Sunday, 15 July 2012

Book review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)
By Kristin Cashore
Publish Date: October 1st 2008
Publisher: Harcourt
Number of pages: 471

Goodreads’ description:
In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are both feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.

Feared by the court and shunned by those her own age, the darkness of her Grace casts a heavy shadow over Katsa’s life. Yet she remains defiant: when the King of Lienid’s father is kidnapped she investigates, and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap the old man, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced man whose fighting abilities rivalled her own?

The only thing Katsa is sure of is that she no longer wants to kill. The intrigue around this kidnapping offers her a way out – but little does she realise, when she takes it, that something insidious and dark lurks behind the mystery. Something spreading from the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king...

My review:
A kickass no-nonsense heroine in a magical world with powers you’ve never seen before? Yes please!
I have a thing for fantasy stories set in medieval settings. This is one of my favorites.
The story is full of adventure, action and romance. And the right amount of it. Albeit some of the fighting scenes were a bit too long in my opinion.  

This book reminds me a lot of Poison Study, which is one of my favorite books. The characters, the kingdoms and the magical powers are very different, but both worlds are both very captivating.

The character development for Katsa is very remarkable. To start with she’s hostile and lets herself be used to do evil things in another’s name. She grows and opens her eyes to a whole different world. She wants to use for Grace for good things instead of being a weapon used for evil. She learns to interact and take care of other people.

Her love interest, Prince Po, is not some cliché too-hot-for-his-own-good moron she keeps ogling at. He’s her equal. We need that in more YA novels. They have a real and healthy relationship. They support each other and lend their strength to the other. 

The sequel is sitting om my shelf. I just realized Katsa and Po won't be the main characters in that book and that saddens me. I'll pick it up soon and see if Cashore can deliever it again with new characters.

4/5 happy stars from me!

Friday, 29 June 2012

Book review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)
By Susan Ee

Publish Date: May 21st 2011
Publisher: Feral Dream
Number of pages: 254
Purchase:  Book Depository, Amazon UK

Goodreads’ description:
It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

My review:
Zombie apocalypses are so yesterday. Angel apocalypse is the new thing. I mean angel apocalypse. Angel! Simply brilliant! You think angels are like in Hush, Hush and Fallen? Think again. These angels are for real.

I still can get over the angel thing. This time the angels are the bad guys. They’re destroying Earth. Not zombies, not pollution. Angels! I think you've got the idea now.

I simply adore Penryn. No moping, self pitying, crying, weak heroine here. Penryn might be my all time favorite heroine. She doesn't just fall head over heels for the first beautiful boy she lays her eyes on. It’s an apocalyptic world and she knows her first priority is her family. I like that Penryn has a family - a crazy mother and a sweet little sister.

Back to the angels. I really like Ee’s angel lore. It’s refreshing to see something different. These angels are like the angels we know from the Bible. They have their own kind of magic. They are sent to Earth for an unknown reason. They have created a capital for the themselves where they have taken humans as servants.

We have our bad boy angel Raffie. I actually like him a lot. Often I'm not too fond of bad boys in stories. Even if he is one of the bad guys he still isn't a complete asshole. He has his own agenda and he doensn't try to hide it like we often see. And maybe he won't be 'evil' forever?

I like that after the battle not everyone walks away unharmed. The heroine and company usually walk away with a few scars. Not this time. The book contains cannibalism and other gruesome stuff. Not in a really nasty or descriptive way though. It only adds to the story and to describe the world Penryn & Co. live in.

I’ll bet my whole book collection that this book will be a huge success someday.
I'm really looking forward to the sequel!

5/5 happy stars from me!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Book review: Fracture by Megan Miranda

Fracture (Fracture, #1)
By Megan Miranda
Publish Date: 4th January 2012
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Number of pages: 272
Purchase:  Book DepositoryAmazon UK

Goodreads’ description:
Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she’s far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can’t control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she’s reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy’s motives aren’t quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature—or something much more frightening?

For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death.

My review:
The best thing about this story is that it surprised me. I was sure it was going to be another love triangle. We have a girl, a so-far friendzoned best friend boy and a new mysterious boy with the same abilities as the girl. Seen before? Yes. Same outcome? No. Not at all.

It’s an easy and brief read. I read it in a few hours. I’m not so sure it’ll be memorable for me though. We don’t know that much about the characters. I miss some personal habits. I'm not sure what I think about Delaney. On one hand I like that she's independent. On the other hand she's a bit childish and withdrawn. She doesn't like other people because some girl once dipped her pigtail in paint. Pathetic? Just a bit.

I do like that the whole story seems very real. It's realistic fiction with a shadow of paranormal and mystery. I like Delaney's "powers".

We'll see if I pick up the sequel. I can't really see what should happen. The story seems finished.

(Wow, short review. I'm not sure what to say. A guilty pleasure of mine, I presume.)
3,5/5 happy stars from me

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Book review: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, #2)
By Richelle Mead
Publish Date: 12th June 2012
Publisher:  Razorbill
Number of pages: 418
Purchase:  Book DepositoryAmazon UK

Goodreads’ description:
Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age-old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she’s supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she’s been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart

My review:
First of all – DIMITRI! DIMITRI! DIMITRI!!!! *fangirling*
Okay, now back to my review.

I’ve been waiting for this book since I finished Bloodlines on its release date. Was it worth the wait? YES.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sydney in the last book. (I was still too hung up on Rose. Oh, how I miss Rose!) In this book Sydney grows a lot. She’s grown very close to the gang and she does everything to project them in her own way - even if she has to do things she finds wrong. She stands up for Adrian when he needs it. She shows courage, fighting spirit and backbone. The Alchemists wouldn’t be pleased. She's more secure of herself. She starts dating, has her first kiss and goes to her first ball. I'm not too fond of her boyfriend Brayden and neither is Adrian.

We see a whole new Adrian in this book. He’s as funny and cute as always of course, but this time he does everything to help and support Sydney. He’s not that hung up on Rose anymore and realizes that maybe she wasn’t the one for him. He’s still bitter towards Dimitri and the two men aren’t always too friendly with each other. Poor Adrian. You can't say he has luck in love.

Now to our favorite guardian. Dimitri Belikov. Sydney’s opinion of him is a lot different than Rose’s, but he’s still awesome. His guardian mask is up and he’s the perfect guardian. The only time we see his soft side is when Rose’s name is mentioned. He does everything he can to help with the experiment even if it pains him.

Love is defiantly in the air. Dimitri is still hopelessly in love with his Roza, and Sonya and Mikhail are getting married. People are breaking up and falling in love with new people. I expect a lot of drama in the next book. Good luck, Adrian!

Mead is an expert at creating characters. Sydney, Adrian, Dimitri, Jill, Angelina, Eddie, Sonya… I love all of them! And the cliffhanger! What's going to happen with those two?

Please, Richelle Mead, please let Dimitri and Rose be in the next book! I miss them! *fangirling*
5/5 happy stars from me!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Book review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)
By Laini Taylor
Publish Date: September 27th 2011
Publisher:  Little, Brown & Company
Number of pages: 417
Purchase:  Bookdepository , Amazon UK

Goodreads’ description:
"Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things.
When Brimstone called, she always came."

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought

My review:
I loved Karou from the start. She’s smart, artistic, friendly, funny and has a backbone. I like her best friend Zuzana just as much. They’re both wonderful and believable characters.

The character development here is not that significant. Karou finds out who she is – and was. That’s pretty much it. I actually like her better at the beginning of the book.

The story captured me from the start and I had to stop reading when I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. I wasn’t bored for a minute through the first 200 pages. Then we meet Akiva, her love interest. Beautiful, perfect, dangerous, forbidden Akiva.  And they fall in love just like that. BAM! They look at each other and then they can’t live without the other one. I can’t feel the chemistry between them at all. They just love each other – fact. The chimeras – whom Karou grew up with – are in war with the angels. After just meeting Karou, Akiva chooses her over his angel family. Yes, there's a reason for that. He just found out who she is. Still don't like the guy.

I really like the non-human world in this story. You read about angels all the time, but chimeras have I never read a book about before. The magic here is different too. They use teeth to recreate fallen chimeras. Brimstone – the chimera that raised Karou – gives her small wishes as payment for errands.

And the setting! Not in America! Karou lives in Prague, Czech Republic. She meets Akiva in Marrakech, Morocco. It’s refreshing to hear about other countries than American – or England. It makes her day so different than most Americans teenagers in novels – apart from the magic world of course.

The writing in this book is beautiful and very describing – perhaps a little too describing at times. It was one of the things that captured me from the start. I like the mix of beautiful writing and modern dialogue.

If you like angels, new unique worlds and creatures you should read this book.

I’m looking forward to the sequel. I hope I’ll like Akiva better in the next book. 
4/5 happy stars from me!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Book review: The Shamer's Daughter by Lene Kaaberbøl

The Shamer’s Daughter (The Shamer Chronicles, #1)
By Lene Kaaberbøl
Publish Date: October 3rd 2006 (originally in Danish on September 20th 2001)
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks
Number of pages: 240
Purchase: Bookdepository

Goodreads’ description:
"It ought to be quite a show," said the squire, obviously enjoying the attention of the crowd. "The false Shamer has been convicted of witchcraft and treason and is to be executed tomorrow."I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. I knew now where my mother was. Drakan had her. And tomorrow he would give her to the dragons.

Who dares look into the Shamer's eyes?

Dina has unwillingly inherited her mother's gift: the ability to elicit shamed confessions simply by looking into someone's eyes. To Dina, however, these powers are not a gift but a curse. Surrounded by hostility and fear, she longs for simple friendship. But when her mother is called to Dunark Castle to uncover the truth about a bloody triple murder, Dina must come to terms with her Shamer's eyes-or let her mother fall prey to the vicious and revolting dragons of Dunark. And one of those dragons is human.

My review:
Do you like fantasy, dragons and strong heroines? Yes? Then I highly recommend you read this book!

I first fell in love with series when I was about 9 years old. Dina Tonerre, our brave heroine, is only ten (almost eleven! as she adds) but was a fantastic role model for me at that time. At age ten she has more fire and backbone than the majority of today’s YA novel’s heroines. She’s smart, short tempered, flawed, gets scared but she doesn’t give up or let the adults handle the things.

The character development here is huge. To start with Dina feels sorry for herself because she has no friends who dare to look into her eyes. She curses her Shamer gift. Through the book she learns the powers of her gift and how to use them. She realizes that they’re a part of her. 

The book is fairly short and fast paced. I like that! Kaaberbøl tells an amazing story in 240 pages. I often get bored of slow paced book and unnecessary parts. That didn’t happen at all with this book. The world Kaaberbøl has created is pure magic. It's a medieval setting with castles and knights in a fictive world. I've never stumbled upon anything like Dina and her mothers gift. Refreshing!

The writing is very... mature for a children's book. I didn't have any problems understanding it when I was 9, but perhaps it will need some getting used to for someone. It fits the story of the book.

The primary target of the books is children but at age 17 I still adore this book and I’m sure I’ll re-read it many times. I recommend this book to all fantasy fans - children, teenagers and adults.
After you've read this book and are thirsting for more you can pick up the sequel

Read an excerpt of the book here!

5/5 happy stars from me!