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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Title: A Mad, Wicked Folly
Author: Sharon Biggs Waller
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: January 23, 2014
Publishing House: Viking Juvenile
ISBN: 9780670014682
Source of Copy: Purchased from Bestseller (Guam)

Summary:

Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist - a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse - or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, VIcky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?


(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)

Review:


Vicky would like to offer her apologies for having offended the more delicate sensibilities of the ton by posing nude for her art class, but she knows that she will do it again in a heartbeat if it meant she could continue her craft. Vicky wants more to life than just the splendid dresses and handsome suitors - she wants to leave her legacy by becoming a full-fledged artist, something that no one but Will, the police constable, can understand. It is a changing world in 1909 London, where women are fighting for their rights as equals, and it is the same world where Vicky must decide if her desires and ambitions can trump everything that she's ever known.

There's just something so deliciously wicked about Vicky, that I couldn't help but want to become her friend just after a few chapters. She's determined, ambitious, but also funny - albeit unintentionally - and just positively bursting with life; traits in a young lady that the 1909 London high society just cannot tolerate. Vicky is hellbent on being an artist, and if it means that having to marry charming but selfish Edmund Carrick-Humphrey will be the gateway to her freedom, then so be it. Her plans are, however, thwarted when she finds a muse in the most unlikely of places, and that her college application may or may not be further strengthened by making caricatures and painting murals for the suffragette movement. Vicky is the kind of friend that your parents may not approve of, but she's exactly the kind of friend you'd want to keep around because she makes everything an adventure. Trouble certainly follows Vicky around as she is often caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, but it's decidedly what makes the novel come alive and take a mind of its own. Vicky's burgeoning romance with the handsome police constable, Will, is just as equally delicious, what with her amusing thoughts and their innocent, yet highly flammable touches.

I also liked reading about the suffragette movement, as it undoubtedly caused a major wave of panic. Where women were initially perceived as frail, fragile things - yes, things, possessions, to be exact - London is seeing a change in the tide where women are rallying for the same rights as men! This is a movement perfect for Vicky who faces her problem with the same endearing and passionate If the men can do it, then so can I! cavalier attitude.

READ this if you love historical fiction with a passion. READ this if you are all for a protagonist who although is deeply in love with a charming young man, will still stick to her guns about her wants and dreams in life. READ this if you want to be entertained by a lovely, spirited young woman who heralds the change of times in London. READ this if you delicious stories about love, art, and the power of passion!

Which is, you know, practically me falling all over myself to urge you to pick this up and prepare to be swept away. A Mad, Wicked Folly offers a rollicking good time peppered with just the right amount of romance and ambition.

I cannot wait for more books from this splendid author.


Rating:
            

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Publishing House: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
ISBN: 9780374384678
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Summary:

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

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


(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)

Review:


After having read a lot of books that have been hyped to the point of no return, I must admit I was torn between two feelings when I spotted a copy at our local bookstore. First, I was excited, and then I was terrified. "What if I end up not liking this book after I spent so many months coveting it?" I remember half-whispering to my co-blogger as I adoringly stroked the gorgeous cover at the bookstore.


My dismal - and panicky- thoughts were quelled, however, when I was just a chapter in. As of late, I could pretty much predict the overall rating of the book based on the first few chapters alone, having had only a few who changed my ratings. In this case, I was all smiles as I settled in with this book, never mind the fact that I should have been hurriedly packing my luggage for my vacation.

In one fell swoop, The Winner's Curse won me over with its fantastic, well-paced plot, splendid multi-faceted characters, and seductive thralls of power, danger, and love. 

As Kestrel's seventeenth birthday looms, she is given two choices: she either joins the military, or she must find herself wedded. Neither of the options are truly appealing to Kestrel, whose musical abilities are an eccentricity only overlooked because of her status as the general's daughter. When she is lured to purchase a slave who can sing, Kestrel seems to have gotten more than she has bargained for. Not only does Arin open up a heart that should only be open to the upper echelon of her glittering society, but he opens her eyes to the painful reality that her society has shrouded. Kestrel must decide which should rule over which: the mind, or the heart?

