Saturday, December 31, 2011

Shadow Heir, by Richelle Mead




Release date: December 27th 2011
Published by: Zebra
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 2/5 stars


This review has spoilers of Shadow Heir. If you have not read this book and don't wish to know anything before doing it, please don't continue reading this. 






#1 New York Times bestselling author Richelle Mead returns to the Otherworld, a mystic land inextricably linked to our own--and balanced precariously on one woman's desperate courage...

Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born-children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld...

The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't--or won't--reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon--and risk the ultimate sacrifice.



My thoughts:

I can’t believe I’m giving 2 stars to one of my favorite series (and favorite author). Richelle Mead’s previous series, Georgina Kincaid, and Vampire Academy, were fantastic, but just like this one, the final book let me down. The only difference, though, is the level of disappointment. I was so angry, frustrated and sad at the end of this book that I almost cried.

Eugenie Markham, after 4 books and plenty of adventures, fights, etc etc, still managed to act like a teenager sometimes. And yes, I get it that Richelle Mead wanted her main character to feel and act like a human, and have flaws, but to me, she just looked immature. Most of the time, I don’t really bother with this particular characteristic of the main character, but oh, this got on my nerves as the book progressed.

To be quite honest, I didn’t notice much development in the characters throughout the series except, maybe, Jasmine and Dorian. They were awesome, especially in Shadow Heir. Dorian simply made his feelings and wishes pretty clear, putting aside his greed for power. I loved him for it.

But one huge disappointment is the plot itself. Or maybe I should ask, what plot? Shadow Heir didn’t feel like a final book. First, there’s a villain that didn’t add anything to the story, let alone help conclude it. It was obvious who this villain was since the beginning, and their whole journey to stop this evil, evil character was just unnecessary. There were so many other things that Richelle Mead could’ve explored in Shadow Heir, and a new issue with the seasons in the Otherworld is not one of them. The bigger things, like the Storm King’s prophecy and consequences in the human world, and her own fate regarding whether she’d choose one world or the other, was simply put aside.

Yes, Eugenie’s pregnancy did play a big role, and I enjoyed it, mostly because Eugenie’s feelings about her children were so raw and real, it was obvious the author was putting her own thoughts there, since she just had a baby. But after that was resolved, everything was so rushed I felt lost. If Shadow Heir were two books instead of one (and I know that at first, it was supposed to be), things could’ve get worked out a lot better. There were so many things thrown at us just to finish the series and wrap everything up, that it all felt convenient.

I was particularly anxious to see how the Storm King’s prophecy would be dealt with. And, big surprise, there was a hell of a twist in the end, that just solved the problem for Eugenie. But that’s not all. Another big discovery in the very end, and the paternity problem was also resolved. A little convenient, it seemed.

Like I said, there was so much in this book going on, and in the end, I had the feeling nothing had changed at all. Prophecy, a new villain, the babies, personal issues, the romance developing, character growth… it’s too much for just, what, 350 pages? And when I finished Shadow Heir, I just sat there, on my bed, at 3 o’clock in the morning, thinking, what?

By all of this, my frustration is perfectly justified, right?

No, it’s not, because the part that actually bothered me and drove me over to the edge was the ending. Even now, I can feel my blood boiling in anger. How, oh GOD, did my favorite series came down to this? One of the big discoveries in the end left me so happy I almost began to cry in joy. And then, in the next chapter, I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

Eugenie, my dear, you find out that the bloody fox was actually lying about being the father of your children, and reveal that, actually, Dorian is Ivy and Isaac’s dad, and you decide not to tell him that? You decide to hide this from him, because, according to you, it’s safer for the kids if they don’t live in the Otherworld?

Oh, please, please, don’t do this. This decision, this particular and peculiar decision, angered me so much I almost stopped reading right there. Not two chapters ago, Eugenie was thinking about how her relationship with Dorian could be rebuilt, how she wanted to trust him, and base the aforementioned relationship on love and trust… and then she does this? It’s hypocrite, it’s ridiculous!

First of all, she made this decision alone, because she thought that telling Dorian he had kids would result in a very protective father trying to stay with his children in the Otherworld. And, even though Dorian would lift a city and do anything to protect Ivy and Isaac, it’d still be dangerous for them. Of course he would want to protect his own children! This is the man whose biggest dream is being a father and, let’s not forget, with Eugenie at his side. And yet, she hides this from him?

Again I say, hypocrite! This is the world’s worst decision ever made. It couldn’t disappoint me more. I remember I almost burst in tears when that old woman revealed Eugenie’s pregnancy in Dorian’s castle, and Dorian couldn’t even breathe, thinking her children was his. And how, over and over, he said to her that it would mean the world to him if Eugenie was the mother of his children. And then, in Shadow Heir, Eugenie just decides to hide it from him?

Dorian deserved to know. He deserved to have these kids, to be a father, because he gave everything to Eugenie, and in return, she kept Ivy and Isaac from him. After everything he endured for her, after their talk about trust and love, she still made this decision alone. Dorian had the right to know, he had the right to decide along with her if Ivy and Isaac were better off in the Otherworld or in the human world. And let me be honest here: With two monarchs as powerful as Dorian and Eugenie, and three kingdoms, I think Ivy and Isaac would have a lot of protection. And oh, it would've been so beautiful, so heart-warming if Dorian knew. Can you imagine his reaction to this revelation? Knowing that his biggest dream has become true? I can, and again, I want to cry for this not happening.

The fact that one of my favorite characters ever came down to this broke my heart, along with the fact that Dorian was kept in the dark, and the ones who deserved to die, or at least get their asses kicked (ahem, the fox and the bitchy queen) just went away, without a single hair out of place.

Richelle Mead has disappointed and frustrated me before. But never like this. And I’ve never felt this awful after reading one of her novels. Even now, I want to cry and scream my frustration. I just can’t believe Dark Swan’s final book was such a disappointment. I think a lot of people will love this book, but I just didn't. All I have now is the hope that Bloodlines won’t be as messed up as this series. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Drink, Slay, Love, by Sarah Beth Durst



Release date: September 13th 2011
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars













Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire... fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops.

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King's feast -- as the entrees.

The only problem? Pearl's starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she's definitely dead if she lets down her family. What's a sunlight-loving vamp to do?


My thoughts:

Drink, Slay, Love attracted me by its cover – that is, until I read the synopsis. The concept of a vampire going to High School intending to lead all the students to a slaughter was way too interesting and, after shopping in Amazon – thank God for Kindle for Android – I was happily reading the book.

The main character, Pearl, is awesome in a level of awesomeness you don’t see much. She’s not a wimpy girl who falls in love with a vampire and looses the 1% of personality that she had. Oh, no, Pearl is the vampire, the predator, and seeing things through her point of view was fascinating at worst and mind-blowing at best. Humans are sheep, dinner, bags of blood not worthy of Pearl’s time, except for when she’s hungry. She doesn’t care if they get sick after being bitten, about their lives… until she’s stabbed in the heart by a unicorn.

After that, things go straight to hell for Pearl. She’s able to walk in the sunlight, and – big surprise – she starts to develop a conscience. But it doesn’t take too long for her Family to use her “gifts” to their own advantage. Pearl is supposed to go to High School, befriend the humans, and lead them straight to the Fealty Ceremony, a ball in which the King of the vampires will attend, and is expecting a big feast (her new classmates being the steak).

But killing is a lot easier when you don’t know your prey, and as Pearl begins to infiltrate in the human world, her new conscience rises and makes her feel guilty about what she has to do. Feeling more like a human each day, Peal has to balance the importance of Family and of friends, and think about her morals, her previous way of life, and if humans are really just food.

Pearl’s sense of humor and constant sarcasm was enough to make me laugh at every dialogue. Her inexperience with humans and their habits were hilarious and really well developed. I just loved Pearl as a vampire and as vampire-with-a-conscience. It’s simply fantastic to see a born predator starting to feel remorse and regret over her victims, like a lion afraid to slaughter the sheep.

Aside from that, the secondary characters were fantastic, both humans and vampires. Pearl’s friends in high school and her Family made her double personality, so to speak, even more enjoyable. One character that I particularly liked was Evan. As a romance lover (
how ironic does that sound? xD), Evan was the perfect match for Pearl. His hero complex and sweetness made me swoon at the pages, but even with his charms being unleashed, Pearl still wore her sarcastic and indifferent mask.

However, the ending left me slightly disappointed. Not that it was bad, but I wanted one more chapter, at least, just to make things clearer about Pearl’s future. But then, maybe this sense of incompleteness is intentional, to make the readers wonder where Ms. Snarky will get herself into next.

Even the POV of a predator didn’t stop this book from being cute. Drink, Slay, Love is perfect for those who wish to take a break from clichés and go deep into a light and snarky story. Highly recommended.
 

Clockwork Prince, by Cassandra Clare

 



Release date: December 6th 2011
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars











In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

My thoughts:

I was so desperate and anxious to read Clockwork Prince, that I bought the book immediately after I finished Clockwork Angel. And, big surprise, Cassandra Clare destroyed me. Again. I thought after The Mortal Instruments and Hard Bitten, my heart wouldn’t break again in 2011. Man, I was wrong. It seems I have yet to cry over a book before this year is over.

Spoilers are evil little worms, so this review will have none. That said, I’ll not reveal much about the plot, just what I thought about the characters and the book in general. Clockwork Prince did not fall into the second-book curse – if you’re not familiar with that term, it’s when the second book in a series is not as good as the first one, and you get slightly (or hugely) disappointed. Gladly, I can say that Cassandra Clare is free of this curse.

In Clockwork Prince, we get to know the characters a lot more deeply than in the first one. Will’s big mystery is revealed – it didn’t surprise me, I had something similar in mind when this issue was addressed in Clockwork Angel – and, finally, Jem’s mask of calm and assurance slips throughout the plot. I loved how we, readers, got to know Jem a lot better, and understand more of his disease, and how he feels about Will and the parabatai bond. As always, their relationship is awesome ^-^

Tessa surprised me (in a good way) when her relationship with both boys began to develop. I liked how she was mature and human when her feelings were concerned, but at the end, managed to make the right choice. Aside from that, Charlotte and Henry were so adorable and heart-warming, I found myself smiling and cheering for them to get over the Institute problems, and personal ones. They’re so perfect for each other, and the author, as always, pulled me into the book not just with the “love interests” and romance, but with the secondary characters as well.

And I’m sorry, but I can’t end this review without freaking out about the ending. What the hell? Why does this always happen in Cassandra Clare’s books? Can someone answer me that? Somehow, something happens to the characters that breaks our hearts.



And just like I said before, I loved how Tessa and Will handled this situation, but even then, I felt hurt not just for them, but Jem as well. I adore both boys, and I hope they get their HEA, either with or without Tessa.

If what I said in this review is not enough, then here it is: Clockwork Prince is fantastic, and I would give it 253641 millions of stars if I could. Yes, the ending broke my heart and made me desperate for Clockwork Princess, but the book was well worth it. This series is a must-read.
 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare




Release date: August 31st 2010
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars












Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.


My thoughts:

I’m a big fan of Cassandra Clare previous’ series, The Mortal Instruments. I absolutely love Jace, Clary, and all the characters, and the setting as well. I expected Clockwork Angel to be even better than TMI – everybody seems to think that it is – and I can say that yes, Clockwork Angel is, indeed, better than the Mortal Instruments.

The Victorian Era is stunning, right? Add Shadowhunters and demons in it, and you get an enchanting and mysterious setting. It’s fantastic to see how Shadowhunters behaved and talked and fought demons at that time. Truly, that alone would be enough to justify this 5-star rating.

But, of course, that’s not all. The characters in this series are as wonderful and infuriating as ever. Tessa is a mundane that found out she’s powerful – with the ability to shape-change, she can basically turn into any person with simply a personal object. This ability has not been introduced before, and I love how, even after reading 4 books, the world created by Cassandra Clare can still impress readers. I also like how Tessa, without fighting skills, can still trick and fight her enemies when necessary. She surprised me a lot of times. You go, girl \o

And I’ll be honest. I don’t know how Cassandra Clare creates such tormented, twisted and confused characters, and still manage to make us fall in love with them. Yes, this complex and infuriating person I’m talking about is the love interest – one of them, actually. Will Herondale – the famous Will – made me want to cry and scream in frustration. His love for Tessa is so obvious at some points, and yet, he insists in being crude and rude to everyone around him. I have a vague theory about his past, but I’m not sure yet. I hope Clockwork Prince will answer some questions about Will. But impolite behavior aside, his sense of humor and personality was one of the best elements of this book. Will’s just that awesome.

Jem is another lovely character. He’s so sweet, and his relationship with Will – the way they cared about each other like brothers – was heart-warming. It’s always interesting to see a relationship that doesn’t quite involve the main character being developed along with the plot. Cassandra Clare is a master in dealing with all the characters at once, both main and secondary ones, and at the end, wrap all that up and end the book with you longing for me.

Clockwork Angel being this good is not a surprise. I really thought it would be perfection. And now, I just can’t get enough of this series. Right after I was done with Clockwork Angel, I bought the Clockwork Prince ebook – desperately, actually – and started reading it on Christmas eve. Yes, I’m that much of a bookworm.

If you loved the Mortal Instruments, and are curious about this series, go for it. And if you don’t like TMI or have not read it yet, go for it, as well. This series deserves a million stars – a captivating setting, wonderful and complex writing, and an ending that will break your heart.

Ps: I still don't understand how Tessa hates chocolate. Just thinking of it makes me hungry. :3  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Double Clutch, by Liz Reinhardt



Release date: September 28th 2011
Published by: CreateSpace
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 2.5/5 stars













What happens when you fall for the perfect guy...twice...in one day?

Brenna Blixen spent her freshman year homeschooling in Denmark; now that she's back in the States, she's determined to make her sophomore year unforgettable. And by unforgettable, she imagined awesome classes, fun friendships, and maybe a little romance.

What she got was a whole lot of romance, and all at once.

The same day that dark, brooding Saxon Maclean charmed her with his killer good looks and whip-smart wit, Jake Kelly stole her breath away with his heart-wrenching smile and intelligent, thoughtful focus.

But Saxon is a proud player who makes it clear that he doesn't know why he can't get Brenna off of his mind and out of his system, and Jake's sweet and humble attitude hides a secret past life that might be darker and more complex than Brenna is willing to deal with.

Complicating the matter is the fact that Saxon and Jake were once best friends and are now arch-enemies...and the more Brenna finds out about their connection to each other, the more intrigued and worried she becomes.

Between keeping the peace with her lovingly over-protective parents, designing t-shirts for her high school's rising punk band, keeping up her grades in classes split between academic and technical high school, and running the track like a maniac, Brenna has enough to worry about with out juggling two guys who make her heart thud and drive her crazy all at once.

She has to make a choice, but how is she supposed to do that when giving her heart to one of them might mean breaking the other's?


My thoughts:

Beware: This book has a confusing love triangle. If you love those, and want to be torn between two guys, this is the right book for you xD

Ok, now humor aside, Double Clutch was a funny, (hot), and quick read. Brenna Blixen is one of those characters with a personality that’s 50% sarcasm, and 50% cuteness and cleverness. Love triangles are often dealt with pretty ridiculously. How many times did you read a book about a girl who doesn’t have anything smart, intelligent, funny, cute, or lovely in her, and all of a sudden, two guys are falling all over her? And you just don’t understand why she’s treated like a Greek goddess by, not just one, but two boys? Well, with me, that happens a lot, and it makes me really mad.

But in Double Clutch, I could actually see why Saxon and Jake liked Brenna. She’s just beautiful, both on personality and, according to the guys, on appearance. What really bothered me is that I couldn’t connect with her throughout the book, not in the way I wanted to. And that’s lame, because Brenna’s such an adorable girl, and I really wanted to know her better.

The same happened with the love interests. Saxon, the bad boy that every girl desires, and Jake, the sweet, hard-working boy with a mysterious past. That sure sounds interesting, but as the story progressed, I didn’t feel much about either of them. I just didn’t care if Brenna was with Jake or Saxon. Even though I like Saxon better – his honesty was one of the most admirable things in him, and I just loved his sense of him – I didn’t really cheer for him. Jake and Saxon were just there, Brenna felt things for both of them, and that’s the end of it.

I admit, though, that Brenna’s background was well defined. The author wrapped all the things that happened to her up, and her friends, family, and colleagues had a story and plot of their own. I hate it when everything in the world happens around the main character and her love interest. It’s just boring and unrealistic. In Double Clutch, Brenna’s life is well balanced, and it felt real and common.

I don’t know if the ebook I bought had some kind of error or something, but I found a lot of grammar mistakes in it, and yes, they bothered me. And some sentences were so confusing I had to re-read it three times to understand, and some of them I just don’t know what the author meant.

“The top shelf is new stuff on the right and stuff I feel like I really should read, but haven’t gotten around to reading, on the left.” Please, did anyone understand this? I… I just can’t!

