Sunday, 25 January 2015

DNF Review of the Island trilogy

The Island Collection
By Jen Hinkman



All three books of the Island series in one volume – The Island Trilogy is the perfect young adult dystopian read if you are looking for something different than usual!

From the isolated island of Tresco to the wild moors of Dartmoor, this far-reaching tale of lost children, strange belief systems and shattered societies will make you wonder about our own culture, today’s world, and our place in it. How much of that world do we take for granted without asking why things are the way they are?

Included in this collection are:
THE ISLAND - On one side of the Island’s great Wall, children must abandon their parents and fend for themselves from the age of ten. Leia is used to it — but she’s always been curious about what lies beyond. Then she meets Walt, a young man from the other side of the Wall, where the Fools live... 

THE WAVES – Walt lives in Hope Harbor, a pious town inhabited by people who patiently waits for the Goddess to come to the Island one day. She will take them away and save them. Or will she? When Walt’s best friend and future leader of Hope Harbor is silenced when he questions the religion of old, Walt sets out and discovers the shocking truth about the island they live on and the people beyond the Wall. 

THE DEEP – Leia and Walt sail away to the legendary world of Cornwall. They’ve been told that all wars of the past have been forgotten and the people there live in peace, adhering to the tenets of an old religion that preaches forgiveness and non-violence. However, on a trip to Exeter, the ancient city of their ancestors, they discover more about the new world than they ever bargained for.

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 2.5 / 5 stars

My Thoughts
*I was provided with a free ecopy of the island trilogy in exchange for an honest review.*

It is very unusual for me to abandon a book partway through but I'm afraid the Island trilogy fell into that minority. I managed to read the first book, but my interest dissipated in book two.

I found it difficult to be absorbed by the first book in the series, but somehow I trudged through. It wasn’t the concept that didn’t excite me, I love near impossible adventure stories, in fact my last read was about dragons so you can’t get more crazy than that, but I couldn’t find myself to believe the story like I wanted to.

Book one begins with a two siblings leaving their parents home to join the other kids living in the mansion. Once each child has reached the age of ten, they are expected to fend for themselves; and the parents encourage this because it is the normal behaviour. Although I realised that this was a crucial part of the story, it sounded like the kids were playing house. Sorry, but how can every parent bring their kid up for ten years and then say, ‘off with you?’ furthermore, the kids all believe that their parents don’t love them, how on earth does that work because fundamentally even a tiger protects its cub! There might be a handful of adults like these in reality but in this story ALL the parents acted like this, which was beyond unrealistic.

The pace of the story picked up once the girl (I've even forgotten her name though I just finished reading it) starts questioning their leader, the power hungry Saul, who is eighteen or nineteen. She uncovers secrets about their lives and that Saul has been lying about the ‘Fools,’ who are mythical people that live outside their ‘wall.’ She panics when she’s about to be caught, and runs into the woods to hide the special Book they live by but stumbles across one of these 'fools.' Just re-reading what I wrote highlights what a joke this story is!
Anyway, Walt (who is clearly more memorable than the female protagonist) persuades the girl to meet his foolish people and she agrees. The story finally becomes more interesting once Walt enters, because he adds a bit of much-needed humour. Thanks to Walt’s entrance and because the first book is very short, I managed to finish reading part one of the trilogy.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the second book. I had expected it to pick up where the last book left off but book two was about Walt's childhood. If I hadn't already 'met' the older Walt, I would wonder what possessed someone to write a book about such a boring child. I got as far as Walt sneaking out to the wall and seeing a lone sheep before I gave up on this series.
Perhaps book three is a game-changer, but I really cannot muster more effort to read it. Like I always say, just because I don’t enjoy a book, doesn’t meant the book isn’t any good. The Island just was not my cup of tea.

Zed (:

Likeable quotes:

When I turned ten, I became a grown-up. Colin and I joined the rest of the youngsters in the manor house after our birthday.
Even in a fantasy world, parents are not to be trusted – the stories of Snow White and Cinderella make that perfectly clear. The mothers in those takes didn’t love their children either.
“Saul is going nuts. He woke everyone with his raging and screaming, telling us there’s a despicable thief among us, but he doesn’t want to tell us what he’s  lost.” “His mind, probably,” Ami quips. Colin scoffs. “Nothing new under the sun. Why kick up a fuss over it now?”

