Monday, December 31, 2012

What the year brought

Dear 2012,

You gave me plenty to enjoy:

-185 books read (35 books more than I planned)
- Movies I had (not too patiently) waited to see:
Including its amazing soundtrack

- Fully enjoyed the Toronto International Film Festival with my mom & dad

- Did my share of supporting human rights with Amnesty International's campaigns.

- Gave Twitter a chance (and it made me glad).

- Had the unique opportunity to witness curious Oliver grow up and learn to talk, walk and explore. Better yet, that his lovely parents whom I adore, will add +1 to the fam. And on these lines, happy for the news that Martina will be welcomed next year to Fede's family.

-  Had a new tattoo, died my hair, saw some dear friends (catched up with some more... but not enough, I know), played and lost a few rounds of games with friends, met Deborah Harkness and went to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

- And above all, I had the best of times enjoying every single day with my best friend & partner in life:

Dear 2013, I hope you'll be as spectacular as the previous. 

Lots of love for everyone,


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Beautiful Disaster

Beautiful Disaster
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh Woohaaaaa
This was one of those books that I couldn't put down!! But it gave me many mixed feelings.... a little bit more depth of main characters would have been nice. Though I have pulled a all too familiar 'all nighter' with this one :P I'll have to gather my thoughts and come back later.
I am conflicted. On one hand I could not stop reading this book, however this is not a prime example of its literature awesomeness... specially since this also happened with the 50 dreadful Shades one *shhh don't tell*
However, this book left me a with sour taste. But really, sometimes I crave lemons on a cold day! Ha ! So this is truly ambiguous. I kind of sort of feel like undecided about this one.
Beautiful Disaster is written from Abby's POV. She is a Easter University student who moved from Kansas to start with a clean slate. She purposely chose a place where she can be a different person, and her past/family won't interfere. She meets Travis 'Mad Dog' Maddox, a student who's way of earning extra money is through an underground fighting/betting ring called the Circle. He is a 'bad boy' in all its stereotypical glory: sleeps around without any strings attached, has little temper, is full of tattoos, smokes, drinks like crazy and becomes madly obsessed with Abby. He is majoring in Criminal Justice for real?, and apparently is a very smart guy. However, his actions are not very consequent with his choice of study... But.....whatever, it's all good in writing... Right?
Now, insert every imaginable drama+breakup+romantic plot you can think about + a couple of trips to Vegas, and voila! This is the Beautiful Disaster.
I felt that the characters were not very 'realistic' and their motivations were not very clear. Beyond the explanations of Travis and Abby's family and how they families were, it sounds a bit overstretched?
Abby's lack of agency is truly annoying and Travis' aggressiveness, protectiveness, jealousy, childish behaviour and obsession with Abby - AKA Pidgeon- got under my skin.
But again: I could not STOP for the life of me reading this addicting book. It's 416 pages went through very quickly and I felt like a zombie afterwards.
I have read a few contemporary fiction YA books with complicated 'tortured' characters. Bad boys and Bad girls. Full of issues and family drama:
Easy, Pushing the Limits and On the Jellicoe Road. I can imagine some good scenarios that could have been better described. For example the whole Parker issue was very unclear. Her relationship with her dad. He just shows up and briefly leaves a whole mess. What happened with her mother. What was her upbringing... I felt like there was much more substance to write about beyond this strange tortured relationship.
Maybe I had higher expectations about this book after reading these previous ones. Or perhaps I was just in another mind frame, by being on an incredible reading spree where each book I'm reading is simply amazing.
As a fellow Goodreader (Kerry) points out, this is 'a tale of toxic co-dependency.' And I am convinced that this novel is as toxic as the relationship it describes, mischievously making me an addict with each turn of the page.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Instead of browsing I should be reading

Is it random that I like the down page illustration of Goodreads as much as I love the actual site?

Since Alice looks so peaceful reading I should be doing the same :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

On how I get easily entertained with a book series

A year and a month ago I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, and I loved it. It's as eerie and mysterious as its book cover. I sat down and in 2 days I finished this book. I was very happy to know that this is a trilogy, so I did assume many unanswered questions will be present. Oh boy...I was blissfully assuming just some lingering plot lines unresolved. And I was happily disappointed! This book was better than I expected and more than I though I wanted. So I sat down today with book #2 The Evolution of Mara Dyer and all of a sudden I just had the strongest necessity to go back and re-read the first one. Not because I didn't remember... No no because I wanted to set myself up in that amazing mood!
Oh this was great! The best re-read ever! I have happily finished reading book #1 in less than 4 hours and now I'm ready for The Evolution!
Ahhhhh the joys of reading :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: Outpost

