Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review: The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

Book Description:

Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 5th 2015 by Scholastic Press

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?


Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Dianne + Pinoy Book Tours (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

The Sin Eater's Daughter came out as a surprise to me. I didn't expect to love the book as much I did - but I am glad that I did, though. It has been a while since I read a book so unpredictable and so highly political, as this one.

Twylla, also known as Daunen Embodied, was an intriguing heroine. She was gifted and blessed by the gods, feared by mortals and a part of the court. Her journey from being the sin eater's daughter to the well-dressed betrothed of the Prince, was a roller coaster of emotions and changes. She had a public life and a private life. When facing the court, she was Daunen Embodied, a blessing to the kingdom. She was reserved, quiet and a follower of the rules, but deep inside she was a victim  - she lost her family, unable to keep in touch with them; she lost her free will. The only thing she had was her gift and curse of poison - to survive it and to kill others with it, and her loyal guard.

Lief was Tregellian – a foreigner. Tasked to be Twylla’s new guard, he was clumsy and often tripped over the boundaries of being formal and being too familiar. He was most intriguing. He was friendly, thoughtful and even sweet. He had natural charisma. He took away my doubts and my suspicions, as well as Twylla’s, with his little gestures and kind words. As Twylla and Lief spent more time together, they were drawn and pulled into each other’s life. They fell in love. Salibsury knew how to drag out the growing attraction between the two, to the point that it was almost painful to read. The emotional and sexual attraction was practically palpable and physical - you could cut it with a knife.

The story world of The Sin Eater’s Daughter was quite elaborate, backed up with mythological and religious background. But the elaboration and attention to detail extended only up to the borders of Lormere, beyond this point the geography and the idea of other kingdoms were quite blurry. I commend Salisbury for having Lormere’s air charged with a specific vibe that made The Sin Eater’s Daughter atmospheric for me.

The evil queen traipsed around her court, with elegance and violence. The Court obeyed the queen’s wishes and rarely questioned her. This was a good reflection of the dark side of politics. The people in power get what they want, at the expense of other people, and though the people are against this, they keep quiet, in fear of being punished or killed. Twylla was one of the queen’s favorite pawns. As Daunen Embodied, she rendered the Court cautious and fearful.

The plot was unpredictable, growing into explosions of surprises and shockers that I never saw coming. I loved how I kept on sitting at the edge of my seat, guessing and worrying. In the latter part of the book, Salisbury unleashed a set of twists and turns. I was utterly devastated and amazed at the same time.

The Sin Eater's Daughter kept me up at night with its intrigue, charm and simmering romance. It was quite atmospheric and unpredictable. Though there were still unanswered questions in my mind at the end, I still enjoyed the story. I recommend this to readers of high fantasy. This would also appeal to readers of historical - medieval - and romance.

Rating:

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


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review: A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

Book Description:

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 27th 2015 by Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins

After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.


Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Harper Collins(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Warning: For readers, who have not finished The Madman’s Daughter and Her Dark Curiosity, now is the time to turn back. There would be spoilers for people who haven’t read the first two books. You have been warned.

A Cold Legacy manifested the genius of Shepherd’s writing: the lurking darkness, the electric atmosphere of the setting, whether it was on a tropical island, high society London or the Scottish moors, and most importantly, the brilliance and madness of her characters. Though I have never set foot on Scotland, I felt like I just spent a three-week vacation there, and jumped back in time, in the process.

Juliet was mad, brilliant and fierce. As she struggled and moved forward through the problems that she encountered, being threatened, followed and attacked, she became stronger and steadier. Juliet retaliated, in bursts of blood and darkness. For a long time, she thought that Dr. Moreau’s blood and craziness ran in her veins. Watching from the sidelines of Juliet’s life was unsettling, thrilling and heart-pounding. There was never a dull moment. Her way of thinking, coupled with her heritage, was deadly. With Juliet, there were always surprises and shockers.

The love triangle that was so palpable in Her Dark Curiosity was long gone. Juliet was now engaged to Montgomery. However Edward’s presence was like a cloud blocking out the sun. The possibility of the emergence of the Beast was just too dangerous to ignore. Juliet felt a connection to the Beast, since they were both “dark” creatures, and had gone through her father’s hands. They had a deeper level of understanding, empathy and similarities, that Juliet would never be able to share with Montgomery.

The physical, psychological and emotional situation that Edward was in broke my heart into a million tiny pieces. I am always drawn to dark, vulnerable characters, especially the ones that were suffering emotionally. I was sad for Edward and wished that I, myself, could give him a chance to live a normal life. Out of all the characters, aside from Juliet, Edward was the one I felt emotionally invested in. Though A Cold Legacy did not have the "spark" that made me love The Madman's Daughter and Her Dark Curiosity, I still enjoyed it. The ending was not what I expected it to be but nevertheless I found it satisfying and just to end the trilogy.

One of the things I liked about A Cold Legacy was that the minor characters were given a chance to shine. Lucy Radcliffe, Juliet’s socialite best friend, was seen in a different light. Underneath the surface was a bold Lucy who braved the Scottish moors, left her comfortable and luxurious life behind, for love. One of the characters close to my heart, Balthazar, was finally “humanized” while highlighting his origin. Although he was made in a laboratory, he had a pure heart and conscience. The way that his mind worked, as well as his personality, was thoroughly explained.

A Cold Legacy is an atmospheric, chilling, and unpredictable retelling of Frankenstein. Readers are in for a treat with the twists, revelations and surprises. I highly recommend this series to readers who enjoy retellings, "old world science fiction," and historical stories.


Rating:


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

Interested in the series? The reviews of the previous books can be found here:
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd



Thursday, February 05, 2015

Review: Love, Lucy by April Lindner

Book Description:

Hardcover, 304 pages
January 27th 2015 by Poppy

While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Dianne + Pinoy Book Tours(Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

I was intrigued by Love, Lucy because it was set in Italy, one of the places I want to visit. I find the setting so romantic and genuine: the reader was transported to the picturesque landscape, breathing in the air of culture. I was not disappointed with Love, Lucy. It was as beautiful, and even more, as I expected it to be.

Lucy was an easy character to understand and adore. She was sweet and nice, considering the people around her and being cautious about her actions. But at the same time she was passionate about acting, about living in the moment and about love. Jesse was the American street musician. He was incredibly talented, expressive and intriguing. When Lucy fell in love with him, I had to admit that I fell in love with him, too. He wasn't the typical love interest. He was young, wild and free, living his life the way he wants to. He is not afraid to both think and be out-of-the-box. Jesse and Lucy's relationship could be likened to summer. It started with a spark and as the days passed, their connection to one another became brighter and hotter, until finally, it simmered down. 

What I liked about Love, Lucy was that it also highlighted Lucy's growth. From vacation flirtation, she went to university. I rarely get to read about college-based novels, so this was a welcome delight. Lucy went through what most freshman students go through. She was becoming more mature, making her own decisions, taking risks that are worth taking, and pushing through with what she really wants in life. 

Another thing that I liked about Love, Lucy was the theater. Lucy was an actress, so she had to go through auditions, rehearsals, the usual drama involved in theater. I really enjoyed reading about this, as it was one of my childhood dreams to act on stage. 

The writing was superfluous, as expected from April Lindner. She wrote in such a way that made me live in the moment, all senses included. To be honest, I was looking forward to a plot similar to Just One Day by Gayle Forman: girl meets boy during vacation and falls in love with him. It was the same in that aspect, but Love, Lucy was less intense - Lucy did not look for the one that got away. There were twists and turns, heart wrenching moments and all-the-feels simmering and slipping into the reader. 

Love, Lucy is a beautifully-written, atmospheric and all-the-feels-inducing contemporary romance. I highly recommend this to readers who enjoyed Just One Day by Gayle Forman and readers who like novels set in Italy, contemporary romance and coming-of-age stories. 

Rating:


5 Cupids = Eternal book love. I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!


Sunday, February 01, 2015

Out and About: Book Signing with James Frey + Giveaway: Endgame: The Calling



Out and about is a feature here on Fragments of Life for events, book launches and movie adaptations.

This time around, I am sharing my experience about the #JamesFreyInPH event.