The plot was a little predictable – especially when the synopsis gave away what the drama was about between Saxon and Jake. I would have enjoyed the book more if this little thing was a surprise, instead of something we knew just by reading the synopsis.

Double Clutch was, indeed, a very good book, but some things about it really didn’t work for me. Yes, I loved the dialogues and background and all of that, but the writing, plot, and main characters didn’t really please me. I may re-read this next year, though. I want to give this book another chance.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Angelfire, by Courtney Allison Moulton



Release date: February 15th 2011
Published by: HarperCollins / Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars












First there are nightmares.
Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.
When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie's power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie's memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.
Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.


My thoughts:

I read this book back in February, but recently -- after Shattered Souls, that is -- I was really curious to read it again. Basically, I wanted to see if, after so long, I would still feel the same about Angelfire. If I would still love the characters and everything, or if Shattered Souls had me look at it in a different way. I must say, even after re-reading it, my feelings for this book are the same. 

There's someting in Angelfire that is completely appealing to me -- the characters. So, there's Ellie, the main character, a sixteen-year-old girl who's mostly normal until she turns seventeen. She has nightmares every night, of horrible creatures and monsters that hunt her down. And then she meets Will, and when that happens, Ellie finds out that her nightmares were not of her own making. They're memories. 


Ellie is the Preliator, a warrior that kills the demonic reapers that walk in the Earth, preying on human souls. The reapers' goal is to recrute souls to Lucifer's army, so there can be the Apocalypse. To stop those monsters from achieving their goal, Ellie has Will, her Protector, who, throughout the centuries, has looked over her and protected her, aiding her in battle. Everytime she dies, Ellie's soul is reincarnated, and at the age of seventeen, her powers are "awakened" by Will, so that she can fight again.


Honestly, I have nothing against Ellie. She's just a nice girl, and even though her actions sometimes disappointed me, I liked the way she handled situations, most of the time. Another great point in Angelfire is that Ellie doesn't take long to accept what she is. Oh, of course, meeting a guy that claims to be your Protector, and that you must fight demonic creatures with your swords is a pretty heavy thing to accept, but her memories - and her soul - prove it all to be true. 

I loved it that she accepted what she is exactly when the time was right. The book isn't all about Ellie's ridiculous temper and lack of conscience in seeing what was right in front of her eyes. Yes, she doubted Will, but when everything was right there for her to see, and there was no denying it, she could see in her soul that she really was the Preliator. 


Will... oh, one of my biggest crushes. He's a perfect character, and not the ridiculous kind of perfect. I mean the kind of perfect that made me truly feel for him, what he had to do, and what he had to endure everytime Ellie died in his hands. His devotion to her was one of the most beautiful things in this book. The way Will took care of Ellie, not just protecting her in battle, but also looking out for her, making sure she smiled as much as possible, was touching. I loved him for it. 


The bond between him and Ellie is heart-warming. And so is the romance, but you know why? The author didn't throw the romance at the plot and just made them fall in love out of nowhere. Oh, no. First, we get to see how much they're connected, how they are in sync with each other. The narration, even the slightest detail in it, made me sigh a lot of times. Will is Ellie's best friend, brother, partner, and the only constant in all of her lifes. Even dying again and again through the centuries, Will is the only person that is still by her side. And after showing us the depth of this amazing bond, the romance is slowly developed. It was amazing. The love between them was like an extension of the already-formed bond between Ellie and Will, and yes, it was wrong, but it felt so right


I found the plot and the way the things went pretty interesting. The reapers were like bogeymen, and I enjoyed the fight scenes. The writing was... okay, though the author sometimes repeated a lot of words in the same chapters. Nothing that would bother the reading, just an observation. I liked the pace of the story, how it was really fast sometimes and in others, slow enough to know what the other charactes in the room were feeling. Also, the secondary characters were really good, as well. Though I would like to know more about Ellie's father and Nathaniel, it was detailed enough. 


Throughout all of this, I must say that Angelfire is one of those books that pleased me as much as possible. I loved the characters, the romance, the mythology in it.... one of my favorite. I recommend it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fateful, by Claudia Gray




Release date: September 13th 2011
Published by: Harper Collins Children's Books
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars












In Fateful, eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, overbearing family she works for. Once the ship they’re sailing on reaches the United States, she’ll strike out on her own. Then she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets....

Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves are real and they’re stalking him—and now Tess, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over. 


My thoughts:

I'd set eyes on this book quite a while ago, but was brave enough to read it months after its release. Oh, well. I'm still hesitant about certain things, and Fateful was on the list. Titanic is my favorite movie ever, paranormal is my favorite genre, romance is my favorite part of a book, and the beggining of the 20th century is a fascinating setting. So my expectations were super high. This book had to be epic and completely breath-taking for me. And it was. 


First, there're the main characteres. Tess is a servant, a sweet girl whose goal is to leave the family she's currently working for, and search a new way of life in America. And for that to become true, she must go on the Titanic. You see, Claudia Gray manages to balance strength and vulnerability perfectly in a character, and Tess was no exception. She’s so caring, polite, and knows her place in society, even if she’s trying to change her position. But at the same time, she’s one of the strongest girls I’ve ever seen. Many times, I was proud of her actions, and urged her to continue having this amazing personality.

Alec is a different matter altogether. He’s a man tormented by the moonlight curse. Being a werewolf is such a heavy burden to carry, and even though he has his father to lean on, Alec still has to struggle every day with himself and people around him. Keeping the beast contained, physically and emotionally, weakens him in spirit, and it was a relief both to him and me when he met Tess. The circumstances weren’t the best – after all, Tess was being chased by the same werewolf, Mikhail, that’s been chasing him – but it was good to see him getting better.

