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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? (from Goodreads)

Oh my. It’s been a while since I’ve read an excellent book. Then you pick up a giant tome like this one and it just sweeps you off your feet. I fell in love with this book in the first few 50 pages. It had an interesting fresh look on fantasy for YA without your standard monsters (ie: dragons – not that there’s anything wrong with dragons, but we’ve all seen and read about them dozens of times).

The idea of the chimeras and the seraphim with a Romeo and Juliet twist is what I found the most appealing in this book. Now it may not be entirely different when it comes to the starcrossed lovers theme, but putting that theme with something different and fantastical is always a good thing and refreshing to see. Also, I loved the setting. Not many that take place in Europe, so that also makes the book all the more worth reading.

The characters are all memorable. Loved all the chimeras they each had their own personality and you couldn’t help but love them all. Zuzana made the perfect sidekick with Karou, I loved her and how much she supported Karou through it all. Thiago is horribly slimy and makes your skin crawl. The plot goes back and forth between what’s happening now, and in a different fantastical world, but it’s weaved together and it’s so well done you don’t notice any hitches. It’s a beautiful plot, and although the size might intimidate some, don’t be. You’ll be surprised at how fast you fly with this book because the plot is so engaging and will draw you in.

Definitely recommended. It’s something different, and the cliffhanger ending will make you scream.

I give it a 10 out of 10

Written by Karoline

May 28, 2014 at 7:13 am

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For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

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For Such a Time

For Such a Time

In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself? (From goodreads)

I normally don’t read these types of books. Everything about this just sounds so….let’s say cliched. Either I was going to cry over the complete uber cheesiness of this book and power through it or I might just actually enjoy it.

Nevermind that the author took various liberties with the historical aspect of the book and changed a couple of things herself. This sort of thing would have gotten my knickers in a knot and I would have been pulling my hair out in sheer anger at how someone could just do such a drastic thing especially with this type of historical subject. She does write a good author’s note at the end so I can forgive…..

I also shrugged off the fact that it got a little semi preachy towards the end of the book, (I had to remind myself this was an inspirational novel – however I’m not that fond of the preachy tones) not to mention the romance during the last third of the book got my stomach a little queasy as I’m just not that used to this.

I shrugged off the biggest thing that made me irksome in this book and that was the name Aric and I wondering how the heck is that a suitable name (what the heck was wrong with Erich??? which is a much more realistic sounding and perfect name for that era….if there was more research done in this particular era in history you’ll find DOZENS of soldiers named ERICH (including a famous general) so why does he need to be named something different??? is he a child of Hollywood??????)

I overlooked all those three things that normally in any other book I’d have thrown to the wall and never touch again. Why?

Because I absolutely loved Aric and Hadassah.

The tense moments, the moments where they’re oh so close yet they come apart, or that one dramatic moment where everything actually DID, it just all was an emotional ride. However because their chemistry was so good, I couldn’t help but love them both together. They were so good together you wanted them to hit it off right away. They’re both almost made for each other and one just can’t help but be totally caught up with them through the entire book.

So I said this was an emotional ride. Yes…aside from the very sensitive subject matter, you can’t help but absolutely hate the antagonists in the book with such a rabid rage you feel like going into the book and gave them the haymaker of your life, or skewer them like sausages (hahah a reference to Hadassah’s Herr Sausage haahhaha!) however if the author’s intention was to instill these kinds of emotions from the reader with these kinds of characters; then consider the job very well done.

As to the plot; again if you’re a historical nitpick this might hurt. However, detailed setting descriptions and the overall mood of the story does fit well. The story itself is alright if one can forgive the historical inaccuracies and the attempts to make it fit into the plot, all the action seems to have been crammed into the final third of the novel which does give it a feeling of being rushed, but nevertheless the reading is good. It’s really the characters that carry the novel.

The ending, made me weep (whether happy or sad tears, I am not going to say. It would be considered a spoiler) :)

Would I recommend this? yes, if you want to read a pair of characters that just hit it off from almost page one. No, if you’re bothered by the preachy undertones, the historical warping, and the somewhat nauseous romance that develops later…

I give it a 10 out of 10.

