Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Book Description:

Hardcover, 275 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by HarperTeen

Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Illusions of Fate was set in a colonial period alternate world, with a strong vibe of historical fiction. There was a struggle and tension between the Albens and the Melenese. The story world presented a colonial experience that was both a reality and a history for many people around the world.

Finn and Jessamin were two of my most favorite characters. Being both Alben and Melenese, Jessamin was stuck in between, not as dark as her people but not as fair and pale of skin as the Albens. Studying in Albion, made her standout as an outcast. She seemed so out of place yet she was determined to survive. She had a strong spirit and an even stronger dedication to her people. She wanted to finish school and to be a teacher back in her island. Finn, on the other hand, was filled with mystery and charm. In the beginning, I even thought that he was the bad guy. But as the story moved forward, his protective layers and "public face" were peeled off, revealing the true Finn. He was not your typical noble. He was open minded, which seemed too advanced for the period they were in, and had a kind heart.

The secondary characters were also bright and radiant, shining along with the main characters. Sir Bird, an unlikely ally, had become my favorite literary pet. Although wordless, his (not an it as Jessamin would say) eye contact, caws, movements and beak-thrusting-into-the-air could convey so much meaning. Because of this, I found myself amazed with Kiersten White. She was able to "humanize" a crow so effectively. Eleanor was another bright star of the show. She was extremely loyal, smart and fun. She brought color and humor into the story. I just loved reading about her ramblings, her gossips and her plans.

Albion has a highly political society. The hierarchy was apparent, though it was not as detailed as I would have wanted it to be. As the story unfolded, magic's role in the society was emphasized - how it could create both order and chaos, and establish the grounds for changes. Although there were predictable variables in the novel, there were also unpredictable elements and twists.

The writing was smooth and beautiful, as it was in her debut Paranormalcy. White was a good a storyteller. What I liked most about her novels was the humorous tone and wit that were embedded in the pages. Nothing was ever boring in the hands of White. The characters' lines had me thoroughly entertained, cracking up with laughter and smiling. The banter between characters seemed so natural.

I loved that this novel was a standalone but I hated that I would not get to read about Finn more. I would have very much wanted to find out more about his past and how he came to be such a gentleman. Aside from that, there was a specific scene in the book related to the antagonist that troubled me. It remained a question in my head until the very end.

Illusions of Fate was a captivating and humorous colonial period fantasy. With explosions of magic, tragedy, social politics and twists and turns, Illusions of Fate will satisfy readers of fantasy and historical fiction. I recommend this to people who are looking for the following:YA books with humor and wit, colonial-period historical fiction (the likes of The Winner's Curse) and a quick read.

Rating:


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Release Day Celebration: Giveaway: Loop by Karen Akins

Hi guys! I'm happy to be a part of this release day book blast hosted by Amber from Me, My Shelf and I. Stick around for a giveaway at the end. :)


Book Description:

Loop (Loop #1)
Author: Karen Akins
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.

Goodreads
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

Praise:

"A creative take on romance in a high-stakes, high-concept mystery that trusts its readers' intelligence." - Kirkus

"LOOP is a page-turning adventure with some brilliant and original twists to the time travel genre. I devoured the entire book in one sitting!" - Julie Cross, Author of the TEMPEST series

"Hilarious and suspenseful with a delicious dash of romance, LOOP is a mind-bending good time!" - Melissa Landers, Author of the ALIENATED series


About The Author:

Karen Akins lives in the MidSouth where she writes humorous, light YA sci-fi. When not writing or reading, she loves lightsaber dueling with her two sons and forcing her husband to watch BBC shows with her.

Karen has been many things in her life: an archery instructor, drummer for the shortest-lived garage band in history, and a shockingly bad tic-tac-toe player.

Follow Karen: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest | Wattpad



Giveaway Alert!

Must be 13+ To Enter | Ships in US Only

One Winner will get a signed final copy of LOOP + a swag pack


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Blackbird by Anna Carey

Book Description:

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by HarperTeen

This twisty, breathless cat-and-mouse thrill ride, told in the second person, follows a girl with amnesia in present-day Los Angeles who is being pursued by mysterious and terrifying assailants.

A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her.

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined.

The Maze Runner series meets Code Name Verity, Blackbird is relentless and action-packed, filled with surprising twists.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

I expected Blackbird to be something like The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings, in the sense that there would be chasing, hunting and killing. I was pleasantly surprised to find a mystery/thriller with a strong contemporary vibe. At first, I was taken aback with the second person narration. I found it to be unique and extremely risky. Because of this, I got to participate in the heroine's journey. I, myself, became the heroine in a sense. Though I struggled a bit in the beginning because of the second person POV, eventually I got accustomed to it.

I had come to know the little bit of Sunny that was revealed in the story: quick hands, quiet footsteps, smart and a little bit lost, curious and passionate. Through the flashbacks, small details were given, enough to make sense of the puzzle that was Sunny's life.

Blackbird had startlingly violent bursts of action and adrenaline all over it. This was coupled with the heroine's lack of memory, which made things more interesting. There was something cinematic, heart-pounding-panting-in-the-moment vibe about these events. The second person narration could be a factor in this effect, as I, the reader, was involved.

Throughout the story, the questions, that were buzzing around my head like bees, were answered one by one. But I am a bit frustrated that there was one question, the most important one for me, that remained unanswered. The curiosity about Sunny's past before she was thrown into the wild chaos drove me crazy. That burning curiosity alone, though, was enough to make me rush through the pages. The ending was hopeful and was the perfect surprise for a weak and bone-tired Sunny.

Blackbird was a limb-jolting-read-at-the-edge-of-your-seat and one-of-a-kind mystery thriller. With a contemporary vibe, a dash of romance, a handful of crimson violence and adrenaline rush, and a smattering of colorful memories, readers would be entertained, mind-boggled, and delighted. The second person narration might not be for everybody. But I would recommend that you try it out for yourself. This book is ideal for readers who want a short, can-be-finished-in-one-sitting book, readers who want mystery thrillers and finally, readers who are interested in books tackling memory.

Rating:


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review + Giveaway: The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts

Book Description:

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 23rd 2014 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

A streetwise girl trains to take on a gang of drug dealers and avenge her best friend’s death in this thriller for fans of Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman.

People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.

Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye's plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she's become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?

Reviewer's Copy: e-ARC

Source: Aisha and Knopf Books for Young Readers(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

The concept behind The Bodies We Wear was one of a kind. Set in a world that was both startlingly dark, with an abundance of rain, violence, and dire circumstances, The Bodies We Wear became the ultimate dystopic setting. The ambiance was so pronounced, it ripped into the reader with hopelessness and put a weight on my shoulders. It was hard to ignore how realistic it was, given the present times.

Heaven's Dream, also more popularly known as Heam, was all the rage in Faye's world. Affordable and accessible, it could bring you to your own personal cloud nine for just 20 bucks a hit. The drug's aftermath and long-lasting effect was apparent in how the society had changed and how strong the stigma of being a Heam addict was. In present day, there is a stigma and ever-present-judgment of drug abusers. In The Bodies We Wear, once a Heam addict, always a Heam addict. There was no salvation, no second chance and no opportunities. It was the ultimate dead end. Studies showed that almost all Heam abusers cannot recover. This made me realize how we sometimes judge drug abusers and bring them down instead of helping them recover. This was an eye-opener for me.

Faye was eleven years old when she was forced to take Heam. One out of 100 people who take Heam, overdose. She was one in a hundred. As a souvenir, she got a web of scars over her heart: purple-colored veins that would never let her forget. With the help of Gazer, the ex-police officer who saved her, she managed to get on decently. She went to Sebastian Clover, on a full-ride scholarship, and was fit from intense daily training. It was not hard to connect to Faye, given all the things she has been through. But sometimes, her burden passed on to the reader. The writing was that effective: the weight of her past, her present and her future jumped out of the pages.

One night, as Faye was stalking her target, Chael appeared. Handsome, fidgety, with piercing green eyes, Chael was not someone that Faye expected to interact with. She mostly kept to herself, even at school. The weird guy seemed to know where she was, what she was thinking and even a part of her past. She has no memory Chael but she was determined to find out his secrets. I found Chael to be affectionate and gentle and sweet. He has this boynextdoor thing going on. I loved how Chael and Faye's relationship developed from being strangers sharing a conversation in the rain to being emotionally-invested in one another. It was the kind of relationship that I would like to call effortless. It was just like breathing, natural and easy. All they had to do was keep it going.

The ending broke me. I was too attached and too invested with Faye and Chael that the ending tore my heart into a million tiny pieces and put it back together again with super glue. The story was wave after wave of obstacles, observations and realizations, dreams - realistic and not, flashbacks, and emotions. By the time it was over, I was tired but relieved for Faye and Chael.

The writing itself was good, the kind of good that could make readers lose themselves in the story. The Bodies We Wear was a crossover of dark contemporary and supernatural. It was both sweet and bitter, offering a mouthful of flavors of life and reality. This tackled various relationships within the book: daughter to father figure, daughter to mother, friends, lovers, enemies. I recommend this to readers who are looking for a heavy read - dark/emotional contemporary with a dash of supernatural.

Rating:


4 Cupids = Strong book love.
I really enjoyed this. I recommend this!

Giveaway
 
Two lucky readers from Fragments of Life will win a finished copy of The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts! US/CA only, as per publisher's request. Sorry my lovelies. There will be an international giveaway soon.


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