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Review of The Iron Knight

The Iron Knight
 (The Iron Fey #4)

By Julie Kagawa


My name - my True Name - is Ashallayn’ darkmyr Tallyn. I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her. My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…

To cold faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase - a half human, half fey slip of a girl - smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the unwelcome company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end - a quest to find a way to honor his vow to stand by Meghan's side.

To survive in the Iron Realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. And along the way Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.
 Source: Goodreads
My rating: 4.3 / 5

My Thoughts:

I only gave this book 4 rather than the 5 stars that I normally give to the Iron Fey series, but it was an incredibly close call. In the Iron Knight we see the story from Ash’s point of view as he sets out on a journey to the end of the world in order to become human. He is accompanied on this adventure to obtain a soul by none other than Puck and my personal favourite, Grimalkin. The Big, Bad Wolf of legends accompanies them, as does the one and only, Ariella! Yes, she is alive, well, sort of. She is now a Seer, but her gift/curse and the time she’s lived alone has changed her. I can see why the boys loved her, but throughout the book she felt like a ghost more than a girl to me. She was always so practical, and clear-minded, it felt like she didn’t have a personality and she was an echo of the Ariella they once knew.

In every book so far, we meet at least one character besides Puck and Grimalkin, that bring the element of humour to the story. This book was darker than the others so it was only fitting that the humour from the Wolf was dark too. I loved the banter between Grimalkin and the Wolf, the constant insults and near-death threats. It sounds ominous, but it made this story lighter to read. Puck and Ash have their own ups and downs but as the Iron Fey series progresses, I feel that their relationship improves too. Who knows, they might even be almost-friends soon?

I was sad that there was less of Meghan in The Iron Knight than the other books but it made sense as this book was about Ash and his journey. We see some of the demons of his past, his fears and basically the downfall of what being a human means. It actually made me reconsider his whole ‘I need a soul’ mission, because the problems of being human were rather depressing to say the least (Mortality consists of old age, sickness, a guilty conscious and a very fragile body; who would want to give up immeasurable strength, winter glamour and immortality for these problems?). Ash might be the reserved, cold type, but his love for Meghan is epicly sweet. I thought he was going to waver when he realised Ariella was still alive, and again when he sees a possibility of his future mortal death, but he remained strong and devout. *sigh*

This book was definitely different to the others, and in a way, even though the story was darker, it was more romantic too. Ash literally went through hell and back to find a way to be with Meghan, if that’s not true love (and insanity) then what is?

Zed (:

Favourite Quotes:

“You know,” Puck said, panting slightly, “this reminds me of the time we were underground and stumbled into that Duergar city. Remember that, ice-boy?” I parried a blow to my ribs and returned with a swipe to my opponent’s head, forcing him back a step. “Stop talking and keep fighting, Goodfellow.” “Yeah, I think you said that to me then, too.”  
She frowned and looked at us both. “Are you friends?” I snorted. “I wouldn’t go that far.” “Oh, best friends, lady,” Puck said at the same time, giving her a wink. “Ice-boy will deny it until the mountains crumble, but you know how hard it is for him to admit his feelings, right?”  
“...We were born from their dreams, their fears and imaginations. We are the product of their hearts and minds. Without a soul we are immortal, yet empty. Remembered, we exist. Forgotten, we die. And when we die, we simply fade away, as if we never existed at all. To become human is to have a soul. It is that simple.”
“Although, I will issue this one warning. If I end up in the river because some idiot decides to rock the boat-“ he flattened his ears at Puck, who gave him a wide-eyed look of innocence “-I know several witches who would be happy to bring down a particularly potent curse on said idiot’s head.”
I shrugged. “I know my abilities. Why should I fear something that probably can’t kill me?”  
I shot the Wolf a cold stare. “What do you think?” He bared his fangs at me. “Be careful, boy. In some tales, the hero gets eaten by the monster after all.”   
“We are gathered today,” he began in a lofty tone, “to witness the joining of these two in the completely useless, ostentatious ceremony of marriage. For reasons beyond me, they have decided to make their love official, and-“ “Grimalkin.” Meghan sighed, though she wore a faint, exasperated smile. “Just this once, could you please not be an ass?”
“...That is the price of mortality. You will die, and you will die alone.”

Friday, 23 January 2015

Review of Talon

(Talon #1)
By Julie Kagawa



Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4.6 / 5

My Thoughts:

I would have given Talon four out of five stars, until the very ending when it transformed into an unmistakable five star read! No spoilers but wow and WOW! I can't say it was as good as the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa but it sure is a series worth following. The ending had me on the edge of my seat with the sky high level of action and drama! At one point I was actually speaking to the characters aloud, until I realised that talking to a kindle isn't a good sign at the best of times.

