Review: The Bone Witch

NER REVIEWS (theonewitch)

Author: Rin Chupeco
Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 400 (Hardcover)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Witches | Paranormal
Idiom: English
Series: The Bone Witch #1
Read: from August 23 to September 4, 2016
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781492635826 
(Hardcover)
Cups:
3 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

 

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind in this brilliant new fantasy series by Rin Chupeco!

My Opinion

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

The Bone Witch was a rather peculiar book. I say this in a good way because, trust me, this book wasn’t like anything I’ve read before. And that was one of the best qualities of it.

And I have to warn you, before you continue reading, that this review won’t make any sense at all! It’s a rather complicated book to review which so many things I still haven’t figured out but I’ll get to that in a moment. I will try my best to explain myself properly but I’m pretty sure it’ll end up being one of those reviews were nothing makes sense!

Okay, here we go:

One of the main reasons I really wanted to read The Bone Witch (apart from the extremely beautiful cover… I mean, look at it!), was the premise. A young girl who finds out she’s a bone witch, a witch who can resurrect the dead and then leaves home in order to become a rather powerful witch? Yes, please! It sounded just like up my alley and I couldn’t stop myself from requesting it on NetGalley when I got the chance.

So, the book starts with our main character, Tea, telling her story to this bard who wants to write a book about her. So she’s starts by telling him about when she found out she had the power to resurrect people. And she found it out by resurrecting her dead brother – who later ends up having this amazing capacity to joke about his death and being “dead” that is hilarious. After being pushed aside by her family and her village, another bone witch finds her and takes her away so she can train to become a proper bone witch with the asha – women with magical ability. 

And this is where things become messy. This book is complex guys, trust me. There are a lot thing I’m still not sure I fully understood the concept. Somethings I’m quite sure I didn’t grasp them entirely.

So, we have the asha who are witches who can use any elemental ability and then you have the dark asha who are the bone witches – these ones are kind of rare. Each one trains in order to become this sort of Geisha but also train to fight against these monsters – the daeva – who are dead but once in a while resurrect – the bastards! But only the dark asha can truly kill them. And you also have the deathseekers who are the like the male version of the asha – apart from the geisha part – they’re more like soldiers trained in magic.

Then there’s these heartglasses that contain a person’s “heart” and some people can read their emotions through their colour – Tea is one of them. And there’s the forger and his apprentice who can create people’s hearts by using someone else’s memories – this is a topic I’m still not sure about but I do like the whole heartglass concept in general.

Then, the most complicated part for me since I feel like this part of the story was simply thrown out at us readers instead of properly explained; the Faceless and the False Prince. As far as I could gather, the Faceless are the followers of this False Prince but who the heck this prince is, I have no idea. Maybe in the upcoming books – or book – we’ll get to know him and his history properly but for now I’m kind of lost.

Alright, I think this covers the things I’m still slightly confused about but, and despite the fact I didn’t fully grasp the idea Rin Chupeco had intended to express, this didn’t stop me from enjoying the action of the book. 

In my opinion, a person can enjoy a book even if he/she didn’t fully understand the main universe. As long as the main plot and the characters are interesting enough, I don’t see why you can’t enjoy it.

Anyway, moving on to the things I did like.

Tea from the future telling her story to the bard. I loved it! It makes you super curious about what the heck happened that eventually led to Tea being where she is.

Tea and Fox’s – her brother – bond and relationship. The fact that she resurrected him created this deeper bond between then that allows each other to know what the other feels and thinks. And Fox turned out to be one of the best characters in the book due to his sense of humour.

Tea’s “sisters” who help her train alongside her mentor, Mykaela. Those two, Polaire and Althy were, perhaps, my two favourite characters in the whole book, before Fox! Their humour, their opposite personality and abilities just made the story so much lighter. I hope to read more about them in the upcoming books!

And something that happened at the end of the book, a discovery that has to do with Tea in the future (or is it the present?) that had me surprised and so excited even though I saw it coming like miles away.

Anyway, the first half of the book dragged a little for me because it was a fantasy YA version of Memoirs of a Geisha (totally stealing it from the blurb and since I saw the movie but never read the book, I think I can compare the two of them!). It was more centred around Tea’s duties as a servant first and then as an asha in training – the practising her dance moves, singing, etiquette, history and whatnot.

But then you had the magic element to the story where Tea trained how to fight against weapons and magic alike, how to control her ability as a bone witch and how to use herbs and all.

There isn’t much I can say more about The Bone Witch to be honest  and I feel that my review did little to express my true feelings about the book.

I mean, I’m pretty sure you are thinking: “but you have so many negative – negative might be a strong word here – things about this but ended up rating a 3 cups?”

But, trust me on this when I say that this is one of those books I cannot explain why I kind of liked it despite those negative things – I can only say: “read it!”. It’s a sort of book that you simply have to be the one judging – a review, or someone else’s opinion, won’t be that enlightening to you.

In the end, The Bone Witch was a rather interesting and peculiar read. It’s also a book that I think will make you think and will move your feelings in strange directions. And despite all those things I didn’t grasp – which I’m hoping to understand upon a second reading and/or with the sequel – I understood t enough to realise the potential of it, how great it can become. I will definitely continue reading this series.
Ner

Review: Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet

Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Release Date: June 28th, 2016
Publisher: 47North
Pages: 296 (Paperback)
Format: PDF
Genre:
 YA | Magic | Fantasy
Idiom: English
Series: —
Read: from August 4 to 13, 2016
Source & Shelf: NetGalley | Kobo
ISBN: 9781503935600 
(Paperback)
Cups:
3 Cups
GoodreadsTBDAmazon

Synopsis

Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

My Opinion

Disclaimer: Thank you NetGalley and 47North for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

At first glance this is definitely my kind of book – magic, fantasy, ghosts, etc… But when I first started reading this book it turned out to be quite different from what I first thought. It ended up being a little bit more complex than a simple fantasy and magic book and in a way I really enjoyed it. But I think that since I was expecting something different, I ended up not fully appreciating Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet.

This book is about Maire, a young woman who doesn’t remember anything from her past but has a gift: she can infuse her cakes with whatever sort of emotion she wants. One day she’s capture by a band of raiders and sold as a slave to this stranger named Allemas. He wants her for her power, making her cook and selling her talents. At the same time, Maire is being visited by a ghost who might hold the key to her past. 

Maire was a character that I really enjoyed. At first the fact that she doesn’t know anything about her past might be a little uncomfortable but you get to know it with her, at the same time as Maire. And she’s a strong character; with Allemas she does through so much but never once falters and keeps going, keeps surviving.

The ghost, Fyel, is an enigma. It’s certain he knows Maire and that he could help her remember. But he can’t tell her everything, always speaking in riddles and never once giving her a straight answer. He can’t, actually. At first you don’t really know what to make of him but as the story unfolds and Maire begins to slowly remember her past, we also begin to understand who Fyel is.  

As for Allemas, at the end I wasn’t expecting his true identity, his true propose. During the whole book he is this strange man who seems to be having a battle with himself. Almost like a child in a grown-up man’s body. But the truth is so different from what I could come up with. It explained a few things about him but others I was left a little bit in doubt.

The story on itself was deep and complex, not at all what you first thing when you start reading the book. Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet ends up being a book about something far greater and grander than simple magic. It is magic, but a different kind of magic that goes beyond simple witchcraft.

The writing was easy to follow and it flew after a few chapters. I struggled slightly in the beginning since I wasn’t actually managing to set the story straight. But when I began to understand Maire’s voice, understand the background setting around her and got involved in the story, it was a rather fast and easy reading.  

There was a small part of the story that I really like and you can say it’s only details – they don’t actually add nothing to the story only to help Maire’s powers. Twice in the book Allemas tells Maire to use her abilities to other people and it ended up being connected with a few fairytales/classics. I’m not going to tell you because it’s fun to realise it as you read Magic Bitter Magic Sweet. But I can tell you that when I connected the dots, I found it quite intelligent.

