This review first appeared on Wayward Kitsune.
I’m never the sporty type but if someone asks me what’s my favorite sport, it’s more likely that my answer would be ‘swimming.’ There’s just something fulfilling about being in the water and feeling it splash against your skin as you swim. And that is why I immediately picked up and read this book. And wow, Kenneally delivered. Keneally’s world of swimming was intricate, competitive and realistic.
Just like Kenneally’s characters in the previous books, Coming Up For Air has a bunch of lovable and goal-oriented characters. Though there’s something that bothered me about Maggie, I still liked her because she never got sidetracked by her longing to experience the ordinary teenage life from achieving her goals. And I could say the same for Maggie’s longtime male bestfriend, the straightforward Levi, who’s always there for her.
Basically, Coming Up for Air is more of a self-discovery story than romance. But for whatever its worth, the romance between Maggie and Levi was worth following even if it’s the usual bestfriends-turned-to-lovers kind of thing.
All in all, Coming Up for Air was certainly a winner and definitely one of my best reads this 2017. It’s very relatable even for adults like me. So you better stop what you’re doing right now and read this.
This review also appeared on Wayward Kitsune.
Although you’re not reading this, my biggest thanks to you for giving me one of the best gifts in 2016, my co-employee! I really regretted the fact that I did not read Gemina sooner because it’s so mindblowing I’m still picking up my brain pieces at the moment.
Like the Illuminae, Gemina was written in epistolary format complete with letters, transcripts, journal writings and drawings, chat messages, etc. The variety of methods that Kaufman and Kristoff used to tell the story surely guaranteed a phenomenal and wild ride.
The plot was also a feast for the mind as it challenged every brain cell of mine. Illuminae was all about escaping BeiTech and surviving a psychotic AI named Aidan. Gemina is all about recapturing Jump Station Heimdall (which as you can remember is the Hypatia’s aimed destination in Illuminae) from a group of BeiTech mercenaries. Obviously and eventhough AIDAN’s (my favorite AI character) presence is only minor, I can say that I enjoyed Gemina more mostly because of the following reasons:
1. The villains- OMG! Even if they’re cold blooded murderers, their interactions and what happened to each one of them as they tried to fulfill their tasks were really hilarious.
2. The Lanima- Ok, who wants to get high?
3. The banter- Seriously, with the gravity of the situation our beloved Heimdall residents are in, it’s astounding to know that it was so hard not to smile while navigating the whole story.
4. Our characters- I love Kady, Ezra (and their relationship) and Aidan but Nik, Hanna and Ella had their own brand of charm. Although a part of me was quite disappointed that Nik was one of those bad boys with a dark past and that his characterization was mostly defined by that, I was still happy with the overall characterization of our trio. Hanna, of course, was just… can I marry her or something?
5. Gemina- Ok, go figure, guys. I thought Gemina was some sort of a galaxy Goddess that our trio has to summon while high on dust. How very wrong I was.
6. Just a simple boy- I really really like this phrase. Makes me want to have a matching shirt with “Just a very simple girl” printed on it.
7. The whole setup of Jumpstation Heimdall- Fuck it all! I want to live in a space station surrounding a wormhole. Hanna must be fucking out of her mind for declaring it as a boring residence area.
8. AIDAN- I don’t think any Illuminae book would be complete without our psychotic AI resident.
9. Kristoff and Kaufman- You, guys, are the best. The Illuminae Files is one of the most innovative series I’ve read in my reading career. If somebody asks me to list down all the reasons why I’m thankful for being born in this lifetime, I’d definitely include your names and the Illuminae files, authors.
10. Basically everything. Authors, hurry up with the third book.
Up to this moment, I am still at a loss as to what happened with Empire of Storms when Heir of Fire finally upped the game followed by Queen of Shadows that sizzled with so much amazing goodness. It was Maas’ momentum to finally steer the ship into the “fantasy” direction and then, Empire of Storms happened. Suddenly, I am at a loss at why Maas took the sudden turn towards erotica when we’re finally getting what Throne of Glass series promised us—a full blown fantasy with badass characters. Empire of Storms was still some sort of a satisfactory read but a fantasy book it is not. It was so fan-servicey—there was a lot of romantic drama in the book and a lot of ships and potential ones—that at some point, the real message of the book got lost on me.
I also hated the “The Queen That Was Promised” thing because it felt like a godawful parody of GRRM’s “The Prince That Was Promised.” Like why can’t we stick with the Fireheart stuff and had to resort with all these weird overly glorified names? The sex scenes didn’t fare any better. I mean, I’m really glad that Rowan and Aelin finally crossed the bridge instead of teasing us as to when they would do it, but for Pete’s sake, does the sex really have to be that weird? Is there really a need for lightning to occur and palm trees to be cut down from the sheer force of their orgasm? I know it’s fucking fantasy (fantasy erotica actually) but Maas is overstretching it. Yeah, it somehow reminded me of those dino/orcporn books, ya know.
The characters also kind of suffered from a personality makeover or worstover whatever you call it. Dorian. Dorian. Dorian. A favorite of mine and he’s now reduced to some bland, cookie cutter character that it was hard connecting him to the once vibrant and womanizing Prince of Adarlan.
Except for some parts of the plot, there were so many things in Empire of Storms that went wrong. The fucking length (seriously, if I’m gonna take out all the fillers in this one, a tree or two could have been saved), some overly dramatic and written parts, the can’t-suspend-my-disbelief sex scene, the numerous and unnecessary ships (just how many romantic affairs can you cram into one book, Maas?), the OMG-you’re-actually-my-mate-stuff (because ya know, Rowan and Aelin’s relationship was more meaningful when they got together after going through the hate-to-allies-to-friends stages than being with each other because they were fucking soulmates), and so much travelling (every POV character seemed to be suffering from a severe case of wanderlust).
Comparatively, Empire of Storms, is by far the weakest book in the series though it covered a lot of significant plot developments which I really enjoyed. But in the end, there was just too little enjoyment to make up for the pain.
