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 PeƱa'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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