Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana Review

"Back to the Future meets Fast Times at Ridgemont High when Haley’s summer vacation takes a turn for the retro in this totally rad romantic fantasy.

Summer officially sucks. Thanks to a stupid seizure she had a few months earlier, Haley’s stuck going on vacation with her dad and his new family to Disney’s Fort Wilderness instead of enjoying the last session of summer camp back home with her friends. Fort Wilderness holds lots of childhood memories for her father, but surely nothing for Haley. But then a new seizure triggers something she’s never before experienced—time travel—and she ends up in River Country, the campground’s long-abandoned water park, during its heyday.

The year? 1982.

And there—with its amusing fashion, “oldies” music, and primitive technology—she runs into familiar faces: teenage Dad and Mom before they’d even met. Somehow, Haley must find her way back to the twenty-first century before her present-day parents anguish over her disappearance, a difficult feat now that she’s met Jason, one of the park’s summer residents and employees, who takes the strangely dressed stowaway under his wing.

Seizures aside, Haley’s used to controlling her life, and she has no idea how to deal with this dilemma. How can she be falling for a boy whose future she can’t share?"

Summer of Yesterday is adorable. However, Haley doesn't strike me as someone with seizures. She strikes me of a young girl who feels as if nothing in this world can touch her, as if she can't be killed or touched by Death. It totally reminds me of that Cold Case episode I watched a few days ago. Anyway, let us move on from the tv world.

Summer of Yesterday is a sweet story of going back to the past and finding yourself. Haley goes to the 80s, meet her teenage parents (funny moment there), and fall in love with a nineteen year old boy named Jason. Every time I realize they are split apart by thirty years, the more I see Romeo and Juliet, the starcrossed lovers. It is a sort of sad tale, yet also very beautiful. When Haley comes back (and of course, she does), Jason will aged thirty years while she remains the same. It would be a twist of fate if she has another seizure and goes back to the 80s from time to time.

Jason is not Jason Grace. He is a much sweeter version of that tough guy. On, and he is not a rules-loving type of guy. This is the guy who is brilliant with tech and knows how to charge up an iPhone, before the iPhone even existed. He is that kind of guy who is sort of nerdy in an endearing way. For someone his age, he took Haley's secrets pretty well. I know I would be screaming (and posting pics onto Facebook) if someone from 2050 comes by. It would be awesome, too. And sure, if that does happen, I'll post it on this blog.

The book doesn't follow history very well. I, for one, am sure that the US fifty dollar bill looks much different than the 1980s US fifty dollar bill. You are welcome to correct me if I'm wrong. Plus, isn't there a date of the year on the bill? Plot inconsistencies with modern times...I guess. I can probably point out a few more like hair highlighting, but I'm not going any further. Please note that some of these topics will need further research before making judgements. Only exception: US fifty dollar bill. That one has been looked through.

The book is fast-paced if you can get through Haley's whining, which seems to take a bit long. Honestly, the entire book totally reminds me of The Last Countdown (which is a movie taking place in present time and World War II. Guess what it involves? Time traveling!).

Overall, I think Summer of Yesterday is a good book to read if you have spare time. It is the type of book you read when you don't want to read anything else. Or if you are avoiding homework. Or if you want to time travel.

Rating: Three out of Five

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Raging Star by Moira Young Review

"Her passion kept them alive. Now it may destroy them all.

Saba is ready to seize her destiny and defeat DeMalo...until she meets him and finds herself drawn to the man and his vision of a healed earth, a New Eden. DeMalo wants Saba to join him, in life and work, to build a stable, sustainable world…for the chosen few. The young and the healthy. Under his control.

Jack’s choice is clear: to fight DeMalo and try to stop New Eden. Presumed dead, he's gone undercover, feeing Saba crucial information in secret meetings. Saba hides her connection with DeMalo and commits herself to the fight. Joined by her brother, Lugh, and her sister, Emmi, Saba leads a small guerilla band against the settlers and the Tonton militia. But the odds are overwhelming. Saba knows how to fight—she's not called the Angel of Death for nothing. But what can she do when the fight cannot be won? Then DeMalo offers Saba a chance—a seductive chance she may not be able to refuse. How much will she sacrifice to save the people she loves?

The road has never been more dangerous, and betrayal lurks in the most unexpected places in the breathtaking conclusion to the Dust Lands Trilogy."

Raging Star bores me to death. I honestly didn't want to read this book, but it was on my to-read list and I didn't have any better books to read (other than The Goddess Test, a Julie Kagawa book which I want to save for a bad day, and The Shadow Throne). Truth is, I shouldn't had bothered reading Raging Star in the beginning. The writing style isn't my piece of cake, and it is very difficult for me to understand. Remember that lack of quotation marks? I can tell you that it is very annoying by how Moira Young doesn't follow basic grammar rules. Then again, she probably makes her publisher tons and tons of money so she can do whatever she likes. Or perhaps, the publisher wanted to follow the footsteps of another crazy book with similar writing style and accents. Very annoying. 

Other than that, I could tell you that I want to kill myself after reading and listening to Saba's voice. She is incredibly annoying, but mostly because of her lack of quotation marks. Sometimes, I feel like I really need a distraction whenever I read a small paragraph. Sometimes, I feel as if I'm going to hurl. Sometimes, I just want to roll my eyes. Quotation marks. Accents. Little annoying quirks. Yes, she may be brave and intelligent and a hunter and a maneater, but I just find her so annoying that I just can't take it anymore (especially when she hangs out with DeMalo). Even writing this review is as painful as slamming my fingers in the car door. Plus a stomachache. Broken fingers, upset stomach, feeling of throwing up.

DeMalo remains to be the villain. Every time someone (including myself) mention his name, my skin just shivers in disgust. I'll tell you right now, right here that it is very creepy. He is a very odd person (reminding me totally of the Darkling. Damn it. Shouldn't had mentioned Darkling. I want wail now. Excuse me while I sob). The relationship between DeMalo and Saba is twisted and just gross. (Darkling and Alina is a much different story, so shut up).

Jack rarely appeared in Raging Star. Okay, he appeared more times than DeMalo, but DeMalo has a stronger effect on readers because of his creepiness and ugh! I want to ask this question to the author: What is the point of him? I mean, seriously? To me, he was a pretty whiny character for a guy, always asking questions and always never too trusting.

The plot goes by too slowly. It is probably fast-paced for most readers, but for me, it is painful thanks to the style. Just becomes "jest." And becomes "an." For, "fer." And a lot of the words ending in "ing" misses the "g." Very annoying.

Rating: Two out of Five

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Forest Born by Shannon Hale Review

"Rin is sure that something is wrong with her...something really bad. Something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest homestead where she's lived all her life. Something that is keeping her from trusting herself with anyone at all. When her brother Razo returns from the city for a visit, she accompanies him to the palace, hoping that she can find peace away from home. But war has come to Bayern again, and Rin is compelled to join the queen and her closest allies--magical girls Rin thinks of as the Fire Sisters--as they venture into the Forest toward Kel, the land where someone seems to want them all dead. Many beloved Bayern characters reappear in this story, but it is Rin's own journey of discovering how to balance the good and the bad in herself that drives this compelling adventure.

Once again, Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale brings readers to a world where great friendships, unexpected plot twists, and a little dose of magic make for incredible storytelling."

For once, there is no romance. Now, for some authors, that is a good relief. But for Shannon Hale, that is all but a good relief. I'm actually worried that Rin is going to end up as an old spinster for life. Ooo! That is scary. That gurl, like what the Fire Sisters say (Fire Sisters meaning Isi, Dasha, and Enna), needs to find a man.

Okay, I'll stop now. 

Rin is one unique girl. She is unlike Isi, Enna, or Dasha. She is much different, with different opinions and full of confusion and self-loathing. With all those different sides of her, you can think that she is bipolar. The truth is that part of her is missing, part of her is feared, part of her is gone and taken by the trees she once loved. Her ability doesn't exist in fire, water, wind, or earth (if that exist). It is the trees that she knows. I would also mention her second ability, but that would be a big spoiler. Big spoiler.

Forest Born is a bit different than the two (three, if you look at The Goose Girl in a very unique way) prequels before this book. The enemy in the beginning of the series is the same enemy at end. For some of you, you probably haven't read this series yet, so you don't know who the enemy truly is. But for those of you who read this series, well, sorry guys. Big spoiler alert. Very sorry to you all.

It is fast-paced like all books written by the awesome author, Shannon Hale. Her usual pattern of adventure, self-discovery, and understanding identity plus a hint of romance is gone. As I said before, there is no romance in this book. Maybe flirting, but that is the most. Sorry readers (who really want romance), but this book is all about Elsa the Snow Queen. Just kidding, it is like Elsa the Snow Queen. In fact, no character other than Elsa is the most similar to Rin. Eventually, Rin has to let it go. (Pun intended).

The ending is great. Sure, there are some awesome twists and turns at the end (a bit late, I thought), but they are wonderful. I think the last paragraph of the entire book is the most inspirational quote of Shannon Hale. Of course, there are a few runner-ups. I like Rin telling Isi that she is queen and nothing will change that.

Best moment: Isi taking out all the guards with the force of her power with wind. She is one amazing girl, with character that grows with each book. She turns from an innocent young girl with insecurities to a queen who does not allow anyone to push her around.

Rating: Four out of Five

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ironside by Holly Black Review

"In the realm of Faerie, the time has come for Roiben's coronation. Uneasy in the midst of the malevolent Unseelie Court, pixie Kaye is sure of only one thing -- her love for Roiben. But when Kaye, drunk on faerie wine, declares herself to Roiben, he sends her on a seemingly impossible quest. Now Kaye can't see or speak to Roiben unless she can find the one thing she knows doesn't exist: a faerie who can tell a lie.
Miserable and convinced she belongs nowhere, Kaye decides to tell her mother the truth -- that she is a changeling left in place of the human daughter stolen long ago. Her mother's shock and horror sends Kaye back to the world of Faerie to find her human counterpart and return her to Ironside. But once back in the faerie courts, Kaye finds herself a pawn in the games of Silarial, queen of the Seelie Court. Silarial wants Roiben's throne, and she will use Kaye, and any means necessary, to get it. In this game of wits and weapons, can a pixie outplay a queen?
Holly Black spins a seductive tale at once achingly real and chillingly enchanted, set in a dangerous world where pleasure mingles with pain and nothing is exactly as it appears."

Ironside is the last installment of the trilogy. It is certainly the most serious and questioning of them all. It took me awhile to read all of this, but mostly because I was busy editing some of my stuff (personal stuff). But now, I'm here again! And hi, everyone. Anyway, Ironside is the third book in A Modern Faery's Tale. It is a darker turn on the fairies, which is based on Midsummer's Night Dream by William Shakespeare. Needless to say, Oberon and Mab aren't the King of Seelie and Queen of Unseelie respectfully. Roiben (yep, based on Robin Goodfellow) is the King of Unseelie Court. Isn't that interesting? Well, all I can tell you is that this isn't Julie Kagawa with half-bloods and Prince Ash.

First of all, I will tell you that Ironside is very entertaining. I love all those little things, from quirks about iron to little references to here and there. It is all quite adorable, I will admit. Ironside goes by fast, quicker than a blink of an eye. I thought it would last a few hours, but Ironside seems to go by in a matter of minutes. The fast-paced plot changes the time. A really good book like Ironside can change time, making it unparallel. Some books are so good that you won't notice it is already midnight and you have a job to do tomorrow.

