Friday, January 31, 2014

A Monthly Round Up (2) : January (and perhaps some pictures...)

A Monthly Round Up is a meme hosted at Feed Me Books Now!!!. The purpose of this meme is to sum up the month's blogging in one post.

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!! 新年快乐,恭喜发财! New Year Festival is the most important traditional holidays in China. Every year, families gather together the at New Year's Eve to cherish the passing of the previous year and celebrate the beginning of a new chapter. For those of you who don't know, 2014 is the year of horse. If you were born in 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, or 2002, here are some fun fortune forecasts just for you. Enjoy ;)

This year, you're looking at six unfavorable months, five of the good kind and one neutral. How can that be -- after all, this is your year, right? But there's actually luck in those percentages and lots of good hidden in this year. First off it's a Wood year, which is the luckiest element for the Horse. However, beware of too much of a good thing: you can be a bit reckless when you are in pursuit of adventure. Make sure you keep your stamina up if you're going after a long-desired goal. Sometimes you make rash decisions. If you can rein in that tendency over the next year, you should be just fine.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: The Warrior & The Flower (3 Kingdoms, #1)

Welcome to my stop on the tour for The Warrior & The Flower by Camille Picott. This is an adult high fantasy.

To celebrate Chinese New Year the tour is running Jan. 27th-31st with mostly reviews and only a few interviews and spotlight posts. Be sure to check out our tour page with additional info and list of tour stops.
About the Book
Title: The Warrior & The Flower
Author: Camille Picott
Series: 3 Kingdoms, #1
Publisher: Pixiu Press (self published work)
Release: Mar 20th 2013
Source: Blog Tour Copy
Pages: 307 (ebook)
( Amazon | Goodreads | B&N | Smashwords )
Yi, a retired soldier, has lost everything he loves — his wife, his daughter, and his home. He seeks refuge from his heartache by plunging into a secret mission for the World Emperor. The assignment takes him to the doorstep of a brothel, where he witnesses the madam beating a young girl. Drawn by the child’s striking resemblance to his lost daughter, Yi rushes to her defense and negotiates for her purchase — after all, how hard can it be to care for one little girl? But between the child’s inquisitive nature and the dangerous secret she carries, he gets more than he bargained for.

The Warrior & The Flower is an Asian inspired adult high fantasy novel written by Camille Picott. Being a Chinese native myself, I jumped at the opportunity to review it. It is not often that I encounter books mixed with Asian elements. The few times when I do, the references are either incorrect or inaccurate. Thus, I was both thrilled and anxious (just a little) when I picked up this book. Fortunately to my surprise, The Warrior & The Flower proved to be quite a delightful read with realistic traces of Asian traditions and I owe many thanks to both Camille and Candace :)  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (6) : City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6) by Cassandra Clare

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm taking the opportunity to feature City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, the final installment of the best selling urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments. 

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6)
by Cassandra Clare
Publisher: McElderry Books
Release: May 27th 2014
Pages: 733

I am coming.

Darkness returns to the Shadowhunter world. As their society falls apart around them, Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends must band together to fight the greatest evil the Nephilim have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in the world can defeat him — must they journey to another world to find the chance? Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world changed in the sixth and last installment of the Mortal Instruments series!

My Notes:

I recently got into Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series and I enjoyed it very much! It's a great news to me that the series will soon conclude so I can (perhaps) read them all (I was gonna say in one-sitting, but that seems a little too much ;-D ). Clare's worldbuidling ability fascinates me and I cannot wait to find out more about the plot. What about you? Are you waiting for this one too?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mini ARC Review: Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Author: Nancy Horan
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ballantine Books (Random House)
Release: Jan 21st 2014
Source: NetGalley
Pages: 496 (ebook)
( Amazon | Goodreads )
At the age of thirty-five, Fanny van de Grift Osbourne leaves her philandering husband in San Francisco and sets sail for Belgium to study art, with her three children and a nanny in tow. Not long after her arrival, however, tragedy strikes, and Fanny and her brood repair to a quiet artists' colony in France where she can recuperate. There she meets Robert Louis Stevenson, ten years her junior, who is instantly smitten with the earthy, independent and opinionated belle Americaine.

A woman ahead of her time, Fanny does not immediately take to the young lawyer who longs to devote his life to literature, and who would eventually write such classics as Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In time, though, she succumbs to Stevenson's charms. The two begin a fierce love affair, marked by intense joy and harrowing darkness, which spans decades as they travel the world for the sake of his health. Eventually they settled in Samoa, where Robert Louis Stevenson is buried underneath the epitaph:

Under the wide and starry sky, 
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill. 

(Requiem, Robert Louis Stevenson)

Though most of the books I read are YA fantasies, occasionally I do try out some other genres as well, for the purpose of broadening my perspective. Under the Wide and Starry Sky is precisely the case of such experiment. While I appreciate the interesting story and Nancy Horan's excellent writing, this is simply not the kind of books for me. I struggled quite a bit trying to rate it and the 2 stars you see here reflect nothing except personal taste.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (5) : The One (The Selection, #3) by Kiera Cass

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Woohoo!! I'm back. Maui was wonderful. I really wish I could stay there longer, swimming around with sea turtles and dolphins (oh wait, and whales too :D). Why do good times always pass so quickly? But worry not, I'm sure I will be back for visits.

