Review: The Exiled Queen

Review: The Exiled QueenTitle: The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms #2)
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: September 24, 2010
Genre/Age Group: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden's Ford. But leaving the Fells doesn't mean that danger isn't far behind. Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them. And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own. There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery-but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa ana'Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets. Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford. If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.

Everything changes when Han and Raisa's paths cross, in this epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.

MY THOUGHTS

After the mailbox incident, I figured I might as well try to review the entire Seven Realms series instead of leaving this much more coherent piece all by itself to outline all the reasons why you should start this series I M M E D I A T E L Y, because it’s been almost two years and I still have feelings. Feelings that are now resurfacing in a major way because Judith is currently reading this series and Raisa ana’Marianna is her everything, which is basically all I’ve ever wanted out of life. This won’t be the last super true hyperbole you’ll come across here.

If you thought The Exiled Queen was going to give you time to get back into the swing of things by providing you with pages and pages of build-up first, you’re not ready. I was young and naïve and thought both Raisa and Han would make it to their the-Seven-Realms-kids-are-going-to-Hogwarts story line quickly and safely and was thus thoroughly unprepared. This sequel jumps straight into the action and has the nerve to put my favourite characters in situations where I can’t predict or guess how they’ll get out of them. For some reason it then assumes I’m still a functioning human being and launches into Raisa having I-don’t-need-saving-I-save-myself moments, alternated with bits where she manages to turn conversations in such a way that men of the realms with “strange notions” (🎶patriarchyyyyy🎶) realise how fucking stupid they were to underestimate her in a matter of five sentences. 

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A Little Life Update, In Which I Make Everything About Me (Again)

Hello, dear readers of this quietly-abandoned-but-then-hilariously-revived blog,

It’s been a while since the two of us talked. About a week since – wait. Those are not my words. And that was pretty pathetic way to start a blog post, even for my standards. I guess I’m still out of it. Let’s start again.

Hi! Remember me? I’m Judith. Currently 23, fulltime stressed out, parttime overwhelmed by life and occasionally surprised I’ve managed to keep myself alive for so long. I started this blog back in 2012 when I was stuck at home for mental health reasons, and have used it as my outlet for the past few years. Until past September, when life got in the way. It’s been a while since I posted on this blog. It’s been a while since I was active on social media. It’s even been a while since I opened a book for anything other than study purposes. The times where I spent my evenings lurking around Twitter, shouting about books and TV shows and random things slowly but surely became evenings I just do not have time for. Which is a shame. Yes, this is the post in which I tell you what I have been up to the past few months. If you are at all interested in that, that is. If not, that’s completely fine, and Ellis will be back soon with another brilliantly hilarious tag post or review of sorts. For now, I’m going to be egotistical and dedicate this entire post to talking about myself – something I should probably regret but definitely do not. Guess I haven’t lost the way I used to write reviews.

The past year for me has been positively, completely, absolutely insane. I started the third and final year of my bachelor’s in English Language and Culture. I have been working a parttime job as personal assistant to an independent publisher in Croatian literature. I’m still working for the student magazine I became involved with the previous year, but now as editor-in-chief and main person responsible if anything goes wrong. I moved out of my parents’ house and am still trying my hand at adulting (something I’m not very good at). But most of all, I made the conscious decision to not let anxiety and depression guide my life anymore, and make real life friends outside of the group I’ve trusted for years. That’s going with ups and downs, and I’m still not at the point where I can manage living healthily on my own, but I will get there. Hopefully. Thank you for Emery Lord for inspiring me and making me realize what I was (and sometimes still am) doing wrong: “Other people can’t knock down the walls you’ve built, no matter how much they love you. You have to tear them down yourself because there’s something worth seeing on the other side.” (Open Road Summer)

As a result, I think this is my most egocentrical year yet. And to be completely honest, I don’t think that is a bad thing. I really needed it. Also, for a large part, I’ve had no choice. But because this year has thrown me off balance in such a major way, I’ve pretty much been the worst friend ever, and I really do regret that. I’m very lucky that I have a few close friends who continue to be there for me, even when I’m the asshole that doesn’t reply to their messages for weeks because I’m just trying to get through work and life. I definitely haven’t deserved that kind of kindness. I’m not trying to make excuses or get sympathy or any of that; I just wanted to talk about it and say that I’m very thankful for these people. To those of you I haven’t talked to in forever: I’m sorry. Please know that it’s not personal and that I really want to be a better friend again, but I don’t know how. I’m still working on trying to find a balance in my life, and the rest of the year is definitely not going to slow down. I really am sorry. You are still amazing and wonderful and I’m so happy I met you.