Overall, Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet was a good book but the complexity of it made me enjoy it but not love it. It has magic, a really good character and a plot that was definitely not what I first expected but in the end, despite all the qualities of it, it was only a book I enjoyed. And, as I mentioned before, the fact that I was expecting something different and was kind of disappointed (perhaps disappointed is a strong word but the lack of other) with how it turned out to be, I couldn’t rate it more than 3 cups/stars. Still, it was a nice book with a twist in the end I liked and a bit of a lesson in the end.
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: 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: 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: From the Ashes

From the Ashes Review

As Luzes de Setembro - CRZ

Author: Nicole Ciacchella/ Elizabeth Darcy
Release Date: October 23rd, 2014
Publisher: Sweenix Rising Books
Pages: 348 (ebook)
Format: ebook
Genre: YA | Fairytale Retelling Romance
Idiom: English
Series: Fairytale Collection #3
Read: from January 16 to 21, 2015

Source & Shelf: Sent by Author | Kobo
ASIN: B00NSW7AK0
Cups:
fa88e-32bcups
 Amazon

Synopsis:

A Rebel Leade

Lucinda Morain is a servant in her own home, the object of her noble stepmother’s cruelty. But pretending to bow to her stepmother suits Lucinda’s purposes. As an operative for the Ashes, a rebel organization determined to overthrow the oppressive nobility, her lowly status provides her with the perfect cover. When she is chosen to lead the Ashes, Lucinda is overwhelmed and stunned. Can she handle the responsibility of making the life and death decisions?

A Prince in Disguise

Benicio dei Amaria, heir to the throne of Falloria, is desperate to escape the strictures of palace life. Trading places with his double, he adopts an assumed identity to seize one last taste of freedom before he’s forced to appease the nobles by choosing a bride. Then Lucinda saves his life, opening his eyes. Long uneasy with the hold the nobility has over his father, and drawn to Lucinda’s passion for her cause, Benicio can no longer ignore what the peasants have suffered at the nobles’ hands.

Taking the biggest risk of his life, Benicio provides the Ashes with secret information in the hopes of gaining them as allies. But what will happen if they uncover his true identity?

Lucinda knows he’s hiding something from her, but she’s hiding something from him too: she’s the Cinder, the nobles’ and king’s most wanted enemy.

Can they learn to trust one another before it’s too late to save Falloria?

My Opinion:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author, Nicole Ciacchella, herself in exchange for an honest review.

As you all are aware, Nicole Ciacchella has proven herself a genius when it comes to write fairytale re-telling. She picks up the already known folklore and transforms it into such an amazing and detailed tale with amazing characters and a plot with so many twists and turns you simply fall in love with it. However, from the three books I’ve read from her Fairytale Collection (the others being The Eye of the Beholder and Asleep), this was my least favourite. Still, she managed to recreate Cinderella’s story amazingly.

This Cinderella story is far more complex than the original one. Here Lucinda is the leader of a rebel group against the authority of the nobles who make their life miserable. And miserable is her life: since her father’s death she has been cleaning and doing all her stepmother’s biddings. However, Nicole centred this character more around the rebels instead of the evil stepmother relationship. There wasn’t really any connection between these two characters and there wasn’t much scenes between them.

Benicio has nothing to do with the prince we are all used to read/see on any Cinderella story. He is a prince in disguise within the Ashes, the rebels. He slowly learns the truth about his people and slowly begins to realise how blind and spoiled he has been during all his life. With Lucinda and the Ashes’ help, he plans to change his kingdom.

For me the whole Cinderella background was blurred with the amount of original ideas Nicole had for this book. All of them were greatly developed and she managed to use the fairytale’s background as a nice concept for the kick-off this book. But somehow it lacked that fairytale-ish vibe her other books had, that obvious bridge between her own original concept and the folklore. 

And this will pain me to admit but there was a moment when I simply wanted the story to end because it was simply a continuous loop of Lucinda’s struggle against the nobles. The relation between her and Benicio took a long time to develop and when it did, I felt it was too rushed, something I’m not used to on Nicole’s books.

Apart from those negative points mentioned above, this is yet another great book by Nicole Ciacchella. The world building was deliciously made, the characters felt real and with personality, the plot complex and thoughtful. Overall, this is yet another great fantasy romance. 

I will continue to be utterly eager to read more of her retellings and to see where how far she can go with her imagination. Because she certainly deserves more love from readers. I would love to read a retelling based on Snow White or Rapunzel written by this awesome author.

PS: how cool is the cover designed by the lovely Erica Crouch?! 😉

Thank you so much Nicole Ciacchella for the copy of the book (and for the short-story as well). Cannot wait for more ^_^

Ner

Review: Freak of Nature

Freak of Nature Review

As Luzes de Setembro - CRZ

Author: Julia Crane
Release Date: February 2nd, 2013 (originally January 9th, 2013)
Publisher: Valknut Press
Pages: 284 (Paperback)
Format: ebook
Genre:
 YA | Sci-Fi Romance
Idiom: English
Series: Freak of Nature #1
Read: from January 8 to 13, 2015
Source & Shelf: Smaswords | Kobo
ISBN: 9781624110245 
(Paperback)
Cups:
fa88e-32bcups
  Amazon

Synopsis:

Donate Body to Science. Check.

When seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn checked the box, she never suspected she’d have her life–and her body–stolen from her. She awakens one day in a secret laboratory to discover that her body is now half-robot and is forced to hide her own secret: that she still has human emotions and a human mind. If the scientists who made her find out, they’ll erase what remains of who she was.

Kaitlyn finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a handsome, brilliant scientist who can’t get over the guilt he feels knowing she was once a vibrant, beautiful young woman. He never expected a science project to affect him the way she does. As he tries to help her rediscover her past, he finds himself falling for the brave girl struggling to find her place and acceptance between the human and computer worlds.

My Opinion:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was drawn to this book mainly because of the cool cover and what sounded like a really cool plot. I’ve never read any of Julia Crane‘s books before but I had previously seen some people mentioning her books and saying how amazing they were so I decided to give Freak of Nature a try. Truth is, despite the fact that I enjoyed it there was something missing in it, some essence that would have transform this into a super five cups/stars book and, quite possibly, one of my favourite sci-fi books. Still, it was an entertaining book with some good twists and some good characters that pulls you to it.

The idea of donating a body to science was mostly the reason I wanted to read this book. This idea was appealing enough to me and the plot around this was very well explored and with some interesting developments. However, when you begin to realise what they were creating and how, the whole idea simply becomes sinister and quite terrible. 

Kaitlyn’s character was the body donated to the IFICS organisation. She’s half human half machine and everyone thinks she doesn’t think for herself or have feelings. With all the updates they did to her – as if she were merely a computer and not a human being (dead or not!) – they were expecting a killing machine with no will of her own. Surprise surprise! During all the time that Kaitlyn has been locked up on a compound, she had been faking not having reactions whatsoever. And this is what makes the whole book – her desire to be acknowledge as a person and not a machine.

There was also romance in this book and that was also one of the main points in it. Kaitlyn fell in love with one of the staff member that created and developed her: Lucas. He was a character that was so torn between the right thing to do and what his heart told him that you can’t help but feel a little pity for him. However, there was something missing in him that didn’t really created a whole person, some part of his personality wasn’t there and it made him somewhat bland. 

The good vs. evil gets a little bit blurry in Freak of Nature. There isn’t really a villain in it because in the end you end up realising that the person who invested in Kaitlyn isn’t that bad. Sure, he did transformed a human into a cyborg removing all traces of humanity within her. But his attachment to Kaitlyn feels almost most like fatherly. He wants her as his own prize but at the same time he wants to show her off to the world. 

The action was overall good, with enough tension to have you crawling your toes and wanting to desperately know how things are going to end. The romance lacked something and I blame that to Lucas. Maybe it was me but their romance was so abrupt, so out of control and with emotions all over the place that it turned out very lacking.

The ending, however, had me scratching my head. I was okay with it but at the same time I felt that everything they’ve worked for didn’t really mattered for she had accepted her fate and would go forward with being a killing machine. And Lucas fear of a possible love-triangle just didn’t made any sense to me.  

Overall, it was an entertaining book and a quick read that it might not seem perfect or the best book in the world, it can make you forget about more serious things for a moment.

Ner

Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Ner Reviews:
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Spinning Starlight

Author: Katherine Howe
Release Date: May 19th, 2010 (originally 2009)
Publisher: Planeta
Pages: 408 (Paperback)
Format: Paperback
Genre:
 Historical Fantasy | Mystery | Witches
Idiom: Portuguese
Series: —
Read: from July 28 to August 5, 2011
Source & Shelf: Borrowed
ISBN: 9781401341336 (English) | 9789896570781
(Portuguese)
Cups:
3 Cups
Amazon

Synopsis

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest–to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman’s story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation.

My Opinion

*This review might contain spoilers!*

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane was a great book. The beginning was slow but as the main character, Connie, began understanding what was going on around her, it became more exciting. 

This book has two different timelines: the one set in 1991 where Connie spends her Summer Holidays in Marblehead in her grandmother’s old house and where she meets Sam and her true identity; and other set between 1692 and a couple of years ahead (sorry, can’t remember them properly) about Deliverance Dane and the already known Salem Witch Trials. Told like this is could be confusing but I guarantee you, it’s not.

When Connie arrives at Marblehead, the story is a little bit slow: it’s just her routine in a dusty house analysing her surroundings. Only when she finds a key inside a bible does it really begins to be engaged. However, some parts in the book are slightly boring with Connie being too blind to see what us, as readers, already know since the moment she stepped into the house – at least, my theory was right since she found the key.

The 17th century moments makes us understand the true meaning of the trials that killed loads of people in America. Howe‘s description of the time was well written, making us almost see it in front of us as if it was a movie. It also made me, as a reader, understand the differences between the past and the “present“ (since the book is set in 1991) and complement the two of them.

Connie is a Harvard student who sometimes seems a little bit too annoying. There were moments in the book I just wanted to read more of the past because Connie was too naive. Only after she met Sam, did her character began to develop ever so slowly. Plus the fact that she was divided between believing in magic and not.

Overall, the book was good and entertained, a good and solid story that can be timeless and which makes us more aware of the history of America (since I’m European). It has a twist in the end, though for me it wasn’t a twist because I already knew it, and some things were very well hidden, being the clues rather difficult to decipher.

Katherine Howe wrote a good book. I’ll be waiting for more of her works in hope to find another exciting book such as this one..

Ner

Review: Key Trilogy

Ner Reviews:
The Key Trilogy

Spinning Starlight

Author: Nora Roberts
Release Date: 2005 (originally January 1st 2003)
Publisher: Flamingo | Jove
Pages: 359 (Paperback)
Format: Papaerback
Genre:
 Romance | Contemporary Fantasy
Idiom: Portuguese
Series: The Key Trilogy #1
Read: from August 2 to 6, 2009
Source & Shelf: Borrowed
ISBN: 9786130094
(PT Edition) | 9780515136289 (English Edition)
Cups:
3 Cups
Amazon

Synopsis

The pleasure of your company is desired for cocktails and conversation. 8 pm, 4th September. Warrior’s Peak.

When Malory Price is issued with the above invitation she is naturally suspicious, especially as Warrior’s Peak is a local mansion straight out of a Hollywood movie. But with her overdraft at crisis limit and on the verge of losing her job at a local art gallery, she has little to lose by attending the event.

