10/31/11

Mini Review: Silk by Alessandro Baricco

Series: No, stand-alone book.

Published: August 25th 1998

Publisher: Vintage

Details: Paperback, 112 pages

My rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Amazingly beautifully written book about a married silk trader who travels to Japan for business and falls in love with a girl. I loved the poetic language and how the story felt so complete, considering this little book is not even 120 pages long. A joy to read.

10/29/11

Review: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Series: Women of the Otherworld, book #1

Published: September 7th 2004

Publisher: Plume

Details: Paperback, 436 pages

My rating: DNF

My Summary:

Book written in Sidney Sheldon style but involving werewolves. Flat characters and a stupid plot that had me alternating between frowning and cringing while reading it. I could not get through the book. And I’m still baffled by all the good reviews it got.

My Review:

I have been navigating for a while in the paranormal jungle, generally avoiding the adult paranormal romance section – especially those with cheesy covers. But then, after having read a great deal of “best debut of the year!” type of reviews of Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten, I decided to give it a try (cheesy book cover or not).

I should not have bothered. It was so bad, I couldn’t finish it. And this is coming from someone who always – I mean always – finish books I’ve started. Sometimes I wonder why I need to finish books, it’s almost like a compulsive order, like I have to. Or I suppose it’s because I stay optimistic until the very end, thinking that maybe the book will redeem itself. You never know, right? Well, I’m getting sidetracked I know. Point is, me not finishing a book is an extremely bad rating.

That being said, the first chapter wasn’t that terrible. We get to know Elena, a young woman and journalist in Toronto, Canada who lives together with her wonderful boyfriend Phillip. All good there, except for the fact that Elena is a werewolf. She keeps this a secret, and tries to live a normal life as much as she can. Sometimes though, she can’t hide her werewolf instincts and shapeshifts to go for a run in the outskirts of Toronto. It’s on one of these runs that we are introduced to the story, and in that first chapter I thought the descriptions of her transformation as a werewolf were quite well drawn.

After that chapter though it goes downhill, in terms of everything – plot, characterization, descriptions. Her werewolf pack, where she used to live contact her as they are having problems with a rough mutt (a stranger werewolf killing humans). She flies to New York to meet up with them, shaking up memories at the same time seeing as this is the first time she meets her ex-lover, the werewolf Clay. Clay was the love of her life, yet he was also the one biting her, fully knowing that she may not survive the transition. Not surprisingly, Elena views this as a betrayal. Yet, not many chapters in, she goes and have sex with him, without having second thoughts about her loving boyfriend in Toronto.

I don’t know, the whole thing just oozed stupidity. Elena’s inner monologues, and there are many of them, don’t make much sense, or are just plain boring and whiny. The werewolf world-building with only 35 male werewolves and one female wolf didn’t make much sense either – I mean 35 wolves in the whole world – really? The dialogues seemed contrived, as if taken from a soap-opera series, and I couldn’t relate to Elena. She was trying to be all tough and witty but it just came out false sounding.

To me, this book wasn’t much better than any of the lesser Harlequin novels out there, and I honestly for my life can’t understand all the great reviews it has received. But I’ve learnt one thing and that is to be more careful regarding rave reviews, and not to forget that we all have different tastes.

10/28/11

Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Series: Caster Chronicles, book #1

Published: December 1st 2009

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Details: Hardcover, 563 pages

My rating: 2/5

My summary:

Tale of a human boy who meets a caster girl and falls in love. Even though well written, and funny and quirky at times (with great secondary characters), it was way too slow. And I didn’t feel the love between the main characters Ethan and Lena. I’m sorry to say it all fell flat for me and I won’t be continuing the series.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

My thoughts:

So I jumped on the bandwagon and got myself a copy of Beautiful Creatures, which was proclaimed to be the next Twilight.

I was hoping for another love story with paranormal elements that would blow me away. I’m sad to say that I wasn’t. I did however like the book. It wasn’t bad, but it was no page-turner either. In fact, I had no problem at all leaving it for a few weeks midway through, to read a couple of other books in between. Never a good sign.

The main flaw for me was that the love story did not feel real. The narrator Ethan keeps telling us how much in love he is with Lena, but I just didn’t believe it. It felt more to me that they came together because destiny had decided that. It was almost as if they didn’t really have any choice, and kind of just went along with it.

Maybe more room was needed for the romance to blossom into something real? As it was now, almost as soon as they met, weird stuff started happening and the story pretty much turned into solving the mystery of Lena’s curse, rather than of them falling in love. I don’t know, I’m just guessing here why the love story fell flat for me.

I also found the book too slow. The background of the curse of Lena’s sixteenth birthday is explained somewhere midway through the book. Then the seemingly endless wait for her birthday begins, and this wait essentially continues until the final pages. Not much happens in between – apart from lots of worrying and a fruitless search for a cure to Lena’s curse.

What I did like about the book though was the descriptions of the small town surroundings. The narrator’s voice is very likable as he describes all the people around him. The secondary characters are vivid and charming personalities and I found myself chuckle out loud quite a few times. So in that sense, I liked it, as it’s well written and witty.

But despite that, it is nowhere near comparable to Twilight. It’s definitely not as addictive, and I didn’t buy the romance. I enjoyed some parts of the book though, and some of the secondary characters, but not so much that I will continue the series.

10/27/11

Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Series: Hunger Games, book #2

Published: September 1st 2009 by Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 391 pages

My rating: 5/5

My Summary:

Ok, so finished this sequel to the Hunger Games in record time. Suspense from start to finish. And ending with a cliff-hanger again, so can’t WAIT for the last book Mockingjay, out this month!

My Full Review:

Like everyone else in the blogosphere, I absolutely loved The Hunger Games, and I was dying to read the this sequel Catching Fire. Even though my expectations were rocket high, it did not disappoint. Just like the first book, I was sucked into the story and literally read the whole thing in one sitting.

It begins where it left off in Hunger Games, with Katniss and Peeta returning to district 12 after winning the games. At the end of those games, Katniss pulled out deadly berries, forcing The Capitol to accept both her and Peeta as winners, or else they would have committed suicide. This little act of rebellion has not gone unnoticed, and the 12 districts of Panem are now boiling under the surface, so much in fact that President Snow himself pays a visit to Katniss house. He tells her that she better try to calm down the situation while touring the districts on the following victory tour, or else someone she loves will pay.

Beware of slight spoilers:

Katniss and Peeta head out for the Victory tour, looking every bit in love as ever, reinforcing the false view of start-crossed lovers who pulled out those berries in an act of love, rather than rebellion. None of this matters though, as the next Hunger Games is announced as a special 75th Hunger Games. Tradition states that every 25th year, a twist is to be introduced in the Hunger Games. This year, not surprisingly, President Snow has come up with the twist that the former victors have to enter the arena, one girl and one boy from each district, thus throwing Peeta and Kaniss into the Hunger Games round 2.

Meanwhile, it seems as if some districts are rebelling – all though The Capitol is doing their best to silence the news. There are also rumours circulating regarding district 13, which was supposedly completely destroyed as a punishment for the previous attempted rebellion. But what if district 13 still exists?

End of spoilers

There is more, but I don’t want to give too much away. I loved every bit of it though. It was as much of an emotional and action-packed roller-coaster as the first book. Once I started I simply could not let it go. The ending left me aching for more. What a terrific trilogy this is turning out to be, I am truly amazed by the story-telling abilities of Suzanne Collins! If you haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, what are you waiting for? Do it now!

10/26/11

Review: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Series: Hunger Games, book #1

Published: October 1st 2008

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Details: Hardcover, 374 pages

My rating: 5/5

My summary:

One of the better books I’ve read in recent years. Impossible to put down. All though brutal at times, also sweet, full of warmth and with great characters. The story is so good that I find it hard not rattling on about it to everyone I know. This is simply put a must read!!

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Life in District 12 isn’t easy for Katniss and her family. Ever since her father died the girl has spent her time saving her mother and little sister Prim from starvation by hunting on forbidden land. But worst of all is reaping day. Once a year the government chooses two children from each of the twelve districts to compete against one another in a live and televised reality show. Twenty-four kids and teens enter, and only one survives.

When Prim’s name is called, Katniss exchanges herself without hesitation to compete alongside the baker’s boy Peeta. To survive in this game you need to win the heart of your audience, and so District 12’s trainers come up with a plan. Why not make it as if Peeta and Katniss were in love with one another? But in a game where only one person can live, Katniss will have to use all her brains, wits, and instincts to determine who to trust and how to outwit the game’s creators.

My thoughts:

Wow, that’s all I can say, really wow! I heard about this book, it was generally people raving about it on various book-blogs and I considered reading it. Still hesitant, because it seemed so brutal and I wasn’t sure if I was up to reading a “lord of the flies”, with kids running around beating each other to death. But as I accidently happened across the book at the local library I decided to give it a shot, and boy am I glad I did!

If I’ve called other books page-turners, I think I’ll have to invent a new meaning for the term, because this was such a page-turner that no force in the universe could have made me put the book down, once I started! It’s a 400+ pages book and I literally read it in one sitting, cancelling all other activities I had planned for the day. The story is so good, that at times I had to stop and just marvel at the turn of events the author had created.

But here I am rattling on..let’s get to the review:

As seen in the synopsis, this is the story about Katniss who in a dystopian future takes the place of her sister in the yearly tournament Hunger Games. The Hunger Games have been created by the Capitol (the government) to ensure the people in the districts are reminded each year how helpless and powerless they are up against the Capitol. This is to prevent the people to rebel, which is something that happened many years ago.

Each year, each district is forced to send two of their kids to fight against their lives in an arena filled with dangers, created by the Capitol. Only one kid is allowed to survive.

Katniss, our heroine is from district 12. Ever since her father died in a mine explosion, and her mother consequently went into a depression, she has been the food supplier of the family, mainly hunting game out in the forbidden woods outside the district.

She is a tough girl, and as a reader you believe and vote for her straight away as someone who actually might make it alive through the games. Complications arise though when the other kid from district 12 is chosen, a boy named Peeta. He seems like such a good boy and well, without saying too much, let me just say I rooted for him pretty much immediately. But only one is allowed to survive, right?

We enter the Hunger Games, and there are some turn of events here that literally had my gasping out loud. Yes, there are 24 kids here, who are to be slaughtered in a number of ways. Yet, seeing as we are following Katniss, who is not present at most of the deaths, it’s not as cruel as you might think. Instead, as a reader you focus on her, and how she will survive. I don’t like when things get too cruel and dark. Generally, I need some heart and warmth to keep me going in a book. But let me assure you, that despite the cruel premise in this book, there are some real heart-warming moments. That’s what makes it so good.

I really only have one minor criticism, and that is the ending, which clearly needs a follow-up. It’s not exactly a cliff-hanger but you will want to read the next book, Catching Fire, pretty much straight away.

10/25/11

Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Series: The Body Finder, book #1

Published: March 16th 2010

Publisher: HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 327 pages

My rating: 4/5

My summary:

About a girl who “senses” murdered bodies. This is a sweet first love story with many similarities to Bella and Edward, allthough no vampires involved. There is also a murder mystery which to me was the weaker part of the book. Still very enjoyable read.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

A serial killer on the loose. A girl with a morbid ability. And the boy who would never let anything happen to her.

Violet Ambrose can find the dead. Or at least, those who have been murdered. She can sense the echoes they leave behind… and the imprints they leave on their killers. As if that weren’t enough to deal with during junior year, she also has a sudden, inexplicable, and consuming crush on her best friend since childhood, Jay Heaton.

Now a serial killer has begun terrorizing Violet’s small town… and she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

My thoughts:

I heard a lot about this book on various book blogs, usually in rave reviews.

It can be classified as paranormal romance with suspense. The romance is not paranormal per se, as in both people are actually human. The main character Violet however has some unique paranormal abilities.

Her paranormal ability is that she senses bodies of those who have been murdered. It is as if she has a sixth sense, capturing some kind of energy that eminates from murdered bodies, that is; bodies that are not in peace. This may sound strange but is very well described in the book, and you can practically sense it as you are reading it.

Violet lives in the small town Burke with her family. Her best friend and childhood friend is Jay. We enter the story where Violet is starting to have feelings for Jay. At about the same time girls start disappearing in and around her town, to be discovered murdered. Seeing as she can sense not only the victims of the murders but also the murderers themselves, Violet decides to try and capture the murderer herself.

It sounds like a book centered around the capturing of a murderer, but really, most of the book is romance. The murderer is constantly lingering as a threat in the background but the main focus of the story is the relationship between Violet and her love interest Jay.

That doesn’t matter though as the romance is really sweet. It’s an all-consuming first love kind of romance. And even though Jay is not a vampire, (he’s just a normal guy) he reminds me a little of Edward in terms of his personality, slightly overprotective but really sweet. Come to think of it, Violet sort of reminded me a Bella too, in how she’s constantly trying not to cause anyone trouble, hates to be the center of attention and manages to put herself in danger all the time.

The suspense was well written but had a couple of logical gaps regarding some parts of the plot. I just didn’t buy that a serial killer would behave the way he did in this book.

But as I said earlier, that doesn’t really matter as the romance is the focus of the story, and as such is one of the sweetest romances I have read in a while. So all in all, this is a page turner which is definitely worth the read. Apparently there is a sequel coming out next year, Desires of the Dead, which I’m very happy about. I would love to read more about Jay and Violet!

10/24/11

Review: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

Series: No, stand-alone book

Published: September 21st 2005

Publisher: Graphia

Details: Paperback, 282 pages

My rating: 4/5

Summary:

Haunting tale about two ghosts who inhabit human bodies and fall in love. The love story is not the main theme though as focus is gradually shifted towards the issues following their possession of the bodies. I had a bad gut feeling throughout the whole book, as if something terrible was going to happen, yet I couldn’t let it go. Interesting story that had me thinking.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you’re dead. I was with my teacher, Mr Brown. As usual, we were in our classroom, that safe and wooden-walled box – the windows opening onto the grassy field to the west, the fading flag standing in the chalk dusty corner, the television set mounted above the bulletin board like a sleeping eye, and Mr Brown’s princely table keeping watch over a regimen of student desks.

My thoughts:

I started reading this book thinking it was going to be about two ghosts who fell in love. Which it was, but as the story unfolds, it ends up being about so much more.

Essentially, this is the story from the point of view of Helen, a ghost who has been stuck between hell and earth for 130 years, without really knowing why as she can’t remember her living life. She assumes she must have done something horrible to be stuck this way. She is terribly lonely, and the only company she gets is from watching the living people she has been attaching herself too during these years, her “hosts” as she calls them, who naturally cannot see her.

This goes on, until one day she’s noticed by a boy, in the class room in which her current host is teaching. The boy, called James, turns out to be a ghost too, but is inhabiting a living boy’s body (Billy), whose soul has left. They get to know each other, and together start looking for a body for Helen, so that they can be together. They find that body in Jenny, a girl whose soul has left too. Once Helen is in her body, their relationship blossoms into a love story, and all might have been well there, hadn’t the pasts come back to haunt them.

The pasts haunting them are not only those of James and Helen, who suddenly start remembering bits and pieces of their former lives, but also the pasts of their bodies, Jenny and Billy. There were reasons why the souls of Jenny and Billy left their bodies, as James and Helen soon find out. Billy is a bad boy and white trash, who’s soul left in a haze a drugs, stemming from unresolved family issues. Jenny on the other hand appears to have had the perfect family life, all though on a closer look, had her soul slowly suffocated by all too controlling and conservative parents .

If I were to summarize the book, I’d say that in the first half of the book, I was eagerly turning pages to find out how the relationship between the ghosts James and Helen would play out. In the second half of the book, tension creeps in gradually, as the focus is moved from the love story and onto the issues of the bodies (Billy and Jenny) and problems arising when James and Helen are not behaving as they are expected. Basically, throughout the second part of the book I had a feeling everything was heading towards disaster, which in a way it was.

The ending was suprising, as I didn’t see it coming, but I liked it (it’s positive) all though it does leave quite a few open ends. In short, this is a book that will take you by surprise, and make you think long after you’ve turned the last page.




10/23/11

Review: Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Series: Wings, book #1

Published: May 1st 2009

Publisher: HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 294 pages

My rating: 3/5

My summary:

Quick enjoyable read about a girl who discovers she’s a fairy. With a love triangle. All though easy read, I felt it was a bit too childish for a 30+ year old. There is a sequel, Spells.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

My thoughts:

There are many books out there which are proclaimed to be the next Twilight. Wings by Aprilynne Pike is one of those books, probably since the story includes both romance and paranormal elements. On top of that, it’s been recommended by Stephenie Meyer, and I like her book recommendations. She’s the reason I read Hunger Games! So for me, this was a good premise, being both ‘twilight’-esque and recommended by Meyer.

Wings is the first book in a series of four. It follows Laurel, a 15-year old girl who discovers that she is a fairy. It starts with Laurels first day at school when she befriends a boy, David. Along with him, we learn about Laurel and how she has always been slightly different than everyone else. When she starts growing wings on her back she realizes just how different she is. She also meets Tamani, a boy of her kind who helps her exploring the new world she belongs to, yet didn’t know existed. With Tamani in the picture, a love triangle is formed where Laurel has problems choosing between the two.

This was a very easy read. Actually, it was almost too easy, that is, I felt as if I was reading a pree-teen book rather than YA. I have read quite a few YA books this year and all though they are about teens, and generally aimed solely at teens, I usually have no issues with that. But in Wings, the language felt childish, which bothered me a little.

In saying that, it still kept my interest, all though I thought the boy David was a bit bland. I mean he was nice, interested in Laurel and all about helping her, which is good. I think the problem was that he lacked personality or charisma. He jokes himself about being a science nerd, and I couldn’t help but agree on that.

So when the charismatic Tamani jumped into the picture midway through the book, I rooted for him immediately, and so the second half of the book was much better. Needless to say I’m Team Tamani. The ending leaves you wondering about what decisions Laurel will make, as for her new life as a fairy and the love triangle.

In short, I thought Wings was an enjoyable read – I read it in about 2 days – but it is also easily forgettable. There is a sequel out called Spells, which I probably will read at some stage, but I don’t feel any need to rush out and get it just yet.

10/22/11

Review: Hush Hush by by Becca Fitzpatrick

Series: Hush Hush, book #1

Published: October 13th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Details: Hardcover, 391 pages

My rating: 4/5

My summary:

About a human girl who meets an handsome and seemingly paranormal/dangerous boy in school. Despite the fact that this boy is far from an Edward, definitely more dangerous than trustworthy – I loved this book. Well written, it felt like I was inside the story and I couldn’t let the book go. The only downside was a rushed ending with a few logical gaps. Sequel Crescendo out later this year.

See my full review below:

Synopsis:

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her…until Patch comes along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends.

She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

My thoughts:

Read or not to read..? That’s how I went for quite some time with Hush Hush. I was reluctant since the love interest Patch seemed like such a psychopath, yet I was intrigued because it fit the type of book I like, paranormal romance. I read lots of reviews, which just told me that people either hated or loved this book, not really making my decision any easier.

Then finally, I’d become so curious that I had to read it anyway!

And well..I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised. This was far better than I thought! I was thinking that I would find Nora boring, Path a psychopath and Vee unbelievably stupid. While I can understand these views (there is definitely some truth in them) it was still a very enjoyable read.

The story centers around Nora Grey, a 16-year old girl who lives in small town in Maine, mostly hanging out with her best friend Vee. Nora and Vee are pretty much the opposite of one another, Nora being the responsible always-doing-her-homework kind of girl while Vee wants nothing but party and talk about guys.

The book starts when Nora gets teamed up with this new and mysterious boy Patch in biology class. Patch seems to know everything about her, which is a bit unsettling (to say the least). Not only that, as soon as he enters her life, she seems to have gotten herself a stalker, someone bent on hurting her. Has Patch anything to do with that or is it all just pure coincidence? Through most of the book you’re left wondering along with Nora, who Patch is and what his motives are.

To make things even more complicated, Nora finds herself attracted to Patch, so even though she feels he is not good for her, she can’t help but feeling drawn towards him.

I thought the book was well written, and very easy to get into. All the characters were well-developed and believable, and I completely bought Nora’s confusion regarding Patch. The one thing I didn’t believe in was the ending. It felt like there were too many things thrown in there so that it got a bit messy, as in too many villains with motives that weren’t properly explained. It was as if Fitzpatrick just needed to create some suspense at the end, but hadn’t quite thought things through. Apart from those final pages though, it was a great read.

There are a lot of question marks left hanging after finishing this book, mostly regarding Patch and his motives. I’m still not entirely sure of what he is up to with Nora. But then, I suppose this is also what is keeping my interest.

In short, Fitzpatrick has certainly managed to create a really fascinating bad boy character in Patch and I’m eagerly looking forward to continue the story of him and Nora in the next installment of the series Crescendo, due out in October this year.

10/21/11

Mini Review: Extras by Scott Westerfeld

Series: Uglies, book #4

Published: October 2nd 2007

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Details: Hardcover, 417 pages

My Rating: 3/5

Fourth book in the Uglies series, more a companion book than sequel. The setting takes place a couple of years after “Specials”, and follows a new heroine, japanese Aya.

I didn’t think it was as good as the rest. It felt a bit like a bleak reproduction of the first book Uglies and only picked up for me half way through when Tally (heroine in the first 3 books) shows up.

Recommended for Uglies fans.

10/20/11

Review: Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Series: Uglies, book #3

Published: April 15th 2006

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Details: Hardcover, 372 pages

My grade: 3/5

My summary:

Ok, so while I did read this book in record time, just as I did with the first two, I was a little annoyed by the plot this time. Firstly, I was annoyed by the repeating factor, and having to get to know a new Tally yet again. Secondly, I think what bothered me was that I saw so much potential building up in Pretties, which didn’t play out as I thought in Specials. Having said that, the fact that it did get me annoyed also means that I cared, and so it wasn’t all bad. So yes, it’s still a good read.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

“Special Circumstances”:

The words have sent chills down Tally’s spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor — frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally’s never been ordinary.

And now she’s been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more.

Still, it’s easy to tune that out — until Tally’s offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she’s programmed to complete. Either way, Tally’s world will never be the same.

My thoughts:

Warning: if you haven’t read Pretties yet, you may not want to continue, as this review most likely will contain spoilers!

I started this book with a bad feeling in my gut. It felt kind of hopeless to have followed Tally through such an exhilarating ride in Pretties, seeing her coming through it OK against all odds, to just be crushed down and forced to change again, by the authorities.

Actually, this is how I would describe this book, painful and sad. Still a page turner though, just not as enjoyable to read as the others.

As can be guessed by the title, our heroine Tally has now become a Special, as in one of the very Secret Police who chased her all through the two first books. Her brain has been altered and all though she remembers everything in her past she views it in a different light. She also has a new body with superhuman qualities.

While Pretties included Zane for the most part, Specials includes Tally’s friend Shay, as they bark on many Special Circumstances journeys together. This was one of the painful parts, to see the two of them trying to chase down old friends. Also, I’m not a big fan of Shay, and so I didn’t enjoy all the time Shay got with Tally in this book. I know she’s a victim of the society just as much as Tally, but she seems weaker, more insecure, and as such ends up in all sorts of unstable situations. Consequently, she is the root of most of Tally’s problems. She does redeem herself in the end though, about time!

So the bad gut feeling continues. By the end of the book another tragic event happens, and I swear I almost gave it up right there and then. But the final chapters do leave some hope regarding Tally, so do keep reading.

All in all, this last book was not as good as the rest. It’s still a page-turner and if you have got invested into the characters, you will want to know what happens. Just prepare yourself for a somewhat painful ride.

10/19/11

Review: Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Series: Uglies, book #2

Published: November 1st 2005

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Details: Paperback, 370 pages

My grade: 4/5

My summary:

I was glued to the pages in Pretties from start to finish. This is as action-packed as the first, and once again ending with a cliff-hanger, so make sure you have the third book ready by the time you finish!

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she’s completely popular. It’s everything she’s ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun — the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom — is a nagging sense that something’s wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally’s ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what’s wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life — because the authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive.

My thoughts:

This is the second book of the series Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. It’s very much a continuation of the first book Uglies – no extra explanations provided for newcomers – so you definitely need to start with Uglies.

I should also warn you that if you haven’t read Uglies, don’t continue reading this review as it will contain spoilers!

So as for the review:

While Uglies explained the world of the “Uglies” – those who had not undergone cosmetic surgery, Pretties explains the life of the Pretties – what life is like post-operation. At the end of the first book “Uglies”, Tally decides to become pretty, so that she can try out the cure that David’s mom has developed for the altered Pretty brain. Thus we continue following our heroine, but this time as a Pretty.

There is certainly no slow beginning here. We are quickly thrown into Tally’s adventures in Pretty town. Already in the first chapter, her former “Uglies friends” from The Smoke (rebellious town outside of society) contact her, thus making her remember some of her past, which has been quite fuzzy since the operation (for reasons explained in the book).

She finds an accomplice in Zane, one of the guys in her group of “Pretty friends”, and together they bark on a journey whose goal is to free themselves from their pretty minds, and the city.

If I was a bit hesitant towards Uglies at first, Pretties was exciting from start to finish. I could not let go of the book! There were a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, I was so invested in the heroine Tally that my heart felt with her in every step along the way. Secondly, the prequel Uglies had already sparked my curiosity for how the Pretty world functioned. In the first book, we experience Pretty Town through Tally’s eyes as an ugly – that is, at a distance, so I was really eager to find out more about that world in closer details. The main reason however for me liking this book was the new addition of Zane as a character in the story. I immediately rooted for him and loved following his relationship with Tally.

As in Uglies, the plot continues to twist and turn and true to his form, Westerfeld provides a number of things to reflect upon in our society – things I discussed in my review on Uglies. But not only that, while reading Pretties I was also starting to see shades of grey, as in I was starting to wonder if the “bad guys” really were that bad.

The “bad guys” are The Specials who keep interfering in Tally’s life. They are the secret police (The Specials is short for Special Circumstances) who operate whenever a threat from the outside is detected, essentially anything threatening the Pretty World that they have created.

Of course, I knew that The Specials are supposed to be the bad guys. After all, they alter people’s brains without permission which is clearly not OK. But what if the purpose of The Specials is good? I mean, they are trying to avoid a repetition of what happened to “The Rusties” – the people before them (us) who nearly brought the world to an end through wars and environmental catastrophes. At one point in the book, one of the Specials describes humanity as a cancer tumor to the world – unable to live in it without destroying it. And well, at the rate we are currently going at destroying our world, I can’t help but wondering if it’s true.

So, what I asked myself was: how much damage are you allowed to cause (as in what the Specials did with the Pretties), for the sake of the greater good (not destroying the world)? Tough question with no easy answer, but it sure had me thinking.

As for the ending, I was sort of guessing where it was heading, considering the name of the third book. Yet, the way it happened shocked me, as it felt so cruel. Once again, my heart felt with Tally.

All in all, this was a great and exciting read, with an ending that made me throw myself over the third book in the series “Specials”.

10/18/11

Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Series: Uglies, book #1

Published: February 8th 2005

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Details: Paperback, 425 pages

My grade: 4/5

My Summary:

Great series set in an distopian future that makes you think about the way things are in our society. Very fast-paced and action-packed. There won’t be a dull moment. With a love story as well, all though it’s not the main focus of the story. Highly addictive read!

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license — for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world — and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

My thoughts:

Uglies is the first book in the Uglies Trilogy. At first, when I started reading it, I thought it was just a light and fun read; a page turner yet not something I’d lose sleep over, a 3 out of 5. But as I read more, I found myself getting more and more invested in the characters. By the time it finished (and it finishes with a cliff hanger) I literally threw myself at the next book Pretties, thankful I had already acquired it. So it does get better!

The book starts with the young heroine, 15-year old Tally, who is an “ugly”. She has been left alone in “Ugly town” since her slightly older best friend Peris, has moved to the “Pretty town” (for his 16th birthday) to have his operation. In this dystopian future, Tally lives in a society in which everyone has major surgery on their 16th birthday, to become supermodel gorgeous. Before the operation, as a normal person, you are thought of as ugly, and thus every teenager longs for the day of the operation. So does Tally.

Things change though when Tally cross paths with Shay, a girl who has opinions on the society in which they live, not completely accepting it. When Shay runs away just before her 16th birthday to escape the operation, the authorities force Tally to choose between staying ugly for life or to find and bring back her friend.

Tally decides to go after Shay, and well, that is essentially where the adventure begins. I won’t say too much, as there are so many surprising twists and turns in this book, it is best knowing as little as possible.

There were a couple of things that I really liked about the book. Firstly, the plot of the story makes you think about the way things are in our society. Not only about our obsession with beauty and what price is worth paying for it, but it also makes you reflect on the environmental issues of our world. In the book, our society is constantly referred to, as the utterly stupid society who lived in such an unsustainable way that it nearly extinguished the world. This truly makes you think about how we live our life. One example is when someone tries to explain to Tally what “newspapers” used to be in our society; essentially books printed for a one-day-use to be thrown away the day after. All those trees wasted for a one day read. How utterly stupid and wasteful, Tally reflects. And I can’t but agree.

I also liked how Tally, the main character grows throughout the book, as in the rest of the series. She starts off as a quite immature girl, completely unaware of the effect her society has had on her, but gradually becomes stronger and also more likable.

There is romance, but it’s not the focus of the story. Actually, that happened very quickly, I did not even see it coming (and I’m usually good at spotting those things). Consequently, it’s not something to swoon for, and never really made my heart racing. Still, it’s kind of nice that it’s happening. It sort of adds to the story rather than makes the story if you know what I mean.

Finally what I liked about this book is how you gradually get to know more and more about the society they live in, as Westerfeld reveals secrets throughout the book. He keeps you on the edge, revealing bits and pieces here and there, but always leaving things out, so that you are wishing for more, and keep turning pages.

Uglies does not feel like a stand-alone book, and as I mentioned before, you will most likely want to keep reading the next two when it is finished. It kind of draws you in gradually. Starting light and easy and then before you know it you will be hooked. If you like books like The Host and Hunger games, I’m pretty sure you will like this series as well.

10/17/11

Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Mortal Instruments, book #3

Published: March 24th 2009

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover 541 pages

My grade: 5/5

My Summary:

WOW!! What a great ending to a mind-blowing series! Yes, not the most original but great writing and amazing characterization! The growth of the characters is palpable – have now come to love them all, Jace, Simon, Clare, Luke, Magnus Bane..and the world of shadowhunters & downworlders. Eagerly anticipating fourth book, City of Fallen Angels, out next year.

My Full Review:

This is the third installment of the Mortal Instruments trilogy. And I’ve just warily started reading it. Warily, because I know that once I’m a few chapters in it will result in a “bye bye social life”. I’ll retreat into the house and will not get out until I’ve finished it. That’s how addicting I predict it to be. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of The Mortal Instruments series. A fourth book in the series to be released in April next year, City of Fallen Angels. Yay!

Update:

I forced myself to read this over a week, just to savour it as long as possible, all though it was hard, really hard, especially nearing the end. Let me just say, what a great ending to a fantastic trilogy! I know I know.. another book is coming – and will get to follow these characters yet again, all though from Simon’s point of view – but it was meant as a trilogy from the beginning. And you can tell that this was the original end. Everything is wrapped up beautifully in this one.

I thought the two first books were great too, but I felt like this was the best, possibly because I’d grown so attached to characters and the story. Basically, I just I loved it, from start to finish. Yes, it may not be the most original story, but the world-building and the characters, and the witty dialogues, and the heart-pounding romance..it all makes up more than well for the lack of originality. I felt completely transported into to the land of the shadowhunters, Idris, where they travel in this book, to participate in a looming war against Valentine, and frankly, I never wanted to leave. Thank god for that fourth book, I’m just saying.

Ok, so beware of:

SPOILERS———————-SPOILERS—————————–SPOILERS

As I said before, I loved the characters in this book, and the witty dialogues..

- Magnus Bane for one is a brilliant character. I was a bit worried at first that he wouldn’t participate as much in this book as the rest, but I needn’t have to worry, as he shows up pretty soon in Idris.

- Sebastian. I may be blind but I didn’t see this coming. At first I thought it was going to develop into a love triangle between him, Jace and Clary. Then I started to realize that something was up with him, and began pondering that if he is Valentines son, how does Jace fit into all this?

- Jace. My oh my. Of all the characters he is the best. Tortured, strong, vulnerable, sarcastic, romantic, casanova, hero..I mean seriously, I have not come across such a complex character in some time. And the relationship he has with Clary is the core of the book. I just wanted more of them, all the time. Each one of their encounters was so emotional, tense, romantic and fierce that it blew me away each time. Absolutely wonderful!!

Valentine. Wonderfully drawn evil character, who believes, actually believes that he is doing the shadowhunter world a favor. He is that crazy. And I think that somehow he loved Jace, and he definitely loved Jocelyn. He wasn’t always mean. That is what makes him fascinating and more real somehow.

Even though the ending was pretty neatly tied up, there were a few loose ends left hanging. For instance, we know how the angel blood is affecting Clary making her being able to create runes. But Jace, what are his abilities? Apart from being able to move and jump faster and higher than others, we don’t know much about that. Also, Sebastian’s body was never found so expect that to continue in the fourth book. And, the fairy queen tells Clary that she does not know all the secrets of her past, implying this may somehow affect her and Jace. How? Well, I suppose that’s to find out in City of Fallen Angels as well. Can’t wait!!!

10/16/11

Review: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Mortal Instruments, book #2

Published: March 25th 2008 by Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover 453 pages

My grade: 5/5

My Summary:

Ok, so I am officially hooked on the Mortal Instruments series. The more time I spend in this world, the more addicted I get. Great second book, with lots of suspense and plot twists. And did I mention Jace is hot?

Full review:

If you have not read the prequel City of Bones, be aware of some serious spoilers!

City of Ashes is the sequel to City of Bones, which I loved and devoured. Except for possibly that twist at the end which left me utterly devastated. I even hesitated about reading the next book, because if I weren’t to follow the budding romance of Jace and Clary, then what else was there to intrigue me? Or so I thought.

Well, I needn’t have to worry. This second installment is about as good (or even better) than its predecessor! Action-packed with twists and turns, great characters and now a forbidden romance. What else can you ask for, really?

It starts just where City of Bones left off. Life has been pretty turbulent (mildly speaking) for Clary ever since she saw the shadowhunters at the Pandemonium club that night. It turns out her mom is a shadowhunter, her dad is evil and she has a brother she didn’t know about – her love interest Jace!

The one person who could have explained a few things to her - her mom – is in coma, so Clary just has to try to figure out things on her own. For one, she tries a romantic relationship with her best friend Simon, because..well he is available and a possible option (as opposed to Jace). However, after a devastating scene for Simon in a fairy court (and possibly the best scene in the whole book!), things are made pretty clear where Clary’s heart stands.

Meanwhile, Jace is having problems, stemming from the fact that the Clave (the shadowhunter government) are now suspicious of his intentions. As the son of Valentine, they figure he may very well be working as Valentine’s spy. A new inquisitor arrives to investigate the matter, which really make things spiral out of control.

Simon is also struggling with some pretty serious issues, which result in a very dramatic situation half way through the book. I was shocked to say the least! And while all this is happening, Valentine continues planning his revenge on the shadowhunters.

There so much more, but I’m afraid to give away too much info. Suffice to say, this is as action-packed as the first installment. I raced through the pages in a matter of hours, loving every second of it.

What a wonderful series this is turning out to be. If you have not read The Mortal Instruments Series yet, what are you waiting for?? Get your hands on it now! You will not regret it!