The storyline itself was fairly predictable; St George's soldiers and Talon's dragons are sworn enemies so when Ember, a hatchling meets Garrett, the Dragon slayer, it was pretty obvious they would fall in love. What wasn't so obvious was when slowly they both uncover secrets of the organisations that they've devoted their lives to. Ember and Garrett discover that their life-long beliefs might not be accurate, and the facts they have about their 'enemies' are no longer crystal clear.

Garrett realises that not all dragons are merciless and inhumane, incapable of feelings and emotions, as the order of St George has led him to believe. Likewise, Ember finds out that Talon might not be such a honourable Dragon organisation to work for, especially if they don't even spare her own kind.

My pet peeve with this book was that we're thrown into this 'summer break' that Ember and Dante are on, but we know very little about what they did beforehand. Why is Dante so susceptible to Talon's brainwashing, but Ember isn't, especially when they've always trained together? And what exactly was Talon training them for earlier. It would have been nice to understand their history a leeetle bit more.

There are a number of fascinating characters in Talon so I'll share the one I was most fond of, aside from Ember and Garrett of course. Riley, the Rogue dragon had to be my favourite. His blunt-bad-ass-occasionally-overconfident-but-sexy attitude confuses Ember. She's in love with Garrett the human, but the dragon side of her has an unmistakeable pull towards Riley. I am most interested in how their relationships progress since I suspect she's beginning to fall for both!

Ember's brother is beyond irritating. All I'm going to say is what an idiot!

In Talon, loyalties are tested, secrets are revealed but will the truth be enough to save their love? Especially because it doesn't matter how human Ember might seem to be, deep down she is a Dragon.

Zed (:

Favourite Quotes:

I rolled my eyes. The "blasted hurry" was that I rarely had any time that was truly my own. They wanted me to sit, listen, learn, be quiet, when I wanted to run, shout, jump, fly.

"Get off me," I growled, pushing at his chest. Don't shift, Ember. If you Shift and eat this troll, Talon will lock you away for the rest of your life. Plus, you'd probably get food poisoning.

"...Everyone slips up, makes a mistake. We just have to be there when they do."

"I've decided it's your fault. You're very distracting." I cocked my head. "Good distracting or bad distracting?" "I'm not sure yet." "Well, when you figure it out, let me know. I'll be sure not to care very much."

"So, if you're going to stand there and tell me we're done, because heaven forbid you actually feel something, then I'm afraid I'm going to have to call bullshit.

"Oh, sure," I heard Wes mumble as I left the room. "Don't want to worry the bloody hatchlings, but the human's heart exploding from stress, that's perfectly okay."

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Teaser Tuesday - 20th Jan 2015

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
 Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
 Share the title & author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser is taken from Nocturne of a Widow (Sybil Ingram #1) by Amanda DeWees

Chapter One:

'The ability to lie persuasively is one of the greatest gifts a woman can possess in this life. Some critics, principally men, will argue that deception in women is inherently evil; but having spent the last fifteen years of my life in the theatre, I can attest that lying not only is sometimes expedient but can save one's career. And as I was to learn in the coming weeks, lying can even save someone's life...or destroy it.'
What are your thoughts on this teaser? Would you read this book, or pass? 
Don't forget to share a link to your TeaserTuesday in the comments below.

Zed (:

Monday, 19 January 2015

Blood Milk & Chocolate Book Blitz & Giveaway (INTL)

(The Grimm Diaries #3)

By Cameron Jace

I am delighted to participate in the 'Blood, Milk & Chocolate by Cameron Jace book blitz' hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. 

If you think the cover is intriguing, check out the synopsis and excerpt below.

Don't forget to enter the International Giveaway at the bottom of this post for the first three eBooks in the series!

I have been accused of being malicious and evil.
I, the Snow White Queen, have a story to tell. 
The true story and what has really happened. How it all happened. Why the Brothers Grimm altered the truth, letting you think it was a fairy tale. When and how the tale took place. And above all, why I did what I did. Why you haven't been told the truth for centuries. The truth about me and the truth about the not-so-innocent Snow White.

Here is my side of the story. You will never look at Snow White the same way again.