I loved both Tess and Alec, and my heart flipped when the romance erupted. I loved how their love for each other gave them something else to fight for, a reason to keep going, even though it was impossible for them to be together – Alec fighting the best within him, and Tess working harder to achieve her dreams. All that while doing their best to survive Mikhail, whose threats were a constant blow.

Speaking of Mikhail, he’s one of those villains that I wanted to kill with my bare hands. The man was pure evil, and I forgot how to breathe every time he tried to hurt Tess or Alec, in any way.

But that’s not all there is to love in Fateful. The setting of this story was fantastically described, and while reading Claudia Gray’s details about the Titanic, I kept remembering about the movie. This may sound crazy, but I was half expecting for Tessie to meet a guy called Jack, in third class o.O

Aside from the setting, the writing was epic. Of course, being a historical fiction, the English is old-fashioned. I’m not used to this kind of language, having read just one historical fiction before (Haunting Violet, which was pretty good, too). So, I was fascinated by the way people spoke and used my favorite language.

This is a spoiler-free review, but I can’t help but talk about the ending. Every time I watch Titanic, I cry and sob at the ending. I still can’t believe Jack dies, even though I’ve watched this movie, like, a hundred times. Fateful broke my heart just as much in the end. And when I thought everything was over, bang! An enormous surprise. And then, right after that, bang! Another huge surprise. And a wonderful one, that is. I literally jumped on the couch and my face broke into a huge smile as I was reading it. Thank you, Claudia Gray, for not killing one of most amazing main characters I’ve ever met. I owe you one.

Fateful was a roller-coaster of emotions. Fascination for the setting and writing, love for the romance and the characters, and finally, an ending that will leave you breathless. If you’re a paranormal fan, read it. If you’re a romance fan, read it. If you’re a historical fiction fan, read it. You won’t regret it. I know I didn’t.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Starcrossed, by Josephine Angelini





Release date: May 31st 2011

Published by: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars











How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

My thoughts:

I can’t believe it took me months to read this book. I was so hesitant to pick it up, and with no reason. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Starcrossed was one of those books that I so ought to hate, but for some reason, I didn’t. Quite the contrary, it was pleasant and frustrating in a good way.



Mythology is always a good subject in books, and it was beautifully dealt with in Starcrossed. I didn’t expect Helen to be a demigod – actually, I had read the synopsis before, but it was so long ago I’d forgotten it. So, I started reading it without a clue, except that the book was about Greek mythology. Some things I really liked – the demigod’s powers and abilities, for once, were fantastic. But the writing was confusing at some points, and I had to return a few pages to understand what they were talking about. As the story progressed, I eventually comprehended the story of the Four Houses better.



Helen was… an interesting character. I wouldn’t say she’s perfect or badass, but I also wouldn’t call her a moron. Helen’s just a great girl, she’s funny and sarcastic and hesitant about her feelings. But she was also so naïve sometimes – that cute, funny way of being naïve, that made me laugh along with Lucas.



Ah, Lucas. What can I say about him, except that I loved him? He is, you can probably guess, the most handsome boy Helen has ever seen. But then, no big surprise there – YA heroes usually are this handsome. What really pulled me into this book and made Lucas seem so attractive to me was his personality. He was a demigod, but felt and demonstrated his feelings like a human. He was honest and sarcastic, but protective, supportive and cute at the same time.



A good romance, for me, has to work like this: I must love each character separately first, so I can love them together when the romance blossoms later. I loved Helen as a main character, the way she thought and did things. And later, I fell in love in Lucas, just like her. So, the romance was so sweet and well-written, in my opinion. True, there weren’t any hot scenes in it, but when the romance is good, there’s no need for those things to happen. Oh, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy some great make-out scenes, but Helen and Lucas’ relationship was so well-built that I was satisfied with the dialogues and tension between them.



The plot was, indeed, very complex, and there was so much going on that I had to take a few breaks, just to organize things in my head. But even with those breaks, I read Starcrossed in less than two days. When I was doing something else, like cleaning the house, my thoughts drifted back to the book.



The only thing that disappointed me was the way things were left off at the end. I just thought Lucas and Helen would be smarter and, you know, realize what was actually happening. But this particular frustration was overpowered by all the other parts of the book that I loved, so I didn’t pay much attention to it.  



Starcrossed was a very interesting book, with fascinating mythology and captivating characters. I’ll definitely continue reading this series. I have a feeling it’ll only get better. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Shattered Souls, by Mary Lindsey




Release date: December 8th 2011
Published by: Philomel
Genre: Young-Adult
Rating: 2/5 stars













A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny and danger

Lenzi hears voices and has visions - gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she's a reincarnated Speaker - someone who can talk to and help lost souls - and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.


My thoughts:

I had this in my TBR list a long time ago. And honestly, I thought this book would be epic, but it wasn't. It left me with a strange feeling after I was done reading it. There were a lot of things that I didn't like in Shattered Souls. Let's go to those first:

-- The main characters were superficial, and the author tried to make them feel deeply, which felt forced to me. Lenzi seemed a great protagonist at first, and then her choices and thoughts made me want to throw the book across the room. She was one of those girls that didn't think before doing something.
Alden was so... strange, I couldn't get a clear picture of him in my head. He was open-minded, and the next second, he was wimpy and full of remorse. HIs personality wasn't solid, like the author couldn't decide wether he'd be tough or not. And since I couldn't get a clear picture, he didn't seem so "hot" to me.

-- The romance was badly developed. Lenzi had a boyfriend, Zak, who was totally cute and suporting and caring at the beggining. She loved him with all of her heart. According to her (and I quote): "He was the only thing anchoring me to reality". And then, in a matter of days (or chapters, in this case), Zak turned into and asshole, possessive and pathetic.
It felt like Zak was there just to make things complicated between Alden and Lenzi. Just to create some sorte of love triangle that, by the way, didn't work. Since the moment Lenzi first saw Alden, it was obvious she'd choose him. Their eyes met, she thought he was one of her hallucinations, but when they touched, electricity flared between them. I swear, when this happened, I knew the romance wouldn't work for me.
Oh, and after that, Lenzi's heart didn't give a damn about Zak. She was always thinking about Alden.
But that's not the worst part. You see, Lenzi is supposed to help "spirits" (or you could say "ghosts") resolve their unfinished bussiness, and Alden is her Protector. He has been with her for many cycles, and they'd fallen in love in past lives.
Lenzi fell in love with him again, of course, but he didn't want a romantic relationship. You'd think she would back off, get hurt by his words? That's not what happened. She begged to stay with him. She begged for a kiss. Lenzi practically threw herself at Alden when she could, and tried to kiss him a lot of times. I wanted to bitch-slap her and scream "What is wrong with you?! Have some self-respect!" Honestly, what's going on with YA heroines?


-- There are a lot of similarities between Shattered Souls and Angelfire, and they were so obvious to me I have to pinpoint them in this review:
Girl who thinks she's crazy, but actually have a propose on Earth: Check.
The girl has a hot Protector: Check.
They had fallen in love before, and this love surfaces again: Check.
Recycled souls: Check.
The girl takes more time than usual to come back, and when she does. she has no memory of past lives: Check.
This amnesia has never, ever happened before: Check.
The boy doesn't want a relationship, but she insists: Check.
I could go on and on with this list, but anyway, that's my point. The difference between those books is the propose of the girl and the Protector. Honestly, Alden even introduces Lenzi to a couple of friends who have known her for, like, a century (just like Will does to Ellie). This really bothered me.

-- Stupid decisions. And I don't say this lightly. Some decisions that Lenzi and Alden took just made me take a deep breath and think "Ok, Bia, calm down, this is just a book".
You're fighting a demon who's possessing a child, and you have a good plan. Then, all of a sudden, you blow it all up, and take a shot at taking the demon down because you're tired of being haunted by him? And you do this knowing that your Protector is not at full strenght? You've gotta be kidding me. No, you don't blow the plan up, you hold yourself together and do what needs to be done. What Lenzi did seriously disappointed me. Her soul is old, she's supposed to be this awesome Speaker who have helped a lot of people, and she's upset and pissed because oh, she's not good enought for Alden. After all, she has to be a badass Speaker not because of thousands of souls that want peace, but because her love life is confused. Of course.

I must admit I think Smith's a fascinating character and villian, but his motivations could've been explored more deeply. And him hunting Lenzi down was an issue addressed like, on the second half of the book. Most of it is just Lenzi fighting against who she is and what she is supposed to be, and Alden trying to convince her.

It's good to get this frustration out of me. Seriously, this is a 2-star rating because even though the plot and characters disappointed me, the writing and level of sarcasm in dialogues did not.

Even the ending of the book didn't please me completely. It left me hanging, and not in a good way. It didn't feel like an ending nor a cliffhanger. Talk about a confusing last chapter. I'm not saying that Shattered Souls is a complete waste of time and I hated it. Not at all. I did enjoy some things, but the main factors, the ones would actually pull me into the story, didn't seem so great and appealing to me. I know a lot of people will love this book, though.

But, please, YA authors, stop creating superficial characters and girls with no sense and conscience. This genre isn't about cheesy romance where one can't live without the other. It's about knowing that, even if you are young, you can fight for what you want, and kick some butt.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Catching Jordan, by Miranda Kenneally




Release date: December 1st 2011
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult
Adult: 5/5 stars












What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though - she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team... and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.

My thoughts:

Ah, finally a break. I've been reading paranormal for months, and I was just tired. I needed something light, funny, and sweet. Something like Catching Jordan.
This is the second contemporary novel I've read, aside from Anna and the French Kiss, and it's so nice to read something that doesn't envolve otherwordly creatures, vampires, ghouls, magic, etc etc. Just dialogues and characters that could really be true.

Jordan is different from most girls. She loves to play football, it is basically her life, and she doesn't really care about shoppings and make-ups. Her big dream is to go to Alabama and study there, while playing at their team. Right after I checked the summary out, I thought "the author must be really talented to write something like this. The issues that Jordan would have to deal with would be huge". And it didn't disappoint me. Jordan's issues were, indeed, huge. A girl playing football and being the QB is unusual, to say the least, and she has a bunch of people disrespecting her, sexist men, and awful cheerleaders constantly trying to get a rise out of her. I'd say her problems are just like a teenager's, if you multiply that for 10.

Aside from that, she spends most of her time with her friends. But being the QB and not being into girly stuff does not do wonders for Jordan's friendships. That is, she has mostly boys as friends.

But when Tyler Green steps into her field for the first time, Jordan feels that sparkle of interest. The new kid is hot, and makes football look easy. When Jordan starts to fall for him, you can only imagine how confusing her mind is. She's never dealed with this kind of thing, it's all new to her.

But Jordan is a tough girl, and fights her feelings and desires for Ty as much as possible. It's nice to see a girl who doesn't have lady-manners, who punches a guy in the gut if he says something about her, and is just nice. That's the world I'd use to describe Jordan. Football isn't a girly sport, and even though her father doesn't support her, she's falling apart because of her feelings, and there's a lot of sexist men not giving a crap about her choices, she still goes ahead and fights for her dream.