Outpost by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After leaving the city, and all the nasty encounters with flesh eating creatures (Freaks), Deuce, Fade, Tegan and Stalker found Salvation. A town of survivors who maintain life in the most pristine calm way favouriting 'old ways' where gender roles are very specific. Deuce at 15 years old, was already considered an adult at the Enclave, now she must abide by different age expectations, a challenge she has to endure. Yeah, welcome to the apocalypse! Freaks -or Muties- are still roaming close by and survival instincts are ever present in the life of Deuce.
Things are getting complicated for the dwellers of this settlement as the planting season approaches. Deuce wants to understand what makes her fellow Gotham companions behave different among her, while trying to 'fit in' her own way in Salvation.
This second instalment of the Razorland trilogy was brilliant!
Ann Aguirre pleasantly surprised me again. She nailed it! I have to admit I didn't enjoy too much my first read of Enclave. Perhaps the moment when I was reading it, I had gone through a few too many dystopian/zombies/post-apocalyptic books in a row so I didn't fully grasped the beauty of what Ms Aguirre created. Oh boy was I so wrong! I received a copy of Enclave from Ann after an awesome twitter contest and I gave it a second chance before I started with Outpost. That way I had it fresh. And it was perfect. I got to enjoy Deuce more. Her strengths, weakness, how everything that happened changed her in what we see now in Outpost. We learn about love, family, loyalty and hope. The book's mood is notoriously different from the despair we read in Enclave, but still as gritty and action paced. Don't expect our beloved Huntress to go all soft and mushy all of a sudden. She will still wield her knifes and kick-ass skills many many times, to defend herself and those who she cares.
It's a fun fun ride and I hope you join us.

And if this does not convince you, please check the creepy fingers on top of the back cover's barcode.

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Funny Books I Read

I've been so focused reading so many books lately + work + family stuff + events that I've had no time to post anything new. As such, this is just a sweet treat from a book series that makes me laugh out loud: Endlessly by Kiersten White.
Oh the funny things Evie thinks!!
You can imagine her personality just from her anti-Crocs philosophy :)
Happy last days of 2012 reads!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Review: The Gathering Darkness

The Gathering Darkness
The Gathering Darkness by Lisa Collicutt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a nice reading treat. Witches+Magic and twisted fate *raises fist in the air, while screaming: 'Yes!'* = perfect mixture.
This book will take you into a very interesting place: Deadwitch. A small town close to Salem where Brooke, our main female character is forced to move for a year to live with her aunt, in order to have some time off from her crazy life in Boston. She is sixteen and will soon realize everything is not what is seem.
We've got an eerie Inn that can be the setting for a horror movie: it has its own graveyard. Haunted dreams, ever-present ravens, possessed friends, magical objects and a very very awful dreaded evil witch! All nicely packed into a sweet romance. This was perfect for Halloween!
This book reminded me a bit of Cate Tiernan's Wicca series. A story about magic, love, sorrows and the issues with external forces. Specially Brooke's discovery of magic and her role in the bigger picture of her relationships and interactions with the people around her. Moreover, that her move to Deadwitch was not as unplanned as she thought.
I also enjoyed that this story was a standalone one (not that I would mind to read the future adventures of Brooke and Marcus), but it is very well tied and neatly told.

I am very grateful for the publishers for approving my NetGalley request, and the author, Lisa Collicutt, for writing this story. I will encourage you to read this book if you enjoy YA stories of magic, romance and adventure. Don't be fooled by the cover (which I have to admit reminded me of the little 'Goosebumps' paperbacks, perhaps it was the font of the title, who knows), inside you will find an amazing sweet plot.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review: False Memory

False Memory
False Memory by Dan Krokos

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fun ride!!!

This books is written from the POV of Miranda North. A seventeen year old girl who wakes up in a park-bench without any memory of her past. Very early in the book, we discover that her headaches are not what they seem and she has the ability to create an energy that causes fear on people. Superpowers+amnesia= dangerous combination, right?

If you like science fiction/fantasy get ready to meet Miranda. She is the most centered amnesiac I've ever read. You will become close to her while reading about her circumstances: what she is facing and trying to comprehend, specially while she finds logic in what she experience what she thinks, feels and believes of the world. I know, I sound like a riddle. But allow me to quote a piece, directly from the girl herself:

'If you love someone, the idea is you respect them enough to trust them. Not take away their freedom. Their life.'


Isn't this fantastic?

I hope you get what I was trying to say by reading this quote. Miranda's logic is admirable. The frankness of how she perceives what occurs makes this book AMAZINGBALLS - I know, I am trying to write a very mature review, but I simply can't. This book was great. Really. Great. Dan Krokos did a wonderful job when he wrote this book.

Perfect for those of us who love MIB, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Skinned, The Fringe... you get what I mean. If this is your genre,
I suggest you to make sure to add it to your reading list.

I can't wait for the next one...

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dragon Age: Seraphina - Book review

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book reminded me a lot of Kristin Cashore's Graceling Realm series. This is a story of self-discovery, adventure, intrigue and love.
I read it less than 48 hours and I loved the DRAGONS!

Yes, I think this is what I really enjoyed the most. A refreshing new/old fictional being. Words are escaping me right now, so I will postpone this review for later. I just wanted to write down my first impression with this smile on my face. Will expand this later


Okay, here it goes:
Dragons, yay! I am still swooning about them.

Seraphina lives in a world where humans and dragons have made a very fragile truce and are both enduring amicable relationships, but this is mostly darkened by hateful resentments and prejudices that both have against each species. This is an interesting immersion through everyday life of a fantasy realm of mythical creatures...tainted by bigotry and intolerance (But dragons are so cool, you say, I know, I agree... what's wrong with this kingdom?).There was a war between dragons and humans, and a treaty was signed by the current Queen and the dragon ruler issuing a state of peace and understanding between them. However, it is described at the beginning of this story that not all humans feel comfortable with the actual status-quo of this agreement... and perhaps some dragons share similar feelings too.

