Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Defy the Stars

Waiting On Wednesday was created by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. It's a weekly post for you to share what upcoming books you can't wait for!

Title: Defy the Stars

Author: Claudia Gray
Release Date: April 4, 2017


Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that's now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth's robotic "mech" armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel's programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis--even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel's devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming. (taken from goodreads.com)

Why I Need It: 

Back in the days before I was book blogging, I devoured Gray's Evernight series. I remember enjoying her writing immensely, and this science fiction piece sounds awesome. I'll definitely be on the lookout for this one next month.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy


Title: Dumplin'
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Format: E-Book

Page Count: 384

Rating: 


Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart. (taken from goodreads.com)

 
When this novel hit shelves over a year and a half ago, I remember seeing so many positive reviews. I'll admit that I was immediately drawn to the simplistic cover and original title. I still love it. However, I wasn't sure how I felt about the whole body-image theme simply because I was worried about dealing with a whiny protagonist. I can't stand novels about girls who are so insecure that they spend the whole novel complaining or acting immaturely. That's part of the reason it took me so long to pick up Dumplin'. I was concerned that Willowdean would drive me crazy.
 
Thankfully, that's not what happened at all. Willowdean is a strong character who doesn't let her weight define her. She's determined not to let it hold her back, and her confidence is empowering. Sure, she's not thrilled to be "fat," but she handles it as best she can. She's relatable, both in her level of insecurity and determination. I'm sure every girl in high school feels somewhat self-conscious about her body image while simultaneously telling herself that it doesn't matter. Willowdean embodies that paradox perfectly, and I really enjoyed watching her grow as a person.
 
“I hate seeing fat girls on TV or in movies, because the only way the world seems to be okay with putting a fat person on camera is if they’re miserable with themselves or if they’re the jolly best friend. Well, I’m neither of those things.” 
 
The story is set in Texas, which I loved. As a native of the Lone Star State, I snickered at Murphy's all-too-accurate depiction of high school in my home state. She seriously nails so many things on the head, from ridiculous mums for homecoming to the blistering heat of summer. I especially loved the part where she talks about Texas enduring every season in one day during the Fall. So true.
 
Murphy's writing style flows very well, and I found myself slipping into her Will's head immediately. She's also got a great sense of humor: not too overt, but just enough to make you smirk every once and a while. Not only does Murphy address weight issues and perceptions of fat people in America, but she also pointedly includes strong feminist themes. Critiques of cat-calling, jokes about periods, and beauty standards are all fair game in Murphy's novel. Having said that, she doesn't slap her readers in the face with over-the-top calls for reform. Instead, she places the themes in everyday situations and makes subtle (but noticeable) commentaries.
 
“I wish there were some kind of magic words that could bridge the cap between the person I am and the one I wish I could be. Because the whole fake it till you make it thing? It's not working for me.” 
 
I wasn't a huge fan of Will's romances, unfortunately. I kind of feel like Murphy poured so much character in Will, but she shirked the love interests. Plus we've got the classic love triangle of sorts, which seemed kind of unnecessary for me. Not a huge critique, but I did find myself rather bored with Will's love life throughout the story. Plus, Will seems more insecure and selfish when she's around her boy interests. I don't like how she looses a bit of her character simply because a cute boy sits next to her or hands her a piece of candy.
 
"Bo coming back into my world, if only in the tiniest of ways, turns my brain into a vacuum,
where nothing else can exist, because I'm so consumed."
 
Having said that, my problems with Dumplin' were few and far between. Will isn't perfect, and she's even pretty selfish at times, but there's a story in her flaws. Take the time to read about her transformation and you won't regret it.
 
   
       
Murphy's novel is empowering, relatable, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Shadow Run

Waiting On Wednesday was created by Jill over at Breaking The Spine. It's a weekly post for you to share what upcoming books you can't wait for!

Title: Shadow Run 

Author: Adrianne Strickland and Michael Miller  
Release Date: March 21, 2017


"Firefly" meets DUNE in this action-packed sci-fi adventure about a close-knit, found family of a crew navigating a galaxy of political intrigue and resource-driven power games.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.

As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.

Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power—and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew. (taken from goodreads.com)

Why I Need It: 

Shadow Run just sounds so different from other WoW's I've been showcasing recently. Although Qole might be one of the strangest protagonist names I've stumbled across in a long time, I'm intrigued by the story's premise. This one hits shelves in a matter of days, so get excited! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas


Title: Empire of Storms
Series: Throne of Glass Series #5
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA 
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 693

Rating: 


Kingdoms will collide.

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear. (taken from goodreads.com)

 
Well guys, I am officially caught up with all of Sarah J. Maas’ published works! It’s taken me quite a while to get here, but hey, better late than never, right?

As I’ve said in my previous reviews, I’m an enormous fan of Maas’ ACoTaR series. Like, I passed the fan-girl stage long ago and have now entered into some sort of unhealthy, all-consuming obsession. Don’t worry though, I’m fine… At least, I will be until May when A Court of Wings and Ruins hits shelves. Then, my heart might give out. Seriously, that book might destroy me.

But I digress.

Empire of Storms, the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series, picks up where the last book left off. Maas has a tendency to really speed things up at the end of each novel, only to pick up in the aftermath with the next book. Therefore, things start fairly slowly with this one. I was okay with it, though, since I was delighted by the comradery between Aelin and her court members. Their bond strikes me as very Tolkien-esque, like the new YA fellowship or something. Honestly, no matter the speed or epicness of the plot, it was the characters that truly won my love for this series and fifth book.

Like I’ve been saying all along, I have higher and higher hopes for each of the Maas books I read. I have seen Maas’ raw talent in A Court of Mist and Fury, after which I was nearly incoherent due to my absolute love for the characters and story. I’ve been hoping the Throne of Glass series would rival the greatness of that book, and prior to this book, it hadn't. However, I am finally happy to say that this fifth book has earned a five star rating from me.

I’m a huge sucker for political webs and scheming royals, so I’ve definitely appreciated Maas’ worldbuilding. Aelin’s character has continuously improved over the course of the series, and I can practically see Maas’ character developments improving in each book. Rowan, Dorian, Elide, Lysandra: they’re all incredibly well-developed, and I can’t help but root for them all.

Based on the reviews I’ve read, many Maas fans believe A Court of Mist and Fury still ranks as the number one Maas novel. However, Empire of Storms still holds many of the key elements that contribute to Maas’ overall greatness: her knack for plot twists, her beautiful language, and most importantly, her kick-ass characters.

The next book in the series isn’t supposed to hit shelves until MAY OF 2018. MAY, PEOPLE. So let me get this straight: I’m going to fall in love with A Court of Wings and Ruin this May, and then have to wait an entire YEAR before reading another new Maas book? Clearly I’ve spoiled myself by reading the entire Throne of Glass series, one after another, in the span of just a couple months.

This is probably one of the rambliest reviews I’ve ever posted on this blog, and I’m not proud of that… Let’s chalk it up to Maas’ ability to create fans who literally have no words for her books. If you haven’t checked out this series, or the ACoTaR series, then do so now. Trust me, if you don’t, you’re going to feel super left out when you realize that Maas is the next huge YA superstar. 
 
   
         
Maas just makes you fall in love with each and every character, and she wrapped this one up in such an epic way.