fantasy · retellings · young adult

Review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns


Author: Julie C. Dao
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings
Series: Rise of the Empress

 

Summary from Goodreads:

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Comments:
Finally, finally. I had anticipated its release because East Asian fantasies are my ultimate favorite. I had a couple of chances to read it but life happened (as you can tell by this blog’s shortage on posts by me). But I finally did it! I finished the book! It’s so lovely.

Okay, so before this I read Julie Dao’s “Pumpkin Patch Princess,” which is very cute and fun. FOTL is definitely nothing like PPP but I enjoyed it so much. Even though this is an anti-hero story and therefore, dark, as expected, I could not help but think of just how pretty everything in the Feng Lu universe is. Julie Dao knows how to build her worlds. Her descriptive use of words can evoke vivid images to the reader’s mind. I even enjoyed how she described Xifeng’s little village at the beginning. I could almost smell the different odors haha. Then the descriptions at the Imperial palace reminded me of the Chinese period piece movies I enjoy watching!

This is a retelling of Snow White. FOTL takes us through Xifeng’s journey and development into the Evil Queen. This is brilliantly told because, from the beginning, the reader would root for Xifeng, but might be able to see her budding dark ambition at the same time. She is not evil from the get-go. She is beautiful, knowledgeable, and talented. But she is also at war with herself.
(Also this is random but while reading, in my head, I pictured her looking like the actress Gong Li, who is excellent at portraying both simple country girls and empresses!)

I have to now wait (im)patiently for the sequel this October!

“She knew her own worth. She would seize her destiny with all the strength and spirit within her, and bend them all to her will: every man kneeling and every woman overshadowed.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

2018 Weekly Updates · contemporary · crime · fiction · March 2018 · mystery · thriller

Weekly Update: March 19-24, 2018

Week 2 of my weekly updates! I’ve accomplished a lot, reading-wise, this March. Thanks to all the Goodreads challenges I’ve joined. I hope to be able to keep this up. 

Have Read

03/21Goodbye, Vitamin

Author: Rachel Khong
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Summary from Goodreads:

Goodbye, Vitamin is the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father’s career; she and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits – in the absence of a cure – of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become.

My Rating:   

03/23 6th Target

Author: James Patterson
Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Crime

Summary from Goodreads:

When a horrifying attack leaves one of the four members of the Women’s Murder Club struggling for her life, the others fight to keep a madman behind bars before anyone else is hurt.

And Lindsay Boxer and her new partner in the San Francisco police department run flat-out to stop a series of kidnappings that has electrified the city: children are being plucked off the streets together with their nannies–but the kidnappers aren’t demanding ransom. Amid uncertainty and rising panic, Lindsay juggles the possibility of a new love with an unsolvable investigation, and the knowledge that one member of the club could be on the brink of death.

And just when everything appears momentarily under control, the case takes a terrifying turn, putting an entire city in lethal danger. Lindsay must make a choice she never dreamed she’d face–with no certainty that either outcome has more than a prayer of success.

My Rating: 

 Image result for 5 stars

03/25 All the Missing Girls

Author: Megan Miranda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Summary from Goodreads:

Like the spellbinding psychological suspense in The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive, Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse.

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

My Rating: Image result for 2 stars
Currently Reading

 Joyland by Stephen King – Wow, after another week, I’m still reading this one. I’m not even halfway through! 

 7th Heaven by James Patterson – I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this book would be as brilliant as the one before.

 Next Book to Read: This World We Live In (Last Survivors #3) by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Book Suggestions

  • The Fixer (The Fixer #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (re-read)
  • Queen of the Dead (The Ghost and the Goth #2) by Stacey Kade
  • Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) by Gail Carriger

I have a task in one of my challenges that I’m still having a hard time deciding.

Read a book with a backside on the cover (butt, bum, ass… You get the picture. May include other body parts, may be clad) OR a book with a five-letter title.

Any thoughts?
2018 Weekly Updates · contemporary · March 2018 · romance · young adult

Weekly Update: March 12-17, 2018

In an effort to keep the posts coming, I’ve decided to do weekly updates of books I’ve finished, started, and probably something that has caught my eye. I am active in Goodreads, but have been putting off creating posts because I’ve just been doing short reviews. Let’s see if this new format will help.

Have Read

03/14 The Start of Me and You

Author: Emery Lord
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

My Rating:   

03/15 The Secret History of Us

Author: Jessi Kirby
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Summary from Goodreads:

A near drowning…a coma for days…and then…

Olivia wakes up to realize she doesn’t remember. Not just the accident—but anything from the last four years. Not high school. Not Matt, the guy who is apparently her boyfriend. Not the reason she and Jules are no longer friends. Nothing.

That’s when it hits her—the accident may not have taken her life, but it took something just as vital: her memory. The harder she tires to remember things, the foggier everything gets, and figuring out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was.

