Thursday, September 25, 2014

Birthday Haul!!

My birthday was in September. I bought myself some stuff and got some as well.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zavin
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski
The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
The entire Tiger Saga by Colleen Houck


Much thanks to my friends and family who were so generous, and myself for buying myself most of these books :D (hey self love is much needed for birthdays, and what better way to express that then to by yourself a boatload of books? Like the ENTIRE TIGER SAGA? Hush sensible Carmen, you didn't spend that much on yourself) 

I have read a couple of the books in that stack, and I would recommend My Life Undecided to contemporary fans, and if you want to check out my review of the Grisha Trilogy you can find it here. You can also find my review of The Tiger Saga here.

Also this post is a little late because I waited after my birthday to haul The Perilous Sea and The Infinite Sea along with everything... they just had to come out after my birthday. BUT I JUST NEEDED THEM.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Book: Black Ice
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Rating: 4/5 stars - I feel like I enjoyed this more than I should've.. but hey it was fun
Release Date: October 7th
Synopsis (as found on Goodreads):

Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late. 

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage. 

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target. 

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally? 

BLACK ICE is New York Times bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick’s riveting romantic thriller set against the treacherous backdrop of the mountains of Wyoming. Falling in love should never be this dangerous…


*I received this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway, but this has in no way affected my review. (except for getting this review out earlier I guess) Merci beaucoup :)

If you guys didn't know or have been living under a rock for 5 years recently, Becca Fitzpatrick is the author to the good old Hush, Hush Saga. Now my feelings about that series are... mixed to say the least so to be completely honest, I didn't really walk in with high expectations.

Maybe it's because of those expectations, but I weirdly enjoyed the book. I certainly had issues with it, it was by no means perfect, but I did like it enough.

Now going into this I knew it was a thriller/mystery type novel (which is why it was an awful idea to read it in like the dead of night) so I was looking to see if there was that edge of tension and dark atmosphere and a solid mystery with good foreshadowing that didn't give away too many clues.

The prologue? ABSOLUTELY CHILLING. The tension was done so well, and the atmosphere was quickly introduced and it spurred us to keep going to see how it all linked together. I don't know if it's good or sad that it might be my favourite part of the book.

One thing I did really like from the Hush, Hush Saga is how well Becca Fitzpatrick made a dark, edgy almost grim atmosphere in a real world setting. I think that's something hard to do well, and I think that is one thing Becca does very well, and it shows through again in Black Ice. The atmosphere is gritty, bleak and yet it felt like it could actually happen on that off chance of luck.

The mystery held up a lot longer than I thought it would (for me), and even once I started putting two and two together, there was still good suspense, because once you know, the next thought is: wait so how is everything going to come crashing down??? I think the plot was built very well to let readers kind of figure things out one step ahead, and even after, there's still this small amount of suspense to keep you going to see how it all unfolds.

My main problem is that I didn't care for the main character at all... there's really no stakes in it if you don't really care if the main character lives or not. Britt was your typical hormonal teenage girl... seriously this book probably would have never happened if she wasn't so nutty over her ex. I can let the teenage stuff slide a little because I am a teenager and I get it. Other than that though, there's nothing about Britt that particularly stands out, besides being REALLY STUPID AT CERTAIN TIMES.

That aside, the other characters were enjoyable, the romance was... okay? I had issues with it but it's not like completely unbearable. A part of me wants to yell about it, a part of me thinks it's kind of weirdly cute.

Overall, Black Ice is a gripping, tantalizing and dark thriller, but it lacks a bit (okay kind of a lot) of a punch in the character department. Gold star for the atmosphere though.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Web Series Review: Emma Approved

Series: Emma Approved
# of episodes: 72
Rating: 4.75/5 stars- I think might love this more than LBD??!!

Synopsis (as found on the Pemberly Digital page):

Pemberley Digital presents Emma Approved, a full-­length adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic Emma.  The series follows the iconic Emma Woodhouse, re-imagined as a young brilliant entrepreneur who runs a life coaching and matchmaking business with her business partner and lifelong friend Alex Knightley.
As Emma’s elaborate schemes to make everyone’s lives better lead to unexpected dramas and revelations, she learns to listen to the people around her and open her own heart to the possibility of love.


*this review comes to you from a girl who is only halfway through Emma. Therefore, comparisons between the book and series will not be made. 

Going into this series, I obviously had high expectations, because of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. (Emmy worthy need I remind you) 

My impression when I watched the first episode that there was a lot of room for character growth. Emma, while I loved her sassiness, had a couple things to learn. (Like those khakis were actually pretty hot *cough)

Over the weeks, I grew to love this wild and confident character who was unnervingly loyal to her friends, and tries to do the right thing, even though her ways may be a little twisted.

Joanna Sotomura plays Emma with such earnest and honesty. I loved her portrayal of Emma, and she and Brent Bailey had some serious chemistry. (Probably because they became a real life couple halfway)

Speaking of Brent Bailey, his portrayal of Knightley was AMAZING. Of all the characters, I think he had the most realistic feeling to him and one of the most enjoyable adaptations of Knightley.

