Friday, 19 February 2016

Tell the Wind and Fire

By Sarah Rees Brennan

 

Synopsis:

Tell the Wind & Fire is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.


The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life…

Publication date: April 5th 2016

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 3.4 / 5
My Thoughts:

I haven’t read Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities but, based on the author's note, some elements of Tell the Wind and Fire are based on it. I’m a huge fan of Sarah Rees Brennan’s previous books so when I was approved on NetGalley for an ARC of TTWAF I had to request it ASAP. 


The story is set in a New York divided between Light and Dark magic, both sides battling against each other and a power shift when the Darkness begins to overpower the Light. The Light/Dark world was an interesting concept but felt a leeeetle simplistic for my liking. I'm used to Brennan's imaginative and unusual plots so a fight between Light and Dark, when Light magicians aren't always right and good and vice versa was a bit, well, boring. However, I must say that TTWAF was a much darker YA read than I expected from Brennan.


Happiness is self-sabotage, a mean trick that your mind plays on you. It makes you careless, makes you lose your grip, and once you lose your grip, you lose everything. You certainly aren’t happy anymore.
Lucie is divided between the two cities since she was born and raised in the Dark city, but has spent the last few years, since her father's rescue, in the Light city with Ethan. She reminded me of Katniss from the Hunger Games; seen as a beacon of hope and a symbol of the rebellion but isn’t willing to actively participate in the rebellion itself. She wants nothing more than to keep the people she loves safe, but unfortunately everyone she loves is in danger by association. Lucie is a likeable character in a difficult situation with a difficult upbringing but I always felt that there was so much more she could do for the peace if she tried. She’s happy to fake smile and pretend it’s all okay so that she doesn’t upset anyone and ensure her father's safety, but as the MC I wished she had shown more courage and taken more risks. She's too scared to make a move out of place just in case the safety and protection given by the Strykers, is taken away from her. Don’t get me wrong, there were times when she put herself in immense danger, but those were few and far between. Plus, she takes risks with Carwyn, always with the best intentions, which I found weird because it was all out of character for her. 
I said I just wanted to help people, to ease their suffering, but that was a lie. I didn’t do it to help anyone but myself.  I wasn’t showing real compassion for strangers, I wasn’t showing what I really felt. Real grief is ugly and uncomfortable. People look away from grief the same way they look away from severed limbs or gaping wounds. What they want is pain like death on a stage: beautiful, bloodless, presented for their entertainment. 


My favourite character was Carwyn. As the ‘evil doppelganger’ everyone is expected to hate him because doppelgangers don't have a soul (or so they say). When Carwyn pretends to be Ethan Stryker, he purposely mocks Ethan, his family and life to wind everyone up. Despite him being the ‘dark’ version of Ethan, his bitter humour made the story lighter and fun to read. His actions were rather predictable, especially the ending, but I still enjoyed his part in it. 
I spoke through my teeth. “I’m afraid I have to go home to Penelope. I have to be there for her and Marie right now.”“Oh, becase one of your adopted family has disappeared into the Dark city, possibly never to return? Of course. How insensitive of me. Please forgive me. I will think of you fondly during every course at dinner, and twice during the cheese course.”
Ethan was undoubtedly the most underrated character in this story. Although he has a huge role, we see very little of him throughout and only really get to learn about him at the very end. Initially, I was hoping Lucie and Carwyn would end up together because Ethan was portrayed as the boring ‘golden boy’ but after the ending, I’m glad she stayed true to Ethan!
“Why torture me, then?”His shadowed, moonlit face changed, amusement overcoming exhaustion, his mouth curling into a sly grin. “I said I wasn’t a criminal mastermind whose devious plans topple cities,” Carwyn told me. “I never said I was nice.”
Overall, a good read but not as exciting and fun as I had hoped. Sarah Rees Brennan’s wit flows through Carwyn’s character, which is probably the main reason why I’d recommend this book. Brennan is one of my favourite authors, which is why I expected much more, but there are many underlying messages about good and evil that I believe will be useful for younger readers.
The only choice, in the Light city or the Dark, was to be twisted or to break.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Lady Midnight


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Despite what's currently going on in the news in relation to Cassandra Clare and plagiarism accusations, the book that I cannot wait to read is:


 

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)
By Cassandra Clare

Publication date: March 8th 2016


The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?


Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

Source: Goodreads


What's your WoW pick of the week?

Monday, 15 February 2016

Arthurian Saga - Book 1

The Crystal Cave
By Mary Stewart

 

Synopsis:

Who was Merlin? Was the famed magician of Camelot & King Arthur's court really a sinister, all-powerful being from another world? Was he truly a Prince of Darkness? Or was he a man with the passions of other mortals? A man with unique intelligence & unusual gifts? Why was he so feared? How did he come by his occult powers? Why was the crystal cave so important to him?


5th century Britain is a country of chaos & division after the Roman withdrawal. Born the bastard son of a Welsh princess who will not reveal to her son his father's true identity, Myridden Emrys--or as he would later be known, Merlin--leads a perilous childhood, haunted by portents & visions. But destiny has great plans for this no-man's-son, taking him from prophesying before the High King Vortigern to the crowning of Uther Pendragon & the conception of Arthur--king for once & always.


Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4.2 / 5
My Thoughts:

Presently, my TV series addiction is the BBC's Merlin. I've seen adverts in relation to this for years but never thought the show could be my kind of thing, that was until I subscribed to Netflix and it appeared as a recommendation. How have I deprived myself of the awesomeness of Merlin for so long??!!!

TV Series, being what they are, eventually end (unless they're EastEnders and then they're never ending!) and alas, I'm coming to the end of series 5 but I'm just not ready to let it go! And so, I've been researching into books relating to the Arthurian Legend. One of the most recommended series is the Arthurian Saga trilogy by Mary Stewart so I thought of giving it a try...

The Crystal Cave is essentially the build up to the birth of the future King, Arthur's. Merlin learns more about his powers of the Sight, which are both awed and feared by many other kings in this time of war. As Crystal Cave is the first book in the trilogy, there was a lot of narrative and worldbuilding, which at times became tedious to read. However, I completely understand that this is essential for a fantasy series so I wasn't too bothered about that.


To my delight, Merlin retains the wit and dry humour shown by Colin Morgan on the BBC. His risk taking and easy going personality kept the story going and I loved reading about his many adventures, especially his banter with his servants. Ideally, I would have liked Arthur to have made an actual appearance in this book (their TV bromance is hilariously adorable) but Crystal Cave is like a prequel to Arthur's story; the battles leading up to his birth and how important his arrival was to Merlin's destiny and therefore, the future of Britain.

"The gods only go with you, Cerdic, if you put yourself in their path.""Well, all right, but some of them have mighty big hoofs to walk over you with. Do you want Christian burial?""I don't really mind. I suppose I'll work my way up to Christian baptism fairly soon, if the bishop has his way, but till then I've not signed on officially for anyone."
I was surprised to learn that Merlin himself is, or was, a prince. On the TV show, he's portrayed as Arthur's servant boy but in this book he is seen a far more powerful light. To have a claim to the throne but not consider it twice is not something most people could do but it becomes clear that Merlin is unlike most people. Once I learnt more about his nature, his generous and straightforward personality, I wasn't surprised at this, indeed I doubt it had even crossed his thoughts until the King pointed it out!

Overall, the crystal Cave was a very interesting read and I'm now proceeding to book two. Although, I would like to know how much of the book, the TV show and Disney's Sword in the Stone movie is based on actual history? Has anyone read / watched any of these? Any thoughts?

Favourite Quotes:


"Because they are not for me. I have feared for other men, but never in that way for muself. Not yet. I think what men fear is the unknown. They fear pain and death, because these may be waiting round any corner. But there are times when I know what is hidden, and waiting, or when - I told you - I see it lying straight in the pathway. And I know where pain and danger lie for me, and I know that death is not yet to come; so I am not afraid. This isn't courage."He said slowly: "Yes, I knew you had the Sight."

Friday, 12 February 2016

Hello!


It's been quite some time since I last posted on my blog. I left because the entire appeal of blogging had disappeared. I just didn't feel like blogging anymore. I ended up repeating myself again and again, once here with a review, then on Goodreads and then amazon. Plus, I started reviewing for Dark Faerie Tales and I just didn't think I had the time to maintain my own blog too. 

So why have I come back now, you ask? Well, I realised that I don't read any poems so I randomly started researching short poems (baby steps!) and I came across a beautiful poem that I just had to share... 
Remember
By Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day

You tell me of our future that you plann'd:

Only remember me; you understand

It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while

And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad. 

Source: The Times

What do you think of it? What are your favourite poems? 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Review of Graceling

Before sharing my review I would like to let you all know that this will probably be my last review on this blog for a while. This is because I am now reviewing for Dark Faerie Tales blog, leaving little time for my own!

Graceling
(Graceling Realm #1)
By Kristin Cashore



Synopsis:

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the King, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the King's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, GRaced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. 

She never expects to become Po's friend. 

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4.8 / 5
My Thoughts:


How have I not read the Graceling series before now? This is a brilliant read and if you haven't had the good fortune to read it yet, you must do so at once!
The story is based on a young girl/lady, who has an ability, or as its more commonly known, as a 'grace' for killing. Or that's what she always thought. Her uncle, King Randa realised the importance of her gift and used Katsa as his own personal assassin. The longer Katsa works for her uncle as his thug, the more uneasy she becomes with what he requires of her. Soon she creates her own group of people who secretly help rather than hurt, and along her way encounters Prince Po (what a name!), and the adventure begins.


I loved the concept of Graces, and it made me think, if I could have any Grace, what would it be? The power to excel in fights, heal others, foresee storms or mind read perhaps? A Grace is essentially a super power, but obviously there are downsides. 
Katsa's power of being a human killing machine, albeit with a conscience, means that very few people want to be around her, and because she has a very short fuse, she doesn't allow herself to have any friends either because she's afraid of hurting people close to her.


Katsa is one of my favourite literary characters ever. Being a tomboy is one thing, but Katsa takes it to another level. For example, one day she gets so fed up of having to comb her hair that she crops it just like a boy to make life easier. Katsa is so practical and sometimes machine-like that at times I would actually burst into laughter. The first time she starts crying with emotion, she's genuinely worried why her eyes are leaking!


I've gone on about Katsa, but there were lots of other awesome characters in this book too, especially Po; who is beyond adorable, Bitterblue, the stubborn little princess, and Raffin- the science crazed prince, who is also Katsa's best friend and cousin.

It goes without saying that I will definitely be reading the rest in this series and if I haven't convinced you yet, read some of my favourite quotes below!
Zed (:

Favourite Quotes:



"True. But you're better than I am, Katsa. And it doesn't humiliate me." He fed a branch to the fire. "It humbles me. But it doesn't humiliate me."

She shook her head disbelieving. "No one in this inn has any privacy."
"My sense of them is faint, Katsa. I cannot sense everyone down to the ends of their hair, as I do you.”
She sighed. “What an honor, then, to be me…”

“I’d rather strengthen my mind against you,” she said, “than knock you out every time I have a thought I don’t want you to know.”
“Yes, well, and I’d prefer that also, believe me. But I grant you permission to knock me out, if ever you need to.”
“I wish you wouldn’t. You know how impulsive I am.”
“I don’t care.”
"

She cried like a person whose heart is broken and wondered how, when two people loved each other, there could be such a broken heart.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Review of Unhinged

Unhinged (Splintered #2)

By A.G. Howard

 

Synopsis:

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she's always dreamed of. 


That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn't show up for school one day to tempt her with with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland - where she (partly) belongs. 


As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus's unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he's forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won't be far behind.


If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she'll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

Source: Goodreads

My rating: 4.5 / 5 !!!
My Thoughts:


After Splintered #1, I knew this series would be epic. I listened to the audiobook version of the first book and physically read the second book in this series and it makes a lot of difference. When listening to a book being read I paid greater attention to dialogue. In my mind each character's appearance was based heavily because of the narrator's voice and tone. Whereas, when reading I paid more attention to the narrative, imagining the characters as they were described and using my own imagination to 'hear' them speak. After reading book 2 I think I'll go back and physically read the first book again, just for that reading experience.  


I am entirely Team Morpheus! His cunning, cocky nature and countless half truths should be infuriating but he brings the spark into the story and it wouldn't be the same without him. Some of my favourite scenes were because of Morpheus' eccentricities and his witty comments. In Unhinged, we see a more vulnerable Morpheus.' Alyssa also comes to realise that she holds her two knights to completely different standards and tries to give Morpheus the benefit of the doubt rather than immediately thinking the worst of him (but in most cases he still somehow screws up!) 
"So what kind of hat is that?" I ask, unable to resist. He's adorable when he's showing off his wardrobe - like a puppy doing tricks. Although I remain cautious, knowing in the blink of an eye he can become a wolf again.
Annoying factor: Jeb! He irritated me for the first half of the story, when his passion for art was overtaking his life. Then he wonders why Alyssa is tempted by 'Mort'. As the story progressed Jeb went back to being the irritating Mr goody. I do like him, I just prefer Morpheus and wish Jeb would disappear (in the nicest way possible of course). 

We also see Alyssa battle with her netherling side. She thinks that because she's already beaten Red (book 1), everything is fine and she can go back to her human life. Pretending to be normal might have worked if it wasn't for the constant warnings from the bugs and flowers, her nightmares of a deteriorating wonderland and her chaotic art, which seems to take a life of its own. She can try to deny it all she wants but Alyssa has changed and she discovers that in order to be win and save Wonderland, she needs to embrace both sides of herself.  

I should trust Alyssa's mum but for some strange reason I can't bring myself to do so. She's always keeping secrets, and is far too good at pretending and preying on weaknesses. I have this odd hunch that she's still after the crown...

There are a gazillion other characters that I could talk about but this review would then be as long as the book. Special mention to Rabid the crazy-skeletal-rabbit-creature. Like all the other Wonderland characters, he is mad, odd and creepy but I love the way he talks, his loyalty to Queen Alyssa and how he brings in the cuteness factor. 

AG Howard outdoes herself with this crazily believable world and its fantastic characters, so much so that I can't imagine why someone would doubt Wonderland's existence! Her attention to detail astounds me, ensuring that each aspect of the story is perfectly explained so that the reader feels like they're part of the adventure too. 

It goes without saying that I am now going to read Ensnared. Although I might need to sleep for a while since I'm finishing this review at 4am!


Favourite Quotes:

"You'd do well to reacquaint yourself with their true nature. It might remind you of your own."

But what if he's wrong, too? How can being half of something be better than being whole?

No one knows me well enough - really knows me - to jump to my defense when rumors abound.

"You didn't leave me," I utter in disbelief. "I thought you would leave me."He releases my dace and looks out the opposite window while rubbing his hand on his jeans to wipe off my mascara. "Nonsense. I stayed for the car."

"...For the only way you'll be able to defeat Red is by learning to be merciless. Compassion has no place on any battlefield...magical or otherwise."

Weighed down by all the secrets I've been carrying for almost a year, by all the new ones piling up, I stare at myself in the mirror, hoping to find something other than the dress to like. Because right now, I'm not my favourite person.

He bites his lower lip, a gesture so minute I might've imagined it. "Nothing can break the chains you have on my heart. For you are Wonderland."

His gaze locks on mine, and the bottomless depths flicker - like black clouds alive with lightning. For that instant, I'm bared to the bone. He looks inside my heart; I look inside his. And the similarities there terrify me.

"Little blossom trapped in between, wearing malice like a queen; hide the truth, be cruel and tart, still all the more, you rule my heart."

I am mad, and I embrace it. Madness is part of my heritage. The part that led me to Wonderland and earned me the crown. The part that will lead me to dace Red one final time, until only one of us is left.


Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Teaser Tuesday - 10th March 2015

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. 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!
This week my teasers are from The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.

If you follow me on twitter, you will know that I adore the BBC's episodes of The Musketeers tv series. Absolutely fantastic! In light of the show, I thought I'd read the book and share some quotes I adore.

Athos, according to his system, neither encouraged nor dissuaded him. Athos believed that everyone should be left to his own free will. He never gave advice but when it was asked, and even then he required to be asked twice."People, in general," he said, "only ask advice not to follow it; or if they do follow it, it is for the sake of having someone to blame for having given it."

"I confess to you, d'Artagnan.""And I give you absolution beforehand. You see I am a good sort of a man.""Do not jest about holy things, my friend."




Synopsis:

One of the most celebrated & popular historical romances ever written. The Three Musketeers tell the story of the early adventures of the young Gascon gentleman d'Artagnan & his three friends from the regiment of the King's Musketeers-Athos, Porthos & Aramis.


Under the watchful eye of their patron M. de Treville, the four defend the honour of the regiment against the guards of the Cardinal Richelieu, & the honor of the queen against the machinations of the Cardinal himself as the power struggles of 17th-century France are vividly played out in the background.


But their most dangerous encounter is with the Cardinal's spy. Milady, one of literature's most memorable female villains. Alexandre Dumas employs all his fast-paced narrative skills to bring this enthralling novel to a breathtakingly gripping & dramatic conclusion.


Source: Goodreads

Have you read this book or watched the TV series? 

Is it something that interests you?
Don't forget to share a link to your TeaserTuesday in the comments below.

Zed (: