I really liked Andrea K. Host’s And All the Stars last year and even included it in my best of 2013 list. I have been meaning to read the rest of her books since then. I know that several friends (namely Rachel, Estara and Li) have loved the Touchstone trilogy so I requested a review copy from the author and started reading it as soon as I was in the mood for sci-fi. I used to say that I’m not much of a sci-fi reader but given how much I enjoy reading Andrea K. Höst’s novels, it seems like I should read more from that genre. I read the omnibus version of the trilogy so this is a review for all three books - Stray, Lab Rat One and Caszandra - although I wouldn't be mentioning any spoilers.
Aussie teen Cass tells her story in diary format, so a big factor of the reader’s enjoyment of the Touchstone trilogy is based on how well you can relate and connect with her character. At first I thought it wasn’t going to work for me since I’m not a big fan of stories where the main character is stranded somewhere by herself. However, I found it easy to like Cass and the pace picked up considerably once she was rescued and brought to the alien planet Tare. Cass is smart, funny and has realistic reactions to finding herself suddenly stuck in an unfamiliar world. I know from personal experience how difficult it is to adjust to living in a foreign country, finding yourself in another planet with a drastically different civilization and language is probably a thousand times worse. I could definitely understand her homesickness and loneliness. I also feel like Cass handles herself quite well in spite of the physical and emotional obstacles in her path. Plus, I always think it's a good thing when the main character of any novel is a book lover. Some excerpts:
"I've spent my life with stories of people who don't walk away, who go back for their friends, who make that last stand. I've been brainwashed by Samwise Gamgee."
"I've spent my whole life reading books. I vaguely remember Mum reading to me in our own bedtime sessions, and our house is practically a library. The way I think, the way I act, most of that's because of the books I've read."
How can I not like someone who says things like that? I was also fascinated with the technologically advanced world that Andrea K. Höst created - with nanotechnology and tiny computer interface that can be injected in human brains. You can do all sorts of amazing things with the interface like record what you're seeing, watch movies, read books and play interactive games. In this world, there are also psychic space ninjas called Setari who are specially trained military personnel tasked with keeping the known planets and the space around them safe. Setari have special talents like telekinesis and enhanced sight/senses. Due to certain developments, Cass spends most of her time with the Setari and even befriends some of them. To be honest, I was a little confused with the number of Setari and their talents but I didn't let that bother me and just kept reading.
One of the aspects of the story that I truly loved was the romance. I kept reading because I wanted to find out what will happen with Cass having such a big crush on someone. I thought she was destined to have “On My Own” as her theme song but fortunately, that wasn't the case. Slowest burn romance that I’ve read in a while! It reminded me a little of the romance in Crown Duel, with a male character who’s all stoic and unreadable, skilled in combat and also a great leader. I was so absorbed by this series that I kept squeezing in time to read it even though I was supposed to do other things - like pack for a trip home or get some sleep. I even read bits and pieces of this in the car, which I don't normally do because it makes me dizzy. I hope that gives the rest of you an idea of how engrossed I was. The story lingered in my mind days after I finished reading it, giving me one heck of a book hangover. I devoured the Gratuitous Epilogue, which features the events after the trilogy, right after I finished the three books. What's interesting is that I think Touchstone will even be better as a reread because I wouldn't be confused by some of the things that initially bugged me and can pay attention to other details instead. I can now safely say that I've become an Andrea K. Höst fangirl. Seriously, more of my reader friends should be introduced to her work. If you haven't read any of her books, consider this a push in the right direction. I already have Medair in my Kindle and I'm looking forward to reading it.
"All these planets, and none of them have chocolate. Severe oversight in world creation."...more
April 2015 reread: Medair was one of the titles I included in my last Top Ten Tuesday post and that made me want to reread it so I did. Such a good reApril 2015 reread: Medair was one of the titles I included in my last Top Ten Tuesday post and that made me want to reread it so I did. Such a good read.
Having previously loved Andrea K. Höst's sci-fi novels And All the Stars and the Touchstone trilogy, I picked up her Medair duology when I needed to be fully absorbed by a good novel. It's funny because out of all of her books, I wanted to read this epic fantasy duology first but I didn't get the chance to read them until recently. Once again, I would like to thank the author for providing a review copy of the omnibus edition which contains both The Silence of Medair and Voice of the Lost. I feel that both books have to be read together so I'm glad I got them in one edition.
I was completely immersed in Medair's world right from the start. I read the whole thing in just one weekend because I couldn't get enough of the story and just had to reach the end as soon as I could. I wanted to be swept away into a wonderful world filled with magic and adventure and I'm happy to report that Medair lived up to my expectations. Having had prior experience reading Andrea K. Höst's other novels, I knew there would be surprising twists and turns in both The Silence of Medair and Voice of the Lost and I was right. I was immediately intrigued by the premise - Medair is a Herald of her kingdom, tasked with finding a powerful magical object that will help her people win the war. She succeeded in finding what she was looking for, but she stopped to rest in a place outside of time and when she woke up, she discovered that 500 years have passed. Not surprisingly, Medair feels lost, with no idea how to move forward. A large part of the reader's enjoyment of Medair would depend on whether one will be able to sympathize with her and the issues that she faces. Her narration is very introspective, going back and forth from the past to the present, and trying to reconcile the differences between them. There's a lot of reflection on her part as she reluctantly becomes involved in making decisions that would irrevocably change the world she found herself in. I loved Medair's character, I understood her hesitations, her feelings and her worries. She's an intelligent and resourceful woman, loyal to her liege and her country, and inherently a good person. But completely at a loss with how much has been altered in her world. I do admit that there could have been less of her thoughts going around in circles, even Medair was self-aware enough to realize that she keeps doing that, but I wasn't really bothered by it. I can see why the narration wouldn't work for everyone but I'm delighted that I was completely engrossed by it. Aside from Medair, I was also invested in several other characters in the story and I loved seeing her interact with them even as she tries to keep a distance.
There's a whole lot of history and political intrigue intertwined with the story, partly because of the invasion centuries ago, and also because of the alliances of the various governing bodies around the region. I enjoyed these aspects and how magic was also involved in all of it. I like that there weren't any lengthy explanations on how the magic works but it never got confusing for me. I felt that it was seamlessly woven into the story. I believe that this review wouldn't be complete if I didn't talk about the romance in these two books. While I could see it coming, it was how the characters got there that mattered. In keeping with her personality and the situation she's in, Medair doesn't take her attraction to a certain someone lightly. As a result, there's tension and ambiguity. I really had no idea how things would unfold between them. Andrea K. Höst has consistently surprised me with how she builds and develops relationships in her books. While I wasn't exactly able to predict how things would end, I can say that there was a nice build up and I couldn't see Medair's story ending any other way. Similar to the Touchstone trilogy, I can see the Medair duology will be a very good reread. I look forward to finding the time for it. In the meantime, I need to work on convincing more readers to pick up her books because I seriously find it surprising that they're not as well-known as they should be. I had a book hangover after reading these two books and the only solution I could think of was to start on another Andrea K. Höst title....more
May 5, 2014 comments: I felt like rereading after I've been to Paris because I wanted to see what it felt like now that I'm more familiar with the setMay 5, 2014 comments: I felt like rereading after I've been to Paris because I wanted to see what it felt like now that I'm more familiar with the setting. The writing is just as good as I remembered and the reading experience is even better because of the little details that I could relate to.
_____________________ March 29, 2013 review: Originally posted here.
I have to thank my good friend Michelle for introducing me to what has become one of my favorite contemporary romance series. I had a feeling that I would enjoy reading Laura Florand's novels after my copies arrived and I saw how pretty they were. I'm pleased to report that I wasn't disappointed.
