Best shit I've had the pleasure of reading in a long, long while. Scratch that, best freaking debuts I have ever read!! Saw on AEITA's official websitBest shit I've had the pleasure of reading in a long, long while. Scratch that, best freaking debuts I have ever read!! Saw on AEITA's official website that the book has been optioned for film, and I think that it's going to be a really big hit. In the bookverse if not in the Hollywood-verse.
It's not like any other book I've read before, but I wouldn't call it 100% unique. It's set in an Ancient Romanesque world, but the politics and atmosphere resemble Leigh Bardugo's Grisha world and Jay Kristoff's Lotus War trilogy's Asian martial-samurai system. But very complex. So much more depth and breadth to it all its almost staggering. Almost. Nothing can beat Game of Thrones.
I was hooked, but...can the guys stop falling for the doppelgängers!? It's weird. And meh. This is my first witch novel and it's pretty coo*3.5 stars*
I was hooked, but...can the guys stop falling for the doppelgängers!? It's weird. And meh. This is my first witch novel and it's pretty cool. 'CEPT FOR THE ROMANCE.
What I really loved was how Angelini amalgamated science and magic together, which is technically alchemy and alchemy is seriously cool shit. Which is very Angel and Demons/Dan Brown-ish just YA-fied, no? I'm a very science-based person (aced those mofos through O and A levels ;), so Angelini's ability to weave theories and all that jazz in made it all the more intriguing without dulling the pace nor tone of story.
Something that bothered me a little initially was Angelini's writing style. It's not even selective third person perspective; it seemed more like she wrote it in first person but decided to changed the I's to Lily/she/her. It just...seemed that way to me.
I found Lily relatable, Rowan was awesome, Tristan and Caleb were fun to have around but the rest seemed terribly 2D. Even the Outlander tribe chief. Maybe she spent too much brain juice on her world building - which was very ambitious and interesting, but still a little lacking in terms of the magnitude I think Angelini was striving for. So much potential there that I'm looking forward to see developed in TRAIL OF TEARS, book 2.
Sci fi, witchcraft, alternate universes and modern/medieval cities abound, definitely refreshing and worth reading. This is almost an unprecedented mishmash of genres, some might like it others might hate it, but ultimately I think that TRIAL BY FIRE might actually set a trend in the YA department, if not by merit of its execution, then by it's novelty.
“I will be whispered about. I will have enemies lurking in every shadow.
Let them talk. Let their fear of me grow. I welcome it.”
I have*4.5 stars
“I will be whispered about. I will have enemies lurking in every shadow.
Let them talk. Let their fear of me grow. I welcome it.”
I have taken the day off from uni work to read The Young Elites and...ALL THIS HEARTACHE IS KILLING ME. This book is sick and twisted and dark and gritty in a very vivid and overwhelming way. This is my first Marie Lu book, and it's a jarring introduction into her way of writing. It's like getting hit in the brain and heart by a ten-wheeler.
Adelina Amouteru is almost schizophrenic and twisted; her father is crazy and sadistic; her friends might be using her; and Teren Santoro, villain, is just fucked up. Everything is just so...dark and twisted. These two words pretty much sum up TYE neatly.
“My father shakes her off, then turns his attention back to me and tightens his grip around my ring finger. “Are you worthless like that butterfly, Adelina?”
I shake my head in panic. No. Please. Give me a chance.
“So show me. Show me what you can do.”
Then he breaks my finger at the joint.”
This is the story of a how a villain came to be, from an unwanted daughter who will embrace the darkness within her and rise to become one of the most powerful persons in her time.
It's amazing how Lu created so many believably flawed characters with such great depth, complexity and personality. They are all their own characters. It's sort of like Fox's new TV series, Gotham, where they try to show the origin stories of Batman's 7 main villains, but Lu brings us into the mind of the main villain instead, which is a very refreshing but taxing thing on the heart...I feel like I've aged 5 years from all that tension and real world harshness TYE's got going on. It also reflects on our society really - that there isn't any true goodness out in the world, only the greater evils and lesser evils. Ok maybe other than Mother Teresa. But that aside.