So Guarding Mr. Fine was my first HelenKay Dimon book and I can say that it didn’t disappoint but didn’t wow me either. Although it has all the things that I want (the bodyguard setup, the one night stand, some mystery twist… you get the idea) in an Adult Contemporary Romance book, it still fell short especially in the romance department.
So what happened was, we’ve got two hot guys (Rick and Seth) who met in a bar one night and ended up having a one night stand without even knowing each other’s names. The next time they met, they were in the Consul’s office and both had the shock of their lives when they found out that they’ll be closely working with each other, Rick as the Consul and Seth as the bodyguard. Then these things ensued: conflicted feelings arise, plenty of sex, angst here and there, and a race to solve a murder mystery.
I love the mystery, I love the drop dead gorgeous characters and the fact that they already owned their sexuality, and I love how the mystery was crafted. But as I’ve said earlier, the romance was quite meh. It just felt so fast-paced for my taste that I really didn’t get to enjoy its development. And near the end, there’s the usual angst that didn’t exactly improve my opinion of the romance. It got resolved fairly quick considering the extent of the issue that caused the angst. But anyway, Guarding Mr. Fine was an okay story overall and you don’t need to read the first 2 books in the series as it’s a standalone. I’d definitely consider reading some of Dimon’s other works in the future.
By Your Side - Kasie West As of this time, By Your Side is my most favorite Kasie West book followed by The Distance Between Us. The whole time that I was reading this book, I cannot stop grinning from ear to ear. Who wouldn’t want to be locked in a library with a cute and mysterious hottie? I know, I wouldn’t mind (except the part where there’s no food and no changing of undies, ugh) especially if there’s a chance of cuddling with the mentioned hottie. Ha. Anyway, horniness aside, there’s so much more about By Your Side than your feel good contemporary romance YA. The book tackled deep issues like anxiety disorder, child neglect, loneliness, conquering fears, and trust. These things may sound heavy but trust me, Kasie West still managed to make By Your Side as fluffy as possible.
If you know me, I am more inclined to read angsty books than fluffy ones but Kasie West’s books really get me. And By Your Side was no exception. Although it kind of disappointed me that it wasn’t about books (because hello! Most of the story took place inside a library), I was glad that the wonderful characters (I totally ship Dax and Autumn), the plot, the romance development, and the various issues tackled in the book made up for that.
I’m definitely looking forward to more Kasie West books. But before that, I must read P.S. I Like You first.
Queen of Someday held a lot of promise but it never got fulfilled. It’s a shame because this is my first historical fiction read (I am not counting Infernal Devices since it was more of a steampunk and fantasy series) after so many years and it really disappointed me. I wish I just picked up any of Julia Quinn’s or Judith McNaught’s books.
I am not sure what went wrong with this one. Is it because it was too short that the story was not fully realized? Is it because the heroine grated on my nerves to no end? Anyway, I am not going to fill you with so many questions. Instead, let me share my opinion of this book by scrutinizing the synopsis so as to prevent this review from becoming an incoherent mess.
<b>"ONE GIRL WILL BRING AN EMPIRE TO ITS KNEES…"</b>
The first sentence of the synopsis. Grand, isn’t it? I seriously assumed that I’m going to see our heroine, Prussian Princess Sophie, achieving lots of outstanding feats here. Not only that, I also expected that little Sophie would be well-versed in politics and will be witty at all times. I think that my expectations are only logical because the sentence above is pretty bold. One girl will bring an empire, the RUSSIAN EMPIRE, to its knees. Now, if you heard someone declaring that to the whole world, your expectations will be the same as mine. Unfortunately, our little Sophie was neither wise nor capable of achieving exceptional deeds.
So far, her accomplishments in this book were:
1. Seduced three boys- The Prince heir, a nobleman, and the general of the Russian Court imperial guard. And no, I am not joking.
2. Killed three (or was that 4 assassins) while she and her mother were travelling from Prussia to Russia. It was quite unbelievable though because their guards got killed and yet Sophie, managed to kill the assassins. Oh bravo! YOU ACTUALLY MANAGED TO KILL TRAINED ASSASSINS? Are you Celaena Sardothien, Sophie? Remind me again how old were you when you started playing with your knives and accompanying your father during his hunts?
3. Able to learn the Russian language and spoke it like a true-bloodied Russian. But I haven’t seen her speaking in actual Russian. The story just told that she finally learned it.
I have never seen this girl even demonstrating that she has the IT to be deserving of the empress throne. All throughout the book, she was busy flirting with all the three love interests, wondering how their lips and hands would feel on her body. I am seriously at a loss here. Makes me think that instead of her strength and brain powers, she’s planning to use her body and knack for flirting to seduce the entire Russian court to bring it to its knees.
<b>"Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost."</b>
Yeah, you did survive, Sophie. But that’s because you are one lucky girl. And most of those obstacles that you’ve encountered were quite petty. What if I place you in A Game Of Thrones-esque setting, let’s see if you will still survive the ordeal.
When you got poisoned, you were just lucky that you were with your love interest. But after you recovered, what did you do? Did you actually spare some time to formulate a strategy to show the Imperial court that you are a force to be reckoned with? No, you just continued with your clandestine meetings with your love interests. And you even played knight in shining armor to your killer. I cannot for the life of me…
Oh, Sophie, I am sorry but I haven’t felt that you actually faced a difficult time while you are making it to the top in the Russian court. Whatever difficulties that you’ve faced are because of your stupid decisions. No, Sophie. Please just go back to where you belong.
<b>"Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans."</b>
Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before.—> This! WTF? REALLY? Those dangers are quite meh and very PREDICTABLE. Hahaha. Beware, I am going to be writing a lot of spoilers here. So read at your own risk.
1st Attempt on Sophie’s Life: The Ambush (Happened in the first chapter)
This seems like a plot device just so the author will have the opportunity to show that Sophie is a Wonder Woman who is capable of killing highly trained assassins. Her guards were just there as props.