Roiben, for one, is one tough knight and Lord of Unseelie Court. His hotness is very debatable, but that isn't the point of this paragraph (although it could be...). Anyway, Roiben is undeniably struggling as a character. He may be unseemingly immortal, but he is full of flaws and feelings. Yes, he has feelings unlike a lot of faeries. He sends Kaye on an impossible task to protect her. He tries to protect his sister but fails miserably. Isn't he an interesting character? I totally think he is one hot character (yes, now I'm going back to his hotness).

Kaye has a bunch of insecurities. However, she does have intelligence, wisdom (and a bit of ignorance), and loyalty. In the end, she obviously does solve the riddle/quest. And she does it humorously. I love it.

The ending is perfect. It is about rising against your masters and stop listening to them. Let yourself talk. Don't listen to what other people say. Don't get drunk. Don't do stupid things. And now, I'm getting off track. But I will go to my original message. Ironside and the lesson overall is about standing up for yourself and others to do the right thing. It is not about hiding. It is about doing what is right and not what is safe.

Rating: Four out of Five

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer Review

"Sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape from the coastal cities or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.

The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery."

First of all, I should mention that this is an alternative timeline, a different world. The British lost the American Revolution, not won. But for purposes of this book, the British (lobsters!) won and they apparently dominate the world. There is a Resistance, but not many people know about it. Or so it seems. It is a bit hard when you are confined to one POV (Charlotte). So you got that so far? Nineteenth century steampunk plus a bunch of lobsters (remember the British soldiers' uniforms? They are all red).

Charlotte is a bit spoiled and nosy, but they apparently are all positive traits. Well, if she wasn't nosy or rude (like most heroines in the fiction world), she probably wouldn't be in trouble by end. Then again, this entire book probably wouldn't exist thanks to the lack of that trait. And Charlotte would be dead. Whoops! Another strange spoiler, eh? Anyway, Charlotte "Lottie" No-Last-Name (possibly Marshall, though) is a smart and clever girl. The only problem is her hot-temper, irrational behavior, and stubbornness. Easy said: Most of these traits won't go away by the end, but she does mature a bit.

The Inventor's Secret is a good book, not a great book. It is good and it isn't bad (plus, I hope Andrea Cremer doesn't screw this series up too). There are a bit bumps here and there in the plot, but overall, it is an interesting read. I think it will probably contain your attention for most of the book. The beginning is boring. The section before the ending, also boring. Everything else is fine. The only problem? You have to read the beginning/exposition. Without the backstory, you won't understand anything.

There are a few keys and lessons learned. First of all, girls must take control of their situation. Don't let a man rule your life! Just kidding. But it does go a bit like that. Truthfully, it is more like this: Don't wait around for the perfect man. Go out to the world and find him. Any other lessons? I can give you one: Just don't get your nose into other people's business. So many books wouldn't had happen if characters didn't stick their noses into the wrong conversations.

Overall, I think the Inventor's Secret is good.

Rating: Three out of Five

Monday, June 23, 2014

Riding the Universe by Gaby Triana Review

"Chloe Rodriguez values three things above all else her family; her best friend, Rock; and Lolita, her Harley-Davidson 1200 Sportster. With a black body, blue airbrushed flames, and perfect sloping ape hangers, Lolita is Chloe's last connection to her beloved uncle, Seth, who left her the bike when he died last summer. So when a failing chemistry grade threatens to separate Chloe from her motorcycle, she vows not to let that happen . . . no matter what. 

Enter Gordon. Ridiculously organized, ubersmart, and hot in a casual, doesn't-know-it kind of way, Chloe's peer tutor may have a thing or two to teach her besides chemistry. But she has to stop falling for Gordon . . . and get Rock to act mature whenever he's around . . . and pass chemistry so she doesn't lose Lolita forever. Just when Chloe thinks she's got it all figured out, a bump in the road comes out of nowhere and sends her skidding."

Sorry guys. It has been awhile since I reviewed a book. Part of that reason is because I'm a bit tired and I have other things to do. Another part is this: I haven't read a book, because I was so busy. I know! Gasp! I haven't read a book in awhile. So unlike me! Well, that is what summer does to me and everyone. Got to take a break someday, right? 

First of all, I will tell you that Riding the Universe is not my piece of cake. I don't really like it. It is kind of boring, with an aimless journey to somewhere. Chloe, for one thing, has a bunch of issue. Sure, she is failing Chemistry, but really? Does it matter? (I, for one, will be far from failing, which might affect my judgement in this area). Two, she is distracted by guys. Three, she wants to save Lolita, her motorcycle, but really? From her attitude, I would say that she doesn't really care about Lolita. After all, when she chooses between Lolita and Gordon (her boyfriend), she sadly chooses Gordon. (I would totally pick the boy. Motorcycles scare me to death, especially if they are louder than my screams).

Is there a lesson to be learned? Really, it is this: Never be distracted by boys and sometimes bad boys are the best boys. Lesson #2: Nice boys can be jerks to girls sometimes. Anyway, it is all about boys and motorcycles. I should add family, but Chloe ditches her family so much that I can't really put that down.

Despite all of this weird things, there are a few good points. The storyline is good (although a bit dry). The writing (well who cares about it) is clear enough to read and understand. The ending of Riding the Universe is very happy (unless you are a Gordon fan, then you will be crossed with the author and Chloe). It is a bit surprising, but I think the author did terrible foreshadowing. I had my eyes out for clues of Chloe's father or mother, but didn't see any. I really believed Seth was Chloe's uncle.

Plus, Chloe is annoying. Every time she opens her mouth, I just want to dump oil into her throat and let her choke on it. (Oh, my goodness, violent thoughts!)

(Whoops! So many spoilers revealed!)

Overall, I think Riding the Universe is only a good book to read if you are a) bored, b) drunk, or c) desperately need a book to read and can't find anything else. The good benefits of b) drunk is that you probably won't remember what happened in the book the morning after. That is a good side effect, eh?

