“People think that what kills the soul is failed love. It is not. The real tragedy to one's soul is regret. Regret...leaves its
Original rating: 3.5
“People think that what kills the soul is failed love. It is not. The real tragedy to one's soul is regret. Regret...leaves its stain for generations.”
This is the hardest review I've ever written to date. I've been staring at my computer's screen for the past couple of hours trying to think how I'd go about reviewing The Empress Chronicles. It's not helping that the more I think about this book, the more bewildered I get.
The charm of this novel is in its narrative execution. It simply begs to be read and as a reader, you have no choice but to keep turning the pages. It's not only a testament to how my love for this genre grows with every historical fiction novel I read, but also because The Empress Chronicles has an entrancing quality that cannot be ignored. I recently read Queen of Somedayand while it falls under the same genre minus the magical elements, The Empress Chronicles is heavier and definitely more complicated.
Its storyline alternates between the contemporary and past timelines of two girls sharing the same name. Liz, from the present time, who is struggling from an anxiety disorder and feelings of social alienation contributed by her illness as well as her father's new life, and Elisabeth or Sisi, from the 19th century Austrian monarchy, who feels trapped by what the court requires of her.
I admit that even after I finished the novel, it was not made clear how these two are connected aside from bearing the same name, possessing a magical diary, and having to face the very same mental illness at some point in their lifetime. It's not surprising that I'm left with a sinking feeling of not having grasp something tangible. In a way, Liz's struggles to overcome her issues was gradually managed and realistically portrayed, and Sisi's acceptance of what she must sacrifice for her one true love was reflective of how she had transitioned from a blithe, indifferent girl to a more mature future queen. I am just having trouble seeing how some of the other details served in the book's overall picture.
So even though this novel's narrative is its main strength, it also acted as a double-edged sword, crippling the story in becoming more substantial and stable. If anything, it felt as if The Empress Chronicles was written with the second installment in mind, which I don't generally have qualms with except that I felt slightly disappointed that nothing significant happened until the latter part of the book.
This is obviously a matter of preference because I'm all for character build-up which Vitello did quite deftly but I find myself more interested in "having the power to rewrite history" aspect. This is not to say that the characters were not interesting because I did eventually warm up to our two different yet seemingly connected Elisabeths. It's just that we barely scratched the surface of what the blurb had promised. Nevertheless, I am excited to know what's in store for us in the next installment. There are so much tangents to be explored. The story really has no direction to go to but forward and the sequel would be hard-pressed to fall in the same pitfalls that were present in this one.
What is the point of having the power to change history, if it might be too late? I don't know. I think I will have words with Vitello and I totally meant that in a non-threatening way. The Empress Chronicles will really have its readers' minds grinding. With that bizarre ending and too many exciting prospects for the sequel to go for, unless you're not into character-driven stories and historical fiction in general, I don't see why you wouldn't pick this up. This would definitely appeal to fans of Philippa Gregory and will serve well for the curious and for those who needs an excuse to dabble more in the history of the world's past sovereigns.
Ghost House reminded me of The Mediator series by Meg Cabot, in the way the paranormal aspect was incorporated, and I was actually excited for a whileGhost House reminded me of The Mediator series by Meg Cabot, in the way the paranormal aspect was incorporated, and I was actually excited for a while until a crushing thought came over me: Ghost House and I are not a good fit. It's like trying to mix gasoline and water together. In hindsight, I should've seen it coming. Still, this was a risk I took, so I have no one to blame but myself and my apparent naivety.
The writing was all over the place. Metaphors and adjectives were used poorly and extensively. I still can't believe I survived it. Jarring and grating, I had to stop reading every now and then because I just wanted to cry in the corner and lament about how awful this reading experience was.
“The sky had changed color to a streaky mauve, scattered with stars like glittering rocks.”
“..the moon still hanging in the sky like a pale sickle, I knew it had to be the early hours of morning..”
“Her skin is the color of moonstones and the nails on her long fingers are polished gems.”
“Inside, dark wooden beams ran across the ceiling. In the stalls stood solemn horses with glossy coats and liquid brown eyes.”
— Are you scratching your eyes yet?
Chloe is one of those MCs you would like to forget immediately after reading. She's inconsistent and supercilious, two qualities that made for a highly aggravating character. She reprimands Alex because he called her friends harlots, but she'd be the first person to throw them under the bus anyway. Her modesty that's supposed to make her endearing, made her unbearable.