I LOVE desserts and I'm a big fan of chocolate. Some of my favorites are dark chocolate with nuts, mint chocolate and truffles. I know it's not a healthy habit but I have chocolate almost everyday. I eat chocolate to cheer me up when I'm feeling a little low and I also eat chocolate to celebrate when something good happens. I feel like there's always an excuse for me to indulge in chocolate. So imagine my delight at discovering that both the main characters in The Chocolate Thief are fellow chocolate-lovers. Cade is the heiress of Corey Chocolate, one of the largest chocolate corporations in the world (I think the surname Corey is a nod to Hershey). While Sylvain is one of the top chocolatiers in Paris. I wish I could afford to try chocolates that are as good as Sylvain's masterpieces but I'm afraid they're probably too expensive for me. I did find Sylvain's reasons for choosing to work with chocolates intriguing:
He had been a gangly, awkward adolescent with shaggy hair, so it was a good thing he had discovered very early in his teenage years What Women Wanted.
Chocolat. If you wanted to lure a woman who wouldn't otherwise have looked twice at you, good chocolate was better than a love potion.
Add the fact that the novel is set in Paris, a beautiful, romantic city that I've always wanted to visit and I'm one happy reader. We have here a chocolate-filled take of a love-hate relationship. Both of them love chocolate but in different ways. Cade is proud of her family's heritage and how their products bring happiness to millions of people. She's all about making chocolate more accessible to people. While Sylvain looks down on mass-produced chocolate and believes that creating chocolate is a fine art form. What I loved about these two characters is how passionate they both are about what they do. Cade knows that people rely on her and their company is responsible for providing much-needed jobs. Sylvain pours so much of himself in what he does that he takes total ownership of his creations, to the point that he feels that people are tasting a part of him whenever they devour his chocolates. This is why he takes so much pride in the fact that Cade can't get enough of his work, which she doesn't want to openly admit so she resorts to stealing them. I can certainly appreciate a girl resorting to thieving for the sake of the finest chocolate that she's ever tasted. I like how the reader is given a full understanding of the characters' background, how and why they became who they are when we meet them. I liked Cade and Sylvain's warm interactions with their family and friends. The Chocolate Thief is a deliciously tempting work of fiction, I gobbled it up in just two days. I would have done it in one sitting if I didn't have to go to work. Highly recommended for fans of chocolate, novels set in Paris and contemporary romance. Just make sure you have some chocolate on hand when you read this. I seriously cannot wait for the third book in the series, The Chocolate Touch, to be released in July. It will be about Cade's sister and Sylvain's rival.
On a side note, I'm delighted to put up a post on my birthday about a book that I loved. I wish I could do that every year. Yesterday, my lovely co-workers got me this yummy chocolate cake called Othello:
Magic Gifts is a Kate Daniels novella and is Ilona and Gordon's Christmas gift to their fans. It's available as a free downloadOriginally 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!...more
For some reason, Saving June by Hannah Harrington was released early in Australia. I've seen raving reviews from those who haveOriginally posted here.
For some reason, Saving June by Hannah Harrington was released early in Australia. I've seen raving reviews from those who have been lucky enough to get copies of the book and that persuaded me to read it as soon as I can. The ebook can be purchased from Angus & Robertson and Borders Australia. If you want a physical copy, you can order it from Fishpond. Also, Harlequin Teen said on Twitter that Saving June will be available on NetGalley in August.
Harper Scott knows she can never measure up to her perfect, older sister June, so she's never tried. In fact, she's done her best to be the opposite - lukewarm grades, detention as often as she can manage it, basically be the rebel daughter. She's as surprised as everyone when June commits suicide a week before graduation, leaving behind a mess that no one can figure out. When her divorced parents decide to split June's ashes, Harper takes matters into her own hands and embarks on a road trip to California with her best friend Laney and Jake Tolan, a guy who claims to be June's friend. June always yearned to go to California and Harper thinks it's the perfect place to scatter the ashes.
Ah this book, this beautiful book. It deserves all the hype that it's been getting, I can't even stop thinking about it. Right off the bat, I empathized with Harper, with all her pain and confusion and anger - not knowing how to handle living in a world without her big sister to take care of things. The road trip that she plans with her best friend is the perfect way for her to cope and ease that feeling of being suffocated. She doesn't understand why Jake wants to go with them though. Mysterious, classic rock-loving Jake with the piercing green eyes - one moment a douchebag and a knight in shining armor the next. He has his own reasons for being that way and it didn't diminish his appeal in my eyes. I'd love to meet someone like him in person - someone passionate about music who provides anecdotes each time an unfamiliar song plays, who believes that a proper mix CD should have a story to tell just like a book. Harper, armed with her Polaroid, Laney, with her enthusiasm and friendliness and Jake, with his music are the perfect combination for a memorable road trip.
Saving June has everything that I look for in my contemporary reads: believable characters with realistic problems, amazing friends, romance that takes time to form (as opposed to instant love). Some scenes had me smiling and chuckling at the situations Harper, Laney and Jake get into while other scenes had me tearing up and aching for all of them. I love how these three characters are fully fleshed out with their distinct personalities. This is the kind of book that stays with you even after you finish reading it, the kind that makes you want listen to all of the songs mentioned in it. Saving June is about grief and loss but also about life, hope and love. It has earned a spot in my favorites and will definitely be included in my best of 2011. The premise reminded me of The Sky is Everywhere and Sharing Sam while the slow build up of the romance felt similar to Going Too Far. So if you're a fan of those three books, make sure to read this one. I will be on the lookout for Hannah Harrington's other novels.
And because I love so many lines from the book, I can't help but quote Jake:
It's just nice, I guess. Knowing that someone else can put into words what I feel. That there are people who have been through things worse than I have, and they come out on the other side okay. Not only that, but they made some kind of twisted, fucked-up sense of the completely senseless. They made it mean something. These songs tell me I'm not alone. If you look at it at that way, music... music can see you through anything.
I'm not as passionate about music as Jake is but I agree with what he said, more so if you replace "music" with "books". Yeah, books can see you through anything....more
Even though I didn't fall in love with Patrick Ness' The Knife of Never Letting Go, I enjoyed it enough to read his other books. I've seen rave reviews of A Monster Calls so I decided to request a copy from NetGalley when it became available there. I finished reading this book weeks ago and I've let a draft of my review rest in my dashboard, hoping that I'll be able to write something substantial while the dust settles. I admit defeat, nothing that I can write will do this book justice.
This book should come with a warning: "Avoid reading this in public places because it will make you cry." I should have known better than to read A Monster Calls in Starbucks while waiting for friends. I figured I was immune to Patrick Ness' emotional punches since I remained tear-free while reading The Knife of Never Letting Go. I was wrong. I don't think I've ever mentioned it here on the blog but back in January 2007, my dad was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer. Five months later, he passed away. I don't talk about it here on the blog because I used to think it's too personal but I want to share why this particular book resonated with me. To say that I could relate to Connor is an understatement. I wanted to go inside the book and hug him to let him know that he isn't alone in his pain. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who felt that way. In a world where cancer is becoming more common, I feel like it has touched the lives of almost everyone - be it through a family member or a friend. I've lost count of the number of wakes and funerals that I've attended because someone lost his or her battle to cancer. I'm thankful that Patrick Ness decided to write this novel because it articulates what so many of us can never put into words - all the anger, the hopelessness, the fear and yes, the denial because accepting the truth is never an easy thing. And that's what the monster wants from Connor: for him to reveal the truth because he can never move on if he can't even admit it to himself.
This a contemporary middle grade or younger YA novel and only the presence of the monster adds a touch of whimsy to the story. You don't have to be a Patrick Ness fan or a middle grade/young adult reader to appreciate this book. What Connor experiences is something that every human being will understand. You know that feeling when a book does a better job of describing how you feel? A Monster Calls is that kind of book. Just thinking about it while writing my review brings to the surface all the emotions that I felt while reading Connor's story. Ever since I started the blog, I've become drawn to well-written, emotional reads that deal with grief and maybe it's because of my own experience, maybe I'm trying to find the words to illustrate how I felt in the books that I read. I'm fond of quoting C.S. Lewis, "We read to know we're not alone" because it's true. A Monster Calls makes me feel that I'm not alone. So thank you, Patrick Ness, I know you already have numerous fans but I just want to say that you've gained another one and I will read everything that you've written and everything else that you will write. I need to buy an actual copy of this book so I can read it over and over again....more
Believe me when I tell you that I was really excited to read this book. It's one of my most anticipated releases this year. I had high expectations because I wanted more of the author's lyrical way with words and I wasn't disappointed. I'm not sure under what genre or category Daughter of Smoke and Bone will fall under but I'm guessing it's either YA urban fantasy or YA paranormal romance and while I usually shy away from those kinds of books, I didn't have to worry about not liking this one. I was torn between wanting to read the book slowly so I can savor the words and devouring the whole thing in one big gulp.
