U.S. Only: A Discussion

Before I get into this, I want to establish a few things. Firstly, I am very fortunate to live the life that I live. I have always generally felt safe in my country (for those who don’t know, I live in Canada). I have always felt as if I have equal rights as a female. Sometimes I have even felt as if I am treated (unjustly) better than my male peers. I am also white, so I have never been discriminated against for my race. I have always had a roof over my head and food to eat. Sure I’ve had my problems. I have depression, and my home life has never been great for someone in my mental state. I’ve also been bullied and I’ve never felt safe at school because of it, but in the long run, my mess of emotional scars called a brain is pretty minor. There are people who are much worse off than me. I say this before I get into what I’m about to get into in case this discussion comes off the wrong way. I am truly grateful for what I have, but there has always been something that as an international book lover frustrated me.

If you live in the US, you will likely never know how much power the phrase U.S. Only holds. On bad days, it completely controls my mental state. On good days, it fills me with frustration. As a Canadian book lover, those words make me feel like I am getting ¼ of the experience on a daily basis. I feel left out.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why it has to be this way. Shipping is ridiculously expensive here. My family has had to pay well over $10 just to ship a $2 item. My brain gets all of this, but my heart doesn’t, and that’s the issue.

Where I live, I’m further south than some of the US, meaning I’m relatively close to the US. I also live slightly over 2 hours away from the “great” city of Toronto, one of the few cities authors actually visit if they come here at all. I am fortunate again, because while I once had to get on a train to my aunt’s house at 5 am to go to a 2 pm signing an hour away from her house, I can only imagine what it’s like for the girl sitting in Nunavut. Canada is also occasionally (thought far more rarely than it was a year ago) included in pre-order campaigns and giveaways. What about the girl sitting in South Africa who desperately wants a chance to win *insert title here*?

I’m just frustrated. I get that it can’t be fair, but is it bad to hope for it to be?

What does the phrase U.S. Only mean to you as a book lover? If you live outside of the US, how do you stop from feeling disappointed when you country isn’t included? Please discuss this in the comments. I really want to hear your thoughts. Also, please tell me if this came off as whinny. I want to know so I can improve and possibly do more discussions in the future.

Rosemarked ARC Review

Rosemarked.jpg

Number of pages: 400

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 3

Release Date: November 7th 2017

*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher (Disney-Hyperion) for providing a copy in exchange for a review. My opinions are honest and my own.

Rosemarked unfortunately is getting stuck on the list of books I did not personally enjoy, but can see other people will love. If I maybe had connected more with the characters, I think Rosemarked would have gotten a solid 4 stars, but I cannot in good conscience given 4 stars to a book I did not enjoy. I wish it all the success in the world.

I have to praise the world-building first, because it is truly fantastic. Firstly, this is one of the few books where (mostly) throwing the reader into a fantasy world actually works. I want to commend Livia Blackburne for this, since I seldom see this done successfully. The plague is also very well done. How it’s transmitted, the possible outcomes, and the symptoms are excellently explained. It’s nice to see everything check out with the world-building.

Speaking of the plague, I’m glad Zivah and Dineas weren’t some sort of rare occurrence. What I mean is, I’m glad remaining rosemarked or becoming umbertouched is not such a rare occurrence that we see no other characters experience it. A fault of a large amount of YA fantasy books is to try too hard to make the main character(s) seem special.

Zivah and Dineas were well done as characters as well. Zivah was kind, proud, and naïve, while Dineas was hardened by having to constantly watch his tribe struggle and die at the hands of a cruel empire. He’s bitter, but he has a great respect and love for his people. They were flawed, human characters. The only thing I take issue with is the romance. Once the potion works its magic on Dineas, the romance starts, which I feel is a little wrong. It also isn’t really established if there is to be further romance when the book ends. Dineas doesn’t really get to voice his opinion on the matter.

I’m wondering if there is going to be a sequel, because there isn’t one listed on Goodreads at the moment. I mean, I guess I’m curious to see if they can even defeat the empire, because I’m pretty sure the answer is no. Either way, I’m not sure the ending did what it was supposed to.

I think the biggest issue with Rosemarked is that it simply isn’t exciting enough. There wasn’t any point where I was on the edge of my seat, even during the parts that I should have been. It sadly lacks the gripping, action-packed plot necessary to keep most readers engaged.