“When our eyes met, the connection was inexplicable, overwhelming and impossible to ignore. It felt like there were currents swirling in the air, binding us together. Although though we barely knew each other and came from opposing dimensions, I felt strangely comfortable with him.”
— Yeah right. *ignores*
Do I even need to talk about the romance? I'm not going to pretend I'm disappointed with the instalove. It's bound to happen. If the over-the-top description won't clue you in while reading, I don't know what will. The attraction didn't make any sense and only served to provide drama and angst. I had to endure reading about a depthless relationship I couldn't even care about.
“As I drank in the details of his face, I could feel the distance between us closing up. It might be imprudent and it might be irrational, but something was happening here, even if I couldn't find a label for it. Time and space dissolved around me, and I felt like I'd been waiting all my life for Alexander Reade to show up.”
— Please hold my hair while I gag.
Also, what is this thing about perceiving deep sadness just by looking at someone's eyes? WHY IS THIS EVEN A THING?
“...But his eyes were the most startling, the clearest shade of cornflower blue, with just a hint of sadness that couldn't be concealed.”
“He was tall and loose limbed with broad shoulders, the sort of guy who was comfortable in his own skin. I thought I could see a trace of sadness in his eyes, the sort of thing only I picked up when meeting someone for the first time.”
— What made you such a speshul eye-reading snowflake, Chloe?
The narrative was not the worst thing I've ever read, but the absence of any oomph factor was disappointing. It's uninspired and flat. It's such a shame because I do feel that the tragedy behind the ghosts of Grange Hall was actually quite interesting. It also goes without saying that the plot was predictable. Side characters were used if needed and the MC's ability made progress when it's convenient. The Harry Potter references that usually gets me fist-pumping, ended up being tacky and forced. Plus, don't get me started on how her mother's passing was just swept aside and brought up when necessary, the slut-shaming, and how Isobel, being alluringly evil, was the only one to blame for everything.
This novel did not aspire to break the mold and I could live with that. But what really set my teeth on edge was its painful attempt at a cliffhanger. I don't even know how I managed to finish this book and now I have to look forward to more installments? Ugh. I think I need a chocolate or something.
This review is also posted at Smitten over Books. A copy was provided by the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review....more
I came into The Moment Collector, also known as The Vanishing Season, knowing that it's subpar compared to Tiger Lily, so it reallyActual rating: 4.5
I came into The Moment Collector, also known as The Vanishing Season, knowing that it's subpar compared to Tiger Lily, so it really surprised me how much I ended up loving this novel. Tiger Lily will always be my favorite book from Anderson but The Moment Collector is definitely beautiful in its own right.
“This is what I think the world is showing me. We are souls at a common cause. We are only here to love. That was my great story all along. We are here to take chances, and fail, and keep trying.”
Words are failing me right now. I don't think my review will give this book the justice it deserves, but I'll try my best, and I will start with what everybody should know by now: Anderson is a wonderful writer. I've always loved her writing. It has a languid quality to it that will enfold you and ease you right into the story. I am so glad this book came at the right moment, right when I'm looking for a novel that will leave me an emotional wreck.
The Moment Collector introduces us to Maggie, Liam, Pauline, and the lonely ghost that watches over them. These characters had somehow managed to steal pieces of my heart right under my nose. It seemed impossible at the beginning but something clicked along the way, and I was swept up by the three of them and if I only knew what was coming, I would have kept my heart heavily guarded.
This is not a ghost story nor it is a mystery novel and many will grumble and find themselves disappointed that this novel is marketed as such. If anything, the seemingly misleading blurb became a diversion, cleverly blinding the readers' eyes from the bigger picture. I was intrigued all throughout, trying to find scraps of clues that never came, only to be blindsided by something that never even entered my mind in the first place. The Moment Collector is a character-driven story. It depicts real characters in real situations with real relationships. I am aware that this would not appeal to all readers, but when it does find its rightful reader, it will resonate and leave a mark. I know, because it did for me.
"We're like two angels floating over heaven. It's our perfect moment, and it never disappears. Even now, I can see us, even long after the moment is gone. Love can't be taken back once it's given.”
I'm actually crying as I'm writing this review, something I haven't done in a long while and I am at a loss as to what to do first: Should I clutch my heart to help ease the pain or should I wipe my tears away because it's blurring my vision? The Door County became my home. Hesitantly at first, but just like Maggie, I felt like I lost something in the end. For a short while, Maggie, Liam and Pauline became my persons and I just know I will read this again, maybe tomorrow, next week, a year after today, and I'd willingly get my heart broken once more.
Nothing ever really happens in The Moment Collector but this could be the best book I will read all year. Without any doubt, Jodi Lynn Anderson has earned a special place in my heart as one of my most favorite authors.
This review is also posted at Smitten over Books. A copy was provided by the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review....more
Set in the time of Imperial Russia, the Queen of Someday tells the story of the Russian empress, Catherine the Great or Sophie before her conversion t Set in the time of Imperial Russia, the Queen of Someday tells the story of the Russian empress, Catherine the Great or Sophie before her conversion to the Orthodox Church. I've always had a penchant for stories set in this period. It excites me to delve into the world of ball gowns and court intrigues, that's why the blurb of Queen of Someday along with its stunning cover immediately caught my attention.
To be honest, I am not familiar with Catherine the Great nor any monarchial figure, so reading a historical fiction novel depicting them seems like a good excuse as any to learn more about the history of the past great kings and queens. I am aware that this would generally not appeal to anyone except me (heh) and a few others so let me start by saying, Queen of Someday will be enjoyed both by historical fiction readers and any normal people alike.
Ficklin manages quite beautifully to merge fiction and facts into one cohesive whole (I did my research after reading, sorryNOTsorry). It's impressive to see her skillfully interweave her own take at what might have occurred in Catherine's past life as she ascended to the throne. Her narrative made it so easy to get lost in the political intrigue and the romantic entanglements.
Sophie, as a character, is lovely to read about. She's sensible, intelligent and brave. She can handle herself with charm and wits or with a knife if needed. I saw her dramatic change from a naive, impressionable girl to a fierce, unwavering would-be queen. I ached for what she had lost in the process of acquiring a crown, but my heart rejoiced at her strength and resoluteness. She was heartbroken, yes, but she is hopeful that even after the cards she'd been dealt with, she would come to find a little happiness in her situation.
“Because I cannot win, I cannot have what I truly desire—it is beyond my grasp, I realize that now. It's sad really, to think that until I came here, I had no other dreams, no other desires but what my family wanted for me. I discovered my own mind and heart too late ... Fate has offered me an opportunity. A crown in one hand and a husband in the other. Even if I were to throw all that away, it would still not get me what I want. It would only serve to hurt the people I care about. I would be sent back to Germany in disgrace, and my family would lose everything. There is no way to win, but there is certainly a way to lose. My choice, what little choice I have, is not to lose.”
Ficklin's writing is a marvel to read. The dialogues and secret correspondences were so alluring and exquisite that I highlighted like crazy to note them all. I also fully embraced the romance in this one. It was swoon-worthy, splendid and all-consuming, and like mostly with good things, it was terribly tragic as well.
I will have what I've always had, myself. And I will have a lifetime worth of sweet memories to keep me warm at night. Don't weep for me, my love. Live your life in joy, and know that if I could have lived it with you, I would have.”
— Cue sobbing. *sobs uncontrollably*
Queen of Someday is an enthralling, romantic historical fiction. I flew by its pages and it was over before I knew it. It left me salivating for more and I truly think that's a mark of an effective historical fiction or any novel, for that matter. If you are a fan of periodic dramas like Reign, you won't really want to miss out on this one.
A Contemporary novel can either be a hit or a miss for me. I find that I do have a different level of expectation when reading one. I don't know if thA Contemporary novel can either be a hit or a miss for me. I find that I do have a different level of expectation when reading one. I don't know if this is because I assume that I will mostly end up not liking the book or if it is because I'm reading something so close to ordinary life that it's not as mindblowing or exciting as, say, a dystopian or a fantasy world. Either way, managing my expectations prior to reading, works almost perfectly well in influencing how I would feel about a Contemporary novel.
The problem comes in when a book doesn't do hit or miss. When the book just wants to plop right there in the middle grey area, waving its freak flag while saying, "YOU CAN'T CATEGORIZE ME WOMAN!" Breathe, Annie, Breathe is the perfect example of this kind of books.