Dragons have the capacity to take human form and interact with us, acting as dragons in a human body. I have to admit that I'm still waiting fir a clearer or a bit more detailed explanation of how this transformation is achieved, since it was a bit vague (but maybe my human mind is just too simple for this). Dragons have this very peculiar way of behaving. They are stark, serious, lack much sense of humor and are described as being devoid of feelings and human emotions. They have a hard time learning human nuisances and are very strict with their rules. When they spend too much time in human form, or if some of their rules are broken -which rarely happens- dragons will be submitted to a procedure that strips them of all memories, giving their mind in a clean dragon state. This behaviour reminded me of Vulcans (yes, I am a Trekkie at heart). Specially the questioning of ways of the world and how emotionally devoid they are. I liked that dragons are characters to interact with, no pets or secondary companions, part of a rile playing game, powerful beasts to be slain because they are just angry, or to prove love to a damsel in a forgotten castle.


Seraphina is a girl who is half dragon and human and has to hide this from the world she lives in. We follow her path of self discovery, starting this chapter of her life by learning about her love of music, as the new assistant of the court's composer, Viridius, she has the task to perform a solo (stepping into the shoes of the ones scheduled) during prince's Ruffus funeral. We get a quick advanced course on Phina's worries and thoughts. She is very lonely, being a unique human who holds both worlds' (dragon and human) in her body. We follow the complications of the kingdom and specially how difficult the truce and politics are affecting the inhabitants of this place. Specially after the unexpected assassination of the prince.

Seraphina is a very complex and interesting main character. She has to keep constant watch on herself to maintain the secrecy of her dual being. Phina loves music, philosophy, cares deeply for her uncle and father and is very loyal to her queen.

As a book it takes you into this wonderful story of the revelations and tensions which are very cleverly conceived and wonderfully tangled up. We have the mystery of prince Ruffus death which occurs at the first pages of this book. Who killed him? Why? Then, we are introduced with a dragon, the unique Orma, who has been Phina's music instructor and mentor. Then we have these tense relationships between her, her father, the royal guard in preparation for the visit of the highest dragons, the outburst of violence against dragons and the outcome of Seraphina's first chapter's musical performance in Ruffus funeral. As a member of the court and inhabitant of the palace Phina will become involved in these political turmoils. There is a mystery, and Seraphina is set to help resolve it.
Why you ask? If I were a dragon, I would have made no comments or wonder about the cause nature if her behaviour. But I'm not (not even a bit!), so the answer is simple: Seraphina needs to understand her role in life and how everything that is happening cannot be avoided. She is one of this wonderful skilled main characters who will capture your heart and imagination.
I liked about this book that women have an important role in court: the decision makers are the queen and princess. Seraphina is also a strong female lead and will not disappoint much in her choices. A good example of her strength lays in her actions, not in her words.

At this point it obvious this book proved to deliver all the wonders you expect from it. You will not regret picking it up.

I simply enjoyed this tale. However I have to admit that I felt that the romance was not what I would expect and not what I liked the most. I believe it was not necessary for this story. I know, we all want some romance, right? Well, I sensed that I have already read this similar romantic plot many times before, and was not very creative. But fear not, what this love story lacked in originality made up brilliantly for its setting. There is so much richness in this book it is inconceivable that this other world does not exist, specially its details: history, treaties, gadgets, festivities, all of Seraphina's wardrobe, rituals, education, architecture, lands, colours, sounds.... it's an infinite list. Everything is very thorough.

In sum: please treat yourself and immerse in this world where dragons and humans interact. You will have visited a wonderful place.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Review: Article 5

Article 5
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was fantastic. It is one of those great examples that perfectly fit the genre of Dystopian YA fiction without paranormal layers but with scary closer to truer to outcomes of what social unrest and war can bring. With characters that act as humanly as you can imagine, with all the great qualities and flaws that define us.

This is the story of Ember, a girl who will soon turn 18. She lives with her mother and the books starts with her return to home from school one day with two of her friends. We are shortly introduced to her mother and then BAM! her life abruptly changes. We learn what this new state of affairs does to regular citizens. We learn about the Moral Militia (MM), the Federal Bureau of Reformation (FBR) and the soldiers that are making sure citizens are following all these articles and regulations. We learn about Article 5 and the consequences of violating this article. Gracefully, we are introduced about her past with Chase Jennings, a soldier who is part of this oppressive government and how this will irrevocably affect her present. Yeah-yeah, there is a story here, about lost love and heartbreak  but I will not spoil it for you, so you will fully enjoy it!

All this is told from Ember's viewpoint. What she experiences and the horrors behind the society that lives in the aftermath of war. Oh, this world is very very wrong. With a capital "W". I cried, yes I did, almost at the end of the book... Kristen Simmons is a wonderful storyteller. She got under my skin. With simple words, she takes us to this not too simple future. I could not believe what my eyes were reading. We walk hand in hand with Ember who will discover all about trauma, survival and endurance. She will be changed forever and thankfully she will not be alone. Oh Chase, yes, you made half of this story fantastic. Thank you for your silences and allowing Ember to reflect upon her circumstances and learn from her experiences (without you being aware of).I am not entirely sure why this book touched me so much, and I think dear reader this is the beauty of this book. It will take you places in its simplicity. However, this I foresee to be the kind of book that either you love or hate. There are not many surprises on this plot, but tons of action and great descriptions. These characters felt very real to me.

