Thursday, 25 December 2014

Amy & Matthew by Cammie McGovern


Book Summery : Amy loves Matthew and he loves her back. This is their story.

Amy is unflinchingly honest about her limitations. Born with cerebral palsy, she can’t walk or talk without help. But trapped inside this uncooperative body lies a brilliant mind and a luminous spirit – a girl capable of truly loving and worthy of being loved in return.

Matthew has his own set of challenges – a mind consumed by unwanted repeated thoughts, obsessive rituals and a crippling fear that he can't explain. But underneath all of the anxiety lies a deep seed of hope for someone to come along who believes in him…

This is the story of Amy and Matthew. It may not be a fairy tale romance or set in an imagined world far from our own. But the love they share is real. And yes, there's magic in it.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : Amy and Matthew...Yaah!! It’s a love story–-a story of two disabled high school students. Whereas Amy is a patient of cerebral palsy, Matthew is suffering from OCD. And it’s very clear that a love story of such central characters is a journey of searing sympathy, and so it is. It’s a story of falling in love for first time. It’s a story of soaring over fears and disabilities.

Though the initial chapters was quite boring and sometime over-stressed but as the story progresses it snags the reader’s attention. Written from a dual point of view, the story is worth sharing positive reviews.

The catchiest sides of the story are the spark in Amy, the wittiness in her dialogues and the courage in self. Sending her loved one in date with another girl just for the sake of him, despite knowing the possibility of losing her boyfriend, is a selfless act.

The story starts with Amy, being a cerebral palsy patient, got her classmate Matthew, along with a few others, as an aid for teaching her the act of socialization that she might need for her college. The honest and straightforward Matthew was never so fond of doing this but applied on request of Amy. I think, initially, Matthew was sort of jealous of Amy’s smartness. The story then accelerates beautifully with different instances of their interactions which smoothly morph from friendship to relationship. With Amy helping Matthew to retrain his mind in getting out of OCD of hand washing (PS: Matthew used to wash is hand for over 30 minutes :-P) by use of regular tasks. A worthy line of Amy in this matter is “Your fear may seem real but the danger is not. You are safe.” – Such a simple and practical advice.
With Matthew, truly speaking I don’t like such a thrower at the starting. But as the plot moves with more and more, unfolding Matthew’s character from every interaction with Amy, I couldn’t help but change my view point. An OCD patient behaves in a way his disease shapes him. That’s the case for Matthew. His possessive behavior like texting all the prom night after Amy left with Sanjay, is quite justified from an high school student who is suffering from OCD.

The story gains its point again on the portrayal of first-love. Along with its possessiveness and confusion there lie the state of extreme excitement and careless anticipation. Personally, I could relate the feelings of being in my first relationship with Amy and Matthew--their behaviour, slowly falling in love with each other; their insecurities are so deep and practical.
But despite all these, it had become a bit too dramatic. Though the author tried her best to fence the feeling and sequence of plots as much practical, but I think Cammie McGovern got either lost or rather baffled in her effort to make the readers sympathize. Still, Amy and Matthew will be in the first row of my bookshelf for rest of the year.



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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Zodiac Universe : A Guest Post by Romina Russell


The absolute best part of penning the ZODIAC series is the chance to invent new worlds. The reason I write is so I can spend more hours of the day in my imagination than anywhere else—and getting to make up new planets with varied customs, governances, technologies, topographies, wild life, and so on, has been indescribably fun.

Besides adding color to the story, the world building is the foundation of the whole series, plot- and character-wise. In the Zodiac universe, just as in our own, people aren’t born into their worlds—they’re born from them. A person’s House affiliation informs much of their identity and development, everything from its geography to its politics and culture—just as on Earth, our nationality, race, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, and so on, determine much about us.

Since the plot of book one is pretty speedy, we don’t get to spend a whole lot of time on the first few Houses we visit, so there’s plenty I couldn’t include about each world. For instance, Gemini has two planets, and the one we don’t get to see (yet) has a fantastical city built deep within its rocky mines. We get to visit Virgo’s main planet, Tethys, but not its twelve minor planetoids, which are so small that their days are twelve hours long instead of twenty-four, so Virgos don’t live there year-round—they only come seasonally to grow grain. On Aries, they have the Everblaze—a huge fire with thirty-foot flames that has never gone out. When Arieans die, their bodies are cremated in the Everblaze so their souls can rise to Helios.

And, of course, we barely get to see House Cancer before it’s destroyed—but it was a beautiful world. The planet was ninety-eight percent water, and from Space it looked like a ball colored every shade of blue, streaked with barely perceptible slices of green. Hundreds of low-lying islands were scattered across the globe, while Cancer’s cities were built on massive pods that floated calmly on the sea’s surface, like giant, half-submerged anemones. The largest structures—buildings, commercial centers, schools—were secured with anchors. The pod cities used to light the horizon with their gleaming, cascading buildings and sun-bleached streets.

Book two’s structure allows us to spend more time on each House we visit, so I’m definitely getting to include more details in the sequel, which has been so much fun. For more ZODIAC world building, check out the descriptions of each House on the site, www.ZodiacBooks.com.

About The Author : : Romina Russell (aka Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on ZODIAC, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

You can find her on twitter

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Blog Tour : The Otherworld Series by Skylar Dorset

Inspiration for the Otherworld


Part of the fun in writing a fantasy novel is that you get to decide the rules that the world needs to live by. So when it came time for me to think about what sort of world I wanted to be my supernatural faerie world in the Otherworld novels, I spent a little bit of time thinking about what would be fun. I was creating a world from scratch, of course I wanted to have some fun! If I wanted to have a talking rat show up, I could! And if I wanted that rat to be one of my characters’ father, well, I could do that, too!


Ben is a traveler, making it easy for him to jump between worlds and also between places within a world, which gave me some opportunity to fool around a little bit more with how vast the Otherworld really is. Ben’s home isn’t near the Seelie Court, so they could be very different places. Likewise, when the Seelies find Ben and Selkie in Boston and Ben is trying to run away from them, he jumps them through a variety of places very quickly, all with different types of weather. It would be fun to try to imagine larger stories about all of those places! It’s something I didn’t get a chance to do just because of the direction of the plot of the story I was telling.


When it came time to imagine what the Seelie Court would be like, I was inspired a lot by faerie lore that I read up on, which I then spun out one step farther. Part of faerie lore was that faeries don’t like broken mirrors. I took that and turned it into the fact that the Seelie Court lacked glass. The island of Avalon, which plays a role in THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME, is associated with the name “Isle of Glass” in Welsh culture, so I liked the lack of glass even better then, since I enjoyed playing around with the fact that faeries name things the opposite of what they actually mean. This is why I made Mag Mell, traditionally translated to mean “plain of joy,” a canyon instead. And a canyon leading to an evil, terrifying prison, to boot!


It seemed natural to me that the Seelie Court should be a labyrinthine maze, populated by lots of strange guard animals. I liked the idea that the Seelies themselves would be these really lazy, decadent creatures, because I found something more terrifying about the fact that they were so blasé about killing other creatues. And I decided early on to give them an affinity for really bright sunlight, partly because I wanted the frequent cloudy days in Boston to feel ogre-like in comparison, and partly because I knew I was going to journey to the Unseelie Court in THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME, and I wanted to set up a contrast.

So I’ve already teased two places you get to see in THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME: the Unseelie Court and Avalon. The other major place I introduce in THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME is Goblinopolis, which is the underground city where the goblins live. But that’s not in the Otherworld at all. That’s right in the middle of Boston’s subway system!

About The Author : Skylar’s first story was a tale of romantic intrigue involving two feuding factions of squirrels. Think “Romeo & Juliet” but with bushy tails and added espionage. She was seven.

Since that time, Skylar’s head has been filled with lots of characters and lots of drama. She is delighted to be able to share some of it with all of you now, because, honestly, it was getting pretty loud and crowded in there.

Skylar is a born-and-bred New Englander, which is why Boston was a natural setting for her debut novel, THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS. Skylar shares her home with a cardboard cutout of the Tenth Doctor, lots of Mardi Gras beads from the time she spent living in New Orleans, and a harp she’s supposed to be teaching herself to play. She’d like to get a dog.

Her Website
You can also stalk her on twitter SkylarDorset

SOURCEBOOKS was kind to offer a copy of The Boy with the Hidden Name the second installment of The Otherworld Series The giveaway is opened to US and Canada only.

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Young Elites by Marie Lu


Book Summary : I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : The Young Elites, a fine attempt of high fantasy by author Marie Lu, was successful in equal measure in doling out proper execution and satisfaction. Prior to The Young Elites, I have only read the author’s Legend, a dystopian, and was genuinely thrilled about this one.

The Young Elites is sort of book, so dark, that will liquefy your innards and make you wither inside. Told from the perspective of four characters, every one of whom played unique and equally important role in the story, the book delivered an unusual a poignant tale of trust, anger, envy and love.

The main character, Adelina Amouteru, lives in a world hell ravaged by blood plague. Decades ago, the illness caused deaths of many, and the infected children who survived were left with markings and some possessed strange power. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her eyelashes went pale, and a jagged scar marked where her left eye once was. Abused by her cruel father, who believes her to be a malfetto, Adelina accidentally killed him, and was sentenced to be burned on stakes. Rescued by the mysterious leader of Dagger Society—a group of malfettos like her—Adelina was now hell bent on revenge, and destroy all those who wronged her. Adelina was a intimidating creature to behold. Despite all her darkness, bitterness and anger, it was easy for me to relate to Adelina’s character.

Enzo was the former crown prince to the throne, believed to be dead and now a malfetto keeping his identity secret behind his silver mask. He played a vital role in shaping Adelina’s power and future. And, as did Teren Santoro, another dark character with his own secrets, and the leader of the Inquisition Axis. He’s twisted and manipulative, even darker than Adelina herself. His hatred towards malfettos was palpable. He believed them to be abomination, his purpose to destroy them all. He was my favorite character of all. Ah, how can I deny my attraction to damaged souls?

The beginning was a bit slow, but quickly sped up, and I found myself I was instantly swept into the story. I finished the book in exactly two sittings, and can say the writing has improved a great deal from the author's previous series; the prose, the gritty description, the setting, all were expertly done. Not to mention the ending was EVIL, but in a good way. It left my skin crawling with anticipation, and stomach growling for more. I can’t wait until the next in the series is available.




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Friday, 26 September 2014

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Book Summary : "Today is my last day as Violet Lasting. Tomorrow I become Lot 197."

The Jewel is a shocking and compelling new YA series from debut author, Amy Ewing.

Sold for six million diamantes, Violet is now Surrogate of the House of the Lake in the centre of the Lone City, the Jewel. Her sole purpose is to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess – a woman Violet fears and despises.

Violet is trapped in a living death, her name and body no longer her own. She fights to hold on to her own identity and sanity, uncertain of the fate of her friends, isolated and at the mercy of the Duchess.

The Handmaid's Tale meets The Other Boleyn Girl in a world where beauty and brutality collide.

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


My Thoughts : My thoughts are conflicted for The Jewels.

The book started off really well, and no doubt, resembled a few other dystopians I have recently read. The story itself is brilliantly crafted…or would have been if it weren't for the insta-love running all the fun.

The protagonist,Violet Lasting is special breed of girl, raised and groomed to be a surrogate, to bear the offspring for rich women in the heart of the city—the Jewel, who are incapable of giving birth. In her world, girls like Violet are defined by the very same number they score in Augury Test. At the auction, Violet is purchased by the Duchess of the Lake, and thrown into a lavish world of balls and dresses and wealth. She soon discovers the truth that lurked beneath the glittering facade of The Jewel, where surrogates like her are treated like dogs, cradled with gifts if they comply, punished if they disobey.

The world building is more like a cocktail of high fantasy punched with dystopian. The city is divided into rings (which reminds me of The Midnight Thief). The outer most is the Farm (Obviously, the farmlands), next to it was Marsh (where our MC hails from), then the Smoke (the factories), the Bank (business district) and innermost in the Jewel (where the nobles live). There are facilities for training the surrogates. Each of surrogates possess unique Auguries—a kind of magic that wasn't explained well—such as growing a bud into a flower, changing colors etc etc.

I must say the politics was done well—one reason that kept me at the edge of my seat. The backstabbing, the cruelty, how a royal could stoop low to even have a surrogate killed.

Violet Lasting, is not a bad protagonist either, but in places her narration was flat—monotonous. She is mostly compliant and given her situation—being groomed for years to be submissive—I understand that, played her part of a damsel in distress. However, she undergoes a character development, but not until very late in the book.

What ruined this book for me, as I've said before, is the insta-love. The love interest, Ash, appears in the second half of the book, and the moment he enters, Violet falls in love at first sight, thinks about kissing him later the same night, which quickly escalated into confessions on true love and kissing in their third meeting.

All that aside, this book has potential and a likable read. The story ended with an evil cliffhanger, left me with wanting more and I’ll continue the series as to how events will turn in the next installment.




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Friday, 19 September 2014

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski


Book Summary : Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

My Rating : 5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : It was probably the most beautifully written book I've read in this year. Lyrical. Poetic. A sweeping, original story set in a high fantasy world inspired by Greco-Roman world, and without any unnecessary interference of magic.

Kestrel, the only daughter of Valorian general, impulsively buys a slave up for auction, and pays an intrinsic value. But Arin has his own plans. Kestrel soon learns that the price she paid for a slave is much steeper than she ever could have imagined.

Arin was defying for a slave. He didn't even behave like one, and his proximity to Kestrel could be unbelievable and bothersome to many, but it was something impressing as well. He was devoted to his cause, but without hurting Kestrel, adding so much depth and understanding to his character. His strength wasn't only physical, but in his determination to persevere for his enslaved country and for his love as well. Arin’s character was meant to be bold, blatant by how he spoke, but at the same time, it wasn't hard for me to see what Kestrel saw in him.

And for Kestrel, her character development was fantastic. I was impressed to see how selfish, and flawed she were, yet how selflessly she made decisions when time came. She was strong, but the strength wasn't necessarily physical. It was her intelligence. And this is the type of heroine that is much more interesting to read than sword-wielding ones.

I immediately was rooting for Kestrel and Arin as a couple. Their relationship wasn't your typical romance, it was a slow-burning complex love that thrived on power play, both manipulation and trust. I didn't found then swooning over each other, but I certainly felt a strange passion igniting between them, a bond that gradually grew stronger with each encounter.

The world building was artfully captured in words--the Valorian culture, the banquets and balls, the society that lived on gossip, where fascinating costumes were complemented with jeweled daggers.

For fans who like romance as a sub-plot in a fantasy-lite, this is you your perfect read. It will squeeze you heart and poke your lungs with intimate pleasure of reading until you will feel the desperate need for air.





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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman


Book Summary : Where Emmeline lives, you cannot love and you cannot leave...

The Council's rules are strict, but they're for the good of the settlement in which Emmeline lives. Everyone knows there is nothing but danger the other side of the Wall, and the community must prepare for the freezing winterkill that comes every year.

But Emmeline struggles to be obedient under the Council's suffocating embrace - especially when she discovers that a Council leader intends to snatch her hand in marriage.

Then Emmeline begins to hear the call of the trees beyond the Wall...

My Rating : 3 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : "They are isolated....but not alone..."

Winterkill is basically a rip-off of the movie “The Village.”

Let me tell you the resemblances.

Both, the book and the movie, were set in a walled village/town in middle of nowhere, surrounded by deep forest where mysterious creature roams; the beings are called here “malmaci” and in The Village they were called "Those We Don't Speak Of."

Aside from the similarities with the movie, the Setting is vague. A very little history behind how the village came to existence is given. Two types of groups were told to survive from the old-world; the people who speak French and those who speak English, which led me to question, what happened to other democracies? How the Old World Kingdom (world as we know it now), met its end?

Sadly no explanation.

Speaking of the Characters, Emmeline, our protagonist is a Strained who bears the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination. She is also a cripple, pushed on an axe at a very young age by the villagers and broke her leg. Although, given her situation, I found her frail traits quite believable, but at times her reticence to speak up and wussy nature annoyed me. I liked her eagerness for knowledge and curiosity to discover the mystery outside village walls. Which ultimately led to her family history and secrets she never thought could exist.

Adding further to the list of similarities with The Village, a triangle between the MC, Kane—the boy she had a crush on and the village leader is introduced in the book.

However, the Romance between Em and Kane were sweet and well-developed. Kane was understanding and gorgeous and despite he lied to Em, given the reason behind it, he was easily forgivable. Gabriel, the mysterious young village most women swoon over, suddenly began showing interest in Em for no apparent reason. I have to admit I was misled by his sincerity and his impression of love. That loving someone doesn't mean the person you love will love you back. I liked the way Gabriel’s character was crafted, layer by layer, complex and psychotic.

For the Writing, had it been any other story I would've called the writing choppy (though not as choppy as Half Bad), but considering the MC is illiterate, and so are most of the people in the town, her voice felt absolutely suitable for her persona, somehow reminded me of Willo from After the Snow.

As final verdict, I’d say: Readers, give this book a chance. If not anything, I found it engaging. Though I already guessed the big reveal from a half book away, I kept reading and honestly one or two twist near the end I didn't see coming. Trust me, despite its flaws and holes, Winterkill is truly not a terrible book by any means.



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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Blog Tour : The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco


Book Summary : A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret - one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as "Dexter" meets "The Grudge", based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

My Rating : 3.5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : “I am where dead children go.”

For a book that stars with such line, it is sure as hell creepy, if not creepier like The Ring or Shutter, as the blurb promised us. Nonetheless, the book was dark and enjoyable. There were violence, gory and gritty enough for a YA standards.

The book starts with Okiku, a soul floating in dreamless trance, constantly watching over lives and other spirits like her. She sees a man carrying a weight of the girl he murdered, unaware of her decaying existence on his shoulders. But Okiku notices how her thin bony arms clasped about his neck and her legs balanced against his back, silently acknowledging presence of another nonentity just like her.

She also notices Tarquin a.k.a Tark from afar, a tortured young man. She senses having something malevolent in him and developed likeness, which at first was bit difficult for me to accept, however, I slowly grown to like their bond for was a bit slower to become likable but, once everything he went through is known, you can't help but feel for him. Both were characters I could easily sympathize with.

The Writing: Where some lines boasted their own beauty, gorgeous even, as a whole the writing felt inconsistent. Maybe because the sudden switching between first person narratives to third person narratives.

“You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.”

Also,

The tattooed boy is still sleeping on the cot, unmoving. His feet are
shackled, and his face is worn. Neither the girl nor the Smiling Man
crushkillcrushkillKILLKILL
sees the small blanket of black that rises around his form, though
in the small trickle of light it seems larger somehow, like it gains its
strength from places such as these.


And,

Something else blocks his vision.
The Smiling Man finds himself looking at a
woman
on the ceiling. The glow of candlelight catches only her face,
her long hair hanging down, and her bright black eyes. She is only
inches away, and she
gurgles.
It is the Smiling Man’s turn to scream, and the brief light is
suddenly extinguished.


Overall, The Girl from The Well, inspired by Japanese folktale Banchō Sarayashiki,
is a haunting and atmospheric novel. Recommended for the fans of a good ghost story.


About The Author :
Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.

Her work, The Girl from the Well, is a YA psychological horror novel due out in Fall 2014, pitched as "Dexter" meets "The Grudge". She is represented by Nicole LaBombard and Rebecca Podos of the Helen Rees Agency.

You can visit her on her website.

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Monday, 25 August 2014

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant


Book Summary : I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.

And then the games began.

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.

But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out .

My Rating : 3 of 5 stars


My Thoughts : Many readers might get shocked to know this is my first Michael Grant book. Yup, I haven’t yet read Gone series. However, I must accept, my first impression and experience was neither good, nor bad. Messenger of Fear is quite different PNR from its cousins where the genre is concerned. It was blended with gothic horror and a spoonful of mythology, finally garnished with adolescent drama.

The story begins with our protagonist, Mara, waking up in limbo sort of field, engulfed by strange mist pressing close to her. And from the mist appears a mysterious figure, who calls himself the messenger of fear. Mara, as she doesn't remember who she is (except her name, of course) and why she's here, follows the messenger in a game—the price of which she has yet to understand.

As for the story, it was flat, moved at snail’s pace and bored the living shit out of me. Almost nothing happened throughout the story, except the MC witnessing lives and their untold stories, and watched the Messenger deliver penance for their crimes. I understand if the first installment is meant to be the set up for the next ones. So, despite having thought about DNF-ing, I reined my frail penitent from disintegrating into dust and kept reading, only to end up giving it three stars. I think that makes it pretty decent read for me.

The book deals with good amount of social issues teenagers often face; how one moment of mistake can turn their life upside down, how one small action can cost consequence beyond imagination. The book delivered us the definition between right and wrong, myths of warring gods, and the balance that must be kept at any price.

The best thing about the book was its writing. The prose was refined and philosophical in many places, further reinforced the story. The gritty details, and violence described, are still aglow in my mind even after a week of finishing the book.

As for the characters, Mara was rather a flat one with a mature voice of narration. Although I don’t blame her for being so boring, because she was written in such way and was put in situations where she could do nothing but to observe and be horrified at the inexorable images of various lives unfolding before her. At first I was intrigued by her character, but as the book progressed, I started guessing the big twist and my interest lessened.

Messenger of Fear, on the other hand, was a silent and seductive creature thousand times better than his other YA counterparts, trust me. He bears pain of those he inflicted punishments upon, and despite stripped from his humanity, he still longs for his lost love. To me, he was a paradox. A puzzle better remain unsolved till the next installment.

And blessedly, there was no romance.

So, Yay folks, go an pick the book up if you’re in the mood for no lluurrrvvv and want something gory to satisfy your appetite.



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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Blog Tour : The Ghost Bride

Character Spotlight: Ox-headed Demon

Thank you so much for having me! My book, THE GHOST BRIDE, is a historical fantasy set in 1890s colonial Malaya (the old name for Malaysia where I come from) and is about a young Chinese woman who receives a marriage proposal for the son of the wealthiest family in town. The only problem is, he’s dead.

I had a lot of fun writing this book, based as it is on the blurred borderline between spirits and humans. In fact, there's strong Chinese literary tradition of strange tales set in the shadowy, elaborate Chinese ghost world, where nothing is as it seems and beautiful women turn out to be foxes. I enjoyed reading a lot of these stories when I was young, and I also heard many odd stories about ghosts while I was growing up in Malaysia.

When I was writing the second half of THE GHOST BRIDE, when the main character Li Lan ventures into the world of the dead, it seemed natural to populate it with all the colourful and peculiar creatures of Chinese folk beliefs. The animal-headed demons, along with the withered hungry ghosts of those who died with no funeral offerings, tree and plant spirits, dragons, and women with backwards pointing feet. It is a world filled with spirits and ghosts, where the horses, houses, and servants are all made of burned paper funeral offerings.

Structurally, the Chinese Afterlife is often conceived as a bureaucratic version of Imperial China, complete with bribable officials and various Hells where souls are tormented before being reincarnated. In all these stories, there were often references to 牛头马面 - the ox-headed and horse-faced demons of Hell. These were almost exactly as their names describe - animal-headed demons whose jobs were to escort the dead and also act as jailers. You see them also in Japanese depictions of the underworld. Growing up, I often thought it was such a bizarre, yet strangely frightening idea. In real life, oxen and horses are herbivores and to think of them wielding cutlasses and saws was quite disturbing!

In my book, the ox-headed demons appear as general foot soldiers. I debated whether to add the horse-faced demons, but decided that one type of animal was enough. If I ever write a sequel, however, I might have to feature them too. :)

Thank you so much for having me - it’s been a pleasure!

Author Bio: Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Chinese from Malaysia. After graduating from Harvard, she worked in various corporate jobs while secretly writing fiction between financial spreadsheets. Now a stay-at-home-mum, she writes late at night when her kids have (finally!) gone to sleep. Yangsze eats and reads too much and often does both at her blog http://yschoo.com/



About The Book : Oprah.com’s Book of the Week, a Carnegie Medal nominee, and Goodreads 2013 Best Fantasy finalist. THE GHOST BRIDE is a historical fantasy.

“One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride…”

Li Lan, a young Chinese woman, lives in 1890s colonial Malaya with her quietly ruined father, who returns one evening with a proposition — the fabulously wealthy Lim family want Li Lan to marry their dead son. After a fateful visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets, before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

Now The Giveaway Time.

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Don't Forget To Visit Other Tour Stops

Aug 4th Guest Blog @ Fire & Ice
5th Character Spotlight @ Pages From My Thoughts
6th Author Interview @ The Mod Podge Bookshelf
7th Recipe Reveal @ Pieces of Whimsy
8th Character Spotlight @ Gobs and Gobs of Books
11th Guest Blog @ A Dream Within A Dream
12th Recipe Reveal @ Bookish Things and More
13th Author Interview @ Bibliophelia, Please
14th Recipe Reveal @ Fantasy's Ink
15th Character Spotlight @ Addicted Readers

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Bees: A Novel by Laline Paull


Book Summary : The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut.

Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen. Yet Flora has talents that are not typical of her kin. And while mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is reassigned to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. Then she finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous. Enemies roam everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. But Flora cannot help but break the most sacred law of all, and her instinct to serve is overshadowed by a desire, as overwhelming as it is forbidden...

Laline Paull's chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, The Bees is the story of a heroine who changes her destiny and her world.

My Rating : 2 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : I really don't have much words to summarize my thoughts.
description

Once in a while a book comes along that is so original and so inventive that it completely blows you away. But there are some books like The Bees that tried to be unique, but its uniqueness is what causes its downfall. In this book, the bees communicate with one another and honestly, the all too humanization of bees bothered me enough, and when they said ‘amen’—actually said ‘amen’, I knew I was done.

description


It’s the story of Flora 717, a sanitation bee in a bee hive. She has many talents not normally seen in a sanitation bee and this special snowflake of a bee tells us her life story among the hive. When Flora was born, instead of killing her, she was saved and rose to a higher level, where she learnt she had a role to play in the ploy for power. The politics, the religious power play in its complexity in a bee hive seemed too human to me. Now torn between her One Truuueee Wuuv (Yes, our bee MC fell for a certain Sir) and her sacrifice, which side she will choose? With she fight for her fierce love that will that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, and her society—or she will chose the destiny she was meant for.

The plot was decent, and nothing happened much until the end, however the characterization of bees made it difficult for me to push on. The Bees has received comparisons with The Hunger Games and The Handmaiden’s Tale, and I honestly have no idea how. Both are great books in their genre and of history and I don’t see any valid reason behind these comparisons. Sadly, such innovative idea and its imaginative implementation didn't just work for me.




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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid


Book Summary : One girl could change four lives forever…

Mysterious Leila, who is on the road trip of a lifetime, has a habit of crashing into people’s worlds at the moment they need someone the most.

There’s Hudson, who is willing to throw away his dreams for love. And Bree, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. Elliot who believes in happy endings…until his own goes off-script. And Sonia who worries that she’s lost her ability to love.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. But Leila’s trip could help her discover something bigger — that sometimes, the only way to find what you’re looking for is to get lost along the way…

My Rating : 3.5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : These days, when contemporary are all the rage after the grand success of The Fault in Our Stars, Let's Get Lost didn't deliver me the satisfaction. The writing itself was good, in not great.

The book was a union of four separate stories, every one of them has one character in common—Leila, and her impact on four other characters. While two of the stories kept me upright, the other two bored me to tears. Especially Bree’s story.

For Hudson’s story, it was so-so. It didn't pull me in, neither compelled me to stop reading. I understood his situation perfectly—a moment’s indulgence that tore him between his interview for bright future and the girl he just met. Their encounter might give you sense of an insta-love, however, it didn't bother me, because such happens. In fact, I've seen my own friend falling in love like that, at the first sight. Blessedly, the feeling sticks to likeness rather than love, and slowly develops through the entire night they spent together.

The next was Bree’s story. For me it was the most boring one, uninteresting. I couldn't connect with Bree or her reasons to leave her sister, a sister who, despite her own distraught, loved her so much. And Bree just rubbed it all on her face and run away. How selfish.

The next is optimistic and enthusiastic Elliot, whose story I just luuurrrved. I loved his idea about friendship and love and happy endings, I loved that his utter devotion to his best friend he was secretly in love with, and strongly believes she’ll someday return his love. And his belief was shattered into shards when his story goes off-script. Here, I can’t say anymore, ‘cause that’ll spoil the readers.

The story I most loved Sonia’s. She was a mutli-layered character, her inner turmoil and conflict with herself was presented is a way that touched my heart. Mostly because I've closely experienced something her character had. When she lost her love, she worried she had lost her ability to love too, until she encountered someone else. It was story of self-growth, overcoming her fear, and moving on with life.

All the characters and their stories were bound by a thread called Leila, a carefree spirit who is hiding her own sadness behind a happy façade. I kept reading the book to see her ending—if it was a tragic or happy one. And trust me, I’m super pleased.



View all my reviews

Monday, 14 July 2014

Paper Towns by John Green


Book Summary : Quentin has always loved Margo Roth Spiegelman, for Margo (and her adventures) are the stuff of legend at their high school. So when she one day climbs through his window and summons him on an all-night road trip of revenge he cannot help but follow.

But the next day Margo doesn’t come to school and a week later she is still missing. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance . . . and they are for him. But as he gets deeper into the mystery – culminating in another awesome road trip across America – he becomes less sure of who and what he is looking for.

Masterfully written by John Green, this is a thoughtful, insightful and hilarious coming-of-age story.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars


My Thoughts : John Green's books are like sugar candies. Sweet and fluffy and addictive. With John Green’s classy prose, the plot was definitely engaging enough to engulf any reader, but having read The Fault in Our Stars first, I found it little let-down in comparison to TFIOS.

Margo Roth Spiegelman and Quentin Jacobson are neighbors since childhood. While Margo is cheerful and full of live, a bluff-master and a maverick, Quentin is just the opposite. Their friendship remained into category of ‘just-friends’ until one night Margo suddenly shows up in Q’s window and persuades him to become her official driver-cum-partner-in-crime in eleven mischievous (some revengeful) acts that needs to be accomplished on the same night. Those impish acts range from exposing a lecherous relationship between her ex-boyfriend Jase and her best friend Becca, to breaking into the highly secured SunTrust building.

Though the whole night Q enacted the role of a fearsome guy, but still those were the hours when he could actually anticipate what Margo is all about. Not to mention, his likeness for her starts morphing into something more than that. And, as expected, after the night he expected their friendship to grow. However, he is proven wrong. The next day Margo is gone and a week later she is still missing. Unlike the previous times she eloped leaving everyone clueless with her strange clues, Q leans this time she left clues only for him.

For she is Margo-the-maverick, her clues lead Q to nowhere.

The story then accelerates its engage-charm when Q becomes desperate to find Margo, accompanied by his three friends Ben, Rader and Lacey in this search mission. And here is John Green’s wizardry. He made the story to be told from a wannabe graduate Q’s perspective unfolding many thought elements which are so much accurate and primitive for existence.




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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton


Book Summary : Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

My Rating : 5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : “Love makes us such fools.”

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is the kind of book that stabs you right in the gut with its earnestness and insight.

Time, when we dwell on memories, helps us see scattered fragments of the past in a clearer light. Some moments are brighter and some darker—strange and beautiful that haunts you forever.

Like The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender.

A story of an entire family. A hypnotic generational saga of their love like curse and losses they faced, the pain and passion and obsession of tragic youth. Heart-wrenching and leaves the reader depleted, disintegrate into infinite shards.

“To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth — deep down, I always did.

I was just a girl.”


No doubt Leslye Walton’s writing deserves a huge round of applauds because of its romanticism, lyrical prose and bittersweet view towards harsh realities. The writing was simply haunting and compelling, layered with so many inexplicable emotions I’m still struggling to grasp at. It wasn't exaggerated when Walton’s prose was compared to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s. The author’s depiction of Pinnacle Lane the most atmospheric I have ever come across, her portrait of the lives, their hopes and dreams and disappointments were vivid, melding together in wave the comes crashing upon the readers.

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When I finished the book, all did was to clutch it, and lay in my bed, with tears rolling down my cheeks. I never felt so broken since I read The Storyteller two years ago, which, not to mention, craved my heart out of my chest.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is probably—no, most definitely the best read of this year so far.

description



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Sunday, 8 June 2014

Red Rising by Pierce Brown


Book Summary : The war begins...

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.

But the command school is a battlefield. And Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda...

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars


My Thoughts : Darrow, a Helldiver - what's that? Yeah that's what Darrow, the main protagonist of Red Rising is. A Helldiver—a person who works in mines of Mars. And he is the only one from his hometown, Lykos, a settlement town buried beneath the surface of Mars. You have tunnels in place of streets and alleys. There is no concept of money, only services and commodities that are traded. You don't have antibiotics for burns you get in mine. You have to sell your body to a person of higher Color to get that.

"I grew up with a quick smiling girl of fifteen so in love with her husband that when he was burned in the mines and his wounds festered, she sold her body to a Gamma in return for antibiotics."

And when his love is gone, driven by loss and fueled by vengeance, a Red rose against the Golds' injustice. And to bring down the system, he crosses many obstacles, is helped by some highly techie persons like Dancer, Harmony, Micky, and Matteo—who even possess the capability of saying, "We are forming synapses, my darling."

The world building is vivid and detailed. The principle hierarchy shown in Red Rising reminded me of Caste system once prevailed in ancient Indian subcontinents. Here, the society is discriminated by ranks, and defined by colors. In laymen words Colors are categorization of people from different breeds (by birth as it is) and have a dedicated profession of their own. You have Reds (Lower Class), Browns, Pinks (Pleasure Giving Class), Coppers (Bureaucrats) and the GOLDS (The Highest).

Moreover I got a good explanation of muscle swelling from Gyms-

"The idea of building muscle is to exercise it, which is nothing more than using the muscle intensely enough to create microscopic tears in the tissue fiber. This is the pain one feels in the days after an intense workout-torn tissue- not lactic acid. When the muscle repairs the tears, it builds on itself. This is process the concentration machine is built to facilitate. This is the devil's own invention."

And here, from last sentence, you get my penny - Pierce Brown is an awesome writer.

"They are born with calluses. Born with scars and hatred."

Yeah, the way he smuggles his thinking, and fills emotions in those small sentences, the way he introduces his own words - slingBlade, forceGenerator, knifeRing etc.

The romance was, however, short lived, and Darrow’s driving force. And even in its mere existence, the romance made me swoon and sad at the same time.

"In her eyes, I see my heart. In her breath, I hear my soul. She is my land. She is my kin. My love"

In short, Pierce Brown debuts with an engaging plot weaved in an appraising writing style.




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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Cover Reveal : MIRROR X


Title: MIRROR X
Author: Karri Thompson
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pub. Date: June23, 2014
Find it: Goodreads|Amazon|Barnes&Noble|iTunes

Summary : I was born more than a thousand years ago. Put into a cryogenic tube at age seventeen, forgotten during a holocaust that decimated the world, I've finally been awakened to a more serene and peaceful future. But things at the hospital are new and strange. And it’s starting to scare me. Everyone is young. Everyone is banded and tracked. And everyone is keeping secrets.
The cute geneticist Michael Bennett might be the only good thing in this crazy new world where “life is precious” but no one seems free to live it. The problem is, I don’t think he’s being totally honest with me, either. When I’m told only I can save the human race from extinction, it’s clear my freeze didn’t avoid a dreadful fate. It only delayed the horror…

Exclusive Excerpt:

Michael took a seat on the edge of my bed, rocking me toward him. When the side of my thigh met his knee, my heart rate doubled, and I drew in a deep breath.
“Before you were awakened I spent hours at your bedside imaging what you were like, how your voice would sound, how you looked when you smiled. When your red lips pulsed, when your chest heaved, and you took your first breath, I kept my emotions in check. But now, now that you’ve ‘awakened,’ everything is different. I can’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking about you.”
I ignored the pain and tilted closer until the space between our faces was less than a foot. My heart, my mind, my soul—everything yearned for his affection at that moment.
“I feel the same way, too.”

I closed my eyes, wanting this handsome, earnest guy to take me into his arms and tell me he’d make them let me go. My lungs expanded with his warm breath and spicy scent. When his lips met mine, every atom in my body danced, urging me to pull him closer and tighten my grip upon his back.
His kissing became more fiery and I reacted by kissing him harder. It wasn’t until his mouth moved to my neck, that I came to my senses and drew away.
“Not yet,” I said, scooting away.
“I know,” he said between breaths, rising from the bed. His wiped his forehead with the sleeve of his uniform and returned to the chair. “I can’t…we can’t. We can never…,” he said abruptly. “It’s against protocol. I-I should go.”



About The Author:
Karri’s debut YA novel, Amateur Angel, was released May 1, 2012. The next book in that series, Hollywood Angels, came out September 1, 2013. The first book in her upcoming dystopian trilogy, The Van Winkle Chronicles, will be released by Entangled Publishing Spring 2014.
Website/Blog/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

1 eGalley of MIRROR X International


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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Blog Tour : Interview with Shonna Slayton, author of Cinderella's Dress


Soumi: I’m here with the lovely Shonna Slayton. Hi Shonna, welcome to my blog.

Shonna: Thank you for having me here, Soumi. I love the title of your blog. “Pages From my Thoughts.” I think titles are so important.

Soumi: What was your inspiration behind Cinderella’s Dress?

Shonna: Ha, the title! I saw a picture book by the same name and was captivated by the cover illustration by Jane Dyer. It shows a girl in a ball gown sliding down a banister. My thoughts immediately jumped to Cinderella keeping her dress and passing it down as a family heirloom. (The picture book is actually about the animals making her dress.)

Soumi: Cinderella’s Dress is set during World War II. Would like to tell us tell us about your research process?

Shonna: WWII came into the story after I learned that before the war, department store window dresser were all men. This surprised me because when I was in high school I got to help design windows. Why weren’t women in department stores doing this prior to the 1940s?
These two story threads pulled together and I just had to get the real Cinderella’s dress into a department store window. And where else, but at a high-end department store on Fifth Avenue in New York City?
I wrote the first draft based on the knowledge I already had about WWII just so I could get the basic plot skeleton down. Then I hit the library and read pretty much every WWII book that talked about the home front, especially in New York.
The history books helped fill in some plot holes, and helped form the ending. I wanted the history to be as accurate as I could keep it, so I made sure I had a true event behind almost everything my characters did (not including the bits of fantasy) So, I know the name of the boat the two Polish relatives were on to escape Europe. The band playing the night of the starlight dance was actually playing that night in Central Park. My main character, Kate, meets one of the early women in window design, Cecilia Staples at her actual warehouse. Details like that may go unnoticed for the casual reader, but someone interested in history might look up some of the events to see if they really happened. I think extra details like that make a book fun.

Soumi: In your blog, you have written a post “World War II Books For Teens”, where you have mentioned several fiction and nonfiction books based on WW II. How much these had influenced your writing?

Shonna: These World War II Books for Teens were a great help in keeping balance in my story. The 1940’s were a mix of grave sacrifice and pure joy. Incredible evil and awesome courage. I didn’t want my fairy tale to come off as flippant to the times, but I also didn’t want to mire it down in the darkness of war. Most WWII books bring out the darkness and the courage. Two books, in particular, both memoirs, assured me it was okay to show the joy, too: My Summer at Tiffany, set in 1945 New York, and Hilke’s Diary, which is not as joy-filled, but tells the thoughts of a German girl sent away to a boarding school.

Soumi: If Cinderella’s Dress is optioned for a movie, who would be you dream cast?

Shonna: A movie! Let’s dream, shall we? Well, I’m a debut author. I’ve worked in the shadows for years learning how to write a novel. If my book ever became a movie I’d love to see all new actors get their shot. The ones who are busy now learning their craft, waiting for “the call.” That would be a lot of fun for me to see.

Soumi: One last and fun question. If you were Cinderella herself, what about her story you’d most like to change?

Shonna: My prologue is one of my favourite scenes in the novel, where Cinderella entrusts the dress to the care of her friend and servant, young Nadzia. I would love to write that story—a full-out Cinderella retelling from the eyes of Nadzia, as a prequel to Cinderella’s Dress. Since I never liked the insta-love between the prince and Cinderella, that’s what I would change. Correction, that’s what I will change 




Title: CINDERELLA'S DRESS
Author: Shonna Slayton
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pub. Date: June 3, 2014
Pages: 340
Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

Being seventeen during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dress is even tougher.
Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she's working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dress, life gets complicated.
Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart shipped off to boot camp, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.
After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve.


About The Author: Shonna Slayton finds inspiration in reading vintage diaries written by teens, who despite using different slang, sound a lot like teenagers today. While writing Cinderella’s Dress she reflected on her days as a high-school senior in British Columbia when she convinced her supervisors at a sportswear store to let her design a few windows—it was glorious fun while it lasted. When not writing, Shonna enjoys amaretto lattes and spending time with her husband and children in Arizona. You can visit her website at shonnaslayton.com

Website/Twitter/Goodreads/Pinterest

HURRAH. Now the giveaway time.

1 Signed copy of Cinderella's Dress, an Amber sun pendant set in sterling silver a Tatting shuttle and thread, a dress form ornament and bookmark swag. US Only.



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Don't Forget To Visit Other Tour Stops

Week One:

6/2/2014- Zach's YA Reviews- Review
6/2/2014- Dark Novella- Excerpt
6/3/2014- Angelic Book Reviews- Review
6/3/2014- Pages From My Thoughts- Interview
6/4/2014- YA Book Madness- Review
6/4/2014- The Cover Contessa- Guest Post
6/5/2014- Crossroad Reviews- Review
6/5/2014- Such a Novel Idea- Guest Post
6/6/2014- The NerdHerd Reads- Review
6/6/2014- Fire and Ice- Excerpt

Week Two:

6/9/2014- Racing To Read- Review
6/9/2014- Paranormal Book Club- Interview
6/10/2014- The Phantom Paragrapher- Review
6/10/2014- Addicted Readers- Guest Post
6/11/2014- Creating Serenity- Review
6/11/2014- Every Free Chance Book Reviews- Interview
6/12/2014- Si, Se Puede **link with YA Books Central review- Review
6/12/2014- A Backwards Story- Guest Post
6/13/2014- The YA's Nightstand- Review
6/13/2014- Curling Up With A Good Book- Excerpt

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis


Novel Summary : Amara is never alone. Not when she's protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they're fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she's punished, ordered around, or neglected.

She can't be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he's yanked from his Arizona town into Amara's mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He's spent years as a powerless observer of Amara's life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she's furious.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan's breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they'll have to work together to survive--and discover the truth about their connection.

My Rating : 3 of 5 stars


My Thoughts : Such promises. Such intriguing plot. Otherbound had everything I’d been looking for quite a long time.

Physically disabled leads (Goodness, I’m tired of perfection).

A lead of colour.

Bisexuality.

The book had what should have been an engrossing storyline. A disabled boy from Arizona, Nolan, had power to switch into the mind of a girl every time he blinked, Ammara, from the otherworld, tasked to protect the cursed princess she serves. At first Nolan could see through her eyes, then he learned to take control of her body.

Undoubtedly Ammara was terrified and angry. Now, desperately want to be free from each other, together they embarked a dangerous journey.

-- The plot was trite and had no sense of excitement. And the pacing was slow.

Nolan did nothing but to observe her life from Amara's head, while Amara was actively trying to protect the princess, which includes running from evil Mages, taking an arrow and more running. However, courtesy to Nolan, she blacked out several time during the process, and ended up getting punished. The first third of the book nothing exciting happened beside running, and random actions, which rather slowed down the pace instead of moving it forward. Things happened, risks were taken, and decisions were made. The story had every tool to move the plot forward, but it just stayed stagnant. Such fantasy is expected to have twists and turns, even if they are shocking revelation or given information. In this case, they came way too late.

--I seriously couldn't get a sense of the world building. Random places are mentioned without any background information or details. Different kind of Mages appeared, and again, without any relevant background. Like : Where did they came from? Or, how their power works?
Clearly, I had a very hard time in imagining the secondary world.


--The switching between minds was confusing, because it resulted in a very confusing and drastic change in POVs. In a chapter that should have been from Nolan’s point of view, we were suddenly thrown in Ammara’s and vice-versa. I understand the concept of dual point of view, but this? This is way more puzzling and complicated.

Characters

--Ammara, I felt connected to. She was a mute servant girl, whose tongue was cut out as a child, as a part of her preparation to become a servant. Boy oh boy, she was even branded. One small mistake and she get abused by Jorn—the drunken guardian of the princess. Despite her initial dislike to the princess, Cilla, she never neglected her duty. I was impressed by her sense of loyalty.

The book presented Ammara as bisexual, who was involved with a fellow male servant, and also later attracted towards Cilla. However the LGBTQ element played a very minor role in the story. Ammara grown to care for Cilla, and so did Nolan, but as far as logic suggests, Ammara's interest in Cilla might be the effect of Nolan living in her head.

--Nolan, I felt sympathy for. When he first switched into Ammara’s mind as a child while crossing a road, and as consequence, it cost him his leg. Now, aside from coping with his loss, he slowly leaned to control his ability, and later to take control of Ammara. His connection to Ammara was given a possible scientific explanation, i.e. neurological disorder. Although without further depth into the matter.


I’d suggest to give Otherbound a try, and not to judge it based on my opinion. You may end up liking it.




View all my reviews

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Blog Tour : Scan by Sarah Fine, Walter Jury


Book Summary : Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans.

All Tate knows--like how to make weapons out of oranges and lighter fluid--may not be enough to save him as he’s plunged into a secret inter-species conflict that’s been going on for centuries. Aided only by his girlfriend and his estranged mother, with powerful enemies closing in on all sides, Tate races to puzzle out the secret behind his father’s invention and why so many are willing to kill for it. A riveting, fast-paced adventure, Scan is a clever alien thriller with muscle and heart.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars


My Thoughts : All his life, Tate was raised to be best at everything, which included going through rigorous combat training, and learning tough subjects and languages, so one day he could meet his father’s unreasonably high expectations. And his parents refused to tell him why. But the truth was soon revealed when he broke in his father’s highly secured study and stole one of his inventions. It resulted in a greater repercussion when his school was invaded by ruthless mercenaries, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans.

Scan was exactly the sci-fi thriller I have been waiting for so long—a thrill ride from beginning to end. With science’s intricacies to the depths of relationships, it was a solid and adventurous read for me. I went into Scan expecting actions, but never expected to be barraged with bullets.

Tate was a science genius, expected to follow his scientist father’s footsteps. However navigating through the friction between him and his father had never been easy for him. He chose silent reciprocation as counteract to his father’s lordly decisions. Where some of these moments were frustrating for me, I properly understood the inner tumult he faced. Good part was, his character, to my utter satisfaction, underwent a drastic development by the end of the book.

Overall, credibly authentic, Scan was the beginning of an epic new series.



About The Authors :

Walter Jury was born in London, has a background in the film industry, is a big fan of the New York Giants, and enthusiast of Jamba Juice’s Protein Berry Workout smoothie only with soy, never whey. “Scan” is his first book for teens. Oh, and under his real name, he’s a producer of one of 2014’s biggest blockbusters. Let’s just say he “diverges” in his career from film to literature quite well.

Sarah Fine was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast, where she
lives with her husband and two children. She is the author (as Sarah Fine) of several young adult books, and when she's not
writing, she’s working as a child psychologist. No, she is not psychoanalyzing you right now.

SCAN
By Walter Jury and Sarah Fine
Hardcover, $17.99
eBook, $10.99
ISBN: 978-0399160653
Science Fiction
336 pages
Penguin/G.P. Putnam’s Sons
May 1, 2014




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Monday, 21 April 2014

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales


Book Summary : Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars


My Review : “Sometimes people think they know you. They know a few facts about you, and they piece you together in a way that makes sense to them. And if you don't know yourself very well, you might even believe that they are right. But the truth is, that isn't you. That isn't you at all.”

This Song Will Save Your Life is one of those very few books that engages your interest despite not having unexpected twists and turns, or sword and sorceresses.

In a sense, this particular book has the appeal of a long winter. The prolonged bitter-sweetness that lays the foundations for the different emotions throughout the pages, to live the effects and experience the phenomena same as its characters, to muse and dwell in silence as the lingering aftereffect of reading this book.

Without going into tedious dissection of characters arcs and plot, I will try to delineate my thoughts in simple words.

This Song Will Save Your Life is story of an outcast, who sucks at making friends, who lacks social adequacies. I had never been an outcast in my school, nor was I a star. But despite being surrounded by a small group of faithful friends, I often found myself in a world that refused my presence, always longing for an escape. However, my school life wasn't an exact sketch that of Elise’s, but at some points it was quite similar. While I took my solace in reading, for Elise’s it was DJing.

What I liked about This Song Will Save Your Life is its writing, bestowing an unforgettable level of profound honesty. The author, Leila Sales, is a master craftswoman—her way with words is simply remarkable. Every character she etched in the pages seemed to leap right off in reality. It took me only few minutes to immerse myself into the depth of the story, and after an entire evening, I emerged soaked with muddled sentiments.

And I hope you will too.

Truely. Deeply. Immensely.




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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Half Bad by Sally Green


Summary : In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

My Rating : 3.5 of 5 stars


My Thoughts : "There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so." - William Shakespeare

Set on the backdrop of alternative England, the book is Sally Green’s ingenious take on the old concept of witches and the ever going battle between good and evil. By drawing a distinction between light and dark with great élan, the story is replete with ingredients such as angst and romance and blood and a race against time, and the plot manages to infuse in originality. My only regret is that a book about witches didn't exhibit the flair of magic I had been highly anticipating.

“Niall catches me on the side of the head with the brick and Connor is clinging on to me.
Then I get rammed in my back, which must be with the brick again.
It reverberates down my spine and stops me dead.
I’ve been hammered into the tarmac like a nail.”


In a society of White Witches those are prone to revile Black ones, Nathan is a half-blooded witch locked in a cage, constantly being taunted, tortured and bullied. His only crime was being born to a father who is not only detested by his clan, but the entire White Witch community—an evil Black Witch named Marcus, murderer of hundred. Even Nathan’s elder sister Jessica despises him beyond any measure. Though some of his other siblings, Deborah, and Arran, and his grandmother try to protect him, they can’t really do much in that department. As his 17th birthday draws nearer Nathan must escape to receive three gifts from his father, or else he will die. And his time is running out.

As a main character Nathan is well-drawn and leaves an impact on the reader’s mind. He was successful to hold my concern and sympathy. While reading, I found myself often screaming with rage and desperation for him to stand up against the unjust he was facing.

Thankfully he has a sweet girl—a pure blooded White Witch named Annalise to offer him solace in all his peril.

“Annalise has long blonde hair that glistens like melted white chocolate over her shoulders. She has blue eyes and long pale eyelashes. She smiles a lot, revealing her straight, white teeth. Her hands are impossibly clean, her skin is the color of honey, and her fingernails gleam.”

My objection is with their romance being short. The inadequacy of emotional intimacies in the romance felt very distant to grasp, therefore unreal. I craved for more of Annalise’s involvement in Nathan’s life.However, she made very little appearance in the pages, which wasn't enough to leave an impression. I wanted her to grow as an individual character rather than the girl Nathan fancies.

In a hidden world of witches that discriminates between Black and White Witches, where violence collides with love and destinies are drawn in blood, I expected an environment strikingly extravagant, blended with fiery spells and evocative magic, and what I got was rather simplistic. The central story being largely focused on Nathan and his quest and how he is being abused (which drags halfway across the book), provides a very little background information despite the occasional stories of Witches and Hunters we stumbled upon.

Also, in my opinion, another drawback was the slow pacing. With such interesting premise the story ought to have been a gruesome, fast-moving and action-packed thriller, but I found myself yawning very often. For the first half of the story nothing happened except Nathan being tortured and making plans. And the second half also fizzles out after a good start.

However, after that ending (where a character from Nathan’s past made an unexpected reappearance) I'm really curious to find more in Half Mad.




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