The brightest points in the story were Enzo Valenciano, love interest and first other Malfetto Elite that Adelina meets, and Violetta Amouteru, her younger sister. But even they were flawed, and the relationships they had with Adelina were somehow slightly screwed up in their own unique ways.
The plot. Was. Brilliant. Nothing short of exhilarating and terrifying. There were moments of real, physical brutality, in her clever and incentive ways some times and gory execution in the others. I wouldn't say that there were plot curves, cause honestly I didn't know what to expect most of the time. Everything was so well thought out and even the poetries or little excerpts from books of the TYE world in between transitions of POVs added to the depth and flow of the story.
The only thing I found lacking about TYE was the romance. It was close to non-existent to me - AND THAT ENDING - but the fact that throughout their weird courtship, if you can even call it that, started out all wrong ((view spoiler)[with him only taking interest in her because of her abilities (hide spoiler)]), continued all wrong ((view spoiler)[he saw in her his past love. Same race, same skin, same fiery personality (hide spoiler)], and (view spoiler)[ended all wrongly...THAT ENDING (hide spoiler)].
Everything about The Young Elites was *almost* nothing short of amazing - the plot and characters-driven nature, the complexity, the feels, the vividness and believability, was amazing. But even tho TYE is addictive and all that jazz, I'm only continuing this series cause 1) my infernal curiosity of a reader, and 2) I'm just hoping all these heartache that's taking a serious toll on me is worth it and this all culminates in a mindblowing, heart-exploding, and world-changing ending. I swear. Or I'll $@/?'#%*+!@$@.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
STOLEN SONGBIRD is rather like an amalgamation of Hobbit The Movie and Alice in Wonderland, telliOriginally posted at A Bookalicious Story.
STOLEN SONGBIRD is rather like an amalgamation of Hobbit The Movie and Alice in Wonderland, telling of young Cécile's unwitting abduction to Trollus, homeland of the trolls, beneath the Lonely Forbidden Mountain, a magical tale full of intrigue, deceit and whimsical, off-with-her-head monarchs. As her debut book and start to a new fantasy series, STOLEN SONGBIRD's pretty amazing!
A (not so brief) Rundown
Under the fallen rocks of the Forbidden Mountain is rumored to be home to a whole city of a mystical species - the trolls. To enter Trollus, one must navigate the labyrinth of tunnels and evade the sluag, a slug-like creature that nullifies troll magic and strikes fear even in the hearts of the mighty trolls. It is said that Trollus contains piles of gold and riches (ahem Erebor), but many who ventured in never returned.
Cécile de Troyes is a farm maiden of Goshawk Hollow but with the voice of an angel. During a trip home from the city one day, she came upon an old friend but was kidnapped and brought to Trollus to marry the troll prince, Tristan de Montigny. Apparently, the trolls were cursed centuries ago by a human witch to never be able to step foot out of the mountain and a prophecy was told that a marriage between the troll prince and human girl with hair like fire, blue eyes and an "angel's voice" will break the curse.
But it didn't.
Cécile has always dreamed of the romantic wedded life her friends have gossiped wistfully about, but Tristan is far from a loving husband. He is one of the most handsome dudes she has ever laid eyes upon but he is also crude, rude, mostly cold and always confrontational. He picks fights with her at every opportuninty and sleeps on the couch. But in the darkness of the gardens where Cécile goes to sing to calm her riotous emotions, Tristan lets down his guard enough for her to see another side of him - the kind, gentle and loving side.
As Cécile comes to know, Trollus is not just about the amazing architecture and beautiful glass gardens (no sunlight). Humans and half bloods with little or no magic are seen as little more than slaves and any small misstep gives their owners the right to sentence them to be left in the tunnels to be sluag fodder or anything the owner sees fit. A rebellion is brewing and the factions are not clearly delineated. Tristan may seem like an insolent brat six out of seven days, but Cécile knows there is defeinitely more to him than he's showing. What does he do in the early hours of morning, sneaking out of their room and palace? Where does he factor in in the rebellion? And what has any of it to do with her?