Blogging-wise, I decided to just not care too much about it anymore. As much as I wish I still had the time to read a book a week (or even at all), I just really don’t. Or as a result of me trying to tackle my issues in life (ha), I also prioritize differently. And at this point, I’m fine with that. This doesn’t mean I don’t still love books and blogging and all the friends I’ve made in this community. It doesn’t mean I’m not still grateful for the work I’ve gotten to do with publishers and authors and fellow bloggers. That I won’t come back. For now, I will only blog occasionally, if I have time and if I want to. But if anything, it helped me figure out my life. I applied for a master’s in publishing and editing. If anything, book blogging helped me rethink my love for books and discover that I would love nothing more than to work with them. But first, I have to write my bachelor thesis, publish three more magazine as editor-in-chief, hopefully start a new job soon so I can pay for life, move house (I’m only subletting at the moment), oh, and actually get into the program.

So that is what is up with me. It might be weird that I am even posting this, but I just wanted to let any of you who are interested know. And we all know that I have a tendency to just ramble on about things and post random stuff on here. I really do miss it, but I have to make different priorities right now. Will I be blogging in the future? Who even knows. Will I actively try to be better at social media and a better friend? Yes. Will I succeed? Ha. I guess we will see about that. But I have to put my school and work and mental health first, and I hope you understand.

So much love to all of the amazing people I met through blogging. You are the best.

Mini-Reviews: A Gentleman in the Street & Hot as Hades

Mini-Reviews: A Gentleman in the Street & Hot as HadesTitle: A Gentleman in the Street (The Campbell Siblings #1)
Author: Alisha Rai
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: November 24, 2014
Genre/Age Group: Adult, Erotic Romance
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 3 Stars

Shameless. That’s what she was.

Billionaire businesswoman Akira Mori can get anything and anyone her heart desires. Anyone, that is, except for a certain aloof author who has been dominating her dreams for over a decade. Accustomed to Jacob Campbell’s stern disapproval, Akira has turned provocation into an art, using every trick in her arsenal to keep the man from guessing the depth of her filthy fantasies.

Shameless. That’s what she made him.

Since the moment the sexy, sultry socialite sidled up to him years ago, there hasn’t been a time when Jacob didn’t crave Akira. But as guardian to his younger siblings, responsibility has controlled his life. Confining his darkest desires to secret, stolen moments maintains his carefully disciplined world…but a cold bed is the price he pays.

A single touch is all it takes for their simmering need to explode. As secrets and fears are stripped away one by one, shame becomes a thing of the past. They find themselves becoming addicted to each other, in bed and out—a frightening prospect for a man just learning to live…and a woman who thinks she doesn’t know how to love.

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve been following Alisha Rai on Twitter for a while now because she’s funny, smart, and fabulous, so I figured it was time to finally read one of her books. I actually read Hot as Hades first, but for entirely selfish reasons (that cover is so ugly and I didn’t want it to be the featured image of this post) I’m starting with A Gentleman in the Street. A lot of my friends love this book, and with good reason. It’s smart, entertaining, sex-positive, has its cute moments, and gives some delightful commentary on the conceptualisation of women in fiction and in real life. My personal favourite is when Akira called out Jacob for killing off so many of his lady characters and needing to write better female characters in general. I also love reading about people who find love and/or their person in their mid-thirties  so that’s actually a note to myself that I need to read more adult stuff.

