Archive for July, 2013

Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men (Back Cover) – Derek Landy

I just want to say how FREAKING AWESOME THIS IS.

I am like 80% sure that is Madame Mist, looking freaking awesome and terrifying at the same.

All those spiders are really not helping how creepy this is. Also the lack of face. And the fact that she looks like a rotting dementor who will suck out your soul with her evil spidery fangs.

And with those happy thoughts, I leave you.

Cress (Cover) – Marissa Meyer

MEYER CRESS BOOKS

Admittedly, I have not read Scarlet yet, however, when a cover is this pretty, you bet I’m making a post about it.

Because look at that gorgeousness.

Cress is based around Rapunzel, and I don’t know much more about it than that. I will say that the Lunar Chronicles have some of the prettiest and most-suiting covers out there. They all fit perfectly together, have a beautiful colour scheme, and perfectly portray the theme of each book.

So yes! I will read Scarlet soon, I promise, but for now you can just salivate over this absolutely beautiful cover.

Throne of Glass- Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

You know the saying “Never judge a book by its cover?” I think it should be used more, When I was getting round to reading this book, I kept trying to put it off because I didn’t like the cover. It seemed like a book which would have a good concept and potential but would just fall flat because the main character was needy and annoying. While some people may agree with the latter, this character was in no way needy.

I’m rambling.

But what I’m trying to get across is that if you read the first few chapters, pages, 100 minus your age, 50 pages, or whatever rule you use; and still end up hating it, then just give up. But this book is a lot better than it looks 🙂

Summary (sorry in advance for the excessive use of brackets. Ironic how this is in brackets… :P)

There’s this girl called Celaena who, at the beginning, is in the salt mines prison because she was this awesome master assassin. Although she has been in prison for around a year (I think) she has no idea who betrayed her and got her captured.

Just to let you know – by the end of this book we still don’t know “how” she was captured, so being me and hating mysteries (which is why I can never read murder mystery stories!) I read all of the short stories straight after (review to come) and they revealed who betrayed her. (dun dun dun!)

She then strikes a deal with the Crown Prince Dorian: she must take part in a competition which, if she wins – after a few years secretly serving as the kings assassin – she will be free. This book focuses on the competition, however, then, some fellow competitors turn up dead.

Cons

Suspected love triangle
I just hope in the next book this doesn’t become a big thing because loads of books with loads of potential just get ruined by a love triangle.

Celaena
I personally loved her, but that doesn’t mean that there were faults with her that I can see other people having an issue with. She was quite – or very, in fact – arrogant. I personally found it amusing. However, she just seemed too perfect. She was a master assassin having trained for years, she loved to read, to go to the library, as well as look pretty and play games. We also know that she only started her training at around 10? (not entirely sure, but I think its around that age) and I just don’t understand how someone can have so many hobbies and be so skilled at killing.

Cover
I’ll call them cover 1 and cover 2 🙂 Cover 1 is the one nearer the top of the page and cover 2 is the one which is lower down the page.
Lets start in order with cover 1: it looks too artificial and like a chickflick and well, to be blunt – crap. “Oh look, I’m a pretty girl who has just been starving in the salt mines for months as I survive off non-nutritious food, but who cares if it’s not accurate as long as I look nice. I’ll just pretend to be strong by standing in a “strong” pose and flexing my arm which has basically nothing but skin on it and clenching my fist. I’m so strong!”
Now onto cover 2: “Move the hell outta the way or I will slash you down where you stand.”

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Pros

Plot
Fast paced. Interesting. Complex. Fit well together. What more could you want?

Characters
It was just so strange how at one point I would be raving for the awesomeness of the character and then a few pages after I was hating that person. I kinda both loved and hated how the writer had the capacity to change our feelings so quickly and dramatically.
Celaena: Although I had a small paragraph about her in the “Cons”, there are still are few awesome parts of her that I think it would be a shame not to mention. She is one of those “strong female lead characters” but there is something different about her, as she wasn’t just a strong role, but she had a feminine side which just makes her a more well-rounded character.

The Concept
Come on! Thieves, Assassins, Murderers… etc. competing against each other for the ultimate prize, and then we weave in some magic and people start dying unexpectedly and then some awesome characters 🙂

Love Triangle
Don’t get me wrong I am not approving of the love triangle or love triangles in general, I would just like to say that, although a love triangle was present from almost the first few pages, it didn’t take over and dominate the book like a lot of other books tend to do. Instead it was done quite subtly and well… it wasn’t really a triangle at all as it wasn’t made that clear who liked who.

Excitement for the next book
So many unanswered questions, which I’m just going to blare out now, so, sorry if you haven’t read the book! (NB: some of these questions get answered in the short stories).

  • Where did the king go on the odd journey?
  • Why were all the guards dead after the odd journey?
  • Who exactly is Perrington?
  • How did she get caught?
  • Who betrayed her?
  • Who was Sam?
  • Is Arobynn still alive?
  • What is she going to be made to do?

The good thing is though, even though there are so many unanswered questions the book is coming out soon!

Favourite Quotes

  • “Libraries were full of ideas–perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons”
  • “We all bear scars,… Mine just happen to be more visible than most”
  • “My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name’s Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I’d still beat you, no matter what you call me”
  • “Sometimes, the wicked will tell us things just to confuse us–to haunt our thoughts long after we’ve faced them”
  • “Names are not important. It’s what lies inside of you that matters”

Overall
I loved this book. Although there were some flaws overall I still thought this book was great, as long as you are willing to put up with the “perfectness” and “arrogance” of Celaena even if the two characteristics contradict each other to a certain extent :P. When I read this book I was in a good mood, so I decided to give it 5 shuriken stars :).

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

I’m sure this book has been analysed and over-analysed again and again, so I’m not going to add my very uninformed, unintelligent opinion on it, so this is going to be a mini-review. I’m just going to talk about a few things I liked, add a quote or two, and yeah.

This review is alternatively named: “I know I missed a ton of symbolism and depth and philosophical meaning, but I liked the book and wanted to say you should read it too so don’t judge me.”

Summary

Firemen burn books.

If you want to know more, read it.

Stuff

I’m not calling this pros because that suggests I know what makes this a good book, and I don’t. It’s a book that takes a lot of thought and more than one read to really comprehend enough to make a definitive list of all the reasons it was good, but I haven’t done that, so deal with it. (I’m sorry, that was mean, I give you a virtual hug. And if you’re questioning whether or not I actually just hugged my laptop, you should have more faith in me. On a side note: laptops are really awkward to hug. They’re all small and edgy and pointy.)

I liked the way Ray Bradbury portrayed the ignorance of Myrtle and her friends. All they did was repeat the same sentences over again, or reiterate what someone else had told them, or what they had heard. They never had an original thought in their conversation, it was all “oh, [insert name here], told me this. This is going to happen because they told me this. This is happening. Do you think it’s happening?” “I think it’s going to happen. This thing that is going to happen.” It not only made them so irritating to read about, but so very real, as I know a lot of people who actually do that. It showed that they had no understanding of anything, however they thought spewing mindless facts gave them intelligence, and did so.

I loved the portrayal of people just being so damn happy with their ignorance, and never having to feel a thing in their lives. The idea that people had become so careless and so protected from bad deeds that they never had to face a bad situation again, without an easy getaway.

And above all, I loved the way the dystopian society had been formed. It wasn’t a totalitarian government that forced people in oppression, it was the people themselves and their impatience and ignorance that had led to this world where no one cared. Where children tried to kill random strangers for fun, a relaxing night was driving over animals, and for fun they would watch animals tear other small creatures to pieces.

So many things in this book are described as both dead and alive, as though all the people in this society are living half-lives without empathy and compassion. Without intelligence and curiosity. It seems that Montag only wants to feel alive, in this society where people act like zombies with mindless drivel coming out of their mouths. The irony of Beatty criticising books with characters that had never lived, that were both dead and alive, when he was too, both in a metaphorical and real sense. He, like everyone, is a fictional character. He never lived, he never breathed, but he is alive on those pages.

Quotes

  • “Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”
  • “Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?”
    “Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.”
  • “With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.”
  • “We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
  • “Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were heading for shore.”

Overall

The casual brutality and ignorance portrayed in the book is what I might love most of all. The things that Montag sees are haunting and stay with you long after you’ve read them. I loved the many messages Fahrenheit 451 wrote about, and gave life to, and it is extremely relevant to today. 5 shuriken stars. Definitely.

 

 

Ink – Amanda Sun

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for providing us a copy of this book!

WARNING: There are some minor spoilers in this review. You have been warned. HUZZAH.

You know that saying, don’t judge a book by this cover? Well I’ll admit it, I wanted to read this book because of the cover. But really, can you blame me? This cover is gorgeous! I mean look at that beauty!

So things were looking good for Ink. That is, until the romance appeared.

Summary

Katie is the new girl at high school. She meets the mysterious yet beautiful Tomohiro. He turns out to have supernatural powers. They fall in love.

Cons

Cliché

Does that summary remind you of anything? Say, I don’t know… every bad paranormal romance to exist ever?  Stripping away the Japanese element and the supernatural power in question; we have your boring, high school romance where nothing happens except our oblivious main character obsessing over some random jerk she just met. And the first half of the book, with the odd supernatural occurrence, was just Katie thinking about Tomohiro. And then talking to Tomohiro. And then staring at Tomohiro. And then thinking about him some more. And it got boring very quickly.

The Relationship

The only time I actually felt that they had some sort of romantic connection was near the end of the book, at which point it read like a school crush. Except we are supposed to believe, by this point, that these characters are so in love with each other that they would die for one another. Their relationship moved unbelievably fast.

The Characters

Katie felt very bland, as her whole personality seemed to consist of being in love with Tomohiro, which left no space for us to see anything else about her. And none of her other relationships seemed real because of it. Unfortunately, the minor characters had barely any screen time with Tomohiro taking up all of Katie’s thoughts. However, I will say that Katie, at least, had some common sense, which is more than I can say for most of those lead female characters out there.

And Tomohiro was creepy as hell. Sure he was certainly a lot nicer than most of the guys in paranormal fiction (*cough* Patch Cipriano *cough*), but the one attempted rape scene certainly changed my opinion about him. I know it was an act, and I know he didn’t mean it, and I know he was doing it for Katie’s good, but holy waffles did it make me uncomfortable. I mean, was he not the slightest bit worried about how Katie would feel afterwards, almost being violated by someone she thought she could trust? I didn’t get any inclination that he felt uncomfortable trying to rape her. And I didn’t understand why he could have just told Katie, straight up, that he was too dangerous to be around. Nope, his first resort was sexual assault. Creepy.

The minor characters really were lacking in personality. Jun was flirtatious. Yuki gossiped a lot. Tanaka… was there. Diane was sweet. There was a very obvious lack of subplots in this book, which would have helped greatly to make them more developed characters, however we know almost nothing about them and therefore they were mere cardboard cutouts of people.

The Writing Style

It was, honestly, nothing special. A lot of clichés used. Someone would say something, and Katie would tell us what they meant, even though we knew what they were talking about each time. It felt as though each fact was being repeated two or three times for us just in case we missed it, which felt unnecessary to say the least. However, the writing did flow nicely and the book was very easy to read, so I’m not trying to say that the writing was bad at all. It was good. It just could have been a lot better.

Jumping to Conclusions

Katie sees her drawings moving on the page, and then sees Tomohiro standing near her. She assumes that he is causing the drawings to move.

That seems like a pretty big conclusion to jump to for a girl who does not believe in the supernatural and barely knows this guy who she suspects to be making her drawings murder weapons.

Pros

The Setting and Paranormalcy

It’s nice to see a writer set something in a different country, and obviously know what she’s talking about. I don’t know much about Japan (apart from what I’ve learned from anime) but her facts did seem very accurate and the culture was fascinating to read about. And it did help me learn some more Japanese, which is always a bonus. And the supernatural element? Awesome. Drawings coming to attack you and cutting you yet having no control over it – a brilliant concept but also a nice new take on the old myths. My favourite parts were probably the gruesome yet beautiful images of the ink: pooling out of canvases and people; mixing with blood and to the ground, then suddenly disappearing in the next second.

The Humour

It was very sparse, but when it was there, it did make me smile. It wasn’t forced, like a lot of humour in books tends to be. And if there had been more of it, it would have made an even more enjoyable read and developed Katie’s character a lot further.

Quotes

  • “My heart was glass–easy to see through, simple to break.”
  • “They tell you you’ll forget how it used to be. You’ll get used to it, that it’s better to move on. They don’t realize you can’t. You’re not the same person anymore.”

Overall

A brilliant concept yet it was ruined by the unnecessary romance, and the bland characters. However, it was an enjoyable read and the setting and supernatural elements really enhanced the experience. 2 1/2 shuriken stars. Read it if you want a new, good, paranormal romance, or are looking for something quick and easy to read. Or if, like me, you’re a sucker for gorgeous covers.

The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

Sometimes, books in a series can be very hard to review, as you never know what the author is planning next.

Maybe a character is left under-developed in this first book. But perhaps the author is only doing this to prepare ourselves for terrific, mind-blowing development in the next book. Or maybe the character is just going to die off screen and no one will surely give a crap.

So I’ll do my best, however this review is subject to change as we shall see in the future where Maggie Stiefvater takes these characters. Because, oh, it has such brilliant potential. And I would hate for a potentially awesome series to fall flat on its face.

Summary

So there’s a girl called Blue who is from a family of psychics, however is not psychic herself. When she kisses her true love, he’ll die – which is, you know, great. And then she finds this guy called Gansey who is meant to die within the next year, and he’s either her true love, or she’s going to kill him. Most likely both. Gansey’s obsessed with finding the “ley line” which is this cool supernatural thingy, so he, Blue, and his friends go and search for it. And also try not to die.

Cons

First Book

This is more of a Con to reviewing this particular book than a Con for the book.

Nothing much happens in this book, as a lot of it is just setting up for the bigger story as a whole, so it means that sometimes it can read slowly. This is made up for hugely with the amazing bromance and gorgeous writing style and awesome characters and so on. But nothing much happening means that it’s hard to tell if the story will speed up and become more interesting, or if it will stay at this slow walking pace.

Blue’s Friendship

Usually this wouldn’t be a problem in books, however because this book did almost everything so impeccably well, I’m being especially harsh on it.

I was hoping for a different scenario in which Blue’s friendship happens. I was wishing for more tension when Adam invited Blue over into the helicopter, however it was very easy and very fast. Her integration  into such a tightly knit group was slightly strange to me, however it’s most likely because of their shared interest in the supernatural, and will probably be played on more in the later books, and it didn’t bother me as if this happened in most books, I would barely notice it.

Pros

Bromance

It’s the most obvious, because it’s the most brilliant.

Friendships are easy to write. Close friendships aren’t too hard either. However, making them believable is the hard part, especially a friendship as close as this one.

You know when you meet a group of friends, so incredibly and obviously close that you feel completely out of the loop, not because they’re excluding you, just because they are so freakishly in tune with each other? They share similar humour, manners of speaking and general interests. And of course, they each are different individuals, but you cannot deny those very prominent similarities that just develop after spending way too much time with each other.

Maggie Stiefvater portrayed that beautifully, while also having each character very distinct and different from one another. How? I have no idea. A lot of times while reading this book, I would pause and reread a few pages, just trying to digest how she was so brilliant at writing these characters and their relationships. I wanted to do a critical study of The Raven Boys and see how she made the descriptions so gorgeously vivid, and the characters so fleshed out.

The friendships have both tension and disagreements yet also intense care and fondness, and are brilliant portrayals (in the opinion of a girl who’s, obviously, never been to an exclusively male fancy private school) of high school students. She writes them with maturity, yet also a recklessness and naivety that comes with it.

Characters

I love all the characters. I am not going to go into all the reasons why I love the characters, because I’m lazy and this review would get far too long, but let me promise you that all these characters are very individual, fitting to their situations and ages, all hold prominence in the story, and are all important to the plot. With a possible exception to Persephone and Calla, who’s backstorys and intents have not been revealed to the fullest (though they probably will soon. I’m so freaking curious about Persephone), every character has this brilliant past that contributes to the story, and without them, the book would probably be very different. And they were likeable! Hooray!

Out of all the characters, I would say that Blue is the least developed (which is still extremely developed, however the standard of this book is just very high), however I have high hopes for her in the next books.

Writing Style

I’m pretty sure this book earns an entire star just for the absolutely amazingly fantabulous writing style.

Even if this book had been very bland in description, I still would have given it a high mark for the dialogue and characters alone, but add in the writing style of awesomeness and BAM, you have a great book. Just… the atmosphere and the word choice and the brilliance of it all is just… I want to read more Maggie Stiefvater books. I want to read them and let her magic with words soak into me like osmosis.

Romance

The romance between Blue and Gansey did not go the route I expected it to take (and by that I mean there wasn’t any romance between them). Our lovely author could have taken it the very obvious route, but instead, we have Adam pining after Blue. Hopefully, if this turns into a messy love triangle, it will be a good love triangle that’s necessary to the plot. And the romance between Adam and Blue was believable! Yes, YA fiction! You have done it! A romance that does not make me want to throw up!

Quotes

  • “How do you feel about helicopters?”
    There was a long pause. “How do you mean? Ethically?”
    “As a mode of transportation.”
    “Faster than camels, but less sustainable.”
  • “He strode over to the ruined church. This, Blue had discovered, was how Gansey got places – striding. Walking was for ordinary people.”
  • “You are being self-pitying.”
    “I’m nearly done. You don’t have much more of this to bear.”
    “I like you better this way.”
    “Crushed and broken,” Gansey said. “Just the way women like ’em.”
  • “Aglionby Academy was the number one reason Blue had developed her two rules: One, stay away from boys because they were trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards.”
  • “In the end, he was nobody to Adam, he was nobody to Ronan. Adam spit his words back at him and Ronan squandered however many second chances he gave him. Gansey was just a guy with a lot of stuff and a hole inside him that chewed away more of his heart every year.”
  • “Maura had decided sometime before Blue’s birth that it was barbaric to order children about, and so Blue had grown up surrounded by imperative question marks.”

Overall

I want to give this 5 stars very badly, but I’m going to withhold them for the very fact that it could go either way. This book does not scream to me immediate perfection, but I love it, all the same. And I am absolutely getting my hands on the sequel when it comes out. 4 3/4 shuriken stars. READ IT! Or don’t, if it doesn’t seem like your type of book, because it won’t be everyone’s.

This book has been a saviour throughout wading through bad books, trying to not wonder if I’ve just used up all the good books, and that all books I stumble upon will be inherently bad. It’s given me a new source of hope that there are brilliant YA fiction books with good character development, solid plot, interesting characters, good writing and originality still out there, waiting to be read.

Wonder- R.J. Palacio

Wonder

Summary
Goodreads puts it quite well.

I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Cons

I’m sure there are some because well, no book is perfect no matter how perfect it is. I just realized that made no sense, but hey ho I’ll just pretend you know what I mean 😛

Pros

Audience
This book can be read for anyone- just like any book to be honest. However, there does seem to be something special to this book, such that whoever you are, you can just connect to one of the characters. For example, when I read this book, although I fell in love with all of the characters, I particularly connected and understood Vi, Auggie’s sister (side note, I have a younger brother). I then recommended this book to my mum to read after she came asking for a book to read while on holiday, and although this is considered a “children’s book” she loved it (which just goes to prove that there should be no lower age limit for books). However, anyway, when my mum read it, unlike me, she at once connected with the mother of the child. It just goes to show how awesome this book is and how there is a piece of it that everyone can grow to love.

WonderPrecepts
If I heard them in real life or when I was younger I would have probably thought they were cliché (if I knew what that word meant as a kid ;)).

PoV
I loved how it didn’t just feature Auggie’s point of view but also all his friends and family. It just makes the book seem more 3D as the “baddie” is no longer the “baddie” and is just some kid who is trying too hard to make friends. Also, when we have a main character such as “Auggie” who doesn’t look “normal” we often ignore the other characters who are there, and at once sympathize with August rather than looking at who else his disfigurement also affects.

Favorite Quotes

  • “I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”
  • “Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”
  • “Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness”
  • “The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes after they’ve died. They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs. Only instead of being made of stone, they’re made out of the memories people have of you.”
  • “Now that I look back, I don’t know why I was so stressed about it all this time. Funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something and it turns out to be nothing”

Overall
So anyway, in my opinion this book was amazing! 5 stars easily 🙂 but I really don’t think that this review can summarize how I really love this book.