Blog Tour Stop: Guest Post + Excerpt: Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes by Keira Gillett (+ Giveaway)

Blog Tour Stop:
Guest Post + Excerpt + Giveaway

Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes

Hi guys! Today I’m bringing you a stop for Keira Gillett‘s Blog Tour for Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes. If you don’t know, I’ve been following Keira’s adventure of Zaria and her friends throughout Norway and I love this trilogy. So when Keira asked me if I wanted to be part of this tour, I immediately accepted!

There’s a guest-post where Keira shares with us some fun facts about the third book in the Zaria Fierce series, an excerpt and a giveaway at the end – keep an eye out on that!

My review for the book can be read here if you want to know what I thought about this last adventure. To be honest, I just highly recommend you pick up these books if you like fantasy, Norwegian folklore (or would like to know), friendship, adventure and magic! And you can download the first book – Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest – on Kindle for FREE till August 9th. Go get your copy here (you won’t regret it, trust me :D)

Zaria3Author: Keira Gillett
Illustrator: Eoghan Kerrigan
Narrator (aubiobook): Michele Carpenter
Release Date: July 1st, 2016
Publisher: Keira Gillett
Pages: 300 (Kindle)
Format: 
Epub
Genre:
 MG | Fantasy | Adventure
Idiom: English
Series: Zaria Fierce #3
Get the Book:

atmbaddbook70x25Amazon

Synopsis

“Nothing can save you now, Princess.”

How can anyone be tricked twice? Isn’t there even a saying about that? Zaria Fierce is determined to get things right this time and with the Drakeland Sword in her possession she’s ready to take on trolls, dragons, and whatever else may come… but first she and her friends are going to have to figure out just how much trouble they’re in at home.

Praise for Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes (Book #3):

“That’s the great thing about the Zaria Fierce trilogy: adventure is fast, furious, and loaded with Norse mythology, but the friendship between Zaria and her group of friends is the heart that drives this story.” Rosemary, Mom Read It

“I think the Zaria Fierce series mixes together all the things that I love about reading fantasy books, there is a sense of good versus evil, strong friendships, dragons, gorgeous illustrations, a captivating world, a perfect middle-grade book for someone looking for an action packed story filled with Norse mythology.” – Brenda, Log Cabin Library

“Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes was a spectacular conclusion to a great trilogy (though the ending left the door open for more adventures). Filled with magic, a great story line, amazing and real characters, wonderful settings and beautifully explored themes, Keira Gillett created a trilogy that I will always cherish and will visit anytime. If you like The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Spiderwick Chronicles or simply love a book filled with Norwegian folklore and fantasy, then this is the ultimate series for you to read, devour and lose yourselves in.” – Ner, A Cup of Coffee and a Book (that’s me guys ^_^)

Guest Post:

10 Fun Facts About Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Shoes:

Good day everyone! My name is Keira Gillett and I’m so glad to be invited back to talk more about the Zaria Fierce Trilogy. Briefly, the trilogy is about a young girl who moves to Norway, meets a troll, and goes on a quest to save her friend. Ner’s asked me to share some facts with you about the final instalment, Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes. I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look. Let’s dive in!

1. The first draft of Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes was completed in eight months on 2/5/2016. According to the document information I spent a total of 3 days 3 hours 3 minutes writing time on the book. How funny is that? I couldn’t have planned that. LOL;

2. The ending sequence in the epilogue is there purely because I have amazing beta readers who demanded more from me and the books than where I had originally left it. They wanted more and on reread I agreed, so I gave it to them. The final result? They were so right!! The book is so much better;

3. The Gjallarbrú Bridge in folklore is a covered bridge with a gold roof. If you’ve been to Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, Switzerland the bridge will feel familiar to you. Crossing the water is a beautiful covered bridge and it was my inspiration for the bridge in the book.

4. I wrote Hector’s scene down in the Under Realm before anything else in book three. About halfway through the book I jumped ahead again and wrote half of Zaria’s encounter with Koll. These scenes just demanded to be written and wouldn’t wait their turn!;

5. The palace grounds for the Under Realm are based on a real place, called Uranienborg Castle. The grounds are shaped like a quatrefoil, which coincidentally is also one of my sorority’s symbols. It’s super fancy looking with four circles and a large central diamond. It was a no-brainer to add it into the books;

6. I’ve actually tried cloudberry preserves. The description Zaria applies to them in the book is exactly how I think they taste. I’m glad I didn’t go with the flavors others were ascribing to them on the web, because I didn’t think it tasted that way at all. Of course, maybe that’s the difference between eating them fresh in the field and eating a preserve. I found that they’re very mild for a berry. I’m also told that it’s great served warm on vanilla ice cream. Have you tried it?

7. My dog Oskar was a big help although we both didn’t know it at the time. His behavior and personality inspired pint-sized Vingar’s behavior and personality. If you knew my dog, you would agree. I saw it clearly during the edits and added a few more antics to seal the deal. He’s a cheeky fellow – playful and mischievous.

8. 16 gorgeous illustrations are in the third book, just like the first two books. Eoghan actually did 18 drawings, two each of Granny and Hector. I thought all four drawings were great! I had a tough time choosing the version for each character that would be in the book. The Granny I picked reminds me of my cousin’s grandma with her apple cheeks and sweet smile. I absolutely adore them both.

9. Michele Carpenter is finishing her narration of the third book. I got to hear a preview with Granny. LOVED IT. Her voice is perfect and cracks me up every time I hear it;

10. Michele also told me she started a new process to keep track of all the voices she’s using for the series so she’d be able to draw upon them again quickly for this book and the next books in the series. I think that’s so cool, and yes, that does mean there are more books coming! Yay! The next books focus on Aleks Mickelsen, but all our favorite characters will be back.

Thanks for having me! This was great! If you stick around there’s giveaway information at the end! One lucky person has a chance to win a Zaria Fierce audiobook package.

Thank you so much Keira. I loved knowing all these facts about book 3; it makes the reading experience far more interesting when knowing certain details about how the author wrote it. Am I right fellow readers?!

Also, the bridge in Lake Lucerne looks so beautiful – adding it to my endless list of places to visit. And your dog is the cutest; can I adopt him?! 😉

Excerpt:

Hector was right that the group wasn’t far from Malmdor. They reached the entrance before night fell, and in the gloomy dusk that slipped around them like a cloak, they reached the edge of the forest and stopped. Below them in a wide clearing was an abandoned quarry filled with water.

The lake was nestled at the bottom of a deep, steep pit. Its deep blue water was smooth and glassy, protected from wind by the rocky walls and surrounding forest. Zaria could see the lakebed in the shallower areas. Something large swam in the center, too deep to see clearly.

“What is that?” asked Filip, having spotted the creature at the same time.

Hector said, “It’s a water-wyvern.”

“Is that like the Loch Ness Monster?” asked Christoffer. “Cool. No wonder they can’t find it in Scotland.”

“You haven’t seen a winter-wyvern,” Zaria said. “I bet it’s more like Norwick.”

“The flying snow leopard-bear-bat thing you told me about? Even better,” Christoffer said, rubbing his hands together in glee. “Do we get to meet it?”

“Is it friendly?” worried Geirr.

“The beastie is not friendly,” said Hector, grimly. “And yes, we will be meeting it. Water-wyverns are wild, unpredictable creatures. This one is particularly nasty. It was captured and transported to this quarry lake over a century ago. It can’t escape – water-wyverns aren’t able to live out of water for very long. This makes it very angry. The lake is too small for him.”

“That’s what I was afraid of,” Geirr said, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “So, can it eat us?”

Hector nodded. “It once devoured an entire legion of dwarf handlers because they smelled bad. They’ve showered regularly ever since.”

Geirr looked at Zaria. “Why?” he moaned. “Why do we have to meet it?”

“Look on the bright side, mate,” Filip said, clapping Geirr on the back. “Maybe we get to ride it.”

Hector shook his head. “The water-wyvern is the guardian of Malmdor. Its job is to keep out all trespassers.”

Christoffer sighed, disappointed. “Too bad. I would have loved to ride him.”

“Will we have to feed it to get by it? What does a water-wyvern eat?” Aleks asked, readjusting his backpack and bow.

“It eats whatever it can catch,” Hector said forebodingly. “We’ll have to be careful as we near the shoreline. A water-wyvern might not have much in the way of limbs, being adapted to the water, but it has enough leg-power to propel itself onto the shore and attack.”

“At least it can’t fly,” said Geirr, relieved. “Small favors.”

Zaria and her friends gasped as it breached the surface, blowing out a large stream of air. The water-wyvern was magnificent with a gray-and-white pattern. It had a seahorse face, with a long snout, and no ears. The top of its head bore a wavy crest that trailed down its neck.

As the creature dove beneath the water, it flipped its body into the air. There were no scales anywhere on it, as far as she could see. Zaria half-expected a whale fluke, but its tail looked like an eel’s. The thing was massive, at least four times bigger than Norwick, and hideous.

They stood there, watching the shifting, undulating, shadow in the water. Aleks wore a pensive frown, his brown eyes narrowed. “Does it have a name?”

“The dwarves call it Vingar.”

Giveaway:

One lucky winner will win a Zaria Fierce Audible Package (codes for the first two books) – INT (Ends: 14th August)

Rafflectoper Logo

Good luck everyone 🙂

About:

Keira Gillett (Author):

Keira_Gillett_Author_2Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author.

She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting.

From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader.

Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest 

Eoghan Kerrigan (Illustrator):

Eoghan_Kerrigan_Illustrator_1Eoghan Kerrigan is an illustrator from Kildare, Ireland who draws primarily fantasy characters and creatures.

He studied illustration in Ballyfermot College of Further Education and has produced work for various independent projects.

He has two cats and a soft spot for trolls.

Website Twitter | Facebook

Michele Carpenter (Narrator):

Michele_Carpenter_Narrator_2Michele Carpenter is an artist at heart, with a passion for acting.

She and her husband (also a voice actor) often work on projects together and help one another through the journey.

Together, they have three kids. Michele’s children love to hear her read stories and beg her to edit her narrations in the same room with them so they can listen too.

It’s partially for this reason that Michele has come to feel a personal responsibility to only record books that aren’t inappropriate for children or young adults–at their respective age levels and according to the maturity levels of the books they’re able to read.

“We never know how long we have on this earth and I’d rather leave behind a legacy of books that I’m not ashamed to have my friends, family and even future grandchildren, listen to forever.”

Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube
Ner

Review: Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye

NER REVIEWS (warrenthe13th)

Spinning Starlight

Author: Tania del Rio
Illustrator: Will Staehle
Release Date: November 24th, 2015
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 224 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 MG | Fantasy | Adventure
Idiom: English
Series: Warren the 13th
Read: from October 22 to 24, 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781594748035
(Hardcover)
Cups:
4 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

Meet Warren the 13th, a cursed 12-year-old Victorian bellhop who’s terribly unlucky . . . yet perpetually optimistic, hard-working, and curious. Orphan Warren’s pride and joy is his family’s hotel, but he’s been miserable ever since his evil Aunt Anaconda took over the management. Anaconda believes a mysterious treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye is hidden somewhere on the grounds, and she’ll do anything to find it. If Warren wants to preserve his family’s legacy, he’ll need to find the treasure first—if the hotel’s many strange and wacky guests don’t beat him to it! This middle-grade adventure features gorgeous two-color illustrations on every page and a lavish two-column Victorian design that will pull young readers into a spooky and delightful mystery.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Quirk Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye was simply an adorable tale about optimism, being true to one-self and friendship. Accompanied by beautiful illustrations, this is a very easy-going book for pretty much all ages. It has you hook since page one to find out more about not only Warren himself but also about the adventure he’s soon to be faced with.

Warren is the 13th in line in to run his family’s hotel. Unfortunately for him, his uncle married and his life has been pretty much a misery since then. But his optimism and his genuinely happy personality keeps his days bright and always ready for what’s about to come. When his aunt begins to search for the All-Seeing Eye, something that legend says contains much power, he’s thrown into an adventure that will change his life forever.