Because there is a lot of books of Dystopias and post-apocalyptic YA fiction out there, I will strongly recommend you to take this book and give it a try. It will be really worth it!
I cannot wait for Breaking Point 2013 come sooner!

I love music and I was browsing Kristen Simmons's website and discovered her musical playlist for this sequel. It does make me want this book RIGHT NOW! This is a great playlist:

Track -Artist
1. Got Nuffin- Spoon
2. Uprising- Muse
3. Hello- Evanescence
4. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)- Nancy Sinatra
5. Uninvited- Alanis Morissette
6. Imaginary- Evanescence
7. Resistance- Muse
8. Granite- Pendulum
9. A Certain Shade of Green- Incubus
10. My Last Breath- Evanescence
11. Sister Rosetta- Noisettes
12. Lullaby- JJ Grey & Mofro
13. Turn to You- Michael Johns

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Colorful Glitch- Book review

Glitch (Glitch, #1)Glitch by Heather Anastasiu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Allow me to start by the obvious:
Did you guess what am I trying to show??
Hint hint: red+blue:

-It's purple!! Yes shiny-shiny purple book!!! Ohhhweeeee!

This begin my favourite colour of course I had to read it. I love book covers after all.
I have seen this book appear in goodreads here and there and I was curious -not only about the colour- but the premise.

It's the future: here is a society where people are connected to the 'Link' where opinions, ideas and actions are under control by the Uppers. People live underground and their existence is completely regulated. Feelings are suppressed by chips inserted in their brain and distinguishing traits such as the colour of eyes, hair and skin are erased from perception by this 'Link'. A girl, Zoel Q-24, is  encountering issues with her hardware: she is experiencing short term glitches and is discovering all the emotions, differences and  uniqueness that makes us human while being unplugged.
[Okay, sounds interesting *** I'll read you]
This book was quick to read. It was simple and gave you enough clues from the beginning to discover what was happening with Zoe.
I enjoyed it, yes as a whole, but the middle part was frustrating me a bit. That nagging sensation you get when you were told thing on the first few chapters about certain relationships with other characters. But since this was conveniently erased, the main character's actions are all against these revelations! Argh I can't explain too much without giving away spoilers. But I hope this is vague, yet rich enough to describe what I mean. In other words, why getting in all the trouble of explaining one thing and then two thirds of the book having the main character re-discover it? It boggles my mind. Any who, I know I'm just getting worked out here.

What I liked:
- For starters, this book reminded me of Wasserman's Skinned from the Cold Awakening series in a different scale of course. Maybe it was the link + human emotions connection? I don't know. But the whole descriptions of what entails to be human are always welcome in my reading brain. This book's were more simple that Wasserman's but as enjoyable.

- The 'gifts' that glitchers have: I am an X-men fan and I will always smile happily when book's main characters develop superpowers of any kind :) Zoe's are cool. Again, I'm reminded of another book here: Mafi' Shatter Me.

- The way the 'Link' unifies perception: I'm fond of uniqueness and the idea of seeing others in uniformity really scares me!

- The pace: it had the perfect timing! We were in Zoe's reflections in a couple of paragraphs, then we had a little action, a bit of interactions, descriptions, some more Zoe time, descriptions, etc. I felt that it had enough of everything at the right time. It surprised me even when I finished how I enjoyed how well timed it was.

What I disliked:

- I hate love triangles. Twilight rattled my cage here and I have zero patience with these relationship twists. Though I appreciated the outcome and how it ended up being not as simple as it seemed.

I look forward to learn what happens with Zoe's world. The sweet romance between her and Adrien, maybe learn more about Maximin, what will happen to Molla and in general life the un-glitched ones.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dragons: yes they're around!

I'm reading a Dragon book: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.
While speaking about tattoos I heard that dragons did exist and they are in the sea. I found cute pictures of them that I'm sharing right here.
Now I'm in a Dragon mood! I'm going to find more dragon related images to set my book-reading-mood in tune.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Shadow of Night: my review

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"‘It begins with absence and desire , it begins with blood and fear,’” I whispered.“‘It began with a discovery of witches,’” time responded, in a primeval echo that set alight the blue and amber threads that flickered against the room’s stone walls."
After the events that occurred during the first book: 'A Discovery of Witches', Diana and Matthew timewalked to the XVIth century England. Their reasons are a) to escape the Congregation, b) to find a witch who can teach Diana how to use her powers, and hidden under there is a c) to find the missing manuscript Ashmole 782.

We follow them on this time travel experience filled with so many historical characters, events and everyday life customs. It takes you there, introduces you to the expectations and behaviours of people from that time and very succinctly takes you into the eye of the hurricane of the political turmoil of what was occurring in the Old World. It is a historian's dream come true. I really enjoyed my History of Science courses during my University years, thus I found the first book fascinating. However Shadow of Night was a bit too much for my un-scholary mind. I think it has to be with the focus on England of Elizabethan time. I am not very familiar -or care that much- for all the details of that place in time. I haven't been too interested of who was in which Court, what happened inside and the web of relationships among these people. Introspectively, my History of Science lessons where taught from a viewpoint where Spain was the main decision maker and lessons were based more on the 'discoveries' of the New World. Events, discoveries and strategies that occurred to the Colonies. I have more knowledge and interest on the issues that occurred between the Empire/Colony, as such court intrigue is not my forte. Clearly, this affected my reading experience. I will admit I had to force myself to read it at some points (more than I would have wanted). I have to thank Sam for this too. She kept telling me to go ahead and don't dwell too much in the stuff I was not getting.

