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.'

description

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.

description

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:
description
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Did you guess what am I trying to show??
Hint hint: red+blue:

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

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."
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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
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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.      

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


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