Rating: Two out of Five

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom Review

I won a giveaway from Goodreads First Reads.

"Vocally graceful and fearlessly intimate, STEAL THE NORTH, Heather Brittain Bergstrom's remarkable debut novel, is a strikingly beautiful portrait of modern identity, faith, family, and love in all its forms. 

Emmy Nolan is a sheltered and introverted sixteen-year-old living in Sacramento with her mom, Kate, when a phone call comes from an aunt she never knew existed. Fifteen years earlier, Kate had abandoned her only sibling, Beth, fleeing their tiny eastern Washington town and the fundamentalist Baptist church that had condemned her as a whore. Beth, who's pregnant for what she knows is the last time after countless miscarriages, believes her only hope to delivering the baby is Emmy's participation in a faith healing ceremony.

Emmy reluctantly goes. Despite uncovering her mom's desperate and painful past, she soon finds she has come home--immediately developing a strong bond with her aunt Beth and feeling destined to the rugged landscape. Then Emmy meets Reuben Tonasket, the Native American boy who lives next door. Though passion-filled and resilient, their love story is eerily mirrored by the generation before them, who fear that their own mistakes are doomed to repeat themselves in Emmy and Reuben.

This is a marvelously imaginative and deeply felt debut, one whose characters live at nearly intolerable levels of vulnerability. Yet, as fragile as they may seem, Bergstrom has imbued them with a tremendous inner strength, proving that the question of home is a spiritual one, that getting over the past is hope for the future, and that the bond between family is truly unbreakable."

Wow, Steal the North is exactly soap opera material. There are so many problems and feuds and hatred, that I wonder why I bothered to read this in the first place. Told from many POVs, Steal the North tells of so much and so little. Why don't I start by talking about the characters? Yeah, that is a good place to start.

Emmy is a very shy girl with a small personality and an even smaller self-esteem. She has a trash load of problems. I could barely list them all. Ooo! Let's start with her loser ex-boyfriend. Actually, I can't describe him anymore than that. He is just a loser. Then there is Reuben, who is pretty much her new best friend and soulmate. Then there is her mom, with a bucket load of problems (so many that I'm not even going to try to explain). Oh, and then there is the daddy issues. Actually, to clear it all up, I will explain to you that everyone has daddy issues. Every character in this book has daddy issues with the exception of Spencer, Matt, and a few other people. Everyone else? They have daddy issues.

Reuben is very hot (in book wise). But like most characters, he has daddy issues. His father died and he is seeing his ghost occasionally (is that a call for insanity?). And he is also very poor. Well, compared to him, Emmy looks like a rich heiress to a big oil company or something like that. Plus, he is Native American with a lot of curses on the tip of his tongue and sarcasm. He is never without words, I admit.

Emmy's mother, Kate, has too many problems. As I mention early, she has too many problems that I'm not going to try to explain. And you want to what? I'm not. But I do want to say that if it wasn't for Kate, a lot of this wouldn't happen. If it were for Kate's dad, the entire book probably would be...boring. I pretty much hold Kate and her dad as blame. Everyone else is just...collateral damage.

I must admit that I was fascinated by the texture of the cover. I was annoyed by the small text of a four hundred and up page book. But it was worth it. I suggest you grab a box of tissues. Steal the North made me cry. And the book is really good.

The story is really strong. It is mostly about finding identity and finding the courage within your heart. And it also talks about consequences of what you do. It talks about how other people are affected by what you did. It is like a chain of reaction, but the most overwhelming message is about identity. Identity, identity, and identity. It is about finding where you are and where you are going. It is about what you want and what you think you want. It is about fate and the twisted path of it. Another big part of Steal the North is faith and ignorance.

The ending of the book wasn't strong. I'm not going into anymore details. Remember spoilers?

Rating: Four out of Five

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo Review

"The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for."

After four hours of endless suffering through Barnes and Noble's customer support because apparently, they misplaced my ebook and gave it to someone else (lucky guy), I honestly expected a bit more excitement or awesomeness from Leigh Bardugo, who by the way blew my mind in Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm. And after all that work and anticipation, I will tell you this: I am horribly disappointed in it. Horribly disappointed.

I think you didn't get that message. HORRIBLY DISAPPOINTED.

I'll start with the simpler problems or the greater parts of Ruin and Rising. Alina, as usual, is amazing and more amazing since the last words of Siege and Storm. She may have some character bumps here and there (self-doubt, I mean), but she is one heck of a character. Her character development is great; and I love her for that. I didn't know she could rise anymore. I didn't know that she had a bit more forgiveness in her heart. She gotten a bit wiser. Excuse me now because I'm starting to cry over the wonderful growth of a character.

Nikolai remains talkative, but he became a bit darker. And yes, he finally sees himself as he is. Gone is the arrogant (maybe, not that arrogant), clueless (only of his own character), second prince. Here is the better one. A true hero, I may call him. I certainly do praise his character growth and his lack of words.

The Darkling, on the other hand, remains to be HORRIBLY DISAPPOINTING. Throughout the entire series, there were talks about redemption. Even his mother, Baghra, talked about the possibilty of it. I mean, come on. The person who knows the Darkling the best is perhaps the Darkling himself and his mother. It shouldn't be that surprising. Besides, the Darkling himself showed signs of possible redemption or at least, feelings. What the heck happened to his character? It was as if he was brutally chopped and reduced to a 2D villain. Perhaps, there was no chance of redemption. Perhaps, he was meant to be to the end. Perhaps fate was set before anything happened. But seriously? (Spoiler Alert: I'm mostly moaning about the lost of his character traits at the start of Ruin and Rising and his death). Now I understand why a lot of people are so mad. Bardugo must be having a laugh at us all. Or perhaps not. The Darkling is one of the most powerful and charming characters of the entire Grisha Trilogy. Then, he became a raging lunatic whose heart is far too dead. (And we never learned the true purpose of the Darkling. So furious am I now. You won't believe my fury).