In regards to the plot, this book deeply develops Diana and Matthew's relationship, what it means for both of them to be a vampire and a witch together, as well as their strengths and vulnerabilities. It was sweet and powerful. I liked how their love was described, what they feared, dreamed and how fierce their relationship transformed.

It was very creative to have Christopher Marlowe (Kit) as a demon who does not like Diana at all, and I enjoyed having him playing an antagonist. I've read somewhere that readers felt Matthew was too wimpy when dealing with 'Kit', and what a pain in the butt he was to Diana, but truly... I could not imagine a different reaction from Matthew to Kit's behaviour. They were good friends after all.

I understand that there can be different ways to approach this book. One one hand you can be just looking for a fantasy-fiction read with a romantic twist. Others can take this as a tiny window of Historical interpretation where fiction and fantasy meets history. I started the series with the first idea in my mind, and got tangled on the second one. This is not a critique, but it just not what I expected. I am unsure what I really expected but all in all I have to say that I'm glad to be done with this book. I don't see myself re-reading it. Now I expect the finale of the trilogy to wrap it up beautifully. Yep, I have high expectations of what Deborah Harkness can weave [*wink-wink* to Sam and your spell reference].

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Good, So-so and Ugly: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

The Lost Prince (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #1)The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars
The Lost Prince was a book that I was highly anticipating, dying to read and willing to bake cookies for a year to obtain it. And I was lucky (and grateful) enough to have an advanced reading copy of it through HarlequinTeen/NetGalley -without having to go though the cookie promise. I've finished it yesterday at the wee hours of the morning.

We've all read what this book is about. If not, I encourage you to read its blurb, because I will not bother to give you a summary here. I will rather write down what I thought about after reading it.

Allow me to start with the good:

Julie Kagawa is an amazing adventure writer. She can vividly take you from a quiet walk in the park, where you can actually see the birds singing, the sun shining and the stillness of tranquility, and in the next line you are transported to a full - packed - action adrenaline shot - moment where you along with the character end up trying to deflect attacks and run for your life. She is that good. Her understanding of our nature to survive, and our need for well crafted spring into-action moments are perfectly intertwined in her work.

The familiar world of the NeverNever is beautifully introduced in this book. We get a taste of new and old characters and we follow Ethan's attempts for normalcy after the events that occurred during The Iron Fey series. Julie's NeverNever is absolutely fantastic. Specially with the Iron Court and the Iron Fey who in my opinion are real -but I don't want to own any favours to the Dark Muse so I am happily content without being able to see them-.

Grimalkin is by far my favourite character. He is such a CAT, if I had the ability to communicate with mine I think this is how they will behave: “I am a cat.” And that was the end of it.”
I have recently re-read Coraline (is one of my Halloween re-read treats) and it amazes me how much the Cat reminds me of Grimalkin. Maybe he was just visiting Coraline's for a while too...

I enjoyed reading and learning a bit about Kali, the Philipino martial art that the main character practices.

I adored the Joss Whedon references and tidbits here and there.

The so-so (it's not bad, good or okay, it's just so-so):

Meghan, Ash, Puck: yes they are here! Playing some good roles of the back story and they make a brief appearance. Why have I placed them in this category? I understand they have to be present (even by name) on this book, or it wouldn't be a spin off. But I have to be sincere. I think after I read them in the Iron Fey and the novellas, I have left them over there in a good place. It is strange to read them through Ethan's eyes. Meghan and Ethan's relationship seemed too forced. I think (hope) this will be developed more throughout the next installments.

Kenzie: as a character who could potentially develop a love interest in Ethan, I understand her inclusion into the book, and I am not going to spoil anything else. But I found her rather strange. She has quite a strong personality, she is curious and persistent, but beyond being another wheel into the events that unfold into Ethan's life I found in many places her presence more of a white background noise. Don't get me wrong. It is good to see these two interact and bicker about their predicaments. But maybe I was expecting more of why she was here on this first installment. Perhaps the next one will give me more reasons?          

The ugly:

Ethan Chase. Well not that he is ugly, I don't think he is. But I didn't enjoy being in his head. This guy has serious anger issues he has to work on. I understand where he is coming from. All the traumatic events he had to endure from the Iron Fey really affected him. And I am no expert in overcoming trauma and family conflicts. However, every other line I was re-told by Ethan of how angry, alone and tough he had to be. How much of that he had to carry to survive is truly remarkable. At one point my brain conjured Allison Sakamoto from Julie's The Immortal Rules and Ethan Chase exchanging survival tips!

But I never felt a connection beyond him being the brother of Meghan. I feel bad for the guy, really, but sadly, I couldn't care less of what happens to him. And that my dear readers is what baffles me about this book. It has all the great elements I expected to wake my squealing-JulieK-book-fandom-girly-voice, but this sneaky-high-pitched-monster is still sound asleep inside of me.

I will read the next ones, I am a Julie Kagawa fan after all, but I do not see myself promising to bake any cookies for an advance read. I hope this series has a nice transformation.      

Thanks again HarlequinTeen and NetGalley for giving me the chance to red this in advance!