Publication date: January 19th 2015
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult

For a moment, I thought this was it. This was the end of our short-lived love story, where a beauty—supposedly me at the time, before the world got to me—was going to get bitten by the beast, Angel Von Sorrow. This was the moment when I was about to realize that my mother was right in not approving of our love. This was the moment when I realized that trying to break the rules by staring at my reflection in the Pond of Pearls was what brought me here. This…was the end of me.Maybe the mermaids were right; there was a reason why me and Angel shouldn't have been together.I closed my eyes, my vein pulsing and ready to be sliced open by the one I loved dearly. Was I going to turn into a vampire like him? Were we both going to be gifted—and cursed—with immortality? I had no idea. All I did was wait for his teeth to sink into my soul.

Blitz-wide Giveaway (Intl):

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Teaser Tuesday - 13th Jan 2015

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
 Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
 Share the title & author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Talon (Talon #1) By Julie Kagawa
(Location: 36%)

I'd been curious before, and the encounter with a certain rogue dragon had only intensified my determination. If Talon, my instructor, my guardians and my own brother wouldn't tell me anything, then I would just have to find answers myself.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Review of A Thousand Pieces of You

A Thousand Pieces of You

By Claudia Gray


Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4/5

My Thoughts:

So many book bloggers have hyped this book up to be one of their favourites from 2014 so I thought why not give it a chance and see what all the fuss is about. Unfortunately, I didn't think it was as WOW as the majority of reviews...

At the heart of it, A thousand pieces of you is about traveling to different dimensions to other versions of you. The belief is that there are many dimensions in which a form of us may or may not exist and each version of us may be slightly different but we are the same. It sounds confusing but it sort of makes sense too.  

 Meg's parents, the genius physicists have created a device called a 'firebird,' which allows the wearer of it to travel to another dimension that they already exist in and enter their 'other' body.  

 We see how Meg and Theo use their prototype firebirds to chase Paul across a number of dimensions because they believe Paul killed Meg's father. There are a lot more twists and turns and all isn't as it seems.

I've always been fascinated by the concept of travelling to alternate dimensions, in fact it was what I based my NaNoWriMo book about. The most interesting part was discovering what type of person each of the 3 main characters was in another dimension, the similarities and differences. For example, I liked how Meg was always done sort of artist in each of the dimensions, regardless of whether she was just the daughter of two research professors, an almost celebrity living with her snobby aunt or the daughter of a cold Russian Tsar. 

On to the boys, Paul and Theo. At first I thought that Theo would be my favourite, considering how sweet and dependable he was, despite being cocky and often reckless. He always took care of Meg, putting her first, ensuring he reached her as soon as he could, even if it meant flying a helicopter across the ocean, he'd be there.  

However, as I began to see Paul's side of the story I too believed that he couldn't have killed her father. Unlike Theo, Paul doesn't have a way with words and often ends up offending Meg even though he was trying to be honest, but I found that endearing. He continues to risk his life for Meg, even when she thinks he's the bad guy. Most importantly, in one dimension he doesn't have his firebird on him so can't remember the whole traveling malaki and has no reason to believe Meg considering a device like a firebird could not exist in his kind of life, he still believes her. 

In conclusion, this book was cleverly written and I enjoyed the often confusing twists in the story, but given the hype around it I expected a while lit more from it. Nevertheless, it is the first in the series so I will try to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that the second book proves to be worth the high praise.

Zed (:

Favourite Quotes:

"I have to admit," I whisper to Theo, "that was pretty smooth." "Smooth is my middle name. Actually, it's Willem, but tell anybody that and, I warn you, I will take revenge."

Now I know grief is a whetstone. It sharpens all your love, all your happiest memories, into blades that tear you apart from within. Something has been torn out from inside me that will never be filled up, not ever, no matter how long I live. They say "time heals," but even now, less than a week after my father's death, I know that's a lie. What people really mean is that eventually you'll get used to the pain. You'll forget who you were without it; you'll forget what you looked like without your scars.

I meant it when I said I didn't believe in love at first sight. It takes time to really, truly fall for someone. Yet I believe in a moment. A moment when you glimpse the truth within someone, and they glimpse the truth within you. In that moment, you don't belong to yourself any longer, not completely. Part of you belongs to him; part of him belongs to you. After that, you can't take it back, no matter how much you want to, no matter how hard you try.

Dad peers around the corner, his face barely visible above Mom's exuberant philodendron. "Have both of you gone mad simultaneously?" "Yeah," Theo says, "it saves time."

The most powerful presence in the room is his absence.

He deserves better than this. But "deserves" doesn't have a lot to do with falling in love.