Wednesday, January 29, 2014

|REVIEW| The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)
By: Rae Carson
Review by: Kaede
Release Date: September 20th, 2011
Publisher: Greenwillow 
Pages: 423

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

There aren't many books where the main character conflicts me so, in a way that I both love and dislike her.

Or maybe it's just me. Strange, strange me. 

Elisa was never a character I felt I hated. Frustrated, certainly, but I never wanted her to fail at what she was doing. For those, like me, who are late to reading this fantastic series might love Elisa as a heroine because she has her flaws. She is not skinny nor absolutely beautiful as  Elisa describes many of the people she comes across seems to be. She achieves her goals not by stunning people with her charming beauty, but by using her brain. Elisa is very perspective and smart, but because of that, it sometimes bothers me because I just can't see where she's coming from for someone so intelligent. But making mistakes is the mark of a realistic character, so it leaves me entirely conflicted on my feelings. 

Elisa aside, there were plenty of characters I adored. Hector, Rosario, Mara, and the whole array of the desert rebels were are great characters in their own right. There's a part of me that I think could have really loved Alejandro as well, but he was a weak ruler who made terrible decisions, and ignored his son. 

The beginning of THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS was a bit slow, but once it picked up it didn't let go until the end. The story itself was adventurous and a bit magical. Chosen as a once in a century bearer of the Godstone, Elisa is supposedly destined for great things. However her ability with her Godstone doesn't extend far, and she spends the book learning more about herself and how to utilize it. 

Religion plays its part in THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, but never did I feel like the story was weighed down by it. Instead it was just the way things were and a part of our characters. Some people might be a bit hesitant to read a book with religious aspects because they don't want anybody shoving it in their faces, but it isn't a concern with this series. 

If you are a fan of high fantasy young adult, and have yet to read THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, I encourage you to give it a try. Rae Carson has set up a world with interesting history. There is quite a bit of politics because Elisa is a queen, and a lot of world-building as well as history is laid out for you. If you prefer action over explanations, and exploring the present instead of the past, you might find parts of this book a bit slow. But I think you'll find it worthwhile when all the puzzle pieces finally connect. 

There were parts of the story that surprised me, most particularly the characters. So many people that I loved right off the bat, and a few characters that seemed to be against Elisa at first and turned into allies that I loved as well. There was also a lot of wanting to interfere and play matchmaker and make all my ships into canon. Because that is what I do. 

I also cry when my ships don't end up happening. 

In another book, I'm certain Humberto is a love interest I would have adored. I really liked him, but because Hector was around, unfortunately there really was no competition. I was no satisfied with the amount of Hector scenes because there just wasn't enough. It might surprise you to learn that my one true pairing is regrettably not Hector and Elisa, but Belen and Mara.

To end it off, Rae Carson is an author to look out for. This review is being written after I have read the entire series, so I can confidently say that I will pick up whatever Carson writes next. Carson has a way with words, but what impressed me the most was the way she developed her characters. While Elisa is not my favorite person in the world at all times, she does undergo a stunning transformation from a shy and not confident princess, to a fierce warrior queen using what she learned and experienced from her time in the desert with Cosme and her friends, characters who I strongly loved.

And man, those certain deaths, even though I was expecting them, still broke my heart a little. Okay, maybe a lot. 

4 and ½ coffee cups!




Let's Discuss: In the comments, tell me who your favorite pairing from this series is! I am hopeless romantic and would love to know. If you haven't read THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS yet, you can tell me about a pairing from another series you love or what makes you decide that you like certain two people together. 

A book is not complete for me without at least people I can ship together.


Contact Kaede: 
Goodreads: Kaede
Twitter: Kami178xx

Monday, January 27, 2014

|ARC REVIEW| Fever by Lauren DeStefano

FEVER (#2)
By: Lauren DeStefano 
Review by: Kaede
Release Date: February 21st, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Pages: 341
Format: Paperback ARC
Source: ARCycling (Thank you, ARCycling!)

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.

FEVER by Lauren DeStefano was one part unpredictable, one part lyrical, and gripping from the beginning to the end. FEVER, however, felt very different from WITHER. I loved both of them, but I can understand where people who really enjoyed WITHER and disliked FEVER are coming from. The writing style in WITHER was beautiful and flowed well. While FEVER retains that style, it also feels like a different approach of storytelling. There's a reason descriptions seem unfamiliar though, and that's because our setting is completely different. 

Rhine isn't the bird locked in the cage anymore. Freedom is in her hands now. In FEVER she has to decide whether or not it's worth fighting for. 

The one problem that clearly stands out to me is that this series is a bit unmemorable. I'll always know that I enjoyed Rhine's journey, but I doubt I'll really remember why. There are parts that have stayed with me, certain details that stand out, but I'm writing this review months after I've read this book, and honestly if you ask me to tell you about it, the best I can give you is an overview of the story.

The other far smaller issue I had with the series as a whole is that Rhine and Gabriel are kind of bland characters. It's like oh you're nice and all, but to me you just...exist. Rhine and Gabriel aren't lifeless and flat, but their personalities weren't exactly vibrant and I couldn't connect with them beyond surface level.

The main reason I wanted to read FEVER was to explore the world, and Rhine's narration got the job done. She might not have had the most exciting outlook on life and an abundance of happiness, I wonder if I could really fault the character design. The world she lives in is grim and messed up, and how many people are going to be laughing and jumping for joy after they were ripped from the life they've always known and taken from their brother. That's why I never had a problem with Rhine and Gabriel, I just didn't love them.

The time in the circus was interesting, and it was probably my favorite part even though I felt sorry for some of the characters we meet and I liked a lot of them. So see I do really like characters in this book. Ha. Take that, people who think I'm heartless. Okay I'm probably still heartless sometimes. I also feel like Juliette when I use strikethrough. I AM ALL POWERFUL WITH MY LETHAL TOUCH. I've also developed fondness for circuses because of the Noah's Ark Circus Arc in Black Butler.

The ending was exciting because I was waiting for Rhine to find her brother through the whole book. I would've preferred Rhine to at least see her brother from afar by the end of FEVER. There are few things I love more than a good sibling relationship, and I hope there are some good bonding moments between Rhine and her brother in SEVER. 

This series isn't something I think everyone will like. Some people might think FEVER was intriguing while others just find it slow and boring. It all goes back to whether or not you enjoyed WITHER. If you did, you'll probably like FEVER too. But if you didn't, I have a hard time telling if FEVER will be any better for you. 

And if you've read FEVER, you'll know the cover does have meaning behind it, such as the tarot card, which plays a part.  

4 coffee cups! 




Let's Discuss: In the comments, tell me what is more important to you in a good dystopian: world-building or characters. For me, I'm okay if the world isn't amazing and I have great characters, but if I hate the guts of all the characters in a story, I might not be able to stand hearing them talk long enough to explore the fantastic world-building. So while a solid world is important, I think it's great characters that is essential for me. What about you? 


Contact Kaede: 
Goodreads: Kaede
Twitter: Kami178xx

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

|GUEST REVIEW| Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer

Smart Girls Get What They Want
Review by: Nikki @ Fiction Freak
Release Date: June 26th, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 352


Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren't the most popular girls in school, they aren't too worried. They know their real lives will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. There will be ivy, and there will be cute guys in the libraries (hopefully with English accents)! But when an unexpected event shows them they're missing out on the full high school experience, it's time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. They make a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge—and they will totally rock it.

Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she'll have to get over her fear of public speaking—and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but has always stayed behind the scenes—until now.

These friends are determined to show the world that smart girls really can get what they want—but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for. . . .
So what did Nikki think about Smart Girls Get What They Want?

Smart Girls Get What They Want was recommended to me by the ever awesome Eileen. And while it sounded cute, we very rarely agree on contemporaries. But God I loved this one! It's a super adorable read that I blew through, squealing internally.

It's very rare when you find us nerds so aptly described in a book. It's unbelievably easy to relate to these flawed characters and just fun to see myself reflected in them! Do I study? Yes. Do I like getting straight A's? Definitely. Do I spend all my time studying without having any social life whatsoever? No. I hope. (Maybe. I think twitter takes up most of my time!) 

Gigi's voice was just so hilarious and teen that I couldn't help but laugh along or sympathize with her. She was an independent kind of girl who really only needed her friends to support her, though she wasn't immune to a boy's charms. Definitely not! And sometimes, shemay have made a bad decision or say the wrong thing, but don't we all? 