As always, characters are a huge deal for me. The pacing could be dreadful, the world-building lacking, the writing lackluster, but as long as the characters can carry the story, you can still get me. And the thing is I felt so much conflicting emotions with Annie, our main protagonist. Sometimes I like her guts, sometimes she makes me want to kiss my feet—I'm not flexible so you should know how painful this is. She might have made some of her decisions due to grief and guilt, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. She just couldn't make up her damn mind all the freaking time, and I believe it would bug even the most patient readers.
And then she met gorgeous Jeremiah, the epitome of hotness, with yummy shoulders and holy ab muscles and piercing blue eyes, and... What? I'm just using Annie's description here. Can you feel the sarcasm radiating? Because let's be honest, I don't get it. I don't get it why they hooked up that time they were alone together even when they barely knew each other. I don't get it why they are attracted to each other except by their obvious inherent hotness (duh!). I don't get it why she needed Jeremiah so she could finish the race. I don't get it why it must be a boy, in the first place, that makes her feel alive again. Jeremiah doesn't make me swoon. He is a male protagonist I've read about before. A caricature of a great guy who would complement Annie. I even have to look up his name because I forgot it already.
But when I scratch all of those that I don't get and throw it out of my mind trash bin, I'm good. Breath, Annie, Breathe is a decent read. It's undemanding and accessible. It was almost heartwarming. I felt a slight tug in my heart in the end, although I'm not sure if it's because Annie finished the race, or because she finally got her HEA with Jeremiah. I admit I was more invested with Annie finishing her race than with her relationship with Jeremiah.
Of course, I have to recognized that I appreciated the overall theme of this book, which is finding yourself. Annie had let her deceased boyfriend Kyle and their relationship define who she is. Since all she needed was Kyle, when she had a falling out with her best friend, she just let it happened. She didn't realize she depended on him so much that's why when he unexpectedly died, she found herself lost and alone for the first time.
That's why I love this line from Annie's mom so much: a guy should fit into your life, Annie not become it.
Isn't that the truth? That before everything else you should be your own person. There were also times, in the latter part of the book, that Annie surprised me. Like when she finally realized having a balance in life is important so she started hanging out with other people. Or when she accepted that she wasn't really the one to blame for Kyle's passing and turning him down was not a bad thing because it doesn't mean she didn't love him, but it's because she had a dream for herself. Seeing her like that is glorious, my friends.
Breathe, Annie, Breathe is my first Miranda Keneally novel. I'm kind of apprehensive because I didn't think I'd rip this book as much as I did. There were some good points, but ultimately my gripe with the characters got the better part of my reading experience, hence the rating. However, I am sure that many Contemporary fans would gobble this up and even love it, it's just wasn't able to grab me.
A copy was provided by the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley. This review is also posted at Smitten over Books....more
In this dystopian world, a deadly heat wave followed by devastating superstorms called hypercanes, and flooding, forced humanity to live underground t In this dystopian world, a deadly heat wave followed by devastating superstorms called hypercanes, and flooding, forced humanity to live underground to survive. Not all was given the opportunity to evacuate and many were left to die on the surface. The surface of the Earth became a hostile place where hypercanes can ravaged at any moment and toads—lethal, human-like amphibians—are a threat. No one should have survived. But they were proven wrong when a trip outside the surface went wrong. Jansin Nordqvist, our protagonist, was left stranded and captured by a clan. Not only was she to withstand the harshness of nature, but she also needed to survive living with people on the surface.
Dystopian novels are sprouting like mushrooms these days and while some barely clings to existence by their genre alone, Some Fine Day is a stand-out—wildly kicking, and boasting a story that will enthrall even the most jaded dystopian reader.
I could tell that a lot of research has gone into creating this dystopian world, and I tip my hats off to Ross for handling deftly the story's plot. As a picky reader, I appreciated all the minute details that went into making this world as believable as possible. As mentioned, the plot has a lot going for it. It's so deliciously jam-packed and while I was reading, it was exciting to think about all the different possibilities Some Fine Day could explore.