What I loved about this book was how it quickly captures the interest of readers - the spectacular cover, the alluring pull of the summary, and the best part being that it actually delivers! Early on, readers are practically falling all over themselves in sympathizing with Kestrel who, like the bird she is named after, is caught in an impressive, yet repressive gilded cage. Kestrel is great at strategy and at winning (like Prince Jaron of Jennifer Nielsen's The False Prince), but she doesn't quite do as well with hand-to-hand combat - which is quite refreshing. I'd say more about Arin, and the bigger, pivotal role he plays that doesn't just turn Kestrel's world upside down but also that of society's, but I'd really much rather that readers plunge into this without a thought as to what they're "supposed" to be expecting, as the element of surprise is really quite crucial here! I read this one with only the summary to guide me, and although the information fell just right of what is apt, it gave me no expectations as to what I'm about to discover - and THAT, my dear friends, is what makes this book very worthy of its 4.5 rating. I relished the thrill that this book took me to in the comfort of my own bed, and I hardly let it go, except to spam-message my co-blogger that "This book doesn't suck at all, and it's very, very fabulous!!!"

I loved this one so much (and I do not take that word lightly!), that I immediately plucked Marie Rutkoski's The Shadow Society from my unruly - and because of book-blogging, growing - To-Be-Read shelf and packed it with me for my travel. 

The Winner's Curse is without a doubt, another of 2014's best books that I've read so far.  

Can the next book please come faster now? Please?


Rating:

               


Monday, April 28, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Talker 25 by Joshua McCune

Title: Talker 25
Author: Joshua McCune
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: April 22 2014
Publishing House: Greenwillow
ISBN: 9780062121912
Source of Copy: Edelweiss

Summary:

It's a high school prank gone horribly wrong - sneaking onto the rez to pose next to a sleeping dragon - and now senior Melissa Callahan has become an unsuspecting pawn in a war between Man and Monster, between family and friends and the dragons she has despised her whole life. Chilling, epic, and wholly original, this debut novel imagines a North America where dragons are kept on reservations, where strict blackout rules are obeyed no matter the cost, where the highly weaponized military operates in chilling secret, and where a gruesome television show called Kissing Dragons unites the population. Joshua McCune's debut novel offers action, adventure, fantasy, and a reimagining of popular dragon lore.


(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)

Review:

I really wanted to like this book because dragons, right? But try as I might I just couldn't get into it. I wasn't happy that it's been compared to Ann Aguirre's Outpost because that book is amazing. This just falls flat.

After sneaking into the dragon sanctuary and inadvertently catching the military's attention, Melissa finds herself an unwitting participant in the war between humans and dragons. This book is basically a war between humans and dragons. That is about as much as I could glean from it because it's all about who's on which side and a whole lot of dragon torture which is not amusing. 

The characters in Talker 25 are poorly crafted. Melissa is a crass, judgmental, insensitive and spiteful girl and I don't like her attitude at all. She flips off her dad, shames her brother in public and calls her friend a slut behind her back. From the very beginning, I knew she was going to be an issue. Add to that list the fact that she instantly swoons over a hot guy? I don't know why the dragons even bothered with her since apparently she's useless.

James, the hot guy, is as annoying as Melissa. Love at first sight? Yeah. I have nothing against that but the way it was executed here was just terrible. The romance served no purpose in the story and it just added fuel to the fire. He's a really terrible insurgent who throws temper tantrums and compromises the safety of his group by running off to mope when he's all sad and depressed. Not cool, James.

Also, where was the backstory? I don't understand how the dragons found their way to our world and apparently they don't know how that happened either. REALLY. Is this some sort of a cop-out? The dragons had no idea how they found humans? They were just dropped there? Out of the blue? They can't see the color black? What. Is. That. Where was the world-building? Someone please explain.

And the humans! Attack first negotiate later? I get that fear makes people act rashly, but having the government lash out at dragons when they haven't initiated anything? That deserves a massive face palm. And the torture scenes in this book were horrible and annoying because they were just cruel for the sake of being cruel. It's just unnecessary and unexplained hatred everywhere.

I also didn't get the role of the dragon fanatics or rebels because the dragons seemed to do okay on their own. And here comes these people who want to help them? By riding on their backs and talking to them in their heads. Ugh, if I were one of those dragons I wouldn't even bother.

Basically Talker 25 is about about dragons and dragon fanatics fighting the government and they all hate each other and try to one up the other. They also do reconditioning on humans and use them on their TV show. It's doesn't help that you've got a bratty heroine narrating the story and I wouldn't trust her with my life. If you want a dragon book I'd point you towards Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. 


