Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Quiet reading time: winter and soft pillows

This week has been an interesting one - book wise of course-. Deeply immersing myself into the world of The Game of Thrones, I can hear Winter is Coming and gaze with a smile all that snow from my window (thanking the +33 hours of pure entertainment the audiobook is delivering). I've been finishing some short stories, doing some series re-readings and catching up to life and new world events.

Winter is Coming  
The View


Thus, this is reflected in my blog's silence.

I am currently reading Richelle Mead's Indigo Spell and Sydney cracks me up. How can you not laugh at her quirkiness when you read this:

'Meanwhile, I had to keep my face blank, to look as though I was a normal Alchemist with no concern for unholy vampire events. Neither of my companions questioned me, so apparently I pulled it off. Maybe, I had a future in poker.' 

 



My advise: Make sure to have a soft pillow close by when you read The Bloodlines series. It will help you channel any frustrated energy you may have towards Sydney's decisions. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

A book review: tired of stereotypes... much?


Phoenix RisingPhoenix Rising by Corrina Lawson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Beth is a young psychologist who is treating Alec, a 23 year old telekinetic who can control fire. He lives in a compound in the US, called the Resource. Alec is part of a team of soldiers who are contractors for different government agencies, particularly the CIA, to perform difficult anti-terrorist missions. Beth is actually a latent telepath, and she wants to 'save' Alec from the Resource, by showing him that this organisation has been training and treating him as a weapon surprise, by keeping him recluse since his childhood, without choice. Things will get complicated and a steamy hot romance will sparkle.

This is more or less the basic plot of this book. It did sound exciting, but in execution, not so much. The storyline, characters, development and outcomes was just meh... And the romance... Arghhhhh it was so bland.

Allow me a quick comparison. There is a US TV show called NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service. It's simple, predictable and has the worst jokes. The bad guys are ALWAYS caught or punished by the good guys. The moral lines are very straightforward and easy to define. Eagerly showcasing stereotypes of duty, honour, family and military service. However, whenever I stumbled upon it, I watched it.
This was how I felt reading Phoenix Rising. It's not bad. It's predictable. Highlights similar 'core' values to those of NCIS. But if you somehow end up with the book in your hands, you might read it.

Mainly, what bothered me the most was who the soldiers were fighting: how deeply stereotyped the villains where for their missions (nationalities, religion and agendas), and how unquestioning and naïve of these 'facts' our main characters were. See spoiler
This bothers me because media feeds so much into these 'common' identifiable enemies, that it becomes 'easy' to categorize just by naming country of origin and religion. Why does it make me cringe that fiction and literature tap into these 'easy' good/bad views? I don't have a straightforward answer, but I think reproducing these assumptions make people less prone to question what is presented as 'facts'...*sigh* I know, it's not the author's fault; it's how mainstream US oriented media views leaked into this book, which made me very uncomfortable.

If you're interested in the other stuff: telekinesis, telepathy and fire, well... I suggest Jus Accardo's Denazen series and Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers Trilogy.
If you're in for the romance, Phoenix Rising's romance was not believable... Specially the sex. I was promised a steamy apple pie and I received a tiny slice of frozen apple. I want my pie!

I originally gave it 1 star, but the book made a very appropriate reference to John McClane's "Yippee-ki-yay", in exactly the right time. I know I'm entirely contradicting my critique of good vs bad rant from above, but when you are able to nail a quote from Die Hard, you'll get an extra star on my rating.


View all my reviews

What I'm doing during the long weekend

Step 1. Getting some rows done on my knitting project. Trying to advance as much as possible while it's still cold.The project is a slouchy hat that I'm working on with mismatched leftover yarn.
Pattern comes from this site.

Step 2. A book: Phoenix Rising. No clue if its good, but the premise: an X-Menish kind of adventure and romance... I'm sold.

Step 3. Keeping it fun with my wonderful egg lamp on a pink light.

Step 4. Great tunes from Muse on the background.

Just perfect :-)

[In good company: the husband is in the other room playing CoD on the PS3]


Friday, February 15, 2013

Speaking is overrated


SpeechlessReview: Speechless by Hannah Harrington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chelsea can't stop her mouth from revealing everything she is told. She is the queen of gossip in her school. She also belongs to the 'in' circle. Her best friend, Kristen is the most popular girl. Her clique are the members of the basketball team, and her interests are fashion blogs and shopping. Yes, the perfect portrayal of a stereotypical high school... However, things are getting out of control at Kristen's party on New Year's eve, and Chelsea's big mouth opens a can of worms, inadvertently fueling a horrible attack of a fellow student, almost getting him killed. Her life becomes a social nightmare, making her adopt a voluntary vote of silence. This will lead to an alternate perspective on school life for Chelsea.

I welcome with open arms this story to the YA genre. Its setting, events and characters are obviously amongst the teenage, but touches many sensitive themes that everyone encounters: the power of hurtful words, gossips, homophobia, acceptance, bullying, love, family, forgiveness, friendship, etc. I really liked this book. Is way more straightforward and less woozy than Harrington's Saving June, but its thematic, equally complex. Specially the bullying & homophobia.

My only critique, is that even though its meant to be Chelsea's journey, I was expecting more of her teachers, parents and school counselors. I was specially annoyed by the lack of response, or acknowledgment of the school towards her bullying. [ Specifically, her drunk picture that is posted everywhere and the constant words written on her locker.  (hide spoiler)]

This book is meant to be a path for self-discovery and a reflection about choices. Important ones (when to speak and what to say) and not so important, but every bit relevant (what is your favourite colour?).

Speechless leaves you wiser, with a craving for tuna melts and knitting.

---
This book was kindly provided to me by the publisher Harlequin, through NetGalley. Thank you for allowing me this read.


View all my reviews

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My reading experience: a hate/love relationship


Feast of Fools
Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



This is the 4th book of the ongoing Morganville Vampire series.

It starts exactly where Midnight Alley left. Claire is helping Myrnin with the cure for the vampire disease. And something unexpected: Claire's parents just moved to Morgaville. Obviously, trouble is on its way.

This book had lots of ups and downs. I'm still unhappy with Claire's character. She dissapoints me. A lot. One example that comes to mind is the way blood donation is portrayed (which by the way sucks, because donating blood should be encouraged outside of the fantasy world. It saves lives, see HERE). First, we have been repeatedly told that Claire is this smart girl who is almost a genius, who knows how to perform scientific research, experiments and is getting as much training as possible with Myrnin with his lab. However, when she is donating blood, in a medically run Donation Centre, all her objectivity towards science turns to rubbish.

Are you seriously telling me she is not familiar with this procedure? facepalm photo tumblr_mpxw2icttT1qkpkkwo1_500_zps29f5957e.gif

Not even reading about it? It is the most basic form of lab examination! You sit/lay down, a nurse finds your vein, pinches it with a needle that draws your blood to a container. Easy. But noooo, Claire is scared, and makes donations sound horrible. I understand the effect this scene was trying to portray, but it makes me sad. I might even venture saying it will discourage readers for donating blood.

This series is one of my YA guilty pleasures. Why? I feel that each book makes me lose some vampire street cred. I'm serious. They are slowly killing my intellect. Basically, these books could be compared to unintentionally reading gossip magazines.

Imagine this: you're in the checkout line paying for your groceries. There is this flashy magazine that *gasp* informs you: Surprise Angelina is expecting a new baby! You open it up complaining all the way about media and exploitation and all the nasty paparazzi yada-yada... But in the end, very, very deeply, you're just dying to see if there is a sexy Brad Pitt picture next to Angie.