Bea was an awesome character, the fiery best friend to balance out Neerja's more shy personality. She stood up for her friends and wouldn't take crap from anyone trying to hurt those she cared about. While she definitely blew a fuse once in a while, she couldn't stay mad at her BFFs and I loved that about her. Neerja's the more soft spoken one but still as amazing. Throughout the story she deals with her own boy problems and she's, basically, the glue of the trio. 

The three had an amazing best friend dynamic going on and definitely the most relatable characters I've ever met! They're perfectly flawed and, while a little annoying sometimes, were excellently written!

The romance(s) were adorable sweet and made me want to cuddle the characters. Like most YA novels, we have the crush, then the annoying boy who's a little more deeper than expected. While the idea is a tad cliche, the way it was executed put a unique and endearing twist on it! I squealed and giggled many-a-times (and also may have wanted to whack a certain character over the head.) and lets just say I think that that ending? It's perfect. Just. So. Perfect. 

Smart Girls isn't just a cute romance though. It's a book on discovering who you are, what you want, and the things you have to face to get the. Our characters go through some character development and watching our characters grow into more outspoken people was definitely one of my favorite parts! 

With a real teen voice and admirably relatable characters, Smart Girls Get What They Want is definitely more than just a light fluff. It leads us through the life of a teen navigating a startlingly real high school life with a startlingly real situation. It's a laugh out loud kind of book, but also one that makes your heart thump and your hands sweat, just like when you're back to high school, talking to your crush for the first time. A must read for teens and even more so for adults!




Hi hi people of this universe!

I'd just like to shove myself into this review and thank Nikki for guest reviewing for me because let's face it: I'm a terrible blogger. But really, thank you so much Nikki! Wheeeee! :3

Nikki is the wonderful blogger behind Fiction Freaks. Click on her blog button below to visit her blog and I guarantee you will love her, if you don't already. 

CAAAAKEEEEEEEEE. And thank you again Nikki! :D Even though Jeb is better than Morpheus. Tehee. ♥


Fiction Freak

Nikki's Twitter: @Nikki_Wang

Contact Kaede: 
Goodreads: Kaede
Twitter: Kami178xx

Saturday, January 4, 2014

|ANIME REVIEW| Kuroko no Basket Season 2 Episode 13

Hellooooooooo people of this universe!

So there's been a little secret that I've been withholding from all of you, much against my will. Not really, I actually mention it in my Goodreads profile, but alright. But this particular secret is groundbreaking and earth shattering and it is....

Drum role please!...

My heart does not only belong to books. 

Yes, yes. Let it out. It's okay, I'll take it all.

But hear me out, you see. Technically, it's not like I'm 100% cheating on my beloved books. More like...85%? You read books right? And you can read manga, which is one of the few things that vie for my love. So you see the connection, yes? Connection is good. If you connect, you are not completely different. 

Now in this case, I'm here to talk about anime. And yes, yes anime does not come in book form so however am I going to say that it's similar to books without completely lying to your face? BUT, since I watch anime subbed because my Japanese is not that amazing to watch it raw, there are English subtitles and I read the English subtitles and so ha. Reading = books. All of that is just proven fact.  I totally made everything up on the spot. 

So now I've revealed three of the, let's say, seven things that I absolutely adore. 

Others include things of less importance such as eating and sleeping because books, manga, and anime destroy my emotions on a daily basis. It leaves me exhausted so obviously I have to have a way to gain my energy back to prepare for my next heartbreak and fangirl moment. 

Now if I must, I'll get on to the topic for today. 

Kuroko no Basket Season Two. 

So what should I do? Trip over my feet as I try to tell you how amazing Aomine it is? Because it's so good. *flails* 

I'm no professional reviewer by any means, and this is my first time doing anything of the sort. But Kuroko no Basket is a series that I watch weekly, instead of letting it run all it's episode before I marathon watch it. I hate, hate cliffhangers that play with my emotions or I dislike not being able to see what happens next. Especially with a series that I love. So I just lessen the pain by letting all the episode become available so even if something traumatic happens, I can let myself sob for a few minutes, and immediately go see what happens next to try to calm myself. A Kaede who has to suffer a week to see if misfortune befalls her favorite character is not a pretty Kaede. So why don't I do that with Kuroko no Basket? 

The answer is because it's that good. After I finished season one a couple of months before season two was released, I re-watched the anime three times and caught up with the manga. Believe me when I say there are so many good parts in the manga that I loved that comes after the contents of season one. So how could you expect me not to watch episode one of season two when it first came out? *blinks innocently* I had to, okay. I had to. 