Overall, Rosemarked was a well-written fantasy book, though it lacked excitement, earning it 3 stars out of 5.

Fight Like A YA Girl Tag

Thank you to Mandy from Book Princess Reviews for tagging me. If you don’t already follow her, click her blog’s name to go check out her blog and give her a follow. She’s constantly posting reviews, tags, weekly memes, and her own series called The Princess Read every Saturday. If you have ever wondered what your favourite Disney princess would read, it’s the series for you.

THE RULES

  • Thank the person who tagged you.
  • Mention the creator Krysti at YA and Wine
  • Match at least one YA girl with each of the themes below.
  • Tag as many people as you like!

WARRIOR GIRLS

A Crown of Wishes

Guari from A Crown of Wishes

GIRLS WHO FIGHT WITH THEIR MIND

These Shallow Graves

Jo from These Shallow Graves

GIRLS WHO FIGHT WITH THEIR HEART

The Wrath and The Dawn

Shazi from The Wrath and the Dawn

GIRLS WHO ARE TRAINED FIGHTERS

Crimson Bound

Rachelle from Crimson Bound

STRONG GIRLS OF COLOR

An Ember in the Ashes

Laia from An Ember in the Ashes (I would put more, but I’m trying not to repeat characters)

GIRLS WHO FIGHT TO SURVIVE

Dark Triumph

Sybella from Dark Triumph

GIRLS WHO ARE WEAPONS MASTERS

six-of-crows

Inej from Six of Crows

GIRLS WHO DON’T CONFORM TO GENDER ROLES

And I Darken

Lada from And I Darken

GIRLS WITH KICK-BUTT MAGICAL POWERS

Wildefire

Ashline from Wildefire

STRONG GIRLS IN CONTEMPORARY NOVELS

The Hate U Give

Starr from The Hate U Give

SERIOUSLY FIERCE GIRLS

Stitching Snow

Essie from Stitching Snow

Some of these are popular books, but I tried to put some lesser known books on here as well. There are so many other girls I would put here, but I wanted to keep it to one girl per statement (I’m apparently very lazy).

I Tag:

Aditi from Readers Rule

Marie from Marie’s Library

Kyla from Seelie Pages

I just went through the people I follow and picked some people, so if you don’t see your blog here and want to do this tag, I officially tag you.

Do you like tags? I created a tag a while ago, and as far as I know no one has actually done it. If you are interested, click here to check it out.

Edit: I forgot a question, so I’ll answer it here. My most anticipated release with a strong female character is Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao. 

Now I Rise Book Review

Now I Rise

Number of pages: 470

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 5

I’ve been a Kiersten White fan for a while, and while I recognize some of her earlier books are not high quality literature, And I Darken and Now I Rise are by far her best books. Filled with adventure, a respectful look at two different religions, violence, court intrigue, and romantic tension, Now I Rise is perfect for a variety of readers, which you can’t say often about historical books.

The thing about Now I Rise (as well as And I Darken) is that they don’t feel like historical fiction books; they feel like fantasy books. Think of your favourite fantasy book and remove the magic/ mythological figures and creature and you have Now I Rise. Now I Rise is far more fast-paced than your typical historical fiction book (I’m not bashing historical fiction books; I love historical fiction books. The issue with historical fiction is the pacing can lead to boredom rather quickly), and by far more bloody.

As Now I Rise is a historical fiction novel, it is very character driven. It’s a good thing the characters are all fantastic. I especially love Nicolae, Nazira, and Cyprian, who are all side characters. Nicolae never fails to make me laugh, Nazira is a fantastically rational character (for the most part), and Cyprian is so precious (and my favourite new character). I appreciate the main characters as well, but the side characters are definitely my favourites. All of the characters are shades of gray; nobody is black and white. They all fell like people rather than characters. Also, if Lada loses Nicolae from her men, I’m out.

Speaking of main characters, I’m so angry with Mehmed in this book. He’s so conniving, which is exactly the reason I didn’t like Radu again until he started to feel conflicted toward the people of Constantinople. Why on earth did Mehmed think he could do what he did to Lada. I wasn’t too upset until with him for using Radu, since he’s been using him for two books now, but doing what he did to Lada proves he doesn’t actually love her, since he clearly doesn’t know her at all.

