Month: October 2016 (page 1 of 2)

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi MeadowsMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Published by HarperTeen on June 7th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 494
Goodreads

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

2.5 Stars

When I read the synopsis for My Lady Jane, I mentally immediately filed it under “not my thing”. I don’t really enjoy historical fiction set in the Tudor era and books about royalty are usually a miss as well. Also, all the reviewers described this book as extremely funny; again, not really what I’m normally interested in.

But then more reviews started rolling in and some of my GR friends personally recommended it to me. I got interested and decided I would pick it up whenever I needed something that would put me in a good mood.

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The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Djinni by Helene WeckerThe Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker
Published by Blue Door on April 23rd, 2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Pages: 657
Goodreads

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

Struggling to make their way in 1899 New York, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their immigrant neighbors while masking their true selves. Meeting by chance, they become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Marvelous and compulsively readable, The Golem and the Djinni weaves strands of folk mythology, historical fiction, and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

4 Stars

A newborn creature made of clay.
An ancient creature made of fire.
Meet by chance in the city that never sleeps.

Helene Wecker drew inspiration from Jewish and Middle Eastern mythology to create a beautifully written story of a cautious golem and a reckless djinni who find themselves in a foreign city in 1899 and find solace in each other’s company. The Golem and the Djinni is a tale of solitude, of capture, of finding a place to fit in, and of friendship.

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Monthly Recommendations: Paranormal

monthly-recs

Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group hosted by Trina from Between Chapters and Kayla from Kayla Rayne. This month’s recommendations focus on books featuring paranormal creatures like werewolves, vampires, and demons fitting for the month of Halloween. Chantal and I have compiled a list of books featuring paranormal creatures, spanning across several genres but also paranormal itself. Hopefully it’ll help you discover some new books! Please note that a couple of these are recommended by both Chantal and me. Clicking on the title will lead you to our reviews (if there is one) and the picture to the respective book’s Goodreads page.

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #1
Published by Phoenix Press on October 5th 2005
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 520
Goodreads

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

3 Stars

Hold your tomatoes!

I feel like writing anything negative about this book would be considered some kind of literary treason, but I’m going to do it anyway.

The Shadow of the Wind is an extremely popular book around the world and for good reason. I can see why other people would love it even if I could not.

The story follows a young boy named Daniel, who lives in his father’s bookshop in Barcelona during the 1940s. One day at the age of ten, his father takes Daniel to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where he is allowed pick one book he is expected to “save”, i.e. read and remember throughout his life. Daniel ends up picking The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax and immediately falls in love with the story. From that point onwards we follow Daniel as he grows up and tries to untangle the mystery behind the book and its illusive author. The search turns out to be more dangerous than anyone could have anticipated.

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The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott LynchThe Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Series: Gentlemen Bastards #1
Published by Gollancz on February 1st 2007
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 531
Goodreads

In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean's Eleven, and entirely enthralling.

An orphan's life is harsh — and often short — in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains — a man who is neither blind nor a priest.

A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected "family" of orphans — a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld's most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful — and more ambitious — than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi's most trusted men — and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr's underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game — or die trying...

4 Stars

Did you read Lord of the Thieves when you were a child and have been searching for a book with a similar feel but for an adult audience ever since? Do you have a soft spot for Robin Hood? Well, look no further, because The Lies of Locke Lamora wraps up both with a dark and gritty story in a Venice-inspired world with foul-mouthed thieves, who steal from the rich, who you cannot but fiercely adore.

Not going to lie, this book was hard to get into at first. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a hardcore fantasy, and when I say hardcore, I mean complex and densely packed writing with an overflow of descriptions. I’m also not going to lie about getting the occasional headache from the information-loaded descriptions. And if you know anything about me, you know I usually loathe page-long descriptions without a single dialogue being exchanged for the obvious reason. It seems one can get used to it, after all. Against all odds, Lynch managed to completely captivate me with an enthralling and suspense-packed fantasy with a gang of the most daring badasses of thieves I’ve ever seen.

“Chains used to claim that there’s no freedom quite like the freedom of being constantly underestimated,” said Locke.
“Gods, yes.” Calo rolled his eyes and stuck out his tongue. “If we were any freer we’d float away into the sky and fly like birds.”

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The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi HeiligThe Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Series: The Girl from Everywhere #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on February 16th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 443
Goodreads

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

2 Stars

The blurb of The Girl from Everywhere whispered sweet promises of adventure, navigation-based magic, and the flair of Victorian Hawaii. Unfortunately, only the latter was delivered properly.

The adventure was as absent as my excitement with the plot boring me to tears. The magic system of time travelling was barely explained, which is a technique I used in math tests, too: To avoid making mistakes, I didn’t solve the equation at all, see?

Well, thank God for Kashmir because this charming thief sort of “saved the day” (if 2 stars can be considered a save, that is). Although, I have to admit, if you need boys to pull up a rating, the book really missed its mark by a huge margin.

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The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

The Hero of Ages by Brandon SandersonThe Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Mistborn #3
Published by Gollancz on February 11th 2010
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Goodreads

Tricked into releasing the evil spirit Ruin while attempting to close the Well of Ascension, new emperor Elend Venture and his wife, the assassin Vin, are now hard-pressed to save the world. This adventure brings the Mistborn epic fantasy trilogy to a dramatic and surprising climax as Sanderson's saga offers complex characters and a compelling plot, asking hard questions about loyalty, faith, and responsibility.

4.5 Stars

I saw one of my friends on Goodreads compare Brandon Sanderson to Ruin because he’s a God and has ruined her life. I’d rather say, he ruins you for any other epic fantasy sagas because the Mistborn series is simply incomparable, so beware of this when you start these books. If you have already commenced the series, your emotional ruin awaits.

Of all three books – The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages – I liked this one the least. When it comes to plots, I love heists most, so it’s no wonder I adored the first instalment. The sequel differed from the first one, focusing on building a government rather than destroying one, but I loved the tension of an approaching war, political intrigue, and an increasing number of enemies. And the third one? The characters grow, questions are answered, and my heart was ripped out twice within a book, and yet it cannot quite reach the awesomeness of the previous instalments.

As always, be aware that this review contains massive spoilers for the previous books in the Mistborn series.

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The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

The Well of Ascension by Brandon SandersonThe Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Mistborn #2
Published by Gollancz on December 10th 2009
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 763
Goodreads

The impossible has been accomplished. The Lord Ruler – the man who claimed to be god incarnate and brutally ruled the world for a thousand years – has been vanquished. But Kelsier, the hero who masterminded that triumph, is dead too, and now the awesome task of building a new world has been left to his young protégé, Vin, the former street urchin who is now the most powerful Mistborn in the land, and to the idealistic young nobleman she loves.

As Kelsier’s protégé and slayer of the Lord Ruler she is now venerated by a budding new religion, a distinction that makes her intensely uncomfortable. Even more worrying, the mists have begun behaving strangely since the Lord Ruler died, and seem to harbor a strange vaporous entity that haunts her.

Stopping assassins may keep Vin’s Mistborn skills sharp, but it’s the least of her problems. Luthadel, the largest city of the former empire, doesn’t run itself, and Vin and the other members of Kelsier’s crew, who lead the revolution, must learn a whole new set of practical and political skills to help. It certainly won’t get easier with three armies – one of them composed of ferocious giants – now vying to conquer the city, and no sign of the Lord Ruler’s hidden cache of atium, the rarest and most powerful allomantic metal.

As the siege of Luthadel tightens, an ancient legend seems to offer a glimmer of hope. But even if it really exists, no one knows where to find the Well of Ascension or what manner of power it bestows.

5 Stars

Lord Ruler, I love this squad!

If you haven’t read The Final Empire, do not read on. This review contains massive spoilers for the first book. If you’ve read it, whether you loved or hated it, just  sit back and relish in the awesomeness of this crew. Because though I love Sanderson’s intense plots and his detailed world-building, I would love the Mistborn series only half as much without the addition of engaging, fleshed out characters which I can root for, laugh and cry with, suffer with, and fear and hope for. So, beware: This review is going to be a swoonfest.

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Chantal’s September Wrap Up

folie04September was both a fantastic and an unusual reading month for me. While the average amount of books I read in a month is normally around 4, I ended up reading 11 things in September and most of it I really enjoyed. It was unusual though, because all the books except one are classified as adult while I would consider myself someone who primarily reads YA. However, at the beginning of the year I set out with the goal to diversify my reading (both in terms of diversity within books as well as books of different genres and age groups) and I’m so happy that I’ve been doing so.

So, without further ado, here are the books I read in September (in chronological order):

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Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Passenger by Alexandra BrackenPassenger by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on January 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 486
Goodreads

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.

2.5 Stars

Though Passenger has a mixed-race romance and ancient, exotic settings to offer, the plot and pace were no match for the epic premise. A wonderfully imagined fantasy but its execution was rather lacking. This was only my second audiobook as I’m extremely picky with narrator voices but Saskia Maarleveld did a brilliant job at breathing life into this story and creating distinct characters.

Told from two POVs, the storyline follows Etta Spencer and Nicholas Carter on their search for a lost artefact, jumping through passages of time to other centuries and faraway continents – to WWII London, ancient Angkor Wat, revolutionary Paris, and historical Damascus – on a run against time.

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