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Review: Ironskin

Ironskin by Tina Connolly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Initially 3.5 stars, but after careful thought now I moved it to 4. I really liked it!
This is a true Gothic novel with a well crafted fantasy twist. It has all the seducing elements that a Gothic novel brings: Tortured characters, and atmosphere of mystery and suspense, a complicated: yet very delimited social roles, the setting in an isolated huge mansion which is full of secrets (It even has a ruined section due to a war), and most important of all: told from the viewpoint of a woman - Jane Eliot- who is frustrated but focused on conquering a curse that binds her and whose life is shaken by the powerful lord of the manor who employed her - Edward Rochard - as a tutor for his child, Dorie.

Sounds fascinating, right?

Add to the above elements a bit of Fey magic, some dwarves, a war between humans and fairies and mix it all up with the powerful voice of Jane. The premise is that the Fey world is known to ours, however a great war occurred 5 years ago which caused horrible curses on humans (and killed Jane's brother), rendering those directly wounded by Fey, curses which cause feelings of pain, anger, rage. Many curses are different. In this case, Jane's is rage. The only way she can control it to spread around is by wearing Ironskin on her face (location where she was wounded by the curse). Thus our background story is weaved with threads of grief and self-discovery. For all of the characters Jane relates to: her sister, Dorie -the child she is taking care of - Cook, the maid Poule, Edward Rochard and of course Jane herself.

The era is set in is perhaps a 19th Century England. We are being constantly reminded that there are Fay and in this case is useful, since some elements make it anachronic, specially some technology that seems ahead of this time, but it is okay since these items are conveniently connected to fairies ;)

I liked the language and the descriptions. For example: '(...) a million oddities inscribed on the map of his face (...)' and 'still he wore his clothes and they did not wear him'.

The notions of beauty and what is expected from it is explored in a fascinating way. Obviously, Jane has issues. She has to wear a mask! She is not happy about this, but understands that without it she will be someone else and she feels conflicted about these feelings.

The romance is sweet and looks more simple than what it really is. Of course we've all read what happened to Jane Eyre, and this is obviously loosely based on Bronte's story. As such, we expect a tortured/dramatic romance between her and Edward, which believe me, it will not disappoint you.

The way the story unfolds is captivating. I was glued to my e-reader! But the ending was very strange... I will not spoil it here of course, I just wish all that build up came earlier on the story and all the issues that Jane was dealing with where solved earlier... I know I know I am an impatient one but it just felt that the last chapter was all full of revelations that could have been better played earlier. It was a bit hard to really believe that Jane did not expect all of this at all. Seriously? You saw those masks in Edward's study and did not think thoroughly about why they were that different? You did not really really paid attention to all that strangeness in Dorie? And it took you that long to understand yourself? ... okay I know the last one is just me venting out (I can't even imagine being on her shoes- or mask) but maybe I wanted more action! And YES, all the action came -but only at the end- .... good thing I see a sequel coming next year, which I will obviously read.

This was a mesmerizing reading treat. Thanks again Tor/Forge and NetGalley for giving me the chance to red this in advance!

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Parallel worlds

In the last couple of days I have read The Dark Light and Unraveling, 2 books that without me planning it, had a similar theme in which there are alternate worlds / universes co-existing with ours. Our main characters for many reasons ended up tangled within these worlds. It is fun to see a bit more of Sci-fi leaking out into the realm of Young Adult- Paranormal fare... even funnier are the nerdy references I am reading more and more of Josh Whedon, Aliens, X-Files, Fringe and Buffy *closes fist and screams out loud: Yes!*.

What caught my attention was that The Dark Light and Unraveling have in common more than alternate realities. Both stories are told from the perspective of a strong female lead who by many family issues becomes the caregiver of their younger brothers. Their families are very torn apart. Their brothers play World of Warcraft... both are falling for the outsider bad boy... both their cars are broken at some point. Both are way smarter than their previous love interest.... and on and on the list keeps on growing. It was amusing to read them both one after the other and  getting a bit mixed up on which world I was reading about.

The next 2 reviews are of these books, and since I inadvertently intertwined the topic of parallel worlds, when I chose to read on this ones, I decided it was good to have a small introduction for them. Books can be connected too in stranger worlds, now they are both coexisting in my brain.


The Dark LightThe Dark Light by Sara Walsh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars - I had fun!!
I did not expect the twist this book had. I have to admit that the cover, blurb and the first few chapters were deceiving. Its a plot with icing covering something unexpected: tricky-fantasy-filled story you gave us Sara Walsh.

Mia is a young girl who lives a quiet life. She is dreaming of College, has a best friend, had a Prom date and has a fun young brother who gets along very well with her. A perfect quiet life... right? Well, not so much. Many things are happening on her quiet place of the world, Crownsville. Starting with strange lights and disappearances of children on her neighbouring town and more recently on her own. When this mysterious incidents occur closer to her life than she could wish for, she takes it upon herself to try to discover the truth on everything she is seeing.

Since the beauty of this fun read is actually letting go and immersing yourself in the plot and the strange discoveries, I will stop here and will not shed any more light on the nature of Mia's adventure. Except that I hope you enjoyed visiting Brakaland as much as I did.