(Honestly, I will never read anything from the Grisha Trilogy ever again. However, anything else written by Leigh Bardugo remains to be uncertain. There is a slight chance I will read those works. After all, what did they say? You learn from your mistakes).

Other than some terrible character axing and some terrible losses of life, Ruin and Rising doesn't have the same thrill as the previous two books. There is something strangely missing. Something missing. Perhaps, it was the heartbeat, or the life. I know the previous two books very well (I did read them to an almost obsession). And there is certainly something missing here. I think it is the enchanted, love-like feeling.

Plus, I'm very annoyed at Bardugo. She opened some doors into the Grisha World, but she does not close them. Some things in the book remains maddeningly unexplainable. What else about the amplifiers? What exactly is the Firebird's role in that world? Why did Alina's hair turn white? What is the purpose of the Grishas? Seriously, all these questions at the last installment! You know what I'll say? Dang nab it! Then I'll curse the world.

The ending shall remain a mystery. I already told you the Darkling's ending. I won't tell you what happen to the rest.

Rating: Three out of Five (There is some racy parts in there. Hot).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen Review

"Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope."

Briar Rose is a twisted retelling of the fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. It mixes the Holocaust with a fairy tale of little magic and some hope. It is full of dead bodies, who will forever sleep but never wake. And the princess? Well, she finds her own family. But the prince? That is a spoiler that I refused to tell. Sorry, guys. Spoilers are spoilers.

Briar Rose is an interesting story. It is a tad boring, because there are some moments of static noise (no plot movements, in other words). Rebecca is a bit old for a YA heroine, but she will do. For this story, it is indeed best if she is a bit older. Yes, she does have a prince, but that is not the point of this story. The story wholly and almost completely focuses on Gemma, who is Sleeping Beauty and also Rebecca's late grandmother. Rebecca, sworn to keep a promise, goes to look for Sleeping Beauty's past. She always knows the story, but she soon realizes it is indeed a "metaphor." And I, for one, agree that it is a perfect metaphor.

Gemma is the Sleeping Princess. She may be dead for the entire (or most of) Briar Rose, but she plays an important part. Everyone, from the Prince to Rebecca, learns a bit more about death, sadness, and most important of all, hope. (Spoiler Alert: The Prince is still alive, but he isn't the Prince you think he is).

Half of this book was told from the Prince's point of view. I admit that that part of the book is the most fickle and annoying part. Yes, there might be some homosexual parts, but honestly, I don't really care about that. I'm more worried about the lack of character. The Prince, from the fairy tales to the Disney movies, should always portray some heroistic traits. Instead, he is rather dull and undeniably boring. There is just something wrong with his voice.

Overall, I think the story could had been more exciting, but it isn't as interesting as it could had been. Oh, and I also hate how there isn't enough of defiance. I mean, seriously? If there are people fighting against the Nazis in their territory, I expect a little more defiance, but I guess the war might had been too much for most people.

Rating: Two out of Five

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Valiant by Holly Black Review

"When seventeen-year-old Valerie runs away to New York City, she's trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city's labyrinthine subway system. 

But there's something eerily beguiling about Val's new friends. 
And when one talks Val into tracking down the lair of a mysterious creature with whom they are all involved, Val finds herself torn between her newfound affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming."

Valiant takes place in the world of Tithe. Really, there is pretty much no need to read Tithe (that I can detect so far). Still, we do see a few familiar characters here and there. (Actually, it was more like the end of the book). The Fae is rarely involved, but there are some magical creatures. Shall I name a few? Trolls. Trolls. Mermaids and other things. But trolls play a major character in this book.

Oh, Valiant totally reminds me of Beauty and the Beast (but not as strong as Cruel Beauty or Beauty or any other retellings). Again, this is almost like a fairy tale. The only difference is that there is only Happily Ever After for the few instead of the many. It seems that there are some characters that will die in the end (which is inevitable, because the Fae aren't usually a nice community). Beauty is Valerie, who is rather athletic and curious with moments of innocence and stubbornness (like all heroines). The Beast is the troll. I'm not joking. Not joking at all. Just look at the synopsis if you having any doubts.

Valerie, as I said before, is rather athletic and curious. I admit that curiosity kills the cat and that is exactly what Valerie did. She stupidly did stupid things for all the wrong reasons. But there is a plus. A flawed character with a bunch of weakness is a better character than Mary Sue. However, just don't make her too weak, Holly Black. Is she weak? Well, I can tell you that Valerie does grow up. She finds her strength and intelligence and is able to defeat the enemy in the end. She finds her courage and strength to not do drugs (Fae drugs). She finds the power inside of her (that does sound a bit cheesy, huh?). Valerie has great character development of all the characters. Luis comes close to her though.

Despite all the stupid moments, Valiant is great. I really like all the actions (notice that it isn't love). Holly Black is amazing with words and thoughts and actions. I really like reading her books. I just hope that she is a good ender (pray that Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo will be good, too!) as she is a beginner. I'm honestly scrambling for a copy of the next book (in both series). I know the next book of this series probably won't need a box of tissues, but I hope it will be good (Ruin and Rising need boxes of tissues!).

Valiant is fast-paced and quick. It is around three hundred pages and the author gets it over really fast. There are a few hazy scenes (blurry, I mean), but otherwise, the book is still pretty good. There is no need to read Tithe (I said that before) before reading Valiant. Kaye is barely mentioned, but I hope Valiant will appear in the sequel (Sorry, I'm just talking so fast, because I need to go to bed. Night, night!).

Rating: Three out of Five

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fashionistas by Chloe Walsh Review

"Fashion--it's an obsession for millions. But for four lucky, talented girls, fashion is a full-time, style-transforming . . . internship in New York City Some might call it work, but as interns at high-end Couture magazine, Callie, Nadine, Ava, and Aynsley are workin' it in style.