You see? This is exactly how The Morganville vampires series make me feel. I am very interested in vampires, I love reading, but deep inside my hardcore Buffy fan heart, I know Caine's books are just not good or worth my reading time. The story is meh, light and in various parts contradictory. But I'm following this series in the hopes I get more about Claire & Shane smooch + kissy time. There, I said it.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book review with pizza on my mind


Crash (Visions, #1)Crash by Lisa McMann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My first reaction after finishing this book: I want pizza, now!! And surprisingly so, since I really don't like it as much. Second, what a strange plot.

This book's main plot circles around two families who own Italian restaurants. The Demarco's and Angotti's are each others main competitors in Chicago. Jules Demarco goes to the same school as Sawyer Agnotti. Both were very close until 7th grade. Jules is now 16, and helps in her family restaurant when not in school. So does her siblings. But suddenly something really freaky happens to her. Jules starts seeing an event, a crash, constantly streamed to her on various surfaces, mainly, on a big Jose Cuervo billboard. She is the only one who sees it. The same crash, over and over. The whole story we are driven by her desparation to try to understand why this vision occurs, if this is happening, what it means, is it real? We learn a lot of Jules' family business and her devotion to it. But sadly, the main characters are very undeveloped. I feel Jules is just a means to tell a story, Trey could use more paragraphs and Sawyer has no depth. Perhaps we learn more about Antonio, Jules' father than anyone.

I was surprised to read a Lisa McMann's book that was not in neutral present tense such as the Wake trilogy.

The book was okay...entertaining. It reads very quick. Probably it took me 3-4 hours to finish. But the story... Lets just say, I want to know more. Danger+Italian food+love+insanity= leaves a unusual paranormal mix.

There is a lot that was not resolved in this book, and many unnecessary references, for example, the Jose Cuervo billboard (why I'm I craving pizza instead of tequila, after reading so many times about this billboard, no clue).(view spoiler)[The whole feud between families and almost 'forbidden' love, was very dramatic, reminding me of Romeo & Juliet. But why the visions occur is not well developed. Specially at the end when Sawyer tells Jules he sees something in the (guess) Jose Cuervo billboard that no one else sees. 

There are also a couple of things that bothered me. The lightness in which mental illness is touched and domestic violence. If you read this book, you'll know what I mean. Perhaps in the next books these themes will take a main spotlight and be better developed. I hope so. I am counting on Lisa McMann on this, since she did a beautiful job with OCD in Cryer's Cross.


View all my reviews

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: 'Til The World Ends



'Til The World Ends
'Til The World Ends by Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre and Karen Duvall.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Uh-oh.... The apocalypse is here!!!!Doomsday arrived and people will die. Some might live through it and will deal with surviving the aftermath. Scary stuff occurs. Rest assured, we've got some good main characters to help us navigate through these troubled times. 3 stories carefully written by Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre and Karen Duvall. Yup, this is big. Are you prepared to read what happens when the WORLD ENDS?

____
First story: Julie Kagawa's Dawn of Eden was glorious.

It's written from the point of view of Kylie, a 23 year old doctor who is running one of the few clinics still open after the deadly spread of the Red Lung virus. It is located in the outskirts if DC, and suddenly everything changes when a new patient and his friend arrive.This story will make you cringe, bite some nails and cheer out loud.

Funny thing, I just watched Django Unchained. Quentin Tarantino has a soft heart for for blood and Julie Kagawa was actually giving some very gory descriptions, as such, today I had a very bloody day ;) Nasty thing this 'end of the world' business.

This story is a prequel of the events that occurred in Immortal Rules,  the vampire dystopia, from the 'Blood of Eden' trilogy. Which, by the way, is amazing :-)

----
Second story: Ann Aguirre's Thistle & Throne

Ann Aguirre is very skilled in delivering broken worlds and badass heroines. I loved this story and the short glimpse Aguirre gave us about the world Mari inhabits.
Chemical spills have seriously affected the world. As such, basically people who are rich live inside a compound, have access to food, goods and plants... Etc. However, not all are 'lucky', and they live or survive outside these sheltered places. This is where we meet Mari Thistle, she is from the Red Zone and will do anything to protect her siblings; even partnering up with Throne Goodman, a very dangerous and mysterious man. Yup, this was awesome!

