Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliot: Book Review

“I beg your pardon, I am a mountain tiger.”

Goodreads Synopsis: Young, beautiful, and witty, Ginevra de’ Benci longs to take part in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence. But as the daughter of a wealthy family in a society dictated by men, she is trapped in an arranged marriage, expected to limit her creativity to domestic duties. Her poetry reveals her deepest feelings, and she aches to share her work, to meet painters and sculptors mentored by the famed Lorenzo de Medici, and to find love.

When the charismatic Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, arrives in Florence, he introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers—a world of thought and conversation she has yearned for. She is instantly attracted to the handsome newcomer, who admires her mind as well as her beauty. Yet Ginevra remains conflicted about his attentions. Choosing her as his Platonic muse, Bembo commissions a portrait by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires an intimate connection between them—one Ginevra can only begin to understand. In a rich and enthralling world of exquisite art, elaborate feasts, and exhilarating jousts, she faces many temptations to discover her voice, artistic companionship, and a love that defies categorization. In the end, she and Leonardo are caught up in a dangerous and deadly battle between powerful families.

Commentary: Da Vinci’s Tiger was Owlcrate’s December book of last year. I was beyond excited to read it and the synopsis sounded very promising! When I finally got around to reading the book, it was not what I expected at all.

What I appreciate about this book is that the author took her time to research her history! It was obvious that the author wanted to make her novel as accurate as possible. I really liked what I learned about that time! It was a bit tough reading some parts in this book especially how men treated women. I didn’t like the protagonist’s uncle, her husband, nor her love interests. I like Ginevra since she is intelligent and feisty at times, but I didn’t completely love her. The book was too short for me to grow attached to her. Ginevra and the other secondary female characters were far more likable than the men, for the exception of Ginevra’s brother.

Initially, I thought this was going to be a passionate, romance novel. Oh I was wrong. This was not what I expected. There is hardly any romance. The two love interests are not swoon worthy at all. One is an ambitious ambassador, while the other one is eccentric. I was not a big fan of this love triangle, and it wasn’t done well. I thought Leonardo was going to have a bigger role in Ginevra’s life, but he is just a painter. I was expecting more conversations between Ginevra and him, but that did not happen either. Even though it’s too early to rank the worst book of 2016, this one is already a contender. The book just seemed to drag on and on. Also, there was not much romance in this book. I did love the world building, but it felt as if the author forgot about the characters. By the time I finished the book, I thought about the plot itself and let me tell you this: there is no plot.

I couldn’t relate to the characters and it overall felt bland. It did take me a while to finish this book because it was so boring. There was not much action going on at all. Even though this book is less than 300 pages, I kept falling asleep every single time I tried reading this book. I wouldn’t recommend this book at all. It was bland all together and not memorable whatsoever.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin: Book Review

I am Yael. I am Inmate 121358△X. I am your death.

Goodreads Synopsis: The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s ball.

Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

Commentary: I am a big  fan of books that take place during WWII era. This book caught my attention since this is a reimagining of a world in which the Axis Powers won the war. Sounds scary right? What I really liked about the book is that the author took her time to imagine this world where Hitler was still in power. The world was not perfect, it was in shambles. Most of the world was conquered by Hitler’s regime. There was no one to fight his rule, except for the underground resistance group.

Yael is a Jewish girl who was a victim of experimentation when she was forced into a concentration camp with her mother. Yael had the strong desire to live. Because she was experimented on, she gained the power of skin shift. Now, she can only alter herself completely, but only into other females. Each time Yael changes into another person, she loses a bit of herself along the way. She doesn’t even remember how she originally looked like. She changes into other people as a way to survive. But, even though she changes, she cannot get rid of any tattoos on her body.

I really liked Yael. She was strong and determined throughout the whole book. She had to become Adele Wolfe, in order to carry out her mission. Her mission was not an easy one, especially since Yael had to deal with both Felix, Adele’s twin brother, and Luka, a possible love interest of Adele.

She thought she was ready for this mission. Ready for anything. But not this. Not relationships. This wasn’t something she could fake.

I was on the edge of my seat, thinking that Yael’s true identity was going to be revealed. What made this book intriguing was that Yael wasn’t the typical protagonist from many YA books. She did feel wiser beyond her years and she’s a tough one. She struggles with her own identity as well. She had tattooed five wolves to remind her of the people she has lost because of the regime.

I really enjoyed how the book jumped from the past and present. Learning about Yael’s survival from concentration camp was really sad. I really liked how each wolf represented a loved one from Yael’s life:

Babushka – the one who gave her purpose.

Mama – the one who gave her life.

Miriam – the one who gave her freedom.

Aaron-Klaus – the one who gave her a mission.

Vlad – the one who gave her pain.

These were the names she whispered in the dark. These were the pieces she brought back into place. These were the wolves she rode to war.