I received a digital ARC (advance readers copy) of this book through NetGalley and some of the illustrations towards the end of the book were incomplete. A shame, really, because one of the positive things about this book are exactly the illustrations. They are gorgeous and fit the story rather well. The ones I was lucky enough to have seen, gave us a pretty insight of the settings that the author wished to create. I admit that one of the main reasons I requested this book were exactly the illustrations that reminded me of Tim Burton’s movies. Take a look:

Warren_1 Warren_2

Warren was an amazing character to met and read about. His development was also one of the positive points in the story and his voice was down-to-earth and it flew with the story. In the beginning he’s this sort of lonely, shy, little boy that soon grows into a very special character that is the heart of the whole story.

There were funny moments to the plot, others that border the creepy (not too much though), there was magic, witches, friendship, strange creatures and a hotel. All this set in the Victorian period which makes everything much, for the lack of a better word, cooler. 

The mystery surrounding this strange object called the All-Seeing Eye and its search makes the story much more interesting. In the end I admit I was surprised with what it turned out to be and that was one major positive thing. It wasn’t that predictable and wanting to know exactly what this so call powerful object is all about, is one of the main things that grabs your attention.

Overall, I think Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye was an excellent story with a great main character, a unpredictable mystery and adventure that will definitely be the delight of pretty much everyone. Add the beautiful Burton-ish illustrations, and you have a book that is easy to read and makes you simply feel optimistic, even if it’s just Warren’s contagious spirit.

Ner

Blog Tour Stop: Review + Guest Post + Excerpt: Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword by Keira Gillett

Blog Tour Stop:
Review + Guest Post + Excerpt

Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword

ZariaAuthor: Keira Gillett
Illustrator: Eoghan Kerrigan
Narrator (aubiobook): Michele Carpenter
Release Date: November 6th, 2015
Publisher: Keira Gillett
Pages: 270 (Paperback)
Format: 
Epub
Genre:
 MG | Fantasy | Adventure
Idiom: English
Series: Zaria Fierce #2
Read: from November 1 to 5, 2015
Source: Author | Kobo
ISBN: 9781942750031
Rating:
4cups1

Get the Book:
Amazon (e-book) | Amazon (print)
atmbaddbook70x25

Synopsis

Princess, you are needed.

If Zaria Fierce had her say, being a princess would mean you’d never have to wait for news. In the eight months since Olaf tricked her, Zaria has felt a near constant mixture of restlessness, listlessness, and hopelessness. When the time comes to fix past mistakes, she is more than ready to climb aboard the ship sailing towards the giants. Summertime in Norway promises many more adventures, but also many more perils… something sinister lurks beneath the surface following her every move, haunting her, disturbing her dreams, and stealing her peace. Can Zaria figure out what it is and stop it before it’s too late?

NER REVIEWS

Disclaimer: Thank you again Keira Gillett for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I was honoured to be invited by Keira Gillett to be part of her debut book blog tour, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, a fantastic book set on the Scandinavian folklore. It was a delightful book with beautiful illustrations and a story that had me hooked. The sequel is just as good as the first one, perhaps better and I’m so happy to be part of Keira Gillett‘s Blog Tour for Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword.

This sequel happens a few months after the events of the first book and Zaria and her friends are of to try to find a sword that will help them rescue Hart. One of the things I found amazing was the fact that the characters developed a great deal since the first book. I found them quite mature and definitely determined and loyal. Their friendship is something quite remarkable to read and Keira did an amazing job portraying each individual character. I had previously adored them all but in this book I became truly connected with them.

In this second book the friends and Hector travel through various different realms in search of this enchanted sword. I loved reading about these magical realms. The Norwegian folklore and lore are really present in these books, the fairytale side of Northern Europe simply giving the story a remarkable side that is unique. I’m beginning to get really interested in the Norwegian folklore because it’s so rich and so vast. Simply wonderful and Keira really knows how to transport it into her stories.

I liked having the opportunity to met new characters and go even deeper into the story. We slowly begin to unfold several things that were not explained in the first book. The pieces of the puzzle are fitting together and it only makes me super excited about the third book. I admit that I created a bond with these characters and with the story that can only be explained by recommending you the book.

Of course that Eoghan Kerrigan did a fantastic job with the illustrations again. They makes us not only visualise the story, but they also make the story real and alive, to me at least. I adore books with illustrations. Check them out:

zaria2chapter5b zaria2chapter6

I loved how he portrayed Mrs. Brown, a character I hope to get to read more about in the continuation.

In my opinion, I think Keira‘s writing in this book also developed. Her descriptions of not only the characters and their feelings but also of the setting was more detailed and, in a way, more beautiful. Just like the characters and the story are growing, her writing is also becoming quite amazing.

I congratulate Keira Gillett because her series only gets better. Not only are the characters growing with their adventures as we are as readers. As I mentioned on my previous review, this is definitely a story worth sharing with our family. And if I had previously said that this series was a delight to Narnia and Spiderwick fans,I will consider The Enchanted Drakeland Sword as a potential children’s version of The Lord of the Rings.

PS – just a side note: my blog is quoted on this book. Thank you so much Keira Gillett for such an honour ❤

Guest Post:

Magical Norway by Keira Gillett:

Hi everyone! I’m so grateful to be back at Ner’s wonderful blog. My name is Keira Gillett and I just published my second novel in the Zaria Fierce Trilogy. The trilogy is about a thirteen year old American girl who is transplanted to Norway and encounters the magical world when a river-troll kidnaps her best friend.

I love the world of Zaria Fierce, which crisscrosses all over Norway. In Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword, Zaria and her friends learn more about the magical realms hidden from human view. There are so many things to see, to do, and to discover. I thought I would give a brief description of each of the places Zaria and her friends have visited or heard about in the course of their travels.

Nicer map of #ZariaFierce world with glimpses into the adventure that is book two.

A post shared by Keira Gillett (@keiragillett) on

Glomma – The Glomma is a river that bisects the city of Fredrikstad and is the home of a nasty river-troll named Olaf. It was somewhere along this river where Christoffer was held captive in Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest.

Trolgar – The mountain-troll kingdom is hidden from humans. It lies deep underground and is formed from the cave system. The Wild Hunt is a tradition amongst these trolls. Don’t give them a reason to call one on you.

Álfheim – This royal city is home of the elves. They’re located north of Trolgar and near their allies, the ellefolken. The city is built into the trees themselves and the walkways look like spun spider webs. They’re masters of illusions, so who knows exactly what trickery they’ve done to keep humans out.

Under Realm – Not to be confused with the underworld, this magical void was the result of a great collaboration to imprison the dragons of the world. Why dragons? Because they are truly terrible and evil beings.

Jötunheim Is the region at the top of Norway where the sharp eyed observer can spot a giant. There are five tribes, three of which reside in Norway’s borders, the greatest of which is the Seiland Court. The other two Norwegian tribes are located even more northerly and touch the borders of Niffleheim and Jerndor.

Niffleheim – Once upon a time Niffleheim was connected in many places to the world, but after the Vikings and the Dragomir Wars they cut off the world, except directly over their territory.

Jerndor – As the High Court of the Dwarves, Jerndor is a gem of a city located just shy of Vadsø. They work closely with the southern dwarf society known as Malmdor to produce magical items from a special ore.

Malmdor – Not a very nice group of dwarves, they use slaves to run their mighty forges and furnaces. They also equipped a certain river-troll with chains to capture a young prince of the ellefolken.

To learn more about these magical kingdoms read Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest and Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword. Or check out my website.

Which kingdom is your favorite?

Thank you so much Keira for this amazing post about these wonderful places. It was one of my favourite things in this book to know these realms. Jötunheim and Niffleheim are two places I would love to see for real but I have a great attraction for the Under Realm… I blame the epic darkness 🙂

Excerpt:

Filip slung his window open and tossed out his backpack. It landed in a thump in the hedgerow. Aleks pulled it out and slung it over his shoulder with his own bag.

“How’re you getting down?”

“Hopefully with your stargazer.”

“Then why toss down your bag?” Aleks asked, exasperated.

“Just in case,” Filip said with a wink at Zaria.

She suppressed a smile. She looked to the others, “Does anybody have rope?”

Aleks and Geirr both nodded. Then Geirr unzipped his bag and pulled out a neat coil from on top. He tossed it to Filip, who snatched it up as it sailed by the window. He disappeared into his bedroom and reappeared moments later slinging the coil out the window. It unraveled to the ground.

“Good,” Filip said briskly. “It’s long enough. Now let’s see if it holds.”

Filip quickly scaled the side of the house and they gathered their belongings preparing to dash. Without warning, Mrs. Storstrand stuck her head out of a bottom window and shrieked at the sight of them.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.

“Run!” Filip shouted, grabbing his friends’ sleeves and rushing for the street.

Aleks cursed and threw Filip his backpack while slinging his own around to the front and unzipping a pocket. He looked frazzled as he dug inside the opening. Mrs. Storstrand was quick. She was already out of the house and chasing after them. She threatened life and limb and the most terrible of all – letting Filip’s father know what he was about.

At last Aleks found the stargazer – a shiny purplish egg-shaped object perforated with stars – and almost dropped it in his haste. After a brief fumble, Aleks located the largest star, and hastily jabbed his finger into the hole. Just like that, Mrs. Storstrand froze mid-run. But so too did Christoffer, Filip, and Geirr.

Aleks looked at Zaria and to the others. “Damn,” he hissed. “Wait! How are you not frozen too?”

About:

Keira Gillett (Author):

Keira_Gillett_Author_2Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author.

She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting.

From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader.

Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest 

Eoghan Kerrigan (Illustrator):

Eoghan_Kerrigan_Illustrator_1Eoghan Kerrigan is an illustrator from Kildare, Ireland who draws primarily fantasy characters and creatures.

He studied illustration in Ballyfermot College of Further Education and has produced work for various independent projects.

He has two cats and a soft spot for trolls.

Website Twitter | Facebook

Michele Carpenter (Narrator):

Michele_Carpenter_Narrator_2Michele Carpenter is an artist at heart, with a passion for acting.

She and her husband (also a voice actor) often work on projects together and help one another through the journey.

Together, they have three kids. Michele’s children love to hear her read stories and beg her to edit her narrations in the same room with them so they can listen too.

It’s partially for this reason that Michele has come to feel a personal responsibility to only record books that aren’t inappropriate for children or young adults–at their respective age levels and according to the maturity levels of the books they’re able to read.

“We never know how long we have on this earth and I’d rather leave behind a legacy of books that I’m not ashamed to have my friends, family and even future grandchildren, listen to forever.”

Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube
Ner

Review: Never Never

NER REVIEWS (nevernever)

Spinning Starlight

Author: Brianna R. Shrum
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 368 (epub)
Format: epub
Genre:
 YA | Retelling | Adventure
Idiom: English
Series: —
Read: from September 26 to October 5, 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781633920392
(Paperback)
Cups:
3 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child – at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

But grow up he does.

And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Spencer Hill Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Peter Pan is one of my ultimate favourite classics. It’s a book that changed my point-of-view towards growing up and kept my belief in magic and fairies alive when everything seemed to fade due to the cruelty of reality. And, as a person who enjoys pirates, I always had a soft spot for Captain Hook. Who doesn’t? So, when I found out about Never Never, I had to try to get it and read yet another background story of this rather misunderstood pirate.

Truth is, Never Never was a quite decent read. I liked it, really enjoyed it but didn’t loved it that much. It’s a funny and entertaining book about this amazing character but it kind of lacked depth.

In this book, a young James Hook leaves his ordinary life in London to spend a few days holiday in Neverland with none other than Peter Pan. But he’s tricked by Pan and he eventually spends more than a few days there… he spends a few years. He’s a member of the Lost Boys but never quite fitted in and ends up growing up and being thrown out by Pan. Since a child he dreamt of becoming a pirate so that’s exactly what he truly becomes: the fearsome and famous Captain Hook.

Though this book gives us a new insight of the endless possibilities of what Captain Hook’s background story was like, it was quite different from the previous retellings I’ve read so far. In here, Hook’s sense of revenge is what triggers his hatred for Peter Pan. He was tricked as a child and he was left in this world made of children’s dream and all he wishes is to return to London, to his life and family.

James Hook was a rather nice character to read about but I found him lacking something. I cared enough for him to wish that he would return to London but didn’t love him that much. Contrary to other Captain Hook’s characters I came across, this one didn’t exactly filled my expectations. However, his development was nicely done and it flew with the story.

Peter Pan was simply a douche (pardon my language)! I mean, we all know that Peter Pan has never been the best character in the world and in literature what with his eternal arrogance and childlike manners. But in this book Brianna Shrum created a character that we have no sympathy towards whatsoever. We actually end up hating him so much we wish Hook would really kill him. 

Tiger Lily was the love interest of Hook since he first arrived in Neverland as a child. His crush developed into something like a deep passion. I have to honest, it didn’t bother me at all this small twist in the story. However, it did bother me the fact that I didn’t like Tiger Lily’s character at all. Specially towards the end. She had all these conflicts inside her that I ended up not even caring about her. I felt that she didn’t deserve Hook’s affection, her girly attitude and endless inner struggles just made me get tired of her.

The writing was easy to read and it flew with the story. Brianna Shrum managed to write Hook’s growth in a way that was solid and fluid. His character was very well development and the way his feelings were written were rather beautiful to read. She really does have a talent to describe inner turmoil and feelings. 

I found, however, the end of the book rather rushed though it does feature one of my favourite quotes ever. It didn’t exactly felt like an ending but rather like a cliffhanger. There wasn’t an actual closure for me in the last chapter.

This was a rather entertaining and fun reading overall. Never Never was a really nice retelling of an endless classic with characters we are familiar with (the Darlings do make an appearance towards the end) and a new way to see this story with new eyes.

Ner

Review: Vengeance Road

NER REVIEWS (vengeanceroad)

Spinning Starlight

Author: Erin Bowman
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Western | Adventure
Idiom: English
Series: —
Read: from September 21 to 25, 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9780544466388
(Hardcover)
Cups:
4 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

Revenge is worth its weight in gold.

When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice. What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books Group for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For my first western book, I really liked it. It might have opened my appetite for more books within this genre which is always a positive thing. When you read a book out of your comfort zone and it surprises you in a positive way, it’s always a wonderful feeling.

Vengeance Road is the story of Kate whose father is murdered and whose thirst for revenge is bigger than anything else in the world. She sets this quest to find the person responsible for her father’s death and doesn’t think twice about her own safety. Until she comes across these two brothers who struck a deal with her and together they venture out seeking this murderer.

Kate was an amazing character to read. She’s definitely a kick-ass heroin, filled with bravery though a little stubborn at times. She’s very determined and knows exactly what she wants. Though there were moments when I felt she was being too selfish and reckless, her eagerness for justice made up for every flaw she had. 

Jesse and William were simply adorable. William brought the kind of comic relief the plot needed and Jesse gave the story that mature, less focused on vengeance point-of-view that Kate sometimes missed. The brothers were complete opposites but they filled the story as a whole.

The pace of the book is simply non-stop. As soon as the action begins, you can’t stop reading because you’re too hooked in it. The writing also helped since it was indeed written as I imagine western people would talk. That added an element of credibility to the story that made it even the more wonderful. Though Western movies are not my favourite genre, I couldn’t help but visualise those scenarios we are all so used to identify with this type of story.

There was a twist at the end of the book I surely did not see coming until the right moment. Though the whole mine and gold sub-plot gave the book the well deserved western-ish vibe to it, the main point of this story is vengeance and how far a person can go to seek the right kind of justice, a personal vendetta that Kate has to go through in order to be able to live freely.

Vengeance Road is definitely one of my favourites of the year. With amazing characters that go stronger with each page you turn, a writing style that makes you feel your within the story and a plot that hooks you straight away from the beginning, this book is addictive and captivating. Erin Bowman opened the door for the western genre within the YA community!

Ner

Review: A Thousand Nights

NER REVIEWS (athousandnights)

Spinning Starlight

Author: E.K. Johnston
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Fantasy | Romance
Idiom: English
Series: —
Read: from September 8 to 21, 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781484722275
(Paperback)
Cups:
25 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion/Disney Book Group for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I had a hard time rating this book. Why? Well, I had mixed feelings while reading and even after finishing it. The story was solid and beautiful, but there was something in it that didn’t convinced me that much.

A Thousand Nights is a retelling of the famous book One Thousand and One Nights, the story of Scheherazade and how she managed to stay alive by telling stories for that amount of time. I’ve never read the tales that compose the original source but I know the bases of it and have seen some adaptations. So, when I saw this book and read the premise, I immediately had to get my hands on it.

First of all, I didn’t exactly connected with the main character. I found her voice slightly robotic, too stoic and I had troubles focusing on her story. Her storytelling wasn’t exactly captivating to me, even though I managed to get into her voice towards the end. However, I did enjoyed the writing style which pretty much reminded me of an ancient tale. It’s just that the style didn’t matched the character.  

Second, there is one particular thing that made me slightly angry with this book. I don’t know about you but I need names! I need a name so I can call the characters, to feel that connection with them. No name to me means no link and in this book we only know a couple of names and none of them is the main character’s one. I know, stupid thing to be annoyed at. But it’s true.

Regardless of those points, this was a very beautiful story about bravery and placing the others above ourselves. The main character sacrificed herself to protect her sister from being one of the hundreds of girls murdered by the king. She would rather be the one killed at his hands than her sister and that was the beauty of the story for me.

The setting was delicious to read about. The desert, the villages, the palace, the culture. It was amazing. In my mind the whole scenery was rich and filled with colour.

There wasn’t an actual romance in this book but I couldn’t help but root for a sparkle. Specially when the main character decided to try to break whatever magic was surrounding Lo-Melkhiin (the only character with a name). 

Now, I didn’t particularly enjoyed the ending. The desert “fight” was actually pretty amazing but the aftermath was slightly anti-climax.

Overall, A Thousand Nights was a different tale with a beautiful writing style but it did not conquered me that much unfortunately.

Ner

Review: Gathering Deep

NER REVIEWS (GatheringDeep)

Spinning Starlight

Author: Lisa Maxwell
Release Date: October 8th, 2015
Publisher: Flux
Pages: 336 (Paperback)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Fantasy | Witches
Idiom: English
Series: Sweet Unrest #2
Read: from August 25 to September 2, 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9780738745428
(Paperback)
Cups:
3 Cups
Amazon

Synopsis

When Chloe Sabourin wakes in a dark, New Orleans cemetery with no memory of the previous days, she can hardly believe the story her friends tell her. They say Chloe was possessed by a witch named Thisbe, who had used the darkest magic to keep herself alive for over a century. They tell her that the witch is the one responsible for the unspeakable murders that nearly claimed the life of Chloe’s friend, Lucy. Most unbelievable of all, they say that Thisbe is Chloe’s own mother. As she struggles with this devastating revelation and tries to rebuilt her life, Chloe wants nothing to do with the magic that corrupted her mother…especially since she feels drawn to it.

Now, a new series of ritualistic killings suggests that Thisbe is plotting again, and Chloe is drawn unwillingly back into the mystical underworld of the French Quarter. To stop Thisbe before she kills again, Chloe and her friends must learn what they can from the mysterious Mama Legba. But when her boyfriend Piers vanishes, Chloe will have to risk everything and embrace her own power to save the one person she has left… even if that means bringing down her mother.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Flux for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sweet Unrest was one of my favourite books from last year. I loved it so much I had to get Lisa Maxwell as a guest-post for my read-a-thon. I was so happy when she accepted my invitation I was simply over the moon. If you haven’t seen her guest-post, check out her places to visit in New Orleans here.

I was surprised when I realised that Gathering Deep worked as a sequel to Sweet Unrest but through another character’s perpective. Whereas in Sweet Unrest we met Lucy and read her story, now we got the chance to meet Chloe deeper, to know her side of the story. Though it was an interesting point-of-view, Chloe didn’t convinced me as much as Lucy had done in the previous book.

Actually, Gathering Deep was not my favourite book in this series. And I truly blame on the short period of time the book is set and also Chloe. I mean, Chloe was a great character, but her voice didn’t touched me as much as Lucy’s. A pity really since having the opportunity to read Chloe’s version had me super excited.

In Gathering Deep we pick up after the events of Sweet Unrest. Chloe had been possessed by a spirit called Thibe who was in fact her own mother. She doesn’t remember anything at all and she struggles with it. Not to mention that the fact that all her reality becomes shattered with the discoveries of her mother’s dark side. And while Chloe has to deal with that, she realises that something supernatural is happening to her and when bodies with strange markings begin to appear in New Orleans, she suspects that her mother might be behind it.

Chloe was a character I had previously enjoyed and had actually hoped to know more about her. Unfortunately, there was something lacking in her character in this book, something that didn’t feel right about her perspective. Of course that in the beginning of the book we are too sympathetic towards her due to the fact that she doesn’t remember what happened. But that sympathy soon changes and I found myself struggling with her character. There were moments when she was so confused, that she was so uncertain about what to do that I got tired. However, her determination was something I did in fact enjoy. Not to mention the fact that she would place others before her. I liked that trait in her. 

Her relationship with her boyfriend, Piers, changed so suddenly from the first book and we owe it to the events of Sweet Unrest and Chloe’s confusion. She kind of treats him slightly bad in the begin, feeling that he’s being too protective. I found that she did not understand how much he cared for her. And that nagged me a little bit. Plus, the possible love-triangle in the book (though I’m totally fine with triangles) felt slightly forced and unnecessary. I’m still hoping for another sort of development towards this particular part of the story and if there’s another sequel/companion, I hope to see Piers and Chloe’s old sparkle back.

The visions that Chloe had were, for me, the best part of the book. I loved reading them. The fact that we got to know so much more about Thisbe and Roman was amazing and I wanted more. I’m hoping for some sort of novella or even a specific book about Thisbe’s past. 

Of course that the writing, the story and the setting were simply amazing. Lisa Maxwell really knows how to make you feel the creepiness crawl under your skin with just a few words. The way she describes pretty much everything is beautiful and I’ve never been so curious about visiting New Orleans as I am now thanks to her books. 

Overall, Gathering Deep works fine as a companion novel to Sweet Unrest but for me it didn’t reach the same level as the first book. Maybe it was the whole amnesia that Chloe suffered and the fact that book happens in a couple of days. I felt it slightly rushed. Still, a nice book for those who continue to wish a great Voodoo story set in the South with creepy tales and supernatural elements.

Ner

Review: Twilight Visitor [+ Giveaway]

NER REVIEWS (TwilightVisitor)

TwilightVisitor

Author: Réal Laplaine
Release Date: August 27th, 2014
Publisher: Netherworld Books
Pages: 216 (Paperback)
Format: Papaerback
Genre:
 Thriller | Sci-Fi
Idiom: English
Series: —
Read: from September 3 to 8, 2015
Source & Shelf: Sent by Author | Own
ISBN: 9781910105238
(Paperback)
Cups:
35 Cups
Amazon

Synopsis

On a secluded stretch of beach girding the idyllic coastal town of Afife, Portugal, sits a lonely man enduring the harsh and blustery winds, hoping to escape the tragic reality of his mediocre life. His solitude is broken by the appearance of a strangely beautiful and mysterious woman who engages him in a bizarre dialogue. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a global crisis erupts, quickly mushrooming in just 24-hours into a worldwide event which threatens the very survival of all mankind. Mateus Cordozo has no idea that his dysfunctional life is about to radically change, and that this woman is in fact leading him down a road which will challenge his core values as he faces the crisis – one which he has the power to prevent, if he chooses to.

“Twilight Visitor is an international thriller, with a complicated, intense plot and colourful characters. Its elegant prose, rich with original metaphors and succinct descriptions, creates an illusion of dazzling sceneries, almost palpable components of reality, and suspense, deftly mixed with philosophical and political dilemmas of contemporary life. The excitement of reading it ends only on the last page.” Alex Markman Author of Contra-ODESSA

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you Réal Laplaine for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Twilight Visitor was a rather surprising book. I was sent this book by the author himself and one of the main reasons I accepted it was the fact that part of the book is set in Portugal AND that one of the main characters is indeed Portuguese. I was rather curious to read a geopolitical thriller with a Portuguese character since this sort of books normally focus on the American hero.

Twilight Visitor is a thriller, a geopolitical book with a sci-fi twist. Yes, I know, not my normal genre of book to read but sometimes it feels rather enlightening to step out of our comfort zone and read something different. Though politics and myself don’t get along that well, I found the way that Réal Laplaine explained it simply beautiful and very simple, easy to understand.

The best way to resume this book is simply to say that this deals with the human worry of a possible World War Three happening due to the lack of natural resources. Let’s be honest, I think we all are terrified of a possible nuclear war in the future, a war that might happen for different reasons but all connected to the same thing. At least I know I am.

The Portuguese character is called Mateus and is spending time in Afife, in the Portuguese coast. I myself admit never having been there before but now I am slightly curious. He is an important piece of the puzzle to solve the worldwide crises and China from attacking further and to stop the incoming war. 

The writing style of Twilight Visitor was really well done. I found that the prose fluid smoothly and Laplaine has a way of explaining things that are quite, as I mentioned, simple yet with this beauty to yet that is almost hypnotic. I admit that one of main reasons I enjoyed this book that much was the writing.

This book is not centred on Mateus though but on all the political people involved in this war theatre happening. We can read the struggle of an American President with the decision to whether help Iran or to let China attack innocent people; of China’s leader cruel intentions of rescuing resources for his own country; of important figures worldwide trying to decide what to do in this moment of darkness. And there were also chapters which presented us innocent people in the middle of all of this who can’t escape fate. The countdown to the inevitable end was told like this, switching from one point-of-view to the other and that had me on the edge.  

I dare say that I was only slightly disappointed with Mateus role in all of this. I guess I was expecting him to have one of those super-heroes roles where he travels the world to stop the war. Instead he spends most of the book in Afife contemplating what to do since he was told that only him could save Earth.

Also, I have to be honest and say that despite the fact that Mateus is the great hero in the end (despite it all), he didn’t do it all alone and that small detail kind of disappointed me slightly. Even though that sci-fi twist gave this book an element of intensity and explained a few things, I found it slightly far-stretched. The fact that Mateus needed the help of a certain character (seriously, I was surprised about this twist and I’m not spilling the beans) kind of erased his credibility as an engineer. Still, I really enjoyed that character quite a lot and I think that together they could be a nice duo in future stories.  

Overall Twilight Visitor was a captivating book that deals with a current fear that the whole world feels with a slice of sci-fi thrown into it. The writing style, the characters that were strong and human enough to make the story believable and the heart-pounding thriller countdown to know how is the world to stop an upcoming war was the best thing about this book. If you like books with politics, the constant survival of the human race then this book is for you.

Giveaway Time:

Réal Laplaine was kind enough to provide a giveaway to accompany this review. There are five (5) paperback copies and five (5) ebook copies of this book up for grabs here on A Cup of Coffee & a Book. All you have to do is fill the Rafflecopter and fingers crossed you win it.
INT – ends October 31st.

Rafflectoper Logo

Good luck everyone 😉

Ner

Review: Witch Hunter

NER REVIEWS (1)

Spinning Starlight

Authors: Virginia Boecker
Release Date: September 21st, 2015 (originally June 2015)
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 409 (Paperback)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Fantasy | Witches
Idiom: English
Series: The Witch Hunter #1
Read: from August 14 to 19, 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781408335222
(Paperback)
Cups:
5 Cups
Amazon

Synopsis

Witches, watch out… Half Bad meets Kill Bill in this incredible new supernatural series.

Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Grey doesn’t look dangerous. A tiny, blonde, wisp of a girl shouldn’t know how to poison a wizard and make it look like an accident. Or take out ten necromancers with a single sword and a bag of salt. Or kill a man using only her thumb. But things are not always as they appear. Elizabeth is one of the best witch hunters in Anglia and a member of the king’s elite guard, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and bringing those who practice it to justice. And in Anglia, the price of justice is high: death by burning.

When Elizabeth is accused of being a witch herself, she’s arrested and thrown in prison. The king declares her a traitor and her life is all but forfeit. With just hours before she’s to die at the stake, Elizabeth gets a visitor – Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in Anglia. He offers her a deal: he will free her from prison and save her from execution if she will track down the wizard who laid a deadly curse on him.

As Elizabeth uncovers the horrifying facts about Nicholas’s curse and the unwitting role she played in its creation, she is forced to redefine the differences between right and wrong, friends and enemies, love and hate… and life and death.

The first book in an incredible new series set in a fantastical medieval world.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Hachette Children’s Books/Orchard Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was simply amazing! I had slightly high hopes for Witch Hunter and, guess what? It didn’t disappoint me! Not one bit! Actually, it was so much better than what I had expected.

Witch Hunter is about Elizabeth Grey, one of the best witch hunters in the realm. She’s sent to jail for a “misunderstanding” and ends up being saved by the most wanted wizard in the world. She has to help him in order to get her freedom but she’s then faced with secrets she never thought to be real and her all perspective on witches and magic begins to change.

If you are expecting a kick-butt book filled with amazing characters, magic non-stop and action pace, this is the book to read. In every single chapter there’s always emotion and action and the fact that these characters are brilliant only helps the insane plot. Trust me, I fell in love with this book.

Do you know those books that you can’t stop thinking about when you’re not reading them? Those books with so many great characters you feel you’ve known them all your life? Witch Hunter was like that for me. Whenever I was running my errands or other boring life things, my mind kept going back to this book wondering what was going to happen and repeating the chapters I had read. I was always eager to return to it and when I did, I was so hooked I couldn’t stop reading even if I wanted. So, when a book does that to me it normally means it’s one hell of an amazing book.

Elizabeth was an incredible character to read. I loved her development. When we first met her she’s too focus only on being a witch hunter and centred on what she was taught all her life. The fact that she begins to change her perspective, that she changes alongside the plot just adds fuel to her already amazing personality. She’s not a damsel in distress but has her times of confusion and perplexity just like a normal human being. 

Let’stalk about George shall we? I adored George! The moment he came into scene I immediately clicked with him. Even though there are moments when you are not sure if he has a different agenda, his character had the comic relief necessary to balance the intensity of the book.

His relationship with Elizabeth is simply adorable. They are always bickering each other and I admired their bond. Hopefully he won’t be part of a love triangle because I felt that their relationship is more brotherly than romantic.

As for Caleb, I didn’t trust him from the start. I can’t really put my finger on why but there was immediately something about him that didn’t convince me. And I also felt that he was so dissimulate, someone who only wants power. Of course he then had a small act of benevolence towards Elizabeth that was slightly surprising but it still didn’t made me like him.

The relationship between Elizabeth and John grew with the book which was something I appreciated. Despite the fact that it was predictable their romance, it wasn’t too forced and felt natural and it flew with the action and the plot. 

The rest of the secondary characters were also pretty good. Each added something new to the book and to the plot and Fifer really surprised me. At first I didn’t really liked her but she redeemed herself.

I absolutely LOVED this book. It’s everything I love in this sort of genre: kick-ass heroins, amazing secondary characters that are as great as the main one, a plot with some epic moments I wasn’t expecting (there were quite a lot of them) and a beautiful well written world. Definitely one of my favourites and one of those I will always recommend. Epic!

Ner

Review: Spinning Starlight

Ner Reviews - spinning starlight

Spinning Starlight

Authors: R.C. Lewis
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Sci-Fi | Retelling
Idiom: English
Series: —
Read: from August 9 to 14, 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781423185154
(Hardcover)
Cups:

Amazon

 my opinion

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Haunting and mesmerizing, this retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’sThe Wild Swans strings the heart of the classic with a stunning, imaginative world as a star-crossed family fights for survival in this companion to Stitching Snow.

my opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Spinning Starlight was a decent retelling of The Wild Swans though I had quite a few problems with it. Though I enjoyed the story enough to give it a 3 cups, there were moments when I was quite confused with the plot and slightly lost. However, R.C. Lewis is a master when it comes to create science-fiction retellings of well loved and known tales and that, on a whole, is enough to warrant an enjoyable and entertaining reading.

Liddi and her eight brothers are the most famous people on her planet. After their parents death, the children are left with their father’s technological enterprise and Liddi, contrary to what people might have excepted, is going to inherit the biggest share of all. Until one day, after a party, strange people appear at her house. Managing to run away and find a secure place, she soon finds out that her brothers are missing. But their disappearance isn’t accidental and she soon finds that they are going to the key to something quite important. And that important business lands her on a planet that no-one believed existed and she has to find help or else her brothers will be lost forever as well as her. And all of this without being able to even speak.

I had previously read and loved Stitching Snow so when I came across this book, I had to get it and read it. I had slightly high expectations since Stitching Snow was a phenomenal retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves that had me captivating since the beginning. And I had expected something of that sort with Spinning Starlight.

But, unfortunately, though I enjoyed the book, it didn’t hooked me straight away as the previous book did. It was slightly slow in the beginning to get into Liddi’s story and mind, to fully understand her voice. Connecting with her took time. And then we had the whole portals/conduits which I still am confused about. The conduits are sort of clones of the original portals that connect the planets. And her brothers are trapped inside the conduits because they are failing and they might stabilise them. The technological, science-fiction bit about these portals was hard to grasp.

I also felt that we didn’t know that much about her brother to even care enough for them. Sure, she tells us a lot about them and there are flashbacks at the end of each chapters showing us particular situations of Liddi’s life but I still didn’t care whether she saved them or not. And in the brief moments we were allowed to “meet” them, I didn’t connect.

Liddi gets into this eighth planet no-one believes exists. And it bugged me the fact that they almost immediately trusted her and treated her as an equal – though not everyone. Sure, we don’t want too violence, but their leniency was perhaps too obvious. However, I enjoyed Tiav (no idea how to pronounce his name though) enough to overcome that bugging feeling. Still, the relationship between Tiav and Liddi though it wasn’t inta-love as in insta-love, it was somewhat insta nevertheless. I felt it too rushed and too precipitate, just a way for the characters to e involved.

Still, I found the writing style beautiful and the whole universe in Spinning Starlight mesmerizing. Somehow I kept seeing landscapes and cities as if I was in Star Wars or even Doctor Who. It’s one of the things I appreciate in R.C. Lewis books: the sci-fi universe the author creates is so easy to understand and so well developed you can almost see everything before you.

Other things I enjoyed was the writing lessons between Tiav and Liddi. I liked the fact that the main character didn’t know how to write or read because her civilization abandoned these techniques because of technology. I felt like it was an awareness to want might happen if the written and spoken word died: it might save your life in the future if you simply know how to conjugate the words and know their meaning.

This futuristic retelling of the The Wild Swans is both entertaining and enjoyable. The world building was quite impressive and well developed. Though, I think it could have been much more if the conduits/portals issue wasn’t so confusing and complicated to keep track. Still, a solid book and quite an amazing writing style.

Ner

Review: Northern Lights

Ner Reviews - northern lights

Northern Lights

Authors: Philip Pullman
Release Date: October 23rd, 1998 (originally 1995)
Publisher: Scholastic Point
Pages: 399 (Paperback)
Format: Paperback
Genre:
 Children | Fantasy
Idiom: English
Series: His Dark Materials #1
Read: from July 27 to August 9 , 2015
Source & Shelf: Gift | Shelves
ISBN: 9780590660549
(Paperback)
Cups:

Amazon

 my opinion

When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him.

The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies – and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her – something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights…

my opinion

It took me almost forever to finish this book. Not because I wasn’t exactly enjoying it but because I was expecting to be blown away by it and ended up not being totally amazed. Sure, I already knew part of the story due to Chris Weitz movie adaptation but I was still waiting for something quite grand. The only way to describe this book is a simple enjoyable reading that is indeed fantastic but not overwhelming.

One of my main issues with this book was the writing. It took me a while to manage to go with the flow. It almost felt as if the English wasn’t quite right. And that for a foreign person, even a foreign one who can read almost everything in English, can be tricky. Some of the descriptions were so complicated to even picture exactly because of how it was written. But the moment I got used to the writing, I managed to actually enjoy the book.

Other issue I had was Lyra. I remembered from when I saw the movie that she was quite a stubborn and feisty character, too curious and reckless but also brave. But in the book there were moments when her recklessness bordered the rudeness and I ended up not enjoying her character that much. However, her relationship with her daemon Pantalaimon and her determination to help Roger and find her father was quite beautiful to read, inspirational even at times. 

The story gets complicated as it goes and there are still a few things left to be explained and questions to be answered. The whole concept of daemons and Dust is still quite confusing to me though I guess that daemons are like our souls and you can’t really sever the bond between ourselves and our souls – which is exactly what the Gobblers are doing in this book. Still there wasn’t much explanations about why and how they got their daemons and what exactly is Dust. I got a few things like Dust is the reason a human grows to be sinful and all and it has a religious side to it, but I am still slightly not sure if I had grasped the whole concept. Maybe they did explained it but I still don’t understand it.

Though this book is rated as a “children’s” book, I think that some of the politics and scientific explanations won’t be understood by the supposed “children”. Even I had troubles grasping the idea of college and all the ranks and names. Not to mention that certain scenes in this book are perhaps a little too explicit. The death of a character almost at the end was quite gruesome to read even for me. And a child won’t understand the whole sinful idea of Dust for a while. The religious part of the book will, perhaps, be too complex for a child to fully understand. 

However, this book also had its positive things. For instance, I really liked Pantalaimon’s character a lot though he’s still a daemon. He is part of Lyra but perhaps he’s the reasonable side of her. The gypsies were a group of people I enjoyed reading about and hope to read more in the continuation. And, of course, the witches. I had hoped for a bigger role for Seraphina in the book since (and I know I shouldn’t do this) I loved the way Eva Green portrayed her in the movie. And there’s still a lot to know about the witches’ politics and way of life and I’m looking forward to know more. Again, I hope there’ll be more of her and her daemon, plus the rest of her race, in the next books.

Northern Lights was, overall, an enjoyable read though slow in the begin. I am curious about the next books in the trilogy but not exactly too eager to pick them up. Still, quite an entertaining book with, and I admit, a great sort-of steampunk alternate universe (the visual adaptation of the world was on point in my humble opinion). But, as I mentioned, it kind of disappointed my high expectations.

Ner

Review: Dead Beautiful

Ner Reviews - Dead Beautiful

Dead Beautiful

Authors: Yvonne Woon
Release Date: September 21st, 2010
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 464 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Paranormal | Fantasy
Idiom: English
Series: Dead Beautiful #1
Read: from July 24 to 27, 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781423119562
(Hardcover)
Cups:

Amazon

 my opinion

On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Renée Winters was still an ordinary girl. She spent her summers at the beach, had the perfect best friend, and had just started dating the cutest guy at school. No one she’d ever known had died. But all that changes when she finds her parents dead in the Redwood Forest, in what appears to be a strange double murder.

After the funeral Renée’s wealthy grandfather sends her to Gottfried Academy, a remote and mysterious boarding school in Maine, where she finds herself studying subjects like Philosophy, Latin, and the “Crude Sciences.”

It’s there that she meets Dante Berlin, a handsome and elusive boy to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. As they grow closer, unexplainable things begin to happen, but Renée can’t stop herself from falling in love. It’s only when she discovers a dark tragedy in Gottfried’s past that she begins to wonder if the Academy is everything it seems.

Little does she know, Dante is the one hiding a dangerous secret, one that has him fearing for her life.

Dead Beautiful is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking read, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul.

my opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Dead Beautiful was such a great book I cannot believe it took me a while to finally pick it up. Although there were some similarities with Twilight and a bit of Harry Potter, I loved the concept of this book, the idea of dead people trying to find their soul and a school that prepares both dead people and human to live in harmony. Seriously, I had rather low expectations for this book but when I finished it, I was extremely surprised with how much I enjoyed it.

Renée Winters finds her parents dead in the woods on her sixteenth birthday. Since her grand-father is the only family left, she’s now under his guardianship and he soon sends her to Gottfried Academy, the same school her parents went to. Actually, there are several things from her parents past she doesn’t know, and becoming a student in this school makes her realise that she barely knows them. And then there’s Dante, a mysterious boy who immediately attracts her and they soon become romantically involved. Or as involved as Dante allows them to be for there’s something sinister about him that Renée can’t figure out.

And when she does, her whole life and past turn upside-down and everything she once knew, comes tumbling down.

When I mentioned that this book has some resemblances to both Twilight and Harry Potter, I mean that sometimes there were parts I felt unoriginal and that lacked something unique, picking up pieces from these two books. The relationship between Dante and Renée has its moments that were too Twilight-ish – the mysterious and dangerous boy trying to get the girl away from him. Actually, there was one of Dante’s speech that literally screamed Edward Cullen when he says he might be dangerous. And as for the Harry Potter bits, it has more to do with the school, boarding school in this case, environment than anything else. The way Yvonne Woon describe the academy and the classes reminded me a lot of Harry Potter.

However, despite these traits, this book has something makes it unique and makes me forget the similarities with other books: the concept of death. This book deals with death, with living a half-life, half-death and the search for souls. Latin also has a very important part in this book as the Language of the Dead and, I’ve always been interested in Latin, I found that connection simply amazing.

I loved the way Yvonne Woon managed to add both Dante, author, and Descartes, uniting them with the main character. After reading the book I marvelled at how clever it was of her to name them Renée (from René Descartes) and Dante (from Dante Alighieri, the author of Dante’s Inferno).

At first I didn’t particularly enjoyed Renée’s voice, the way she told the story. I admit that only after she met Dante and became aware of what was going on did I began to enjoy her character. She was a bit slow in creating a connection with the reader but it does happen later on. Even with what happens to her in the very first chapter, it was slightly hard for me to connect with her. Yes, I did felt bad for her since she lost both her parents in a very peculiar way, but she didn’t made me extremely sad for her loss.

As for Dante, it was one of those characters who immediately struck you with his sense of humour, his mysteriousness and darkness. Until Renée finds the truth about him you want more and more of him. You want to know why he won’t kiss her, why his touch is always cold, why Renée’s skin and body feels numb whenever he touched her. And why he’s in a advanced Latin class with these weird group of people who are part of his past – a mysterious past. Really, mysterious is basically the certain word for him.

But the character I adored was Eleanor. At first you think she’s going to be this shallow character who will make Renée’s life a living hell or something but she ends up being this amazing character that becomes an important piece of the puzzle and a great friend of Renée. And with what happened to her in the middle of the book, I’m certainly curious to know what’s going to happen.

And speaking of what’s going to happen… the ending!!! That cliffhanger had me on edge!! It certainly makes you super eager to pick up the second book with what happened and all… I’m still not completely sure of what happened to be honest. It all happened a little bit too fast but that was the brilliancy of it. It didn’t gave it all away, only enough to make you thirsty for Life Eternal.

Dead Beautiful was indeed an amazing surprise and a very good book. If you just let you mind open and ignore the fact that certain parts feel like a rip-off of Twilight, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this world that Yvonne Woon created. Everything is connected and it also makes you consider death in a different way. I am really excited for the sequel.

Ner

Blog Tour Stop: Review & Giveaway: Awakened by Patricia Vanasse

Awakened_Banner

Blog Tour Stop:
Review + Giveaway

Awakened

AwakenedAuthor: Patricia Vanasse
Release Date: July 2015
Publisher: Pants on Fire Press
Pages: 317 (Paperback)
Format: 
ebook
Genre:
 YA | Sci-Fi | Romance
Idiom: English
Series: Resilient #2
Read: from June 21 to 27, 2015
Source: Author | Kobo
ISBN: 9780692444153
Rating:
45cups1

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Synopsis:

In an attempt to protect their families, Livia and Adam set out in a search for answers that would change their lives forever. While on the run, Livia and Adam crossed paths with Daniel, who had been searching for them and the five other genetically enhanced teens Daniel knew existed. But getting out from under The Agency’s radar has not been easy. After being ambushed by the leader of The Agency that created them—a desperate attempt to claim what they lost just over a decade earlier—Livia was forced to leave an injured Adam behind, barely escaping to safety with Daniel.  Now under the control of The Agency, Adam is serving the purpose for which he was created. Manipulated to forget his love for Livia and his past, he lives a life crafted by fake memories that enslave him to a life of following the orders of The Agency. Adam battles with vivid “dreams” of a life he does not remember and the strong connection he feels to the girl with familiar blue eyes.  The desire for vengeance propels Livia and Daniel into a dangerous race to disrupt the destructive string of events that The Agency initiated seventeen years earlier. As they travel across parts of North America in search of other teens who are just like them, Livia will face an ethical battle over genetics, loyalty, and love. The race is on, and it is up to Livia to destroy The Agency and rescue Adam, but even if she succeeds at saving him, there are no guarantees she’ll able to save the deep connection they once shared.

Ner Reviews - Awakened

Disclaimer: Thank you CBB Book Promotions and Patricia Vanasse for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Awakened if the sequel to Resilient, a book I simply adored. It’s no surprise that as soon as I found out about this Blog Tour, I immediately signed-up. An opportunity like this couldn’t be missed.

In this book we continue following Livia and Adam, now separated from each other and with a small introduction to Daniel’s and Brooklyn’s point-of-view. Livia is training and running away with Daniel, trying to find out the rest of the GES while at the same time trying to save Adam and, consequently, destroying The Agency.

Adam is now a member of said Agency since Brooklyn wiped his memory of Livia – though he dreams of a blue eyed girl he doesn’t know. He’s working as a trainer and is sent to several missions where his abilities are put to test and use.

Basically, nothing is the same and what it seems. Everything is upside-down and nothing will ever go back to normal. Especially when we are introduced to the rest of the GES and to a sinister plot by The Agency.

I admit that even though I really enjoyed the action and the pace of this book, Awakened sounds so different from the first book I had a hard time getting used to it. But the plot and the characters  especially the characters – make up to that: they are strong, smart and very well develop with so many deep thoughts and feelings I can’t really pick one as a favourite. Well, maybe Daniel. I found out that I have a soft spot for Daniel. The whole group is so different, with so many different personalities and ideas and I loved meeting them all. And their abilities fitted the action whenever they needed to use it. Patricia Vanasse is a master when it comes to create and develop characters. She really understands the mechanism of writing really good and human characters and I bow down to her talent.

We really get to know The Agency’s role a little bit better in this book and see it from the inside. We also get an insight on the whole operation to create more GES and what such a thing would do to the world. That insight to what The Agency is creating and what it would achieve made the plot sound terrifying and intriguing. It was also one of the major positive points that made up for the fact that Awakened suffered slightly from SBS (Second Book Syndrome).

The reason I say this suffers from SBS has to do with the love-triangle (or square!) and all those angst moments between Livia, Daniel, Adam and Brooklyn. It was natural for Livia and Daniel to have a deeper connection since they have been together for such a long time. And now with Adam’s memories “erased”, I was beginning to root for Daniel (hence the soft spot) which is a total shock. I feel that the romance that I adored so much and that was so important in Resilient lost its interest and spark. I know that everything is different since Adam was kidnapped, but I missed that connection between Livia and Adam. And even when they were together, there was something amiss, something not right. What made me so much in love with Resilient was lost in this book which was a disappointment.

Now, can we talk about the ending? I liked the ending since it gave us a new thrilling excitement towards the continuation. Though I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting what happened since the whole group spent half of the book trying to get inside The Agency to destroy it. They ended up going quite the opposite of what I had expected. I guess that was what made the ending so unexpected and so shocking. But it made sense what happened and it was a positive way to get us hooked to know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure that Patricia Vanasse is going to blow us away with the third book with more twists and turns we are not going to see coming. 

Overall Awakened is a good and entertaining sequel to Resilient. The characters are the best in this book and the action is another strong point. It simply flows with the plot and teaches us the basis to what this universe is all about. The plot on itself has you hook to know more about the GES and The Agency. But don’t expect this book to be like Resilient. It’s not… it’s more like a bridge between the past and the future and an introduction to what we might expect in book three. Still, despite it all I really enjoyed this book and I’m eager to read more and know what’s going to happen now.

About the Author – Patricia Vanasse:

tissa author

Patricia Vanasse was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Now she lives on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest.

She has been through Culinary Arts, Psychology, Law School, and now has finally found her passion in creative writing.

She also loves traveling, cooking, and is an avid reader. Her strength- believes that everything is possible.  Her weakness- an obsessive relationship with caffeine.

Website Facebook | Twitter Goodreads

Giveaway Time:

  • One (1) $50 Amazon Gift (INT),
  • Two (2) signed copies of Resilient (US),
  • One (1) e-arc of Against All Odds (INT);
  • The giveaway ends July 28th.

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Ner

Review: The Selection

Ner Reviews - The Selection

Shatter Me

Authors: Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 4th, 2012 (originally January 1st, 2012)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Dystopia | Fantasy
Idiom: English
Series: The Selection #1
Read: on June 17 to 21, 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9780062059932
(Hardcover)
Cups:

Amazon

Synopsis:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

My Opinion:

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins UK for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Selection was a rather nice surprise. My expectations for this book weren’t that high but I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this book more than what I expected.

This book tells the story of 35 young girls in a competition to become Prince Maxon’s bride and future Princess. America Singer, a simple girl from a lower caste, becomes of the Selected and soon one of the favourites. She rapidly develops a friendship with the Prince and her feelings become divided between her ex-boyfriend and this charming future king.

The system of this book is quite interesting. There are several caste, from the richer class to the poorer but each girl from each caste has an opportunity to participate in this competition. I found that quite amazing since it gives these girls a chance to show that even the lower class can be part of a higher society. And you can see that women in The Selection have a great role. They can be themselves and even be part of the councils.

The dystopia part of the book was a bit lacking for me but I’m hopeful that the next books will explore that a little bit better. I found this universe pretty much like ours but instead of a Republic, it has a Monarchy. I guess that was one of the main reasons I was so interested in reading this book.

America was a simple character and she was quite enjoyable. There were a few things I didn’t really understand but overall she had a great personality. Though the love-triangle between her ex-boyfriend Aspen (who, I have to say this but I detested the moment he broke-up with her and then tried to win her back) and the Prince sounded so far-stretched and a bit annoying. I mean, she spent most of the book saying she would move on from Aspen and focus on her new friendship with Maxon but as soon as aspen re-appears in her life she’s all swooning and melting into his kisses. No, America, simply no! After what he did to you, you can’t be stupid enough to simply accept him back! That was the most annoying part of America. But then she had this compassion towards her maids that made up for that stupid side of her. I really liked the fact that she always treated her maids as equals. And when there was the attacks by the rebels, she literally stomp her foot and said her maids were to stay with her or else!

As for Maxon… I liked him straight away. I mean, I became almost immediately Team Maxon. He was too charming, too gentle and too adorable not to like. The fact that he has to deal with the rebels, the competition and his deeds as Prince and future King just made me want to cuddle him.

Aspen! I admit that I immediately disliked him when he broke-up with America. I mean, he asks her to sign-up to be part of the competition and then he does what he did. And then he has the audacity to try to win her back after everything he did? Nope, that doesn’t work for me.

There were moments in the book I felt like I was reading The Hunger Games but without the games. Especially the whole make-over thing. I was only missing Cinna but everything felt exactly when Katniss was going over her make-over. Silvia reminded me of Effie and Gavril Ceasar! The reality-TV aspect of it felt slightly like a rip-off Suzanne Collins books. That was one of the thumbs down regarding this book.

But overall The Selection was a fast and entertaining reading. Though it felt like it could have been a bit more apart from the competition (like, more rebels thrown into it), it gave us an insight on what The Selection is all about, introduced us to the characters and to this new universe.

Just a small note to those who are reading this book (or The Elite or The One) or are going to start this series: DO NOT READ THE HEIR SYNOPSIS!!!! For everything that is sacred, if you don’t like spoilers, do not even consider reading the synopsis. There’s a HUGE spoiler in it since The Heir is set AFTER The Selection trilogy though it has the same series name. Yes, I was stupid enough to read it and now I know something that I didn’t want to know before finishing the series :S

Ner

Blog Tour Stop: Review + Guest Post + Excerpt: Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett

Blog Tour Stop:
Review + Guest Post + Excerpt

Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest

ZariaAuthor: Keira Gillett
Illustrator: Eoghan Kerrigan
Narrator (aubiobook): Michele Carpenter
Release Date: March 6th, 2015
Publisher: Keira Gillett
Pages: 224 (Paperback)
Format: 
PDF
Genre:
 MG | Fantasy | Adventure
Idiom: English
Series: Zaria Fierce #1
Read: from June 27 to 29, 2015
Source: Author | Kobo
ISBN: 9781942750017
Rating:
45cups1

Get the Book:
Amazon (e-book) | Amazon (print) | Audible
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Synopsis:

On her birthday, Zaria Fierce finds her usual path to school blocked by an ugly river-troll. At first she’s surprised and curious, but then Olaf threatens to eat her, which is an act Zaria could not in good conscience consent to, so Zaria counteroffers. A deal is struck and she goes to school, but Zaria is about to learn the hard way that one does not trick a river-troll and expect to win.

Ner Reviews - Zaria

Disclaimer: Thank you Keira Gillett for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Based on Scandinavian folklore, Zaria Fierce was an adorable read. Set in Norway, we follow Zaria and her friends through an adventure filled with trolls, elves, changelings, dragons and much more. And what’s more exciting? The book has amazing illustrations to accompany you during your journey. Check out some the illustrations:

ZF_Ch0ZF_Ch12

They are quite amazing, aren’t they? And the details? Eoghan Kerrigan did an amazing job with this illustrations 🙂

On her birthday Zaria is stopped at the bridge by a troll, Olaf, who asks payment so she can cross it. Thinking she tricked him, she’s later faced with the disappearance of her friend and finds out that Olaf is behind it. Setting a deal with the troll, she leaves with a group of friends in search of the heart of the Gloomwood forest and has the adventure of her dreams.

Zaria is the protagonist and a nice character to meet. She’s a bookworm (like me and you, of course :P) and always wanted to be part of an adventure. But, there’s a bit more to her than what meets the eye and though we got a glimpse at why the fairy-people call her Princess, I’m hoping to read more about that in the future. She was funny, brave and an easy-going character to enjoy. Pretty much like her friends. They were hilarious at times and I found their friendship and connection amazing. I enjoyed them all and, have to be honest, can’t really choose a favourite.

The plot is quite quick and easy to follow. It’s pretty much straightforward with fantasy elements that reminded me slightly of Narnia. Actually, I think those who liked The Chronicles of Narnia will eventually enjoy this book. However, there’s no wardrobe to enter this new fairy-tale land. It also reminded me of The Spiderwick Chronicles though I only saw the movie. The trolls were the reason to that 🙂

Keira Gillett‘s writing was also easy to read you basically read an entire chapter without realising it. It wasn’t too childish but it wasn’t also too tricky or too mature. It’s a writing style that can be read by any age and anyone who simply wishes to leave reality behind and enter this fantasy world. The descriptions and the characters were very well developed. I only thought that sometimes, in the dialogue, these kids would use some rather complicated words.

There were a few twists that I didn’t see coming and I thought those were really clever. And I also liked the fact that the protagonist has flaws and makes mistakes. I liked that side of the story.

Now, I have this say because I spent the whole book with this idea in my mind. I couldn’t really take Olaf seriously because I kept picturing him like this:

I believe that Olaf is a typical Scandivanian name and maybe Keira wrote the book before Frozen came out but it’s true. Can you imagine this happy snowman as a river troll? :D. 

Overall, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest was a great book with a lovely story and amazing characters. It’s a fantasy and adventure book that will be the delights of Narnia fans and those looking for a bit of Norwegian folklore thrown into it. Keira Gillett, and consequently illustrator Eoghan Kerrigan, created an adorable book that I will give to my niece to read in the future.

Guest Post:

Pronunciation Guide by Keira Gillett:

Hello and good morning to everyone! Thanks Ner for letting me take over your blog. I’m so glad I’m joining you today. My name is Keira Gillett and I just wrote and published my first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, the first book in a new Middle Grade/YA trilogy. It released earlier in March 2015. Because the setting of my book takes place in Norway and involves many Norwegian and Scandinavian words and names, so I thought I would provide a pronunciation guide. Here is how some of the names of characters and places are pronounced.

Disclaimer: The breakdown on syllables is not standardized or proper. Instead, I attempted to provide a phonetic breakdown. You will see short words (which are to be read with an American pronunciation) and conversational gap sounds. Vowels left alone should be pronounced like the letter and not as a sound. A few entries also have variations of the pronunciation.

First Names:
  • Zaria: – Zar·e·ah (or Czar·e·ah.)

This name could be pronounced like Mariah (Za·rye·ah) or like Maria (Za·re·ah) or Sarah (Zar·ah.)

  • Christoffer: Cris·toff·fir.

This is a variant of Christopher, Chris·toe·fur.

  • Olaf: O·loff.

He doesn’t like warm hugs.
Ner: OMG! I’m laughing so hard at this! Especially after what I wrote on my review 😀

  • Aleks: Al·ick·s.

Or you can think of it like Alex, but you will want to add a bit of an extra “s” sound at the end.

  • Geirr: Guy-air.

This name can also be pronounced like Guy·ear, Gey·er, Gay·ear, or if you must, Gear.
Ner: I actually read this name as Gear because of Top Gear xD

  • Filip: Fill·eep.

This name is very close to Phillip, which is usually said as Fill·lip.

  • Norwick: Nor·wick.
  • Jorkden: Jork·den.
  • Morvin: Moor·vin.
  • Frida: Free·dah.

Choosing this name was a nod to my grandmother, whom I loved dearly (although my grandma preferred Dr. Pepper to tea and M&;M’s to tea cakes.)

  • Edevart: Edh·vart.

This name is a variant of Edward.

  • Koll: Coal.
  • Helena: Hel·lay·nah.

Another way to say her name is Hel·eh·nah, but it sounds less exotic (to me.)

Last Names:
  • Magnusdotter: Mag·nus·dough·tea
  • Mickelsen: Mick·el·Seine.

It’s like Nickel but with an M and the French river that runs through Paris.

  • Storstrand: Store·strand.
Places:
  • Fredrikstad: Freh·drik·stah.
  • Álfheim: Alf·hame.
  • Jötunheim: Yo·ton·hame.

You’ve seen Thor right?
Ner: Yes, I have (who hasn’t?). But it’s one of those name that come out of mouth like this: ARHSKLJDF (yeah, I can never pronounce this name properly :S)

  • Trolgar: Troll·gar.
  • Gloomwood: Gloom·wood.
Mythology:
  • Ellefolken: Elle·foal·kin or Elle·foal·ken.

Not to be confused with Vulcan, but similar enough.

