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Archive for March 2011

Review of Fearscape by Simon Holt

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Fearscape

Fearscape

I recommend that you read: The Devouring, and Soulstice before jumping into this one. It would make the story more complete and gives you detailed background material. Besides, it’s a great series!

It’s been a year since Reggie first discovered the Vours, and the Winter Solstice is approaching once again. It will be another night of unspeakable horror for those unlucky enough to be taken by the Vours, because this time, she won’t be able to stop them. The Vours have imprisoned Reggie in a psychiatric hospital, where she is subjected to a daily routine of unfathomably sadistic experiments. Her life is a living Hell, but she won’t give up. They attacked her brother. They killed her friend. And Reggie will never stop fighting back. (From Amazon.ca)

What can say except that this series has been really really good? so good I couldn’t stop reading this book. After that cliffhanger ending from Soulstice I just couldn’t get my hands on this one.

The story takes a darker turn as Reggie is in a dangerous situation. I was so angry at her father for putting her where she is, it gave me such a sense of triumph when he was finally proven wrong. I really enjoyed reading about the various Fearscapes Reggie dives into. They’re scary, and well written to give you goosebumps.

Unlike the first two, Reggie does take a little backward step and isn’t much in the limelight. It instead focuses on Aaron and Quinn. I still don’t like Quinn and I don’t think I ever will. Maybe because of his actions in the past, but I don’t trust him still and even though it looks like he’s turned over a new leaf he’s still just not likable to me. I really did root for Aaron though. I loved how he just developed from being a total geeky nerd to a total fighter. He’s taken it upon himself to rescue Reggie and to fight the Vours with all that he can. He’s gotten considerably stronger in this book, but even he can’t fight the Vours all by himself. The action gets good here in this book, and there’s no shortage of it.

Reggie’s development as a character was all right, although it’s not what I wanted it to be. She eventually faces someone from her past and it turns out to be a pretty bad. Not quite what I expected, but I figured something like that should happen in this type of book. I wish there would be an even amount of focus on both her and Aaron as characters, but it seems that Aaron dominated throughout this book more than she did. It’s no big deal, but it just felt as if Reggie turned into a cardboard character and was left in the background for most of the story.

The ending was good, and it did close (most) of the loose ends. I did not like who Reggie ended up with and thought that was a pretty poor choice. I’m curious about Aaron and what he plans to do. Who knows, it might leave room for one more book in this series? Nevertheless Fearscape was a great ending to a terrific series. I most definitely recommend this to any thriller YA fans out there.

I give it a 10 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

March 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm

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Book Blogger Hop 3/25

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Book Blogger Hop

 

Today’s question is:  “If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?”

- I’d have to go with anywhere in the world of Krynn (this is featured in Dragonlance). I’ve always loved that setting. It’s the perfect place to escape. (Especially in a tavern somewhere) :)

If you’re from the Hop, um…the only thing I have are muffins from Tim Hortons. Take your pick. :) Enjoy your weekend everybody!

Written by Karoline

March 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm

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Review of Magic Study by Maria V Snyder

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Magic Study

Magic Study

It is recommended that you read Poison Study before jumping into this one. Not only was it an awesome read, but it also provides you with lots of background information that you will be needing to understand this one.

With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she’d been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can’t help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways–and her newfound friends and relatives don’t think it’s for the better…. Despite the turmoil, she”s eager to start her magic training–especially as she’s been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia”s throne for a lost prince–and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians. If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies…. (From Chapters)

This book was so interesting I would get irritated each time there would be interruptions to my reading. It was that good. I had to keep reading until the final page. I just had to. If you thought Poison Study was good, Magic Study gets even better.

Yelena is thrown into a brand new situation, and now has to re-adjust accordingly. This brings about a new set of characters, a good solid character development within Yelena, and more Valek (my favorite part!). As in the previous novel, there’s mystery and intrigue thrown into the story but the mystery aspect of the book is more violent and much darker than Poison Study. The romance between Yelena and Valek is still there, and it was nice to see them together as they do compliment each other well as a couple. There was an interesting chemistry between Yelena and Cahil – although Cahil acted like a spoiled selfish brat in the end and that does pave the way towards the third book.

It was nice to see Ari and Jaco back, and while they were out of the picture, Yelena’s horse Kiki provided some of the comic relief. It was also nice to see Yelena hasn’t really changed, although I did notice she had really great comebacks and her wit was still there, sharp as ever. I enjoyed the connection between Kiki and Yelena. Better yet, Kiki’s requests for peppermints and apples always generated a smile from me.

