Friday, August 14, 2015

On Hiatus

I haven't been posting a lot of book reviews recently, and it's because I have been doing a lot of things that's been keeping me busy. Because school's about to start once again, my family and my friends have been hanging out nonstop, trying to use up all the free time we have left with each other, so I don't really have the time to pick up a book and set aside a time to do some reading. I wouldn't be totally abandoning this blog, I just decided I'd take a short break, and pick it up once again when I finally have the time to read once again.

Thank you so much for reading/visiting my blog!

Mini Book Review: Stolen: A Letter to My Captor

Title: Stolen: A Letter to My Captor
Author: Lucy Christopher
Published: May 4, 2009 by Chicken House Ltd.
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Thrift Store
It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.

✮ ✮ ✮ ✮ 


Upon picking up this book for the first time, I admit, I had not the slightest clue as to what I was getting myself into. But as I was flipping through pages after pages, I slowly realized that I had been keeping a diamond in my bookshelf.

To be frank, this one is quite an unlikely romance tale: a sixteen-year-old falling for her captor, who happens to be eight years older than her and had been following her all her life. It's maddening, I should say. I wanted to put the book down halfway through it because the relationship was just so wrong. But this book is truly haunting . . . I kept going; I kept reading. And as I finally finished it, this book has become one of my all-time favorites. Because five books later, my brain is still hung up on the story of how Gemma Tombs was abducted by Tyler MacFarlaine, and took her in the seemingly not-in-the-map Australian outback.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Review: Siege and Storm

Title: Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 4, 2013 by Henry Holt and Co.
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Book Outlet
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

✮ ✮ ✮ ✮ 

(Warning: Review may contain spoilers!)

Siege and Storm is the second installment in Leigh Bardugo's The Grisha trilogy. The story begins, not exactly from where the first book ended, but it picks up right when Mal and Alina had escaped from the Darkling at Novokribirsk. As of now, I can't honestly really tell which of the two books I enjoyed the most, but I am undoubtedly stating that Siege and Storm is more intense than Shadow and Bone. It contains more twisted components, and a balanced mixture of fantasy and romance. It's got enough pounding action and twists, but it also has an admirable amount of heartwarming intimacy between some of the characters.

Bardugo instantly cuts to the chase. She begins the book with a brief introduction about the current standings of Mal and Alina after the "incident" in Novokribirsk. She doesn't bore the readers with superfluous information; she just dives us right into the important stuff and gets on with yet another thrilling adventure.

I really like how religion is incorporated in the story. In Shadow and Bone, the first book of the series, Bardugo showed that a priest, an Apparat, is part of the rulers of Ravka; he is involved in Ravka's politics. However, the concept was not elaborated, the Apparat seemingly appearing as a mere addition to stir things up a bit, to concoct some sort of confusion amongst the audience. But in Siege and Storm, religion has played a great role in the story. Suddenly, there are pilgrims, cults—people devoting themselves to someone they deemed a Saint, who apparently has risen from the dead. For me, this makes the book even more interesting because it seems as though Bardugo is paralleling the country of Ravka to the modern world, where the belief of science and the belief of the Almighty exist in the same time period.

The new characters are very engrossing. They bring about new adventures with them, new personalities to decipher as trustworthy or not. Reading about the old ones are enjoyable as well. It brings the sense of familiarity, and it's really nice to learn about how these particular characters we initially met from the first book evolve into someone better or worse in the midst of the war in Ravka. I like that we get to make more sense of their roles . . . we learn about their true colors.

The only thing that I did not really like about the book is how some of the characters ended in the story. Some of it seem too rushed, others I deemed unnecessary. Other than that, Siege and Storm is still a marvelous book worthy of its high rating.

As I have said before, I am excited to get to the third and final book. The endings of these books are a bit too vague for me, leaving me with no clear idea as to what could happen next. And that's what's exciting because as I begin to embark on yet another journey with Alina Starkov, I have no true premonition as to what the Darkling can be up to next, and what would happen to the future of Ravka. I can only rely on what Bardugo has up her sleeve.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, raised in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. She indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as a makeup artist in Hollywood, and she can occasionally be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic.

     Website | Goodreads Page | Twitter

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review: Shadow and Bone

Title: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 5, 2012 by Henry Holt and Co.
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural
Format: Hardcover
Source: Barnes & Noble
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.

✮ ✮ ✮ ✮ 

(Warning: Review may contain spoilers!)


If I am going to be honest right from the get-go, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is one hell of a fantastic adventure. It follows the story of an orphan named Alina Starkov, who is taken from obscurity and her only friend, Mal, to become one of the Darkling's apprentice. He takes her to the Little Palace to provide her some shelter as she trains physically and hones her power to summon the Sun. But, of course, everything is not what Alina is led to believe . . .

The book has an element of surprise. At some point, Bardugo would come at you with specific scenes that will truly make your brows rise in surprise. Or it can evoke a knowing smirk. Or it startles you so much, you'll gasp. These "surprises" kept coming at the most random times, and it really makes the story even more exciting and it will make you ponder about what could possibly happen next.

Mal and Alina's friendship. They've grown up together at an orphanage, and ever since being tested by the Grisha, has worked alongside each other. The typical boy/girl friendship cliché was obviously thereone feels something more, the other doesn't—yet I still adore how their relationship is so strong that it manages to endure all evil. They still have an unbreakable trust and love for one another to remain standing by one another's side.

Alina's character. She is orphaned by the Border Wars, thus having to spend most of her childhood in an orphanage with Mal, who obviously became her best confidante. Bardugo first written Alina off as a weakling—sickly-looking, skinny, and frail—but as she unfortunately finds herself in the midst of a very ugly situation, she learns how to sharpen herself. Although she has had her fair amount of Grisha training experience, most of her powers and its immense capabilities are still honed by her natural skill, intellect, and true bravery and confidence . . . and that is what makes her such an admirable heroine.

This book is astonishing in all its wonderful glory. I candidly could not find anything that I dislike about Bardugo's work. Shadow and Bone is full of breath-hitching action and deceitful (and heart-tingling) romance, and I just found myself incapable of putting the book down. Bardugo's gripping writing and brilliant plot structure has encapsulated my full interest in tact. And because this is a trilogy, I am more than excited to delve more into the dangerous world of Ravka and know more about what else lies ahead for Alina Starkov to surmount.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, raised in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. She indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as a makeup artist in Hollywood, and she can occasionally be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic. Shadow and Bone is her first novel.

                                               Website | Goodreads Page | Twitter

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Published: May 5, 2015 by Bloomsbury Children's
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal
Format: Hardcover
Source: Target
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

✮ ✮ ✮  ½

(Warning: Review may contain spoilers!)


I have read a lot of books and watched tons of movies that retells a classic fairytalewhether it be Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, or Beauty and the Beastbut I have not frankly encountered such sort of retelling that Sarah J. Maas did on her new series. It is unique and thrilling and, well, steamy.

As I have mentioned, A Court of Thorns and Roses is a fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast; but what sold me to Maas's book is that she laced it with her own twist. Her novel did not follow the well-known storyline, Maas only adopted the concept of the fairytale as her base, and then warps it into one of her own as she goes along. Speaking from personal experience, I knew that A Court of Thorns and Roses is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but as I got deeper into the story, I actually forgot that it was based on that tale because of how much originality Maas managed to incorporate in her book.

Tamlin, the beast, is not what I expected. Because this book is based on the aforementioned children's tale, anyone may foretell that Tamlin is one of a bitter beast. One that has done cruel things in the past, just like the beast we've grown up knowing. Contrary to that assumption, Tamlin is not a rancorous creature, but rather a benevolent beast. And that mere characteristic only makes him a lovable character . . . an admirable "unusual" love interest.

One of the things that I truly like about the book is Feyre's imperfections. It is no doubt that she is yet another one of those kick-ass heroine, another one of those female lead who bravely plunged into the unknown to save her loved one, but her illiteracy makes her so unique. Most female lead usually don't even have a single flaw about them, but Feyre's disability to read and write differentiates herself from those "seemingly perfect" female leads. Her imperfections only makes her look and sound more . . . human.

The magic in this book is something that is highly enjoyable. Both sides of magic are introduced—the good and the bad, and all its different kinds of uses. The world of Prythian may sound like a safe haven with all its magical forests and starlight water, but it embodies the idea that not all things beautiful equates to something of its beauty as well. I like that Maas tangled the worlds of the humans and the faeries, and successfully built this tension and chaos that can only be mended by . . . well . . . you'll know it once you read the book.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas is an exhilarating fairytale retelling that revolves around humans and faeries and magic. It is seductively sexy in some parts, which is something that I never expected in a young adult novel. But there aren't a lot of intimate moments, so I really enjoyed the story, still. This book has kept me up at night, my mind resisting to put the book down unless I have perused the novel up to its very last punctuation mark.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire, and the series' prequel, The Assassin's Blade. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog.

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