One of the fun things about producing an audio book was getting to hear someone else say how I heard these names in my head. Michele and I would send links back and forth to various sites where these words and names were pronounced just to make sure we were on the same page. She does an absolutely marvelous job narrating.

Ner: Thank you so much Keira for this guide. I admit there were a few names that in my head sounded completely different 😛

Excerpt:

Geirr stooped to pick up some decent-sized sticks, and Zaria bent to grab a few too. They talked amicably and walked, stretching their legs, until they were too burdened by their loads to keep going.

“My arms are going to collapse,” Zaria huffed. Her breath fogged around her face, covering and then revealing a well-pinked nose and cheeks. “Let’s head back to camp.”

“Sounds good to me,” Geirr said and turned around to do just that. Zaria followed and collided into him, dropping her load of kindling all over the ground.

“Hey!” she exclaimed, as she went to gather them. “Why did you stop?”

“I don’t think we’re going to find camp,” Geirr said, worrying his lip. He juggled his armful of wood and pointed haphazardly forward. “It’s like pea soup.”

Zaria looked up from playing fifty-two pickup and saw what worried Geirr. In front of them was a wall of fog, thick, viscous, and impossible to see through. She gulped and carefully set down the pile she’d been working to gather again. Was it her imagination or did the fog seem to be breathing? It crept closer in stages. Not fast enough that she saw it while looking directly at it, but if she looked away and back, it most definitely moved.

“Uh, Geirr,” Zaria said, slowly gaining her feet. “I think we should move and fast.”

Geirr looked at her puzzled. “I don’t think fast is an option here. Now if you pick up your stack and stick near me maybe we can Marco Polo our way back to the others.”

“Geirr,” Zaria hissed, her voice ratcheting higher. “The fog is moving.” He didn’t look impressed. The breathing sounds from within the fog grew louder, distressing Zaria. “No seriously, it’s moving like it’s alive.”

Geirr looked back again and stared hard, trying to penetrate the fog with his gaze alone. Zaria started to ease away, firewood forgotten.

“Come on, Geirr, we have to move. Can’t you hear the breathing?”

“That isn’t you?” he asked, alarmed.

“No!” Zaria shouted. “Run!”

About:

Keira Gillett (Author):

Keira_Gillett_Author_2Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author.

She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting.

From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader.

Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest 

Eoghan Kerrigan (Illustrator):

Eoghan_Kerrigan_Illustrator_1Eoghan Kerrigan is an illustrator from Kildare, Ireland who draws primarily fantasy characters and creatures.

He studied illustration in Ballyfermot College of Further Education and has produced work for various independent projects.

He has two cats and a soft spot for trolls.

Website Twitter | Facebook

Michele Carpenter (Narrator):

Michele_Carpenter_Narrator_2Michele Carpenter is an artist at heart, with a passion for acting.

She and her husband (also a voice actor) often work on projects together and help one another through the journey.

Together, they have three kids. Michele’s children love to hear her read stories and beg her to edit her narrations in the same room with them so they can listen too.

It’s partially for this reason that Michele has come to feel a personal responsibility to only record books that aren’t inappropriate for children or young adults–at their respective age levels and according to the maturity levels of the books they’re able to read.

“We never know how long we have on this earth and I’d rather leave behind a legacy of books that I’m not ashamed to have my friends, family and even future grandchildren, listen to forever.”

Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube
Ner

Review: Shatter Me

Ner Reviews - Shatter Me

Shatter Me

Authors: Tahereh Mafi
Release Date: October 2nd, 2012 (originally November 15th, 2011)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 340 (paperback)
Format: Paperback
Genre:
 YA | Dystopia | Sci-Fi
Idiom: English
Series: Shatter Me #1
Read: on June 14 to 17, 2015
Source & Shelf: Paperback | Own
ISBN: 9780062085504
(Paperback)
Cups:

Amazon

Synopsis:

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

My Opinion:

Shatter Me is one of those books you have mixed feelings about. I wasn’t blown away by it as I had hoped I would. Instead I had these emotions where I really liked the book but at the same time I don’t seem to understand what the fuzz is all about. True, Tahereh Mafi‘s writing was something quite different to read but ends up to be beautiful but there was something in the book that simply didn’t conquered me. Still, I enjoyed the idea and the book started to really interest me towards the end. 

Shatter Me tells the story of Juliette who has a strange and deadly power that doesn’t allow her to touch anyone. She has been locked up for almost a year and when Adam is thrown into her cell, things take a turn… for the worse and for the better.

To be honest, the book wasn’t interesting me that much until the moment when Adam and Juliette escape – yah, sorry about the spoiler here! Since that point onwards till the end, I was totally hooked on the book. But before that, it was hard for me to have sort of connection with Juliette, the protagonist.

Juliette’s character sounded really interesting in the beginning but the moment Adam re-enters her life, I found her so emotionally drain and always crying, tears falling down her face and clouding her eyes, etc…. Seriously, the crying bit was all kinds of annoying! I found her so troubled, so confused and so weak at times I wanted to slap her and shake her and tell her to wake up and smell the coffee. Hopefully, now with the developments we got at the end of the book, she might change and I might like her a little bit better. And, fingers crossed, the crying will subside enormously.

Adam was a character I enjoyed straight away (I think it was hard not to!). I had a straight sympathy that made me like him quite instantly. Though I think that his feelings towards Juliette sounded too rushed and too convenient. However, I found him the core of the couple, of their relationship and the only reason that made Juliette stand up. I couldn’t imagine this book without him.

A small note: their physical connection was all sorts of hot! That’s all!

Warner!! I have to admit that I have no idea what I feel about him. I still have the short-story that everyone says will change my point-of-view towards him to read but, right now, I can only say that he’s a psychotic bastard and I want to slap him so hard we won’t know from which planet he’s from. He brought up all these anguish feelings to the surface and I patiently waited for the moment I would turn the tables and enjoy his character but it never came. It’s frustrating… really frustrating! I sincerely hope, wish that’s more like it, that he’ll change in Unravel Me and prove himself a character with a complicated and troubled soul and I will understand him and adore him and want to hug him. But, for now, I despise him wholeheartedly (though I want to like him…. I really want to. I don’t make sense, do I?)

Now, can we talk about Kenji? I adored… no scratch that, I LOVED his character. After Adam, he was the character that made me enjoy the book halfway through the end. He had a great sense of humour and it lightened the mood of the book. Not to mention that after all that Juliette drama, it felt really good to have a bit of comic relief. I dare say that he became one of my favourite secondary characters ever!! I really, but really hope nothing will happen to him or else I’ll be utterly upset with Tareheh Mafi, mark my words!

Mafi‘s writing was slightly hard to follow at first. When you read this book you are literally inside Juliette’s head. It really feels like you’re reading her thoughts, all that jumble of words thrown into one’s head that sometimes feels like two voices at once. I enjoyed the fact that she started as a neurotic not confident character, her words always the right politically corrected ones and that towards the end, she kind of loses her doubts and begins to be sure of herself. All those strike-through words (that sometimes confused and irritated me) kind of disappear the more certain and confident she felt. 

I’m still slightly lost as why Warner wants her so badly. I mean, I know why he wants her but there isn’t anything in concrete for him to use her. What is he going to do? Plant her in the middle of a war and ask her to touch people? If he wanted to studied her blood and clone it, I would have found his desire to have her rather interesting. His longing to have her, to almost literally possess her was way over the top for me. Maybe that’s just me but I really had a hard time grasping the reason why he wanted her so desperately.

Overall Shatter Me wasn’t a disappointment but neither was it a masterpiece. It sure had me interested in reading the sequel and see how Mafi is going to turn the story around – ’cause I really enjoyed the ending! – and also to know a few more details concerning Adam and Warner (especially Warner…. I want to love him so bad but so far I can’t seem to even enjoy reading about him! Ugh, it’s frustrating, really!).

I recommend this book, of course. It’s a really entertaining book with a dystopia world that I really want to explore more in the upcoming books. And I also recommend it so you can all read Tahereh Mafi‘s way with words. It was indeed different, intriguing and something unique. But for now, it’s only an okay book for me. Hopefully the sequel will blow me away.

The best part of the book?! This passage here:

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”

Ner

Review: Infinite

Ner Reviews - Infinite

Engage

Author: Erica Crouch
Release Date: June 16th, 2015
Publisher: Patchwork Press
Pages: 377 (paperback)
Format: ebook
Genre:
 YA | Angels | Paranormal
Idiom: English
Series: Ignite #3
Read: from June 10 to 14, 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781927940358 
(Paperback)
Cups:

Amazon

Synopsis:

There are infinite ways to die, and the fates are calling for blood. After evading Azael since her betrayal, it’s finally time for Pen to stop running and face her desperate brother. But she won’t have to challenge him alone: the rebel army of New Genesis is ready to stand strong and fight to secure the future they believe in.

As Azael spirals deeper and deeper into darkness, and Pen grapples with her new leadership role, a familiar name rises to power whose decisions have the potential to rewrite everyone’s future. Dangerous secrets, silent traitors, and unraveling fates means that time is running out. There’s no telling who will survive the final battle.

In this thrilling conclusion to the Ignite series, Pen and Azael return to finish what they started over a millennia ago.

My Opinion:

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Patchwork Press for providing me with a copy.

First reaction as posted on Goodreads (on 14 June):

What’s this?!

Am I crying?!
I am crying!!

Why do you do this to me Erica?!?!

Now, the full review (warning: extensive abuse of animated gifs!)

Erica Crouch is a delightfully evil person. No, seriously, she is. She wrote one of the BEST endings to a series I’ve ever had the opportunity to read. She had me in tears (once again!) but I admit that those were happy tears. Actually, I had so many feelings reading this book I sent the whole time with my heart in my hands. I cried, I laughed, I panicked, I hated, I loved and a lot more. I was inside a glass case of emotions and I was too masochist to want to get out. I was loving it!

Infinite is the last book in the Ignite series. Damn, I can’t believe this is the end. Since I read Ignite, two years ago now, I’ve been following Erica‘s work and loving every bit of it. It’s hard to say goodbye to these characters that I became so attached to, so fond of. But being able to accompany their journey till the very end is the most awarding experience ever. Especially if that same end is simply EPIC.

In this book we continue following Pen and Michael’s struggle within the war between angels and demons and Azael’s tormented mind. In addiction to the sibling’s voice, we also get a scope of what’s inside Lilith’s mind. Not wanting to dwell to much in the plot itself – not wanting to give any spoiler – let me just warn you that the moment you set foot inside this book, you are immediately swept away into a spiral of conflicts, turmoils and battles. 

Pen and Michael complete each other in so many levels it’s impossible to have one without the other.They grew up to become this huge pair of survivors and fighters, always standing up for what they believe but never leaving anyone behind. If Ignite had these strong romantic pair that I was rapidly shipping, this book made me love them all over again. And their love is so sweet, deep and real it’s impossible not to ship them almost straight away.

AZAEL!!! NOOOOOOOO!!!!

Why do you go breaking my heart like this? The conflict inside his end, the hurt, the confrontation with Pen, everything broke my heart into tiny little pieces. This story isn’t about the love between Michael and Pen or the fight between Heaven and Hell… it’s about these siblings who despite being so different from each other, manage to be one being intertwine. And the final confrontation between them was one of the hardest things I’ve ever read in my life. 

Lilith was a shock. What she does in the Prologue was totally unexpected and the way she sort of manipulates her way into the throne showed us she wasn’t a character to be taken lightly. However, I was so focused on the siblings I only wanted to skip her parts. But, I admit, that her voice was hypnotic ever for us readers, we ended up reading her chapters thirstily.

Kala and Ana! No… I’m not talking about that! I refuse to! Erica, and all of you who read Infinite will know why I don’t want to talk about them. It was too cruel… especially after reading Engage! You can’t do that to us Erica… it hurts too much!

Now, let’s talk about the ending! The ending was beautiful and totally unexpected. When I realised what was happening, I couldn’t help but gasp at how perfect it was. The line between good and evil will never disappear but people can change. And Pen was the character that changed the most, the one that sacrificed everything she had to those she loved the most so I found the ending quite comforting and rewarding. When I started Infinite, I had no idea what kind of end I was about to meet so, when I finally reached that moment, I was relieved to know that I did liked it, that I understood Erica‘s reason to write it the way she did. You truly are amazing!

Erica‘s writing was impeccable once again. The way she manages to swift from one character to the other was skilfully made and her talent continues to blow me away. The final battle was so well detailed, so well developed I was hooked in her words, trap inside the story mind and body and soul. Beautiful and action-paced and breathtaking. 

I had the highest of expectations and Erica managed to surpass them delivering the perfect conclusion to a series I loved. It was emotional to the point of leaving you sobbing and wanting more and more. I still hope for more – a short-story from Michael’s perspective for instance?. But overall this was PERFECTION!

Just one small thing: thank you for this amazing series! That’s all ❤

Ner

Review: Powerless

Ner Reviews - Powerless

ASfUG

Authors: Tera Lynn Childs & Tracy Deebs
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 308 (Hardcover)
Format: ebook
Genre:
 YA | Superhero | Sci-Fi
Idiom: English
Series: The Hero Agenda #1
Read: on June 6 to 10, 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781492616573
(Hardcover)
Cups:

Amazon

Synopsis:

Kenna is tired of being “normal”. The only thing special about her is that she isn’t special at all. Which is frustrating in a world of absolutes. Villains, like the one who killed her father, are bad. Heroes, like her mother and best friend, are good. And Kenna, unlike everyone else around her, is completely ordinary— which she hates.

She’s secretly working on an experiment that will land her a place among the Heroes, but when a Villain saves her life during a break-in at her lab, Kenna discovers there’s a whole lot of gray area when it comes to good and evil and who she can trust.. After all…not all strength comes from superpowers.

My Opinion:

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy.

This book was such an awesome surprise. I simply loved the whole concept of this book, the action, the characters, the superheroes vs. villains plot… absolutely everything. Powerless was the superhero book I needed in my life since I haven’t read that many in this particular subject – I had been rather unlucky with superheroes books. .

Imagine a world where superheroes and villains were your daily neighbours. In Kenna’s world, she’s the daughter of a famous super-hero who died at the hands of villains. She was brought up believing in the goodness of the heroes and the evilness of the villains. But when one night, three villains break into her laboratory and one of them saves us, she’s thrown into a world that will make her see that there is this grey shade in between good and evil. She learns the truth about her adoring heroes and that truth is hard and cold. She units with the three villains that broke into her lab and together they try to expose the cruelties of the superheroes.

You start the book with a brief log of some sort of experiment that was probably what caused the humans to have powers and, consequently, lead to the creation of superheroes and villains. Not much is told about how these people are born with powers, what did scientists do to create them and so forth. You are literally thrown into this world without really knowing anything about it. You only know that when someone develops a power, they are immediately identified as hero or villain.

But, it didn’t bothered me at all since the action on itself managed to hook me straight away. This was one of those books that started with a bang and it didn’t stop until the very end. As soon as you set foot into this book, it’ll be complicated for you to leave.

Kenna was a smart and easy character to like immediately. Though her narration is sometimes dispersed and she ends up repeating herself too much, she was a kick-butt strong female character that has all the potential to be great. She was funny, fearless and with a twist in the end that will leave you slightly taken aback (I sure was!).

The villains that end up working with Kenna were simply amazing. Actually, the whole group of villains, heroes and ordinary people that end up trying to rescue someone was the best. There was a lot of varieties in personalities and some bickering between characters that made it even the more amusing. 

Draven, the ‘villain’, was a true delight. Though in the begin he and Kenna would be always arguing and despite being an almost insta-attraction – attention to the almost – their romance was sweet and super cute (see what I did there?).

I loved Nitro! This Scottish villain that can throw fireballs was simply delicious. Though he only appears as a main member of the group almost in the middle, I adored him deeply. I blame the fact that his Scottish and had this ironic sense of humour that was contagious.

The plot itself was also very interesting. And I also liked the fact that they failed their rescue a few times before the end. I felt like they were learning a lot from failing and facing their obstacles. It was a fast-paced plot with a lot of action, romance, humour and a few twists that were unexpected – some other ended up being quite expected but it didn’t bother me that much.

There was only one particular character that had me doubt her substance in the book. Rebel was hilarious at times but I always felt her slightly pushed aside and her power weak. Plus what happens at the end, it didn’t help me care that much for her.

Powerless was a fun, fast, easy and amazing book. This is that sort of book you can almost see as a TV-Series for The CW – it has the potential for it. It had good characters, a good plot, action all the way and super-powers. Great job Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs, great job!

Ner

Review: Station Eleven

Ner Reviews - Station Eleven

Station Eleven

Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Release Date: September 10th, 2014
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
Format: Hardcover
Genre:
 Adult | Dystopia | Science-Fiction
Idiom: English
Series: —
Read: on June 2 to 6, 2015
Source & Shelf: Giveaway | Own
ISBN: 9781447268963
(Hardcover)
Cups:

Amazon

Synopsis:

DAY ONE

The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb.

News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%.

WEEK TWO

Civilization has crumbled.

YEAR TWENTY

A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe.

But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.

STATION ELEVEN

Moving backwards and forwards in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists twenty years after, Station Eleven charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: famous actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan – warned about the flu just in time; Arthur’s first wife Miranda; Arthur’s oldest friend Clark; Kirsten, a young actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed ‘prophet’.

Thrilling, unique and deeply moving, this is a beautiful novel that asks questions about art and fame and about the relationships that sustain us through anything – even the end of the world.

My Opinion:

Disclaimer: Thank you Ula (@Blog of Erised) and Picador for providing me with a copy of this book.

I launched into Station Eleven with some high expectations, wondering what’s so magnificent about this book that had everyone loving it very much. I can honestly admit that it was indeed different than what I had expected but it did exceed those same expectations: it was better.

Station Eleven is a straightforward book about the strength of human kind while facing the end of the world and how that same world is small. How a group of people are connected by something so simple yet so complicated such as Shakespeare.

The book isn’t set mainly in the post-apocalyptic disaster that killed most of mankind. It’s a shuffle of what happened days, hours before the epidemic spread, the main setting of this new world and the characters’ background story. At first I found that quite unsettling, making me loose myself in the story but as soon as I found the connection between everyone and everything in the book, it became a satisfying read.

One of the things I found it quite remarkable was how the title, Station Eleven, isn’t an actual real station. This is mainly the name of a comic book that one of the characters – Arthur’s first wife – creates and which is rather important to other character – Kirsten who is connected to Arthur by having played King Lear with him when she was a child. Though Arthur is definitely one of the solid links between the pre-apocalyptic world and the post-apocalyptic one, the comic is perhaps the strongest.

The characters were diverse and pretty much contained to themselves. There wasn’t that much of a dialogue between them but I didn’t mind that. The whole setting was enough and it spoke tons of what went through their minds, their feelings, their ideas and remembrances. Also, since this book is told from different perspectives each during a particular time in space, it’s a little difficult for you to have a character you appreciate the most. I guess I would like to have read a little bit more about Jeevan after the epidemic since the little we got was exactly that – little.

Other thing I found fascinating was how Emily St. John Mandel managed to add the density of Shakespeare’s work and wrap it in her book. Shakespeare is also another link between the characters with two of his plays – King Lear and A Midsummer’s Night Dream – being the main focus when connecting the post-apocalyptic world with the old world (both our world and the Shakespearean one). The few references to the plays were so well explained, so well explored that those who’ve never read or studied Shakespeare in their lives will not miss a thing. It was simply part of the book, the characters, the Travelling Symphony and the setting..

There were only a couple of things that had me slightly disappointed with the book – hence the 4 cups and not the initial 5 cups I was inched to rate the book – the “Prophet” and the ending itself. I found the image of the Prophet ambiguous and somewhat infuriating. He is a religious fanatic who thinks he was saved from the end of the world by God and whose job is to preach that they are the Light. Though his background story is not immediately told – and what is told is very brief and doesn’t tell much – the identity of his character was, in my humble opinion, quite obvious despite the fact that we only get a proper reveal almost in the end. Though what we know about his past might explain his twisted mind, I found him mostly irritating.

As for the ending, though it was the perfect end for a story like this and I did, however, enjoyed it, I also wanted more. I cannot explain it properly but when I read the very last sentence, I felt empty and wishing for two more chapters that would tell me more about that bit of discovery in the end.

Overall, Station Eleven was an astonishing story about the strength of human kind when facing the severity of life. Reading this book felt as if I was reading a piece of timeless classic of pure literature (as I commented once when someone asked me how I was enjoying the book :P).

Ner

Review: A School for Unusual Girls

Ner Reviews - ASfUG

ASfUG

Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Release Date: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Format: ebook
Genre:
 YA | Historical Fiction | Fantasy
Idiom: English
Series: Stranje House #1
Read: on May 24th, to June 2nd 2015
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9780765376008 
(Hardcover)
Cups:

Amazon

Synopsis:

It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don’t fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts…

My Opinion:

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing me with a copy.

A School for Unusual Girls wasn’t exactly what I first expected but it did surpass my expectations. Initially I thought this was going to be a gothic tale with a paranormal twist to it but it turned out to be a speculative fiction with a very nice and intriguing plot – plus the bit of magic in it which is very subtle.

You start this book with Georgiana being sent off to a boarding school dedicated to reform troubled young girls. The methods we are introduced to Georgie’s parents really scare you – a sarcophagus with spikes? a stretching rack? who wouldn’t want to run away from that? – but as Georgie begins to settle into the school, we finally understand the true reality of it. It is indeed a school, but to teach them how to be, what I call, spies. Well, not actual spies but with enough knowledge to help them get out of a tough situation.

Georgie’s reason from being sent to Stranje House has to do with her passion with chemistry. She burnt down her father’s stables while trying to create a different sort of ink – invisible ink. This ink will be extremely important throughout the whole book and probably one of the reasons why she’s sent and accepted into Stranje House. Miss Emma Stranje alongside a group of, let’s call them, rebels, intend to restore order in the monarchy now that Napoleon was exiled to Elba.

I’ve never been one to read much speculative fiction though I’ve always been quite interested in knowing how author’s would change the world we know into something different. And this book explores the idea of how things would be like if the group supporting Napoleon and his empire would win and conquer. I really enjoyed that idea – plus, the whole Napoleon aspect of history isn’t one that I’m deep into, I know what I’ve learnt a long time ago in school and that’s it! It was nice to learn a few things about it.

I really enjoyed the characters, all of them. I found them quite believable, well developed and created. Georgiana and Sebastian were simply delicious to read about. Though their romance was almost instantaneous, the way they connected was rather sweet. The other girls were also a plus in the book, making it not only about Georgie and her ink and Sebastian, but also about them as pupils in Stranje House and human beings. However, I really hope to be able to learn more about Miss Stranje and her background history. She sounds like a character that deserves her own story.

Kathleen Balwin‘s writing was also very easy to read and rather captivating. The author managed to write a story with a classic twist to her writing which I found quite appealing. The only thing I wished was knowing what sometimes happened inside Sebastian mind and the other girls. 

However, I found the ending quite abrupt, anti-climatic and lacking something. After spending so much time creating the ink and then trying to save someone (not telling you who it is), I found that the whole ending was a bit rushed and just a way to create a cliffhanger.

Overall, A School for Unusual Girls was pleasant read. It does a bit of paranormal in the air enough to keep it interesting but not really dwelling on it. It’s a book that explores the what ifs that normally happens in speculative fiction (me thinks!) and it has a lot of funny moments to it. It might remind you of other stories but it manages to be quite original at the same time. If you like books with rather interesting female characters, history wrapped in paranormal and a bit of romance, then I believe you’ll enjoy this book.

Ner