There's a lot of mystery surrounding Karou, her upbringing and the chimaera who brought her up. Chimaera are creatures from another world, with various animal and human features mixed together. Others may call them monsters or demons but they're more whimsical than scary. The novel is partially set in this world, in Prague, where Karou is based, as well as all the other places that she goes to for her errands. The other setting is in a world different from our own, where chimaera have been fighting a war against another kind of supernatural being for as long as anyone can remember. Look at me being vague to avoid spoilers. The worldbuilding in this book is something that I fell in love with - from the everyday descriptions of Karou's life in Prague to the back story of the chimaera and their world. The atmospheric setting made me eager to go to Prague and see for myself if it's really as lovely as the book described. It's the kind of worldbuilding (and prose) that will suck you in and won't let go until you reach the very end. And when you get to that part? It will leave you wanting more.
The romance was totally swoon-worthy. For me, what made the love story work were all the details and intricacies involved. There's a lot of history tied up with the romance and there were valid reasons that made it as complicated as it was. I ate up the last few chapters of this book like they were pieces of chocolate, they were that scrumptious. I kept adding favorite quotes from the book on Goodreads and since I love Laini Taylor's beautiful prose so much, I thought it would be a good idea to give a sample:
"Karou wished she could be the kind of girl who was complete unto herself, comfortable in solitude, serene. But she wasn't. She was lonely, and she feared the missingness within her as if it might expand and... cancel her. She craved a presence beside her, solid. Fingertips light at the nape of her neck and a voice meeting hers in the dark. Someone who would wait with an umbrella to walk her home in the rain, and smile like sunshine when he saw her coming. Who would dance with her on her balcony, keep his promises and know her secrets, and make a tiny world wherever he was, with just her and his arms and his whisper and her trust."
Even before I got my grubby little hands on a copy, I predicted that Daughter of Smoke and Bone will make it to my best of 2011 list and I was right. I truly cannot wait for the sequel to be finished. I have to wait a whole year before it will be released! I need to get my hands on those Faeries of Dreamdark books to tide me over while waiting. If I haven't managed to convince you to read this book by now, I don't know what else I could say. Enthusiastically recommended for fantasy fans, especially those who like the YA variety. I'm predicting that this one will become a hit. ...more
Lips Touch contains three short stories - Goblin Fruit, Spicy Little Curses Such as These and Hatchling - set in different worlOriginally posted here.
Lips Touch contains three short stories - Goblin Fruit, Spicy Little Curses Such as These and Hatchling - set in different worlds. The common theme in these stories is that they're all about kisses. Each story has its own set of lovely artwork done by Jim di Bartolo. I've been wanting to read this for a while now so I sneaked in some reading time in the bookstore and by the time I finished reading the first two stories, I decided that I'd love to own a copy. I was planning to wait for the paperback to be released because it would be cheaper but was worried that it wouldn't include the artwork so I went ahead and got the hardcover instead. I'm not regretting the decision because I ended up loving it. Laini Taylor's writing is lush and lyrical, exactly what I look for in my fantasy reads and her husband's illustrations are the perfect enhancement to these stories.
To keep this review concise, I'm not going to comment on each story but instead share what I think about the book as a whole. I'm a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed reading these stories because the writing is a bit darker and grittier than my usual favorites. The more disturbing aspects of the stories were balanced out by the positive things like love and hope so I never had a problem with them. Also, I'm usually not a fan of YA urban fantasy but these stories had a fairy tale feel to them than I don't even know if I can classify them as such. It was easy to fall into the atmospheric writing. I'm amazed at how much the author was able to accomplish in terms of worldbuilding considering that these are short stories with limited word count and not full-length novels. I felt like they were just the right length and didn't feel that they were rushed. My favorite out of the three is Hatchling and I certainly wouldn't mind reading more about that world. I hear that she's planning to come out with a book with the same setting, can't wait to read that. In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to track down the rest of Laini Taylor's books because Lips Touch left me hungry for more of her writing. Lips Touch is a lovely book that I highly recommend to all fantasy fans out there. It certainly deserves to get more attention.
Since I included a sample of the illustrations found inside the book, I thought it would be fitting to quote the author as well. This is a non-spoilery tidbit from Goblin Fruit:
Kizzy wanted to be a woman who would dive off the prow of a sailboat into the sea, who would fall back in a tangle of sheets, laughing, and who could dance a tango, lazily stroke a leopard with her bare foot, freeze an enemy's blood with her eyes, make promises she couldn't possibly keep, and then shift the world to keep them. She wanted to write memoirs and autograph them at a tiny bookshop in Rome, with a line of admirers snaking down a pink-lit alley. She wanted to make love on a balcony, ruin someone, trade in esoteric knowledge, watch strangers as coolly as a cat. She wanted to be inscrutable, have a drink named after her, a love song written for her, and a handsome adventurer's small airplane, champagne-christened Kizzy, which would vanish one day in a windstorm in Arabia so that she would have to mount a rescue operation involving camels, and wear an indigo veil against the stinging sand, just like the nomads.
I've experienced a case of the right book at the right time with What Alice Forgot and I loved it. For some reason, I was in thOriginally posted here.
I've experienced a case of the right book at the right time with What Alice Forgot and I loved it. For some reason, I was in the mood to read something just like this and Liane Moriarty is now on my auto-buy list. The plot of this book is similar to the TV show, Samantha Who, which I enjoyed watching a couple of years ago. After she bumped her head in a step-aerobics class, Alice thinks she's twenty-nine instead of thirty-nine. She doesn't understand why she's drifted apart from her loved ones and why she's in the middle of a nasty divorce with her husband, Nick. She doesn't even remember giving birth to her three kids. The first part started out a bit slow for me, Alice kept on relating details about her life ten years ago. I already know that she lost her memory, I wanted the story to move forward at a faster pace. Nevertheless, I was hooked by Liane Moriarty's writing and I knew I was going to enjoy reading about Alice coming to terms with the changes in her life. I also thought it was a great idea that the perspective changes from Alice's point of view to her sister Elizabeth's, who writes in a journal as homework for a therapist, and Frannie's, their grandmother who has a personal blog about the family. Elizabeth's journal entries about infertility are more serious in contrast to Frannie's hilarious anecdotes.
I highly recommend this to fans of women's fiction and readers who like their chick lit with more depth and with a lot of heart. What Alice Forgot portrays how hard it is to work on relationships - between siblings, between husband and wife and even between a parent and their child. If only we could all go back in time and say "let's start with a clean slate because of memory loss" each time there's a problem that feels insurmountable. This book made me reflect about my own life and how different things were for me ten years ago and I think this is something that we would all be able to relate to. I wouldn't want to go back but I do think it's a shame that I lost some close friends along the way. In spite of handling some serious topics, What Alice Forgot also has its share of humor. Alice's thoughts as she tries to figure out everything in her life were amusing. It's not surprising that I liked the younger, less-bitter Alice than her older counterpart and I kept wondering if her memory would come back or not. While reading this, I was thinking that the book would make a great movie and lo and behold, I saw in the author's website that the film rights have been bought. Definitely looking forward to watching that! What Alice Forgot will be released in the US on June 2 so all you readers over there will be able to purchase this from your favorite bookstore while I will be waiting patiently to get my copies of Liane's other books: Three Wishes and The Last Anniversary.
Song of the Sparrow is based on Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott, an Arthurian poem about Elaine of Ascolat. I've nevOriginally posted here.
Song of the Sparrow is based on Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott, an Arthurian poem about Elaine of Ascolat. I've never read a novel in verse before and I thought it would be a good idea to start with this one because I like the premise. I don't read a lot of Arthurian tales either although I remember reading Le Morte d'Arthur for English back in high school and I love Elizabeth E. Wein's books. When I saw an inexpensive used copy from Julie's Sari-Sari Store, I bought it right away. Thanks to Celina for the heads up on where I could find a copy.
I was swept away by the beautiful writing in Song of the Sparrow. Maybe it's because of the verse format but it felt like I was reading a fairy tale instead of a historical fiction book. I was easily immersed in the story and I knew right from the start that Elaine and I would get along just fine. Elaine is a girl stuck in a world full of men and she can be described as "one of the boys". Her father brought her to Arthur's camp when her mother died and she's been there ever since. Her father and her two brothers fight alongside the knights of Arthur and she has great respect for all of them. As the only lady in their camp, Elaine's sewing and healing skills are in great demand. She doesn't mind because she's friends with most of the men in their camp and she enjoys the freedom that her lifestyle allows. What I loved about Elaine's character in this retelling is that she manages to show her strength without picking up a sword or fighting in a battle like other fantasy heroines (not that I don't love them). Elaine's infatuation with Lancelot is an integral part of the story because that's what she's famous for but I liked how the author provided a background for it - how Lancelot was always there whenever Elaine was lonely as a child and how he comes to the rescue the few times that Elaine needs help. It isn't a tragic kind of love, which was how it was portrayed by other writers.
I don't read much poetry so I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to relate to this one but surprise, surprise, the pages just flew by. To get a feel of the writing, check out the excerpt available in Lisa Ann Sandell's website. The story provided not just a clear picture of Elaine but of other well-known characters like Gwynivere, Lancelot, Tristan and Arthur. I loved seeing how Elaine interacted with all of them, even Gwynivere who is everything Elaine isn't - beautiful, ladylike, cold and cruel. I made an excellent decision when I chose Song of the Sparrow as my first novel in verse because now I'm curious about books written in a similar format. I wonder if other novels in verse are as lovely as this one. I highly recommend this to fans of Arthurian tales, retellings or novels in verse. Or maybe I should just say, read this if you want to fall in love with an exquisite retelling about Elaine of Ascolat, the Lady of Shalott....more
I dare you to read Angie's review of Unsticky and not be convinced to read the book as soon as you can. I believe several other bloggers were persuaded to do just that. Ari of Emily and Her Little Pink Notes (who is on a blogging hiatus) has also been recommending Sarra Manning's YA books but I haven't had a chance to read them yet and I thought Unsticky would be a good introduction to the author's work. Thank you so much to the lovely Celina of Celina's Books and Magazines for tracking down a copy of this for me. :D I was so excited when I received the package that I started reading it immediately.
Whenever my girlfriends and I talk about our jobs, there's always a point where we share our frustrations about how hard it is to get a decent salary in a third world country. This is why so many of our friends go abroad to work. There's always one person who concludes the discussion with, "we should just look for a rich boyfriend/husband so we wouldn't have to worry about money anymore." And this is what happened when Grace met Vaughn in Unsticky. He's a rich, older man who needs a female companion to handle the social aspects of his job as an art dealer. She's a fashion assistant with huge amounts of debt and no idea how she's going to pay them off. But both of them are so much more than that. They're two flawed people who don't even know the real meaning of love so they'd rather have an arrangement than risk involving their hearts in the process. Here's a quote from Grace that perfectly describes their relationship:
"We're broken. It's like we have all these jagged edges that scare other people off, but when we're with each other, our jagged edges fit together and we're almost whole."
Grace is a much more believable shopaholic than Becky Bloomwood ever was. You don't ever get to a point where you want to shake her and say, "stop buying stuff!" because her urge to buy something to make herself feel better is understandable. There's not much in her life that makes her feel good. I know I indulge in retail therapy from time to time although I'm not and never will be into designer items. Why would I buy a handbag worth thousands of dollars when I could buy books instead? Grace's problems don't magically go away the moment she strikes a deal with Vaughn. She still had to go through so much and this is probably why the book is so long. I didn't mind though because it kept me absorbed. It was so much fun watching Grace and Vaughn get to know each other. I'm not a big fan of May-December pairings but it just worked with these two. Vaughn's own issues worked well with Grace's and they understood each other. Can I just say that it's so funny that Vaughn has a thing for desserts? Both main characters are far from perfect and I think that's what makes Unsticky so good. Unsticky has made it to my best of 2011 and now has a permanent place in my list of favorites. I'm so glad that I already ordered You Don't Have to Say You Love Me. I'm going to read it as soon as it arrives. ...more
I always say that in order for me to like a book, I have to be able to relate to it somehow. No worries on that department whenOriginally posted here.
I always say that in order for me to like a book, I have to be able to relate to it somehow. No worries on that department when it comes to this one because I could TOTALLY relate to Ellie. Twenty-something Filipina working in a corporate job but really doesn't know what her career path is? That could be me! Ellie's thing is traveling and making plans for hypothetical trips abroad. While I do love to travel, I don't get to do it that often so I guess it would be better to say that my thing is reading and blogging about books. I've never experienced an office romance like Ellie did but the breaking up with a boyfriend-who-was-a-friend-before-you-became-a-couple? Been there, done that. Ellie also has several circles of friends, from her high school barkada to her office mates and I'm like that as well. Each set of friends has a different personality and I like to think that each group brings out a different side of me. Ellie is really believable as a character - she's a representation of me, my friends and every young Pinay out there looking for her own fairy tale.
I keep my reviews spoiler-free so I don't want to mention any names but I want a guy like the male protagonist! Seriously.♥ I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Ellie and her attempts to get her life back in order after the breakup. Fairy Tale Fail is a light and fun contemporary romance that gives a glimpse of middle class life in the Philippines. If only the paperback was as cheap as the e-book edition, I'd buy lots of copies and give them as Christmas gifts to my girlfriends. Unfortunately, the paperback is more expensive at P350. The good news is the e-book is available both in Smashwords and Amazon so for all international readers out there, you could order this anytime you want. If you want a peek at what our lives are usually like (and by us I mean young professionals in the Philippines), then go and read this book! At $0.99, it's cheaper than your average Starbucks coffee. It's really short too, more like a novella than a novel. I'm interested to see how readers outside the Philippines will react to this one. One minor quibble though, I wish Mina included footnotes to define some of the Filipino words used in the book like kuya, barkada and bulalo so that foreigners will be able to understand them. That said, I'd like to thank Mina for coming up with a well-written Filipino chick lit novel. :) I look forward to reading her other book, My Imaginary Ex and I hope she comes up with a thicker novel next time....more
What a lovely surprise Garden Spells turned out to be. I've had my copy for several months now and I only felt the urge to pickOriginally posted here.
What a lovely surprise Garden Spells turned out to be. I've had my copy for several months now and I only felt the urge to pick it up this weekend, when I felt like I could use a bit of magic in my reading. It looks like I'm going to become a fan of magic realism because I like that it's mostly contemporary fiction with just enough magic sprinkled in to make things more intriguing. The Waverley women have always had a hint of magic in their blood. In Claire Waverley, this comes out in her cooking. She has the power to influence how other people feel by using flowers and plants from the Waverley garden. The apple tree in the garden is famous because when a person takes a bite from one of its apples, they see the biggest point of their life (good or bad). Claire embraced her Waverley roots early on but her younger sister Sydney feels the opposite. Sydney left town as a teenager, just like their mother did, but she's realized that Bascom, North Carolina is still home. Out of the blue, she comes back home with her young daughter in tow. Claire welcomes them even though she's afraid of change and that they'll eventually leave her again.
This book was a delight to read. It's the sort of book that will probably become a comfort read in the future. It's also a perfect gift for female relatives in friends because it's light and there's a bit of everything in it - some romance, a little magic, small-town gossip and family issues. It will also make you hungry because there are a lot of references to food due to the nature of Claire's work (she's a caterer) and her Waverley magic. I like how both Claire and Sydney developed as characters throughout the book. Claire's a shy, reserved person who's afraid to let people in because she has abandonment issues. Slowly but surely, she learns to open herself up to the people who matter the most. While her sister Sydney starts putting down roots and learns that being a Waverley isn't as bad as she remembered. The minor characters in the book are also well-developed and I like how they flesh out the story. Even the Waverley garden (the apple tree in particular) has a mind of its own. I highly recommend this book and if Sarah Addison Allen's other books are just as good as this one, then I'd be more than happy to read them....more
I don't usually go for books set during war time. More so for this one because it's about the Vietnam war, a time in history whOriginally posted here.
I don't usually go for books set during war time. More so for this one because it's about the Vietnam war, a time in history which I know nothing about. However, if a book comes highly recommended by someone I trust, I can't help but give it a try. Plus, Angie sent a copy already so the least I could do was read the book, right? :) The Road Home has two sections: the first part deals with Rebecca working as a nurse in Vietnam and the second part is about her coming back home to the States. I thought The Road Home was a standalone novel but looking at Ellen Emerson White's website, it looks like she wrote a series called The Echo Company which focuses on a certain soldier's experiences in Vietnam and Rebecca comes into the picture in the latter books. This is probably why when I was reading The Road Home, I felt like I came into the middle of the series.
As the story starts, Rebecca is working in an American hospital in Vietnam. She's a Radcliffe-educated nurse straight out of college and she signed up mainly because of issues with her family. It sort of felt like things already happened to Rebecca and the book is dealing with the aftereffects of those events but I didn't really mind. Rebecca's helicopter was shot down in the jungle and she was MIA for a couple of days until she meets a squad of American soldiers and one of them, Michael, becomes a close friend. Based on hints throughout the novel, Rebecca used to be a cheerful and lively girl and everything changed when she was lost in the jungle. Mostly she runs on autopilot as she tries to save lives when she doesn't even understand the point of it all. During her remaining time in Vietnam, we see her struggle to connect with other people: the Chief Nurse Major Doyle, Michael and even her mother and father through letters.
The Road Home is more than just Rebecca's story of coming back from Vietnam. It's about coming to terms with everything that she encountered while she was there and trying to understand how she's going to go on living when so many people died. Rebecca lost touch with herself when she went off to join the Army and this novel is about her finding herself again. The characters are believable and real - from their experiences during the war to how lost they were after they came back. It's an understatement that it's difficult to overcome the horrors of war. Your heart will break several times over while you're reading this one but I think it's worth reading. The last few chapters are my favorite part of the novel, when Rebecca decides to go on a road trip. Plus the ending? *sigh* It's perfect for the story. So again, I thank Angie for encouraging me to read a book that I normally wouldn't have picked up. I never thought I'd find comfort in a novel about war. I'm baffled that the book is out of print because it deserves to be read by more people. ...more
William was a pretty interesting secondary character back in On the Edge so I think it's great that he got to have his own storyOriginall posted here.
William was a pretty interesting secondary character back in On the Edge so I think it's great that he got to have his own story. At 447 pages, this one is a lot meatier that its predecessor. The first one focused more on the romance while this one is a little darker and a bit grittier. The worldbuilding is just as creative and I like how we're presented with a different area of the Edge - the Mire. Clans fight in feuds to determine supremacy in a grim and swampy land where they have to eke out their living. Here's an excerpt early on:
"That had to be the craziest thing he'd heard. At some point they must've looked around and said, "Hey, what do we have a shitload of?" "Mud! It's cold and wet. I know, let's burn it!" "Well, it ain't good for nothing else." What the hell? He supposed if fish could have legs, then mud could burn. Spider or no Spider, if their cats started flying, he would be out of here like a rocket."
As you can see, there's plenty of wit and humor in the book. I love how William and Cerise banter and how they enjoy teasing each other. William spent most of his life as a soldier. Because of his nature as a changeling, he was trained from his early years to become a lethal fighting machine. As a result, he has to constantly keep himself in check. Also, he's been lonely most of his life because he doesn't have a family. Lo and behold, he meets Cerise and becomes tied up in her family's business. The Mars are a pretty crazy bunch of people. As evidenced by the cover, Cerise is an excellent swordswoman. She fuses her magic with her sword so she has a unique fighting ability. She's also smart and funny, definitely my kind of female protagonist! I had a lot of fun reading this book and even though it was pretty thick, the pages just flew by. As expected, there's nonstop action and adventure for the two main characters. The story is layered with intrigue as William pursues his quest against the creepy spymaster of a rival nation. Spider is a pretty scary villain not just because he's evil but because he believes he's doing the best that he could to serve his country.
Another awesome urban fantasy novel from Ilona Andrews - espionage set in an interesting swampy landscape with broken but lovable main characters and distinct secondary characters in the form of the Mars - highly recommended to all fans of the genre. According to the authors' blog, the next Edge book will be about Kaldar. I'm really looking forward to that because I loved Kaldar's character in Bayou Moon. Most of you know I'm a fan of reprobates and thieves. :) ...more
Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews is the fifth installment in the Kate Daniels series and one of my most anticipated reads for thisOriginally posted here.
Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews is the fifth installment in the Kate Daniels series and one of my most anticipated reads for this year. I always thought I was more into epic fantasy than anything else but Ilona Andrews changed my mind and this series has become my favorite when it comes to urban fantasy. This review will contain spoilers> for the previous books so don't proceed unless you've read the others. Even the book's summary is spoiler so pick up the other books in the series first before you read this one, I promise, you won't regret it. Reading order of the books: Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes and Magic Bleeds.
I devoured the first four books in this series last year and proceeded to read everything that Ilona Andrews has written. I read Magic Slays as soon as I can because it feels good to be back in Kate Daniels' world. Everything that I loved in the other books is present in this one: the detailed worldbuilding with a different set of villains and mythology in each book (in this one, it's Russian mythology), the characters who change and develop throughout the course of the series and the witty banter that had me laughing out loud. There's also the magic vs. technology situation that's always interesting.
What I really liked about Magic Slays is how the authors keep building on the world that they created, slowly revealing information to move the story along. We get to know more about Kate's past but there's still enough mystery to make readers speculate. I'm sure there will be more (and probably bigger) revelations in the next book. I also really enjoyed seeing the development in Kate and Curran's relationship. Yes, it's been established that they're mated and we all know that they're meant to be together but I loved seeing them work through the problems that rise up because they're both complicated people with a lot of issues. Just when you think you couldn't love Curran more, he goes off to do and say things that are unexpectedly sweet. Kate's tendency to be a lone wolf makes it difficult for her to connect with anyone - her mate, her best friend, her ward and friends from the pack - and even though she's mellowed out in this installment, it's still not easy for her. Add to all that the usual amount of butt-kicking action than can be expected from someone like Kate Daniels and her circle of friends and you're in for a book that you wouldn't be able to put down.
The other day, I was telling friends who are also fans of the series that maybe it would have been a good idea to wait for all of the books to be out before I started reading them. But then I realized that I wouldn't want to miss out on all the fun and I enjoy discussing these books too much not to read them as they're released. I just need to learn to be patient and wait for the next installment after reading this. At this point, if you're an Ilona Andrews fan then there's nothing more that I can say because you probably have this book in your TBR pile already. If you've never heard of the series or you're thinking of reading it (boo, you've seen the spoilers!), I hope you get to do so soon because the Kate Daniels books are awesome. I gobbled up Magic Slays and it still left me hungry for more. I think the stage is nicely set for the next two books in the series and as always, I can't wait to read them. ...more
2012 NOTE: I first read this March last year and just reread it because of Marchetta Madness. Funny that I finished rereading this one the same day I2012 NOTE: I first read this March last year and just reread it because of Marchetta Madness. Funny that I finished rereading this one the same day I posted a review last year. :P Maybe I should make it a yearly tradition? Glad I now have the Aussie edition because it's even more beautiful in person. And yep, the book itself is just as amazing as I remembered (it still made me cry).
Today's my birthday and I'm glad that I get to post a review of what has become one of my favorite reads this year. The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta is a companion novel to Saving Francesca, which I enjoyed reading last year. I think both books stand well on their own so there's no need to read one before the other. I can't even remember the details in Saving Francesca while I was reading The Piper's Son (which I regret. I will reread both books consecutively in the future). I love Melina Marchetta and Jellicoe Road is actually one of the books that encouraged me to read more contemporary YA.
How about that Aussie cover? I think it's lovely and I wanted to get a copy of it. I feel like the US edition is marketed for a younger audience when The Piper's Son doesn't read like a YA novel. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way to get it so I went ahead and ordered the US edition because I've been waiting to read this for a while now. Let me just say that it was totally worth the wait! There's something about Melina Marchetta's books and her writing that makes the characters come alive and it makes you want to squeeze yourself into each close-knit group and beg to be included. That's how I felt when I read Jellicoe Road and again when I finished The Piper's Son. I wanted to become a part of their world, I wanted to feel all that love and yes, even the heartbreak and the pain that go with it. I can't get over how amazing Melina Marchetta is as a writer because she can really make you feel. Her books can make you laugh and cry and care about her characters to the point that you become fully invested in them. You feel like you're experiencing everything that her characters are going through and even when they're mostly difficult situations, you'll still love every minute of it. The Piper's Son is an achingly beautiful book that manages to do just that.
Tom is such a broken person at the start of the book and you just hurt for him and his family. The point of view changes from Tom to his aunt Georgie and the reader gets a clearer picture of each family member and most of their friends because of this. The Piper's Son is about grief and the slow healing process that goes with it. The characters were fully fleshed out, even the secondary ones, and Melina Marchetta shows how a person's actions and feelings affect the people around him or her. It reminds me of ripples in water and how they spread out to bigger areas. In my opinion, this book perfectly describes how complicated different kinds of relationships are. Family, friendships and romantic relationships - all of these are highlighted and illustrated in this book. Even if there's a lot of love involved, people are bound to make mistakes that they'll regret and it's a matter of knowing when something is worth fighting for and when someone deserves to be forgiven. Music is also a huge aspect of this book because a lot of the characters are into it. I've never been a big music geek but this book made me want to make a playlist and look up all of the songs mentioned in it. If it isn't obvious yet, I loved this book to bits. It's all kinds of wonderful. If you haven't had a chance to pick this up, I urge you to READ IT. After finishing this book, I couldn't stop thinking about it and I had one of those "THIS is why I read!" moments.
Side note: Does anyone know if Ben the Violinist in this one is the same Ben from Jellicoe Road? If yes, then that's awesome....more
Another excellent installment in what has become one of my favorite series: the Sevenwaters books by Juliet Marillier. I'm so hapOrinally posted here.
Another excellent installment in what has become one of my favorite series: the Sevenwaters books by Juliet Marillier. I'm so happy that Ms. Marillier decided to write more books in this series! Like I said, I had a pretty lukewarm reaction to Child of the Prophecy but that's okay because I knew that I could look forward to more adventures in the Sevenwaters world with this one and Seer of Sevenwaters, due out later this year. This one is different from the rest because it occurs only a couple of years after Child of the Prophecy, unlike the other Sevenwaters books which occur one generation after the one before it.
As always, the main character of this book is a daughter of Sevenwaters, Clodagh. What I like about Clodagh is she doesn't have special powers like the other Sevenwaters heroines. She's not the healer nor the seer in her generation. At the start of the book, it is even emphasized that Clodagh's main skills lie in managing the household and she'll become a nice little wife some day. However, Clodagh shows an exceptional capacity to love, which I think comes from her upbringing. The Sevenwaters clan is a close-knit one and the children of this remarkable family all exhibit their warmth and inner strength each in their own way. I love that even though Clodagh was terrified to journey to the Otherworld, she knows she must do it to get her brother back.
I know that the main characters in the Sevenwaters books are females but since all of them have their respective romantic interests, I thought I'd take a moment to praise Ms. Marillier's heroes because they are just as amazing as their female counterparts. Red, Bran, Cathal. Very strong men and convinced of what they want in life until they meet our heroines and they become conflicted because they know that nothing will ever be the same. *sigh* I love these men! I love that they're all so different too. In Cathal's case, he was rude and arrogant because he wanted to push Clodagh away. He believed that she'll be in danger if she comes near him but at the same time, he's drawn to her like a moth to a flame.
As always, beautiful writing in a lush and vivid world that's a blend of historical fiction and fantasy involving the fey. However, the Lady of the Forest and her flame-haired lord, those who personally watched over generations of the Sevenwaters family have moved on and a different breed took their place in the forest. Mac Dara and his kind are the fey that are common in the books that I've seen around - they're tricksters and do not understand human emotions such as love so they're bound to be cruel. These characters present a different kind of problem from the previous books because the prophecy has already been fulfilled. I like that there's something unique in this book to keep things lively. I keep saying this but if you guys haven't realized, I highly recommend this series and I look forward to more of Ms. Marillier's work. :)...more
So I've pretty much declared my love for the Kate Daniels seriesmultiple times. It's the kind of love that makes me curious about the rest of husband-and-wife writing team Ilona Andrews' books. I’ve had a copy of On the Edge for a while but I don’t know why I put off reading it. Maybe I thought I needed some time away from awesomeness? In any case, it was raining hard this past weekend so the weather was perfect for curling up indoors with a good book and I decided to read this one.
I don’t know why I’m still amazed at the incredible worldbuilding prowess of Ilona and Gordon but I am. I knew that this book is set in a different world but I had no idea that I’d love it just as much as the Kate Daniels world. In this book, there are three worlds: the Weird, the Edge and the Broken. The Broken is pretty much the regular world that we live in, where there’s no magic. The Weird is where magic is in full force while the Edge exists between the two. The people who live on the Edge don’t have much because they lack the best of both worlds. They have magic but not powerful enough as the people in the Weird. They can stay in the Broken for a while but never for long because they feel the strain of not having magic.
Rose lives on the Edge with her two adorable younger brothers and her grandmother. It’s easy to like Rose because she’s a tough girl, doing her best to make ends meet and to provide for her brothers. She’s also pretty funny with her constant eye-rolling and “Why me?” lines. I like her brothers as well – Georgie, the ten-year-old necromancer and Jack, the eight-year-old shape shifter (lynx). They know that Rose has a hard time keeping an eye on them but they can’t help but get into trouble because of the nature of their magical abilities. Enter Declan, Earl Camarine, who declares that he wants Rose for himself and is willing to go through three challenges in order to get her. But there’s more to this arrogant aristocrat that meets the eye and Rose gets to know him better as they work side by side to combat an evil that has suddenly made an appearance in the Edge.
I guess it’s not surprising when I say that I loved this one. It was pretty easy to get sucked into the world, there are awesome, kick*ss characters in it and a lot of humor. Another aspect about the story that I liked is that Rose and Declan’s story wraps up pretty nicely in this one package and the next book in the series Bayou Moon has different main characters. This is a different approach from the Kate Daniels series, where the story is stretched to (at least) seven books. I recommend this to fans of Ilona Andrews or other urban fantasy fans out there. Although a lot of people say that this one is more paranormal romance than urban fantasy. Regardless of the genre, it’s still a highly enjoyable read. I can’t wait for the sequel and to read about William, Declan’s shape shifter partner in special ops. ...more
So all of you book blogger friends who said that this one is just as good as the first one, I definitely agree. This book occurs one generation after Daughter of the Forest and focuses on Sorcha and Red's youngest daughter, Liadan. Liadan is very much her mother's daughter but at the same time, she has qualities that make her uniquely herself. Like Sorcha, Liadan is a gifted healer and she loves Sevenwaters with all of her heart. She'd be content to stay in Sevenwaters for the rest of her life, even if it means she won't get married and have a family of her own. Similar to her Uncle Finbar, she has the gift of Sight: there are times when she could she the past and possible events in the future.
Again, this story wasn't easy to read. Liadan goes through a lot and she fights for her happiness and the safety of her loved ones every step of the way. This book is set in the same highly imaginative and wonderful world that Juliet Marillier created. There's more Celtic mythology in this than the first book but so deftly written that it almost seems like historical fiction instead of fantasy. Lush and lyrical, Juliet Marillier's writing will grab you and will not let go even after you finish reading. Stories are an important aspect of the lives in Sevenwaters and I love the little stories told in this novel. Liadan's Uncle Conor said that one story resonates in different ways to every listener and I think the same goes with novels. We can all read the same novel but what we take from that story can be vastly different.
Anyway, I loved Son of the Shadows as expected. Both Liadan and Bran are wonderful characters. In order to be together, they had to fight even harder than Sorcha and Red. Liadan is strong and I love how she fought for what she wanted even if it went against the wishes of the Fair Folk. She made her own path and this may have consequences but I have a feeling she'll be able to bear the burden. I have a favorite line in this book and I just have to post it here because it's not that very spoilery anyway:
I wish - I wish I could dry these tears, I wish I could make this better for you. But I don't know how.
*sigh* If you've read the book, you'd understand why this is such a lovable line. If you haven't read it, I suggest that you give it a try. I think it can be read on its own but Daughter of the Forest is just as good so why not read it as well? :) I'm planning to read Child of the Prophecy next and I hope to see glimpses of Liadan and Bran in that one. Also, I just noticed that all of the Sevenwaters books involve females. Awesome!...more
I don't get to feature Filipino fiction as often as I'd like here on the blog so it feels like a treat when I get to do so. I cOriginally posted here.
I don't get to feature Filipino fiction as often as I'd like here on the blog so it feels like a treat when I get to do so. I can still remember the first time I read The Breakup Diaries a few years ago. I was still in college then and this title was my favorite out of all the Summit Books that were available at that time. After I finished reading it, I worked on convincing my girlfriends to pick it up as well so we could discuss it. Preferably while hanging out in a cafe because Monica, the main character, is a barista. When I saw that it has been reissued, I decided to grab a new edition and read it on my flight back to Singapore from Manila. I ended up enjoying the book just as much as when I first discovered it.
One of the main reasons why I enjoyed reading The Breakup Diaries so much is because it's easy to relate to Monica's situation: how difficult it us to pick up the threads of your life after a breakup, especially when you didn't see it coming. Monica had no idea that her boyfriend would decide to call it quits on their anniversary dinner date. Pretty harsh, noh? I felt so bad for her but what I liked about the book is that it was still fun to read even though the character was experiencing a major setback. There were several hilarious moments within the story and all throughout everything, you're rooting for Monica to heal her broken heart. Her reaction to the breakup felt realistic, from wanting to get back together with her boyfriend to re-evaluating her life and seeing things in a different light. It's also nice that Monica had friends and family who were there to support her - as with any problem, it really helps to know that other people have your back. I also liked how The Breakup Diaries gave me a better idea of what it's like working in a magazine publishing company. I don't want to say too much about the book because it's a short and sweet read, something that you can finish during a flight or an evening when you're in the mood for something light. I think it's fitting that my first review for 2013 is about an old favorite. If you've ever experienced a breakup, then you'll probably be able to relate to Monica as well.
One thing I noticed about the new edition is that it had several typos. I don't remember seeing those in the original edition - it's a minor thing but I thought I'd just take note of it. I do like the new cover more than the old one:
Kate's adventures continue in this latest installment in the wonderful series created by husband and wife tandem Ilona Andrews.Originally posted here.
Kate's adventures continue in this latest installment in the wonderful series created by husband and wife tandem Ilona Andrews. I already mentioned that Magic Strikes clinched the deal to make this series my favorite in the urban fantasy genre. Because of this, I had high expectations when I started to read Magic Bleeds. No worries though because it went beyond what I expected. It's pretty hard to go into details about the book without giving away spoilers. I can just say that Kate was her usual snarky and kick*ss self. She had to make some pretty though choices in this one. With her background (and we learn so much more about her family history), she comes with a lot of baggage and she can't make decisions based on just what she wants. I love where the authors decided to take the story, it really was time for Kate to make these big decisions. I'm also glad that there's a LOT of Curran in this one. ♥
Instead of giving away the story, I'd rather talk about how wonderful this book was. I had to catch up on lost sleep because of Magic Strikes so I decided to bring Magic Bleeds along on our company outing to the beach. I then proceeded to read during every available moment: under the sun while everyone else was swimming and on a shaded balcony overlooking the beach after lunch while everyone else was taking a nap. I wanted to read as much of the book as fast as I can yet at the same time, I wanted to savor every scene. As with the rest of the Kate Daniels books, there were several scenes in this book that made me smile and chuckle quietly to myself. There were scenes that me sigh and think "Aww how sweet!" and there were scenes that made me fear for Kate and her friends' safety. Magic Bleeds had everything - jampacked action, solid worldbuilding supported by the setting's history, lots of humor and a love-hate relationship between two fantastic individuals. Isn't this enough to convince you to read this series? :)
Here's an interesting tidbit from the author: What I find intriguing about this book is that there’s no villain. There’Originally posted in WordPress.
Here's an interesting tidbit from the author: What I find intriguing about this book is that there’s no villain. There’s no power struggle between ambitious individuals. It’s all about man vs. the environment, with a healthy dose of man vs. faith.
Yay, I noticed this tidbit while reading the novel too! I kept thinking to myself that it was very interesting that there was no villain to this story. The novel revolves around complex characters, their beliefs, how their lives are all intertwined and how they deal with a world that is rapidly changing. I liked the contrast between the deposed Archangel Delilah: dark, vibrant, and outgoing and her replacement Alleluia (nicknamed Alleya): blonde, reserved and not much of a people person. Delilah has a striking and lovely voice and she has the kind of personality that naturally draws people to her. Alleya, on the other hand, is shy and quiet. The whole land was surprised when the god chose her to replace Delilah and she struggles to give her best in her role as Archangel even though she never wanted to be one. Alleya would much rather have her nose buried inside a book than have political dealings with the influential people of Samaria.
Also included in the fascinating mix of characters are best friends and scientists Caleb and Noah. Although it is set in the same world as Archangel, Samaria is now on the brink of an industrial revolution. Both Caleb and Noah are inventors with their own specializations. It was interesting to note that in a land full of believers, Caleb is a self-proclaimed atheist. He thinks that science has more power over faith and there isn't enough proof in the world for religion. Like Archangel, there's a lot of theology thrown in this book but it never becomes overwhelming. I liked Caleb and his insatiable thirst for knowledge and how he can focus on one problem until he arrives at a solution. I know it's not obvious based on my blog but I was an electronics engineering major back in college (I never practiced and now know next to nothing about the field) so I can somewhat relate to Caleb's interest in science. I really enjoyed reading about this world and this set of characters and I can just imagine that the rest of the books in the series will be just as wonderful. I wasn't expecting what happened in the ending but I loved how it all worked out. I think it was just perfect. ...more
As with the other Samaria books, this one revolves around certain characters, namely Tamar, Jared and Lucinda, and their interaOriginally posted here.
As with the other Samaria books, this one revolves around certain characters, namely Tamar, Jared and Lucinda, and their interactions with each other. Tamar is a feisty and fiercely determined woman, brought up by Jacobites. She has been on the run her entire life and has a hard time trusting people. On the other hand, Jared is a happy-go-lucky type of angel. Even though he's technically the leader at Monteverde, he's never been passionate about anything. Tamar and Jared are total opposites, even in their beliefs, and it was such fun to watch them get on each other's nerves because it's so obvious that they admire each other underneath all the arguments. I have to admit, Jovah comes up with the most unlikely pairs but they end up suiting each other nicely.
While all of that is happening, the angel Lucinda is having her own adventures. Lucinda was brought up by her Aunt Gretchen in an isolated island called Angel Rock. Lucinda is an interesting person because you'd expect her to be shy and reserved, having grown up in an island with a population of twenty, but she's not. She's open-minded, eager to learn new things and does not back down when she's being intimidated. At first, I kept thinking about what was Lucinda's connection to the other characters and I only realized it around the middle of the book. I was so excited to finish reading to see how it will all unfold. I'm sorry to be so vague but I don't want to mention spoilers.
The Alleluia Files is another excellent installment in the Samaria series. This series has become my favorite when it comes to books featuring angels. Although to be fair, there aren't a lot of angel books out there. I highly recommend this series to fantasy fans out there. ...more
Before I write anything else, I just want to ask what's up with the cover? I'm going to go ahead and assume that that's RachelOriginally posted here.
Before I write anything else, I just want to ask what's up with the cover? I'm going to go ahead and assume that that's Rachel but what is she holding in her hands, a feather and a glowing ball of some sort? It's not part of the story at all. I'm glad I've heard so many good things about this book because otherwise, I wouldn't have picked it up based on the strength of its cover alone.
I loved the worldbuilding in this book. The setting is a fictional country called Samaria, where angels co-exist with humans and they pray to the god, Jovah for all kinds of intervention - weather, health and general well-being. All angels are born gifted with incredible musical ability and they pray by singing. Every twenty years, an Archangel is chosen to govern the whole country and every year, the Archangel leads the people in singing a mass, the Gloria, in praise of the god. His angelica (or her angelico if the Archangel is female), the god's chosen wife (or husband) must sing by the Archangel's side. If they don't, the god will strike down lightning from the heavens and destroy the world. Isn't that interesting? There's a lot of theology thrown in this book but it's not preachy and it isn't too much that you'll be overloaded with information. I think it's just enough to show the religion in that world and the strength of the characters' beliefs.
I also loved the characters in this book. Both Rachel and Gabriel are solid characters. Rachel is strong-willed and very very stubborn and even though she knows it's a great honor, she's reluctant to become the angelica. Gabriel is arrogant and self-assured but he loves the land and the people and only want what's the best for them. The story is told from alternating third-person points of view of these two so we get to see how things develop from both sides. I love that even though they're meant for each other by the god's mandate, they still have to work for it. It's definitely not love at first sight and they keep rubbing each other the wrong way. Love-hate relationships for the win!♥
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I look forward to reading the other books in the Samaria series even if they're about different characters....more
I’ve re-read this book several times and certain scenes can still make me laugh. What I really like about Julie James’ books isOriginally posted here.
I’ve re-read this book several times and certain scenes can still make me laugh. What I really like about Julie James’ books is that we get glimpses inside the heads of the heroes and not just the heroines. So even if Jack is the strong, silent type, we still know how Cameron wreaks havoc on his concentration. I really enjoyed seeing both of them get on each other’s nerves while trying to work together on the case. The secondary characters in this one were a riot! I loved both Colin, Cameron’s gay best friend, and Wilkins, Jack’s partner. Because of the nature of Jack’s work, there’s more suspense and action in this one compared to the other two. Another great thing about this book? The cover shows a scene in the book. We all know how rarely this happens....more
I have one word to describe this book: intense. Everything about this book, from the characters to how they relate to each other to the emotions, is iI have one word to describe this book: intense. Everything about this book, from the characters to how they relate to each other to the emotions, is intense. I finished reading this a couple of days ago and I still can't stop thinking about it. Book hangover alert! This is such a beautiful book about love, friendship and family. The characters went through so much that you can't help but empathize and feel for them.
Taylor was abandoned in a 7-eleven store by her mom when she was 11. One of her boarding school's house mothers, Hannah, picked her up and watched out for her ever since. When Hannah suddenly disappears without an explanation, Taylor realizes that her past is somewhat tied to Hannah's and she has to uncover mysteries to learn more about herself.
I admit that I was lost and confused by the first few chapters of the book. Taylor narrates but interspersed in her story are pages from Hannah's manuscript about the incredible friendship of five kids who used to live in that area. Hannah's story occured more than twenty years ago so basically you're following two story arcs as you read. I think this is also the first time that I've read a novel set in Australia so some of the terms used and the school structure were a bit confusing for me. Just keep reading and by the time you get to the middle, I'm sure you won't be able to stop. Each revelation will make you want to know more. I love the characters in this book - Taylor, Jonah, Raffy, Chaz and also the kids in the manuscript: Narnie, Webb, Tate, Jude and Fitz. They're all a part of this amazing story. And the sizzling connection between Taylor and Jonah has fed my YA romance hunger.
I highly recommend this to fellow YA fans or even those who aren't into YA. I wonder if Melina Marchetta's other books are just as good? I'd love to read them if they are but I haven't seen them around....more
It's official. The Kate Daniels series is now my favorite urban fantasy series. Magic Strikes sealed the deal. I LOVED this booOriginally posted here.
It's official. The Kate Daniels series is now my favorite urban fantasy series. Magic Strikes sealed the deal. I LOVED this book! Want proof? I was out the whole day yesterday so I didn't get to read. I got home late at night and I only wanted to read a couple of chapters before sleeping. I ended up finishing the whole book, I just couldn't put it down. I'm functioning on two hours of sleep right now and I can't say I regret reading last night (or early this morning if you want to be technical about it). I still can't stop thinking about the book. This is such a great book! There were a lot of scenes that I had to re-read over and over again because they had me laughing out loud. I also love the character development, how Kate changed from being an isolated person to having a few people close to her heart. It's amazing how much Kate is willing to sacrifice for these people. She has her reasons for trying to keep everyone at arm's length but when she starts to care, she's fully committed. She's such an awesome character.
Just like the first two books, the worldbuilding in this one is brilliant. I love how the story can delve into different mythologies with Magic Strikes concentrating on Hindu folklore. There's also a touch of Roman influence embodied in the Midnight Games, where gladiators form teams and fight to the death. It's a bloodthirsty practice and the characters' fighting skills are put to the test.
On one hand, I'm happy that I found out about this series when four books have already been released because I get to read the books one right after the other. On the other hand, I feel like I want to let the story of Magic Strikes settle first before I dive into Magic Bleeds. But since I already have a copy of Magic Bleeds, I'm going to read it as soon as I can. All of the reviews that I've seen are positive so I have high hopes for that one. I hope it's just as good, if not better than, Magic Strikes. Do you guys know when the next book will come out? :)
I know I always try to have spoiler-free reviews so minor spoiler warning here. If you haven't read any of the books, please don't read this paragraph. Kate and Curran! ♥ The scenes between the two of them in this book... AHHHH. They are simply wonderful. I love both of them. I really want things to work out for them and I'm scared that something bad will happen and it'll be a long journey before they can ever be together. You know the feeling when you're invested in certain characters, you feel like you know them as real people? That's how I feel about these two. I will be devastated if either one of them gets hurt....more
I've seen rave reviews of the Kate Daniels books in the blogosphere and they have made me intensely curious about these books. TOrginally posted here.
I've seen rave reviews of the Kate Daniels books in the blogosphere and they have made me intensely curious about these books. They were my Want Books pick a couple of weeks ago. I felt like I was on a treasure hunt while I was looking for these books. Only the second and the fourth are available at my local bookstore, Fully Booked and they said they could order the rest but I didn't want to wait 4-8 weeks to get the books. Luckily, I saw that Book Basket was selling a used copy of Magic Strikes so I grabbed that right away. So I already had the latter three books but not the first one! Good thing one of my friends was on vacation in the States and was kind enough to drop by Barnes and Noble to get a copy of Magic Bites for me. Finally, I could start reading the series! I got it on Saturday and I stayed up late last night to finish reading it.
I'm a huge fan of epic fantasy and not so much of urban fantasy but I always say that maybe that's because I still haven't found an urban fantasy series to love. That may change with this series. Magic Bites was an engaging, fast-paced, action-packed story set in a modern-day world where magic exists together with technology. Whenever magic flares, technology shuts down. I loved the worldbuilding in this one. There are necromancers who control the undead (vampires) and they have a long feud with the shapechangers, humans who can take on certain animal forms. The cast of characters is excellent as well. Kate Daniels is a smart, sassy, sword-wielding, kick*ss heroine who deals with problems brought about by magical activity. She's accompanied by a set of secondary characters that are fascinating in their own way.
I can't wait to read the next books in the series. I want to know more about Kate, who her father is, what her power really means. Since all of the book covers feature Kate and a lion, I think it's safe to assume that the relationship with Curran will progress throughout the books. I would love to read about that as well. All in all, it seems like a promising series and I'm excited to read more about this world. I'm glad that Wednesday is a holiday over here (inauguration of our new president) so I have more time to read.
To those who've read the series, I'd love to hear your thoughts about this book and for those who haven't, I encourage you to give it a try. I've seen Kate Daniels compared to Mercy Thompson (another series that I should delve into soon) but for some reason, this book reminded me a lot of Robin McKinley's Sunshine....more