Henry, her best friend in the world, is reason I put this book in the "crush-worthy-guys" shelf, on Goodreads. He's sweet, funny, sarcastic, and cares a lot about Jordan. Honestly, I don't know how Jordan didn't realize Henry liked her. It was SO obvious to me. Like, right there, in front of her face. I've nothing against Tyler, but throughout the book, a sense of dislike and annoyance kept growing in me, until I couldn't stand the guy. Yes, he's supposed to be the perfect boyfriend and all, but Henry won my heart over since the first chapter. Sorry, Green. Henry just kicks your ass xD


The ending was sweet and it felt right. I really loved this book -- it was a fun, light, romantic read. One that brought a smile to my face as I was reading the last page. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi



Release date: November 15th 2011
Published by: Harper/HarperCollins
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars












Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.


My thoughts:

Oh, this review is going to be tough. So, I'll give it my best shot. It's always hard to write reviews of books that I absolutely loved - and Shatter Me is no exception. I didn't think I would feel so connected to this story, to its characters. I never thought I would love Juliette so much as a protagonist.
 

I said before in one of my reviews that when the main character is... broken, it adds a different element to the book. The narration fits the protagonist's thoughts, so the writing is messed-up (in a good way) and confusing. I love that. But with Shatter Me, it was quite different. It had, of course, this strange messed-up style, but it was, at the same time, so beautiful. English is not my first language, and Tahereh Mafi's writing completely enchanted me. The metaphors that she used to describe situations and feelings were heart-warming. I took more time than usual to read this book, but not because I couldn't connect with it -- I was savoring the writing. It's so beautiful (there isn't another word to describe it) that I may actually re-read Shatter Me just to have this experience all over again.
 

And with the wonderful writing, came Juliette. She's so broken, after so many years without touching another human-being, after spending her whole life believing she's some sort of monster, who can't touch without hurting and killing. It was a knife in my heart every time she suffered and remembered how nobody acknowlegded her existence as a person without assimilating the word freak. She hasn't even looked at the mirror for years, afraid of what may stare back at her. And yet, she stares at the world around her without malice. Even after everything that has happened to her, Juliette doesn't seek revenge.
 

The Reestablishment has taken over, Earth is dying, people are dying of hunger and poverty, and yet, Juliette sees the world differently. She can see the good in it, even if it's bursting with darkness. She can imagine if the birds are flying outside her cell, even if the clouds are not the same anymore. That said, Juliette is a remarkable character in the YA literature.
 

And she's not the only one that's so throughly complex.
 

Adam (the famous Adam, whom so many reviews have talked about) is perfect. And not perfect in a disturbing, strange, Edward-Cullen, impossible kind of perfect. I'm talking about a human kind of perfect. Since they were kids, Adam was able to fully see who Juliette was. He had a lot of problems himself, mostly with his dad, and he could comprehend how Juliette was not a psycho. How she helped someone who needed it, even after being treated like dirt by a lot of people.
 

Adam wants to bring out the best of Juliette. He can see how good she is, despite her touch being lethal. He's afraid of many things, and he doesn't hide who he is, not really. I love that about him. Adam is not perfect, and yet, even with flaws, he tries to do the best he can with what he has. It's normal to find a super-confident badass love interest in YA literature nowadays, and mostly, I don't have a problem with this kind of guys. But Adam is so much more interesting than that.
 

Adam and Juliette complete each other. They can wake up and do what needs to be done because they know that, even with her touch being able to kill a person, and him not being perfect, they can work it out. It's not a perfect relationship, and that's what make it so freaking wonderful to read.
 

I cheered for them, I laughed with them. The beggining of the book was slow, but it was necessary to fully understand Juliette's state of mind. The rest is pure perfection. I know see why so many reviews are positive and 5-star. Shatter Me is incredible.
 

In this review, I didn't really talk about the plot -- I think the story is so full of surprises, and with just one sentence, I may ruin a lot of them. So I'm sticking with just the characters and that I felt while I was reading it. So I tell you this: Read Shatter Me. Trust me, it'll be worth it. This whole book is worth it. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Shadow Reader, by Sandy Williams




Release date: October 25th 2011
Published by: Penguin
Format: Ebook
Genre: Urban fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars











There can only be one allegiance.
It’s her time to choose.


Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.

A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.

But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.


My thoughts:

Aaaah, this was such an amazing read. And a confusing one, that is. I took my time to understand the world created by Sandy Williams. Not that I have no experience with fae (hello, Eugenie Markham), but the setting was rather different from what I'm used to read. But when it finally clicked into my brain, I enjoyed it so much.
 

First, there's McKenzie. Do you know that protagonist that actually thinks before acting? That's Mckenzie. She's one of the best characters ever. She doesn't fight, doesn't have superpowers except for the shadow-reading skills, but even then, she's not afraid to get a little dirty while doing what needs to be done. McKenzie has personality -- being in love with the sword-master Kyol doesn't affect her judgment. She's not a weak girl that depends on the guy she loves. Every time she pushed her feelings aside to deal with most important things, I wanted to jump into the pages and hug her.
 

Then, there's the love triangle. I'm not a fan of those. In fact, I hate to see two guys fall all over one girl, who's not even able to make a choice. But the love triangle that Sandy Williams introduced in The Shadow Reader made me wanna bite my nails and scream "I'M CONFUSED". Both Arien and Kyol are honorable fae, from different sides of a war. Kyol, the sword-master who has always loved and protected McKenzie, and Arien, who abducted her, and tried so hard to get under her skin.
 

I admit that at first I was 100% Kyol. But with each comment, grin, look, and action, Arien made my heart soften. The same thing happened with McKenzie, and she fought every spark that his touch ignited in her. The dialogues between them are so funny to read -- and there was a point when I actually started to encourage Arien. Crazy o.O
 

The writing is another positive point in this review. I despise narration written in the present time, and I realize I'm loving the book when this doesn't bother me. That's what happened in The Shadow Reader. I was halfway through the book when I thought, "Wait. Is this book written in the present?". The writing is so good I didn't notice it.
 