2nd Attempt on Sophie’s Life: Poisoning
Could have been prevented if f***ing Sergei (the general of the Russian Imperial Court) was not an incompetent dummy. He already knows that there’s a lot of threat to Sophie’s life and yet, he didn’t arrange for a food taster. I would have let it slide if only the manner of poisoning was pretty sneaky and brilliant. But no, Sophie got poisoned in the most boring way possible. Really, it could have been prevented if Sergei and the rest of his subordinates have an ounce of common sense. Oh Sergei, ever heard of risk assessment and danger forecasting? Why not spend your time learning those instead of caressing Sophie every chance you get?
3rd Attempt on Sophie’s Life: The Russian Empress threatened to destroy Sophie after the latter was discovered cheating on the Prince Heir
See? This danger should not have happened if not for Sophie’s stupidity. She’s already betrothed to the Prince Heir but she kept on meeting and kissing handsome Alexander that it even reached a point that she was ready to run away with the latter. Yes, you are 15, Sophie, and your being impulsive is understandable. But if you are hailed as the girl who can bring down an empire to its knees, I expected better from you especially that your family is depending on you.
<b>"Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be."</b>
Know what, Sophie? I know that this is pretty lame and I know that I should respect you as you. But you really failed to demonstrate that you actually have the wisdom, the strength, the cunning and the overall capability of becoming an empress. Maybe you should start befriending other princesses and queens from other books and learn from them. I have some recs if you’ll have them.
And oh readers, are you excited that this book is set in Russia? I am sorry but you’re going to be disappointed. I didn’t feel that this book was really set in Russia. For example, I haven’t seen the characters speaking in Russian. I haven’t read even a simple “привет” (pronounced as privet) which means “hello” in Russian. I haven’t even gotten a glimpse of the Russian culture in the old days. Really, if you are only picking up this book because you want a Russian setting, just pick up Laini Taylor’s The Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
Verdict: I really tried to love Queen of Someday but it was one of those awful books that heavily relied on the romance, love quadrangle to be specific, to tell a story. It felt unresearched, rushed and didn’t really offer something new to the table. Even the romance did not work for me.
1.5 stars because this is not the worst book that I’ve read, the cover is gorgeous, and what Sophie/Catherine did at the end slightly took me by surprise but it doesn’t mean that that was pretty cunning. She can do better.
I highly regretted the fact that it took me so long to pick up Generation V. I didn’t expect it to be this awesome and that’s already saying a lot because I went into this book with high expectations. Thank goodness, it delivered with flying colors. Generation V was certainly a refreshing read as it deviated from usual vampire story. I mean, let’s face it. If you are searching for a vampire book in online stores or in your local book stores, what are the chances of coming across a vampire story wherein the male vampire is not mesmerizingly handsome, brooding, creepy, stalkerish and isn’t suffering from the stay-away-from-me-because-I-am-too-dangerous-for-you attitude? Zero to low chances? But M.L. Brennan was able to provide a story that greatly speaks that there’s still hope for vampire books.
Generation V follows the story of Fortitude Scott, a young vampire who grew up in a normal human environment. By normal, it means that Fort was brought up by human parents and said parents didn’t know that they’re actually nurturing the son of the most powerful vampire in the New England area and some parts of Canada I think. Because of Fort’s unique upbringing, his moral compass is definitely on the right direction. He desperately clings to humanity by becoming a vegetarian, by restraining himself from drinking blood (even if the act is slowly killing him) and being compassionate to the woes of humans.
But what really made Generation V an interesting read was because Fort is not only a desperate human-wannabe but he’s also the lamest vampire that I have the misfortune honor to meet. He allowed his girlfriend to cheat on him to the extent that said GF had sex with his roommate who in turn didn’t pay the rent for four months (and Fort ended up paying for the whole rent even though he’s broke). In simpler terms, Fort has no backbone at all. He just let people walk all over him that I was already cringing as more and more scenarios were revealed showing how pathetic his life is. My mind was definitely shouting, “Fuck it, Fort! Grow some balls, you wimp!” And oh, are you expecting that Fort’s going to be your knight in shining armour when you find yourself surrounded by the bad guys? I am really sorry because Fort will sorely disappoint you. You better start running because Fort will just end up falling on his sorry ass. But if you think I hate him then think again. Despite being a weakling, I found myself warming up to him. He is such a fun character to read and although he lacked a lot of capabilities, he is a hero in his own way.
Things got funnier when our female MC, Suzume Hollis, entered the scene. Suzume is Fort’s appointed bodyguard and definitely Fort’s opposite. She’s literally badass, shrewd and wait for it, a werefox. How cool is that? I instantly loved her not just because of her badassery but my online gaming character is a werefox, too. I LOLed so hard when she started inflicting havoc on Fort’s life. If only I was able to take a video of myself while I was laughing, you will have an idea how this book made a mad woman out of me. Tears of joy? Check! Stiches on the side? Check! Swinging uvula? Check! Aching stomach muscles? Check!
The secondary characters were an interesting bunch as well. You have Fort’s mother, older brother and sister which made up for a dysfunctional vampire family. And reading how their relationships play out was a pleasure to read.
Another thing that made love this book so much is that ML Brennan didn’t take the easy route when she formed the whole story. Instead of werevolves, we’ve got werefoxes or kitsunes, disgusting elves, and revolting witches. The vampires in Generation V are not the obvious clichés. They are not immortal, they are not all Adonis and Venus incarnates, and most importantly, they do get old. Their pro-creation would take more than just biting and sucking the blood of a human. I will not walk you through the complicated process. Just read it and be amazed.
Generation V is not without its flaws however. The plot was not that innovative but please take consolation that it was executed properly, nicely paced and tightly woven. Really, I never had a dull moment while reading this book. The hilarious bits were nicely balanced with no holds barred, gory action scenes and some emotional moments.
Summing it up, there’s absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t pick up Generation V. Non-UF readers and vampire haters will still adore the book for its well-rounded and quirky characters and downright funny moments. Another favorite to be added on my ever-growing fav list.
I should have listened to Queen Elsa’s Let It Go when I was reading this dreadful book because as I went deeper, the story just got crazier (in the most negative way possible). I should have let it go when I was still at 30% because it was the most terrible book I’ve read after Journey to Rainbow Island. The only redeeming quality that Frozen has is that it was so ridiculous I could not stop myself from laughing every time I turn a page. What ever happened to the saying that two heads are better than one? Apparently, that is not usually the case as clearly demonstrated by this book. Two authors and what? A hogwash story set in a nonsensical and full-of-inconsistencies world.
Where should I begin with this review? Okay, let me consult my Goodreads reading status updates and my mobile phone because I swear, this book made me so industrious in writing a lot of notes which I normally don’t do whenever I am reading.
First things first, let me make a brief summary of this book. In Frozen, the world is in ruins because of the Great Wars, Black Floods, and The Big Freeze. Obviously, after the occurrence of the latter, everything got covered in ice. And then, due to some unexplained miracle, magical creatures started appearing from the ice as if they are the goddess Venus (who was born from sea foam) themselves. But despite the said catastrophes, Las Vegas was still able to survive but not without its costs.
Now, the mentioned magical creatures are actually being hunted by the government because uhm, well, the book forgot to explain it clearly. Anyway, just roll with it. So our heroine, Nat/Natasha, is a magical creature pretending to be a blackjack dealer but all the while plotting to go to the Blue. To the majority, the Blue is a fabled land believed to be pristine and the salvation of those who wanted to experience the world before the catastrophes.
One of the first questions that popped up in my mind was this: When is Frozen’s story set? In 2020? In 2100? In year 3000? Apparently, the authors forgot to mention that very unimportant detail. So what does a reader should do? Take things at face value? Or make a hypothesis through deduction? I did the latter and so my quest started. I took down notes of possible evidences that will clue me in as to when the story happened. So the quest started. In Frozen, the citizens are still using Hummers, Porsches, and Bentleys as a means of transport. The story explained that the citizens were innovative enough to salvage some of the machineries from the world before and make it work. And yay, they still have drag races and casinos despite all what happened! But the surprising thing is that they really don’t have an idea as to how the world worked before the catastrophes happened and their little knowledge of the world-before was acquired from the videos that the existing citizens managed to save and pass them from generation to generation. So what does this mean? Since Nat and all the characters of this book still know how to drive Hummers, Porsches, Bentleys and gamble, they couldn’t be so far off from the last generation that experienced the world-before. So one can say that Frozen happened during the 2050s to 2200s.
But then, that couldn’t be right because later into the book, it was revealed that Chernobyl in Ukraine is already thriving with life. What nonsense is this?
“When she (Nat) was still in school, she’d learned about a town in Ukraine called Chernobyl, where a nuclear reactor had exploded. The place was so radioactive that it wouldn’t be fit for humans for hundreds of years (are you sure?) and it was still off-limits now. The whole area was declared an exclusion zone, an evacuated land where no one was allowed to live. In reality, though, the Chernobyl exclusion zone TEEMED WITH LIFE.” ARC p.116
Authors, I don’t mean any disrespect but here’s a fact: The isotopes that were released from that nuclear explosion will remain radioactive for THOUSANDS of years and not just hundreds. To be specific, these isotopes are from uranium and plutonium that have half lives of thousands of years. The director of the Chernobyl power plant, Ihor Gramotkin even said that it will take ~20,000 years for the place to become habitable again.
If we consider that figure to estimate when the story of Frozen took place, we are looking at year 22, 000 and beyond. Will there still be Hummers, Bentleys, and Porsches, and casinos during that time after such devastating catastrophes? And in between those periods, I am pretty sure that there will be other batches of calamities that will struck the world that will either render humanity to evolve or fully eliminated.
But you haven’t seen it all yet. I am greatly astounded with the authors’ devotion to this story. Aside from the expensive vehicles, the world of Frozen is also experiencing extreme shortage of resources. The value of salt increased to the point that it’s as important as fuel. One crystal of salt is enough to buy a ship. Really? Should I go now and hoard sacks of salt because apparently, it will save my ass when the apocalypse comes.
And oh, did you know that water also became an extremely rare resource? Extremely rare like only the filthy rich can afford it. And thus, the majority of the ultra-stupid population were forced to drink this substance called Nutri.
“Clean water was precious but synthetics were cheap and sanitary, so like most solid citizens, her only choice was to drink Nutri, a supposedly vitamin-and-nutrient-rich, sweet tasting concoction that was spiked with faint traces of mood stabilizers, just the thing to keep the population obedient. The chemicals gave her a headache, and more than anything, she just wanted a taste of pure, clear water. Once a week, she saved up enough for a glass, savoring every drop.” ARC p.46
Question, the community has enough resources to create Nutri and load it with vitamins and mood stabilizers, why not allocate such resources to melt, purify and sanitize ice (the world is covered in ice, remember?)? For sure, the process of melting, purifying and sanitizing ice is cheaper compared to creating Nutri and does not take a lot of brain powers, isn’t it? Even a 10 year old can figure such a thing.
Just when I thought that the book is already done with making a fool out of me, it introduced me to this language called “textlish.” Because of what happened, the people have found no valid reason to learn to read anymore. Formal language was replaced with textlish which can be described as a high form of Jejemon. If you are a Filipino, you already have an idea what textlish is.
Here’s an example of English words and phrases converted to textlish:
If you want to be a master of textlish, just keep on practicing by txtng ur fwendz ucng ol dos oful nd phakng shrtctz.
I could go on and on pointing out all the stupid things about this book but I don’t think I still have the strength to continue with this review. There’s absolutely no redeeming quality about this drivel. The main characters and all the other fools are brimming with contradictions that I can’t help but hope that they all die from the cold. Don’t even ask me about the magical creatures because of this shit:
OMG! Are the authors trying to make a hybrid between George Martin’s Whitewalkers and Michael Jackson’s thriller zombies? And that’s when I lose it.
The plot is also saturated with various plot devices including the dreaded deus ex machina.
O stars because not even the laughs can save this book from getting a permanent spot on my hated-books list.
I have to be honest here. When I signed up for an account on Blogging for Books, my intent was to look for an ARC of a book that I really wanted. I made a request on EW but sadly, got rejected. Driven by a sick obsession, I sought Blogging for Books in the hopes that I might find what I’m looking for there. Obviously, my search failed and I end up with City Of Stairs. Yeah, I know, I could have just walk away without adding another ARC to my staggering TBR pile but I need to try the site and see how it works, build some reviewing cred… yada…yada… There weren’t a lot of choices because some of the titles being offered were horror, zombie stuff and other titles that really didn’t catch my attention. City of Stairs was the best choice because it belongs to my favorite genre, Fantasy (Although I would learn later that the author does not have a specific genre for City of Stairs. Here’s the post if you’re interested in reading it: The Genre Fountain). Prior to requesting the book, I’ve already read a wonderful review of it a month before. That review has made me consider picking up the book but I didn’t anticipate that it would be this soon. Well, what I can say right now is that: Thank heavens for making me pick the e-ARC asap! City of Stairs has just compensated for all the other ARCs (10 of them and still counting) that greatly disappointed me this year. City of Stairs is utter perfection!
I don’t even know where to start or how to write this review without spoiling everyone or bore you with my wax poetic. All I know is that City of Stairs is a mix of everything. It can be considered as whodunit, mythopoeia, epic fantasy, thriller…you get the idea. At the wrong hands, City of Stairs would have tremendously flopped considering that there’s an impression that the author was trying to cram a lot of things into the story. But OMG, City of Stairs was gold! It’s a one stop shop for readers who are into detective stuff, mythology, fantasy, steampunk, and all that jazz.
The City Of Stairs started with a curious air as I was immediately thrown into a scene on what is clearly an ongoing case on a courtroom. Then things got more interesting when the trial was suddenly disturbed by a shocking news. Efrem Pangyui, the famous Saypuri historian, was murdered. The horrendous event immediately set things in motion. Our main character, Shara Thivani, who is a close friend of Efrem immediately travelled to the capital city of the Continent, Bulikov. Pretending to be a lowly Cultural Ambassador, Shara is actually one of the greatest spies of Saypuri, a nation that was once a slave to the Continent. Once Shara and her bodyguard started to unearth the mystery surrounding Efrem’s death, trouble—as big as the gods themselves—instantly ensued.
While reading the City of Stairs, I really expected that I will get bored at some point. I mean, this book is about gods, history of Saypur and the Continent, etc., which for the average reader (like me) are already perfect ingredients for a certified boring book riddled with annoying infodumps. Gladly, Bennett was able to use the said ingredients with great mastery that the book is either or more than perfection.
We’ve got characters that are worth rooting for. Pardon if I will get some of their names misspelled as they are really weird. The main character, Shara, is such a brilliant detective. How do I even describe her deduction skills? Maybe not as awesome as Sherlock Holmes’ but Robert Langdon’s perhaps. I love the way she processes her thoughts. And although she possesses the usual characteristics (no curves, small, bookworm, brilliant, straight A student) of the special snowflakes that littered our YA books today, she’s different in the sense that she doesn’t wallow on inferiority complex bullshit and if she has a task at hand, instead of moaning (i.e. I can’t do this! I am not powerful enough!) she will see it through with total composure. Absolutely no backing down or even attempts of doing so despite the fact that some of the consequences of her actions were killing her inside.
Then of course, would I forget Sigrud? Okay, I don’t want to describe how awesome he is and make this review longer than it is but he really made me cry and laugh at the same time. Dear Lord, this is emotional puppetry at its best. The other characters, including the Gods, were memorable as well. There’s Mulaghesh, Pitry, Votrov…blah blah blah.
The world building was mindblowing without the author resorting to infodump. Everything about the world, the gods, the culture, the religion, the history unraveled in sufficient increments to give the reader enough time to appreciate the whats, wheres, whens, hows, and whys of the story.
The plot is also praiseworthy. All throughout the book, my mind was not only busy deducting who killed Efrem but I was also busy thinking about the mysterious Kaj, how he killed the Gods, etc. There was never a moment that I got bored with City of Stairs and I would have finished it one sitting if I wasn’t so busy with work and school.
I don’t know if this is still worth mentioning but the romance or a hint of it was heartwrenching. I really hoped to the gods that Shara and her romantic interest (despite his true self) would have at least some sort of an HEA.
Okay, I need to end this now. Summing it up, City of Stairs, despite being a standalone and only told in 300+ pages, managed to tell a story with tremendous character development, tightly woven plot, and magnificent world building. It is a masterpiece worthy of standing ovation. BOW!
***A free e-ARC was provided by the publisher through Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review! Thank you!***
As you probably know, I am greatly enthralled with Angelfall’s greatness that I hastened to read World After immediately. It was an impulsive action that I regretted immediately because I didn’t love this book as much as the first book. Perhaps my emotions were still unstable to feel anything for World After. Or maybe, it was because a large portion of World After became something out of your generic dystopian story.
The plot seemed too long-winded with Penryn and her family trying to survive while living under Obi’s command. There was a lot of running and chasing and hiding that it became tiring. Good thing that it still managed to stay afloat by addressing some of the immediate questions in Angelfall. Things got darker as some hideous revelations came out. Some of the scenes became gorier. But it felt like, it just maintained the whole story to provide a bridge for book 3 and it didn’t really offer anything mindblowing unless you count what happened in the end.
In World After, we will see a lot of Penryn coming to terms with Paige’s hideousness, desperately suppressing her feelings for Raffe and trying to protect her family. Though I admire her unwavering streak for heroism, I am undeniably annoyed with her futile attempts to develop her combat prowess further. Raffe’s sword gave her a lot of opportunity to learn but she kind of failed. Most of the time, it was Paige or her mother or Cara who came to get her out of tight situations. I’ve seen so little of her badassery in this book.
On the contrary, my disappointment with Penryn didn’t extend to Paige and her mother. I got to know Paige more and how my heart ached for her…for what she went through. But despite all the things that were done to her, she’s showing more balls than her sister. Bravo, little one! The same can be said for their mother. In here, I found myself warming up to the paranoid schizophrenic. Yes, she’s crazy…creepy and all that but I just adore her survival instincts and her devotion to Paige and Penryn. In her own manic way, she showed the world how it is to be a kick ass mom.
