apathetic to what happens to the people.

And I should talk about the people because in all honestly, I kinda liked them. Ty Simpkins as Gray and Nick Robinson as Zach were excellent at portraying their characters: Simpkins as the younger sibling that loves the dinosaurs and wants to explore everything and Robinson as the older, "I'm too cool to be here so I'm just going to stare at all the teenage girls here because I'm a teenage boy and that's what we do." Simpkins was my favorite character along with Chris Pratt's Owen while Robinson's character annoyed me to no end. He went somewhere people would do just about anything to go to and he almost wasted it.

As I said, Chris Pratt's Owen, the charismatic, ex-military hero of the movie (the Dr. Alan Grant of this movie) with a side of comic relief was one of my favorites overall. He was adorable and it seemed to be the only one who had a brain--he wasn't too keen about the fact that the scientist at JW went and created a whole new dinosaur--made this movie a lot more fun. Bryce Dallas Howard's character Claire (Gray and Zach's aunt who they come to see in this movie) is the woman running JW and I kinda liked her character. She was a little too cold, snippy, and blind for my liking. It's not that I have anything against strong female characters but I kinda wished she'd evacuated the people of the island before the new dinosaur could hurt any more people. It's not like the park was going to be re-opened after the Indominus rex got out. However, I should mention that I LOVE Jake Johnson's Lowery; he's kind of the tech geek making sure the park is safe and he was absolutely adorable.

Overall, I liked Jurassic World as an entertaining movie with amazing visuals, some compelling characters but not much else. While it can't live up to its predecessor Jurassic Park, I think that if you're out looking for something fun to watch, Jurassic World is a great choice. Like I said, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie but of course there were a few problems. Of course I'm probably being super tough on this movie and there are plenty of people who love it (just look at how week it's doing at the box-office) but it was more of a mediocre movie for me. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mini-Review: Just Like Heaven and The Husband Hunt

           Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn
Series: Smythe-Smith Quartet #1
Release Date: May 31, 2011 
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers 
Source: Library  
Honoria Smythe-Smith is:
A) a really bad violinist
B) still miffed at being nicknamed "Bug" as a child
C) not in love with her older brother's best friend
D) all of the above

Marcus Holroyd is:
A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) not in love with his best friend's younger sister
D) all of the above

Together they:
A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever and the world's worst musical performance
C) fall quite desperately in love

It's Julia Quinn at her best, so you know the answer is ...
D) all of the above
Okay, if there is one type of romance I LOVE it's when someone falls of their sibling's friend. Like, they've known each other since they were kids and there was no love between them until they meet when they're older and fall in love and it is the BEST THING EVER. So obviously I really enjoyed this novel! ALSO: in this novel Marcus ends up getting sick because of something Honoria did by accident and she has to nurse him back to health and  I really like it when that happens in romance novels.

But anyways! I loved Honoria. She's smart and kind and weird and also really sad. After her bother left, she and her family had to deal with the same and the lack of a male figure in a family. While I'm all about women empowerment, back in those times, it would be hard for women to do without at least a man around. This has also hurt Honoria's abilities to land herself a husband--that and for some reason, any man she gets involved with suddenly backs away--and that's where this novel begins. From the start, we know that Honoria's in love with Marcus and it's obvious that Marcus likes her too so its only a wonder as to why he won't act on it.

As I said above, I love that this novel has a plot line where Marcus gets sick and Honoria has--well, she wants to--take care of him and make him better. This is the part of the novel that made me so happy. They both start to realize they have feelings for each other and when everything seems perfect, a new revelation surfaces (but the readers know this revelation already; much of this story is told through dual point of view) that forces Honoria to rethink everything that happened between them. Frankly, I loved Marcus as much as I loved Honoria. He's loyal to boot to Daniel and has always looked after Daniel's family. They're both such wonderful characters that I honestly want to reread this book already.

This book is pretty great but it’s missing something that would make it extremely special. I might re-read this book, possibly more than once. I would recommend this book to lots of my friends and some of my colleagues.

There's something about this cover that I love. It might be the simplicity or the colors or something else entirely but I love it.

**********************************

           The Husband Hunt by Lynsay Sands
Series: Madison Sisters #3
Release Date: February 28, 2012 
Publisher: Avon 
Source: Library 
Let the hunt begin…

Lisa Madison wants a husband, and she has just the candidate in mind: Robert Langley. Trouble is, the infuriating man insists on seeing her as the impish girl she once was—even as every other gentleman in London has taken notice of her womanly…charms. When her beauty lands her in danger, it’s Robert who comes to the rescue…only to announce his affections are not of the romantic variety!

Robert saw enough sorrow in his parents’ union to know he wants nothing to do with marriage, which is exactly what he’ll be trapped into if he acts on his desire for the irksome siren. And then Lisa does what Robert least expects: gives up on him! As feigned indifference gives way, blistering passion burns at last. But just before the pair can give in to hard-won bliss, an enemy with unfinished business lurks threatening to destroy them both.
I was so hoping to like this book! It sounded so good from the description--being in love with a man who doesn't love you and when you try to find someone else, low and behold your unrequited love...loves you back! Honestly, this book had all of the most amazing aspects I love about a good romance but sadly, The Husband Hunt was a huge disappointment.

Instead of being charming, Lisa Madison was a spoiled, ridiculous, and annoying character who I didn't care for at all. As you can tell from the summary, she intends to make Robert Langley her husband but when it continues to rebuff her as he has for years, Lisa decides to find someone else for her. So then begins the husband hunt that the title refers to. And just when I think she's going to be smart and strong, Lisa gets herself into the worst situation possible because she was too stubborn to listen to her sisters; she's always right after all. Now, this situation could have gone terribly, terribly wrong but instead, Robert Langley comes to the rescue. Here Lisa forgets that she's going to move on from him and decides to spend the rest of the novel (about 80%) trying to seduce Robert. Basically, this entire novel was annoying. I read it within hours because I always hoped that something good would come from it.

However, I do plan on reading the first two books of this series because I feel as though Lisa's sisters will be a lot more level headed, stronger, and well, less annoying then her. Lynsay Sands writing was fun and light and I think if the characters were lovable, I would love her books. But the writing wasn't enough to say this book for me though.
Y'all I can't recommend this book to anyone. Nope, can't do it. I didn't have fun reading this one so I don't want anyone else to have to go through with the annoyingness that is Lisa.
If there's anything about romance covers is that they're basically all the same. So there's not much I can say about the cover. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

It's Monday! What are you reading?

 
Hey y'all! I hope everyone is having a good day! In an attempt to become a little bit more organized and see what my reading habits look like, I'm going to be doing the "It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" recap posts hosted by Book Journey every Monday! 



I read these three before last week but I thought I'd feature them just the same! I have yet to review any of these novels but I'm excited to put my thoughts down.
This past week--and maybe this entire summer-has been a reread season! My younger brother isn't the biggest reader but he LOVE The Seven Realms Series by Cinda Chima Williams. He'd reread this series numerous times and when he began another read this past week, I decided to join in! I've read the first three books on my blog (click the images to read my reviews!)

 
I have slowly been making progress with Froi of the Exiles! I'm absolutely in love with this series and I'm so mad at myself for reading it so late in the Game. I'm finishing my reread of the Seven Realms tonight (I'm writing this post up on Sunday night) and even know I know the ending, I don't think I'm ready for it! I'm going to have my review up some time next week to finish off this series! 
 
These two are for my new Among the Shelves feature! 

Finishing off this series hopefully! And I'm too much of a mood-reader to make plans farther out than this!