Written by Karoline

April 30, 2014 at 6:54 am

The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

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The Other CountessIt’s 1582 and eighteen-year-old Will Lacey’s family is in trouble. After years of wasteful spending, his late father has run Lacey Hall to near ruin. Tasked with marrying his family back into fortune, the new Earl of Dorset is all set for a season at court to woo not just the Queen but potential brides with his jousting skills. But when Ellie – a strong-willed girl with nothing to her name but a worthless Spanish title – catches Will’s eye, he faces a bigger battle than he could ever have anticipated. (From Goodreads)

I really enjoyed the storyline in this book. It wasn’t that heavy on the history although the setting was well done. It was the characters that did the trick with this book and the romance. Now I’m not a romance type of reader but the romance aspect of the story was nice and sweet and went well hand in hand with the story as well.

There’s lots of chemistry between the main couple really helped this book come along. Besides Ellie and Will, the other characters were very memorable (Jane and James, Diego are great examples).

Usually with this type of historical fiction you have a nice blend of political intrigue, this story, doesn’t have that – but it’s good, because it’s not needed. However Edwards adds in the conflict between Catholics and Protestants to give it a more historical feel to it but not so overwhelming on the history lesson – which is great since this book caters to Young Adults.

Wonderful read, and with a beautiful ending. I know there’s two more books after this so I’ll be sure to pick them up. This was a great read with characters that are well done and memorable. It’s a sweet romance without it being cheesy and silly. It’s worth reading even for those who aren’t into romances like I am.

I give it a 10/10

Written by Karoline

January 21, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Review of Secrets of the Crown by Adam Jay Epstein

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Secrets of the Crown

Secrets of the Crown

When every bit of human magic disappears suddenly from Vastia, it falls on the familiars—Aldwyn the telekinetic cat, Skylar the know-it-all blue jay, and Gilbert the gullible tree frog—to find the Crown of the Snow Leopard, an ancient relic that can reverse the curse. They learn that the only way to do this is by following in the paw prints of Aldwyn’s missing father, who went searching for the Crown several years earlier. This magical spirit trail extends into the Beyond, where our heroes encounter new enemies and danger, while Aldwyn learns about his mysterious past. (From Amazon.ca)

I’m so glad this series just keeps getting better! I’ve really enjoyed the first one, but this one is even better!

It’s still an adventure, and it’s certainly more focused on Aldwyn and his friends. It’s certainly more focused on Aldwyn and his past, and provides a little more on the background information to make the world building more comprehensible and easy to picture.

I’m also glad to see Gilbert still hasn’t lost his touch on being the funny one of the group. I was also surprised that Skylar is still a know it all but she’s not as annoying and has turned out to be more friendly and supportive. I still love Aldwyn and he will always be my favorite.

The plot is still just as good, I liked the riddle/puzzle element to it, it’s reminiscent of the Redwall books (they’re always filled with those) but with a much more adventure flavor to it. The thing I like about this is the writing style of the plot. It’s easy to picture, and if possible, could very well be made into an animated feature film. The illustrations provided are also fun to look at and is a great addition for younger aged readers.

I’m looking forward to the next book in this series and can’t wait to see what happens to them next! most definitely recommended to Middle Grade readers, but all ages will have fun reading this one.

Note:It’s best if you read the first before this one.

I give it a 10/10

Written by Karoline

April 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

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Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back. Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization. (From Goodreads)

I had trouble with finding a good book in the Dystopian genre that was on par with The Hunger Games. I thought to myself, nothing will be able to compare. I finally found its’ match. It’s this one. For sure. People who ask for other books like Hunger Games, I yell out Blood Red Road and nothing else.

Remember Mad Max? well the world is something like this. Dry, desert, hot. Blazing hot. The setting was so descriptive and rich you can feel the heat, the sweat, and the dryness. It sure seems like a very desolate lonely world, but the world building is wonderful and so rich and detailed. It’s a perfect setting for this type of novel and it’s extremely well done.

I loved Saba. She’s tough, she’s gritty, she’s not afraid to get dirty and to fight tooth and nail to get to Lugh. She treats her little sister like dirt, and yes I did find the little kid annoying, I would have hated to be in her shoes if she ever got Saba angry. But, you have to give credit to Emmi, she does talk back. As the story progresses, Emmi does grow on me and she’s definitely got the same strength Saba’s got. I love the bantering between Jack and Saba. There was chemistry there and with Saba’s bad temper it just made their interactions absolutely fun to read at times. The characters overall in this book were excellent. There was nothing to dislike! I also loved the Free Hawks. It was just awesome reading a girl gang who are able to survive on their own!