But without doubt, Some Fine Day brought to life some of the best characters I've ever read in the dystopian genre. I felt such a strong bond with Jansin. She's strong, brave, resourceful and intelligent. She also proved time and again that she could kick-ass and I have witness this so many times. Will is this character that I thought I could disregard but he grew on me like every other character we met on the surface. I'm tempted to describe him as Jansin's love interest, but that would do him a great disservice because he's clearly more than that. Jansin and Will together makes my heart sing. And as enemies became friends, it just fills me with so much affection for every people on the surface. I was so heartbroken to know what had happened to some of them and I'm scared to know what might have happened to the others.
The one thing that threw me off was the ending. I really wish it didn't end that way, so I could at least hope that Jansin and Will are in a better place for a while, as I wait to (hopefully) get my hands on the (still non-existing) next installment. It leaves the reader in a cliffhangerish ending, but I think it could also pass as a stand-alone ending. I am not sure what it is. I felt slightly cheated. I am so lost right now.
Some Fine Day is a remarkable debut. It has all I want from a dystopian novel: substantial world-building, compelling characters, a pacing with a good build-up that leads into a thrilling, nonstop action. I implore you to read this outstanding novel as soon as you can. Some Fine Day deserves to be read, loved and devoured.
“It's only been a year and some change since Joe. And now, here I am again, waiting, trying to stop hoping. And drowning in what I could have done to
“It's only been a year and some change since Joe. And now, here I am again, waiting, trying to stop hoping. And drowning in what I could have done to save someone I love.”
Words and their Meanings is a tough book to read. It's a kind of story that pleads silently for any comforting gesture but lashes out at the slightest of touch. It has sucker punched me in all my vulnerable places and I have no idea how I've survived it. Reading this book trapped me in an awful, depressing bubble that I don't know how to shake away, even now. I feel like doing my own coffin yoga, practice my own blank stare, and will away my existence, even just for a short while, because feeling all these feels is hurting me.
“You can't let emotions consume you.”
— Ha, book! Are you referring to me?
Grief is the weirdest thing. I've seen it time and again. From people I don't know, from acquaintances, and from people who are close to me. Everyone reacts differently. Coping varies from one person to the next. One thing is a constant though, it never fails to make itself known. It might hit you the way a raindrop casually falls from an oncoming downpour or it might felt like being ran over by a bulldozer. In Words and their Meanings, I've suffered both and I am still not sure how and why.
“What I feel is not in the human vocabulary.”
Its intensity and rawness is unflinching in its pain. Its words carried a weight that begs to be endured and understood and absorbed. I cried—no, I leaked. My unrelenting tears was a direct result of the emotional gutting I've received from this sad, sob-fest of a story. But the most surprising thing was underneath the crushing waves of agony and sorrow, it was punctuated by tiny nuggets of hope and healing for these characters, which comes unexpectedly in hilarious moments. A minor respite but enough to fill me with optimism that they could come back from all these, stronger as a person and tighter as a family than ever.
“How do I say Mateo reminds me of the poem that cut deepest? The one so full of fear that one break in stillness is enough to bring joy and hope and life?
I feel obligated to talk about the characters' humanness, fragility and realness. I feel like I need to discuss the genuineness of the friendship, the family dynamics, and the wonderful portrayal of love and its complexity. I feel like I need a separate section for Mateo alone, or for Joe, or for Anna, or for Anna's parents or her Gramps, or her sister or her bestfriend. But I won't try. I don't have enough in me to try. But I was there for them and I hope that's enough.
“Think about how weird it is to feel broken and mended all at once. Sad and happy. Sappy.”
— Tell me about it, book. *sniffs*
I felt so drained. So emotionally exhausted. So wrung out. This book scared me with its darkness and pain. My head hurt, as what happens, when I cry too much and I don't think I could ever go through this again. But I might, I might just have to, because if every reread is equivalent to a pat on the shoulder, or an embrace, or even a simple nod of understanding, I'd do it all again for these characters and their story.
“Everyone gets one last line. But first lines, stories of love and loss and hope floating on backs of paper cranes? We choose how many of those we get to tell.
All we have to do is breathe deep. Breathe life in.
My eyes slip closed, and I do. I breathe. I breathe. I breathe.”
This review is also posted at Smitten over Books. Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review. __________________________ I need a moment of silence.
I learned 5 things while reading Evil Fairies Love Hair:
1) Hair is delicious. 2) You can never trust magical creatures especially evil faeries masqueI learned 5 things while reading Evil Fairies Love Hair:
1) Hair is delicious. 2) You can never trust magical creatures especially evil faeries masquerading as imps. 3) Evil faeries hate their jobs especially doling out rewards to good children. 4) Evil faeries don't play fair and are really awful at giving instructions. 5) Hair is delicious. This needs reiterating.
I always said that I will never outgrow reading Middle Grade novels. I crave for stories that keep me young at heart and mind, and I'm confident in saying that some of the titles in this genre can be considered gems not only by children but also by adults. However, taking the plunge is not without risks. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn't. I fear that Evil Fairies Love Hair is leaning towards the latter result.
Certainly, this book has its merits. It's fun, light, and has wonderful illustrations that will surely catch its readers' eyes. Moreover, Ali is a protagonist anyone can relate to. She's insecure and feels inferior to her fabulous sister. The best thing about her is even though her physical size wasn't as stable as she wanted it to be throughout the novel, she had grown to be a clever girl despite not having received her wish. It doesn't need telling that she's not the only kid who wanted a wish. That's why growing a flock of faeries became so widespread that before long kids their age began shaving or wearing their hair in a bun, so they can comply with the rules.
While the story is adorable and original, it can get convoluted at times. It has a frantic quality to it that actually encouraged me to put the book down on several occasions. I couldn't get into the story no matter how hard I tried, and it makes me sad to say that this book failed to capture the wonder in me.
Thompson newest novel is quite eccentric and wild in a way that it will lure a certain kind of reader. This Middle Grade novel will mostly appeal to young readers who love their plot slightly frenzied and their characters' naughty and full of mischief.
This review is also posted at Smitten over Books. A copy was provided by the publisher at no cost via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review....more
AS I REREAD THE HELL OUT OF THE LAST FEW PASSAGES, THIS WILL MORPH INTO DENIAL
YOU CAN ONLY BE IN DENMY INITIAL REACTION AFTER FINISHING STORM SIREN:
AS I REREAD THE HELL OUT OF THE LAST FEW PASSAGES, THIS WILL MORPH INTO DENIAL
YOU CAN ONLY BE IN DENIAL FOR SO LONG BEFORE ANGER SETS IN...
This book is so so so so so good. I might not be able to review this properly because of its epicness but I shall try slave about it. I will just need to go through the grieving process first and recover.
Send help. *** Obviously, I never got to the bargaining phase because there's nothing left to bargain for. Mary Weber made sure of that. Nothing's left to bargain for. If that didn't give you any indication how crueltastic this book is, I don't know what will.
I went on straight to depression, as people do, because that's where I excel at and the grieving process is not the freaking Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. You can skip if you want to and Maslow can't say anything about it.
I lounge around in this limbo for a short while (read: 3 days), thinking acceptance felt like a long way away. Like the distance from L.A. to Tokyo.
Because Ariana Grande clearly needs to have her presence known. Oops, wrong artist.
I do think I'm in the acceptance phase right now but NO ONE DARE TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS BOOK'S ENDING BECAUSE I'M GONNA CLAW YOUR EYES OUT BEFORE YOU CAN EVEN SHOUT CRAZY.
I lied. I'm still in the anger phase.
Let's pretend I'm not at all unhinged while I prattle about why I'm shoving STORM SIREN up your body holes. First off, this is not a siren/mermaid or any other sea-hoopla book. I'm actually kind of happy it's not the case because mermaid novels tend to sink, pun intended, real fast.
“I think some have to fight harder to choose good over evil because the evil's got it out for them. And maybe it's because those're the ones evil knows will become the strongest warriors, recognizing true wickedness when it rears its head ... Maybe the ones who've struggled with true evil are the ones meant to make the biggest difference against it, you know?”
In a nutshell, STORM SIREN is about an orphan slave girl suddenly thrust in the middle of a long waged war between two kingdoms. She was bought by a batshit crazy slave owner as a pawn and a weapon to end this war once and for all. She must prove her worth and learn to control her abilities or she would be hanged for the abomination that she is.
Nym is a lost, broken girl plagued by guilt, grief and self-loathing. She sees herself as nothing but a monster cursed at having an ability that could kill anyone that gets too close. Cheeky and cynical, it's equal parts exasperating and empowering to see her come to terms with what and who she is. Is she a monster that brings only havoc and destruction or is she the savior that will ultimately save her kingdom?