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Review: The Odyssey

Review: The OdysseyTitle: The Odyssey
Author: Homer
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Release Date: August 18, 2008
Genre/Age Group: Adventure, Adult, Mythology
Source: Gifted
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 2.5 Stars

Hector bidding farewell to his wife and baby son. Odysseus bound to the mast listening to the Sirens. Penelope at the loom, Achilles dragging Hector's body round the walls of Troy--scenes from Homer have been reportrayed in every generation. The questions about mortality and identity that Homer's heroes ask, the bonds of love, respect, and fellowship that motivate them, have gripped audiences for three millennia. Chapman's Iliad and Odyssey are great English epic poems, but they are also two of the liveliest and most readable translations of Homer. Chapman's freshness makes the everyday world of nature and the craftsman as vivid as the battlefield and Mount Olympus. His poetry is driven by the excitement of the Renaissance discovery of classical civilization as at once vital and distance, and is enriched by the perspectives of humanist thought.

MY THOUGHTS

I hope you’re all ready for another instalment of Ellis Reacts to Classics, because you’re getting it anyway. Method and motivations are very similar to those you saw in my Iliad adventure. Why did I read this? Thesis reasons. In this case, that means that I’m occasionally going to compare it to The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood’s reworking of the material, which is very clever and enjoyable, but also rude and a little cruel because it told the naïvely hopeful part of me that wants to buy into the myth that Odysseus and Penelope genuinely loved each other and that their marriage was one between equals that it was wrong. (Madeline Miller is on my side in this, which is another reason why I’m genuinely shocked she hasn’t written that The Song of Achilles follow-up yet. But I digress.) Why am I reviewing this? Because the Greeks were a bunch of drama queens and I want to talk about it. As for method, let’s just say I’m very glad Judith decided to call this section “My Thoughts” and not “The Review”. So, what are my thoughts?

Well.

I enjoyed this less than The Iliad, which is surprising because often odysseys and physical journeys are much more my thing than 400 pages of battle and interestingly-timed flashbacks. Once again, a lot of what I expected to be in the story wasn’t there or was basically summarised. I’m mainly thinking of Odysseus’ adventures now because I was so pumped to read about Circe, Scylla, Charybdis, the Sirens, and Calypso. But noooo, instead of giving me pages and pages of backstory on those, Homer backgrounded them and decided to focus on the stupid suitors and Telemachus. And obviously I expected this to be male-POV central but I’m still unimpressed that even the soliloquies Penelope and Helen get are mostly about men because look at all these wasted opportunities.

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Review: Last Will and Testament

Review: Last Will and TestamentTitle: Last Will and Testament (Radleigh University #1)
Author: Dahlia Adler
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: December 9, 2014
Genre/Age Group: New Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she's acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she'll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn't exactly Lizzie's biggest fan.

But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you're ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks... and that she'd like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he's not the kind of guy who'd ever reciprocate.

Until he does.

Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.

Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

Disclaimer: Dahlia and I are Twitter mutuals and she occasionally indulges my Camille Johannssen headcanons. I am, however, honesty personified.

MY THOUGHTS

First of all, this book is hot as fuck and I had to pause and take care of myself a few times. I’d apologise for the TMI but if you can’t handle that, this book might not be for you anyway. Now, I know the FUCK NA crowd might still not be terribly impressed with that, but there’s so much good, well-developed story here that it can’t be written off as purely “drama with sex”. Do I have your attention now? Good. Because this book was so good that after I finished it, I was in such an excellent mood and felt like reading all the things, and it didn’t hit me until several hours later that what I really wanted was to have the next book in this series already.

It helped that I took an immediate liking to the voice. It’s blunt, coarse, and honest, and never in a way that felt forced. Lizzie has — what are to me — such natural reactions to things. This is a girl who will get annoyed and start cursing before realising yelling everything out the minute it pops into your head, or, you know, emailing your TA that he’s an asshole, might not be the most diplomatic way to go about things. It’s not unlikely for her first reaction to be “shit” / “fucking hell” / “what the actual fuck” and you have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to read about a heroine like that. I both related and cracked the hell up every time she was confronted with life. Plus, she’s Filipina-American and not super skinny, so there are just many things I love about her.

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