Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Pages: Pointe by Brandy Colbert!!!

Hello guys!

This week's Saturday Pages comes a lil later than usual because I finished this book so late last night that I was too tired to write the review upon finishing it and I needed to let the whole book sink in a bit.

It is February's Alyssa Recommends book and since that is one of the categories in my 105 Challenge, it is counted towards it, as well as my 2015 Debut Author Challenge, since it was a 2014 debut.

PointePointe by Brandy Colbert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pointe was one of my Alyssa Recommends books, and this month I felt like reading it, because I've been more drawn to anything and everything with ballet references as of late.

Theo is a normal teenager on the surface, dedicate to her love for ballet and doing well enough at school, going out to parties with her friends, and with one or two not so unhealthy habits. But very soon we see there's so much more in the past that we don't know, and the fa├žade of Theo doing well starts crumbling once a ground-shaking event happens, her best friend Dononvan who was abducted/kidnapped 4 years ago, when they both were 13, has been found and returned home.

With Donovan's return and the revelation of who his captor was, Theo has her world shaken to the foundation, and she finds herself slipping to an already known spiral for her, the same one she fell into 4 years ago, when her then boyfriend left without a trace and her best friend disappeared.

This book deals with a lot of tough subjects and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to bad language, eating disorders, sexual relationships, drug usage, rape and abuse. It also has positive relationships with friends and parents, safe environments and a main character that undergoes a lot of growth all through the book.

Theo is not a perfect character by any means, she has many unresolved issues and the one that requires more work is the fact that she doesn't see herself as a victim, even if her eating disorder was a desperate bid for control when she felt she had none, she always kept her secret and she refused to think that there was anything wrong with it, and once it really sinked in for me what had been going on between her and her "boyfriend"... I felt like I had been punched!

This book is definitely gritty and shows us a face that might one to ignore, the fact that teenagers do have sex, that even regular good teenagers that do have a drive and love for something so demanding like ballet can still do drugs occasionally, can be at risk in ways their parents can't suspect no matter how they try to protect them, and one of the best lessons from this book is how Theo's parents may not know what is going on, but they do take action, they are there for her daughter and remind her of that, they're not oblivious, but if you don't feel like you need help or if you don't know if you deserve the help... you are the one that will need to take the first step and you need to confide in someone at some point.

Despite what a tough book this is, it ends with a lot of hope, with Theo being the one to ask for help once she realizes she needs it, Theo learning to be strong enough on her own and not expecting someone else's appreciation to make her special. She decides that no one can heal her unless she does it herself, and that is a wonderful message of hope.

A brilliant debut, so tough, beautiful and poignant, very well deserved of 4 to 4.5 stars for sure! I'll be looking forward for more books from this author!

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Reads: Mrs Frisby and The Rats of NIMH!!

Hey there guys!

Happy Friday! This week's Friday Reads is once again this month's The Midnight Garden Classic MG & YA book! I'm so very happy to continue with this challenge and even more since this month for the first time, it was a re-read for me too!

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Puffin Modern Classics)Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I continue to take part of the Classic MG & YA challenge hosted by the ladies of The Midnight Garden and this month's book was for the first time since I joined, a re-read!

I read Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH when I was still in primary school and I think it was one of the first books I got from the public library as opposed to getting it from my school's library.

To be perfectly honest I didn't remember all that much about the book, to my shame, even if of course I knew I had read it and a very general idea. But once I started reading it I kept remembering the feelings that the book evoked in me, all those years ago!

Our main character is Mrs Frisby, a widowed mouse that is taken care of her four children on her own, and finds herself in a very tough position, where she needs to find a way to move to her summer house without it costing her the life of her younger & frail and sick child, Timothy. She finds herself getting help from unexpected allies, like a crow and an owl and finally the most unique and intelligent rats.

I remember being extremely fascinated by the rats and their past and I was equally fascinated this time around! It's fantastic how based on reality the whole labs of NIMH were, with the trials of different serums, the control group, the learning techniques with the mazes. How they were rather smart animals to begin with and how they began to improve and become more and more intelligent, plotting and planning and learning to read. I have a serious soft spot for characters in books that love reading!

I loved how strong a character our Mrs Frisby was! She was tough and kind and brave and knew how to get over her fear to do what she felt was right! The book was full of wonderful lessons like how kidness can be returned to you tenfold, how you need to make something of your own instead of simply taking the easiest way out, and it never felt preachy, which is quite an achievement!

This book really made me cheer for the rodents and hope for an alternative society of intelligent beings that were not humans. I must say that thinking about it now, this book is plenty dark and scary with the themes it deals with, but the main feelings I remember were of fascination and wonder!

A great book that was a lovely re-read for me! 4 well deserved stars!

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Reader's Lounge Book Club February: The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark!

 Hello guys! This Thursday is a special kind of Thursday, because I'm having an extra review included since this month is shorter and I don't have enough days to get everything done!

I'm having the review for February's book for my book club, The Reader's Lounge Book Club and also an ARC that I got from NetGalley! Thank you so much Emma for being amazing!

Since it's an ARC it's also part of my 105 Challenge and part of my books for review category!

The Boy Next DoorThe Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Boy Next Door was February's book for the Reader's Lounge (the book club I'm part of) and even though I started following pace, I ended up finishing it too fast because I needed to know what happened!

I found it a fun and quick read, that kept me turning the pages because I wanted to know when Gabe would finally get his shit together, and what was going on with Maddy's dad!

I absolutely adored everything that was about ice skating in this book, the training, the choosing of a new program with the choreography and the music. I've always loved watching ice skating (even if I cannot skate on ice or otherwise to save my life) and I know all the terms pretty well, so it was super easy to follow those parts of the book, and I feel I was as excited as Maddy to try for the triple Axel!

The relationship between Maddy and Gabe was alternatively sweet and frustrating for me. I liked that Maddy was proactive and knew what she wanted, but I really was irritated that Gabe kept on going on the secret thing and she went along with it. I was glad to have Gabe's POV because it kept me from wanting to punch him, because I could see how torn he was and how he thought he wasn't good enough for Maddy.

If the book would have only been about the skating and their relationship, it would have been enough, but then we had some added drama with Maddy's dad, and I feel like it was too much. It's also quite puzzling that give my line of work, I didn't guess what was going on at all!

What I really liked was that despite the drama and the hot and cold, both sounded like rather real teenagers, and I'm glad that the book was very sex positive, presented as something natural and showing how important consent and being sure about what you want is.

Not so in love with this one as I was with January's book, but very much worth the read for all the the ice skating bits! 3 to 3.5 stars to this one!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday #83!!

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted at Breaking The Spine  that spotlights those can't-wait-to-get-my-hands-on-them books that we are eagerly awaiting!

What book am I dying-of-impatience-because-I-want-it-to-be-here-but-damn-it's-not-yet, why is not yet here this week? The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows!!!

Goodreads Summary:

 Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Why am I eagerly awaiting The Orphan Queen? Two main reasons: it's fantasy!! And it's by Jodi Meadows!! Also, I read the sampler and I'm simply dying to read the rest! I NEED MOOOORE!!

What are you all (im)patiently awaiting this week?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tell Me Tuesdays #27!!

Tell Me Tuesdays is a meme/feature created by the awesome ladies of Please Feed The Bookworm and La La In The Library, where we can share how we choose the book we are currently reading from our TBR pile!

I'm always curious about that, cause as much as I tend to make myself a rough schedule for books to read and the like, I'm quite a mood reader and sometimes I just HAVE to ignore my schedule and read something else!

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

A new historical thriller masterpiece from New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Elizabeth Wein

Emilia and Teo's lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo's mother died immediately, but Em's survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother's wishes-in a place where he won't be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930s America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat.

Seeking a home where her children won't be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation?

In the tradition of her award-winning and bestselling Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein brings us another thrilling and deeply affecting novel that explores the bonds of friendship, the resilience of young pilots, and the strength of the human spirit

 Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny? 

 Uprooted by Naomi Novik

 Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

All these three are ARCs and I'm really enjoyed them all, though I haven't been making a lot of progress with them! Uprooted is a fantasy highly recommended by Jessica for Rabid Reads and she rarely leads me astray. Black Raven, White Dove is historical fiction with a different kind of narrative that I'm quite enjoying! And Shadow Scale is equally as gorgeous as Seraphina was, but I'm feeling like Phina is less in control that she was on the previous book and it's annoying me a lil how she fails to see some things coming!

  So what are you all guys reading and how and why did you decide to pick up that book? Shiny new ARC? Comfort read? Scheduled for review? Must have new release? Tell me!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mark This Book Monday: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop!!!

I'm starting this week's Mark This Book Monday with one of those recent amazing reads that I've been lucky enough to fiind! And I must thank again Octavia from Read Sleep Repeat for pushing the series on me relentessly and to Frannie from On Clouds of Pages for being an awesome buddy read buddy!

Murder of Crows (The Others, #2)Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once I read Written in Red, I needed Murder of Crows like the air I breathe, so I started it as soon as I could! And boy what an amazing book it was! It was even better than Written In Red! It was everything that Written in Red was but somehow more!

Be aware that even though I'll try to keep this review spoiler free, it might have some spoilers for book 1 and if I get too rambling and enthusiastic I might end up blurting something here and there...

Things have changed a bit since the events in Written in Red, the terra indigene at the Courtyard have adopted Meg into the family/pack and now she's one of theirs. And when Meg has a new prophecy about death and black feathers, the Others learn about a new twist in the threat to Meg and to themselves. And they decide to take the battle to the humans and the Controller.

We continue to learn a bit more not only about the history of the terra indigene and how humans evolved differently and separated from them, and how they came to interact. We learn more about how the Others work and have evolved, we learn about how humans have shun some of their own and these groups have become allies of the terra indigene, the Inuit. And we learn a little bit more about the cassandra sangue, their origins and how they came to be.

There's more about interactions between the human pack at the Courtyard and the police and the terra indigene, and how their opinions and usual reactions have changed and continue to change. And also we get more about the Humans First and Last organization and their rethoric. I loved how it showed how the mob mentality works and how the general feeling of the public can be changed, twisted and manipulated. The humans of Thaisia don't seem to remember history very well, and forget quite easily that they're not on top of the chain.

I simply love the evolving relationship between Simon and Meg, it's one of those couples that I ship like there's no tomorrow! There are some misunderstandings, and Simon keeps on thinking that having Meg around is a complication he shouldn't have allowed, but at the same time he doesn't want to lose Meg as a friend, or the kind of comfortable intimacy that they share, mainly when he's in Wolf shape.

One of the things that I love about this book and this series is the way the terra indigene are presented, like the dangerous predators that they are, and how humans don't seem to realize how in the wrong they can be. And how it makes my blood boil the way they deal with the "benevolent ownership" for the cassandra sangue and how they are treated as less than human in most of the places they are kept. Humans don't always act as humane as they ought to towards their own and when it comes to power and the cassandra sangue... the fail.

I'm not even sure what else to say because I'd love to talk and talk and talk about this book and this series all and if you want to discuss theories with me, hit me up here or on Twitter!

I was so impressed with how the story was expanded, how the world building was expanded, with more knowledge about Thaisia and how the human settlements are part of it, the different continents and cultures. More about the Inuits and their past and what makes them special and more about the cassandra sangue, even if we're given the information very little by little. More about the characters, more about the world, more about everything!

I just cannot wait to continue learning more about this world and to see Meg and Simon's relationship continue to grow and progress! 5 stars to this one for sure!! READ IT!

View all my reviews

Saturday, February 21, 2015

2015 Book Blogger #LoveAThon: Mini-Challenge #1: Book Spine Poetry!!

To continue with the 2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon I'm doing the first Mini-Challenge and my very first Book Spine Poetry!

Dylan was amazing and helped me choose because I wasn't too inspired!

2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon Kick off questionnaire!!!

Hey again guys!!

This weekend there's an amazing event taking place in the blogosphere: the 2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon!! Organized and hosted by the lovely Alexa from Alexa Loves Books!

I'm gonna try and take part as much as possible but my work schedule might not be the best for this, given how I am a bit zombie today after working night shift!

But let's get this started! The first official post is gonna be a questionnaire so any of you lovelies that might be visiting the blog for the first time will get to know me a bit, and those that visit now and then will get to know me a lil better!

1. What’s your name?
 I have two first names, Maria Pilar, but I go by the second one only, so Pilar or Pili.

2. Where in the world are you blogging from?
Alcala de Henares, very close to Madrid, in Spain!

3. How did you get into blogging in the first place? 
I started blogging about handmade items and then transitioned to blogging about books because I've always LOVED books and reading.

4. How did you come up with your blog name?
I chose it when I was blogging about handmade stuff, so it was quite self explanatory, thinking of changing it soon though!

5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?
Mostly I read and review science fiction and fantasy, and a few contemporaries now and then!

6. What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?
I usually do a meme or two, and when I have the time to do so, I have my Ink & Batter feature, where I shared book inspired decorated cupcakes!

7. Best blogging experience so far?
I've loved connecting with fellow bloggers and reaching out to authors and taking part in tours and the like. And one of my fave things have been doing matching Ink & Batter and Cover Puppies posts with my friend Becca from Pivot Book Reviews!

8. Favorite thing about the blogging community?
Interacting with authors and being able to flail and comment the good and the bad with people that understand my feelings and craziness about books!

9. Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2015!
Hmmmm, Queen of Shadows and ACOTAR by Sarah J Maas, The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger, End of Days by Susan Ee, Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows and The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater... and I could go on and on and on!!

10. What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?
A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller and All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill! And as for a recent series that more people need to read Every Breath and the next two books in the series by Ellie Marney!!

11. Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?
I think Rachel Watts from Every Breath because despite not liking being out of her comfort zone, she takes risks and is kick arse!

12. Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?
I love baking and photography and travelling!

13. Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?
As of late, mostly housewares, because I'll be moving to my own place soon and I am enjoying choosing dishes and glasses and the like!

14. At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?
Defying Gravity from the Wicked Musical, it's the song that manages to put me in a good mood no matter how awful I feel as of late!

And that's all for now folks!