This is my second Marcy Kate Conolly book and I enjoyed this more than the other one. The story is what the premise promised. We have Emmeline who is gifted with shadow weaving. She excels at it. She loves it. She acknowledges it. Only that her parents and the people surrounding her have grown wary about her power as the years went by. Then the day came when her parents couldn’t take it any longer and desired to send her away to get cured. So Emmeline ran and took refuge in the woods wherein she met a lovely family whose only son is gifted with magic as well. And so, her adventure begins.
I think the beauty of Shadow Weaving lies on the characterization of our main protagonist, Emmeline. . She’s clueless, lacks the basic sense of right and wrong, suffers from “I am the victim” syndrome, and thinks that the world revolves around her and her sufferings. What’s surprising is that Emmeline is not aware that she’s any of these things. She really thinks that her life is woefully pitiful without realizing that it was she who had alienated everyone around her, including her parents. Though her parents are not exactly good, they, at least, in their own ways, tried to provide good guiding hands for Emmeline. But they’re not just equipped (in skills or in experience) on how to handle such a child like Emmeline so they actually failed despite their efforts to give her a normal life. For Emmeline’s part, she’s really self-centered refusing to even take the time to reflect about why her parents act like that or why the servants shy away from her. Instead, she lets herself be easily led by her shadow, which is, by the way sentient and has no qualms of inflicting harm to people. But Emmeline thinks that her shadow is beyond reproach.
But other than Emmeline’s characterization, Shadow Weaver has nothing more to offer to the table. The lore of the Cerelia Comet and its blessings felt very shallow, I could not bring myself to be interested in it. The main conflict (good vs. evil) was too simplistic and easily resolved that it didn’t make an impact. And most importantly, I was only invested in Emmeline but couldn’t empathize with any of the other characters including Lucas and Dar.
I was really glad that Shadow Weaver was a very short book, thus, my patience didn’t run thin. Overall, this is not an inherently bad book but it sure would benefit from a little tweaking here and there.
In 2016, I discovered one of the most brilliant LGBTQ series there is, the Captive Prince by C.S Pacat. Since then, I’ve been looking for the next book that will make the same impact and though I’ve come across unforgettable ones, nothing could still compare to Captive Prince but I’m not one to easily give up. So in my search, I found The Unsuitable Heir in Netgalley and after reading the premise, I thought, this is it.
But one chapter into the story, I was bored as hell and gotten confused with the characters. Essentially, this is not a bad book but I could not feel any sympathy for the main character who struggled outing his sexuality considering the time period. I could not care about the impending doom our characters have to face because of a loose killer. I could not care about the budding romance between the two male protagonists because they’re bland as fuck. I could not care about the supporting characters and their dilemma. I could not care about the setting which in another author’s (I’m sorry okay?) hands might have been lovely. I. Just. Could. Not. Bring. Myself. To. Care. About. This. Book.
So all in all, I’d be wasting both our time if I make this review any longer.
Forgive the lateness of this review and I hope that it does not give the impression that it’s because I hate the book. As a matter of fact, the Hollow Girl is the best book that I’ve read in 2017. If you know me, I don’t normally read horror stories because it’s not just my genre and you know, nightmares. But after reading the synopsis, I knew that I had to pick it up and told myself that “Let’s try this for once.” And so I did.
Oh boy, no regrets so far because after page 1, there was no turning back. The story consumed me, the characters captivated me and the twists shook me. Hillary Monahan really took her time in fleshing out the characters and in weaving the story that it wasn’t cumbersome or convoluted but not simple either. The story centers on a Romani Gypsy, Bethan, who’s being groomed by her grandmother to succeed the latter as the tribe’s green healer. Her life is pretty much alright except for one thing: the tribal leader’s son, Silas, is trying his damnedest to harass Bethan. And then, one night, what Drina (Bethan’s grandmother) and Bethan dreaded happened. Bethan got raped and her friend died protecting her.
The incident was the turning point for Bethan. Though she and her grandmother were peace loving individuals, they did not hesitate in deciding that Silas and the boys who played accomplices must pay. So the tale of darkness and revenge began. And it was damn satisfying seeing Bethan and her grandma made corpses out of the boys. Cue evil laugh. Kidding aside, there was more to this book than the killings. Rape is such a delicate subject, even more so the aftermath. The victim traumatized and stigmatized while the suspects go seemingly underpunished. With the Hollow Girl, my heart really cried for Bethan and her grandmother but I literally rejoiced as they sought retribution from Silas and his friends. Happiness that turned into awe and sadness again when the twist was revealed.
This book, essentially, has all the things that I love in a story despite it being horror. There’s heart, darkness, revenge, and nuanced characters that will surely make your reading experience a memorable one. Cheers to you, Hillary Monahan.
Finally, I was able to mine a gem in Netgalley. Despite some minor issues, Skyfare didn’t disappoint from beginning to end. The story goes like this: An apprentice sorceress, Aimee de Laurent, just finished school and had a taste of what the real world is by becoming a portal mage for a spaceship named Elysium. As she was learning the ropes, Aimee and the rest of Elysium’s crew crossed paths with an evil, powerful and ruthless mage knight, Lord Azrael, who is on a quest to find the Axiom Diamond by any means possible.
Wow! This was a highly entertaining read. I loved that despite being a standalone (for now, maybe?) and the average number of its pages, Skyfarer managed to paint a world set in the galaxy that is believable and rich in folklore. And the way the author melded science and magic together without confusing me is quiet amazing. Another thing that made me appreciate this book more is that the main characters were full of flaws, each chained to his/her own struggles. Aimee, the overachiever student, is constantly hungry to prove herself so you can just imagine how devastated she is when her first display of magic outside of school went awry. On another hand, Lord Azrael, the angel of death of the Eternal Order has only one objective in mind and has no qualms on getting his hands bloodied. And yet, every time he kills and wreaks havoc, a part of him screams in pain and agony.
The storyline maybe predictable but I enjoyed how it was executed. There’s a perfect balance of action, adventure, suspense, and drama that I just can’t put the book down. I missed this kind of storytelling, straight up science fiction with no frills and nonsensical turns and twists. At the moment, I am still unsure whether I should pray for a sequel or thank the book gods for giving me the opportunity to read a standalone that is blissfully satisfying.
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Unsettling at first but once you get used to all the jargons used in this book, you’ll find yourself having a hard time in putting it down. The basic premise is that the age of humans is coming to an end when the crosses (term for human/alien hybrids) that they’ve made—through vat culture—rallied together and started a resistance . Our female protagonist, Jaqi, who is a cross herself wanted nothing to do with the war and had spent her life in hiding and doing shady stuff. But just like the girl of destiny, she suddenly found herself in the thick of it all. Then, we have our male protagonist who is also a cross and a high ranking soldier of the resistance. Plus, he’s suffering from a terrible PTSD to the point that he got addicted to drugs.
It’s pretty interesting to follow the story particularly that we have these seemingly underdog hybrid crosses (who were once treated as machines and servants by the superior human race) made a reversal of their pitiful lives and are now doing everything to wipe out their overlords, the humans. I think it would have been more interesting if the book gave me a chance to know our characters (main or supporting) more because the way Ellsworth wrote them made me feel like I was just scratching the surface.
Also, I didn’t buy the idea of Jaqi throwing out all of her rules out the window for a couple of kids she just met. It just didn’t compute with her happy-go-lucky and always on the run personality. Personally, it’d made more sense if she had just left the kids to die and maybe…the author should’ve used another and more realistic way to trigger the events of the book.
Another thing that I wished for this book is for a more comprehensive world-building given the ambitiousness of the whole story. There’s a galactic war to raze the human race to extinction, a Dark Zone threating to swallow the whole universe, and hate-filled alien/human hybrids who, instead of using high-powered ammo, wield swords that suck the memories of its victims. There a lot of things worth showing in this book and I hope that Ellsworth will do such in the sequels.
All in all, I’m really glad to have given A Red Peace a try. It may not be as intense as Luke Skywalker discovering that he’s a Jedi but it’ll surely feed your sci-fi hunger. I’m looking forward to read the next book in the series.
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
After weeks of toiling, it’s always nice to unwind and curl up with a short and straightforward book. Much better if the said book doesn’t need a lot of mental gymnastics. Thankfully, Breakaway managed to be the perfect book to curl up with. It was a pleasant surprise considering that the book’s premise screams loudly of cliché. Well, it is. We’ve got a female heroine who’s struggling to make her mark in the world after realizing that she had spent a large part of her life being the shadow of her famous boyfriend. And a male protag who already had the world at his feet but due to an injury, he’s back to finding his new purpose in life. And you know what happens next.
There was the usual angst, the I’ve-got-issues-let’s-breakup scenario, the soul searching moments…yada, yada, yada…But hey, the wonderful execution compensated for all of that. Breakaway is also fast-paced and the drama was kept to a minimum.
There are, however, some things that I need to nitpick. For example, I would have loved to explore Cate’s world of Hockey because this book just gave us glimpses of what hockey is from her perspective. I suddenly missed Miranda Kenneally’s way of writing sporty books. Second, I was left hanging with the way Cameron handled Dawn’s relationship with her parents. That scene where Dawn and her mother had a confrontation in the kitchen felt so awkward… like it just came out from nowhere and the book ended without giving it some sort of closure. And lastly, Corrigan Falls seems a very lovely place, it’s sad that Cate’s writing wasn’t able to entice me, even in my imagination, to visit the place.
All in all, Breakaway’s a pretty good book and I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
So alright, I don’t have to wax poetic what the story is all about. If you’re familiar with the story of Noah’s Ark then you have the basic premise of The List. Set some time in the future, Earth finally succumbed to Global Warming. The glaciers melted causing a massive flood that killed a lot of people. Fortunately, a radical environmentalist named John Noa had already anticipated the catastrophe and built an Ark. To cut the story short, John Noa and the rest of the survivors made a new world where technology was forbidden and speech regulated. Yes, you’ve read that right. Due to John Noa’s resentment and perverse obsession to protect Ark from another bout of Global Warming, he mandated that speech must be regulated. Because ya know, speech=freedom…freedom to manipulate…freedom to express…freedom to spread lies…etc. So a Wordsmith was appointed to release a List of words that every Ark citizen must use to communicate. Speaking/using words not included in the list would mean punishment.
In Ark, our heroine, Letta, was born. Despite being an orphan, her life is still pretty much easier compared to the other Ark dwellers. She was made apprentice to the Wordsmith, Benjamin, which means that she can speak words outside of the list without getting punished. Everything was working fine in Letta’s world when suddenly it turned upside down and found herself being hailed as the new Wordsmith.
Well, this was a good read although I’m still partial to the Giver. The premise alone is already intriguing from the get go. And I was highly interested as to how the author would handle such ambitious idea. Though there are still areas for improvement, I think that Patricia Forde did a good job in presenting a world where language is constrained. I especially enjoyed the dialogue where the conversationalists are speaking List. Grammar Nazis, beware!
I also liked the environmental message that the author was sending particularly that the target audience of this book is our youngsters. It never hurts to educate our young ones regarding environmental protection as early as possible. Cheers for that, Forde!
I was, however, quite turned off with the way the author is hinting a romance between Letta and Marlo because it’s not necessary. And I don’t even feel any chemistry between the two. And one more thing, that ending feels like a cop out.
All in all, if you enjoy middle-grade dystopia and still crazy about The Giver’s, then, The List is the perfect book for you.
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!***