The shadow reader concept is really interesting, as well. I found it fascinating the way McKenzie was able to draw and pinpoint an exact location. Another thing I enjoyed is how our loyalty shifts as the story goes on. At first, I was all but screaming at Kyol to just kill the rebels and be done with it. After chapter 20 or so, I wanted to kill the king. The author really did make this change of loyalty in the characters subtle, the way it should be, dragging the readers along with McKenzie.
 

I just think the ending could've been worked out with a little more details. But long story short: this is the way most urban-fantasy books should be written. I can't find a single thing I didn't like about The Shadow Reader. This book is just that good.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin



  
Release date: September 27th 2011
Published by: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5 stars










Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

My thoughts:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer had so many good reviews in the USA, that it was, probably, in everybody’s wish list. I waited months for this book to come out. Beth Revis, Cassandra Clare and Veronica Roth recommended the book? I had to check it out.

I had high expectations for The Unbecoming, and I was not disappointed.

The author introduces us to Mara Dyer, a teenager who lost her best friends in a tragic accident. She’s completely traumatized, and has hallucinations frequently.

The problem is, she doesn’t remember what happened in the accident, and ends up moving to a new town, trying to leave it all behind her.

There, Mara faces regular teenager problems: being the new girl, and bullied by others; etc. But she also sees her dead friends in the mirrors, things that are not real.

And in the middle of all that, there’s Noah, a popular boy, considered a womanizer by most of the girls, and that shows interest in Mara.

The atmosphere of the book is tense, and at the same time, light. The author can give such a clear perspective of who Mara is and what she feels with each hallucination, it’s impressing. Michelle Hodkin’s writing isn’t just meticulous; it fits perfectly to the book and Mara’s life.

Mara’s doubts, the fear of being insane, the fear of falling in love with Noah when she’s obviously so broken… all of this pulls us into the book in a way that’s impossible to stop reading.

And even with a hint of terror at certain parts, Michelle Hodkin still writes sarcastic dialogues.
The romance isn’t forced. It’s natural, it blossoms slowly through the narration. It’s not love at first sight. Noah and Mara are so different from each other, but they still need the other. They complete themselves.

And the ending? Biggest cliffhanger in the world. It left me speechless and angry with the author. How could she do this to the readers?

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer isn’t just a mystery book. It’s a book that makes us think about what’s right and wrong, if we are as sane as we think. If our mind doesn’t play games with us all the time, or even if our daily routine isn’t just a hallucination. It’s a book about love, understanding. It’s so complex I have no words to describe it.
 

The blurbs aren’t enough. This review is not enough. And say this book is a must-read is definitely not enough.

Just read it.
 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor

 

Release date: September 27th 2011
Published by: Little Brown & Company
Format: Ebook
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars


  







 

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?



 My thoughts:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is different, really well-written, but at the same time... cliché. I can't really explain why, but I'll try.
 

Our main character is Karou, an art student with a creepy ex-boyfriend and an even creepier life. The thing is, she has a strange job -- doing errands for Brimstone, a chimaera, who practically raised her. She has to buy teeth for him -- animal teeth, human teeth - for unknown reasons. Brimstone can request her presence at any minute, and she must go. That said, Karou doesn't have a lot of friends, for she can't really reveal anything about her life.
 

On a errand, she meets Akiva, this... mysterious seraphim who, you know, tries to kill her. There's a war going on, for centuries now, between the chimaera and the seraphim, and Karou gets caught right in the middle of it when Akiva sees her leaving Brimstone's shop. Who is this girl, who associates with chimaera, and has hamsas in the palm of her hands?
 

Karou escapes, but it's not like she can take the beautiful and eerie seraphim out of her mind. And months later, after Brimstone's shop is burned, and she's got no way to reach the chimaera altogether, they meet again. Only this time, Akiva's not trying to harm her.
 

Since their first encounter, something's been pulling Akiva in Karou's direction, but he doesn't know what. He just wants to understand who she is.
 

The whole we-are-enemies part of their relationship is great. A romance based on hate and a war that has been going on for centuries really is appealing. But only when that hate actually persists for, say, fifty pages or so of constant back-and-fourth between the couple. Not a romance that blossoms in a few hours.
 

Akiva is a seraphim, that has not been able to feel for a lot of time. And suddenly, Karou tilting her head makes him feel again. This abrupt change of personality in the character does not seem fit to the book. The story is awesome, it really is. But after the romantic part begins to develop, the plot of figuring out what happened to Brimstone and the other characters are just put aside. And all we get to know is how Karou feels about Akiva, how Akiva feels about Karou, and basically everything happens around them.
It's not boring, but I'd like to see more of Karou's independent side, of Akiva's cold and dead aspect. Morbid, you may think, but it's turning to be very common in YA books a co-dependent relationship. And God, I really don't like those. Sure, love is about needing the other with your own soul, but it's also about self-acceptance, growth of personality, and just a general development in the characters. I didn't see much of these in Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
 

If you've read the book, you'll probably say "But there's a reason, a big reason, for their love to be like this". And I agree with you. After a lot of chapters full of flashbacks, we get to know why Akiva loves Karou, why she loves him, etc. It really did diminish my dislike, seeing all the questions and doubts being wrapped up. And that's why I'm giving 4 stars to this book. Because if there wasn't a very convincing explanation, I'd probably give it two stars.

Hey, you all!

This is my first post in A Whole World in Pages. Actually, I've had this blog for quite a while. I used to post reviews in portuguese, but since most of the books I read are in english, I thought "What the heck, why not write reviews in english as well? It would solve a lot of translation problems I usually have".

So, there you go. =)