The Basics:

Who: The author is: James Frey. The Organizer is: National BookStore.

What books:

The books!

Book Description:

Hardcover, 477 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by HarperTeen

Twelve thousand years ago, they came. They descended from the sky amid smoke and fire, and created humanity and gave us rules to live by. They needed gold and they built our earliest civilizations to mine it for them. When they had what they needed, they left. But before they left, they told us someday they would come back, and when they did, a game would be played. A game that would determine our future.

This is Endgame.

For ten thousand years the lines have existed in secret. The 12 original lines of humanity. Each had to have a Player prepared at all times. They have trained generation after generation after generation. In weapons, languages, history, tactics, disguise assassination. Together the players are everything: strong, kind, ruthless, loyal, smart, stupid, ugly, lustful, mean, fickle, beautiful, calculating, lazy, exuberant, weak. They are good and evil. Like you. Like all.

This is Endgame.

When the game starts, the players will have to find three keys. The keys are somewhere on earth. The only rule of their Endgame is that there are no rules. Whoever finds the keys first wins the game. Endgame: The Calling is about the hunt for the first key. And just as it tells the story of the hunt for a hidden key, written into the book is a puzzle. It invites readers to play their own Endgame and to try to solve the puzzle. Whoever does will open a case filled with gold. Alongside the puzzle will be a revolutionary mobile game built by Google’s Niantic Labs that will allow you to play a real-world version of Endgame where you can join one of the lines and do battle with people around you.

Will exuberance beat strength? Stupidity top kindness? Laziness thwart beauty? Will the winner be good or evil? There is only one way to find out.

Play.
Survive.
Solve.
People of Earth.
Endgame has begun.

When: February 1st 2015

Where: National Book Store, Glorietta 4

What I learned about James Frey and his books from the event:

  • The ending of Endgame: The Calling had to be changed four times. In a way, this was hard for James. But generally, for him all books are the same - you go through the same process. The beginning was hard because you think of the hundreds of pages in front of you. "But the ending stinks." You have to get it right.
  • The logistics of the book was complicated. There is a puzzle embedded in the book, and if you solve the puzzle, you win $500,000. The book was sold in various countries and was translated into 30+ languages. James' team had to make sure that winning the prize and the the overall set-up of the puzzle contest was legal in all the countries where the book is being sold.
  • When it comes to movie adaptations, James would only help when he is called in for a specific matter. But aside from that, the big guys aka directors/producers have it all covered. ;)
  • Endgame: The Calling will be a movie! (This is a surprise for me. It's the first time I found out about it.)
  • There are no rules - this is the only rule in Endgame. No rules is a good place in a book because the writer gets a lot of freedom to twist and mold characters into how he wants them to be.
  • In making Endgame, there was an extensive research. First, James' team searched for the oldest cultures of the world, old enough to be in contact with aliens, in theory, the ones with old, weird writings. The next step would be focused on the characters - deciding which ones would be good and which ones would be bad.
  • The genre of Endgame is not dystopia. It is way cooler, more fun and is set in our own world.
  • The end of book one was upsetting. Something happens to the love triangle. *spoiler alert*
  • James wants to acknowledge the different cultures around the world, hence, the global characters representing the various races and cultures. He was tired of the typical novel centered on the white American. He knows that he has a global audience and wants to bring something fresh to the table.
  • James has different reasons for liking his characters. He feels that there shouldn't be favoritism. He gives equal care to both the good and bad characters. If he takes care of one character more than the other, this would manifest in the book, and he doesn't want that.
  • He wouldn't change anything in the book, aside from what was taken out in the editing process.
  • The second book has no title yet. (They already had the title but his team decided that it had to be changed.)So let's wait for that announcement.

Me and James Frey and the signed book :)

#PHYABookBloggers

My blogger ladies, and erm...one blogger guy and Chad. :)

Big thanks to National Book Store for the awesome event! One lucky reader of Fragments of Life will win a signed (with a message) hardcover of Endgame: The Calling.

So this is open to PH residents only, but if you're based abroad and have a Philippine address to send the book to, you could still join. Enter below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway