Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer
This week’s question is:
Do you have a schedule set for blogging and reading time? Or do you not have a set time and just let it happen?
I wish! If I did, then maybe I could juggle the blog posts and reviews properly. At the moment, I take up the galley a week before release and blog posts are strictly on when-I-have-time basis.
Release date: March 12, 2014
Sasha has a secret – that she can make you spill your secret with nothing more than a question. Her strange gift makes her a burden to her foster family and a total freak of nature. Not that Sasha cares. Why should she when no one cares about her?
Then the CIA knocks on her door. They want to give Sasha a new identity and drop her into a foreign country to infiltrate a ring of zealous graffiti terrorists. They want to give Sasha something to care about.
To survive a world where no one is who they seem, Sasha needs to make people trust her. But when that trust blossoms into love, Sasha is forced to decide between duty and friendship, between her mind and her heart, and whether to tell the truth or keep her secrets.
Drawn is a contemporary-like story with a dash of paranormal. Sasha is a human lie detector – with just her voice, she can make someone fess up what’s on their minds. Cool ability but doesn’t help her socially because it is switched on 24/7. Having been in and out of foster homes for her entire childhood, she knows getting close to people is a work in vain, because ultimately they will say something hurtful and regretful to her. So, she builds up these walls and just concentrates on how she can use her ability for the greater good. Being fostered by an FBI agent for the last four years, she is trained in being an agent. When the opportunity comes along to be a spy, she gets excited. She has to find a particular graffiti artist, known for his politically-effective works and turn him into an asset for the CIA. Being close to age, she is great for the role. But soon she finds out that maybe what she wanted to be was not what was best for her.
Sasha’s character is very introverted, because of her ability and she is quick to think that others will reject her. When she arrives in Brussels and her handler’s exuberant daughter wants to be friends with her, she avoids it at first thinking it will anyway hurt later on. Art, however, connects them and soon they are hitting the town and painting it with graffiti. She gains a valuable asset in Vivi, but also a good friend – which she doesn’t realize until later on. Vivi’s friend Seb is a love interest, but even there she holds back because she doesn’t want to deal with the broken heart later on. The author has written each character in such good detail – you know Vivi, Seb and Chelsea and how they are feeling so well, even if Sasha herself doesn’t see it. The story ultimately shows that between the heart and duty, sometimes what is right and what is good are not always the same. It was a celebration of liberty of a person from her fears and learning to trust others.
A unique feature of the novel was that sections were marked off with a short comic strip chronicling Sasha’s early years. While the artwork in the comic wasn’t really good, it however added a nice touch to the story. I would also have loved if the ending wasn’t left so open-ended but it was sort of bittersweet too. I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.
Received a copy from Gray Life in exchange for an honest review.
Release date: March 11, 2014
I was very delighted to learn of Bree Despain’s next paranormal series, and the fact that it is based on Greek mythology just amped my excitement even more. Based on the Hades-Persephone myth, the story is of Haden, an Underrealm Prince and Daphne, a talented girl with the voice of an angel. If you think it is going to be another girl-meets-boy story, you would be wrong – because it is much more than that. The Underrealm has been locked away since millenia, and the only gate open is through Persephone’s Gate, which opens every six months for a limited period of time. No girl is ever born in the Underrealm, which means if they want to keep it populated (they are NOT immortal), they need girls. Each year, a Champion is sent through the Gate, and has to persuade a girl(s) (called Boons) to come to the Underrealm of their own free will, within six months. Yep, no kidnapping business here but the Boons don’t really have a long lifespan in the world of Death. Haden, the disgraced Prince, is eager to regain his honor in Court, and when the Oracle chooses him to be the champion, he sets forth to find his specified Boon, Daphne and bring her back to Court. Now, Daphne is a small-town girl who wants to escape said small town and make a music star of herself. She has always been attuned to sounds and music since a kid. Enter her estranged father (a famous rockstar), who gains her custody overnight and takes her to Olympic Hills, an elite gated community in LA. She gets everything she wants – top-class education in a school, entry into the highly acclaimed musical programme. Boy-meets-girl but that one is a disaster. Her classmate and friend, Tobin, warns her off the Lord family, whose cousins keep popping into town every few years (yeah, those same Champions) and are quite suspicious for the fact that he saw one with his sister before she disappeared. What ensues next is a sweet romance, some fighting against destiny and awesome story development.