As for Raffe, he’s still amazing as ever even if he joined the game really late. I love his sarcastic humor, I love how he steadfastly uphold his millennia old principles even if it’s driving him mad silently. I know he wants to be with Penryn but his head and iron will wouldn’t let him. It would be interesting, perhaps mindblowing, to see the moment when he gives in to Penryn’s allure. Bahahahaha.
Overall, World After proved to be a fitting sequel for Angelfall despite its sluggish pace and so little presence of our seraphic warrior. The ending was absolutely awesome and it perfectly set the stage for more electrifying things to come in Book 3. I hope Susan Ee would be considerate enough to release it this year.
Judgment Day is near.
Before I start my review, I just need to inform you that I might have gotten some details wrong because I’ve read this book five months ago and I was too lazy to immediately write a review.
Let me start this review by saying that The Raven Boys is my first Maggie Stiefvater book and even though I’ve been seeing her The Wolves of Mercy Falls series in our local bookstores, I’ve never felt the urge to pick even a single book of the series. They just didn’t appeal to me. It was, however, different with The Raven Boys because the first time I saw its cover, I immediately knew that it was the book for me. Gladly, my bookish instinct was true and The Raven Boys was anything that I can hope for from a YA Urban Fantasy.
One of the main reasons why this book really appealed to me is because it greatly reminded of the manga-to-TV show adaptation of Hana Yori Dango. So far, at the time of writing this, there have been four versions of the TV adaptation of the said manga. I’m already finished with the two versions and all I can say that is I love all of them. Thus, it is no wonder that I also fell inlove with The Raven Boys.
The Raven Boys follows the story of four male teenagers who are attending Aglionby Academy—an all-boys elite school—and a poor and quirky female teen named Blue Sargent. Blue is born to a family of psychics but strangely, she was not endowed with any clairvoyant skills. Worse, everyone in her family has repetitively informed her that her one true love will die if she kisses him. For this reason, Blue made sure to stay away from the opposite gender as much as possible. However, her efforts proved to be useless as she crossed paths with the Aglionby boys. Obviously, the five of them became close friends even if Blue harbored an initial hatred for the rich Aglionby boys. The friendship developed when these teenagers got more and more immersed with the secrets of Glendower and the ley lines.
There are so many things to fangirl over The Raven Boys. I love how the whole story was set up. Instead of using werewolves, witches, and the likes, Maggie utilized Welsh history and added her own brand of magic to ensure that even those who do not care about the history of other countries would develop even a modicum of care. Do I make sense? Whatever.
I can also say that one of the strongest assets of The Raven Boys its cast of characters. We have the five teenagers as well the numerous secondary characters that are well-rounded and unforgettable. I just don’t know how Maggie does it but I feel so invested with all the characters. Not to mention that the friendship between the five as well as Blue’s relationship with her weird family are something to be adored.
Although I want to end this review, it might be worth mentioning that there’s a love triangle going on here. But if you’re going to avoid this book or the whole series just because of that then you are depriving yourself of potential fun. Maggie Stiefvater handled the romance well in this book. It was palpable and didn’t become intrusive. And the love triangle was just… awesome for the lack of the right word.
To conclude, Maggie Stiefvater has just innovated Urban Fantasy with her fabulous writing of the Raven Boys. Alright, I might be exaggerating but seriously, this is one book that will immediately come to mind if I hear the words “Urban Fantasy.”
Alright. I’ll keep this review short and as spoiler-free as possible. So here’s the thing with Burying Water, we have a female heroine, Water, who miraculously survived after she was found barely breathing in rural Oregon. Then we have the love interest, Jesse Welles, who is trying so hard to stay away from our female MC. Sounds cliché, isn’t it? I would have immediately ignored this book based on that premise alone but the synopsis was intriguing enough to make me ask a lot of questions. What happened to Water? Why is Jesse staying away from her? Reading between the lines, I already have this hunch that it’s not because Jesse is the “Stay-away-from-me-because-I-am-carrying-a-lot-of-baggage” type of guy. So what the hell is the reason? This is the main question that certainly plagued me when I dove into Burying Water.
The first chapter instantly introduced me to a horrifying scene. And I immediately knew that Burying Water is going to be different from K.A. Tucker’s previous series, Ten Tiny Breaths. This book was darker and BOLDER. As the mystery surrounding Water’s attempted murder was gradually revealed, I could barely hold my breath because I couldn’t believe that Tucker would attempt such storyline. I’m pretty sure that there would be a lot of people who will be disturbed with the story of Burying Water. Many eyebrows will be raised. And annoyed (or angry at the worst) questions will surely be fired towards Tucker. Is being miserable enough reason to break one of the oldest and most valued rules of humankind? The storyline was definitely risky and I am still not sure whether to applaud or boo Tucker for it. All I know at this moment is that I am happy with Burying Water.
The Tucker trademarked-feels are still present and the steamy scenes had me curling my toes. Told from alternating POVs, with Water’s perspective as present and Jesse’s as the past, the characters of Burying Water were definitely fleshed out but I doubt if every reader will love them after what they’ve done. The messages that this book is trying to convey are definitely painful and would render you constantly asking for questions about right and wrong.
The story’s setting—Sister’s Oregon—was definitely lovely and the way Tucker describe it made me want to pack up and move there ASAP. Tucker fans will also find delight that like the Ten Tiny Breaths series, there’s a great focus on familial and friendship relationships here. Really, if you have been piously following Tucker’s books then you will have an idea that she writes awesome ships.
Burying Water was almost a perfect book with its dark and mysterious tone but there are some things that really bugged me. The ending was too perfect for my taste given the dire situation of our main characters. The manner that the conflict was resolved was way too convenient that I have a hard time believing it. Oh, K.A. Tucker, you can do better than that!
Overall, Burying Water, despite its convenient resolution, was a perfect way to start a new series. It tells a tale of forbidden romance without suffering the so called “New Adult curse.”