But then there’s Walker. The guy who saved her. The one who broke her ribs pumping life back into her lungs. The hardened boy who keeps his distance despite Olivia’s attempts to thank him.

With her feelings growing for Walker, tensions rising with Matt, and secrets she can’t help but feel are being kept from her, Olivia must find her place in a life she doesn’t even remember living.

My Rating:   

Currently Reading

 Joyland by Stephen King – After a couple of failed attempts at finishing a Stephen King novel, this might emerge as the first win!

 Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong – To be honest, I had no idea what this book was about. I chose it because its cover fits a description for one of my Goodreads challenge.

 6th Target by James Patterson – The Women’s Murder Club book series are automatically in my lineup.

Other Things

I have realized that I’ve started books from series and really liked them, but was too lazy to look for the next books. To work on this, I’ll be listing some options:

  • Feathered Serpent, Part 1 (Tennis Shoes #3) by Chris Heimerdinger
  • Born of Deception (Born of Illusion #2) by Teri Brown
  • This World We Live In (Last Survivors #3) by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Watch out for my next week’s updates!

 

 

historical fiction · mystery · sci-fi

Review: A Murder in Time

Author: Julie McElwain
Genre: Mystery, Historical, Science Fiction
Series: Kendra Donovan

Summary from Goodreads:

Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates.

While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place – Aldrich Castle – but in a different time: 1815, to be exact.

Mistaken for a lady’s maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there’s some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.

Comments:

When I read the title for the first time, all I could think about was a Wrinkle in Time. Would this be related to that well-known classic? It somehow was.

I wasn’t entirely sure if I would like the story since I’m not a fan of fantasy, especially time-travel. However, I have to admit that this element has added more interest and color to the story.

Kendra Donovan is an FBI agent set to seek revenge when an operation for a high-profile criminal killed her teammates. Despite careful planning, things didn’t go as planned due to some unforeseen circumstances. The most surprising factor was when Kendra was sucked into a wormhole and was ushered into a different time period.

As this book so openly pointed out, evil is ever present and that’s what Kendra realized when a serial killer hunted young girls. It was up to her to use her skills, deduction, and training to identify him and put an end to his crimes.

I’m always up for a good mystery and crime book so I really enjoyed this one. I must commend the author as I didn’t have the slightest idea who the killer was. It was also a breath of fresh air to see how criminal procedures were done during that era, where technology did not exist. I will definitely read the next book as I need to know how Alec and Kendra would turn out!

“Whoever had said that appearances were deceiving was only partially right; they could also be deadly.”

My Rating: ★★★★ (4)

2017-love-a-thon · introduction

2017 Love-a-thon Introduction Post

2017-love-a-thon-graphic

So I am joining the Love-a-thon event this year! Here is my introduction post for it. This is also for the long-time readers of this blog who know Kate, but not Meg.

An Introduction to You and Your Blog

1. What’s your name? Where in the world are you blogging from?
Hello, I’m Meg. I am 1/2 of Spills and Spoils. Actually, more like 1/6235467523674 since I have only joined this blog recently.
I grew up in the Philippines but I now live in the American South.

2. Tell us your history with reading. Were you always a reader? Were you a reluctant reader? Was there a book that convinced you to become a reader?
I’ve been reading for as long as I remember. In fact, I think I got bad eyesight from reading too much, without even caring about the lighting. I had to start wearing eyeglasses when I was around eleven.

I don’t think there was a particular book that influenced me to become a reader. I do remember my mother reading to us bedtime stories. 😀

3. How did you get involved in the online book community?
It’s actually Kate who got me into joining Goodreads. She started a private blog just to keep tracks of books she read. She recently approached me with the suggestion of joining her on this blog, so, I’m pretty new still.

4. How did you choose your primary platform (blog, Instagram, YouTube, etc)? How did you come up with your blog name?
Well, I most certainly am not comfortable BookTubing… *nervous laugh* I remember I started a YouTube account only for posting song covers, but that did not go so well. Writing is the best option for me.

And this is why it’s named as such according to Kate: “spills” because it’s spilling our thoughts as we write about what we’re reviewing, and “spoils” because when it comes to books, we overindulge. 😀

5. What’s your favorite thing about the online book community?
From what I’ve seen, so far, readers don’t judge each other based on their book preferences. I’ve seen some pretty harsh book reviews, but people never bash each other. (I hope I’m correct with this assumption, since I’m still pretty new…)

6. What sort of posts can readers expect from you?
Well, as it says on the About page, this is a book and movie review blog. But I, Meg, will only write about books. I’m not very creative when it comes to writing reviews but I do tend to spill my feels all over the place.

7. What book genres do you talk about most?
I’ve only got a couple of posts on here so far and they are all in the fantasy genre. I read other genres too, but Kate is the explorer.

Favorites

1. Favorite food? Beverage?
Food: Chicken
Beverage: Root beer, pink lemonade

2. Favorite color?
Green, blue, purple, and I’m really starting to like soft pink, haha.

3. Favorite things to do apart from reading?
Most definitely: learning languages. I am a polyglot as well as a linguist. I also like to draw and sing.