The action scenes are also really good (there’s worm like creatures! it’s like the sandworms from Dune except evil and really really aggressive!!! I squeed when I read this part!) the entire plot of this book was engaging, interesting and could not stop you from reading. It was literally, a page turner.

The only thing I had an issue with is Saba’s narration. It’s different, and took me a few tries to follow but you do get used to it as you read through the story.

Other than that, fans of the Hunger Games would LOVE THIS! and SHOULD READ THIS! drop everything else and give this one a try. It’s one of the best dystopian books I’ve read that definitely should share the pedestal that the Hunger Games is on.

I give it a 10 out of 10

Written by Karoline

January 15, 2013 at 7:09 pm

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

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A Million Suns

A Million Suns

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to act on his vision—no more Phydus, no more lies. But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success—or failure—will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight. (From Goodreads)

I loved the first one and this one was just as good. The plot carries where it left off from Across the Universe (it’s strongly recommended you read it before jumping into A Million Suns).

The plot was really good and there was another mystery Amy had to solve. I loved the little clues dropped in throughout the book and Amy was just picking them up like breadcrumbs. What I loved about the book was just when you were getting comfortable and watching Amy pick up the pieces to put the puzzle together, you’re blindsided with events. These aren’t just any sort of events this is more like mind blowing What in the World OMG events where you either pull your hair or you just wanted to do a huge face palm moment (readers of this book will know what I’m talking about).

It not only stops there. These blindsiding moments really pack it in towards the end of the book which makes it so exciting and enjoyable to read. I absolutely loved her writing style in this plot. Another aspect of the plot that I really liked was the chaos Godspeed was under. It’s like watching cabin fever explode onto the ship.

Character wise, I’m enjoying how they’re developing. Elder’s really taking the reigns of the ship and I liked his development. He’s growing up (that dear dear boy. *wipes tears* haha) and it’s nice to see he’s finally taking charge and getting what he’s been trained for all this time.

Ending is left in a cliffhanger and I’m ready to jump into the third one (can it be released NOW? please?) lots of questions asked! and hopefully they’re be answered soon! it’s a great series so far, most definitely recommended for YA readers (sci fi geeks most welcome!)

I give it a 10 out of 10

Bonus points to beautiful cover, and to the word ‘frexing’ :D

Written by Karoline

December 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Review of The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

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Girl of Fire and ThornsOnce a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one.But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do. (From Amazon.ca)

Wow. I absolutely loved. No. LOVED. This book. So, what did I like about it? first of all, the setting. It’s got some influences of the Spanish court, but with a lot of fantasy elements as well. The fantasy elements are pretty good and unique there is magic involved but not your standard magic you would be used to reading in the usual fantasy novels. I thought the setting and fantasy elements were pretty different and unique. It’s a great blend of historical fiction with fantastical elements in between. There is magic to not too much to put off the anti-fantasy readers out there. The action and intrigue elements are also well written in this book. It certainly does add more substance and also adds a bit more variety to the reading.

Elisa is a wonderful character. She might not be the most sexiest one I’ve ever read, but what I loved about her is her inner strength and her intelligence is featured throughout the book. Those qualities she had within her made her character development very enjoyable to read. She certain did develop especially during the latter part of the novel.

The other characters in the books are also well done. I didn’t care much for Alejandro though I thought he was pretty weak (plus, the way he treated Elisa, especially after her change in appearance really didn’t sit well with me). Also, it seems some characters in the book just disappear from the novel. Yes, there is a second one after this, but it might help to find out what might have happened to them just so the reader won’t forget about these secondary characters.

Still, it’s worth the read. I loved the setting, and the nice blend of fantasy and historical fiction. I definitely recommend this to other YA readers who are into the fantasy genre.

I give it a 10 out of 10.
PS: HECTOR!!! OMG…LOVE HIM!!!!

Written by Karoline

October 30, 2012 at 8:49 pm

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