Eogan, her ability trainer, is mysterious and frustrating. Hot and cold, his attitude inconsistencies drove me crazy. But it is not without good reason and glimpses of his true feelings showed that he cares and understands Nym more than he will ever let on. He makes her feel visible and safe, feelings that Nym tried to hide with indifference. I ship these two so hard. It was hard work and I totally have to beg Mary Weber to finally make my ship sail and when it did, it was unfrakingbelievable.
“I stare back, as if to defy him and whatever his problem has been. Except something hungry stirs behind his gaze, and the next thing I know he's taking my heart for a thirsty-leap into green depths, and I'm drinking him in as fast as I can, excruciatingly aware of how parched I am.”
— Goodness. *fans self*
But Eogan is not there merely to make us swoon because he is definitely a character in his own right and plays a bigger role than being Nym's love interest. And guys, Eogan is a person with color! I don't even want to make a big deal out of this because it shouldn't even be a deal in the first place, but he is, and my heart is so happy. And since we're talking about not your usual run-of-the-mill characters, we have here a bald, well-muscled flirty guy and a sassy blind friend. Even Nym has a mishappen hand.
Like I said, the romance was perfection for me. There were gazillion chances for Weber to go for the love triangle route but she didn't. The romance, while one of the best aspects of this novel, is just an excellent backdrop as it was supposed to be, because this story is most importantly about Nym's journey to self-discovery and self-redemption.
But what is a fantasy novel without a solid worldbuilding?
I am greatly delighted to say that the worldbuilding here was off the charts. It's bursting at the seams with its commitment to geography, language and social structure. The steampunk-esque details and magic system were also interesting. But what I admire the most was how Weber handled the enslavement aspect. It was not swept aside and used simply as a means to make Nym's history colorful but it was treated as a real problem that needs resolution. I hope in the next installment Weber will give focus on the perverse nature of some men in this novel because they really irked me out.
“...But instead of my power exploding like a thunderstorm, it comes as a gentle tide. A heart surrender. Almost painful in its approach, beckoning tears to my eyes as it renders my defenses nonexistent. And suddenly I can't remember why I ever needed them anyway because the very power I've spent my life cowering from is, at its core, pure.”
The prose was simply lovely. No matter how eager I was to turn pages after pages, I had to pause once in a while so I can reread some passages that were just beautiful. This novel made me come alive with its electric magic and the come down from the high was pretty agonizing. There were plenty of WTF moments, swoon-worthy moments, hair pulling moments, awe-inspiring moments and gasp-inducing moments. The ending was all of these combined and it was brutal. In truth, Mary Weber has a dangerous persona that concerns me, yet I'm beyond excited to read the next installment.
Highly unpredictable, imaginative and vividly woven, this book is the reason why I am reading fantasy novels. STORM SIREN rocked my world from the very beginning and left me reeling as I turned the last page. Mary Weber has truly written a wonderful, riveting debut novel and it's definitely one of my best reads this year.
This review is also posted at Smitten over Books. A copy was provided by the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review....more
I've been meaning to read a book in which I could simply lose myself in, and The Case of the Stolen Sixpence came at just the right time. Who would'veI've been meaning to read a book in which I could simply lose myself in, and The Case of the Stolen Sixpence came at just the right time. Who would've thought that this observant girl who sweep floors in her Granny's apartment and hates shopping (unless it's an excuse for sleuthing) would whisked me straight to Victorian London?
The huge grin on my face didn't vanish at all from the moment I started reading until I turned the last page. It's like I've tapped into a whimsical story I could see myself enjoying back when I was younger and even now. The illustrations added to the book's engrossment factor and it would surely entice even those kids who are reluctant to open a book.
Maisie is very good at spotting things. But having detecting skills are not enough, you need cases to solve and maybe a detective paraphernalia or two to look the part. Can you see the dilemma our aspiring detective is in?
Needless to say, Maisie is a charming character and she has moxie others can only dream of having. As a curious kid, she and Nancy Drew might just become great pals and even Sherlock Holmes would find her greatly amusing. Maisie is a joy to read and her faithful dog assistant is just as cute.
The Case of the Stolen Sixpence is a Middle Grade mystery novel that will tickle the imagination of young ones as well as those who are still in touch with their youthful spirit. It's a delightful, quick read filled with adorable characters I'd surely love to get to know more in future installments....more