Sunday, April 16, 2017

Summers at Castle Auburn: A New All-Time Favorite

I am so excited to finally be reviewing this gem! Everyone should definitely consider adding Summers at Castle Auburn to the TBR list.

Summers at Castle Auburn 
by Sharon Shinn

Publication Date: April 1st, 2001
Amazon/Barnes and Noble 

As a child, Coriel Halsing spent many glorious summers at Castle Auburn with her half-sister-and fell in love with a handsome prince who could never be hers. But now that she is a young woman, she begins to see the dark side of this magical place...


A few months ago: I was walking through Powells and I discovered Summers At Castle Auburn sitting on the shelf. It was a used, cheap paperback and I'd heard great things about Sharon Shinn so I picked it up and brought it home.

Now I can say that was a very good decision. Good job past Emily!!! Unbeknownst to you, the book you just found is a new classic that you will treasure forever. The End.

Ha ha. My review style is going out the window. Anyway, if you couldn't tell already, I absolutely loved Summers at Castle Auburn. I would recommend it to ANY fellow book lovers but especially fans of Tamora Pierce, Shannon Hale, and other authors of those superb fantasies. It was such a cozy, yet intense read with so many shippy feels guys. SO MANY!

Oh! And I read this on the plane home from vacation and it made my 24 hour travel day almost bearable. MY HEART WAS HAPPY even though my brain and legs were dead. Okay I still need to start the actual coherent review part. Get it together Emily.

So... we start our story with fourteen year old Corie (Coriel) going on a hunting trip for the mythical aliora. It was such a fun adventure. Here we meet a lot of our main characters: Corie, Uncle Jaxon, Roderick, Kent, and the prince.  However, we are also introduced to the horrible and immoral hunting of aliora, sentient creatures who humans imprison. Corie slowly starts realizes this hunting is different than hunting for food. I loved watching Corie grow up and mature. She was vibrant, funny, and came alive in my mind. 

Also, from the beginning, Corie has an amazing relationship with her half sister Elisandra. Elisandra loves her little sister more than anything, and it shows. Also, Elisandra was such a strong character on her own. She's betrothed to an awful prince yet she remains both kind and strong. And I loved the twist with her in the end. Props to Shinn for making her such a real, admirable, and layered side character. Bravo.

The aliora were such a compelling element to the story. These fairy-like creatures were enslaved at the castle yet they remain kind and gentle. There were so many twists involving them but I was so glad when Corie realized she and her family were doing an unforgivable thing. The aliora were developed characters and I was so relieved with the ending they got.

The romance is slow burn. Like REALLY slow burn, like it's almost NOT there but it WAS. And I LOVED it so much. I was rooting for these two characters to get together from the beginning even though I thought there was no hope for my ship. Then it happened! I'm still deliriously happy with this development.

In conclusion, I suggest that all of you pick up Summers at Castle Auburn. You are in for a magical experience; some parts are light and fun while other parts are quite dark. Every element was perfect. I cannot wait to read more of Sharon Shinn. (I have her latest series already waiting on my bookshelves!)

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Weird and Unique Books

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

We've all read them: the head scratchers, the books that seem like they are on drugs, and the stories that are so deliciously different. Here are my top ten unique book recommendations!

1. Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
This book is dark, confusing and brilliant. You are left wondering what is real and what isn't. And Quinn's creativity and vividness gives this thriller an unforgettable ending. 

2. The Diabolic by SJ Kincaid
Ooooh! Here's one of my 2016 faves! The whole concept of Diabolics, genetically engineered protectors and fighters, was so ingenious and creative. And the space world and hierarchy was also something new. 

3. My Lady Jane by Hand, Ashton, and Meadows 
We all know my love for this book knows no bounds. How could these brilliant authors take the relatively short, dull story of Lady Jane and turn it into a genre-bending historical fantasy with magic and humor? Pure brilliance and originality. 

4. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Magical Realism for the win! Bone Gap is a beautiful, weird story about a town with interesting inhabitants and a missing girl. Try it. 

5. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson is one of my top authors for highly original fantasy. In this wonderful book, Rithmatists use magic chalk and drawing to defend their world. Where does Sanderson get his crazy inspiration?

6. Vicious by VE Schwab 
The most unique tale you'll ever read from the viewpoint of a villain. V.E. Schwa delivers with her compulsively likable and unlikable character Victor. 

7. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
A dark, creepy, twisted ballerina tale. What more could I ask for? And, once again, this book is a big win for magical realism. My brain was spinning the entire time. 

8. A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas 
I love twisted fairytales and this one focuses on AFTER Sleeping Beauty wakes up. It's quite ingenious and I love how the author totally flipped the original story on its head.

9.  The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 
This is such an underrated series! Politics! Families! A "Fixer" who fixes complicated political situations... the idea and execution is fabulous. 

10. The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon
Oooh. Another twisted fairy tale retelling! The premise is that Rapunzel and Snow White's Stepmother were the SAME PERSON. I love this book so much. 

11. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
I can't NOT mention Sanderson twice in this post. Another one of his creative masterpieces is Elantris. The story partly takes place in a city of fallen demigods who are living in the most depressing, dangerous, and vivid nightmare. Read it and you'll see what I mean. 

12. Kill The Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky 
Finally, we have the weirdest of them all: Kill The Boy Band. This book is an acquired taste and while I didn't love it, I respected it. I had to put this on this list. Moldavsky's gem is psychopathic, crazy, and disturbingly funny. Pick it up at your own risk. 

Oops, that was twelve... hopefully I introduced you to at least one new book!

Happy Reading Everyone! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Review: Geekerella

Geekerella by Ashley Poston 
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Amazon/Barnes and Noble

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

*Received for free from Quirk Books*

Yay! Today Geekerella was released into the world! I've already ordered a copy for my cousin for her birthday. I know she'll love it! Geekerella was an absolutely genius book. Ashley Poston perfectly mashed together the classic Cinderella story with modern day media and fandoms. Once I started, I could not stop reading... 

Every character was colorful and vibrant. Elle was a charismatic character you couldn't help but love. You feel bad about her crazy step-mother and sisters. (Although one ends up being not horrible after all.) And I loved her obsession - passed on from her parents - for Starfield. Darien, our other character, was also a fun perspective to read from. He's a movie star trying to take his new Starfield role seriously... but serious fans - like Elle - doubt his ability to play the beloved prince on screen. However, one surprising character that stole the show for me was Sage, Elle's co-worker at a vegan food trunk. She's the quirky godmother figure.... but she's also sweet, funny, and gets her own romance (lgbt!). 

The romance was really cute, even though most of it happened via text. The conversations between Elle and Darien made me laugh numerous times. Also, Elle has no idea it's Darien the movie she's been texting. When they finally meet at ExcelsiCon it's so worth it! I loved the cos-playing and fan fun there. Also Elle's costume and the dance. 

The ending was perfect and I had a ball reading about Elle and Darien's adventure. I can't recommend this sparkling contemporary more, especially for fangirls, fanboys, and anyone who knows what it's like to love a franchise. 

5/5 stars