Kudos to the author for her effort to reimagine trolls - from 3m, club-swinging, wart-covered monstrosities (I'm thinking of the one in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) to an intelligent, magic-wielding race. Some look human (just 10000000 times more beautiful), but some are disfigured and some not even remotely human-looking. However apart from that, the concept is really just taking the characteristics of Shakespeare's faries and naming them trolls. Jensen's trolls can't lie which makes them experts at the art of manipulating words, their promises are binding, their thank-you's are favors to be repaid, they have True Names which enables full control over the troll whose name is known, and one of the side characters, Anäis (yes, their names have lots of squiggly-wiggly or dots on top of their alphabets) mentioned that the name for their people isn't trolls, it's "Fai--" then she stopped herself. Well now, it's not that difficult to complete her statement now.
So I didn't really buy the "fresh" new idea of trolls.
But the plot is full of political intrigues, deceptions, and dangers for our protagonist that I was pretty invested in her story. It may be subjective though because like the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, STOLEN SONGBIRD is about Cécile finding out about trolls, their issues (the social discrimination and off-with-your-head variety) and her transformation from scared maiden to strong woman who found love and her determination to help in the rebellion. There is a sort of non-ending at the end, a sort of closure but we're not even close to the true ending. Just like how Bilbo and the dwarves were dropped off some god-forsaken cliff in the middle of nowhere and the Lonely Mountain was a speck in the horizon and the show ends. Yeah, something like that.
Not to say that it wasn't a good read (Goodreads, haha), Jensen had a very descriptive, simple yet witty style of writing. I loved the typical, easy countryside way of life at Goshawk's Hollow (Gordric's Hollow?!?!), the terror Cécile felt when she was in the sluag tunnels, the awe she felt at Trollus and her heartbreak when she thought that she was doomed to have a loveless marriage. There were quite a few secrets revealed along the way and plot curves dished out, and the alternating POV, which most of the time serves only to unveil secrets early and lessen suspense, worked pretty well here.
The characters!!! Apart from Tristan and Cécile, I thought that the secondary cast of characters were pretty fleshed out. We get to see glimpses of who each of them were really like and all of them had their own distinct personalities - there is mysterious but fiercely loyal Marc with a face split in half, each half having handsome features but freaky when seen as a whole; the Queen and her sister Duchesse who are joined together at the back so one of them has to walk backwards; the twins Vincent and Victoria who're constantly competing to see who should be Baron/Baroness of their house though their competitions are mostly jokes (like archery but with only one foot on the ground and with blindfolds on).
I don't want to spoiler anything more, but I'd definitely recommend this to fans of YA Fantasy. It's got the complicated political drama, the whole-new-world feel and magical boomz of a good fantasy, it's just that I felt that the plot and emotional development were dragged out too much that sometimes it felt like we were going in circles and the ending didn't give enough of a closure for me.
That said, though, there was a tiny part near the end that hinted at a parallel world that lives alongside Trollus and the outside world. This series is heading in a very promising direction with lots of action, suspense and romance, so yes, I will be picking up book 2 to see where Jensen takes Cécile and the rest of the crew.
~eARC courtesy of Netgalley and Strange Chemistry~ Thank you! :)...more
This is the first I've heard of the chilling Donner's Party incident (yes, I am ignorant blah so sue me, but hey, I'm honest), but I'mQuickie Review
This is the first I've heard of the chilling Donner's Party incident (yes, I am ignorant blah so sue me, but hey, I'm honest), but I'm going to hazard a guess and say DONNERS OF THE DEAD is a darn good rendition of the true event.
This is also my first Karina Halle book and damn, this lady can write horror! There was this one part near the end that made me dizzy with y'know, fear and suspense and anticipation I literally had to stop reading for a minute to calm my tits. Seriously. Scary shit. (view spoiler)[I'm talking about that part where the trees were scratching the hut Eve and Jake hid in, all on their lonesome. (hide spoiler)]
The romance was a toe-curling, sweet thang that grows on you and warms your heart. This chemistry between Eve and Jake blossomed amidst terrible circumstances, but they become each other's pillar of support both emotionally and physically in their battles. It wasn't combustible, but it was as good.
I loved the ending and I loved the speculation on the journey the Donners and their party had to travel and the cause of the zombiefication (though it's just a tad unrealistic).
DONNERS OF THE DEAD is a quick, exhilarating read that I'd recommend to friends just getting into the horror/romance genre!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more