This week, I have been waiting on the third and final installment to The Selection series - The One by Kiera Cass. What about you?

The One (The Selection, #3)
by Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
Release: May 6th 2014
Pages: 336
The Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. And now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants.

From the very first page of The Selection, this #1 New York Times bestselling series has captured readers' hearts and swept them away on a captivating journey... Now, in The One, Kiera Cass delivers a satisfying and unforgettable conclusion that will keep readers sighing over this electrifying fairy-tale long after the final page is turned.

My Notes:

Look at that cover aksdfjhaskjdhf!! I cannot even compose myself. This series has by far the most gorgeous covers I have ever seen and it just keeps getting better. In The One, the competition for Illea's next princess will be more fierce than ever. While America is finally determined to fight for her love and future, more dangers and conspiracies have surfaced around this contest. Who will be able to abscond with Prince Maxon's heart? Let's find out together!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book Blitz + Giveaway: PODs by Michelle Pickett

About the Book
Title: PODs
Author: Michelle K. Pickett
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Release: June 24th 2013
Format: Paperback/ebook
Pages: 312
( Amazon | Goodreads )
Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it's in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it's a balm for the broken soul.

After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That's the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating... monsters.

Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life--a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure.
  Buy Links:
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Also Available from:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: Mistress of the Wind

Author: Michelle Diener
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Season Publishing (self published work)
Release: Dec 23rd 2013
Source: NetGalley
Pages: 350 (ebook)
( Amazon | Goodreads )
Bjorn needs to find a very special woman . . .

The fate of his people, and his own life, depends on it. But when he does find her, she is nothing like he imagined, and may just harbor more secrets than he does himself.

Astrid has never taken well to commands. No matter who issues them . . .

She's clashed her whole life with her father, and now her lover, the mysterious man who comes to her bedroom in darkness and disappears to guard his mountain by day as a bear, is finding it out the hard way. And when he's taken by his enemies, no one is prepared for Astrid's response.

It is never wise to anger the mistress of the wind . . .

This novel is a retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon.

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know I'm a huge fan of fairy tale retellings. I love the fresh voice and delightfulness that come with each new add-ons and spin-offs. So when I finally got my hands on Mistress of the Wind, I was nothing less than thrilled. Unfortunately, after a fairly promising start, Mistress of the Wind fell terribly short to all my expectations.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (4) : Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Hello peeps! Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I'm on a vacation in Hawaii :)  (Gosh! Still can't believe I'm here) Although I failed at posting reviews on schedule, I'm doing great with catching up my readings! After all, what's there better to do than reading while sun bathing at the beach? So hang on tight and I will be back shortly ;)

For this week's WoW, I have decided to feature fantasy fairy tale retelling novel Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge.

Cruel Beauty
by Rosamund Hodge
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release: Jan 28th 2014
Pages: 352
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
My Notes:

I'm a big fan of fairy tale retelling books. Actually, let me rephrase it - it's on my bucket list to read all fairy tale retelling novels that ever come to existence. Hence, you can understand my excitements towards Cruel Beauty. Plus Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite stories. Therefore, this book is definitely something I would not want to miss. I have seen a couple of ARC reviews out around and the general consensus are fairly positive. It's a good thing that 28th is right around the corner ;)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Share (4) : Heroines in Classics

Friday Share is a weekly meme hosted here at Spare Reads to spotlight 1-2 novels at a time based on a particular theme.

Guess what? It's Friday again! "So?" you ask, well, it's time for Friday Share :) I know you have been looking forward to this all week, right? Right? (Don't lie, you know you want it!) 

For this week, I would like to show off two awesome heroines from some classic fantasy novels you may have missed out. Personally, I'm a big fan for strong female MCs. If you add a high fantasy setup to it, I will be happier than ever. So behold my friends, here come Alanna and Sabriel!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Review: Endless

Author: Amanda Gray
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Month9Books
Release: Sep 10th 2013
Source: NetGalley
Pages: 384 (ebook)
( Amazon | Goodreads )
Jenny Kramer knows she isn't normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them.

When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life.

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren't alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has travelled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back.

While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock - and the Order - Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life - and beyond death.

It is hard to describe the feelings that are going through my head right now. It has been awhile since the last time I got this attached to a book. Endless left me completely speechless, and I still cannot quite articulate the emotions I'm experiencing. I loved and hated the moment I flipped through the last page. When I realized there was no more to Jenny's story and that I had finished it, I felt my heart aching. Amanda Gray's brilliantly composed plot and characters swallowed me as a whole and I am perfectly content to stay in this mesmerizing dream.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (3) : Hollow City (Miss Peregrine, #2) by Ransom Riggs

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I bet most of you have heard or read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Sadly, I haven't gotten to it yet (but hopefully soon). The reason I mentioned this is because some of you may not know that Ransom Riggs' sequel to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will be released next Tuesday! Hence, I would like to take the opportunity and feature Hollow City in this week's WoW ;)