The construct of the world is very interesting – we have the Underrealm, which is basically Hades, filled with all these vicious nobles and lords who consider emotion very degrading. Humanity is basically frowned upon there and Haden grows up with the disapproval of the entire Court. They are eager for war with the Skylords, their enemies – and consider Orpheus the Traitor because of his role in sealing off the Underrealm. In the Overrealm, Olympic Hills seems like a paradise but a lot of secrets lurk in the town. A string of accidental deaths right after Haden’s entry makes matters very complicated, with Daphne outright suspicious of him in the start. As the story progresses, she starts to warm up to him and they become friends. He is essentially wooing her but then starts to fall for her. The romance is very subtle, and hardly overwhelms the main plot, that is, Daphne’s role as the Cypher and how Haden is tied into her destiny. In fact, I loved the fact for how simple their relationship is – and even if Haden comes off as boorish (a la Thor) and pirate-like to her, he starts to mellow himself to let their friendship grow. It’s not all soulful gazing and all – it is how they understand each other’s pain and lend support to the other. Despain’s writing of Haden was also quite good – the book is a dual POV, so it is quite entertaining to get into Haden’s head too. He is cute, with all the Googling and Youtubing about how to do different things in the Overrealm. Daphne is a smart, strong, independent and goal-oriented girl – she doesn’t believe in destiny and tries to find a way to shrug off the responsibility that Haden says she will have to assume. As for the writing, it was splendid – I was engrossed throughout and loved how the Greek myths were incorporated into it. The Hades-Persephone and Orpheus-Eurydice tales were more like extended into this story, and it echoes even in the title of the series. That one was a goosebumps moment, by the way, and you will have to read it to feel it. Overall, I enjoyed the story immensely and with that amazing ending (without a cliffhanger), I am already in love and eager to see how the series progresses, for their is so much potential in the story. Another great work from Bree Despain!
Received a copy from Egmont USA from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Seventeen-year-old Zayn has special powers she cannot control—powers that others fear and covet. Powers that cause the Templar Knights to burn Zayn’s mother at the stake for witchcraft. When a mysterious stranger tempts Zayn to become the first female member of the heretical Assassins, the chance to seek her revenge lures her in. She trains to harness her supernatural strength and agility, and then enters the King of Jerusalem’s court in disguise with the assignment to assassinate Guy de Molay, her mother’s condemner. But once there, she discovers Earic Goodwin, the childhood friend who still holds her heart, among the knights—and his ocean-blue eyes don’t miss a thing. Will vengeance be worth the life of the one love she has left?
Knight Assassin is set in the Mid-East, around the time of the Crusades (a guess), a time where religion was a major issue for war (it still is, but that’s a topic for another day). The protagonist, Zayn is a muslim girl living in a Syrian village that is under the control of a Christian lord. As expected, people are classified according to their religion, but what is worse for Zayn is that her own villagefolk despise her, because she was born out of wedlock and because they suspect her to be demon spawn (no, seriously, they accuse her mother of being a witch). When tragedy strikes and she has nothing left, a Faithful One (one of the Assassin’s top dudes) comes to recruit her. With revenge on the agenda, she agrees, hoping to kill off the man who broke her down. Her first assignment takes her into the heart of the court, where she makes a meaningful friendship in Marguerite, and learns that sometimes your loyalty has to be to your heart and not to a sect.
The plot is very much political, with a dash of magic thrown in. Zayn is this fierce girl who is held down by a religion she doesn’t even believe in. Her longing for freedom and independence makes her the first female Assassin. It isn’t an easy journey for her, with her despising her femininity and seeing enmity all around her. Her story is beautiful in the way she grows out of her negative emotions, despite her tragic life. Earic was quite an interesting character, and I really hoped more was said about his past. I know the focus was on Zayn but a little more of his backstory would have enriched the story.
The writing is so eloquent, and echoes the feel of that era well, flowing smoothly as the story progresses. However, the ending kind of dampened the book a little – it was not so much as how the story ended but more about how it was written. There is a distinct shift in the writing style which makes it seem rushed – it seemed a bit out of place. The reveals at the end also didn’t make sense fully, but was sort of okay. I would point out that fans of Throne of Glass series would love to enjoy this novel.
Received an ARC from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review
Release date: March 4, 2014
Donna Pierce might hear voices, but that doesn’t mean she’s crazy. Probably.
The voices do serve their purpose, though—whenever Donna hears them, she knows she’s in danger. So when they start yelling at the top of their proverbial lungs, it’s no surprise she and her best friend, Deke, end up narrowly escaping a zombie horde. Alone without their families, they take refuge at their high school with the super-helpful nerds, the bossy class president, and—best of all?—Liam, hottie extraordinaire and Donna’s long-time crush. When Liam is around, it’s easy to forget about the moaning zombies, her dad’s plight to reach them, and how weird Deke is suddenly acting toward her.
But as the teens’ numbers dwindle and their escape plans fall apart, Donna has to listen to the secrets those voices in her head have been hiding. It seems not all the zombies are shuffling idiots, and the half-undead aren’t really down with kids like Donna…
Donna of the Dead started off good. I thought it would be a little different from the typical zombie fare, considering Donna had these mysterious voices in her head that guided her to stay safe. Once the zombie apocalypse struck (how did that start, by the way?) it reverted back to the same old Zombieland script. You know – hitting zombies, somehow managing to escape being bitten, etc etc. They reach a safe haven but the conditions are bleak and there is a mysterious super-zombie stalking them. The plot got pretty much ludicrous after that point. Between the plot holes as to how CDC even knew already about immune genes to a zombie plague they knew nothing about, to why the half-dead zombies were like that, I pretty much gave up on it being deep. It was more like a zombie movie – akin to the Resident Evil series (it shared a lot of similarities, if you ask me) and more like light reading. The only saving grace was Donna’s snark, though as a character she is quite wimpy and useless, until the end when she finally becomes brave. The love triangle was a bit unusual but not unpredictable. The kids at school were cool too – just not much depth to their characters. I thought there was something that might come from Lara but that one just went over the roof, so there. The writing and pace were good, but the plot pretty much ruined the book. An okay read, but standard zombie fare.
P.S. Awful cover, BTW. It matches the story, though – considering there is a romance against a backdrop of zombies, but it is an eyesore.
Received a copy from Entangled Teen in exchange for an honest review
In Serjana Caelum’s world, gods exist. So do goddesses. Sera knows this because she is one of them. A secret long concealed by her parents, Sera is Lakshmi reborn, the human avatar of an immortal Indian goddess rumored to control all the planes of existence. Marked by the sigils of both heaven and hell, Sera’s avatar is meant to bring balance to the mortal world, but all she creates is chaos. A chaos that Azrath, the Asura Lord of Death, hopes to use to unleash hell on earth.
Torn between reconciling her past and present, Sera must figure out how to stop Azrath before the Mortal Realm is destroyed. But trust doesn’t come easy in a world fissured by lies and betrayal. Her best friend Kyle is hiding his own dark secrets, and her mysterious new neighbor, Devendra, seems to know a lot more than he’s telling. Struggling between her opposing halves and her attraction to the boys tied to each of them, Sera must become the goddess she was meant to be, or risk failing, which means sacrificing the world she was born to protect.
I was a bit wary to start this book – I have read only one another book adapted from Hindu mythology (Tiger’s Curse) and since that pretty much ruined Hindu mythology for me, you can see where I was coming from. Also, that cover does’t do it ANY favors, okay? At a basic level, I can say I had mixed reactions to the book. It had an awful start (never do that okay? Most people DNF at the end of their patience. I don’t) but it got progressively better till the end, which actually rocked. Since it started off bad, I will start with what I DID NOT like about it.
First, the cliche at the start. Young teen girl wakes up with powers she didn’t know about, was getting bad dreams about it but dismissed it as – eh, nothing – and then later on finds out that everybody knew it except she and her best friend. Said best friend was also hiding a lot of secrets and shocker, he belongs to the bad side. Mysterious boy-next-door seems familiar. See where I am going with this? I bet you can already map out the story in your head and come to the conclusion – yep, it’s going to be a bad overwhelming, you-love-him-more (that line actually appeared) love triangle. I am not against love triangle, but time and place (that appeared too), dude, time and place. The fabric of the universe is about to unravel, and Kyle is more worried about her loving said boy-next-door and him never having a chance. She even pointed out the same to him (you go, Sera!). Secondly, the weird names – I am Indian and they sounded strange to me too. Also, for a book based on Hindu mythology, it barely only takes the characters – the world isn’t anything based on it. How, you ask me? Hinduism is based on rebirth so there is no exact hell and heaven. I wouldn’t go into the theological details but it borrowed heavily from other religions as well, making it a blend of all rather than based on one. Now, this isn’t really a bad point since authors have creative liberties, but freaking names! How is Sophia in any way related? Or Azrath for that matter? Besides, it conveniently forgot that Yama is the god of death. So, based off characters from Hindu mythology, but not Hindu mythology. Next, and how to put this delicately – whitewashing. Seriously, for people descended or beings from Hindu mythology, there are not many of them around. Only Dev looks something like that and even he has golden eyes, which I tell you is extremely rare here. Laxmi is described as having red hair. Last I checked, she did not.
That being said, it got better (as I said before). Divide it into three – first was a cliche, second was oh, what’s that and third was yay! it’s good. It achieved a sort of balance in the end (see what I did there?). If you ignore the mythology and view it as something entirely new in fantasy, it really is quite good. The seven levels of hell, Illysia (see?) and the Mortal Realm constructed with the Trimurtas as the reigning deities. Other gods are various incarnations and there is a hierarchy between the gods. The rules of the Hell realm, who are basically like gods and different from demons – good work on that too. Plot was quite great too – though a little more intricacy would have been appreciated. For a dual POV, it fails – the story focuses on only one plot-line when it could have had more. It would have as easily been explained all only in Sera’s POV, but good effort nevertheless. I liked Sera’s character once I got through the first third of the book – she was fierce, strong and did what was needed. She wasn’t stuck on the love triangle (thankfully) even though the other male POV was going on and on about it. The way she fearlessly faces down all the demon and the Azura is admirable, even with her being more powerful than any of them. It takes serious guts to face down legions of demons in one place – there is only so much one person can do. Kyle had a good role to play in the plot but I disliked his poor-me routine and all-around misogynistic behavior. Dev, in contrast, was cool as a cucumber, confident in his love, but seriously living under a rock if he didn’t even know about the demon’s movements. Am I supposed to believe he ran to Sera’s side when he found out who she was but didn’t even notice the whole demon-plotting going around? Azrath was another interesting character – I applaud the author for actually giving him a valid reason to take over the world, which even seemed logical. I could almost empathize with him.
So, in summary, a good plot, okay characters, meh world-building, good pace – this book is a solid 3. It hits the median – go for it if a diehard fan of mythological re-tellings but I would warn of the love triangle.
Received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Let the Storms Break (#2 in Let the Sky Fall)
Release date: March 4, 2014
Vane Weston is haunted. By the searing pull of his bond to Audra. By the lies he’s told to cover for her disappearance. By the treacherous winds that slip into his mind, trying to trap him in his worst nightmares. And as his enemies grow stronger, Vane doesn’t know how much longer he can last on his own.
But Audra’s still running. From her past. From the Gales. Even from Vane, who she doesn’t believe she deserves. And the farther she flees, the more danger she finds. She possesses the secret power her enemy craves, and protecting it might be more than she can handle—especially when she discovers Raiden’s newest weapon.
With the Gale Force weakened by recent attacks, and the power of four collapsing, Vane and Audra are forced to make a choice: keep trusting the failing winds, or turn to the people who’ve betrayed them before. But even if they survive the storms sent to destroy them, will they have anything left to hold on to?
Panic (#1 in Panic)
Release date: March 4, 2014
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do. Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought. Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.
The Winner’s Curse (#1 in The Winner’s Trilogy)
Release date: March 4, 2014
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Half Bad (#1 in Half Life)
Release date: March 4, 2014
In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?
Wayfarer (#2 in Tales of Beauty & Madness)
Release date: March 6, 2014
Ellie Sinder is a Charmer—the most powerful of her age that St. Juno’s Academy has ever seen. But Ellie’s stepmother, Laurissa, wields manipulation and abuse to force Ellie to work her spells ever more intensely, for Laurissa’s profit.
Then a train from over the Wastelands arrives in New Haven, bearing on it golden boy Avery Fletcher, newly returned from prep school, wearing a sweater Ellie’d love to bury her face in and a smile as bright as his blond hair. Avery’s arrival sets Laurissa off on a dark and dangerous scheme—and this time the soul up for grabs is Ellie’s.
Lets begin with the books read this month, eh? I’ll rant later.
Full length novels
Total: 11 novels and 5 manga/graphic novels
Whoo! Feeling a bit better. I have also finally started using the planner my mom got me for the new year to keep track of book releases and reviews. So, I am a bit more organized out and won’t be forgetting to review the book! Thanks to my pitiful memory, I had forgot to review some Edelweiss ones. By the way, who said New Year is for resolutions? I am doing great with making them in February!
February was a great month for reading for me. I liked each one of them – almost all of them got 4 stars. I still haven’t gotten around to reading the books I recently got (like Prodigy) but now that I am more organized in reading, I am hoping to start with some series soon – The Raven Cycle, Legend and Matched trilogy. I was planning to watch Vampire Academy with a friend but I found out no theaters near me are showing it – the nearest one is 2 hours away, which considering my and my bestie’s schedules, is not possible even on a Sunday. As far as my work is concerned, I am enjoying it – and with my entrance exam results next month, I hopefully can take the next step with pursuing a doctorate. It will be tough but hopefully I will find time for reading even for reading.
I had a bad week though – my cell phone was stolen four days ago. I went through the five stages of grief in like a matter of hours – starting with cursing that SOB to the depths of hell, then weeping over the physical loss, continuing to looking up a new one, deciding mine was hella cool and how will I find it again when it’s no longer in the market and finally weeping again in the morning when I felt around for my phone to see the time and not finding it. Like I said, tough week.
March looks good though – I have loads of review copies to read, and some I am pretty excited for. I think I signed up for a blog tour or two – so watch out for those. Going to start watching some new shows/anime, so I might review the pilots. Anyways, that’s all. Ciao!
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer
This week’s question is:
Have you stopped accepting books from either authors or publishers to try to catch up? If not, do you think you would ever do that?
I don’t think I could ever stop reading galleys – I love reviewing and maybe if someday if it’s becomes more of a chore, I might reduce the number of ones I request, but stopping completely? Don’t think so. Since becoming a member on Netgalley and Edelweiss, I feel I take my reviews more seriously – this is mostly because I am mostly a lazy person who would like to write (not fiction, heavens no) but doesn’t and this is the only thing I can write with joy right now.