Rating:


                        


Friday, April 25, 2014

[Blog Tour] NICOLE'S REVIEW: The Hunt by Stacey Kade

Title: The Hunt
Author: Stacey Kade
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: April 22 2014
Publishing House: Disney Hyperion
ISBN: 9781423153290
Source of Copy: NetGalley

Summary:

Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created er. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what- she is and still wants to be part of her life.  

But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger.

Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allis. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?


(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)

Review:

My review for the first book, The Rules, is right over here.

The Hunt basically starts off where The Rules left - Ariane and Zane on the run, hiding from GTX. Problem is, GTX isn't the only corporation out to get them. There are 2 more out there who would love nothing more but to get their hands on Ariane - because human experimentation is a thing and there's even a government sanctioned competition between the three to figure out who's creation is the best. Ariane's just realizing that she never really had a shot at a normal life but if she wants out from the running and the hiding, she's going to have to find a way to get in touch with the other experiments and find a way to put a stop to the whole mess.

With the recent influx of alien books, it's hard to find one that really catches your eye. (same thing dystopian novels but that's another thing) The Hunt isn't amazing but it's a good, solid, entertaining book. It's one of those books I give a 3.5 but still follow the whole series till the very end. 

Ariane's character arc was well written - she's stronger now in the second book. She's more in control of her powers and not as afraid or meek as she was in the first. She's more take-charge here and I like her this way. But at the same time, there's a certain vulnerability to her. She's never really had anyone she could trust but now she has Zane and being on the run doesn't do things for his safety so she's torn between ditching him or dragging him along. It's not easy but that's what happens when you care about people.

Zane, on the other hand, isn't just some macho jock anymore. Now that he's finally come to really care for Ariane, we see him sometimes wondering if he's good enough. He doesn't judge her for being half-alien and actually wonders if he's even worthy of Ariane. Such a cute boy. And the fact that he's willing to fight for what they have? Plus points to you. Even if he might have botched a few things up near the end. He's a good boy and I might have wanted to reach into the book and smoosh his face then maybe smoosh him and Ariane together because they deserve a happy ending.

Speaking of endings, that cliffhanger is killer. I was lucky enough to get an eARC of this book but I don't think it's possible to wait till next year (I think) for the next. I had to constantly distract myself with other shiny things so as NOT to think about the way this ended. Cliffhanger. Ugh. I want to cry. All in all, if you're in the mood for something extraterrestrial pick up The Rules then get this baby too.

The cover's a little shady. I mean I understand it but that doesn't mean it's not shady.


Rating:

     

                        

Thursday, April 24, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Title: Sea of Shadows
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: April 8 2014
Publishing House: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780062071248
Source of Copy: Edelweiss

Summary:

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire's worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls o the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by ana nicent evil, the sister's journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they've ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court - one that will alter the balance of their world forever.


(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads.)

Review:

Moria and Ashyn - sisters, twins, Keeper and Seeker. They have a task every year - quiet the sprits that roam the forest near their home. Spirits of the exiled criminals who die in the forest near their home. It's Ashyn's first year to do it without her mentor and when things start going wrong and people start dying she's not sure what to think. Her fault? Or maybe just a bad year for her and her sister. When their tiny little town is attacked, the sisters have to bring news to their Emperor crossing paths with monsters and journeying across deserts and mountains. But thing is, trouble has a way of following the sisters and court life isn't exactly the reprieve they thought it'd be.

Sea of Shadows is a pretty good story - the pacing's great and the world-building was decent. I liked the atmosphere, it was creepy and dark. My only problem was how it seemed like the ending was too quick which left the story feeling a little cut short but that's about it.

The story is told in the alternating voices of Moria and Ashyn, two wholly different characters. Moria is the fighter, brash, bold and gorgeous, she has all the boys falling at her feet. Especially that imperial guard who's taken a liking to her. Moira has a cat, a big hunting cat who tags along wherever she goes. ( I like the cat better than I do Moria)

Ashyn, the other twin, is as beautiful but more timid. I was more partial to Ashyn and might be a little guilty of just skimming through Moria's parts and paying more attention to her twin's. After getting separated from her sister, she's forced to travel with an exile named Ronan. I liked him with Ashyn and when it was clear that he might have been more interested in Moria, initially, I wasn't happy. There was a little case of insta-love and Ashyn feeling a whole lot sorry for herself and comparing herself to her sister but thankfully it doesn't last the whole book. I can deal with a little self-pity.

Long story short, they do some traveling then encounter supposedly nonexistent mythical creatures and get into fights. They get deceived by bad men out to get them and escape and have to travel to the city. There are kisses in between. Then we realize that Ronan leaves the scene and there's something wrong with Moria's choice in men. See Moria? This is why I prefer your sister. She's not stupid. 

Overall a pretty entertaining book, I'd recommend this for those looking for their next fantasy read.


Rating:

     
                       


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Stolen Songbird by Danielle Jensen

Title: Stolen Songbird
Author: Danielle Jensen
Format Acquired: ARC
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publishing House: Strange Chemistry
ISBN: 9781908844965
Source of Copy: Requested from publisher

Summary:


For five centuries, a witch's curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realizes that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time...

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for...


(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from ARC)

Review:

Cécile was on her way to the city to further hone her skills as a singer and join her estranged mother, when she was abducted to become the troll prince's bride.  Now bonded to Tristan - against her will, of course - Cécile could feel his thoughts and feelings, and vice versa. Humans aren't exactly favored in Trollus, a town that used to revel in sunlight but what has now become a mountain of rubble, so half-bloods are definitely discriminated against. If it weren't for the prophecy, and the fact that harming Cécile definitely will hurt Tristan as well because of the bond, Cécile would obviously not be the bride the town wants for their prince. All the while steering clear of her hot-and-cold husband, Cécile stumbles onto a revolution that vows change for the half-breeds, headed by a very unlikely leader. 

This initially reminded me a lot of Chloe Jacobs' Greta and the Goblin King (which I reviewed here), and I kept hoping and praying (my co-blogger can attest to this) that it could fill the "fantasy creature-human romance" hole in my heart. 

While it does indeed deliver what the blurb promises, Stolen Songbird has not stolen my heart or my whole attention when I was reading it, for that matter. I don't know, but there seems to be something almost a bit too rehearsed about the whole book, but I think it manifests most especially in Tristan's lines. Yes, he's the prince and he's supposed to be worldly and everything about the workings of the Royal Court, and it's not exactly surprising that he is glib and sarcastic about absolutely everything (aren't almost all YA princes?) I wasn't so into Tristan probably because he reminded me so much of Defy's Prince Damian (which was absolutely pas terrible for me; you can read the review here). Tristan and Damian can fool all the people they want, but they're definitely not fooling me with their bored rich kid attitude. The main protagonist, Cécile, wasn't much interesting either, except when she uses her voice to lure Tristan simply because it's amusing to watch him kind of follow her in a stupor.

Stolen Songbird does get a bit more action as the story progresses, so it wasn't as boring and monotonous as I make it out to be. I did like that there were some French terminology (Francophile that I am). The ending was surprising, but not unexpected, and it did leave me a tiny bit curious as to the next book.

I think that if you liked Prince Damian from Sara Larson's Defy, then you will like Prince Tristan, which I think is a pretty big factor since he plays an important role in the book. I do think that this is considerably better than Chloe Jacobs' Greta and the Goblin King, so if you were disappointed by that one, you can give this one a try.




Rating:
               

Monday, April 21, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Title: Not a Drop to Drink
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 24 2013
Publishing House: Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 9780062198501
Source of Copy: Purchased from FullyBooked

Summary:

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most important, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the ponds leaves thirsty or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, the nighttime threats, and the gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won't stop until they get it...


(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)

Review:

Lynn's okay with the way she lives. It's day after endless day of protecting her pond, looking for food and surviving the winter. She doesn't see the point of moving away from the tiny pond, content with her day-to-day routine. So when stragglers threaten her pond - she's going to do anything to keep it safe, things happen and she's got no choice but to deal with this upheaval on her routine.

The scariest thing about Not a Drop to Drink is how the events that happen in the book could actually happen in real life. It's an intense read about a girl's struggle to survive in a world where water is scarce and if you have it, you'll have to fight to the death to protect it. And that's exactly what Lynn does, with the help of her mother. 