I will mention then the other interesting character we meet: Sol. Oh Sol, you are one of those YA bad-boys, who will definitely surprise you. And yeah, who am I kidding, you already expect it. A sweet romance between Mia and him is bound to occur (It's even in the cover!) and I liked how it was presented. However, I might have been expecting more, perhaps the way the 'truths' are revealed are not entirely of my liking. I have to admit it. I don't like it when in YA literature the guys are always hiding something and the excuse is always : 'Oh I just wanted to protect you from the truth'... Gha! as if people couldn't make their own choices of how to deal with the 'truth'... anyways... this is always my strong complaint... and it does not only happen in this book. I believe almost 80% of YA (and not only young adult) plots have this I'm-protecting-you-from-the-truth-because-I-know-better kind of narrative.

Moving on. I have to admit that the other trait that made me read this book was the fact that its a standalone novel. I love reading so much, sometimes it stresses me out the wait for the next instalments of series. I am not very patient, so I applaud and welcome standalone books. But having said that, I will contradict my desire here: I wish wish x3 that this book had a sequel! I enjoyed very much the world, the characters and the story and I feel that it is not finished. What will happen with Brakaland?

I really want to know.      


Unraveling (Unraveling, #1)Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was a true fan of the X-Files, watching it whenever I had the chance. I Still Believe and I am SURE the truth is out there. This my dear readers is actually one of the good things I can tell you that I enjoyed about this book. It fell like an extended episode from Mulder and Scully's investigations for YA, especially since the book was not shy at all to bring you quirky references of this Series. However, this book also felt like a Fringe episode. With freaky science and strange deaths. But I enjoyed the non-stop action that started after we discover the countdown. It reminded me of 24 and Jack Bauer's race against a ticking clock. Each chapter has these numbers counting down and down and down... but at some point, I just stopped even caring about checking these numbers up. It was not important.

All and all I found enjoyable these popular culture reminiscent and its references in some occasions, I was interested in the story and the parallel world. The book feels more like an amalgamation of all these cool Sci-Fi series, poured down carefully into a YA romance/adventure structure.

I found the main character a bit too cocky during her quest for the truth...don't get me wrong. I am always up for good smarty-pants leads, but the whole... I am doing FBI investigations as well... oh wow, yeah... maybe-maybe I think she was way over her head. Or maybe I am becoming more and more wary of naivety, choices and actions.
Ben feels like another stereotyped love interest: I'm mysterious, cute, yet I am hiding beneath a stoner facade, I am smart and have a secret crush on the main character...  yes... really? Please give me something new. Yes, pleassseee?

I once read somewhere that words have no meaning, but read actions and they will show you truth. Janelle's actions are not very connected to what she is thinking. I know that her world, family and reality were being shattered, but seriously? trying to get answers at gun-point is not something I perceive as very smart...
On the other hand, Ben acts beautifully, and he is shown to have his brains and heart in a good place. I appreciated this.

Will I read its sequel, yes!

Will I recommend this book to another reader, I don't think so... with all the amazing books out there, I felt that this is just another one to add to my "it's okay" pile.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Foretold: Book review - a bit of this and that

Foretold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and PredictionForetold: 14 Tales of Prophecy and Prediction by Carrie Ryan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book feels like a recipe. Add a little bit of hope (Taylor's: 'Gentlemen Send Phantoms'), loneliness (McMann's: 'The Angriest Man'), strength (Lo's: 'One True Love'), remorse (de la Peña's: 'The Mind is a Powerful Thing'), sweetness (Mitchell's: 'The Chosen One'), fate (Elkeles'), change-choice (Ryan's: The Killing Garden') and top it up with a secret favourite ingredient: Rose & Dimitri from Mead's VA series.
All and all it's a solid compilation of prophetic tones. A yummy treat, perfect for savouring in between reads. As with many ingredients, some you'll love, others you won't even remember...probably some will leave you with a bad taste on your mouth!
And like any recipe, you'll never know how it will be for you, unless you try it. So you have been warned!

For some unexplainable reason, while reading this book I had a song stuck in my mind: 'Dream On' by Aerosmith. What brought this song? No clue. Maybe it's a sign, which I will not dare to ignore... Who am I to question the matters of fate?

So here we go:

'Every time that I look in the mirror
all these lines on my face getting clearer
the past is gone
it went by like dusk to dawn
isn't that the way
everybody's got their dues in life to pay

yeah, I know nobody knows
where it comes and where it goes
I know it's everybody's sin
you got to lose to know how to win

half my life's in books' written pages
live and learn from fools and from sages
you know it's true
all the things you do, come back to you

sing with me, sing for the years
sing for the laughter and sing for the tears
sing with me, if it's just for today
maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away

dream on, dream on, dream on,
dream yourself a dream come true
dream on, dream on, dream on,
and dream until your dream comes true
dream on [7x]'

***And it will not be Foretold, rather a choice to face the big wave- this picture will add up to this review's recipe: words+music+visuals ;) random stuff indeed***


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Review: Shadowfever

Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series has stirred me in more ways than I could imagine. How to begin. Well, first let's start with the end. This book did not have a cliffhanger and I am very grateful that it has still many loose ends. But tight enough that I can accept them.

I loved everything about this series. The pace, characters, their development, the world it created, the Fae lore, the portrait of Dublin, and specially the way emotions are portrayed: sorrow, death, lust, vengeance, trust, betrayal and forgiveness. It was both dark and light, as the Far world.
I pretty much devoured the last 2 books, happy to have recently discovered it in a time when it was all out and I didn't have to wait for months to read what happens next. Specially after all those nasty cliffhangers... I was so so so mad after finishing Dreamfever!! I seriously ranted for a while that night and was not calm until I was certain that Mac was truly lost with that loss she created... I know, cryptic, but It's hard to write a review of an ending book of a series without telling all sorts of spoilers.