Callie Ryan:

Innocent aspiring designer or claws-out fashion phony?

Nadine Van Buren:

Brings the party. Loves to party (even if it's a pity party).

Ava Barton:

Happy to be here . . . and about to take over

Aynsley Rothwell:

Sexy socialite with a killer wardrobe--and the attitude to match.

Hanging with the Couture interns is what's in this season. But who's the glamorous sage behind the Fashionista blog serving up style wisdom and sartorial send-ups?

It's enough to spark a hot-and-heavy fashion frenzy. Hold on to your Manolos . . . read on and find out."

Meet Callie, Nadine, Ava, and Aynsley. They are four divas in this book. None of them are quite as innocent as they seem. None of them are who they think they are. And none of them are pure at heart. Plus, they are all snobbish, rude, and vain. I can put them all together; and you probably wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

In short words? There are no need to describe their character traits individually. They are all the same, just have different. If you want to know the differences, just read the synopsis. That is actually a good description.

First of all, the synopsis is misleading and downright annoying. Not once, not once has anyone question the identity of the mystery author behind the Fashionista blog. None of the main characters tried to figure it out. That is one big issue. Failure to deliver upon promise. Failure numero uno!

Second of all, the plot is boring. For most of the book, it feels like drama and drama and drama. If I really wanted this much drama, I could had simply watched a soap opera. This is one book that had a bunch of subplots that it felt like the author couldn't control them all. And I have a bit more to say. Most of the book felt like an exposition than the normal. (Normal is exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, then resolution).

The writing is more like for younger teens who don't know any better. (It shouldn't be in the older teens section at my local library). Oh, I should also add that the author sometimes use words in the wrong way. I'm not going to say how, but some of it is just wrong/inappropriate. And so out of character. That I will add. Out of character. 

Anyway, if you want a book that is similar to this, but better, I would recommend you The Daughters. However, there is a downfall to that series. The plot, The Daughters and sequel plots, get really old. I mean, oooooold. That author sort of reuses plots over and over and over and over again. It gets a bit annoying.

The use of fashion terms, on the other hand, gets old too. I don't need to know about Jimmy Choos or Calvin Klein. Thank you very much. I will be happy to not know that the dresses these girls are wearing are worth more than a year of my salary. I would prefer to not know that they are richer than Bill. At least, that is what is seems, especially with Callie and Aynsley (and how the heck do you pronounce that name?).

Rating: One out of Five

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tithe by Holly Black Review

"Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms - a struggle that could very well mean her death."

Well, Tithe is certainly an old book. That doesn't stop me from reading it. 2002 may be a while back, but books will always be the same. It is us, the readers, that change. Plus, this book is about the Fae and the power struggles between the two courts. (I'm pretty sure you guys all know my love for Faeries. You can all thank Julie Kagawa for that love).

Okay, I never read anything of Holly Black's before this book. That is my confession.

Well, I have to admit that some parts of the book is hilarious. The part about kissing butts is downright amusing. I had to read it a few times over to make sure I got it correctly. I thought I was reading it way wrong. I mean, wrong wrong. Double wrong. Inappropriate, I mean. Scandalous. It doesn't matter now, but I just wanted to mention Black's somewhat amusing sense of humor (even though it is a bit odd).

Kaye is a changeling. The real Kaye is somewhere out there, but that doesn't matter very much. Kaye is a pixie, who is on the side of the Seelie Court. However, she is in a power play between the two courts, meaning she is on the line and she will never be exactly Seelie or Unseelie until one Fae Queen wins out. Kaye is actually pretty intelligent, but she does have small "blond" moments. I will admit to you that it happens quite frequently. Needless to say, they are very annoying and so despicable. I hate those moments.

And Roiben is the love interest. It is pronounce the same as Robin as in Robin Hood, Robin Goodfellow, and all other Robins. He is a Knight of the Unseelie Court, once a Knight of the Seelie Court. Isn't that confusing? Well, easy to say is that he is one heck of a knight. I should also mention that he is one bit of a jerk, too. However, he does seem to soften up to Kaye as the plot goes on. That is all I can say.

The plot goes by really fast. I read this in a few hours, hungry for the next book. Soon enough, I read the synopsis for the next two books and couldn't get enough. And yes, Tithe is really that addicting. After all, who doesn't love faeries?

The way Holly Black wrote Tithe is a bit annoying, which is a slight downfall in this book. There are some parts of Tithe where it is a bit awkward, especially among characters. Then again, it might be because they are supernatural creatures, but I highly doubt that. It isn't my first time reading ugly books about the Fae. (Some are even nastier than this one; I actually consider the nasty level of Tithe to be fairly light).

Rating: Four out of Five

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Beauty by Robin McKinley Review

"A strange imprisonment...

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?"

Robin McKinley's beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple, Beauty and the Beast."

Yes, this is indeed a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. You can obviously see it in the title, the cover, and the synopsis. Without telling spoilers, I can easily tell you that it is a much kinder tale than Cruel Beauty. Also, it follows the original fairy tale more closely than most retellings. The difference? A few plot changes, plus dialogue. Oh, I forget. A few character developments. I can't forget about that either.

Oh, yeah. There are three dimensional characters, unlike those twits in the Middle Ages-themed fairy tales. Beauty is a book-loving girl, not too different from readers like you and me (unless you just randomly stumble upon my review). The Beast, for one, remains to be a good friend of Beauty. Yes, there is something more than friends. But sadly (or for most of the book) he lives in the friendzone. And there is something just romantic about him when he says that he couldn't live without Beauty literally. (Just reminds me of the quote from Cruel Beauty, which is probably inspired by the Bible. "Where he goes, I will go. When he dies, I will die; there I will be buried." It is just beautiful).