The post-apocalyptic setting was really well done. One of the few post-apocalyptic books that actually feels like a dark, desolate world where people cling to fragments of their old life. The author doesn't drop you in the middle of some wasteland, says it's the aftermath of the war and boom. Post-apocalyptic. She takes time to build the world and introduce her characters.

McGinnis has a strong heroine - Lynn. All her life she's been taught to survive by her mother. Taught how to shoot, to hunt, skin an animal and how to purify water from their pond. She keeps vigil over their house at night by setting point up on the roof. But from the way her mother brought her up - to not trust strangers and shoot before she speaks - it makes for a very lonely life. She's stubborn and set in her ways, but she's totally unsure of how to interact with other people.

When she meets a boy - there will always be a boy - named Eli, she starts acting differently and the book started loosing it's survivalist feel. I get how meeting Eli was totally new for Lynn seeing as how there aren't much teenage boys just hanging around but things start getting more emotional and survival seems to be the last thing on Lynn's mind... I got bored. Mainly because it was't as gripping but also maybe because I wasn't really feeling Eli and Lynn. She's such a capable heroine and Eli's this bumbling idiot who can't do anything to save his own life. Maybe the idea of having to care for someone lesser than her was her thing - she did take in a little girl you know - and regards Eli as a pet. Wishful thinking on my part because it's pretty obvious that they're into each other.

But the book isn't all about the survival of these few people because there are bigger things going on and there are still men in trucks who snatch people of their belongings to looks out for. Obviously, Lynn's got to find out more about these people and when she does, she's going to have to find a way to stop them from bulldozing over her and everyone she's come to care for. 

I'll stop here to keep myself from being too spoilery but if you're on the lookout for a post-apocalyptic survivalist story, pick this one. It's terrifyingly realistic.


Rating:

        

                         

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Title: Salvage
Author: Alexandra Duncan
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publishing House: Greenwillow
ISBN: 9780062220141
Source of Copy: Edelweiss

Summary:

Ava is the captain's daughter. This allows her limited freedoms and a certain status in the Parastrata's rigid society - but it doesn't mean she can read or write or even withstand the forces of gravity. When Ava learns she is to be traded in marriage to another merchant ship, she hopes for the best. After all, she is the captain's daughter. Betrayal, banishment, and a brush with love and death are her destiny instead, and Ava stows away on a mail sloop bound for Earth in order to escape both her past and her future. 

The gravity almost kills her. 

Gradually recuperating in a stranger's floating cabin on the Gyre, a huge mass of scrap and garbage in the Pacific Ocean, Ava begins to learn the true meaning of family and home and trust - and she begins to nourish her own strength and soul.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary from Edelweiss)

Review:

While Ava thinks that she is forced to decide either between life and death after being caught with someone who was not after all her intended, it seems that the fates are in favor of Ava choosing life, but not without sacrifices. Born as the daughter of the ship's captain, Ava knows nothing of life outside the ship, and ergo, definitely nothing of life in another planet. Ava must learn to navigate the intricacies of daily life and understand the nuances of all that she's missing, if she wants to prove to others, but most especially to herself, her inner strength and worth.

Suffice to say, I really enjoyed Duncan's Salvage. It has ships, interplanetary galaxies, a heroine who despite being backhanded by life, struggles to find herself and her place in the world. Ava initially can't care much for others because life on the ship didn't exactly train her to know what to do, but she gradually learns and heals, and I just wanted to give her a hug for getting through all that.

I found myself surprised at a lot of points in the book, because I really didn't quite know what to expect. Last that I read the advance reader's copy summary of Salvage, it was just a paragraph with a lot of blanks and spaces to fill up. I really thought that there would be some revolutions here and there (It's the cover, you see) but you won't find any of that in here, which makes it kind of cleansing to the palate of the reader who's already way in over his/her head with government vs the people scenarios typically found in recent YA books. Salvage is just about a girl, who even if she appears to be in the most fortunate circumstances, is unfortunate enough to be treated as a pawn in a game of money and power. World-building is pretty great, and I had no problem reading this one as it did provide a lot of surmising and surprising. 

If you're in the mood for intergalactic revolutions and stuff, Salvage is not it. It's like a contemporary novel, except that it takes place in a very sci-fi environment, which is pretty cool like that. If you've had too much dystopian novels with conspiracies going on and fancy taking a break but still want to linger in the sci-fi environment (or if you want to check out Mumbai after the apocalypse and everything), pick this one and cheer on Ava who proves that we all learn and grow from our mistakes.


