A.C. Gaughen's Scarlet is a Robin Hood retelling. I found out about it when trustedbook bloggers started giving it positive reviews. I was delighted when this pretty little book showed up in a surprise package that I received a couple of weeks ago. Again, thank you to the lovely ladies - Angie and Holly - for sending me a copy of this. I couldn't resist reading it right away, you guys know how fond I am of thieves in fiction.
I can't get over how gorgeous the cover design for Scarlet is - doesn't that just draw you in? It's the kind of cover that would attract my attention even if I knew nothing about the premise. I think Scarlet's eyes look very expressive and I love that she's disguised as a boy in the cover, because that's how she usually is in the book. Few people know that Will Scarlet is actually a girl. Just in case you didn't know, I also enjoy reading girls in disguise stories. Scarlet is one prickly character. Even though she's been working with Rob, John and Much for the past couple of years, she still doesn't fully trust them. She works with them but she still holds a part of herself back, never explaining her past and where she really came from. Which is funny because these boys want to take care of Scarlet. Can I just say that I found it refreshing that there are only four people in Robin's band in this retelling? It makes it easier to keep track of them and be invested in who they are as characters. Rob is the leader, John the playful charmer and Much is the quiet one. Here's a funny little quote about the band:
“Of a band with three actual boys, why is it that all the maids lust after the fake one?"
My heart went out to this little group - how they do the best that they could to provide for the people and shelter them from the Sheriff's cruelty. As much as Scarlet pretends that she only stays with the band because it's convenient for her, she does it because she cares for the people. Here's another snippet that I really liked:
"I left little packages in front of the doors; the people looked for them in the morning, and I knew, in some bit of a way, it bucked them up.
I did as much as I could, but it weren't like I could get everyone something every night. That seemed like the cruelest part. I tried not to think 'bout the people that woke up and rushed to the door and didn't find nothing; it made my chest hurt."
You got to love a thief with a conscience. She steals not for herself but for the people. It's rare for a sneaky thief as good as Scarlet to be afraid of anything but her comrades quickly discover that there's something about Gisbourne, the Thief Taker, that frightens Scarlet. I liked this air of mystery about her, it made the book a quicker read because I kept going, waiting for Scarlet's past to be revealed. I also liked the slow burn romance although I'm not a fan of the love triangle. It's not surprising that more than one guy is interested in our feisty heroine but I did feel like it was unnecessary for her to have more than one love interest. As expected, Scarlet was a really enjoyable read. Highly recommended for fans of Robin Hood retellings, thieves in fiction and girls in disguise. Will I be checking out A.C. Gaughen's books in the future? Definitely.(less)
Magic Gifts is a Kate Daniels novella and is Ilona and Gordon's Christmas gift to their fans. It's available as a free download...moreOriginally posted here.
Magic Gifts is a Kate Daniels novella and is Ilona and Gordon's Christmas gift to their fans. It's available as a free download for two weeks after they uploaded it on Christmas day. Hurry and grab a copy if you haven't downloaded it yet! Ilona and Gordon are so generous for giving their fans a freebie like this. I've seen some of the snippets for this novella on their blog and it's great to see all the scenes come together to form a story. Magic Gifts occurs after Magic Slays and at the same as Gunmetal Magic, which is Andrea's book and will be released next year. The Kate Daniels series is my favorite urban fantasy series and this might contain some spoilery bits for the earlier books. Check out my reviews through these links: Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Bleeds, Magic Slays
I think I've said it often enough but I have a feeling I will keep saying it over and over again: I will read anything written by Ilona and Gordon. I read this as soon as I downloaded a copy on my Kindle. I love their short stories because they feel like bite size snacks compared to their novels - delicious snacks that readers can gobble up in one sitting. In Magic Gifts, we get a glimpse of how things are between Kate and Curran. I think it's awesome that their relationship keeps on developing. I like how their romance spans the entire series and even when they're already together, the banter between them is still funny and sweet at the same time. And yet this novella isn't just about the two of them. There's a little bit of Andrea, Kate's best friend and business partner, as well as their shapeshifter sidekicks: Derek and Ascanio. I can't wait to read more about Andrea's story and I'm really interested in seeing where things will go for her. There are also a few scenes with Jim, Kate's former colleague in the Mercenary Guild and the head of security of the Pack. I thought Jim and Kate's arguments were hilarious. Aside from the characters, I also like the worldbuilding in the whole series and how each book and novella focuses on a different mythology (and the magic tied to that culture). Magic Gifts is about Norse mythology and Vikings. All in all, a lovely Christmas treat for Kate Daniels fans. Thank you again, Ilona and Gordon!(less)
I really liked reading If I Stay and actually felt bad that it took me so long to read it. The good thing in that is I don't ha...moreOriginally posted here.
I really liked reading If I Stay and actually felt bad that it took me so long to read it. The good thing in that is I don't have to wait for the companion novel and I got to read it while the story is still fresh in my mind. WARNING: This review contains spoilers for If I Stay, even the summary for Where She Went has spoilers so avert your eyes if you haven't read the first book. Trust me, you don't want to see spoilers. Here's the link to my If I Stay review instead.
I loved where If I Stay ended and I felt like it stood well on its own. Which is why it took me a while to pick up Where She Went even though it's written from Adam's point of view and I thought he's an amazing guy based on the first book. I just couldn't get over the fact that Adam and Mia broke up after everything they've been through. I felt like they had a forever kind of relationship in If I Stay - I thought they had a real connection. I couldn't resist reading this, however, when I received a copy for my birthday. It still took a couple of chapters for me to get over the idea that Mia left Adam. Things made sense from Adam's side of the story - how his band became popular, how he reluctantly started a relationship with a celebrity and how messed up his life has been the past couple of years. It's funny because even though everyone around him and Adam himself thinks that he's a jerk, I believed that he's still the great guy he was in If I Stay - he just has more reason to be emo and angry. I'd love to quote some of the sections that I really liked but they might be spoilery so here are some lyrics from Adam's songs:
"You crossed the water, left me ashore It killed me enough, but you wanted more You blew up the bridge, a mad terrorist Waved from your side, threw me a kiss I started to follow but realized too late There was nothing but air underneath my feet" -Bridge
"I'll be your mess, you be mine That was the deal that we had signed I bought a hazmat suit to clean up your waste Gas masks, gloves, to keep us safe But now I'm alone in an empty room Staring down immaculate doom" - Messy
Oh Adam. Did I enjoy reading Where She Went? Surprisingly yes, in spite of my reservations. I should have known to trust Gayle Forman because she's an excellent storyteller. I enjoyed seeing everything through Adam's eyes. It gave the initial story in If I Stay more depth, while adding in layers provided by the years when Adam and Mia were apart. Although I think it would have been better if we got more insight into Mia and what she was thinking. Don't get me wrong - it did feel like everything fell into place quite nicely - but I kind of felt like there wasn't enough of Mia in this installment. I really liked that Where She Went has New Adult characters because we really need more novels like this. Both If I Stay and Where She Went are contemporary novels that I highly recommend. I feel like I've been lucky in my contemporary reads in 2012, so far. *keeps fingers crossed that will continue for the rest of the year* I look forward to seeing what Gayle Forman has in store for us next - looks like Just One Day and Just One Year will be companion novels too. (less)
I won a copy of Mina V. Esguerra's latest, That Kind of Guy, when I joined the contest that she hosted. You can read all about...moreOriginally posted here.
I won a copy of Mina V. Esguerra's latest, That Kind of Guy, when I joined the contest that she hosted. You can read all about it here. I enjoy reading her novels because I can relate to her characters and of course, the local setting.
Manang is a Filipino word that is roughly translated as "older sister" and is usually used as a term of respect. It's hard to define but manang is also used to describe conservative girls. My friends and I say we're manangs when we'd rather stay home on weekends (and in my case, read or blog) instead of go out and party. A girl can be a manang in so many different ways - from the way she dresses (no sleeveless tops or short skirts or dresses) to the way she dates (not willing to be set up on a blind date). Julie is a manang in the sense that she's a good girl. She doesn't do wild parties and she doesn't date random guys. In fact, she's never been in a serious relationship. When a friend suggests that she should loosen up by dating a fun guy, Julie agrees to try things out with Anton. She's just as surprised as everyone else when it becomes apparent that Anton wants to start a serious relationship with her. I was curious about Anton when I first met him as Tonio in No Strings Attached. I wanted to see how Mina would write about a playboy settling down. I wasn't disappointed, Anton turned out to be a really sweet guy in spite of how he was initially portrayed as a wild party boy. Here's a quote from the book that I really liked:
“Before I met him, I wondered how I could possibly fit a relationship into my life. My days felt full, of people, things, and concerns, and I wondered what I'd give up to accommodate someone new. Anton made it seem easy. He didn't take me out of my life; instead, he sort of slid into the empty spaces and made himself comfortable.”
It's funny because even though the book is written from Julie's point of view and I have manang tendencies, I liked Anton's character more than his girlfriend's. His actions and his lifestyle made sense when he explained them. I guess I just couldn't understand why Julie wasn't invested in their relationship but then again, that's something that Julie herself is trying to figure out. What I like about Mina's books is that I still enjoy reading them even if I can't fully relate to her characters. Why? Because I feel like her books are stories that can actually happen to some of my friends. I guess a huge part of that is because of the local setting. I liked watching Julie and Anton's love story unfold. I also think it's nice that they have such different personalities and yet they go well together. I'm already planning to recommend this (andmaybe even buy copies to give as gifts) to my girlfriends. That Kind of Guy is available in local bookstores all over the metro and will be available as an ebook soon. Mina, when will your next book be released? :P(less)
I first noticed Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass when several Goodreads friends began reading review copies of the book. It's b...moreOriginally posted here.
I first noticed Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass when several Goodreads friends began reading review copies of the book. It's been getting a lot of attention lately and I heard positive things about it so I became curious. My friend Janice generously sent a copy and since I wasn't in the middle of anything when it arrived, I started on it right away.
Well, that didn't turn out as well as I expected. I'm a huge fan of YA epic fantasy when it's done well. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like that was the case with Throne of Glass. The premise had so much promise - I wanted to read about an assassin trying to balance court intrigue with the fierce competition to become the King's Champion. After just a few chapters, I knew I wasn't going to get what I expected. I found it odd that an assassin as notorious as Celaena is more concerned about her looks and her dresses rather than honing her fighting skills. I was surprised by how often the characters focused on physical appearances rather than personalities - even the prince kept noticing how pretty Celaena is when he should be noting how well she fights as his candidate in the competition. Aside from not being fully invested in the characters, I wasn't impressed by the world-building, either. I was initially intrigued by the mystery in the novel - what the country's history was like, why magic has been banned, who was behind the murders - but that eventually fell flat for me. I don't know, it just wasn't as tightly woven (if that makes sense) as I'd like.
I also wasn't a fan of the love triangle in Throne of Glass because I felt like it wasn't necessary and the romance felt under-developed because of it. Sigh, I hate to be so negative in a review but I just wanted to list the reasons why I felt like Throne of Glass didn't work for me. I was even tempted to DNF the book because I found the last hundred pages or so dragging, I just wanted to get it over with. It felt like I was reading paranormal YA (which I try to stay away from as much as possible) instead of epic fantasy. As always, feel free to pick up the book if this looks like the kind of thing you'll enjoy reading, I've seen mixed reviews for it so I guess it really depends on how well you'll be able to connect with the story. I feel like Throne of Glass would work for readers who haven't read the likes of Robin McKinley, Megan Whalen Turner or Kristin Cashore. But if you're like me and you're aware of the awesomeness of other novels, I have a feeling you'll just be disappointed. Throne of Glass will be released August 7, 2012.(less)