***I received this book for free from Atria through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***
The premise of Facing The Music screamed of “Cliché” but it didn’t stop me from hitting the request button. The thing with this book is that the synopsis has reminded me of Taylor Swift and how she uses her music to vent out her anger for her ex-boyfriends. Plus, I have this crazy fascination about characters that use their musical talents to ruin their exes. If you have read Tracey Martin’s Another Little Piece of My Heart, then it has the same premise with this one. I enjoyed Martin’s work but it needed more polishing so I was hoping that Facing The Music will deliver. Well, it did and it didn’t.
How so? All was well and good until the reconciliation part. Basically, Taylor Swift Ivy Hudson became an international Rock Star after she released her first song, Size Matters, a single that clearly conveyed her contempt for her asshole of an ex-boyfriend. While the song propelled Ivy’s career to the top, it did the opposite to Blake’s.
There was nothing new when they met again as it followed the same lines of those other romance stories about exes meeting again. Drama was aplenty but there was humor and some thought-provoking issues here. These two can sometimes save a story from flopping completely. And this is what happened with Facing The Music.
Facing The Music made me wonder whether I would resort to what Ivy did if any of my exes cheated on me. The story of this book certainly revolved around the “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” saying. Naturally, I expected that the reconciliation part is going to be mindblowing or at least, realistic considering the kind of damage Ivy has inflicted to Blake’s life. What I got instead is a hastily done resolution and the next thing I know, our characters are already kissing and eventually, having sex. I am not a relationship guru but these people have been hurting for over 6 years and just like that, they magically made up? I am at a loss for words. @_@
And then, here comes another conflict which didn’t actually help the plot evolve but rather it made things redundant. Please, the story is already clichéd enough as it is, why not seek for a new avenue to keep the story going?
The characters were likable enough. They acted true to their age and owned up their mistakes. I must say that Blake has impressed me in the end as he really matured from being a jerk to someone who is worth rooting for.
I’m so close to giving Facing The Music a 2-star rating but luckily, I had fun reading it. The characters and the picturesque setting, Rosewood, were also additional reasons why this book managed to scrape a passable rating and possibly, a follow from me. To conclude, if you are looking for a quick fix to your contemporary cravings, then consider picking up this one.
I read The Final Empire out of challenge. I may have mentioned that my experience with Tolkien’s LOTR was quite traumatic and left me a prejudiced reader. Let me clear things first. LOTR was not a bad book but Tolkien’s antiquated prose and verbose descriptions of even the mundane things have made me wary around epic fantasy stories. It didn’t help that after LOTR’s popularity, a lot of LOTR copy cat books have gradually saturated the market. Hence, I found myself avoiding the genre more. It’s only in 2013, after 7 years of ignoring EFs, that I finally took the courage to try again. For my first attempt, I read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman and it was a success. So I decided to pick up another one and this was it.
The Final Empire, with its 1800s era setting, one of a kind and intricate magic system and a plot that seamlessly fuses the epic fantasy with the heist aspect proved to be a challenging and refreshing read.
Basically, The Final Empire’s story spins around a group of highly skilled skaa (slaves) thieves who attempt to overthrow the dictatorship of the immortal god, the Lord Ruler. While this summary doesn’t look very promising, The Final Empire was able to demonstrate the truth behind the saying, “don’t judge a book by its synopsis.”
Told from two POVs, Vin and Kelsier’s, one of the strongest points of The Final Empire was the characterization. It showcases a large cast of fleshed out, lovable, interesting and flawed characters. Vin, who had been a slave since time immemorial, is a cynic badass heroine. Despite her being a slave for almost 17 years, she’s not the type who wallows on self-pity and helplessness. She’s realistic, blunt and has accepted that her life would always be riddled with betrayal and misery. Meanwhile, Kelsier is an enigma that needed to be cracked. On one hand, he’s this vengeful, ruthless criminal mastermind who wouldn’t hesitate to murder people in cold blood. On the other, he’s just so cuddly, carefree and so full of himself.
The antagonist, though he only appeared near the end, accomplished to weave a suspenseful air into the whole story. In this book, we would only get to know the Lord Ruler through the accounts of our protagonists but that didn’t prevent the tyrant to show how powerful he is.
Another reason that made this monster of a novel a worthy read was its very unique and complex magical system. Instead of wizardry/sorcery and other hocus pocus, Sanderson went for Allomancy. In the world that he created, few individuals are born either a Misting or a Mistborn. These individuals, collectively known as Allomancers, are granted the ability to consume metals and transform it to magical powers. To me, understanding the allomancy business was confusing at first but good gracious, Sanderson explained it well to the point that I am saying to myself, “this is gonna be the new trend in magic.” And I suppose that Allomancers will give Magneto a run for his money. But I wouldn’t deny the fact that eating coins, drinking alloy flakes and burning them afterwards are not something that would make a delicious read. It’s really gross.
The Final Empire’s world building was also given a lot of effort. It was rich, conceivable and nicely fitted the era from whence the story took place.
The plot was also thickly woven that it was hard to guess what would happen in the end. In the Final Empire, it’s not just about mindless hack and slash. It wonderfully tackled the politics, intrigues and corruptions, misery and economy of the Final Empire. Interspersed into these elements are the inner struggles of our protagonists that the whole story felt tangible. Also add the fact that Sanderson made awesome battle scenes that would really make your blood pump.
At the beginning, Mistborn might appear like a young adult novel. But as you delve deeper into it, its depth will just overwhelm anyone not mature enough to comprehend a crisis of faith and heartbreaking martyrdom. The Final Empire is not something to be considered as a happy adventure to a world where people upholds the good over evil. It is more than that. This book is just…EPIC!
All in all, do yourself a favor and read this book.
Before I start gushing about this book, let me thank Lexxie first for holding a Christmas giveaway. If not for her, I would have procrastinated in picking this up until who knows when and by then, I would have missed out on a lot of fun. Shatter Me is one of my best reads for 2014 as it completely satisfied my inner X-Men fangirl. Except for those freaking metaphors, everything about it was completely balanced: the romance, the twists, the world building… blah, blah, blah.
The first instalment in a trilogy, Shatter Me instantly sucked me into Juliette’s life. Though she didn’t quite appeal to me as a heroine, she was likeable enough to not ruin my reading experience. Yes, I admit that she’s really a strong girl with all of the things that she went through but sometimes, her exaggerated reactions even on the most mundane of things are quite exasperating. Her character would have been more palatable to my taste if her tendency for melodramatics was toned down for a bit.
