Monday, 30 March 2015

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

Description from Goodreads

Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.

They always say that high school is the best time of your life.

Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.

Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.

If I'm being completely honest, I didn't start reading We All Looked Up with very high expectations despite the novel being one of the most anticipated YA novels in 2015. In fact, I don't read very often contemporary books, because I feel that they are often very predictable (or maybe I've just picked the wrong contemporary books??). However, the premise intrigued me so much, an asteroid heading towards the Earth which will change the lives of four teenagers forever, that I decided to give the genre the occasional chance that I give it from time to time, just to freshen up from all the fantasy and scifi that I usually consume. And I have to give that the debut author Tommy Wallach most definitely didn't disappoint me!

I get it now, why people have been so excited about We All Looked Up. There's something so refreshing about the novel which depicts the lives of Peter (the jog), Eliza (the artist), Anita (the nerd), and Andy (the slacker) and how those lives, which are complete opposite of each other, intertwine because of the horrifying news of the asteroid most likely wiping out 66.6% of the population with its collision. You might first think that the very stereotypical teenager characters might stay just like that, stereotypical, but Wallach is able to breath edge and vulnerability to every character. Even though I liked all the characters, I especially liked Anita and Andy. Their point of views touched me the most as I was able to identify with them the most. Anita struggling with her demanding parents while working her way to the Ivy League, and Andy trying to search a meaning to his life with little luck as he is so lost himself. 

I have to admit that I was expecting a little bit more about the consequences of how the news of the asteroid would affect the society. Sure, the author does describe some of the havoc in Seattle that takes place, but I really wanted to know what the global effect would be like - perhaps more of the economical and political consequences. Of course, the focus of this book was obviously on the relationships and not the societal impacts, but it would have been fun (if you can say that) to see Wallach explore a bigger picture what was happening in the world. That being said, I didn't exactly feel like I liked the book less because I didn't get what I first expected as the influence of the asteroid on Seattle was described. 

Wallach can be a funny guy. He writes very enjoyable prose, and I love how he uses brackets to amplify his jokes (I tend to do that too (see I'm doing it right now (okay, now it's going a bit overboard))). He writes the characters witty and smart, some being more of that and other less, but I'm not sure if there was even one chapter which didn't have something clever linguistic-wise. The 'jokes' weren't exactly laugh-out-loud haha funny, but sarcastic, ironic, or just defiant remarks that stay with you. And I really enjoy reading that kind of writing, particularly so when it seems so effortless like in the case of Tommy Wallach. 

We All Looked Up was a very good debut novel. And you know what, not just a good debut novel, a really enjoyable story. I'm really looking forward to Tommy Wallach's future books because I just fell in love with the way he writes; it's easy to read without getting the feeling that the lines are superficial. We All Looked Up was published March 24, 2015 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, so you can get yours now!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Sunday Post (#13)

"The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead." 
 What I read this week 

❄ Weird Girl and What's His Name by Meagan Brothers
❄ The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight) by Melissa Grey
 The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

✿ Reviews ✿

 The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga #1) by Kameron Hurley
❄ The Duff by Kody Keplinger

✿ Memes ✿

❄ Waiting on Wednesday
❄ Stacking the Shelves

✿ Around the blogosphere and elsewhere ✿

 Professional vs. Personal Reviews 
❄ Spielberg to direct Ready Player One
❄ The most anticipated books in April, 2015

✿ What else I've been up to this week ✿

1. The craziest week. I have been having such a crazy week. I literally can't remember a week when I've been so up and down! I'm so glad it's finally the weekend.

2. Masters. One of the best things that happened to me was that I found out that I've been accepted into a university to do a Masters in psychology! It's pretty far away where I currently live, so I guess I need start planning the housing and everything pretty early. It's supposed to start next August so luckily I have plenty of time until then.

3. Thesis. Finally, finally, finally I submitted my thesis! I've been literally working on it for 13 months now, and now it's all submitted. The only thing to do is just wait for May when we get the results. If I'm being completely honest, even though I'm really happy that the thesis is finally done and ready, I feel a bit empty now that I won't have to stress about it all the time.

4. Germanwings. I still can't believe the crash happened. My heart goes to all people affected: family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and to those who have been touched by the sad event.

5. Zayn. I know this sounds pretty lame after just mentioning the plane crash, but the fact that Zayn left had a surprisingly powerful effect on me as well (but then again, who is to say to others what to feel and not?). I'm not a huge fangirl, but I like to listen their music every now and then when I want to listen something upbeat. Zayn was my favourite out of all five, and I guess it took me by a surprise when I heard that he was leaving (even though I probably shouldn't have been surprised).

✿ Have a lovely Sunday! ✿

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Stacking the Shelves (#19)

It's Saturday and so it's time for Stacking the Shelves!
Here is my haul from this week:

❄ NetGalley 

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Description from Goodreads

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who's literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she's ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I'm allergic to the world.I don't leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He's tall, lean and wearing all black--black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can't predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It's almost certainly going to be a disaster. 

The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight #1) by Melissa Grey 

Description from Goodreads

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

I'm so excited about both of these. I've heard some mixed reviews of The Girl at Midnight, but still looking forward to form my own opinion about it.  Everything, Everything on the other hand sounds so innovative yet tragic story and it will probably make me cry like a little baby. 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Description from Goodreads

Soon to be a major motion picture!

 Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl in her high school, but she has a loyal group of friends, a biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. But things aren't so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Some of my friends had really liked The DUFF, and as I knew that a movie had been made out of the novel, of course I had to read it. In the end, it was a funny, sarcastic, and quick read which managed to entertain me from the very first sentence to the last page. In fact, I wasn't expecting to like The DUFF as much I first I thought I would. However, the thing is that I didn't start the book with expectations of the novel exploring the deep questions of life in a meticulous manner. Which is okay sometimes, not all books need to be life-changing.

One the things that made me enjoy myself while reading the book was the fact that Bianca isn't the prettiest or the most confident person in her school (or at least in her own opinion). Instead her fiery personality gets all the attention which is so great - not everything is about looks. And even if it was, big thighs and small boobs can be fabulous! Sorry, not just can be, but THEY ARE. Because in the end (and I know this is going to sound so cliche, but sorry this is the truth), what is inside your head conquers what's underneath your shirt in the short as well as in the long run. And that's my humble opinion, and Keplinger's too if she is trying to make a statement with The DUFF. 

Even though The DUFF is a bit predictable, you can't really blame it on the book. This type of plot is typical of the contemporary genre, and I'm pretty sure that the majority of people who go about reading these types of novels know exactly what they are getting. And I suppose that's part of the charm. Many times (at least for me) contemporary books are all about the journey, not the destination. Contemporary novels help me to  get my mind off from dire and stressing things, and reads like The DUFF are my way to escape those problems for a while. 

The DUFF wasn't all fluff and kisses, either. The book also took a darker turns as things such as slut-shaming and familial problems were discussed. Without these elements in the book, I probably wouldn't have liked the story as much. The problems gave Bianca and all the other characters the required substance, even though this didn't happen with all the characters. For example with Amy, Wesley's little sister. We literally meet Amy two times. Two times! And Bianca's mom maybe three or four times. I think we would have gotten a lot more out of Wesley through Amy, but unfortunately this possibility was left unused.

Nevertheless, The DUFF was fun yet an authentic look at one girl's life and problems, and I have to say I enjoyed the book as I read it in one sit (well, the book was pretty short too). Even though it didn't change my life or anything, I think I could recommend the novel with ease to anyone who wants a quick break from own problems, needs some high school drama, and steamy scenes.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#24): The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

Waiting on Wednesday is about sharing a book every week you cannot wait to be published. This week, I'm waiting on

The Girl at Midnight
(The Girl at Midnight, #1)
by Melissa Grey

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural, Magic, Romance

Pages: 368

Expected Publication: April 28, 2015

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Description from Goodreads

For readers of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga #1) by Kameron Hurley

Description on Goodreads

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish. 

Oh wow, where do I even start? The book was so massive and epic (and not just in terms of page numbers)! The different cultures, political systems, the reversed gender roles – there was so much in this book that it’s difficult to include everything in a single review. But. I’ll do my best to convey my feelings about this revelling new series.

I think the strength of the book was that the world of Worldbreaker Saga is so unique and distinguishable from what the typical fantasy worlds provide. I absolutely adored the idea of different jistas who had their own star and god they worshipped, receiving magical powers from them. And of course, the cherry on top was that there was this one category of jista called Omajistas, who arise so rarely in power yet they are the most powerful jistas known. The cycle of jista powers was so intriguing, getting more power as they star was rising and losing power when another start was rising. It is so difficult to try to explain the system in one paragraph, so if this concept interests you, please pick up the book.

One of the fascinating elements of the Mirror Empire was the fact that the gender roles were reversed. Women traditionally were the army commanders, spiritual and political leaders, usually had multiple husbands, and men were the pretty things who were kept at home. It was so conflicting yet utterly compelling to read about a society like this when you’re used to the norm, which dictates that women are usually the inferior gender. I can’t even begin to describe how I felt about the fact that men were basically treated as sex objects in the novel and treated like second-class citizens, while our society still tends to treat women like that. I felt so bad for the men in the novel, yet I know that women, myself included, go through similar experiences. I think the author wanted to evoke discussion about our society’s gender roles, and I must admit that she did fantastic job doing it.

I did have one problem with the novel though. The characters. The main characters were decent and likeable, but that’s about the only adjective that I can come up with while trying to describe them. Even though the overall concepts and the backgrounds of the characters initially were very different from each other, I didn’t feel like their personalities per se differed very much. I know that the author most likely disagrees with me on this one, but I can’t help but to say that the characters felt very flat to me, with the exception of Anavha (a trophy husband of an army commander). The novel was so concentrated on the world and society building, which in itself is a marvellous thing, but it definitely ate away from the character development. While the characters were okay, I never really felt for them or felt like I needed to root for them (again with the exception of Anavha, bless his soul).

The Mirror Empire’s author most definitely is a fan of A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, and you can see it – the violence, different cultures and political structures ooze the similar atmosphere that George R.R. Martin’s popular series carries. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, and in fact, I would recommend the novel for the fans of A Song of Ice and Fire. There definitely are similar elements, meaning that both series do not shy away from gruesome things and are not afraid to mix up things without any warning.

Lastly, I want to mention that I’m so stoked that the author is a woman. I’m not sure if I have looked at the wrong places, but it is relatively rare to come across with an epic fantasy book, which was written by a woman. So content at the moment that I got the chance to read this book!  It would be very pleasing to see more female writers in the epic fantasy genre for sure. The Mirror Empire was a very different, but enjoyable read which did have its highlight moments but also some less thrilling times but I think that’s all due to the fact that this was so massive novel which needed the slow world-building element.

Friday, 20 March 2015

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski

Description from Goodreads

Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them. 

If I had to describe The Winner's Crime in a couple of words I'd probably use intense and frustrating. I was constantly on the verge of crying out loud because all the desperation and anguish Kestrel and Arin has to face, and how the storyline seems to get only darker and darker, and it's becoming more and more difficult see a happy ending for the trilogy. Of course (me being a masochist when it comes to love stories) I absolutely adored this and yet still hated the fact that the readers have to face all the despair and tragedy with the characters. Rutkoski has definitely upped her game by adding even more political intrigue, heartbreak, terror, and expanding the world of The Winner's Trilogy. 

We who read the first book, The Winner's Curse, know what sort of sweetly frustrating ending it had. And let me tell you, the frustration only increases with the second book. Kestrel is now engaged to the future-emperor, Verex, in order to protect Arin and Herrani, and she has returned to the capital to wait for her wedding. Even though Kestrel is determined to keep her resolution to stay silent why she really became engaged with Verex, I love the fact that she still wavers and how beautifully Rutkoski writes about Kestrel's desperation and unhappiness. In a way you feel like you are reading a stream of consciousness because the writing is so flowy and effortlessly lyrical that it just sucks you into the world of sadness and oppression. As Kestrel struggles with her options and choices, so does the reader. I've always loved Kestrel, her determination and strategic character  but the book two only enhances her both hard and soft traits. It's heartbreaking to watch Kestrel (and Arin for that matter) to yearn after their heart's desire when it's painfully obvious that the situation is only going to end in tears. I also loved the fact that Kestrel and her father's relationship was explored more in detail, there's so much going on in there! 

Arin was exactly the same as Kestrel. He struggled to understand why Kestrel would so easily change her mind about him, and whether all those emotions and words were just pretense. Of course, Arin is just as intense in the second book as he is in the first one, and I remember just sighing out loud while reading some of the passages of The Winner's Crime. Even though the second instalment isn't exactly a romance novel as much as the first book, we still get some scenes that made at least my heart thud loudly in my chest. Just like in the case of Kestrel, I liked Arin since the very beginning. He's passionate and driven, and even though he doesn't always think before he acts (unlike Kestrel who always overanalyses everything), he always means well to the ones he loves. We see this impulsiveness and spontaneity plenty again, and it definitely is the root of some of the agonising twists in the plot.  

There was also this beautiful symmetry going on with Kestrel and Arin. Their actions and thoughts mirrored each other, and I just loved how Rutkoski played those out. They made me squeal and squirm in my armchair as I wished and hoped that they would just be honest with each other. The fact that even though Arin and Kestrel are madly in love, I appreciated that they weren't some hormone-driven creatures, but were also able to think with their brains. There are so much at stake at this point, two whole worlds and the lives of those, that sometimes you need to discard your own needs in order to keep others safe. Even though it's difficult to do, sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself. 

So like I already mentioned, there wasn't as much romance in The Winner's Crime as there was in The Winner's Crime. Even though I'm all for the romance, I also enjoyed the fact how new, non-romantic elements were included in the plot and how the world of Winner's Trilogy expanded a bit more. I'm not going to go in details about how this was done, but a third unknown culture was introduced to the story, and it will most definitely play a role in the third book. I wish that there was a bit more exploration of the newest element, but I'm sure it will be done in the future. 

Lastly I want to mention the Emperor and his son Verex. The Emperor is exactly what I wanted him to be: evil, cunning, heartless, a piece of crap whom you just want to strangle every time he comes around. And that's perfection! I loved that he was the new villain of the story who actually makes you root for Kestrel and Arin even more than before. He appears to be source of all despair and sadness and Rutkoski isn't afraid to take an advantage of that - we get plenty of terror in the novel, starting from the very first chapters. Verex on the other hand, isn't exactly what I expected him to be. He's described as fragile and watery-eyed kind of guy, and unlike his father, is surprisingly kind and warm. I'm not sure what to make of Verex, but I'm sure that I'll get answers to that in the third (and last, sad face) book. 

If you think that The Winner's Curse had the most tragic ending, just wait for the ending of The Winner's Crime. WHAT THE HELL. Is Rutkoski trying to crush our already bloody and painful hearts into dust? This author is the queen of cliffhangers and of course the ending made me want to read the third book even more! I have no idea how this trilogy is going to play out in the end because since The Winner's Curse the book has been all about heartbreak, difficult choices, loss of freedom, loss of faith, and I'm a tiny bit afraid that the third book will be an apex of all that tragedy. I really hope that the third book has at least a some kind of happy ending, even though I'm pretty sure the readers will finish the series all teary, no matter what. Actual rating 4.5 stars!!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Description from Goodreads

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings… 

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

Afterworlds is a very different novel compared to the generic YA novels. The current novel includes two separate stories of two different genre. The main plot (in my opinion) follows Darcy, an 18-year-old inspiring novelist who gets the chance of her lifetime: her book, Afterworlds, has been picked by a publishing company and its going to be published next fall. In order to purse her dream to become a respectable writer, she ditches college and moves to New York to work on her novel and its sequel. The other storyline is Afterworlds, the book that Darcy has written and currently making some adjustments on. Afterworlds is about a girl named Lizzie who experiences a near-death experience, and thanks to it, is now able to see ghosts and travel in the afterlife, which may be pretty darn cool but also brings a dark side with it.

I loved the originality and the risk Westerfeld took when writing this novel. I think it can be tricky to not include both contemporary and paranormal genres, but also to make these completely separate stories. I was first afraid that the including two completely different stories would make them eat each other alive, leaving virtually nothing to enjoy about. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I realised that both storylines were entertaining and funny, with a bit of angst in both. I’m not sure if Westerefeld did it purposely or not, but while Lizzie's storyline was okay, Darcy’s was much more relatable and interesting. Afterall, Lizzie's story was a debut novel by an 18-year-old (but this doesn't mean that 18-year-olds cannot be talented writers!!!!!! maybe less experienced that's all).

Darcy’s experience as debut novelist and as an upcoming writer was so fun to read about. I’m sure Westerfeld has gone plenty of the same episodes as Darcy with all the draft deadlines, BEA events, promoting tours, and various other things. I have never really given a thought what sort of other things come along with being a writer, besides the creation of stories. It was really entertaining and even informative to learn about what sort of processes the writers go through when publishing a book, and the best part was that Westerfeld made this experience a fun one. I'm pretty sure that quite many readers have fantasised about writing and publishing their own novels, and I loved how Westerfeld took this into consideration. For me, it's rare to read about writer's experiences as a published author.

Even though Lizzie's story was interesting as a concept (even though a bit used I might add, even though it could be that Westerfeld was commenting/criticising the generic paranormal novels too) with the ghosts and the paranormal romance, I was so much more compelled by Darcy’s storyline. The book was GLBT which I didn’t even know until the romance started developing. I found Darcy and her love-interest and how their relationship develop a lot more interesting than and Lizzie's love life. Even though both were experiencing their first-loves, Darcy’s (or Westerfeld’s??) story felt more real, more intimate than Lizzie's, which surprised me quite a bit. I’m usually all for the paranormal romances, but this time the contemporary romance won the war.

But I loved the parallel lives of Darcy and Lizzie. Darcy is going through this transition period in her life, and she without a doubt projects those problems and difficulties she faces into her book, Afterworlds. When the writer goes through a rough patch, so does the main character. This symbiosis makes a beautiful circle with all the events that are included in both Westerfeld’s Afterworlds and Darcy’s Afterworlds. It also gives insight to how much the authors pour themselves into their writings, and it’s really wonderful yet painful at the same time.

Afterworlds was a fun and different, even though not the quickest YA novel to read. It took a bit of time for me to get into the novel and its flow, but once I was aboard, I really was aboard. However, while writing this review, I can’t help to wonder why I didn’t like to book more then if it was pretty good? I would like to give it a better rating, but something tells me that the book could have been better, but how? NO IDEA, and that’s driving me crazy. I guess you can’t always fall in love with books you read, even though you have liked them.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#23): An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Waiting on Wednesday is about sharing a book every week you cannot wait to be published. This week, I'm waiting on

An Ember in the Ashes
(The Dregs, #1)
by Sabaa Tahir

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Romance

Pages: 443

Expected Publication: April 28, 2015

Publisher: Razorbill

Description from Goodreads

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (#21): Spring TBR list

Top Ten Tuesday this week is about 

 Spring To Be Read List 
(In no particular order)

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Why isn't May 5 here already???

2.  Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer. I really need to read this. Seriously, why haven't   I already read this?

3. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. Bone Gap sounds so intriguing = I need to buy it asap.

4. Boundless (Unearthly #3) by Cynthia Hand. I've been prolonging this moment for ages, to finish Unearthly trilogy. I'm just not ready to say goodbye just yet but at the same time, I'm so curious how the story is going to end.

5. The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson. I remember people were hyping about this book so much last summer, and I still haven't read it.. Maybe it's time to change that?

6 Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachael Hartman. Since the book two is coming out soon, it's a really good excuse to read Seraphina now! I've heard so many good things about Seraphina and I'm 99% sure that I'm going to love it. I mean, dragons. How doesn't love dragons? 

7.   The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam #2) by Margaret Atwood. I loooove Atwood and I need to read more of her books. 

8.  Evertrue (Everneath #3) by Brodi Ashton. Another trilogy to which I need to say goodbye. Sigh. 

9.  The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2) by Brandon Sanderson. The first book was so good, and I'm ready to jump on the bandwagon again!

10. A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab. So I haven't exactly bought this yet, but I'm planning to! I loved Vicious by Schwab and I'm very excited to read something else by this amazing author! 

 I'm not sure if it's possible but writing this list made me even more excited for these amazing books!!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Seed by Lisa Heathfield

Description from Goodreads

All that Pearl knows can be encapsulated in one word: Seed. It is the isolated community that she was born into. It is the land that she sows and reaps. It is the center of her family and everything that means home. And it is all kept under the watchful eye of Papa S.

At fifteen years old, Pearl is finally old enough to be chosen as Papa S’s companion. She feels excitement... and surprising trepidation that she cannot explain. The arrival of a new family into the Seed community — particularly the teenage son, Ellis — only complicates the life and lifestyle that Pearl has depended upon as safe and constant. 

Ellis is compelling, charming, and worldly, and he seems to have a lot of answers to questions Pearl has never thought to ask. But as Pearl digs to the roots of the truth, only she can decide what she will allow to come to the surface.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a cult book before. I’ve seen movies and heard stories about these horrifying cults, which always have the charismatic leader who (without remorse) brainwashes the other members. Seed definitely belongs to the category of terrifying stories. Some of the customs and beliefs surrounding the cult were so unbelievable and disturbing that it was difficult to put the book down (yet difficult to read, ironically) – you just wanted to know more about how these people were lead to believe in the ideology the leader, Papa S, preached. While the book was shocking and interesting at face value, I’m afraid I didn’t fall in love with it. It was entertaining (if that’s acceptable to say) and definitely wasn’t boring, but I’m afraid that without the cult element, the book wouldn’t have had anything else interesting in it. 

Like already mentioned, the customs of the cult were quite something else. This small, closed community believed that all that Nature had created was good, while everything that a man had designed was evil. So, the community had isolated themselves from the outside, depending on themselves and Nature when it came to food, clothing, and relationships. Of course, the creep Papa S was, he had a harem of women, which he kept to himself, calling them his Companions. Every once in a while he changed his Companion to another woman (or girl) in the community – they shared their time, thoughts, and bed together. I, believing in the absolute equality between women and men, was absolutely disgusted and appalled by this Companion system (like intended), Papa S being the single object of adoration and the source of acceptable behaviour, as the women of the community served him. 

I loved the fact that the main character, young Pearl, (and as strange as this may sound) was na├»ve as they come. The fact that Pearl believed every word that came out of Papa S mouth and how Pearl was dedicated to Seed, allowed the exploration of Seed to become a more intense experience for the readers – Pearl was swooned and impressed by all the disgusting habits of Papa S and ardently believed that Seed was a heaven on Earth. The ignorance and innocence of Pearl makes the reading occasionally difficult as you can see how the cult is taking advantage of her and the other members. Of course, when some outsiders come to join their seemingly peaceful and harmonious community, Pearl gradually starts to question whether Seed really is the place where she wants to spend the rest of her life.

While I liked the characters okay, Pearl, Papa S (one of the outsiders), and Kate had the most impact on me. Pearl through her innocence, and frankly her gullible nature, made a different main character and so a different view of the world from the readers'. Papa S, of course being this seemingly nice old man ends up being a vicious and cruel one, made the hair on my arm stand up. Kate, on the other hand, is rebellious and curious which naturally attracts attention and disapproval within the community. I liked all their complex personalities, yet, all the other characters ended up being flat to me. I was really sorry to realise this as I felt that due this, the book didn’t have the depth I was expecting it to have. Characters like Elizabeth (one of the women of the community) and Jack (Pearl and Kate’s best friend) had so much potential, but for me, they ended up being just fillers within the story.

One other thing that I briefly already mentioned; without the cult element the book wouldn’t probably have floated at all, at least for me. While I know that the cult was the heart and the brain of the book, I wish it wasn’t the liver, kidneys, lungs, and the intestines too. The cult element was absolutely fascinating and interesting to read about, but without it, I probably wouldn’t have liked the novel. I wished that there was some other substantial and touching element, which would have floated the story. But alas, no. I think the author tried to include another fundamental, carrying element, but I’m afraid that it didn’t succeed very well. As Seed is a part of series (to my best knowledge), there will be other elements introduced later on, but I just wished there was already something else, something other substantial element, in the first book. 

Seed was an interesting, sometimes disgusting (in a "good" shocking way) read with a mix of characters who earned my respect while others lost it before they said the very first words. The ending was absolutely unexpected and definitely made my eyes all watery. However, I think that Seed would have worked as a stand-alone too. In a way, I wish it was a stand-alone because of the open-ended ending. Actual rating 3.5.