Beauty is one interesting character. We can easily relate to her, because we all think we are awkward ugly ducklings. And we all love to read. Plus, we do love a Beast (wink, wink). However, I doubt I would keep him in the friendzone.

The plot follows along the fairy tale. You just have to read Wikipedia to find out what this book is about and what is it like. Even with dialogues and character development, Beauty is still good. Better, even. It is better than the short fairy tale unless you hate to read long, long, long books of around two hundred to three hundred pages.

The writing and the descriptions are awesome. I never really liked a mostly blank fairy tale of one to two dimensions. All books need some color. Robin McKinley certainly added good amounts of color to Beauty.

Oh, I should also mention that Beauty and the Beast (the movie) might be slightly similar to the book, but neither fairy tale nor movie are closely matched to the book.

Best moment: The moment before the Beast turns back into a human. It is always the best part, because you get a bunch of tears from beauty. I think the friendzone parts are in the runner up positions though. Those are pretty amazing moments, also.

Rating: Four out of Five

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

River Secrets by Shannon Hale Review

"Razo has no idea why he was chosen to be a soldier. He can barely swing a sword, and his brothers are forever wrestling him to the ground. Razo is sure it's out of pity that his captain asks him to join an elite mission--escorting the ambassador into Tira, Bayern's great enemy.

But when the Bayern arrive in the strange southern country, Razo discovers the first dead body. He befriends both the high and low born, people who can perhaps provide them with vital information. And Razo is the one who must embrace his own talents in order to get the Bayern soldiers home again, alive.

Newbery-Honor winner Shannon Hale returns the reader to the intrigue and magic of Bayern, first introduced in her critically acclaimed novel, The Goose Girl. Enter a world where even those with no special magical skills find in themselves something they never imagined."

River Secrets is narrated by a guy this time. Not a girl. A guy. And yes, it still ends in Happily Ever After. But who doesn't like Happily Ever After (probably Edgar Allen Poe; all his stuff is depressing as the death of Romeo and Juliet).

But I think it is as good as the previous two books. River Secrets is awesome, told from guy or girl. It doesn't matter. After all, we have a trustworthy writer, who is practically guarantee to write good books. (And yes, this book has been published a while ago, yet I'm reading it anyway. What? I'm the one to read old books. Screw the new books. Old books are awesome).

River Secrets is still on fire. Enna is a secondary character this time, but it is still sweet to see Finn and Enna still active in this book. Geric and Isi takes a backseat. They both rarely appear, but their babies are adorable. Plus, there is a someone for Razo and his good friend, the Prince with no name. Anyway, River Secrets is a good story. It is still about Bayern, but this time, it is about the possibility of war between two kingdoms.

Razo is sent to enemy territory to spy on them in case of war. He is clever and smart, although he has a lot of insecurities. He doesn't win fights. He is always the omega of the pack. He never seems to be good enough. So why is he there? That is the question he always ask himself and others around him. Well, do you want to know why? (Spoiler: It is because he has a gift for memorizing things other people wouldn't notice. See, spy).

The entire plot moves fast. River Secrets is shorter than Enna Burning, but I don't know the comparison between River Secrets and The Goose Girl. All I know is that they are both wonderful stories for both children, teens, and adults. Happily Ever After never outgrows anyone. Everyone has Peter Pan inside.

The conflict is somewhat overused but bearable. The Bayern plot is a little old and used, but it is still working. First, we had the possiblity of war. Then we had the actual war between two kingdoms. Now, we have spying and espionage. Did I mention mystery, romance, and intrigue? Oh, I should add magic in too.

Rating: Four out of Five

Monday, June 9, 2014

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale Review

"Enna and Princess Isi became fast friends in The Goose Girl, but after Isi married Prince Geric, Enna returned to the forest. Enna's simple life changes forever when she learns to wield fire and burn anything at will. Enna is convinced that she can use her ability for good--to fight Tira, the kingdom threatening the Bayern borders--and goes on secret raids to set fire to the Tiran camps and villages. But as the power of the fire grows stronger, she is less able to control her need to burn. In her recklessness she is captured by the Tiran army and held captive by a handsome, manipulative young captain who drugs her to keep her under his influence. Can Isi and her old friends Finn and Razo rescue her without sacrificing themselves? And with the fire still consuming her, will Enna find a way to manage the gift that threatens to destroy her?"

Enna Burning is as amazing as The Goose Girl. In fact, I loved it as much as The Goose Girl. I think they are both great. Enna Burning portrays the consequences of talking to wind (which Ani possesses). Enna learns the power of fire speaking but with a price. If she doesn't control it well enough, she will soon burn out. I mean, burn. Literally.

Side note: Enna calls the princess Isi instead of Ani. It took me a few seconds to get used to it, but I just wanted to point that out. It is quite interesting, because The Goose Girl and Enna Burning are told in different perspectives, thus the different names of the future Queen of Bayern.

Enna is one sharp girl. She notices things more than Princess Ani/Isi. Plus, she has more friends than Isi, who prefers to hide in silence because of wind's whispers and hauntings. But she is also more daring. She walks right into enemy's territory. All of it is for her brother. Isi, on the other hand, is pregnant (squeals!).

Enna Burning is a great story. It may be of adventure and war, but it is a story about two kingdoms who hate each other so much that they want to destroy each other. It is a story about two friends who fought against each other. It is a story of true love, no matter how cheesy that sounds. Most importantly, it is the story for a cure. It is a story about forgiveness and the ability to forgive (although Enna does most of it in the next book). It is a story about friendship and about how far friends would go to save their friends.

Shannon Hale is great at keeping the reader entertained throughout the entire book. Maybe, just maybe, it might be shorter than most books, but it is perfect being like that. (You are perfect with all of your imperfections). With a fast-paced plot and storyline, Enna Burning is easy to fall in love with.