I want to quickly touch on the religious aspect of this book, because I explained my feeling really poorly in my And I Darken review (the only reason I don’t remove that first paragraph is for transparency sake). As a person who doesn’t pertain to any religion (I’ve technically been baptised as a Catholic, but I’ve been to church roughly twice including my baptism, and this is a whole long and complicated story), I find it refreshing to be able to learn at least a little bit about other faiths, especially when they are represented as respectfully as they are in And I Darken and Now I Rise. I also love that so many views on faith are represented. There are devout characters like Mehmed and Hunyadi, to the faithless like Lada. This is the best and least forceful (I don’t feel like it’s pushing me to be a part of any faith) representation of religion I have read (it helps that this is one of the very few books I’ve read that features religion).

Overall, Now I Rise is fantastically written with excellent morally grey characters, earning it 5 out of 5 stars. If you haven’t started this series and are able to acquire a copy, forget whatever book you were about to read and pick it up. You can then join us in the pain of waiting for book three.

The New Disney Princess Tag

Disney Princess

Thank you to Aditi from Readers Rule for tagging me. Click her blog’s name to go check out her blog and give her a follow.

THE RULES

  • Mention where you saw the tag/thank whoever tagged you because that’s always good fun
  • Tag Book Princess Reviews and Zuky with their posts so they can check out the wonderful Princess fun throughout the blog world
  • Play a game of tag at the end!

Snow White

SNOW WHITE

THIS BOOK (LIKE THE MOVIE) STARTED IT ALL

Favorite Debut Book from an Author 

The Wrath and The Dawn

The Wrath and the Dawn duology holds the second spot on my (favourites) shelf, even after reading so many other 5 star books. The writing is beautiful, and Khalid should still be protected at all costs.

Cinderella

CINDERELLA

A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH

Just Like Cinderella, You Either Didn’t Expect Much Out of This Character in the Beginning but Turned Out to Be a Total Jem 

Exit, Pursued By a Bear

Almost all of my possible answers for this question were contemporary books. I find a lot of contemporary to not be very interesting, so the fact that I loved Exit, Pursued by a Bear was shocking to me. It also includes one of the most weirdly relatable lines in “Do you ever dream of the day when your life can no longer be adequately summarized by Kelly Clarkson songs?”

Aurora

AURORA

SLEEPING BEAUTY

A Book That Makes You Sleepy or Just Could Not Hold Your Attention

Flame in the Mist

I wanted to love Flame in the Mist, truly I did. Sadly, it was fairly uninteresting and disappointing.

Ariel

ARIEL

UNDER THE SEA

A Book with a Water/Ocean Setting

Salt to the Sea

I’m going to count Salt to the Sea for this one because it’s centered around a maritime disaster, despite the characters only being around water for the 2nd half of the book.

Belle

BELLE

BEAUTY AND THE BOOKS

Name a Book with the Best Bookworm/Book Lover

Throne of Glass

You have no idea how much it pains me to include Throne of Glass (if you’re new here, this series causes me great pain. So far, it has peaked at Queen of Shadows. I am willing to fight you on this), but both Celaena and Dorian like to read so it fits the question.

Jasmine

JASMINE

THE THIEF AND THE PRINCESS

Name Book with an Unlikely Love Story (Either in Terms of Romance or a Book You Didn’t Expect to Love So Much)

The Hate U Give

Like I said above, I’m not a contemporary book fan. In fact, other than Exit, Pursued by a Bear, all of the contemporary books I had liked before reading The Hate U Give had a mental illness or bullying aspect that I could easily relate to. I’m also one of those people who ends up going against the hype more often than not. That being said The Hate U Give blew me away. If you somehow haven’t read it yet, rectify that as soon as possible.

Pocahontas

POCAHONTAS

THE REAL LIFE PRINCESS

Name a Book that is based on a Real Life Person You Want to Read/Have Read

Legacy of Kings

All of the books I’ve read based off of historical figures (My Lady Jane and Legacy of Kings) I haven’t enjoyed because of how poorly executed they were and how much I value the history being “messed with”.

Mulan

MULAN

THE PRINCESS THAT SAVED HER COUNTRY

Name the Fiercest Heroine You Know

And I Darken

Lada from And I Darken is the fiercest and most blood-thirsty protagonist I think I have read about.

