Saturday, August 2, 2014

"There's a pivotal moment just before death, when bargains can be made."

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1)Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I chose to ignore this book’s synopsis, as I wanted that “jump blindly to the plot” experience. I’m so very glad I did. I am a long time fan of Ann Aguirre's books. Thus this was an immediate MUST read for me.

The book takes upon its shoulders a lot of complicated social issues and very craftily masters them. Allow me to pinpoint the precise moment this book hooked me: It begins with a suicide attempt. The main character Edie, a teenage girl, is in the brink of taking her own life. The reason behind her decision is simple: bullying in extremis. She is smart and methodical, as such, she plans the exact way/day/time for her death. However, things abruptly change once she is offered a crazy scary bargain by Kian, this random mysterious hot guy: become beautiful and extract revenge to those who pushed her to the limit. Simple, right? Not.

It touches themes of beauty, looks and the shallowness of school. Particularly how does it affect self esteem. Edie's bullying is painful and terrible. It was perfectly clear for me why she takes such extreme measures of death and revenge. I rooted for her!

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Fate and choice become an important theme in this book. Edie's actions have a lot of consequences, potentially fatal! So she must thread carefully around her newly found agency.

Aguirre shows us through Edie's experiences possible explanations for bullying, or glimpses of why humans might behave in such a horrible way, without excusing their actions. It was amazing to read. Fear, shame and acceptance are all closely connected. Personally, it really touched me in a lot of ways, as I've been re-visiting some experiences that needed nice closure. Just for this, this book deserves 1.000 stars.

Beyond these themes, this book has scary horror stuff that can easily come from a terrible nightmare. All the monsters ever imagined are REAL and Edie realizes she bargained more than she expected... starting with her sanity. I was creeped out with this atmosphere of horrors and vividly described gory scenes. Particularly, it reminded me of one of the final scenes of the 1995 movie Seven (starring Brad Pitt & Kevin Spacey): a box which we never see its contents but we ALL know what it has *shudders*.

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On a side note, I have to mention Kian, the main male interest, he is definitely not my cup of tea, however, in my experience with Aguirre's books, characters I dislike, get better as the plot thickens.

Another thing I noticed and liked, where the excellent gender roles to follow with Edie's parents. Edie's dad cooks their meals, her mom is oblivious to looks and fashion, rather focusing on her academic life. Yay! for breaking some stereotypes. And on this line of thought about debunking stereotypes: *APPLAUSE* as it questions the assumptions regarding rich Colombians and its immediate connection to cartels (1.000 stars more just for this titbit on the 27% mark).

In sum, I have a feeling that this series will stay in my mind for a while, as it deliciously enthralled me with its horrors and human responses to extreme behaviours. More please :)

Fictional Meals

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There is a recurrent theme I see in Aguirre's books: the great food her characters eat!

We have stuffed artichokes, brussels sprouts, poached halibut and oatmeal, deliciously described like this: steel cut, hearty, topped with brown sugar, crushed walnuts, butter, and raisins. I'm hungry!

There was a very famous Chilen poet. Pablo Neruda, who was a skilful writer and cook. He mixed his two passions in some of his poems. Here is an excerpt of his Ode To The Artichoke, it reminded me of Edie's struggles:

"The artichoke
With a tender heart
Dressed up like a warrior,
Standing at attention, it built
A small helmet
Under its scales
It remained

- Find the whole version at:

I received an ARC for this book from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for my new nightmares with closed boxes >_<

View all my reviews

Friday, August 1, 2014

Farewell July: Mini opinionated discussion of each of the 8 books I read this month (with nice pictures).

So, it's August already. Yikes! July was certainly a busy month for me. Between the World Cup, starting a new job and a 10 day sick leave, life was interesting....

So I've decided to make a sort of small recap of the books I read during this month:

1) I finished Lisa McMann's Vision series, by reading "Gasp"The series was very entertaining. I like how Lisa writes, specially her tendency to discuss issues about mental health. However, I feel that it needed a little more sustenance once approached, since we really are left completely in the dark regarding how a forced sort of happily ever after occurs. Beyond that, I loved its paranormal plot: visions of an impeding catastrophe that hasn't happened: an accident (Crash, the first book), a shooting (Bang book #2) and a shipwreck (Gasp, book #3). The end twist that explains everything is not exactly what I expected, but it did make sense :) Such cool stories make my reading life happy.

2) Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre. My extended review will be published tomorrow on the Blog, but in the meantime: it was hard to chew, but tasted beautifully in the end.  

3) Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryant. *Applause*. I had downloaded this book for free on Amazon, since I am a sucker for those Kindle freebies, but usually never end up reading... not enough time, what was I thinking, the usual blah blah blah. Anyways, I gave this one a chance and was just hooked from the moment I started. The cover is so very attractive and creepy. And the plot: a girl who spreads a deadly plague with her touch!!! Arrghhh. It was gory, scary and it sucker punched me.

I had just finished Mortal Danger, which focuses on bullying, thus this new take on this social phenomena was perfect for my mind. I was awed. When I was done, I purchased right away the whole series. Horror + paranormal + romance + great female characters = take my money. It's very very smart and detailed. I would classify it for maturer YA audiences. This book is NOT PRETTY! It is cruel, vicious and truly, really addictive.

I'm 38% done with the second book, Tommy Nightmare, since I had to stop because I was really having nightmares >_<

4) Storms of Lazarus by Karen Quincy. I am so happy that I got the chance to support the Kickstarter project for this and the previous book, Shadows of Asphodel. This book gave me the closure I was craving regarding our sexy Necromancer and kickass Mercenary. I was craving this Happily Ever After and I got it. Bonus point: it mentions a couple of vampires!

5) Half Bad by Sally Green. The moment I started reading I couldn't stop! The opening chapters somehow reminded me of Cassel, the main character from Holly Black's series the Curse Workers. Perhaps it was the intense descriptions, focus and determination... I don't know. What I do know is that the world in which Nathan, the main character of Half Bad lives is seriously messed up. Worst. It's in the real-present-world. This book is about people who have magic, but it is divided in black (evil) and white (good). Very deterministic world, however, Nathan, being a half back/white magic person, raised in the white magic world experiences first hand how this dualistic view is not as simple as it seems. He is bullied, subjected to both verbal and physical violence, at some point becomes homeless, and ultimately begins his story on a cage. So yeah. Not a sunshine-feel-good kind of story. 

6) I finished the month reading Suzy Turner's the Raven Saga trilogy. I received these eBooks as a prize for the different events programmed by this year's Armchair BEA. I needed a bit of a feel good series that was easy to read for my sicky days. The books were not good, but not entirely bad; that's why I kept reading them. Also, I didn't want to invest any emotional attachments to a book during my recuperation. So they where the perfect consolation. But just dully written: info dumps, insta loves, no surprises, almost every character was oh so caring, wonderful, respectful and their voices were almost the same, predictable and super cheesy *yawn*! The only great thing about these books was the setting (and some vampires). The books are set mostly in British Columbia, yay! I lived in Vancouver for a while so it was nice to read about all those familiar places.

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7) I read the first 3 stories from the anthology: Find What You Love and Let it Kill You by Thomm Quackenbush. They were good, scary and sweet. I think I will savour them slowly. Love deserves this pace.

In sum, I think I had an overdose of bullying on my July readings, a few vampires and some good (sad and not so greatly written) Happily ever afters. I must say I am satisfied.