I hurt for Mari and sort of sympathised with Throne. It is a dark short story that will leave you craving for more.
I wish there was a whole book devoted to this place and characters.

----
Last story: Karen Duvall's Sun Storm

This story was hot, in the literary definition, as in the stuff that thermometer measures, making me twitch uncomfortably. I am one of those individuals that abhor the heat. Summer is a bit painful for me as I am not a tolerant person when talking about warm and high temperatures. I cringed with this story because of this, but was very intrigued by it.

The Earth has suffered from a series of Sun storms that left the planet dry and affected all living beings with dangerous radioactive sun sparks. Whoever is exposed to these sparks, dies slowly of a Sun Fever. The rare outcome of this exposure: a few persons may end up with superpowers of sorts called Kinetic.
Sun Storm tells the story of Sarah, a kinetic who can predict sun storms and her encounter with Ian, another mysterious kinetic who just moved to her broken town. It focuses on their encounters, their powers and how they can alter the world they live in.

My thoughts on this story: it feels too rushed. The main characters are too bland. What drives Sarah? Why is she so goody goody and naïve? Many things on the actual cause of the Sun being evil don't add up, specially the end. To tell you the truth, it was my least favourite of the three. It felt a bit unpolished and unbelievable (yes, I'm aware that I'm reading a post apocalyptic story).

Regardless, it was entertaining :-)

-----

As a whole, this book rocked my socks. Anthologies are tricky, but this one nailed it. There is despair, deception, love, strength, loss, endurance, madness and above all, survival. I feel I'm getting better prepared for that dreadful Apocalypse everyone is talking about. At least I'm studying the skills necessary for survival while enjoying my favourite reads! Deadly virus that can turn you into an infected vampire-zombie, chemical spills and dangerous bossmans who you want to avoid, and a sun over-baked planet, thirsty and sick. Surviving is the key 'Til the World Ends.
______

This book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Harlequin, through Netgalley. Thank you!




View all my reviews

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns


The Girl of Fire and Thorns
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Cool fantasy!

Meet Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza, a young 16 year old princess from the kingdom of Orovalle, who is forced to marry king Alejandro de Vega from an allied kingdom, Joya d'arena. Both kingdoms are currently in the verge of war with another darker opposing realm, the Invernos. She has been chosen by her 'God' (of whichever religion that ritualises rose thorns and blood...yeah, very weird but cool). Her being'chosen by God' is represented by a jewel that is alive on her navel, called the Godstone. It was placed by said 'God'during her naming ceremony.

Elisa is very unique: she has an eating disorder and anxiously eats as many pastries as she can, which obviously reflect on her self esteem, size and shape of her body. She is clever but shy, a very intuitive, young scholar-in-the-making, who devotes to her studies, specially Lengua Classica, their war manifesto: Belleza Guerra, pastries and embroidery. However, her whole world is shifted, once she is bound to king Alejandro, as she is expected to move and live in a different place, Joy a d'arena's capital, Brisadulce.

It was light, adventurous and creative. What entertained me the most was the pace, you'll never have time to delve into the last chapter you've read, as it's a 'go,go,go' type of story until its over. The other thing that got me smiling, were (of course) all the Spanish words :-)

I have to admit that contrary to a fellow reviewer I was mesmerized by the food descriptions, and I found all these amazing, specially because our main character Elisa is very affected by food, which makes it a big part of her personality. My husband makes the most amazing coconut scones and I even had the pleasure of tasting them while reading this book. I can imagine the soups, chickens and feasts they have and I wish I had all these recipes (so I can give them to my husband, of course).

As expected, many things are left unresolved, as this is part of a bigger series. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a first book that delivered good entertainment. There is self discovery, adventure, learning, treachery, mystery, love, friendship and loss.

I look forward for the next book!



View all my reviews

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rant: Unspoken


Unspoken
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Right now I can only think of Mark Twain - "When angry count four; when very angry, swear."

And sooooo I will: 1234-----

WTF??? Seriously? Is this truly, seriously, honestly how you decided to end this book???

Gahh I literally hurt myself throwing it at the floor [it landed on my foot, yeah, my husband witnessed my undignifying outburst], and it fueled my rage, then I started to recite: 'Rage, rage against the dying of the light.' With minor adaptations....then, I quietly searched online what was being said about 'the book I shall not name' (because I'm still worked up)... And it got worse! Unbelievable so. Sarah Rees Brennan has been sharing 4 teasers since October 2012 for the sequel, Untold.


This first teaser scene caused a recurrent eye twitch, click at your own risk: THE first teaser


This book is EVIL, Sarah Rees Brennan will mess up with your head, heart & that soft part of you that loves rainbows. You'll become a mad(wo)man after reading this, frantically looking for clues as to why oh why were you surprised; all the hints were there, you just chose to ignore them ;)
It has a mystery, a funny reference to purple and a flowy skirt with bees and red flowers... I'm hooked (says with a pirate drawl - yeah, that crazy it made me)...Arggggg

You have been warned.

-------
Best part of my outburst, I was proactive and wrote a nice note to Sarah Rees Brennan, and she graciously replied to me:



On Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 8:56 AM, Lina wrote:
From: Lina

Dear Sarah,

I hurt my foot today. It was very quick and unexpected. It happened right after I reached the last line of Unspoken, when a madwoman took control of my body and threw the book I was holding, with so much anger and rage into the floor. My husband witnessed this outburst and laughed for a while. It's been hard to explain all of this to him while tending my achy toes.

I thought you should know.

Sincerely,

Lina G.


Date: 5 Feb 2013 13:58
Subject: Re: [your-subject]
To: "Lina"
Cc:

Dear Lina,

Many apologies for your hurt foot and hurt feelings... but I'm so glad you told me about them!

All best for quick recovery, though I may only hurt them again,

Sarah

--
This mail is sent via contact form on Sarah Rees Brennan


View all my reviews

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Hint of Frost- book review


A Hint of Frost (Araneae Nation, #1)A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book with Kerry , who graciously agreed to do a read along with me. It was so much fun, and I am completely biased towards rating this book because the stars I will give are for the whole reading experience: Including our hilarious discussions every 2 chapters.

So let's say 3 stars for the story and 10 for the read-along ! Kerry , you rock!

At a glance:

Its told from the POV of Lourdes, the eldest daughter of the heads of the Aranae clan. The people from these clans are able to create threads and weave, giving the impression that they are sort of spidery.  It starts with the murder of her patents and the betrayal of the clan that was supposed to protect them, the Theridiidae. She summoned another clan, the  Mimetidae to defend them, and a pact is sealed with interesting obligation: she must marry a warrior from the Mimetidae clan in order to ensure their alliance.
These people have fangs and like human flesh, fun times ahead for Lourdes!

The story was creative, with steamy smexy scenes. As a first book of a series, it gives some hints of a bigger background story happening, while things get resolved for our main characters.

There is an insinuation of what I interpreted as Bambi - zombies, Rhys the Cold has digestive issues, Lourdes has the ability to think of her brothers in the most awkward moments, points were made with forks and happily ever afters include all sorts of strings attached. We fondly nicknamed this book Frosty.

Quick read with tons of hilarious strange dialogues.


"Spiky petals of a green flower unfurled in my chest. I named it jealousy"

" 'Agreed. Whatever private thing you two attend through the crack of a door doesn't concern me beyond fodder for my nightmares.'
He sounded disturbed."

And many many moreeeeeeeee. Have fun :-)


View all my reviews