The Actual Review (Because Kaede does nothing but talk on and on):  

Now we are thirteen episodes in and I am so completely in love, it's not funny. It was so painful this past week with no episode of Kuroko no Basket and no chapter of One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach. I had to console myself with the new chapter of Birth of Levi: A Choice With No Regrets (which was amazing because Levi is amazing. But I really do love the art too.) or I don't think I could have made it.  

I thought the animation for season one was really pretty and good. It wasn't Hunter x Hunter 2011 and Attack on Titan animation quality, but it was definitely good and better than quite a few series. However, I think the animation studio behind season two took the quality of season one and made a huge jump and improved it and made it even better. The colors in every episode has been vibrant and beautiful and I loves it all. 

Episode 13 is a bit of transition episode, concluding with the beginning on the first Winter Cup match for Seirin. 

I think episode 13 established a few main things. 

1) Our first close look at Akashi, former captain of the Generation of Miracles. 
2) The start of Seirin vs. Tōō Academy

In the beginning of the episode we see a bit of a few of the Generation of Miracles' current team practicing and I got really happy because I adore them all. And Kise looked really damn cool. 

Admireee it. You know you want to.

Also, that's a scary combo to watch out for, Seirin.

We also a glimpse of Atsushi and Himuro and Atsushi is so unbelievably ridiculously tall. When he smacked the ball out of Himuro's hand, I was all like OOOOOOH and then I realized he barely even stood on tip-toes to reach it and went, "Damn..." *grumbles* Tall people these days. They make me so envious.

Aomine's solo scene when he shot the basketball into the hoop with no effort was just a fangirl scene made for me. 

But we also see Akashi for a brief time. And he spoke. And my mouth dropped opened. It took me a moment to process it, but there was something so familiar about Akashi's voice that I looked up his voice actor and got Hiroshi Kamiya. Who voice acts Levi. And Trafalgar Law. *is in pile of mush because I adored the voice acting for Levi* But Akashi's voice sounds slightly different from Levi's and Law's, so I'm curious to hear him speak more. 

Then came the summons. *inserts dark music* *runs away scared* 

I found it interesting when Kuroko and then Aomine called the reunion of the Generation of Miracles a summon from Akashi, rather than, oh I don't know, something like I'm going to meet up with my former teammate. A summon makes it sound mandatory, but looking at Akashi's character, it probably was. 

You must obey Akashi. Akashi is the emperor. 


The epic gathering of the Generation of Miracles.
The Generation of Miracles without their captain was already pretty amazing. But when Akashi appeared, it just got a thousand times better and froze Furihata-kun in his tracks. When Akashi tells Furihata to leave, and Kagami appears, I knew what was coming with the scissors. I knew. But it still surprised me and I almost fell back on my seat. Which is saying something, in my mind. 

AND WHY WOULD SOMEONE CUT THEIR HAIR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET WITH MIDORIMA'S LUCKY ITEM. NO. *protects hair* Akashi should consider becoming a hair stylist if he ever stops playing basketball though. He did do a really good job. 

We start nearing the end as the Winter Cup finally begins. We get a small flashback scene of Kuroko and Aomine in middle school and we see Aomine smile and that was like Cloud 9. >_>

The match begins with Seirin going all out trying to take control but unfortunately, it doesn't work out because Aomine doesn't lose. 

I'm pretty sure Seirin was shocked that Tōō would do an alley-oop since it was supposed to be a team that focuses on individual skill where every player takes the ball for himself and scores by himself. And I have toooo. Do not blame me for this. 

He looked so good ♥-♥

When Aomine slammed the ball in, I cheered until I realize that I was supposed to be rooting for Seirin. Opps. 



I actually laughed quite a bit in this episode as well. Mabo. Pfft. 

But all in all, that's a wrap! Did anybody actually make it this far? Did anybody read this who had no idea what Kuroko no Basket is? If so, you should check it out and I apologize for the confusion you probably went through. 


I'll try to make the next anime/manga post shorter. But until then, go watch Kuroko no Basket! After watching an episode, Kuroko no Basket always makes me want to play basketball. Which is probably not a very good idea. 

I swear I had a clever way to end this but I completely lost what it was. If I remember then I'll edit this part and add it in and pretend this ending never existed but if I can't remember then....



Contact Kaede: 
Goodreads: Kaede
Twitter: Kami178xx