Tiana

Tiana

THE PRINCESS WITH THE COOLEST AND MOST DIVERSE CREW

Name a diverse book whether it is a diverse set of characters (like Tiana’s group of Naveen, Louis, Ray, and more) or just diverse in general

six-of-crows

I was going to put Six of Crows as my answer for Jasmine, but the Dregs are my favorite diverse, lovable, yet unlovable crew.

Rapunzel

RAPUNZEL

LET YOUR LONGGGGGG HAIR DOWN

Name the Longest Book You’ve Ever Read

For this question I had to go through the many editions of A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings to find the hardcover edition (I read the mass market paperbacks which are roughly 1000 pages), so that I could compare the page numbers to A Court of Wings and Ruin, and City of Heavenly Fire. A Clash of Kings is the winner by roughly 40 pages.

Merida

MERIDA

I DETERMINE MY OWN FATE

A Book Where There is No Love Story/Interest or Isn’t Needed

101_2945

I remember there being a romance in This Song Will Save Your Life, but if there hadn’t been any romance the book would still have been perfect.

Anna and Elsa

ANNA/ELSA

FROZEN HEARTS

A Book in a Winter/Cold Setting

Stitching Snow

Thanda where Essie works and lives is described as always having sub-zero temperatures.

Moana

MOANA

HOW FAR I’LL GO

A Character That Goes on a Journey

Strange the Dreamer

Lazlo goes on the journey of his dreams to find Weep in Strange the Dreamer.

I’m not tagging anyone because I can’t think of anyone to tag. If you want to be tagged, comment on this post that you want to be tagged and I will add a link to your blog here.

Favourite Book of the Month: June 2017

I’ve always wanted to do a TBR and wrap-up, but between school and my strange method for picking what to read next, the format isn’t a good fit for me personally. Enter this new series I’m trying out where I’ll be saying the best book I read that month. I’m a fairly hard reviewer to impress, so hopefully I will rate a book high enough each month to continue making these. Plus, it’s nice to be positive on For the Lover of Books once and a while.

I don’t have any 5 star reads from the month of June, but I did rate one book 4 stars, and another 4.5 stars, so I would say June was a more successful reading month than May, despite me having my last exams of high school.

Without further ado, my favourite book for the month of June is Hunted by Meagan Spooner. Hunted is solid Beauty and the Beast retelling more about the deep sense of wanting we all feel than anything. You can read my review here.

Hunted

What was the best book you read in the month of June?

Hunted Book Review

Hunted

Number of pages: 384

Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1

Rating (out of five stars): 4.5

I was never the biggest Beauty and the Beast fan as a kid. I guess my brain missed the part where I was supposed to love Belle because she liked to read like me (frankly, the main character being a reader is far too overplayed in YA). I have never read the original Beauty and the Beast, so I can’t speak to whether Hunted is closer to the original or the Disney version, but it is probably my second favourite Beauty and the Beast retelling (Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge wins for incorporating Greek mythology).

I have two minor issues with Hunted, the first being that the story isn’t very interesting until Yeva is captured by the Beast, and even then she’s wasting away in a dungeon for a solid amount of time. The story does eventually reach a point where it’s practically unputdownable; it just takes a while to reach said point.

The other minor issue I had with Hunted is I had no idea where it was supposed to be set until Yeva started telling the Beast Russian fairy tales. The setting isn’t really more established than that and talk of plentiful snow. I wish there were more descriptions of the setting instead of descriptions of how Yeva felt in the woods.

I liked that the “Gaston” character, Solmir, actually had a fighting chance. He was a good guy who was willing to let Yeva continue hunting and provide her with anything she could want. Unfortunately for him, Yeva’s want for something more could not be quenched.

This is primarily a story about wanting. Both Yeva and the Beast have everything they could ask for at points in their stories, yet they still want more than what they have. This sense of wanting is why Yeva and the Beast work so well together, and I think it’s the reason Hunted has resonated with so many people. At some point in our lives, we all want something more than what we have, and only a lucky few get to go out and find it.

There isn’t really any romance between Yeva and the Beast. It’s trully a matter of them seeing the same lonely wanting in each other. If you’re looking for a witty forbidden romance, you won’t find it here. It’s not instalove. Yeva and the Beast start off as “friends” (in the loosest use of the term), and move on to find the other is what they really need.

Overall, Hunted was an enjoyable Beauty and the Beast retelling, earning it 4.5 stars out of 5.