I will only leave you dear reader with a promise: if Urban Fantasy and Paranormal themes with STRONG female leads are your cup of tea. This is your series!

And for those of you who wonder: the male characters are hard to forget. Specially one bookstore owner: Jerico Barrons... I could buy every single book from your bookstore!!!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Quintana of Charyn - I will hold you soon!

In my gmail today

I can't wait for this to be in my hands!!!! The Lumatere Chronicles are the most epic fantasy reads I have done in a while. As usual, I can't thank Melina Marchetta enough for her devotion with her work and her readers. 

If you are not in Australia, you can find this book here, at Fishpond  and they can ship it to you after it's Australian release Sept 26th. 

I still can't believe it will be in my home before the US/Canada release date: March 12, 2013!!!

-happy dance-

Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: Wicked as They Come

Wicked as They Come
Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Why did I end up checking this book from the library? I really don't remember, maybe I was sleep deprived or wanted to gawk at the cover and did not fully understand what I was getting myself into.
For the benefit of the doubt I will say in my defense that I was drawn to the vampire-gypsy-streampunk idea or something like that... Which I am still trying to understand.

As you have already guessed, I really did not like this book. I was bored beyond reason, tried to force myself to read it -which I rarely have to- by packing it on my purse as my only companion to my commute to work. I started reading it a few weeks back and just simply forgot about it after page 50 or something, because all that was happening on those pages were just endless conversations and comments of Letitia trying to figure out if she was dreaming or not. Hello!! First rule of a dream: If a vampire-bunny bites you and you bleed and this is hurting you: IT IS NOT A DREAM.

But because I have to return it soon, I gave it a second chance. GAHHHH It is very very boring and lacks depth of characters and story-building. Letitia is a dull plain character whom I didn't understand, empathize or even like, why should I care what happens to her and her precious locker?? Criminy is just weird. I found him creepy, scary and a bit too much of the prince-charming- stalker-OMG-you're- a-stereotype-for-all-fantasy-male-I-can't-live-without-you type of character. Yuck! I ended up skimming this book willing it to show me something fun and worth reading. I'm sorry, but I won't be diving into this Blud word anytime soon.

Perhaps the only thing I enjoyed was the image of a bloodthirsty herd of vampire-bunnies! I rooted for them throughout the story to have them munch into Letitia! However, as the books said: no point of dreaming if you don't dream the dream. As such: tonight I will make it happen in my dreams :) *rubs hands and smiles wickedly*
I am a vampire bunny, this fluffiness is a trap to get you closer
I am a vampire bunny, this fluffiness is a trap to get you closer

**I need a quick book detox: Next!!

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Review: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Because Alina's name is so close to mine I was definitely bound to love this book.
And I am happy that this promise was true!! Aaahhhhaaa what a wonderful story!
I will expand this review as soon as I can find the right words. For now, I'll go to bed with an incredible story in my mind :)
So this is a 3.5 stars
Okay after a full nights sleep I have a fresher brain to start writing this review.

What I liked:

-The book is physically gorgeous! Look at its first Chapter. It is one of those visually appealing books that you can't wait to read.
It also has a lovely map, which though is visually gorgeous, sadly it does lack a lot of detail... taking into account that Alina is supposedly a cartographer... I presume is just a nice add on.
Anyways, so visually +1

- The setting and world-building is very creative and transports you to a different place/time. A realm which reminded me a lot of to Cashore's Graceling from the Graceling Realm series.
- The Grisha and their powers, specializing in small science.
- The Shadow Fold: which reminded me a bit about the curse on Marchetta's  Finnikin of the Rock from the Lumatere Chronicles

What I disliked:

- Alina and Mal: What the hell?? So this book is written from the viewpoint of Alina. She is an orphan who grew up with Mal. They are both soldiers of the King's Army. It is discovered from early on the book, after a nasty visit to the Shadow Fold that she has apparent Grisha powers. We follow her on this journey of discovery of her powers, the kingdom's forces from behind and the mysteries that surround the chaos on the kingdom. So yes, it sounds fine and a good story is there, but as a character she is very very weak. Naive, and not too bright. Sadly she lacks temper and loyalty. I never understood why she acts how she does...

And Mal... don't get me started. He is spoiled, not nice and takes for granted his friendship with Alina. Yes stuff happens later, but I don't think it is enough. I am not inspired by these characters. Thankfully the story itself is interesting enough to bring entertainment.

Why I will read the next installment:

The Darkling! He is the reason this book is amazing. I cannot tell much of him right now without spoiling the story, so I hope we get more from him in the next books.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: Ferragost

Ferragost by Melina Marchetta

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Melina Marchetta: Thank you for giving us this juicy taste in between Lumatete books. I can now be a little more satisfied while waiting for Quintana. Ferragost is simply wonderful. Lady Celie of the Flatlands deserves a book of her own. And I pledge myself to read it now!! Yes, please? Melina, I will send you a box of cookies every week if you decide to make it happen :)
Sorry folks, this is more a personal rant than a review. I have a Melina Marchetta's book obsession and I can't help it!

You can purchase this short e-Novella HERE
for $2.99

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