Only Malory is about to get more than she bargained for. At Warrior’s Peak she finds that she and two other women are the only guests of their mysterious hosts. They are told an amazing story of magic, gods and goddesses; and of three demi-goddesses who have been cast into an eternal sleep, their mortal souls placed under lock and key. And in every generation, three women are born who alone have the power to free them – if they are prepared to accept the challenge.

Three women. Three keys to find. If one fails, they all lose. If they succeed – money, power and a new destiny awaits. It will take more than intellect, more than determination. They will have to open their hearts, their minds, and believe that everything is possible.

My Opinion

This is going to be a very small review.

A good book and well written with characters that could be a little well developed. The story unfolds itself fast but it’s efficient. It draws the readers’ attention even though the target being women.

I admit having read this book for quite some time now and haven’t kept reading the trilogy, but I remember being hooked despite thinking that the story was going too fast in some moments. Overall, I think it’s a fluid and easy writing with character that, we might not enjoy at first, we learn to appreciate.


Spinning Starlight

Author: Nora Roberts
Release Date: January 2010 (originally January 1st 2003)
Publisher: Bertrand Editora | Penguin USA
Pages: 432 (Paperback)
Format: Papaerback
Genre:
 Romance | Contemporary Fantasy
Idiom: Portuguese
Series: The Key Trilogy #2
Read: from July 17 to 22, 2011
Source & Shelf: Borrowed
ISBN: 9789722520805
(PT Edition) | 9780739439067 (English Edition)
Cups:
4 Cups
Amazon

Synopsis

You are the Key. The lock awaits.

What happens when the very gods depend on mortals for help? That’s what three very different young women find out when they are invited to Warrior’s Peak.

To librarian Dana Steele, books and the knowledge they hold are the key to contentment. But now that search for knowledge must include the second key needed to release three souls held captive by an evil god. In each generation three are chosen who have the power to release them – if they dare accept a challenge that could promise them great riches but also grave danger…

And now it is Dana’s turn.

She won’t be alone, for she’s formed fast friendships with two very different women. But she can’t allow herself to be distracted by the return of the man who broke her heart so long ago, for a danger beyond anyone’s imagination is determined to keep her from completing her quest.

My Opinion

*This review might contain spoilers!*

This was a second strong instalment for Nora Roberts’ trilogy. This book introduces us to Dana Steele, a librarian who quitted her job after an argument with her boss and whose fate is to find one of the three keys to free the souls of three daughters of a Celtic god. To make things worse, her ex-boyfriend who has broken her heart by leaving to New York to became a best-seller author, has return and intends to win her heart again.

After book one about Malory Price quest to find the first key, this book delivers us a strong, independent character with a down-to-down personality though difficult to deal with. Dana submerges herself into research while trying to ignore Jordan Hawke, her ex, and into her new store which she’ll be sharing with Malory and Zoe.

Of course that each book is about one good quality of the characters or something they dream about. Dana’s passion, compulsion is books so she’s sure she’ll find the key on a book important to her. What she didn’t know was that the past, the present and the future were going to be the major key in finding the object.

In this book the pace is less fast; you can enjoy the relationship between Jordan and Dana without having the reaction that they’re jumping into something faster than normal. Because of their past together, they’re relation came easy and familiar. There was tension and sensuality between the two of them resulting of great sexy scenes well written without being too much.

The main plot develops also in a slow pace but easy to follow. Roberts leaves clues here and there matching all together in the end.

The final action sequence between Dana and Kane, happening inside Hawke’s book where a character was based on Dana, is an amazingly described scene where you can almost feel what the characters are feeling.

However, I think that some moments in the book were a bit rushed; like Jordan and Flynn’s proposal. In a month the two of them found love and are engaged. I think it was too quick.

Overall, I think this was a strong continuation for a trilogy and the characters are all changing and showing us other facades.

Now, bring me book three.


Spinning Starlight

Author: Nora Roberts
Release Date: March 2010 (originally 2003)
Publisher: Bertrand Editora | Jove
Pages: 424 (Paperback)
Format: Papaerback
Genre:
 Romance | Contemporary Fantasy
Idiom: Portuguese
Series: The Key Trilogy #3
Read: from July 22 to 28, 2011
Source & Shelf: Borrowed
ISBN: 9789722521192
(PT Edition) | 9789722521192 (English Edition)
Cups:
4 Cups
Amazon

Synopsis

What happens when the very gods depend on mortals for help?

That’s what three very different young women find out when they are invited to Warrior’s Peak.

Light and knowledge have succeeded in their quest, and two of the keys have been found. Both Malory and Dana had taken their turns. The final, and last, test goes to Zoe McCourt – valor.

Now it was her burden, her risk. Her chance. She had to be brave enough, smart enough, strong enough, or everything they’d done before her would be for nothing.

Zoe has the courage to raise her young son alone, and to face all the adversity life has thrown at them. But will she have the courage to face a foe determined to do anything to stop the third key from being found – even destroying everything – and everyone – she loves?

My Opinion

*This review might contain spoilers!*

This was a good and solid conclusion to the Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts.

Being the most human character of all, Zoe McCourt finds herself the last of the three girls to find the key. She has to look inside her heart, to face her fears and overcome her insecurity to allow her heart to see the true location of the last key to open the box where the souls of three young girls are locked. 

If I had enjoyed the last one, Key of Knowledge, this made me realise how good and perfect this trilogy is. Zoe is a strong and independent woman who loves her son more than anything and who would do anything to protect him. However, due to her broken-heart, she doesn’t fall in love too easily and when Bradley Charles Vane IV shows some affection, she closes herself away. What she doesn’t know is that she must free her spirit to love him and those around her so she can defeat Kane.

The entire story unfolds slowly with Zoe trying to figure out the clues Rowena and Pitte gave her. She battles against herself and her past to see beyond her reason. She’s the kind of woman we all would love to be in the future.

This book had more action, more confrontation with Kane which made everything all excited. She has an ordinary life like all women does and we can almost she ourselves and our daily routine reflected in her story. I think this is the character that teaches us more from the trilogy due to her past life – taking care of her family and leaving home when she was 16 while pregnant – and to her present relationship with her son. And the relation between Simon and Brad was well explore though sometimes too fast for a kid who never knew what having a father was. 

As I said, a strong and solid conclusion to an amazing trilogy that introduced me to the world of Nora Roberts. I couldn’t be more pleased.

Ner

Review: The Left Hand of God

Ner Reviews:
The Left Hand of God

Spinning Starlight

Author: Paul Hoffman
Release Date: August 19th, 2010 (originally January 7th 2010)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 500 (Paperback)
Format: Paperback
Genre:
 YA | Fantasy | Adventure
Idiom: English
Series: The Left Hand of God #1
Read: from February 21 to March 17, 2011
Source & Shelf: Purchase | Own
ISBN: 9780141042374
(Paperback)
Cups:
3 Cups
Amazon

Synopsis

The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a place where children endure brutal cruelty and violence in the name of the One True Faith. Lost in the Sanctuary’s huge maze of corridors is a boy. He is strange witty and charming, and violent. But when he opens the wrong door at the wrong time he witnesses an act so horrible he must flee, or die..

My Opinion

Where to begin? Oh, right.

I only gave it three stars ’cause in the end it begins to get a bit interesting.

So, this was one of the weirdest, slightly boring books I’ve ever read. Not that I haven’t enjoyed it, which I did, but it only became interesting in the last chapter. Actually, you don’t even understand much what’s going one during the entire book and then, in the end, when Redeemer Bosco tells the main character, Thomas Cale, what he truly is, you kind of feel like you want more – and I haven’t felt that before that particular scene.

I told a friend of mine that this was the sort of book I wouldn’t be desperate for the second one, but I admit wanting to know what the hell is going to happen.

So, after reading the mountains of books I have to read, and as soon as I find The Last Four Things in my book store, I might buy it.

Ner