You Won’t Forget This One…

0373210426.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends — her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.  Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.  This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget. (From Goodreads)

It’s a quick, but extremely brutal read. This may not be for everyone.

You really do feel for ‘Alice’ throughout the novel and what she goes through. There’s a feeling of utter helplessness watching her suffer under the hands of Ray and his cruelty is hard to read. What’s worse is, as the novel progresses and Ray develops other plans to include Alice you feel horrible reading the book (almost like having a bad taste in the mouth).

Alice’s behavior is also hard to read. She’s been conditioned because of Ray, and some of her actions are the cause of it. You almost cringe because you start doubting her and wonder if she really will listen to Ray or not. She’s had various chances to leave Ray but her fear for her family kept her staying. It’s understandable as Ray is a manipulator and managed to twist things around to get Alice to be compliant.

There’s pieces here and there of Ray and his background. However at that point you don’t care anymore since he’s an awful scumbag and deserves any horrible thing coming at him. It’s a pretty straight forward plot, everything is done through Alice’s perspective, and it’s definitely the type of book that will stick with you for a long while.

I’m not going to recommend this, it may be too much for some readers. Definitely pick up something with a much lighter theme after this one.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

Advertisements

Jack and Jasminda are a Super Couple in the Fiction World…

0373210426.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.  Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamari is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps. Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.  The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war. (From Goodreads)

I greatly enjoyed reading this one. Not only was the fantasy world written well and different, but the characters had excellent chemistry and the plot flowed to make the reading enjoyable and quick.

The world building is excellent and different. The story alternates in between with Jack and Jasminda’s point of view, but also there are some chapters that tell the background story of how their world was created. I enjoyed these alternating chapters. It provides better structure of the setting, it provides the mythology and a better understanding of the “True Father” and “The Queen who Sleeps”. It’s well written and everything comes together seamlessly.

The plot itself is also excellent. I love the concept of “Silents” and “Songbearers” and both are living side by side but marred by war and prejudice. And did you ever see the hate towards Jasminda throughout the book. You get angry at her treatment but Jasminda bears it and she does it well. The plot is pretty fast paced and it’s feels like a fast read – not to mention the fact that it’s very interesting. There’s a good mix of fantasy, action, and romance. What wasn’t really necessary was the Lizvette part. It made that aspect predictable and it didn’t really mesh well with what was going on with all the other things. It felt like it was placed there for filler reasons (I mean, we all know who Jack was going to go for a this point…)

Now for Jack and Jasminda.

I LOVED both of them together. They had this chemistry going on and you could feel it throughout the novel. It was heart wrenching in various parts of the book and you wanted to reach out to them and MAKE them go together (Jack you deserve some slaps of stupidity for some of the stuff you said). They’re both great characters and Jasminda’s development throughout the novel was excellent. Despite the changes she went through she didn’t lose her sass and her ferocious independence (love how this exasperates Jack by the way lol)

Definitely looking forward to the second book of this series! The ending was great (and I’m sure there’s way more battles to come)

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Thank you St Martin’s Press for the review copy!

Aristide Makricosta just steals it.

0373210426.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Welcome to Amberlough City, the illustrious but corrupt cosmopolitan beacon of Gedda. The radical One State Party—nicknamed the Ospies—is gaining popular support to unite Gedda’s four municipal governments under an ironclad, socially conservative vision. Not everyone agrees with the Ospies’ philosophy, including master spy Cyril DePaul and his lover Aristide Makricosta, smuggler and emcee at the popular Bumble Bee Cabaret. When Cyril’s cover is blown on a mission, however, he must become a turncoat in exchange for his life. Returning to Amberlough under the Ospies’ watchful eye, Cyril enters a complex game of deception. One of his concerns is safeguarding Aristide, who refuses to let anyone—the crooked city police or the homophobic Ospies—dictate his life. Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, top dancer at the Bee and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means—and people—necessary. Including each other. (From Goodreads)

This was the type of book that when I finished it, I had to lie back down and just stare at the ceiling. It was mind blowing. There are layers of intrigue and you don’t watch it unfold, in fact it’s the opposite, you watch it form and develop as the story progresses.

The setting in this one is one of a lot of political instability. It’s explained in the earlier parts of the book. It’s a bit difficult to follow (notes may help some readers) perhaps a character list would help in this case to keep everything straight. A glossary would have helped as well as the characters have their own slang – most of it straight forward but it would help nevertheless. That being said despite these little shortcomings, the world is rich and detailed. Amberlough is decadent and has remnants of Weimar Berlin. Now I did say previously it’s hard to follow because of the slang, but it’s precisely because of this slang that makes the world more detailed and fun to read.

The pace of the plot is slow and steady as it sets up the stage for what would follow after. It is essentially, a spy novel, so it quickly leads to a lot of double dealing, moments of backstabbing and betrayal. There are only three characters that you really need to focus on as the supporting ones just add to the flavor of the novel. Of the three that are central to the plot, one must love Aristide.

With a name like Aristide Makicosta you know he’s going to be a character to remember. He’s flamboyant, street smart and clever. Despite the world burning around him he always manages to do everything in style. It’s hard not to fall for his charms and so you would understand Cyril’s love for him.  I still don’t know what to think about Cyril. He was doing the job and had to. It came at a great cost but he had no choice and he had to think for himself (although I know there seems to be a lot of hate for him).

I love Cordelia. She’s got sass, she’s just as street smart and a survivor. Her character development is on point in this book. Yes she may be just a ‘dancer’ but she soon develops into someone with a cause to defend the city she loves. Despite the horrors she goes through in the latter half of the novel, she doesn’t let it break her. It’s admirable and she’s likable not only because of her catchy personality but also because of her unstoppable strength.

That ENDING THOUGH. I felt my eyes grow wide each time I turned the pages throughout the last third of the novel. This was why I had to sit back and just absorb everything I’ve read when I finished this one. It was that good.

Greatly recommended if you like intrigue, a decadent setting, and memorable characters. I absolutely enjoyed this book.

I give it a 8 out of 10.  

Team Magnus and Lucia because Cleo stinks.

0373210426.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface. As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love. (From Goodreads)

***Spoilers ahead you’ve been warned***

I rather enjoyed this one. Somewhat. The characters are really what drives this book (some of them that is) and while the plot moves at a medium pace, it’s understandable as this introduces you to the setting, the characters and what’s in store for us as readers.

World building is straight forward and there’s a handy guide in the beginning so you can figure out who is who and from which Kingdom (there are three). It pretty much centralizes on a small group that are central to the main plot and it’s easy to figure out who is who as you quickly start developing favorites 🙂

And this is where it starts getting interesting. I notice this happens sometimes with fantasy books. The good characters are downright annoying, nauseating (even more so when the love factor is involved) and induce eye rolling moments while reading. The not so nice characters are  more interesting to read, you quietly cheer for them and hope they turn out for the better because you don’t want them going down that path because most likely, they’ll end up being gone and you’ll have nothing else to read but the good guys.

I tried to like Cleo. I really did. However all I see is a little naive twit who’s annoying and I don’t really see her worth in this book and I wonder why Magnus just doesn’t end her so she can join good ol dependable Theon. I am hoping she turns out better in the later books but so far she’s not looking so good and her romance with Theon was so eye rolling inducing it’s characters like these that make or break the novel.

Thankfully, I love the Magnus story arc. He’s turned into a jerk but it’s not really his fault as dad isn’t really nice. The thing with Lucia is creepy and although they’re not blood related it still gives moments of queasiness (dude, you have like so many girls in the Kingdom come on). That being said though, I love reading about Magnus and Lucia. Their story lines are interesting, they have faults, and they deal with it (albeit, perhaps not in an all too healthy manner).

The story arc with Jonas was also interesting and I wish more was written about him (I think Cleo’s got way too much time in spotlight) as he’s gone through so much to get his revenge and only to find out it just opened a giant Pandora’s box and we’re heading towards more epic battling.

The latter third of the book gets really interesting. I’m only hoping there’s going to be a good outcome for everyone and I really hope Cleo’s character improves because she’s really what could make or break my desire to continue onto this series. Sometimes it takes that one character to ruin it all. That being said, I think it’s off to a great start and I’m ready for some more! Great for those into YA fantasy.

I give it a 7 out of 10.  

Grisly murder scenes and Mind Fawkery

0373210426.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Troubled San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart is planning a rare weekend away from the job when she gets the call. A body has been found. A woman, brutally murdered. And the cryptic note left by the body is addressed to Valerie. The victim is unknown to her, but as Valerie analyses the scene, the clues begin to point in a deeply disturbing direction: to a maximum security prison where a woman called Katherine Glass is awaiting execution for a series of gruesome killings. And Valerie was the cop who put her there. The last thing Valerie wants to do is re-enter Katherine’s twisted world, but when a second body is discovered, with another puzzling clue, she realises she has no choice. Katherine Glass holds the key to the killings, and Valerie needs to find out what she knows before the murders come even closer to home. Even if it means playing a deadly game where once again, the psychopathic killer holds all the cards. (From Goodreads)

This can be read as a stand alone if you come across this book although it’s highly encouraged to read the first one only because it’s just as good!

This time around, Valerie doesn’t get pummelled all over the place and you don’t cringe as much when she gets hit by something (whether it’s a bullet or a hit to the head). The plot held up to the same standards as the first; fast paced, filled with scenes of gratuitous violence and some sexual content here and there. This may not be for some readers as it does get graphic but I think without it, it would be hard to describe how heinous the crimes are.

Throughout the novel, Valerie has these tete a tetes with Katherine and they’re well written. You feel the tension between them and the mind games Katherine plays are subtle and sometimes even frustrating because she’s maddingly brilliant and manipulative. You’re running along with Valerie trying to catch this killer and you follow through the chase filled with puzzles and cryptic notes and gifts (none very nice gifts either…). The killer is brilliant and when you think he’s this one person, he ends up being someone you didn’t realize and it’s  mind blowing considering who this killer ends up kidnapping.

And just when you think everything’s done there’s more extra twists happening. This is what makes this novel so quick and fast to read. You’re deeply engrossed in the plot and in the chase to find this killer but you forget he most likely has a plan B and you’re blindsided again. This is what makes this book so good!!!!!! I loved every minute of it!!!

The only concern I have is, how much more can happen in this series before this starts getting repetitive. I love the way it’s going and I hope the series can stay fresh and exciting like it’s been so far. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next, given there’s a bit of a teaser at the very last page of the book.

I give it a 9 out of 10.

 

Like a Reality TV show you can’t break away from…

0373210426.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Welcome to Manderley Academy

I hadn’t wanted to go, but my parents were so excited… So here I am, the new girl at Manderley, a true fish out of water. But mine’s not the name on everyone’s lips. Oh, no. It’s Becca Normandy they can’t stop talking about. Perfect, beautiful Becca. She went missing at the end of last year, leaving a spot open at Manderley— the spot that I got. And everyone acts like it’s my fault that infallible, beloved Becca is gone and has been replaced by not perfect, completely fallible, unknown Me. Then, there’s the name on my lips— Max Holloway. Becca’s ex. The one boy I should avoid, but can’t. Thing is, it seems like he wants me, too. But the memory of Becca is always between us. And as much as I’m starting to like it at Manderley, I can’t help but think she’s out there, somewhere, watching me take her place. Waiting to take it back. (From Goodreads)

This is one of the few times where I enjoyed the book however the characters were so unlikable I was amazed that I stuck through and finished the novel. It was well written enough that I was super curious as to what happened to Becca and whether she was really around or if she had a horrible outcome. The mystery element was well done to keep you guessing. The point of views changes between Becca and Callie’s. There’s a good easy flow between the two perspectives so it makes the reading easy to follow and quick.

That being said, the characters were just awful in a sense not that they were unreadable (almost) but they were just horrible awful people. Even our main character wasn’t that likable. However I digress. Let’s break them down:

Becca; Oh darling. You horrible awful attention seeking harpy. Not only do you have issues of your own but because you aren’t happy you feel the need to destroy others and to make sure you drag them down into the mud and follow you through your misery. I had no sympathies. Even when it was revealed what happened. Except for …well you know.

Max: Another horrible creature and he’s pretty much meant for Becca anyway as they’re both rather terrible people. The “I like you but I don’t want to be together” spiel is ugh. On top of that after you say that you go and do the pursuing. You’re the emotional manipulative type just like Becca and it’s hard to figure out which one is worse. You emotionally  play with the main character and give her the yo-yo treatment then get mad when she’s talking with your best friend..oh wait sorry let’s re-write that: “Best Friend”. Dude, you’re like a horrible Tinder date gone wrong.

Dana: You’re a psychotic twit and holy mother mary do you have issues. I get what happened and you stood there and was an observer but you lashing out and being Queen Horrible to Callie (main character) was inexcusable. This behavior can’t even be blamed on grief, you’re just pure malice. Your obsession with Becca is creepy it makes you look like the type of fangirl nobody ever wants.

Madison and Julia: You have no spines and you follow Becca like she’s a Goddess. Stop being sheep and your condescension towards Callie was uncalled for. You each deserve a swift kick for treating her like that.

Johnny: You broke the Bro-Code. You should be banned for life.

Callie: Where do I start with you? You started off as a great main character and a lot of sympathies to you because you started off on the wrong foot and in a precarious situation. However then you did this yo-yo game with Max saying “Yeah I like you but I never said I was going to be with you” sure, that was a savage burn on your part but you keep *whining* about how you like Max so much and he’s not returning the favor because of Becca but he keeps coming back to you like you’re the side piece and you don’t seem to mind that treatment. You try to stick up for yourself with Dana (which was admirable) but then you shrink back into your turtle shell and you just *walk* into these situations even though YOU KNOW it’s going to turn out with potentially bad consequences. You’re like the friend that complains about how horrible your significant other is treating you but you’re still with that person but you don’t listen to advice. You have got to be one of the most frustrating characters I have ever read so far.

Well now! That sums up my opinions of the characters. I say go for reading this one. It’s almost like you’re watching reality TV and it’s such a guilty pleasure but you can’t help but not look away. Maybe because the characters were just so hateful you had to keep on reading. You just wanted to know what was going to happen next.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

 

A Subject to be Aware of. Definitely Recommend this one.

48fc036cb417fe6596d4b637051434f414f4141.jpg

In order to save her family’s farm, Roshen, sixteen, must leave her rural home to work in a factory in the south of China. There she finds arduous and degrading conditions and contempt for her minority (Uyghur) background. Sustained by her bond with other Uyghur girls, Roshen is resolved to endure all to help her family and ultimately her people. A workplace survival story, this gritty, poignant account focuses on a courageous teen and illuminates the value—and cost—of freedom. (From Goodreads)

This was a great eye opener albeit a sad read on what’s going on with the Uyghur and how they’re being treated by the Chinese government. They’re not a very well known group of people and after finishing this book it’s an eye opening experience.

Throughout the novel you follow the narrative of Roshen, who’s left her family behind and a potential fiance to work in a factory. As a reader you already have an idea on how this is going to go as factories over there are usually sweatshops with grueling horrifying conditions. What I was not expecting, and because I didn’t know much of these peoples is they’re on the bottom rung of the ladder everywhere they go. Since they don’t look like your average Chinese, they stick out as a visible minority and because their beliefs are very much different, they get treated horribly and are pretty much slaves.

You follow Roshen and a group of Uyghur girls as they toil through the factory under horrible conditions. You can feel their fear and mistrust, even amongst themselves because anyone can become an informant. What I was not prepared for, was for Hawa’s character. You already had an assumption about her because of her behavior but when she does something completely unspeakable on behalf of Roshen it was a complete blindside. The negative feelings you had towards Hawa disappears completely and is replaced with a kind of respect for what she went through.

Definitely recommended to read. It’s horrifying what these families and girls go through, and awareness is key.

I give it an 8 out of 10.