The story arc was pretty well done, with the hiatuses timed in well with the storyline. I liked how we had a set arc for each month and how everything came together, the transmedia (I was kind of on and off on the transmedia side of things though) and the characters.

If you guys know, Emma Approved is set in the same universe as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and the little shoutouts to the series is great, and a character from the Lizzie Bennet Diaries returns to make a forceful impact to this series. I think that story arc where that character returns is probably my favourite because I feel like that created the most character growth.

In terms of transmedia, personally I really enjoyed Emma's blog. I think it emphasized her "lifestyle excellence" side of her character and it was really cute and fun. It's also a really great way for some fans to be able to purchase what those characters wear. (because sometimes you see a character on TV or wherever wear a shirt you want SO MUCH but you have no clue where to find it)

I feel like Emma Approved being a series coming after The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was bound to have them compared. While I think Emma Approved maybe not be as widely everybody's cup of tea as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was, I personally enjoyed Emma Approved a whole lot more. Maybe it was just really good casting, but I feel like the bonds between these characters are much stronger and there's so much more humour in this series. The characters are also much more unique. Aside from Lizzie, most of the other characters are very similar to the original novel (and yes I have read P&P shocker, I know) and it was very much just simply a modern adaptation, which of course made it successful because who doesn't love faithful adaptations. I think Emma Approved was more risky and creative, and for me, it really paid of, because Emma has a lovability in this series that I don't feel in the book (as least as far as the book I've gotten) and Alex is like 50 times more interesting.

As for Harriet and B-Mart I really liked them as well, although Harriet's character was sometimes so timid that I actually wondered how she's managed to not get taken advantage by other people all this time... but she did become a stronger character, and while her character growth was a bit slow, it did happen.

This series was much shorter than The Lizzie Bennet Diaries but it was just as enjoyable, if not more in my opinion. I think it's definitely worth checking out, and if you're a little put off by Emma's character at the beginning, I really encourage you to stick through and see it unfold. I hope that a continuation will continue (it's in the talks from what I've heard) and I would probably leap for joy if it did.

(Also, no need to wait until episode 98 guys... hehe)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Series Review: The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Series: The Grisha Trilogy
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Books: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising
Series Rating: 4.25/5 stars- spellbinding fantasy with a lush Russian background
Book #1's rating: 5/5 stars- I LOVE THIIIS
Book #2's rating: 5/5 stars- Ireadthatwrongright? RIIIIGHT???!!
Book #3's rating: 4.5/5 stars- a clean wrap up, but my heart...

Synopsis of Shadow and Bone (as found on Goodreads):

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.


*there will be a small spoiler section. 

The Grisha trilogy has been a fantasy series I have been nuts about ever since it came out. Actually before Shadow and Bone came out. I was dying to read it BEFORE it came out. (That's right. I was on that bandwagon before it blew up. WAAY before people even knew it existed.)

When I read it, I knew it was changing moment for fantasy. I didn't read fantasy with such rich, luscious culture and background for SO LONG, with a great idea/concept for the fantasy aspect, and ahhhhhhh fangirling.

Which leads me into a segment called: Fangirl Reactions.

Shadow and Bone:

But I mean I feel like he's going to turn out bad but like maybe not and he's so charming but but but
shit. I just kinda melted in a corner
oh okay I guess we're pulling a The Selection move here
aww crap don't do this to me
is it bad that I kind of want the other guy instead despite the fact he's like an evil Edward Cullen
well then. waiting begins. .___.

Siege and Storm:

Can we please spice this guy up a bit?
okay things just got rocky.
wooow okay nbd just slay it
I'm starting to feel a Shatter Me romance dynamic here.
So how will this romance work out??
*drools slightly

Ruin and Rising:

and once again the love interest makes me want to throw a rock at him for his stupid stubborn honour crap
*the moment when two of your favourite characters does shit to each other and you don't know how to feel
*awe in the continued momentum of badass powers at work
*more rock throwing at stupid honour crap
*blown away
the moment has come. omg omg omg omg
wait all that and-??
damn Leigh Bardugo sure knows how to work the evil charming guy
wait so that's it??
mmmmkay but.


I haven't written a fangirl reaction so intensely for a while with no gifs. I forget sometimes words are best, even though gifs are fun. (at least for me words are best)

What I want to focus most on in this review is talking about the characters. I'll go over the rest of the stuff a little later.

Alina: I liked Alina. I didn't think she was a particularly stand out protagonist, but she certainly wasn't an annoying one either. I enjoyed her character growth, but it again, it never blossomed into anything special for me.

Mal: He has this weird integrity and honour crap that makes me want to bitch slap him for and he's pretty much the cliché good guy you fall in love with stuff. I thought his character was bland and somewhat unoriginal. I can take this cliché if there are elements added to it but ergdfhkn HE WAS SO MEH. I only started caring for him a little more in Ruin and Rising, and where I was with his character in Ruin and Rising at the end is where I wanted to be at the latest is in the middle of Siege and Storm.

The Darkling: I was way too freaking attracted to this guy. I drooled a little in Shadow and Bone, I dropped the obsession in Siege and Storm and SHIT I ALMOST TUMBLED INTO THE DEEP END in Ruin and Rising. If Leigh Bardugo had made Mal even 20% as interesting as The Darkling, I might have given this series a solid 5.

Nikolai: Possibly my favourite character in this whole series. I can see why he could be thought as stereotypical, but he was such a welcome change from Mal's moodiness that I just loved him. He's so much fun out of all this serious, almost stiff characters in comparison to him. And somehow I feel like he had more character depth than Mal. Which is ridiculous if you read the series and think about it logically.

I also really like the side characters, but there's a) a fair amount of them and b) nothing I want to say about them that isn't a spoiler.

Characters aside, I think my next most favourite thing about these novels is the world setting. It's so rich with the Russian culture (not that I'm an expert) and it's absolutely stunning. One thing in fantasy that's really hard to do is to set up an entirely new world with non-existent places and have them work cohesively with everything else. But Leigh Bardugo did this so beautifully, almost highlighting the setting with the events.

Plot wise, it wasn't the most unpredictable, but there are a couple twists and turn here and there.

The ending. Oh the ending. I have two "sets" of feelings for it.

a) as a more critic-y reader

It wrapped up beautifully, it ended the way that fitted the characters, and it was a great end to everything. It was clean, it was explosive, it was an end well suited for the series.

b) as a fangirl



Guys, I'm so torn about this. I really did like the ending because I think it ended the way that suited the characters the best. But personally... I wanted more. And that's the reason for the messed up rating. (for those who noticed)


scroll down now really fast

I wanted redemption for the Darkling. I wanted him to realize what he was doing and to change. And I thought that there was a chance in Ruin and Rising, as we got to know him more and more as a human (which I had hope would happen in Siege and Storm but..) and I wanted him to change for the better. I wasn't asking for him to end up with Alina or suddenly be forgiven for his crime. but for him to take the first step to change. I wanted Nikolai to have a chance. I wanted him to be a serious competitor for Alina's heart. I want a better ending for him.

I mean, those are really more fangirl demands more than anything but I feel like they matter. Especially with the Darkling, I wanted to see him change.

I wanted to meet and to get to know Aleksander.


For fantasy fans, I think this trilogy is a must. I think it would a great one to marathon, a really nice series to just.. indulge. The fantasy aspect in this series is awesome and the relationships, romantic and friend, are great and the world will definitely take you away. While the ending was a little disappointing for my inner fangirl, I think it was a clean ending nevertheless. Give it a try.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September 2014

Monthly Wish List for this month and what I've read and seen this past month.

*So many books this month... the fall and winter seasons are always the best for books. And the worse for my wallet.

Book List: 

*synopses may be spoilery if you have not read the previous books in the series. All synopses were found on Goodreads.

Book: Heir of Fire (Book #3 in the Throne of Glass series)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: September 2nd

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?


Book: The Perilous Sea (Book #2 in the Elemental Trilogy)
Author: Sherry Thomas
Release Date: September 16th

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.


Book: The Infinite Sea (Book #2 in the 5th Wave series)
Author: Rick Yancey
Release Date: September 16th

The riveting follow-up to the New York Times bestselling The 5th Wave, hailed by Justin Cronin as “wildly entertaining.”

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

Book: I'll Give You the Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Release Date: September 16th

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world. 
This radiant, fully alive, sometimes very funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

Book: Winterspell
Author: Claire Legrand
Release Date: September 30th

The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The NutcrackerWinterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Thoughts from Carmen: The Nutcracker is one of my favourite tales. I really hope this does it justice.

Book: Illusions of Fate
Author: Kiersten White
Release Date: September 9th

Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

Thoughts from Carmen: Let me explain to you how torn I am about this. I'm really interested in this concept and I think it could go places but I have lost a lot of faith in Kiersten White over this year and this makes me very hesitant about this novel. BUTITSOUNDSSOGOOD

August Obsessions

Isla and the Happily Ever After (You can see my review here.)
Mark of Athena/House of Hades (HOLY CHEESECAKE OF POSEIDON.)

Other Stuff:
Emma Approved (The ending! ahhhh)

What I Read/Saw in August and Didn't Review:
The Art of Lainey
The Girl with the Windup Heart (Book #4 in the Steampunk Chronicles) [Will be reviewed]
Four: A Divergent Story Collection
Abandon (Book #3 in the Posession trilogy)
Ruin and Rising (Book #3 in the Grisha trilogy) [Will be reviewed]
Sentinel (Book #5 in the Covenant series)
These Broken Stars (Book #1 in the Starbound trilogy)
Opposition (Book #5 in the Lux series)

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