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine, #2)
by Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release: Jan 14th 2014
Pages: 352
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages.
My Notes:

I don't know about you, but this cover gives me all kinds of chills. A black and white photograph, a ghosty child with a gaping hole in her body, and what seemed to be the ruins of a city, all of which aim to bring you a spooky sensation. Based on my past experience, I don't do well with horror novels (which might be the reason why I haven't read any of Miss Peregrine books), though many told me this series is not exactly the conventional horror fiction. In order to give it the benefit of doubt, I decided to try out the first book soon, and who knows, maybe I will become a die hard fan for Ransom Riggs afterwards :P What's your WoW this week?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (2) : Resolutions for 2014 (a blend of bookish goals and others)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, a different "top ten" topic will be selected and shared. 

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is the Top Ten Resolutions for 2014.

I have always liked the idea of making resolutions, to set goals and expectations in a more organized and structural way. However, from my past experience most of my resolutions never got fulfilled or even looked at again after I wrote them down. This year though, I'm hoping things will be different because the whole internet (yes, all of you) is my witness. I will try my best to stick to these goals and reflect on my progress periodically. Wish me luck!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Review: Chrysalis (The World of Bid'ABan, #1)

Author: Michelle Cornwell-Jordan
Series: The World of Bid'ABan, #1
Publisher: 3CM Media (self published work)
Release: Sep 30th 2013
Source: Author for review
Pages: 212 (ebook)
( Amazon | Goodreads )
Ayda Blackhawk is the beautiful, mysterious new girl at Kindale High School, in the Earthen Elemental Division of Bid'ABan. She is not there to make friends but to bring destruction. Her assignment? To kill the Thunderkin heir Adrian Dusong.

But when Ayda meets the handsome Adrian, a twist of fate changes the rules. Ayda and Adrian find themselves, along with their world, at the cross roads to either destruction or redemption.

So it seems that my misfortune continues. If reading Rouge was a mistake led on because I misjudged its contents by the fancy cover, then picking up Chrysalis was a mistake caused by the exact opposite reason. I wish I had judged the cover more, that way I probably would have saved myself from this unsatisfactory read. I always try my best to support self published books and authors, but Chrysalis is perhaps one of those which made self published books to have such a bad reputation.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Liebster Award

Hi everyone and happy Saturday! It's always great to finally get some relaxation time on weekends. I  don't know what you have planned ahead, but I know exactly what I will be doing - sleep ;) 

A couple of days ago, I was nominated by Aneta from Angelic Book Reviews for the Liebster Award. (Thanks Aneta!) I'm truly honored by this nomination and I hope you will enjoy your stay here at Spare Reads even more in the future!

For those of you who don't know, Liebster Award is an award given to bloggers by bloggers aiming to spotlight amazing new blogs with less than 200 followers. There are so many great blogs out there and Liebster Award post is a great way to get to know about them. I encourage you to follow all the blog links in this post and see what kind of wonders are happening over there.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Review: Rouge (Rouge, #1)

Author: Isabella Modra
Series: Rouge, #1
Publisher: Smashwords (self published work)
Release: August 20th 2013
Source: Author for review
Pages: 297 (ebook)
( Amazon | Goodreads )
“You have a fire inside of you.”

Hunter Harrison is no superhero. She doesn't wear a cape, or a lycra suit, or prance around dark alleyways looking for punk-ass kids to torment. But Hunter has a power; the power to control fire. And it is one nasty flame brewing in her soul.

In the midst of her senior year, uncovering the truth about her parent's death and how she came to inherit such abilities, and falling in love with a nerdy activist from her school, Hunter finds herself in a battle with a supernatural flame that reacts to her every emotion. Anger, fear, even passion arouse the flame within and Hunter fights to keep her identity secret whilst also protecting those she loves.

But being a hero is easier said than done, especially when tragedy strikes and Hunter is forced to make a choice; let the fire take control and seek revenge for her loss, or walk away. But mercy is a bitch, especially when there’s a fire boiling inside her hotter than the darkest pits of hell.

When I first saw Rouge on Goodreads, I was immediately drawn to it by the cover. The floating fire along with the darkness surrounding it fired up my interest almost instantly. Needless to say, I was excited to pick it up. Unfortunately, Rouge is one of those books which have exquisite exteriors but fail to deliver anything memorable as far as stories and characters go. I guess it is true that you can never judge a book by its cover.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (2) : Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Happy New Year's Day, everyone! This week I have chosen to feature a YA Contemporary novel.

Love Letters to the Dead

by Ava Dellaira
Publisher: Macmillan FSG
Release: April 1st 2014
Pages: 323
It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.
My Notes:

I stumbled upon this book on NetGalley one day and immediately I was like this is such a nice cover! And then one thing led to the other, it wound up on my WoW post :P But to all seriousness, the title and synopsis of this book sound very interesting. Love Letters to the Dead is a book about growing up, about accepting and forgiving. It seems like both Laurel and her sister May have some troublesome past. With May gone, I can't imagine how much Laurel struggled to move on. I don't read contemporary novels that much but this is definitely one I want to check out.