Rating:
          

Monday, April 14, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #12: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Perfect Ruin
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 1 2013
Publishing House: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781442480612
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

Summary:

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows to never end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder - betrothed to the victim - but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find - or who she will lose.


(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads. )

Review:

Lauren DeStefano books always have amazing covers. Remember the Chemical Garden trilogy and their gorgeous book jackets? Those were damn pretty. So I guess it's safe to say I bought this book based on the cover alone - it was totally worth it, friends.

Recently I've been plagued with this really nasty reading slump, I started a lot of books but I couldn't finish them, and Perfect Ruin along with this other book was able to pull me from my funk. And I swear, after reading a slew of books that were 3 rainbows at best I was dying, deprived. I needed something good. Something that would make me want to paint my nails (4 rainbows pls omg). A book that I could read late into the night non-stop. This book was just what I needed. 

Morgan Stockhour lives on Internment - a floating island in the clouds where people are warned to stay away from the edge because the edge brings madness. Case in point: her brother. After he jumped, Morgan was determined to not follow in his footsteps although she has imagined what's there to see over the edge. When someone gets murdered and Morgan chances upon the supposed murderer - Judas - she can't help but investigate and the secrets she unveils reveals a darker side to her supposedly perfect society.

First off, what I really loved about Perfect Ruin was the world-building. DeStefano is not afraid of details and I love it. She has managed to build Internment to be equal parts interesting and foreboding. And as I read the book and learned all about Internment, which is fascinating by the way, I got this sense of something darker that lurks beneath it's seemingly pristine surface. I just love it when the world-building is done beautifully and I just want to say that DeStefano did a really, really, really good job with this one. 

What I couldn't help but adore, also, was the writing. It's so lyrical and poetic but doesn't come off as holier-than-thou and it doesn't sound forced. Now, I don't usually mark my books with post-its and the likes but I couldn't help it with Perfect Ruin. My copy is seriously overflowing with yellow post-its.

Characters. DeStefano has seriously great characters and before I get into Morgan and Basil - cue swooning - I just want to get into the side characters for a bit. Perfect Ruin has seriously well developed side characters and I like how the author manages to seamlessly integrate them into the story. I mean they're not for show and I found Morgan's relationship with every one of them - no matter how strained - so darn real. 

Morgan. She's a dreamer and her character starts off a little soft and naive. I mean I like headstrong, brash, uncouth characters and Morgan was a change of pace for me. It's hard not to feel for a character who's easy to relate to and just...real. I seriously adored her and Basil. He acts like this silent, giant pillar of support for Morgan. He's kind and good and protective and big and strong and....yeah. He's perfect. And, unlike other male YA characters who need girls to fall at their feet and act like a jerk to assert their dominance and alpha male status, Basil doesn't need all that. Perfection, right there.

Four rainbows! You guys don't know how good it feels to give another book four rainbows. I mean, awesome world-building, characters I couldn't help but adore and this plot that's all twisty and turny and how can I not like this book? You guys should really pick this one up.


Rating:





"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

This books has such a pretty cover I couldn't resist doing nail art for it. 

Nail polish used:
Black: Orly Liquid Vinyl
White: acrylic paint
Red(for the undersides): China Glaze Salsa


Hardcovers are so pretty.


This is my thumb, I took inspiration from the gears and branches on the book jacket and painted it on my nail using a sakura brush and for the thinner lines I used a needle.


The rest of my nails. Gears and branches on my index, ring and pinkie. On my middle finger I have a lantern.


Do I match with the book?



Closer look at my index and middle fingers. Gears, branches and lanterns.


Another shot of my nails.


My nails with the book.


So for those of you who have long nails, have you ever painted on the undersides? I painted mine red so my nails don't feel so monochromatic.

Yes? No? Do I match with the book? What do you guys think?

For more book-related nail art considered checking out my instagram account @nicolereadsbooks and follow @thetwinsread to stay updated. Don't forget to tag us if you consider recreating this nail art or just nail art in general. I'm totes gonna fangirl over anything nail related.