I’m not sure if I like Leif or not. I hated him at first because of his treatment of Yelena, and once you found out his dirty little secret, I still hated him even more. As his behavior changed, I’m still not sure what to think about him. I’d have to say, all the characters in the books are very well done and each one memorable so they’re not just any character that you’ll forget later as you progress further into the book. They had distinct personalities which helps to memorize who is who (as the cast in this book is a bit big).

The fantasy aspect of the book is good and the magic is easy to understand. I liked how characters had a specific specialization in a certain aspect of magic – in that way they’re not too overpowered and they have their weaknesses as well. Yelena seems to be the jack of all trades when it comes to magic but her talents also has risks and consequences as well.

Magic Study did live up to its predecessor and achieved more. It had an interesting plot filled with mystery, fantasy, and intrigue but it also featured well written memorable characters (horses included!). The ending prepares the reader for the third book and I’m definitely going to be reading that one soon.

I give it a 10 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

March 22, 2011 at 7:39 pm

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Review of The Hollow People by Brian Keaney

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The Hollow People

The Hollow People

ON THE SINISTER ISLAND where strict obedience to the laws of the mysterious Dr. Sigmundus holds sway, dreaming will get you locked up and branded a lunatic, a danger to society and to all who know you. In this doomed and repressive place, two teens that were never meant to meet or share their dreams, cross paths and set in motion that which rips them from the lives they were meant to lead. Together they join forces with a ragtag group of rebel forces bent on breaking the grip of lies and illusions their countrymen have accepted without question. (From Goodreads)

When I first picked up this book I thought it was from the paranormal genre. Then I took a closer look and it was an interesting blend of dystopia with some paranormal characteristics. I really did enjoy the dystopia aspect of the book. Dreams are taboo and you’re sent to the asylum if you have one and talk about it. It was an interesting idea and concept. However the pace was a little slow for me and it took me longer than usual to finish this book (despite its short length).

The theme and setting certainly had a good dark tone to it. It’s set in an asylum for the most part and when an extremely ‘dangerous’ inmate arrives that’s all the excitement that happens in the asylum. The mystery surrounding Dante and his past was good and connections were slowly being revealed. I really did like Dante as a character and the story does surround on his development as a character. Bea is more like a female sidekick to the story and although she has her own story arc as well it’s not as interesting as Dante’s.

Towards the ending of the book it got more interesting, except for a certain sequence where after re-reading the passage for about 3 times I’m still wondering what in the world happened. The cliffhanger though was very good and it does entice the reader to go search for the second one. I’m not sure if I’m going to pursue this series further. Although interesting and different when it comes to dystopian novels out there, the pace was just too slow for me and it just got a little too strange at the end. Plus, the cover is very very deceiving. You would expect to get a gothic horror novel but end with a dystopian world where dreams are illegal. Not a bad trade off, but with a slow start and slow moving pace this might deter readers (or not).

So, I’m not sure if I would recommend this book to others as I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I would say pick this up if you want to read something that’s a little different from the rest of the dystopian novels out there. Otherwise, take it or leave it.

I give it a 6 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

March 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm

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Book Blogger Hop 3/18

with 10 comments

Book Blogger Hop

Today’s question is: “Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?”

- That depends. Most of the time, I have several going at once. But if the book is really good, or it’s due then I make sure that one gets read first. It can be confusing, to maintain different books at once, but that’s why it’s better that I read one from each genre I like. That way, it doesn’t get that confusing :)

So! what are your answers? if you’re from the Hop, welcome! I just made some chocolate Guinness cupcakes! enjoy!

Written by Karoline

March 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm

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Review of Annexed by Sharon Dogar

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Annexed

Annexed

If you’ve read Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, you’ll know who Peter van Pels was. This is an interesting book, as it’s told through Peter’s point of view. It’s different in many ways, as we’re all used to reading through Anne Frank.

Everyone knows about Anne Frank and her life hidden in the secret annex – but what about the boy who was also trapped there with her?  In this powerful and gripping novel, Sharon Dogar explores what this might have been like from Peter’s point of view.  What was it like to be forced into hiding with Anne Frank, first to hate her and then to find yourself falling in love with her?   Especially with your parents and her parents all watching almost everything you do together.   To know you’re being written about in Anne’s diary, day after day?   What’s it like to start questioning your religion, wondering why simply being Jewish inspires such hatred and persecution?  Or to just sit and wait and watch while others die, and wish you were fighting.  As Peter and Anne become closer and closer in their confined quarters, how can they make sense of what they see happening around them?  Anne’s diary ends on August 4, 1944, but Peter’s story takes us on, beyond their betrayal and into the Nazi death camps.  He details with accuracy, clarity and compassion the reality of day to day survival in Auschwitz – and ultimately the horrific fates of the Annex’s occupants. (From Amazon.ca)

Just reading through this was difficult as it leads to the inevitable tragic ending. However, I thought it was interesting, the story being told through Peter’s point of view. It’s well written and although some parts were fictional, others were factual and pretty much fully accurate.

As you read through the book, Peter has his ‘philosophical’ moments with Anne, which..I found a little odd coming from a teenage boy. However on the other hand, there were moments where Peter does act like his age – his references to Lise are frequent, and his sullen sulky moods are also prevalent. At least in that, Peter is shown acting like a teenager.

During the moments where they were almost caught, still gave me a moment of panic even though I already knew what was going to happen to them. Dogar does a good job writing here, as she successfully attempts to re-create the feelings of unease, and the feelings of uncertainty the inhabitants of the Annex would have experienced. I also liked how their ‘happy’ moments were treasured no matter how trivial it might be. It was moments like those, that kept them going and to keep surviving no matter how bleak the situation was.

What really got me the most was the part with Peter and his father. It was a touching moment that brought tears to my eyes. What Peter’s father did was what any loving parent would do for their child. It’s more painful as Peter came so close to surviving towards the last final days of the war.

I do recommend this book to others who are interested in Anne Frank, or are into Holocaust studies. It’s well written and well worth the read. It’s certainly an interesting point of view as we’re so used to hearing about Anne Frank.

I give it 9 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

March 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm

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Review of Snake Agent by Liz Williams

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Snake Agent

Snake Agent

In late twenty-first-century Singapore, detective inspector Wei Chen is a snake agent, a detective whose beat reaches to the fringes of Heaven and Hell. Married to a demon wife and surrounded by wary colleagues, he is nevertheless bored with investigating routine exorcism scams and bogus feng shui licenses. Then the newly deceased ghost of a wealthy industrialist’s daughter fails to make her appointed arrival in Heaven. When it quickly becomes obvious that the industrialist himself is implicated in a netherworldly soul-trafficking scheme and is responsible for his daughter’s death, Chen has to work with an unlikely sidekick, Zhu Irzh, one of Hell’s own vice detectives and a demon cursed with a conscience. (From Amazon.ca)

I liked this book because it’s different from the myriads of urban fantasy novels I’ve read in the past. It’s different because it contains Eastern mythology, mysticism and religions. The setting takes place in Singapore (which earns bonus points from me, as this is the first book I’ve read with a setting there). Also, the story line is very dark, noir and very gritty. It’s an interesting blend of fantasy and science fiction and by putting to two together gives you a unique world. I also thought it was interesting how characters can travel from hell, to Singapore, and back again.

The plot itself is interesting. There’s a lot of twists and turns and as Wei Chen investigates further into the mystery, he realizes there’s more to it than just soul trafficking. There’s also the second plot which involves Zhu Irzh and his case which takes place in Hell. I liked his plot more, as it had an element of intrigue and explained in detail the hierarchy of Demon politics and how they relate to one another. Zhu Irzh also provides the comic relief. Unlike Chen, his approach is more laid back and he provides a witty comeback every so often. It’s a well written plot and interesting enough to keep you reading. The action is good and makes the pace go faster, not to mention the sub plot involving Inari was also really interesting as well. I especially liked the overall tone of the story. It’s really dark and has a very ‘noir’ feel to it. The setting descriptions add more to the tone of the book – especially describing the humidity and heat in the city. It added more to the feeling of the story and takes the reader to the setting. So, it’s like you’re there following the characters.

It’s a great start to what looks like a really good series and I’m definitely going to continue reading it. It shows great promise and it looks like things could go really complicated with Chen and Zhu Irzh. I do recommend this to those that love Harry Dresden, and Felix Castor, but with an Asian setting and with a much more dark and grittier tone. Fans of urban fantasy should also get a good read out of this book.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

March 15, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Posted in 8, Review

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Book Blogger Hop 3/11

with 4 comments

Book Blogger Hop

 

Today’s question is an interesting one: “If I gave you £50 (or $80) and sent you into a bookshop right now, what would be in your basket when you finally staggered to the till?”

- 80 bucks? THANKS! I’m gonna go shopping!! I’ve been dying for some book shopping. My choices:

1. People’s Queen – Vanora Bennett

2. Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

3. Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

4. St Thomas Eve – Jean Plaidy

5. Veracity – Laura Bynum

6. Dirty Little Secrets – C J Omololu

7. Feed – Mira Grant

That’s it! can I have some more..got more books to buy :)

Written by Karoline

March 10, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Posted in Book Blogger Hop, Meme

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Review of My Lady of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes

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My Lady of Cleves

My Lady of Cleves

I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite some time. I first saw this on a shelf at a nearby thrift store. However, I had to leave in a hurry and did not get a chance to buy it. Next time I went there, it was gone. (This was were I wanted to deliver a swift kick to the hombre’s behind). Anyway! luckily, the library had a copy available months after the thrift store incident. Tudor fix satiated!

My Lady of Cleves reveals the mesmerizing story of Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII”s fourth wife, one of the rare women who matched wits successfully with the fiery king and lived to tell the tale. Written by world-renowned historical novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes, My Lady of Cleves gives readers an intimate portrait of the warm, unpretentious princess who never expected to become Queen of England. Knowing the king”s ravenous desire for a son, and aware of the disastrous consequences of not bearing an heir, Anne of Cleves bravely took on the duty of weathering the Tudor King’s temper, whims, arrogance, and irresponsible passions – and won the hearts of his subjects in the process. A treat for readers of Tudor fiction and those fascinated by the complex relationships of Henry VIII and his wives, My Lady of Cleves leads readers into a world of high drama and courtly elegance. (From Chapters Indigo)

I really liked how Anne of Cleves was portrayed in this book! and it proved to be a very enjoyable read. I had to get used to the writing style though, and it took a little longer to get into the book. It proved to be a very interesting read, and I really did like this book.

It’s hard not to sympathize with Anne. Practically alone in a country where English is a foreign language, and with different customs and clothing to get used to, I felt really sorry for her in the beginning of the book. When she becomes the target of ridicule, you sympathize with her even more and can’t help but feel angry towards Henry and his crew for being so mean. The biggest surprise in this book is her friendship with Thomas Culpepper. I didn’t think they’d get along, but I liked their friendship. Also, the Thomas in this book is much nicer than say, The Tudors version. This book painted Culpepper in a rather sympathetic light and it’s a whole different version of him than what I am used to, and I like this one much better.

What I enjoyed most about this book is how Anne gracefully became an outsider of the court, to a well beloved one. She gradually warmed characters’ hearts and the reader’s. She was seen as a person you could approach to, and talk to while she listened and gave good advice. In a way, you could say she would make a wonderful therapist. You could not help but love her up until the end. I especially liked how she managed to get Henry to come crawling back (so to speak). I thought Henry’s portrayal here was different, he’s still a tyrant, but he’s also seen as an old curmudgeon. Perhaps that’s what Margaret Campbell Barnes wanted in the first place.

The plot is certainly slow moving and although it’s not what you would call a very exciting type of book, I think it’s a book meant to be read and appreciated thoroughly and slowly. I believe this book was really meant to really look into Anne as a character and how she develops throughout the story. This book is really all about the characters. Would I recommend this? I would to Tudor history lovers out there. It helps to know the history and to know who’s who before getting into this book. Also keep in mind, the writing style is a bit different -I’d say similar to Jean Plaidy’s. So, it will take a bit to get used to, but it’s well worth the time.

This was one of the better Tudor books I’ve read, filled with great character development and most importantly, shows some of the characters in a very different light. I definitely recommend this. It was a great read, and reinforces my opinion as Anne of Cleves being one of my favorite Queens (even if she was Queen for a little while).

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

March 8, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Book Blogger Hop 3/4

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Book Blogger Hop

 

Today’s question: “Who’s your all-time favorite book villain?”

- What a bloody awesome question!!!! and it took me a while to figure out a good answer. There is only one I can think of that stands out the most for me.

The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from the Dune series.

Now it’s been a while since I picked up Dune although I plan to do so again. Yet the Baron stood out a lot for me. He ranks pretty high up there on my list. He’s ruthless, evil, cruel, and manipulates others by discovering their weaknesses. Besides that, he also treats his family just the same. So he’s ranked pretty ruthless and nasty. I was going to vote for Voldemort or maybe even Saruman, but I think the Baron surpasses both of them. Big time.

What’s your answer?

If you’re from the Hop, hi! and welcome! enjoy your stay! poutine for everybody!

Written by Karoline

March 3, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Posted in Book Blogger Hop, Meme

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