I also liked Felix. I thought that he was a wonderful brother for trying to rescue his sister from race. Felix was the doting brother that wanted Adele’s safety and wanted his family to be whole again. During some moments of the book, I really thought that Felix was part of the resistance. Then there is Luka. He is the charming bad boy, who is in love with Adele. It was very difficult for Yael to not let her guard down. I do hope to see more of Luka in the sequel since I really liked him.

Even though there are two guys in this book, there is absolutely no love triangle. This isn’t a love story. It’s far more complicated and it makes you wonder about the what ifs. I really enjoyed reading this book. I really loved the race aspect! It made the book standout even more! The ending was a great cliffhanger! I was not expecting that ending at all, and I am so glad that there will be a sequel to this book.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo: Book Review

☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆  Goodreads Synopsis: The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Commentary: spoilers.gif

Wow, I can’t believe I finished the Grisha Trilogy! Many people I follow on Goodreads did not like this book, but I really liked it! I thought it was well done, but there where some minor issues here and there. Each book was terrific! I liked the first book, loved the second book, and this last book was satisfying. There were many parts of the book  that I loved! I ended up flagging most of Nikolai’s parts because he has the best lines in the book, seriously. You have been warned, my review will have many spoilers! If you haven’t read the last book, please don’t read this review!

Now what I loved about the book was that finally reader’s got to know the Darkling’s backstory. Since the first book, I wanted to know what his life was like, and what made him become that way. Though, I am not fully satisfied with his story. I also appreciated that Baghra revealed her past as well. At first, I thought that Morozova might have been the Darkling’s father, but he’s not. In fact, he is the Darkling’s grandfather.

I also loved the side characters especially Genya. I loved the scene where the King tries to accuse her of treason, but she stands up for herself. She is definitely one of the characters that I loved from the start. She proved that she could be a badass:

Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.

I was so happy that she and David finally got together. I was rooting for her happiness the whole time. I loved that Genya had her happily ever after.

I loved the Alina and Nikolai moments in this book. I got so excited when Nikolai showed up in the book!

“Being around Nikolai was always like this, watching him shift and change, revealing secrets as he went. He reminded me of the wooden nesting dolls I’d played with as a child. Except instead of getting smaller, he just kept getting grander and more mysterious.”

I just love the way he showed up in the book:

“I saw the prince when I was in Os Alta,” said Ekaterina. “He’s not bad looking.”
“Not bad looking?” said another voice. “He’s damnably handsome.”
Luchenko scowled. “Since when—”
“Brave in battle, smart as a whip.” Now the voice seemed to be coming from above us. Luchenko craned his neck, peering into the trees. “An excellent dancer,” said the voice. “Oh, and an even better shot.”
“Who—” Luchenko never got to finish. A blast rang out, and a tiny black hole appeared between his eyes.
I gasped. “Imposs—”
“Don’t say it,” muttered Mal.”

Overall, I just loved Nikolai in this book. Now one of my favorite moments between Alina and Nikolai was probably the meteor shower part. I really wanted Nikolai and Alina to be endgame so badly. Nikolai respected Alina, he accepted her for who she was. I wanted them to get married at the end of the book. I liked how Mal tried to be more of a friend for Alina, instead of love interest. I thought that the book was going to end with Alina and Nikolai’s relationship. My heart broke when Nikolai became one of The Darkling’s shadow soldiers. Nikolai went through so much. Even though he was able to return to normal, he lost a bit of himself after the battle. I was happy that he was finally able to become King.

I did like Mal much more in this book than the two previous books. I did not like Mal  in the second book. He was very insecure in the second book. This book changed my view on him. I liked how he was willing to sacrafice himself and his happiness for Alina. He put Alina first and he wanted her to marry Nikolai. Mal thought it was best that Alina if she were Queen. I like Mal as her friend rather than boyfriend. Mal is a good character, but I feel that Nikolai and The Darkling are far more interesting than him.

sippin tea.jpg

I really thought that the Firebird was going to be the amplifier. I would have never imagined that Mal would be the amplifier that Alina needed. I had to put the book down when I read that part, because I was a bit shocked. I took some time to think about Mal being the amplifier and it may have been a bit obvious, but I didn’t see it at first. I really liked that twist. Alina couldn’t have found the other two amplifier’s without Mal’s help.

Lastly, I am glad that Alina is not one of Morozova’s descendants. For a second, I thought she was related to the Darkling, and thank goodness that was not the case!

Now here’s what I didn’t like about the book. For the last book in the series, I was hoping for it to be longer. Like a 100 more pages would have been better. Secondly, I really wanted there to be more Darkling in this book, he appeared way less than I would have imagined. I did like his interactions with Alina, but he hardly appeared in this book! I really wanted the Darkling to redeem himself at the end, but he just proved to be evil. I didn’t want him to die! I wanted Alina to save him.

Also, I thought the battle between The Darkling and Alina was going to be a bit more epic.  I felt a bit sad during his funeral.

“Aleksander.”

His eyes fluttered shut. “Don’t let me be alone,” he murmured. And then he was gone.”

Where was the strong Alina from the second book? I felt that she lost her motivation to her cause. She felt much more weaker to me. Not as a strong leader I was hoping her to be. Alina could have done so much as a Queen!!! The ending was bittersweet for me. I really wanted Mal to stay dead.

oh well.gif

I felt that Alina could have achieved much more with Nikolai. She could have reformed her country. I just didn’t like how Alina wanted to fade into the background either! Even though she lost her power, she could have at least tried to become an ambassador or worked in the court. Though she settled down with Mal, I feel that he kinda hinders her growth as a person…

And finally, there was not enough Nikolai! I wanted him and Alina to get together so badly. I feel that Nikolai balances Alina more. I feel that as a couple, they would have been able to achieve much more reform as rulers. I do feel that they are a power couple. I am really sad that they were not endgame.

“You’ll still make a great king.”

“Of course I will,” he scoffed. “I’m melancholy, not daft.”

I could understand why many people did not like this final installment, but I enjoyed it!

Quotes: 

“I will strip away all that you know, all that you love, until you have no shelter but mine.”

“Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay. I tilted my head back. The stars looked like they were close together, when really they were millions of miles apart. In the end, maybe love just meant longing for something impossibly bright and forever out of reach.”

“In the end, maybe love just meant longing for something impossibly bright and forever out of reach.”

“I’m used to being the center of attention wherever I go. I’ve been told I could charm the shoes off a racehorse midstride, and yet you seem impervious.”

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.5) ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆

Monthly TBR: January 2016 and Bookish Resolutions

Hello world! I can’t believe that it’s a brand new year already!!! I want to start off the year strong and hopefully I can read more this year. For my December TBR list, I did fail since I didn’t finish reading all the books on my list, but that’s okay! I can always try again for this month! ଘ꒰ ๑ ˃̶ ᴗ ᵒ̴̶̷๑꒱و ̑̑

Books I read in December:

Bookish Resolutions:

I took a while to think of my resolutions. I want to continue writing on my blog because it is fun and this community is really friendly!! I hope that I can achieve my goals for this year.

  • Read 50 books
  • Attend a book event
  • Read more books written by indie authors
  • Make a book tbr jar
  • Keep a book journal
  • Take part in photo book challenges
  • Be more active on bookstagram
  • Participate in a Read-A-Thon
  • Join the gym. Now here me out on this, when I had a gym membership a couple years ago, I read a lot while on the treadmill. I hope to start that habit again.
  • Listen to at least one audio book
  • Unhaul books that I did not like
  • Make a list of upcoming dates and debuts of publications
  • Be more active on Goodreads, especially the groups that I joined! I will try to read the book of the month for the clubs that I have joined. ( ິ•ᆺ⃘• )ິฅ✧
  • Enjoy reading. I cannot stress that one enough! I don’t want to force myself to read when I don’t want to, I want to enjoy my pace even if it may be slow at times. ( •⌄• ू )✧

And now, it’s time for my January TBR:

ruin and risingGoodreads SynopsisThe capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Wolf by Wolf book coverGoodreads Synopsis: The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s ball.Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

the night paradeGoodreads Synopsis: The last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother’s village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take an interest in Saki and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family’s ancestral shrine on a malicious dare.

But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked… and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth – or say good-bye to the world of the living forever.

da vinci's tiger Goodreads SynopsisYoung, beautiful, and witty, Ginevra de’ Benci longs to take part in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence. But as the daughter of a wealthy family in a society dictated by men, she is trapped in an arranged marriage, expected to limit her creativity to domestic duties. Her poetry reveals her deepest feelings, and she aches to share her work, to meet painters and sculptors mentored by the famed Lorenzo de Medici, and to find love.

When the charismatic Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, arrives in Florence, he introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers—a world of thought and conversation she has yearned for. She is instantly attracted to the handsome newcomer, who admires her mind as well as her beauty. Yet Ginevra remains conflicted about his attentions. Choosing her as his Platonic muse, Bembo commissions a portrait by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires an intimate connection between them—one Ginevra can only begin to understand. In a rich and enthralling world of exquisite art, elaborate feasts, and exhilarating jousts, she faces many temptations to discover her voice, artistic companionship, and a love that defies categorization. In the end, she and Leonardo are caught up in a dangerous and deadly battle between powerful families.

These are the four books that I want to read for this month! Hopefully I can complete this month’s tbr!!!

Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaria: Book Review

tumblr_n1kmin4diw1qm7imdo1_1280

I chose Love Letters To The Dead because I was participating in a January buddy read on goodreads.com. Letters To The Dead is a contemporary and it is Ava Dellaria’s debut novel. It reminded me so much of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbsoky, which is one of my favorites, and I had no idea that he was her mentor, so I could see how he has influenced her writing style. I have to say that Dellaria’s writing style is unique, it feels like as if you were to stumble upon a box filled with letters and then you begin reading the letters in the box. As i was reading this book, I only got glimpses into the protagonist’s life, as she tried coping with her problems.

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven’t forgiven?

It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally 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 truly start to discover her own path.

In a voice that’s as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl’s journey through life’s challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.

Commentary:

I really liked Laurel, she tried to be so much like her older sister May and it was really to see how devastated she was when her sister died. Laurel always spoke highly of her older sister and at first, you are led to believe that May was perfect, but the more you continued reading, the more you found out that May was a tragic and flawed. May tried to be a good older sister to Laurel such as telling her sister that she was a fairy. When the big revelation was unveiled, I really felt sorry for the Laurel to have witnessed her best friend die. I would have never expected this story to be really dark, and i did feel really uncomfortable learning that protagonist was being molested. I had a hard time reading those parts, even though the author did not give explicit details of it. I would consider this book to be a coming of age story because Laurel went through a semi-destructive path and turned her life around near the ending. She finally discovered that she could be her own person and still have aspects of other people. I did have a feeling that her last letter was going to be addressed to May, and I was happy that it was.  I wasn’t a big fan of the romance she had with Sky, it could have been better if there was no romance just for her character. I was a big fan of the romance between Natalie and Hannah, it was really well developed and I was glad that they were able to get together in the end. Hannah had to overcome her insecurities and it was nice to see how much she changed from the beginning to end. I have to say that her family and friends were really supportive. I really liked her father, he was one of my favorite character and he was very likable because he cared so much about seeing his daughter try to live a normal life. I really liked how Laurel wrote to famous people, it was very interesting and unique! With each person that she wrote to, it seemed that different aspects of her personality were revealed. Overall, this book was an entertaining read. It’s a slow read, but it’s worth it.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My True Love Gave To Me (Anthology): Book Review

Long, Cold Nights Are For Falling In Love

I finished my first book of the year which was “My True Love Gave To Me”, an anthology which was edited by Stephanie Perkins.  My mom got me the UK edition for Christmas! I really wanted to finish the book before my holiday vacation ended, but I ended up working for most of my vacation. At least I got to finish it before class started!
In this book, there are 12 stories by several young adult novels and all of the holidays deal with the holidays.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟. I really wish this short story would have been longer. I read it three times and had fun with it. The romance was adorable.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link 🌟. I liked the plot, but I did not like the protagonist. The protagonist was a bit of a brat. It was a bit confusing to read.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena 🌟🌟🌟. It was a cute story. I could relate with Shy (the protagonist), but I did find that the romance was a bit rushed.

Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟. I found this story very memorable, and I liked the plot very much. I really wanted this story to be longer, and I found the ending of the story to be a little sad. Oh forbidden love.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟. This short story was the one I was looking most forward to reading because I love Stephanie Perkins writing style. I totally ship Marigold and North, they had a cute romance! Again, I wish it were longer.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan 🌟🌟🌟. This story was the quickest read for me, and what the protagonist was doing for his boyfriend was adorable. It was about keeping childlike wonder alive, like believing in Santa Claus.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black 🌟🌟. This one was darker than the other stories. I liked the fantasy element and the protagonist was likable compared to the other characters.

What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman 🌟🌟🌟🌟. I liked Sophie Roth, she was awkward and funny. I’m glad that both Sophie and Russell had so much chemistry. I really could connect with Sophie’s character such as her feeling like a foreigner in a crowd of people.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire 🌟🌟🌟. Vaughn was able to redeem himself in the end of the story. I was glad that he realized that he was loved and not hated as he thought. This short story was more about second chances, than his relationship with Gracie.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟. This story had to be my favorite and I really loved both Maria and Ben. They were the cutest couple, and I liked their chemistry. Ben was adorable while Maria was feisty, they were definitely a good match. This story made me really happy.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter 🌟🌟🌟. The romance was a bit rushed, but this story kinda reminded me of a lifetime movie. I was not expecting her to be famous at all, what a twist. It was heartwarming that Ethan’s family was open to having Lydia in their lives despite what the fact that she lied to them about being Huda (the Icelandic student).

The Girl Who Woke Up The Dreamer by Laini Taylor 🌟. I liked the magical element, but I had the hardest time reading and understanding the story. I felt that it didn’t match well with the holiday theme like the rest of the stories. It was definitely the most unique out of the bunch. I felt that it was more description than dialogue. The priest of the village was creepy, and the protagonist was okay.

Final Rating: 🌟🌟🌟 (3.5)