                      


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

Title: The Shadow Prince
Author: Bree Despain
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Publishing House: Egmont USA
ISBN: 9781606842478
Source of Copy: Edelweiss

Summary:

Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills Hugh - a haven for the rich and famous - Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High's prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father's mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn't the only student in Olympus who doesn't quite belong.

Haden and Daphne - destined for each other - know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers' lives collide. But Daphne won't be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended - he's fallen in love. Now to save themeselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.


(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)

Review:

All her life, Daphne Raines was safely ensconced by her overprotective mother, so when her estranged rockstar father rolls into her tiny Utah town, she jumps at the opportunity to expand her horizons. 

Haden Lord is the chosen one sent to Earth to restore the chaos in his world. Others before him have failed, but Haden is determined to find the right girl who can save them, if only to show his father up. When he meets Daphne Raines however, his determination wavers. Because if it turns out that Daphne can't save them, she'll be lost to him forever.

I almost always end up confusing this book with Kate Evangelista's Til Death (which I reviewed here). They're quite similar in a lot of ways, except Evangelista's novel carried more snark and interesting bits as opposed to this one. The Shadow Prince is by no means a thin book, so I found The Shadow Prince to be an exceptionally loooooooong novel (500+ pages aside), if only because I didn't care for any of the characters, nor did I care for the plot, ditto the romance which played a hugely annoying part. Haden is all skulk and gloom so it's not really surprising that Daphne just wants to stay away from him and his inopportune knack of showing up at the wrong places at the wrong times. Daphne is just plain forgettable. Is it also weird that I didn't particularly like the mythological names of the setting? It just felt a bit cheesy and overdone to me, as it kept on reminding me that yo, this is a mythology-inspired book, in case you forgot.

I sloughed through The Shadow Prince to see if it would get better, and it did... marginally. The ending was a bit better than I expected, but as I've just confirmed, mythology-inspired books just aren't for me, and The Shadow Prince did not dissuade me from this. 

"So why bother reading this in the first place?!" you might argue. Well, I was really curious, and I wanted to know if this was the book that could nudge me into the way of mythology.

If you're not much into mythology (like me, as it turns out), then you won't bother with this one. But if you're into mythology... I wouldn't say I'd recommend it either. The Shadow Prince carried far too many sulky teenagers and ho-hum scenes than I'd like in my books.


Rating:
        

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Title: Dear Killer
Author: Katherine Ewell
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publishing House: Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN: 9780062257802
Source of Copy: Edelweiss

Summary:

Rule One - Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two - Be careful.
Rule Three - Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they're the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four - Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five - The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London's notorious "Perfect Killer" seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with "Dear Killer", and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life - the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit's convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)

Review:

Kit is the Perfect Killer everyone is both in fear and in awe of. She doesn't leave a trace, which leaves the police force scratching their heads. But when she meets a police officer she thinks she can play cat and mouse with, Kit breaks some of her rules, and reveals the identity of the killer slowly... just because she can, and just because she thinks she can't get caught. 

After the first few chapters, I was so ready to quit this. Unlike her mother, Kit doesn't exactly kill because there's a passion for it. It's more like she gets off on people not knowing about the Perfect Killer's real identity, and she gets her ego stroked when people call her murders the perfect crime. Kit kills people based on demand, in the loo of a coffee shop where people leave her names of persons they'd want dead, and I have no idea why the police aren't checking this area out if some people know that this is the Perfect Killer's mailbox. Kit thinks she's invincible, so when her paths cross with Alex, who is on the investigation of the Perfect Killer murders, she's cocky enough to give him some clues, and offer her help with the investigation (because the fully grown police officers can only be too happy to accommodate a seventeen year-old, am I right?). 

I seriously don't understand why Kit even bothers to commit murder, since she obviously lacks her mother's passion for killing. She approaches murder methodically and scientifically, that the whole thing doesn't even come out as deserving of words like macabre or gore - just painfully clinical and uninteresting. There is just no motive. Kit just kills because it's what her mother taught her to do, so what cleaning our rooms is to us, is what Kit is to murder. 

If you're into books featuring teenage protagonists struggling with their darker side, you can do so much better than Perfect Killer. You don't need a cocky, confused teenager who doesn't deliver with much conviction. Dan Wells' I Am Not A Serial Killer and Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers are undoubtedly much better, and deliver characters who are believable, real, and who actually know what they're doing and why. 



Rating: