Monday, January 25, 2016

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Mass

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."


From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.


Rating: 2,5 Stars



“The world didn’t need an assassin with a coward’s heart. It needed someone like Nehemia.”


Second buddy read with Jaz!!! We are on a roll here!

Be warned, this review contains spoilers for ToG and CoM because most of the things I want to discuss are essential to the plot so, if you haven’t read either of them, this will spoil you big time.
Also, there will probably be some swearing and profanities, not for any particular reason, I just felt like swearing today.

I read Throne of Glass by Sarah J Mass last year. After reading ACOTAR and countless of positive reviews about this series I decided to give it a shot, very eager to discover a new fantasy world with a strong and interesting female main character. Sadly, I was very disappointed with ToG, the plot was painfully predictable, the romance overwhelming and annoying, and the characters cliché whiny and oh so, so boring. Many people told me it got better after ToG but honestly, after being bored out of my mind with that book, was I really willing to put myself back through that? No, the fuck I wasn’t. Honestly, I let some months go by hoping that my mind would change but even then, the thought of going back to doing the same thing made me want to hammer my fingers, anything to keep me from being so bored again.

Still, as stubborn as I am I knew I wanted to continue with the series. Jaz had gone through something similar, although I’m sure she handled it as much more sane person (not really but she might be reading this shhhh ;) ) we both wanted to give it another chance… but we really didn’t want to read this book, so that’s when we decided to start reading it as a buddy read, so we could talk about it, share theories and do anything really to keep us from being bored.

Now that I’ve finished the second book I have to say it was a bit more interesting than the first one, at least the second part, even though I’m really pissed at what happened to get to that point. However, considering how little I liked Throne of Glass, saying this one was a little better doesn’t exactly make it a good book. Sarah J mass carries the same problem she had in her previous book (as well as in ACOTAR) and that is to spend most of the book without an actual plot, cultivating romance and basically making the narration an uncoordinated mess.

The plot was (if there was any) essentially the same as in the first book, Celaena is at the castle, there is a mystery animal-thing going around, she has to defeat “The Evil”, but she’ll care more about the love triangle between her Dorian and Chaol and demanding things from Nehemia when she needs her but not paying much attention to her the rest of the book.

I really enjoyed the first chapter, the writing had significantly improved and I loved how I could picture the scene perfectly. It was as if I had been there with Celeana tracking down the targets the King had commanded her to kill. I could hear every sound, see the rooms, the place. I let myself believe the book would be as good as that chapter, but that didn’t happen.

There were a lot of logical errors from the beginning and what really pissed me off was Celaena not killing the people she was told to, but letting her friends believe she was doing as the king commanded her and therefore being a terrible person.

First, I had problems understanding why she wasn’t killing those people. She said she was planning on killing them but changed her mind when she saw her first target and realized he was actually a “decent” person:

She’d prepared herself for the kill, told herself that Sir Carlin was nothing but a stranger and his life meant nothing to her. But when she got to his estate and witnessed the unusual kindness with which he treated his servants, when she saw him playing the lyre with a traveling minstrel he sheltered in his hall, when she realized whose agenda she was aiding … she couldn’t do it.”

Is that all it takes? Being kind to his servants? What about all the innocent lives she has taken for people working for the King? Celaena has told us countless of times how she didn’t care who she killed and even told the story of an innocent guy she butchered because two royal men wanted to take his job. She had killed the poor bystander without a second thought, but now she’s risking her and her friends’ lives because…?...........?..........................??!

I don’t know, Celaena’s motivations are so fickle, almost as if she had no real characterization beyond what the author needs to create senseless drama… mmm.

Again I was annoyed at Celaena’s passivity. At book one we saw how she knew that there was something in the castle killing competitors and that she was being targeted, and yet she chose to ignore it. Willing herself to believe it was all in her head and demanding for other people to fix the problems for her. I could never understand how Celaena was supposed to be such an amazing assassin when she had a problem right in front of her rather bring her hands to her ears, close her eyes and wait until the bad guys go away. It’s not only childlike but stupid, she allegedly has gone through a lot and yet the woman we know here is incapable of defending herself.


She encounters a mystery being outside the library in a cloak with animal eyes and makes her amulet shine… and she convinces herself it’s just some noble who visited the library in the middle of the night.

Why? Why be so dumb as to put herself and everybody else in danger? To create tension in discovering who or what the thing is but it’s just annoying as hell.


Nehemia’s death:

I knew it was coming because of spoilers, and even though the idea of the only POC character dying pissed me off to the point where I didn’t want to read this book, I tried to give Sarah J Mass a chance and hope that it would be well done. I read and waited, trying to see if it could be well played. Maybe Nehemia’s death was really necessary and not just a woman in refrigerator (a woman being killed/tortured/hurt to further another character’s plot, usually a guy’s).

I was sadly disappointed. Not only does Nehemia’s death comes out of the blue, but the girl had even less scenes than in Throne of Glass. It was disappointing to know she was going to die and that all the scenes she had were her talking a bit about the revolution but not about what she was doing, giggling with Celaena about Chaol and drinking tea.

We all know how in Throne of Glass Nehemia’s only role was to be there when Celaena needed her, either by being a friend with magical powers that saved her life when she needed it the most or to tell us, the readers, just how super-especial-beautiful-powerful-capable-amazeballs Celaena was (because we definitely needed somebody else to hit us over the head again and again about how special Celaena was). That was it, we knew little about Nehemia really, she wanted to free her people, she had both parents and some siblings but that was all we knew from her. We hardly ever saw her interact with anybody else, or know what colors she liked, what foods she enjoyed, who exactly this character was.

Sure, I wasn’t Nehemia’s biggest fan either but yet again I’m nobody’s biggest fan in this series. Despite her noble cause of wanting to free her people, she often came off as selfish. Her role at court was to be an ambassador and establish a friendly relationship with the King and Queen, instead all she did was insult them and spend as little time with them as possible, causing an even worse relationship with the Kingdom and contributing to the death of those five hundred slaves.
However, she had improved in this next installment- Ok no, that’s a lie since we hardly ever saw her, but her story was far more interesting than the boring-ass love triangle Celaena was having and I would have rather seen Nehemia do all the amazing things Archer said she had done off-screen rather than seeing her only drink tea and being Celaena’s plotless side kick.

She was a character with a lot of potential who was sadly sacrificed to further bland Celaena’s plot. Nehemia’s character, despite her friendship with Celaena was sorely underdeveloped. We knew nothing about her because Celaena didn’t really care to know much. It bothered me how, after Nehemia died it still seemed like her only purpose was to help people. Dorian missed that Nehemia never got to help her with magic, and Celaena despite her cries of what an amazing woman she had been, only seems to want her for Nehemia to do things for her. It was annoying how little this character was and how underplayed it had been, even after death she wasn’t even a person but more like a thing that did stuff:

“Nehemia should have been here—to help with Yellowlegs and the riddle, to tell her what to do with Chaol, to smile as Celaena played something particularly clever for her.”

Look at that quote, do you feel the love there? Because I don’t. Everytime Celaena remembers her is to miss the things Nehemia did for her, not the person in itself. The only POC in the story was reduced to nothing but a plot device, the narration itself acknowledges it:

Nehemia had engineered her own death, knowing that she might change the world—change Celaena—more through dying than living.

Considering what I know, without having read the next two books, was Nehemia’s death really worth it? So far no, her death was not necessary for the plot or Celaena to change. Again, I haven’t read the next two books but for what I can see right now Nehemia was nothing but a woman in refrigerator, dying so that another character can change from her pain, diminishing her horrible death and everything she had accomplished in life to serve for someone else’s development, and that’s just too fucking sad. Look what the author did, ruined perhaps one of the best characters she had in this series to try and make Celaena cooler, instead of simply, you know, being a better writer and not needing to kill your only POC to make an assassin actually kill.


Predictability:

Apparently, it was supposed to be a surprise Celaena turning out to be the lost fairy Princess? I thought it had been made clear in Throne of Glass at the end with this scene:

“Thank you for saving my life.”
Elena bowed her head. “Blood ties can’t be broken,” she whispered, and then vanished, her words echoing in the silent tomb.”

I mean, Celaena wondered why the half-fairy-human Queen had chosen her to get rid of the evil, and it was made pretty clear in this scene that Elena saved her because they are related, which means Celaena has royal blood which indicates she’s the lost Princess.

But no, just like in the last book with the mystery of the very obvious “Cain is the freaking killer”, the author drops some very obvious hints at Celaena being the lost Princess such as having the Champion almost fainting at the mention of Aelin and her being absolutely sure that, if there was an Aelin out there gathering an army, she had to be an impostor. There was no way for Celaena to react that way unless she were the Princess so, even if I had missed the clue on the first book, there was no freaking way I would be oblivious to it up until the VERY END OF THE GODDAMMEND STORY.

Seriously, there are mysteries that you kip hidden until it is the right moment. You can give the readers little clues for them to figure it out on their own but enough doubt for them to be surprised when the revelation comes. There was none of that here, Sarah J Mass is as subtle as a punch in the face with her clues. She could have put enough hints to make us think that… I don’t know Celaena was actually a friend of the Princess and the two of them grew up together, only for her to have seen the poor girl being murdered, explaining how she knew any other Aelin would be an impostor. Mass could have also compared the loss of that first childhood friend to this more mature relationship she had with Nehemia, only to reveal at the end that she was the Princess and the one who had died was her friend. IDK something!

Instead we got this… thing.


The second part was a bit more interesting, though I hate the way it happened, it was more interesting to read about Celaena actually doing something that wasn’t her romance plot, she got to kill and torture people and that was fun.


Dorian:

The crown Prince was by far my most hated character of book one but in Crown of Midnight he actually got interesting and I cared a little about what happened to him. His realization that he had magic and the fear that his father would kill him felt very real and it was nice to explore a different aspect of his personality, seeing him care about the things his father was doing rather than turning a blind eye on it and keep on being a misogynistic pig.

That being said, I still have no idea on why he was so in love with Celaena and why he still has a crush on her? But I’m glad they are friends.

Chaol:

Dude, what happened to you? Chaol was the one character I liked from ToG but here… what happened??!

Chaol’s plot was being engrossed with the developing romantic relationship between him and Celaena. That and obeying a few of his King’s commands was pretty much all he ever got to do. In a way it was interesting to see his struggle trying to reconcile his feelings for the Champion while knowing how his best friend felt about her. Chaol kept saying how he wouldn’t do that to his friends and yadda and yadda, only for him to go and sleep with Celaena without giving it a second thought. He went from caring about his friend to forgetting he ever existed. The Chaol/Dorian interaction was kept to a minimum and I kind of missed it.
The romance between him and Celaena… ugh I was it a fan of it. I don’t know what went wrong with Chaol but he turned into such an asshat in this book! Hardly a dialogue went by between him and Celaena in which he wasn’t yelling/snarling or basically controlling everything she did:

“Believe me, Celaena,” he snarled, his eyes flashing.”

“He leaned over the bed, bracing his hands on the mattress as he snarled in her face. “Yes. I’ll deal with it.”

“Chaol stood in the hallway, his bronze eyes traveling down the front of her dress, then up again. “You’re not wearing that.””

This was how I pictured Chaol everytime he talked to Celaena:



Really, he pissed me off. Sure, he had his good moments but I wish we could have the Chaol from the first book, not this controlling asshole.

The things I always rant about:

Why do characters keep keeping secrets from one another? This way of creating tension by not having characters communicate pisses me off.

First there is Chaol, not telling anybody about the treat to Nehemia’s life because the King asked him to. Sure Chaol trusted Celaena with his life and he was willing to leave everything behind, everything he had sacrificed to have a life with him… but he won’t tell her that her friend’s life is in danger because…?....???????????????????????????????????????????
That was a really dumb move, and I understand why Celaena was mad at him. If she had known, at least she could have had a choice, be more alert, be useful somehow. But by not telling her Chaol took away any chance she might have had of saving her friend, and that’s something you don’t forget right away, if you forget at all.

However, why is Celaena not telling Chaol that the King threatened to kill him? Same goes for when she was faking all of those people’s deaths but not telling her friends because… emm well, because why? What reason could she have? Her not telling Nehemia and Chaol was the same as Chaol not saying about Nehemia’s treat, so I don’t see why she keeps doing it at the end of the book, when she doesn’t tell Chaol what the King is capable of. Even if there is nothing he could do, at least he would know, and he would understand why she acts the way she does. But nooooo, let’s keep being idiots for the sake of stupid drama.


Despite its ups and downs (mostly downs) I’ll continue with this series because… well, I’m a fantasy whore and I’ll take it any way I can.


However, I still fail to see why this series is so loved. The world building is flat, the characters are meh, the love story OHHH MY GOOOODDDD THE LOVEE STORYYYYYYYYYYYYY I hate it. So far it’s nothing out of this world.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hunting Monsters by S.L Huang

“Happy birthday, child. Careful not to shoot any grundwirgen.”

Ever since she was a small girl, she has learned to be careful on the hunt, to recognize the signs that separate regular animals from human-cursed grundwirgen. To harm a grundwirgen is a crime punishable by death by the King's decree - a fatal mistake that her Auntie Rosa and mother have carefully prepared her to avoid.

On her fifteenth birthday, when her mother is arrested and made to stand trial for grundwirgen murder, everything she thought she knew about her family and her past comes crashing down.

Auntie Rosa has always warned her about monsters. Now, she must find and confront them to save her mother, no matter the cost.


Rating: 4/5 Stars

I loved this short story by S. L. Huang!

Xiao Hong has known how to hunt since she was a little girl, but she has always been thought the same thing: never shoot a grundwirgen.

Grundwirgen are all thinking animals whether they are cursed, able to shift between human and beast form at will or animals born with the ability to think like humans. Killing them is punishable by death for it is equal than killing a human, so every hunter has to know exactly how to spot them and differentiate them from regular animals, if they are killed by accident it doesn’t matter, the crime and punishment is the same. When Xiao’s mother is taken away from her home and accused of killing a Grundwirgen knowingly, she’ll uncover her mother’s and aunt’s secret past.

I loved the diverse cast, and the focus it had on abusive relationships:

“He knew what to do. How to control. He played with your mother’s emotions with kindnesses, was a perfect gentleman between bouts of temper—and even then he never physically touched her. He convinced her that he cared for her, that she should care for him. Guilted and shamed her. He told her if she left him, he’d die.”

Lately I’ve started reading more and more short stories, all of them wonderful. Hunting Monsters was no exception!
This story was published by The Book Smugglers and you can read for free here or you can buy the ebook!


The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.


Rating: 1/5 Stars



I’ve tried to write a review for this book for a while now. I have about six or seven different drafts on my computer but I can never settle in one, so I’ll just write a little thing because I hate leaving that “full review to come” thing.

I didn’t like The Iron King, although that’s understatement considering the one star I gave it. When I was just starting out reading Young Adult books I kept hearing about TIK, everybody raved about it and it seemed to me, based on everyone’s opinions, to be one of the best fairy stories out there. Had I read it back then when I was sixteen, I would have probably loved it! Now not so much.

There was little I enjoyed about The Iron King, the writing was mediocre, the characters one-dimensional and the clichés abundant. I did like the world building but it was overpowered by how boring the story was.

Meghan was one of the worst female characters I have read about, she was sexist, awful, dumb, super speshiul without trying, dumb and dumb. Did I mention dumb??

Seriously they tell her not to go outside? She goes outside and almost dies.

They tell her not to trust someone? She trusts him and almost dies.

They tell her to pretend being someone? She doesn’t and I almost strangled her. Oh and she almost dies.

Both love interest were pretty boring too so yeah... there is nothing good I can say about this.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Soundless by Richelle Mead

In a village without sound…

For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. 

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.

One girl hears a call to action…

Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.

She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…

And unlocks a power that will save her people.



Rating: 2/5 Stars


Before I started Soundless I knew that there were a lot of mixed reviews, most of them negative so I didn’t have my hopes up but I still wanted to read this book because of the incredible premise:

Fei and everybody in her village are deaf. Nobody knows how it happened or why, but since they live on the top of a mountain and the unstable cliff makes it impossible for them to climb down, they have learned to live with it. Unable to grow food for themselves, the village survives by exchanging food for the metals they mine from the mountain with another town, but with more people going blind the metals they can get are reduced, and so is the food. When Fei wakes up one day and is able to hear she’ll embark on a journey down the mountain to help her people and finally discover why everybody but her can’t hear.

As I said, the premise was fantastic, but the execution was sadly lacking. Instead of hearing one would think Fei can’t see because the descriptions are simply not there. Fei loves flowers and pretty, colorful things and she’ll bang us over the head with how much she wants to paint those things but can’t afford to, leaving the rest of her village completely unattended. What did other people look like? The place she lived and studied at? What about their clothing, make up or hairstyle? There were a few mentions of robes and how poor quality the fabric was because they didn’t get new ones but that’s it. The author had a wonderful opportunity to create a vivid tale based on Chinese folklore and all we got was… a mountain and mentions of arts?

The world building itself left a lot to be desired. There are three kinds of jobs, miners, artists (who record things that happen for posterity) and servants. Why those are the only three jobs available it’s not explained and why the heck are the artists the “elite” and better paid ones baffles me too. Miners are the ones with the biggest responsibility, take metal from the mountain so they can exchange it for food, no metals=no food= no people and yet they are the worst paid ones! They get the smallest amount of food rations, even though they perform the heaviest work! I mean sure, I get that recording for the future generations is important and I’m glad that art is taken seriously and all… but try to feed from those painted scrolls when all the freaking food stops coming because you starved the miners to death! Seriously, it’s dumb and the only reason it was made that way was for it to be “social injustice” in the book.
In fact, Fei is in love with her childhood friend but they can’t be together because artist only marry other artists… why exactly? Oh yeah, so Fei and Li Wei could have a star-crossed romance and defy society in their struggle to be together!!!!


No thank you. I wasn’t a fan of Fei as a main character either. She was always getting speechless or frozen in place by something dumb and saying how badly she wants to do something but can’t.

“Elder Lian comes to a stop beside my sister, and I am frozen where I stand, unable to help her.”

“I want to tell them this is only temporary. . . but I can say and do nothing as the servant escorts her out.”

I’m just not the greatest fan of that, it’s not fun to read about a character wanting to do something but unable because of.. reasons. Moreover, it always seemed like Fei’s problem were always more important than the rest, when she was in fact quite privileged.

“I take a deep breath, still having my own difficulties resigning myself to Zhang Jing’s fate. She is going to become a household servant at the Peacock Court.
He stares at me in confusion and then throws up his arms in disbelief. That is your big decision? To move her to a comfortable, safe job, where she’ll be well fed and face no risks? You actually deliberated about that and think you have anything in common with me or the other miners?”


Really, her sister losing her job as an artist doesn’t sound comparable to losing your life.


As far as the idea of getting your hearing after spending your entire life unable to hear a sound… well the author didn’t do a good job there either. Fei discovers one day she can hear things, or that’s what she suspects, so she goes to the library and reads three scrolls on the matter and she’s suddenly capable of understanding everything and differentiating all kinds of sounds which is impossible. And instead of telling someone she could hear, she keeps it to herself! Why you may ask? I’ve got no freaking idea either, because it added “suspense” to the story having Fei keeping that secret, I guess? I just didn’t care.


The pace of the story was incredibly slow and boring, even when things were happening it was still boring because Fei had to tell us how something looked or how her heart felt (what was it about her heart?? Why did it have separate feelings from her??).


I skimmed to the end and found that nothing really interesting happened except inserting a bit of fantasy into the story, but nothing else.


Overall a pretty boring and unremarkable read. I give it two stars for the wonderful premise but the book itself had nothing interesting new or entertaining.









Monday, January 18, 2016

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

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.

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.


Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword....


Rating: 4/5 Stars


Buddy read with Jaz!!!!!!

Before I started Reading Falling Kingdoms, I’ll admit that my expectations weren’t very high. This was a book that had tons of mixed reviews, and when it comes to such cases I tend to fall into the “hate it” rather than “love it” category.

Falling Kingdoms was a very happy exception.

Don’t get me wrong I have read those negative reviews and I completely agree with them. As a matter of fact this book had many things that I usually roll my eyes at in other novels such as Insta-love (tons of it), Special Snowflakes, predictable plot lines, characters making dumb decisions just to add suspense and love triangles hell even love RECTANGLES.

However, I still loved it. I don’t know what it was about it but this book was incredibly addicting for me. Jaz and I had settled in reading five chapters per day… I ended up reading sixteen the first just because I couldn’t get enough.

The basic premise it’s pretty simple:

There are three Kingodms, Auranos, Paelsia and Limeros. Auranos is the richest of the three, their people prosper, their lands are fertile and even the winters aren’t cold, they believe in the goddess  Cleiona even though since the Queen’s death the King has stopped believing and magic and therefore the Kingdom is not as religious as it used to be. Paelsia is the poorest of the three, after being tricked by Auranos’ ruler into accepting a bargain that left them in ruins its people are starving and dying thanks to the cold winters. They are ruled by a Chief that claims to be a sorcerer, even though his taxes leaves his own people even poorer than they were before.
Limeros is at North and is ruled by a blood-thirsty King, its people are highly religious and they worship Goddess Valoria and hate Cleiona, believing her to be the cause of their goddess death.

When an arrogant Auranos’ young Lord kills the son of a wine seller out of spite, it sets in motion a war that has been brewing for over a century.

There are four key players in this story who narrate the story, although we do see a few other POVs from time to time.

I have to admit that even though I love to read it usually takes a lot of time to get into a story. My concentration is simply not good, so I always have to force myself into reading up to a certain part where the action starts and it’s enough to keep my attention without forcing myself to keep reading. That never happened here, Morgan Rhodes has amazing storytelling skills that make you want to keep reading all the time, no matter how dumb or predictable the plot can get sometimes (and believe me that it does).

This was full of surprises here, there twists I didn’t see coming, character development I did not anticipate and even a few character deaths I didn’t think I could care about until they happened.

Regardless, the book has a lot of things that I know will annoy a lot of people, I’m still scratching my head and wondering why I’m not one of them.

The world building was alright, although not very well established. The three Kingdoms stand on the same continent and we are not exactly sure how large they are. Sometimes they discussed going to other kingdoms like one would discuss going to a neighbour’s house, others it was described as a long and hard journey. There weren’t many descriptions either, either of the world or the characters themselves (they were all beautiful though we can’t have YA without everybody being breathtakingly gorgeous).
Around the middle things like magic and the goddesses started to become more important and they were really interesting! Hopefully in the next books they’ll be explained more. Magic used to be important but after centuries it started to fade, leaving most of the lands (especially Paelsia) to slowly die.

There are four key players, Cleo, Lucia, Jonas and Magnus. Their POVs were easy to differentiate which I liked and they all were both good and bad in their own way.

Cleo:

She is the youngest Princess of the Auranos Kingdom and she’s at the beginning well.. kind of a spoiled brat. She has all the freedom a Princess could get without the responsibilities of being an heir like her older sister Emilia. She’s used to getting what she wants, when she wants it and if she’s denied of something she simply goes ahead and does it with little thought of how many people she might hurt in the process.
Needless to say, I wasn’t very much fond of her. Despite all of her freedom and stubbornness, Cleo was also quite mellow, waiting for people to come rescue her instead of doing something for herself. I can’t exactly blame her, considering that’s how her father raised her (we see several instances of this in the novel) but it wasn’t a lot of fun to read about someone who got into trouble and then walked away hoping someone would clean all of her messes.
She was the one who took that Young Lord to Paelsia and let him kill that poor Wine seller’s son, if only she had been more decisive and firm none of the conflict would have happened.

However, she did get to grow as the book progressed and hers was a story I want to know how it’ll develop (even though she did a really stupid thing at the end). She goes through so much in the story that I felt sorry for her, but I’m glad she could learn from it.

Hers were the most romance-heavy chapters of Falling Kingdoms which probably helped in my initial dislike of the character. There is a sort of love triangle with possibilities of becoming a rectangle that I did not appreciate but it gets a resolution I was not expecting.

Jonas:
He is the younger brother of the man who was killed by the Auranian Lord, resentful towards Auranos’ wealth made at the cost of his people, and towards the Princess who was the cause of his brother’s death, he goes on a journey to start the revolution his brother would have wanted.

He was impulsive and rash, but he was also smart enough to realize that something besides a revolution was happening in their land.

Overall, he was an interesting character and it was nice to see him develop from someone so blind for revenge that couldn’t see anything past that, to someone who could make smart choices and see that revenge wasn’t the way to go.

Magnus:

He is the son of the King of Blood, Limeros King who rules his land with an iron fist. He was abused by his father from an early age which left a darkness in him that rises when the war begins. He is also in love with his sister. Yes, you read correctly, Magnus is in love with his beautiful and talented sister, and he hates himself terribly for it.

He was a character I wasn’t sure how I felt about at the beginning, and even now that I’m more on the “have a blowjob by a shark” kind of level of hate, I still see a lot of complexities in him that make for a really interesting character.
I felt bad for him and his attraction towards his sister, he clearly didn’t want to love her that way and was ashamed of himself. She was the only person he loved who loved him unconditionally and didn’t know what to do with the way he felt about her.

As the story progressed he ended up making decisions that pissed me off and that started to show he was leading through a dangerous path.
His chapters were interesting though.

Lucia:


She is Magnus’ sister and a sorcerer, prophesied to bring magic back to all lands. At first, she didn’t cause much of an impression on me. She was the typical Snowflake, beautiful super powerful but afraid of her gifts and didn’t seem to have much of a plot besides being her brother’s love interest. It is only when she starts to practice more with her magic that she seems to have a plot of her own, even though it involves following her father’s commands with no hesitation, despite the fact that she knows just how cruel and manipulative he could be.

She started the same as Cleo actually, but when Cleo got to learn from her mistakes and tried to be a better person, Lucia started blaming other people for the things she caused and putting herself and her horrible family on higher standards… I wasn’t much of a fan of her.

All I have to say is that Falling Kingdoms is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of book, I was lucky enough to love it but I can see many people wouldn’t. I don’t know who I could recommend this to, considering I would have probably picked this up if it weren’t for my curiosity, so I’ll just recommend this one to everybody who wants to try and see!








Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. 









Rating: 2/5

Popsugar 2016 Reading Challenge: A book with a protagonist who has your occupation.

I was really excited to start Lola and The Boy Next Door mostly because I’ve never read a fiction book with a protagonist who had my same career or, in this case, aspired to be a Costume Designer. I’ve seen movies and read a few books regarding the fashion industry and design, but never someone like me, so I approached this book with really high expectations which, unfortunately were not met.

Right when I started reading and met Lola I remembered, “Crap, there are a lot of stereotypes regarding this career!” One of the reasons why it took me a while to consider this career as a reality and something I’d want for myself were those stereotypes that said you had to be crazy to study design, you had to have a great fashion sense, dress in incredibly insane outfits, dye your hair pink/purple/rainbow, and all of those silly things. I was not like that at all, I have little clothes and no idea of how to do anything but a bun or a pony tail with my hair.
It took me some time to understand that really, all you need to do to be a designer is dedication and the desire to create things (and a lot of study, of course) but we are just people, some like to dye their hair orange, others don’t but doesn’t make anybody any less creative.

My issue with Lola was that the author created this super-quirky girl in the hopes of making her different. She likes to wear dresses made out of sheets, she uses different wigs throughout the week, she wants to go to prom with a dress like Marie Antoinette (don’t even get me started on the misinformation with that). But the problem is the author tries too hard to make her different, that she doesn’t focus on what’s important, making her real. Instead Lola ends up like the typical stereotype of a “quirky” girl without a personality. She even goes as far as to say that she doesn’t like fashion because she doesn’t want to be like everybody else, but she completely misinterprets the meaning of both fashion and style.

I wasn’t fond of the stereotypes in this novel; whenever we came across one Lola would instantly go all “Oh I know what you think, but it’s not like that at all!!” when it was, in fact, very much like that.
There was also a romance between an underage and an adult (Lola is seventeen and her boyfriend is twenty-two). Every time a romance like that appears in a Young Adult novel I cringe, because you never know how it’ll play out, but in this case I’m glad that even though Lola was pretty oblivious to it, her family and friends weren’t and were sensitive about it, so points for that!


This wasn’t a terrible book, and the love story was good but I was looking forward to seeing something else, more related to what I’m studying and on that front I was really disappointed. Of course, not everybody is studying design so I recommend this book for people who like a cute romance!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Splintered by A.G. Howard

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence.

Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.



Rating: 2/5 Stars

“Sometimes a flame must level a forest to ash before new growth can begin. I believe Wonderland needed a scouring.” 


One of my goals for this 2016 was to do more college-related stuff outside of college, so I thought about making this Splintered inspired collage but… it sucks, I know.

Splintered is a beautiful book, and not just because of that amazing cover, but the story, the writing and the magical world the author has created is fantastical. This is not the cute and funny Wonderland from Carroll’s tale, this is deliciously creepy and dark full of new characters and elements that make of the story incredibly entertaining.

Unfortunately, as wonderful as that is, it can only go so far when you’ve got crappy main characters, and Alyssa and Jeb simply made the story terrible instead of better.

Alyssa hears the whispers of flowers and bugs, but with her mother in a mental asylum for the same delusions and with her grandmother dead after she jumped off a window, believing she could fly, she’s not yet ready to share this secret with anybody. In order to keep the vices at bay, Alyssa listens to music and kills all the bugs she can, using them as art to create incredibly magical landscapes that may or may not be more than just her imagination.

It’s only when, one day, talking with her mother, Alyssa discovers that the two of them hear the flowers say the exact same thing, leading her to believe it’s more than a mere delusion but rather a shared talent. When her mother explains how Wonderland is real and the voices they hear are part of a curse that requires for Alyssa to go down the rabbit hole and break it before her mother spends another day trapped and under medication.

As I said, the story was wonderful but the characters weren’t. It was hard to reconcile how a world could be so original and wonderful, when the characters were all shades of Young adult clichés.

Take Alyssa for example, she’s your typical “quirky” girl who is made fun off because her  grandmother inspired the original “Alice in Wonderland” story which is… really dumb, really. I mean, imagine you meet someone whose ancestor was the inspiration for something as classical as Alice in Wonderland, wouldn’t you think that’s kind of cool? But no, apparently in this story it’s something awful and shameful and everybody mocks Alyssa for it! It was so lame, merely an excuse for her to play “boo me” and show all mean girls, the biggest one being Taelor, Jeb’s super-rich, super-hot and of course, super bitchy girlfriend. Not to mention that the jokes and “insults” she complained so much about weren’t even bad!
Alyssa had some promise of being a decent character… when she wasn’t around Jeb. You just had to see her taking matters into her own hands and solving the riddles on her own, really instead of helping her Jeb was actually keeping her down. However, by the end of the novel she has become so accustomed to being saved by either Jeb or Morpheus (the other romantic interest) that she doesn’t even try anymore. It was frustrating, whenever faced with a problem Alyssa would say something like “This is up to me now.” Or “I won’t let anybody tell me what to do.” She would try ONCE, fail and start crying for somebody to come and save her and giving up on life…  not smart.

Jeb… uggg UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG fuck you, Jeb. Seriously just go fuck yourself and die in a whole of your own macho-controlling idiocy. This guy, this fucking guy is one of the worst scumbags I’ve had the misfortunate of reading about. He was Alyssa’s neighbour, childhood friend and crush, and the idiot that follows her into Wonderland and then blames her for it. He constantly tells her she’s dumb, guilt-tricks her into obeying him by accusing her of not trusting him, forces her to do things she doesn’t want to and basically just wants to keep Alyssa in a cage so she can never leave his side.
He’s Christian Grey level of shittiness, complete with commands on when to it and what.

He ruined this book for me and turned Alyssa into a pathetic mess thanks to his manipulations. It disturbed me to discover that Jeb is actually inspired in the author’s husband, what does that say about him?

Morpheus was cool, though he was far from being a saint. He was Alyssa’s guide to Wonderland and breaking the curse, though we soon find out he has other plans of his own.

This story would have been ten time better if it had been Taelor, Jeb’s girlfriend, the one to go to Wonderland instead of Jeb. Just imagine that, the two are enemies so they are obviously not happy to be stuck together, they’ll reluctantly work together when they see they have no other option that is until something happens (possibly an attack from Wonderland’s creatures, who knows?) that brings them closer together. They’ll start talking and realize they don’t dislike each other so much. After a while they’ll discuss what’s really standing between them: Jeb. After they share stories they’ll realize Jeb has been playing both of them (which he HAS btw), and that the things they disliked about each other were the lies Jeb fed them. So they’ll leave Wonderland like freaking Queens because they are awesome, go home and tell Jeb to go suck a bag of dicks.

THE END


Monday, January 11, 2016

Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.

In this action-packed debut, Glitch begins an exciting new young adult trilogy.


Rating: 2/5 Stars

“He seemed about my age, tall and lanky with skin the color of warm brown bread crust,”

Every time a writer describes skin color as food, I just want to go to their house, stare creepily at them like this:


And ask, what was going on through your mind when you thought that was a good idea?

Because seriously, I don’t get it, and it’s not only terribly offensive but it’s dumb. Of all the things you could chose to describe skin you go for “warm brown bread crust”? Thanks for clarifying that the crust was brown by the way… asshole. It doesn’t help the narrative either, now every time I thought about him I pictured Gingy.


Or this guy:


Just… don’t.

About the story, it was super easy to read which is something I really appreciate when I’m in a reading slump, hence the two stars. The plot in itself it has nothing original; oppressive society that suppresses emotions, one girl is different because she feels and sees color ( a la The Giver) she also has superpowers… somehow? And a love triangle, insta-love, saviour of mankind. You know, the kind of book that Dystopian YA Novel would have a feast on.

I was really confused with the premise of Glitch, first because I wasn’t sure how everything worked. Apparently all people are connect to the Net and they have a port at the back of their necks like a computer which makes them unable to feel any kind of emotion or stimuli besides pain (so that people won’t hurt themselves accidentally). However, after a few pages it says that the “Old World” died because of greed, anger and yadda, yadda so they had to go underground (there was a nuclear war too, somehow) and the people underground evolved into being logical beings and having no emotions… but that makes no sense and contradicts the first part of the novel.
Anyways, the thing is people don’t feel or think (How??) except for Zoe who discovers she “Glitches” uncontrollably and during those moments she feels, thinks and notices colors. The problem with this was, Zoe’s narration when she was in and out of the Glitches were completely identical. There was no difference between “sensible” Zoe and the “logical” one, especially since she always talked about how she felt even though she shouldn’t be feeling anything at all!

As the novel moves forward, it turns out that there are other people like her, and two are super-hot super-creepy and possessive dudes, as it is with EVERY dystopian novel. I’m not gonna lie, I was really disturbed by one scene when Zoe says she’s chosen the other guy (I’m not going to say who otherwise it’d be a spoiler) and this asshole pushes her against a wall, hurts her and forces his mouth on hers. He ends up saying something like “I’ll make you love me!” and Zoe feels bad because she hurts his feelings. Are you shitting me? He sexually assaults her and she feels bad because she doesn’t like him? That’s horrible!

Overall it’s a pretty standard Dystopian novel with bland characters, a love triangle and no world-building, but it’s entertaining so I recommend it if maybe you want to have a good laugh?

Oh, a phrase that’s worth mentioning regarding Zoe’s super specialness:

 “Just tell her already,” she said. “You think she’s going to lead the Resistance. You think she’s our only hope to deliver the whole human race from slavery.”



This comes out of nowhere and it made me laugh out loud.