Plus, it teaches that you should never, ever, ever, ever fall in love with captors. (Enna gets kidnapped). Yes, he may be handsome and sweet, but he is a demon inside. He has people-speaking ability. He is pretty much a walking contradiction (much like Neal Caffrey from White Collar). Enna thinks she is in love with him, but is he? No, he only wants her power (and that part makes me cry! Darkling, forever!).

(Finn is the One for Enna).

Rating: Four out of Five

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee Review

"Dredging up the past can knock the present right off balance.

The world expects perfection from seventeen-year-old Shawna Gallagher, and for the most part, that’s what they get. She dates the right boys, gets good grades, and follows her father’s every rule. But when her estranged lesbian mother dies, it’s more than perfect Shawna can take. Suddenly, anger from being abandoned ten years ago is resurfacing along with Shawna’s embarrassment over her mother’s other family. As she confronts family secrets and questions from the past, Shawna realizes there’s a difference between doing the perfect thing and doing the right thing.

Shawna’s honest and relatable voice will draw readers in and hold them until the last page in this coming-of-age story. Jeannine Garsee has delivered a compulsively readable second novel, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Laurie Halse Anderson."

Well, for such a high and praising synopsis, I expected better than this. (I will tell you right away that this review will definitely be shorter than usual). Yes, it is coming-of-age, but it isn't too inspiring or anything. Instead, it was pretty floppy and boring. 

Shawna, first of all, is easily floppy. She doesn't know who she is, but she seems to have multiple personality disorder. After all, there is Perfect Shawna (which is used for her father), Pathetic Shawna (who is used for herself), and Evil Shawna (which is the personality used for anyone who annoys Shawna too much). But strangely, her brother Sam or Schmule definitely has multiple personality disorder. He is Sam. And he is Schmule. Sam is for his real father (Shawna's father). Schmule is for everyone else. Oh, also, he might be suicidal. And he is only ten years old! I think Say the Word should had been narrated by him, not Shawna. Without her father, Shawna would be perfectly fine. And Sam/Schmule? Well, that is his character change. With him, anything impossible becomes possible.

Say the Word is no pretty story. Ironically, Shawna is a kidnapped victim with Stockholm's syndrome. Of course, that is according to Schmule. He once said that the victim would easily identify with the kidnapper and all the other creepy stuff. Interestingly enough, Shawna soon realizes how close it hits home. She wants to be a doctor (like her father). She pretends to be someone else (for her father). She dumps boyfriends (because of her father). At first, I thought Shawna just had tons of mommy issues, but it wasn't just that. It was the freaking daddy issues plus Stockholm's syndrome. Isn't that fun?

It should all be interesting, right? Well, I make the summary interesting. But the book? It is terrible. There is no sense of suspense. There should had been hints of what Fran and Shawna's mother were hiding, but it is so boring. I nearly gave up by the first chapter. That boring! And the plot? Terribly slow. I'm not even going to talk about. It is just not worth it.

Finally, I will mention the cover. It totally reminds me of the girl from North of Beautiful. I think it is probably from the same photoshoot or something like that. The girls look exactly alike. Either it is the same person (most likely) or they are twin (not likely).

Rating: Two out of Five (Nice thing with mental illness, author).

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher Review

"With her mother ill, it’s up to fifteen-year-old Ruby Jacinski to support her family. But in the 1940s, the only opportunities open to a Polish-American girl from Chicago’s poor Yards is a job in one of the meat packing plants. Through a chance meeting with a local tough, Ruby lands a job as a taxi dancer and soon becomes an expert in the art of “fishing”: working her patrons for meals, cash, clothes, even jewelry. Drawn ever deeper into the world of dance halls, jazz, and the mob, Ruby gradually realizes that the only one who can save her is herself.  A mesmerizing look into a little known world and era."

Okay, it is the 1940s. It is almost, almost World War II. Ruby Jacinski claims to be sixteen and dances with lonely men who pay ten cents a dance with her. She earns fifty dollars a week (big money at that time) while learning the strange world of darkness and malice. What Ruby does (which is sort of legal) is only a tad closer to prostitution (which is illegal). 

Little did Ruby know that she is about to be pulled into the dark side. Paulie, her boyfriend, is the bad boy of the neighborhood. Ruby quickly finds herself in love with him. But did he return it to her? Well, I'll answer that question. He likes her, but he isn't that lovable. In reality, they are more like in an abusive relationship. Isn't that a bummer?

Ten Cents a Dance is a dark book. Even though it is in the darker times of the previous century, it still had a few things to teach. One, make sure you never go near a bad boy. They aren't good or healthy for you (just look at Patch; he nearly got Nora killed). Two, you should always tread carefully when it is dark. Three, always tell someone. Four, make sure the person you love isn't with the mob or someone who wants to be a hit man. Six, never never go to the dark side unless you want to die.

Ruby is certainly one caring character. Her innocence and sweetness towards situation is always apparent. It slowly disappears, but it is still there. By the end of Ten Cents a Dance, you'll be able to see how much she has grown. From making deals with the mob to realizing what she has become, Ruby is one perfectly flawed character who makes good and bad choices but has, most importantly of all, hope.

The story of Ten Cents a Dance is rather scary. There is the mob. There is patrons who want more than a dance. And for a while, I even thought that Ruby would be dragged into that world for more money. That thirst to shop and for more money (just for more) was scary enough that it drove the plot on for awhile. Then Paulie keeps on popping in and out of the story, so that was weird (a terrible part of the story, I'll admit). There were a few things that were surprising. I was kept on my toes for most of the book, but there wasn't enough suspense to get my heart racing (and yes, that is possible).

Overall, I think Ten Cents a Dance is good for a history buff, but it isn't great fiction. I mean, the writing is a bit dry and emotions are hard to come through. It wasn't boring. It was just dry like sand.

Rating: Three out of Five