Saturday, 28 March 2015

Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

What this book is about...
Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying-and she's hopeless to change anything.
Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.
The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

My initial expectations...
Since this was what the book club I attend chose to read, I felt obligated to buy it and take a peek. Whenever I asked my friends what it was about they would just say it was like a mix of Pokemon, Digimon and the Hunger Games. Obviously, that made me a bit skeptical, but also quite curious to see how the author would pull off such a strange mixture of ideas.

What I liked about this book...
For such a strange concept, it was executed quite well. The companions (known as Pandoras) were both cute and dangerous. I was consistently on the edge of my seat waiting for them to reveal new abilities.
Though I'm not going to name names to avoid spoilers, I appreciated the fact that Scott embraced death in her book. In intense situations like the Brimstone Bleed, death is basically inevitable. I hate when authors try to make everything so censored, so a little bit of death and gore was a perfectly logical. 
I also really enjoyed all the short chapters. I hate chapters that go on and on and on and the short chapters made taking breaks much easier. 

What I didn't like about this book...
The first person Tella reminded me of was myself. That is not a good thing. I am admittedly very conceeded and obsessed with looking perfect head to toe in almost every situation, even life or death if it comes down to it. Just like Tella I tend to fall head over heels for any boy who shows me the slightest bit of attention. Reading this book from her point of view made me hate myself at times after realizing how annoying I must seem to other people.

My overall views...
While its being referred to as just another Hunger Games rip-off, this book is unique in its own way. I actually think I liked it more than the Hunger Games, but that's just my opinion. The amazing plot and consistent action definitely compensated for the annoying narration and the a bit too gushy romance. 

I give this book 3.5/5 stars on Goodreads!
Would I recommend it to anyone? Yes. Probably to all my Pokemon/Digimon loving friends. 
Would I read it again? Maybe. If I don't have anything else to read. 

(For those that have read this book, or are currently reading this book) What do you think of the main character/narrator Tella? What do you think of the romance? Do you think it moved too fast? What was your favourite Pandora? If you could have a Pandora and customize it to be any animal with any powers, what would you choose? 

Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

What this book is about...
A princess must find her place in a reborn world.
She flees on her wedding day.
She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.
She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.
She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.
The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Liar can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance. Fed up and ready for a new life, Liar flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive-and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Liar finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets-secrets that may unravel her world-even as she feels herself falling in love.

My initial expectations...
Though the promise of romance made me wary, the bigger promise of a high fantasy from friends who had previously read this pushed me to pick it up. (I also was kind of pressured into reading it by the book club I attend, haha.) No one likes to be that odd one out in a group, the only one who hasn't read a certain book or series.

What I didn't like about this book...
I'm going to tell you what I didn't like first before I tell you what I did like. This is because I honestly didn't enjoy the book as a whole, so there isn't many positive things I have to say.

To start, I had a lot of trouble sympathizing with the main character Lia. I just couldn't support her decision to run from her responsibilities, especially when she knew that by leaving she could possibly trigger a war between the two Houses. I get that she didn't want to be stuck in an arranged marriage, but that still doesn't mean your life is more important than the thousands of others that could be lost in a war. That's not just reckless and selfish, but stupid. I was actually hoping she'd get caught.

Not being able to connect with the main character made the rest of the book really difficult to read. I was detached and just waiting for it to end.

What I liked about this book...
Almost the entirety of the rating I'm giving this book is due to the amazing and unexpected plot twist near the end. I was so taken aback that I spent about an hour going back through the book trying to figure out how on earth I could have missed such an important detail. Something like that takes a lot of skill to pull off; bravo, Pearson. Bravo.

My overall views...
The romance was tolerable. A bit rushed if you ask me, but tolerable. The elements of fantasy were a bit underdeveloped, but they have so much potential I'm going to push myself to read the next book. Hopefully things will be worked out by then.

I give this 3.5 /5 stars on Goodreads.
Would I re-read this? No, probably not.
Would I recommend this? Surprisingly, yes. While it may not be my cup of tea, I think it may be for others.

What do you guys think? Did you see the twist coming? What are your views on Lia's decision to flee?

Review: Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

What this book is about...
When the Quidditch World Cup is disrupted by Voldemort's rampaging supporters and the terrifying Dark Mark appears against the night sky, it is obvious to Harry Potter that, far from weakening, Voldemort is getting stronger. Back at Hogwarts for the fourth year Harry is astonished to be chosen to represent the school in the Triwizard Tournament. The competition is dangerous, the tasks terrifying, and true courage is no guarantee of survival-especially with the Dark Lord's forces on the rise.

P.S. If you haven't yet read this, don't feel bad! There's always time and I don't think you can ever be too old to enjoy this series! I myself just started reading the series this year since my religious mom used to forbid it.

What I liked about the book...
This was actually the first book in the series that I truly enjoyed. The previous three were a bit too light-hearted for me. Personally, I prefer more serious subject matter and cliff hanger endings, which is why this book captured my interest much more than the others. For the majority of the book I was consistently kept on the edge of my seat with all the action and suspense (especially near the end).
I also loved the evolution of Harry's character. Although he was still a bit of an jerk to Ron, I really admired the actions he took to care for those in danger, even when it wasn't his responsibility. Now that's the makings of a true hero.
Even with all the growing danger and suspense I enjoyed the fact that Rowling was still able to insert some humor here and there. I basically was rolling on the floor laughing anytime one of the Weasley twins opened his mouth.  

What I didn't like about the book...
As I've already mentioned, I think Harry is sort of a jerk to his friends. I couldn't stand the fact that he wouldn't even bother to mend his relationship with Ron. This immaturity stood in stark contrast to the Harry that competed in the Tournament and this made him very unlikable throughout the first half of the book, regardless of the positive qualities he demonstrated.
At least this Harry is better than the constantly screaming and disrespectful one of the previous book.
Additionally, I wasn't very satisfied with the ending. Not that it wasn't good. I just think some important parts went by a bit too fast. Though I'm not going to spoil it by naming names, there's a death near the end of the book that I just couldn't accept. One sentence. Is that all the character is worth? One measly, simple sentence? I get that it's talked about a bit later on, but I still think it lacked depth.

I really enjoyed this book. It was everything I look for in a book: a mix of suspense, humor and fantasy (which, in my opinion, is very difficult to pull off). I'm really excited for the next book. 800 pages is a bit intimidating though, I you ask me. Hopefully it will be filled with as much if not more action than this one.

I gave this book 4.5/5 stars on Goodreads!
Would I re-read this? Yes!
Would I recommend this? Obviously!

Favourite scenes/chapters...
Chapter 16, The Goblet of Fire
Chapter 25, The Egg and the Eye
Chapter 26, The Second Task
Chapter 34, Priori Incantatem
Chapter 37, The Beginning 

Check out the book on...
Barnes & Noble!

Review: A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J Maas

What the book is about...
When nineteen-year-old hunters 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 fairies who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tomlin 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 Faye. 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.

My initial expectations...
I absolutely love the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas. Love it to the point where I may be a little bit obsessed with it. Therefore, I was ready to jump at any other chance to experience Maas' captivating writing style. However, I do admit that the promise of a hot and fiery romance made me hesitant to pick this one up and finally get to reading it.

P.S. For those of you that don't know me that well yet, romance driven plots are something I try to avoid. I'm not bitter about relationships or anything. It's just not my thing.

What I liked about the book...
Though it may seem small and insignificant to the plot to others, one of my favourite aspects of this book was the witty back and forth between Lucien and Feyre. Anything and everything that came out of Lucien's mouth always seemed to put a smile on my face-especially near the end of the book when he began to show his true self a bit more.

Additionally, I really enjoyed how Maas was able to portray Feyre as such a strong and capable woman without giving her assassin-like or fate-like abilities. Though I still love Celaena and think she is totally bad ass, it was nice to meet a heroine who wasn't as physically perfect as the ones Maas has created in her other books.

What I didn't like about the book...
Maybe I missed something, but I just don't understand how Feyre could give up so easily near the end. I was so confused when each time she succeeded she was sad and pessimistic instead of happy and hopeful. At that point I kind of stopped cheering her on, which made equally sad and pessimistic.

The only other thing that kind of disappointed me was the riddle. From the second I read it I knew the answer. I wish it would've been more difficult.

This book was amazing. Absolutely amazing. I could probably go on forever about how much I love this book, but I think I've said enough without spoiling it. As for the romance...I was as smitten as the pair themselves. To be totally honest, this book took me longer to read than usual because I kept on having to squeal with delight at the relationship as it evolved. This book made me blush from head to toe and for all the good reasons.
I can't wait until this book comes out so I can get my hands on an actual physical copy. Then after that I guess I just mope around for a year or so until the next one comes out.

I gave this book 5/5 (and then some) stars on Goodreads!
Would I re-read this? Yes! Yes! Yes! A million times yes!
Would I recommend this? Obviously! To everyone!

Favourite scenes/chapters...
Chapter 13
Chapter 15
Chapter 17
Chapter 22
Chapter 25
Chapter 27 (oh lordy)
Chapter 30
Chapter 44
Chapter 45