Luckily, Shatter Me has a lot of awesome characters to keep me entertained and thus, it was easy for me to let Juliette off the hook. First, we have Adam who surprisingly piqued my interest. I have to be honest with you but good boys rarely appeal to me. Most of the time, they’re too good to be true and I find myself being intimidated by them. However, Adam was one of those rare MCs that got my sympathy. I cannot say that he’s a favourite but yeah, he’s just interesting. And I look forward to reading more about him in the sequels to come. I am especially curious on how Mafi will develop his character further given that he’s already the good guy.
And now, let’s talk about the most awesome character in this book who is no other than Warner. But I bet you already know that. I know that I am some crazy girl rooting for a manipulative, sadistic, murderer like him but the thing is, he never pretended otherwise. But while he is all that, he still manages to be wittingly charming. And I am irrefutably entranced with his character every time he opens that mouth of his. I think that that is a mark of a really interesting villain. At some point, he reminded me of Loki, dancing on the fault line of evil and salvation. Before I wrote this review, I actually finished reading Destroy Me and made me understand his motivations. I know that his past horrors didn’t justify his present doings but given the mercy he had shown Fletcher’s family, the way he ignored the thieving that has been going on in his army simply because he sympathized with them; I know for certain that he’s not yet beyond redemption.
Another thing that really sold me on Shatter Me was its plot. Yes, there is predictability in it but it was executed well. Most importantly, it has an X-Men twist which had me reeling. Because I love love X-men. As I contemplated about it, we have
See? You’ve got a nice line up of X-Men characters in there. I wonder whether Mafi is still planning to create Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm and Mystique in the next sequels. If she is then that would be perfect. Kidding aside, there’s actually more to the plot than blasting supervillains to pieces. The romance was done well and in my opinion, Adam and Juliette are good for each other. And perhaps, I can have Warner for myself.
As said earlier, I have an issue with Mafi’s overreliance on metaphors. While some of them are beautiful, a lot of them are simply maddening. It’s not only that but some of them do not even make sense. Yes, Mafi certainly has the potential but it’s not yet as awesome as Ness’ or Marchetta’s or Spooner and Kauffman’s or Taylor’s.
All in all, Shatter Me really justified all the hype. It’s a spellbinding debut novel that greatly portrays Mafi’s boldness and creativeness. I completely trust her to deliver the same performance with Unravel Me. (However, I am still hoping that she’d run out of crazy metaphors by then)
This is an overdue review, one of the leftovers of my ARC pile during my long hiatus. And I must admit that I only forced myself to read it due to the fact that I should still fulfill my responsibility as a reviewer no matter how late my submission is. I am very glad that I did because Sempre turned out to be a gem. It was everything that I expected it to be when I sent in the request.
So I didn’t know that this book started to be as a Twilight FanFic until today and it somehow scared me. I don’t think I can handle a repeat performance of Fifty Shades of Grey. But OMG, this book was anything but Twilight. The storyline alone was enough proof of that. There’s modern day slavery here and violence… a lot of it. With this said, I don’t think Sempre will be for everyone as it’s dark and messy. I wouldn’t be surprised if some will DNF it even before they reach the second chapter. But in my case, Sempre really connected with me in a lot of ways.
Where do I even begin? One of the primary reasons I requested this book is because of the synopsis. Look at that. It’s about the Mafia. And ever since I watched the Godfather, I developed this crazy fascination about the Mob. The way they worked together, their hierarchy, the way they put the Mob first over their families are all interesting. Sempre made me missed the Corleone family and how united they are despite the odds. They are not good people…they’re despicable (beyond redemption maybe) but I admire how they protect their own. The La Costa Nostra family in Sempre is also the same. They’re f**** bastards with no hope of salvation….they murder, they rob, they enslave people… but when it comes to their women and children, the ruthless veneer comes off and you will find insecure, overemotional people who will do what it takes not to drag the former into the mess. Oh, I am not saying that they should be forgiven… It’s just that there’s still good in there somewhere.
So aside from getting immersed into the Mafia way of life, another thing I liked about Sempre is the character development. Obviously, because we’re talking about the Mafia here, there are so many characters to keep track of. And as you know, a story with so many characters rarely succeeds in capturing the hearts of the readers. But Sempre did not suffer that because the overall character development was awesome. I am especially in awe with Vincent DeMarco, Corrado Moretti and of course, Carmine DeMarco—our male MC. The latter could really curse well. What a broken…broken boy. I do have an issue with our female lead, Haven Antonelli. As I am writing this review, I still couldn’t figure whether to hate or love her. For the most part, she maintained a passive stance, generally accepting of her life as a slave. And I don’t like it because I love feisty females. But I also reasoned out that making her the way she is was the most realistic course of action the author can take given the fact that she grew up as a slave. Well, at least, I get to see her finally making decisions for herself and debating with male MC as we go deeper into the story.
The romance in Sempre was also remarkable. I could not believe it either because the situation where our two main characters are in is quite doomed. Add the fact that this book is New Adult which as you know is littered with crappy romance stories that are brimming with incessant sex and kissing. But the romance in Sempre progressed nicely and the intimate moments were somewhat underplayed. We get to see how our characters handled their relationship even though it was dangerous…even if the girl was a slave and the boy was the son of the slave’s master. There will be a lot of people who will think that the relationship is going to be unhealthy but it wasn’t. As a matter of fact, the relationship gradually turned them into better individuals. They didn’t change overnight but you can see that they’re striving hard to be worthy of one another.
The plot was perfectly balanced. There was romance and action that made me interested until the end. Sensitive issues were also covered here. Sempre’s story is not just about the cold-blooded killings, the cringe-worthy slavery, and the romance but it’s about rising above one’s baser nature… that even if our souls have been tainted with so much evil, we can still get up and start anew.
Overall, Sempre is a beautifully written story that took me on a wonderful journey… unexpected but definitely worth the 400+ pages.