4. Favorite TV shows?
I don’t really watch TV, but I did enjoy watching these series: Castle, Criminal Minds, Drop Dead Diva, Pushing Daisies

5. Favorite movies?
The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. I like a lot of rom-com and Disney.

6. Favorite musical artists?
As of right now, I love listening to Jesse & Joy.

7. Favorite places to shop?
Sephora, Books-A-Million, Michael’s.

Book Talk

1. Favorite childhood books?
The Ramona Quimby books, The Babysitters Club, of course, Harry Potter.

2. Favorite books/series read in the last five years?
– The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer Nielsen
– Royal Circle series ( Gilt, Tarnish, Brazen) by Katherine Longshore
– Legend trilogy by Marie Lu
– Lethal Dispatch by Max Tomlinson
– The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (I’m really proud of myself for this accomplishment)

3. Favorite genres?
Fantasy, you already know that. I also like looking at historical fiction (I’m a little picky about time periods though), cookbooks, some children’s books, and science fiction.

4. Underrated book, series or author you love?
I like Max Tomlinson. His book “Lethal Dispatch” blew me away.

5. A book you want to see made into a film or tv show?
I think I’d like The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo to be made into a movie, so far.

6. Book boyfriend/girlfriend? Book BFF? Book family?
Book boyfriend: Leo Valdez from the Heroes of Olympus Series.
Book BFF: Luna Lovegood!
Book family: Definitely Katarina Bishop’s family in the “Heist Society” novels!

7. Books you want to read in 2017?
My to-read list is ever-growing, but I think:
– Some Rainbow Rowell since I haven’t read any books yet
– “Bloodline” and The Firebird series by Claudia Gray
– Divergent series by Veronica Roth
– Finish the Lorien Legacies (I am stuck in the penultimate book, I think!)
– The Lord of the Rings (been my goal for… lots of years now.)

fantasy · romance · series · young adult

Review: Throne of Glass

Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Throne of Glass

Summary from Goodreads:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Comments:

Okay, okay. Maybe I thought I was going to fizzle out near the beginning because I didn’t read continuously as I could have. I was quick to judge. Suddenly, things got more interesting. A lot of the books I had read recently have a “from extreme hardship to comfort and wealth but there’s something dark and scary in exchange” theme.

This story feels like a Hunger Games, complete with the one obvious rival and of course, a love triangle. HAHA. I love it. (My ship? Chaol/Celaena. ♥)

Celaena Sardothien… I don’t know how I feel about her. She is a feared assassin well-versed in a wide array of weaponry. She is a voracious reader (I’ve never really met an assassin like this). She likes playing the piano. She also loves wearing pretty dresses. She eats A LOT. She’s funnier than the main character in the last book I read but she is so… multi-faceted that I don’t know whether to like her or not.

But I think the way the mystery of the deaths of the Champions unfolds nicely. I was trying to guess who is behind all of that. It’s a tad bit predictable but not-quite-so-expected either. So it was brilliant, I would say.

Well, I hear this series has a lot of novellas and, I think, six (!) main books. I shall see if I can read the entire thing. I will definitely read the next book, because it might reveal more of Celaena’s past.

Oh, also, I should warn you: this is not a book for you if you like eating while reading. Or if you just have a weak stomach like I do.

“When she awoke every morning, she repeated the same words: I will not be afraid.”

My Rating: ★★★☆ (3.5)

fantasy · romance · series · young adult

Review: Shadow and Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: The Grisha

Summary from Goodreads:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

Comments:

I’ve been seeing the hype over the Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo, so I’ve been really curious. I was looking around and saw that there was a trilogy before that, though, so I decided to read the previous one first. I was chatting with the librarian at the school I work at and she let me borrow the book. Yay!

I guess, many readers would feel that this is somewhat your clichéd YA with a love triangle and a somewhat Mary Sue main character. But while reading I admit I was thinking, “This is my type of YA: the perfect blend of magic and romance.” To me, the first book in a fantasy series is important because most of the world building would be in it. And it didn’t disappoint: I love all the different kinds of powers the Grisha possessed and the hierarchy that comes with them. I also like the school setting (reminded me a little bit of Bloor’s Academy, and yes, even Hogwarts), though I wish they wrote a bit more about it.

I’m not quite a fan of childhood-friends-turned-into-more-than-friends stories, so when The Darkling started interacting with the main character Alina, I latched onto the ship. Somehow in my head The Darkling resembles Kylo Ren, except with “quartz gray” eyes. And the feels, oh the feels. Perfect.

Bardugo’s writing is great and I absolutely adored the Russian flavor of this universe. The pacing in the narration is a little off, though, so I docked half a star in my rating. Yes, I am going to read the next book, maybe even finish the trilogy before I pick up Six of Crows.

“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.”

My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 actually)