10/15/11

Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Series: The Mortal Instruments, book #1

Published: March 27th 2007

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

Details: Hardcover 485 pages

My grade: 4/5

My Summary:

First book in trilogy. About a girl who enters a magical world she had no idea existed, yet finds out she belongs to. I started off thinking it was a rip-off of quite a few books I’ve read before, especially Harry Potter. Then I got too invested into the characters to care. This is a world I will want to visit again. Loved Jace.

My Full Review:

This is a series which has been figuring on just about every list for twilight fans, and on top of that recommended by Stephenie Meyers, and so it felt like it was just a matter of time before it ended up in my hands. Finally, it did, and I was able to find out if it was as good as everyone said it was. Well…was it?

Absolutely!!! Every bit as good!!

However, to tell you the truth I wasn’t totally converted at the beginning. Two reasons for this:

1) Many bits and pieces have been borrowed from other fantasy work, and at the beginning all I could think of was where these bits and pieces came from (that Hodge resembled Dumbledore in Harry Potter etc).

2) There is also a lot of world building going on, with so much background info weaved into the story that at times I got detracted from the plot.

Hence, it took quite a few chapters before I started to get used to the world of shadowhunters and demons that Clare has created. Once I got into it though, I got into it deep, and before I knew it, I raced through the pages in no time at all. So regardless of my hesitations at first, this is extremely addictive stuff! It truly is.

As for the plot, Clary is an ordinary New York girl, or so she thinks. She lives with her artist mother and has one best friend – the geeky Simon. All is well until the day the two of them head out to the notorious goth club Pandemonium, where Clary witnesses something very strange.

She doesn’t know it then, but what she does see is three shadowhunters capturing and destroying a demon. You see, in this world, all types of nightly creatures exist, demons being the most dangerous. Normal people are of course oblivious to all of this, and the shadowhunters, whose work is to keep the world somewhat demon-free, like to keep it this way.

What is odd is that Clary sees them, despite the glamour the shadowhunters use in order to avoid being detected by normal people. But the odd things have only just begun. Not long after, Clary’s mom is kidnapped and Clary herself is attacked by a demon, and brought to the shadowhunter’s home (an old cathedral which has been made into their New York Institute).

The shadowhunters are Alec and Isabelle who are siblings, and Jace - their adopted brother. The new arrival of Clary stir things up a bit within the small and tight shadowhunter group, in particular Alec and Isabelle who both have their reasons to stay wary of Clary. Jace however feels inexplicably drawn to Clary right from the start and they end up spending quite a bit of time together, at the institute or during various dangerous missions.

I loved watching their budding romance enfold, but mostly I loved Jace. He jumped out of the pages right from the start. It´s been some time (if ever) since I read about such a fascinating, complex and sexy character! The moment he got more page time with Clary in The City of Bones, I was a convert.

So yes, there is no denying it that the number one reason why I loved this first installment was Jace. Yet, there is so much more to this novel. The well-rounded characters (Simon, Luke, Magnus, Alec, Isabelle), the non-stop action and last but not least the quirky dialogue.

See a snippet below:

“Have you fallen in love with the wrong person yet?’
Jace said, “Unfortunately, Lady of the Haven, my one true love remains myself.”
…”At least,” she said, “you don’t have to worry about rejection, Jace Wayland.”
“Not necessarily. I turn myself down occasionally, just to keep it interesting.”

The book is filled with this kind of sarcastic dialogue – mostly from Jace, but Magnus Bane and Simon will occasionally pitch in as well to create some really funny moments.

There is really only one minor disappointment with this book and that is the unexpected twist at the end, which I can assure you will be quite frustrating. But I urge you to keep reading, because it only gets better. Having read all three books, it now stands as one of my all time favorite young adult series (along with Twilight of course.)

10/14/11

Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Series: The Host, book #1

Published: May 6th 2008

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Details: Hardcover 619 pages

My grade: 4/5

My summary:

If you liked Twilight, you will most likely love The Host. Don’t be put off by the fact that it is the story of an alien set in a dystopian future. Meyer proved in Twilight that she writes excellent character-driven plots with great love stories and this is no exception. Just make sure to get through the first 100 pages or so which may seem a bit slow. After that you won’t be able to let the book go.

Update:

It appears as if Meyer is planning a trilogy here. Sequel to be called The Soul and the third installment has been named The Seeker. No release date is set yet, apart from sometime around 2012, if all goes as planned. Let’s hope that it does!

See my full review below:

Synopsis:

The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. But Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves–Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she’s never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

My thoughts:

I have to admit I was a bit sceptical at first, towards this book. Firstly, it is written by Stephenie Meyer, the author of the much adored Twilight saga and I feared that the she might have experienced a one-hit wonder with the series, as is so often the case. Secondly, the plot of the book didn’t seem all that appealing to me. Sci-Fi has never really been my thing, and the synopsis of some alien rooting itself into a human host hardly did much to convince me of the contrary.

But I needn’t have to worry. This book really is great! It is rather slow at first, and it takes a while to get into the details of the story, but then something happens about 100 pages in, and it takes off for real. Suffice to say that it took me about a week to complete the first 100 pages or so, then 2 days to read the rest (500+ pages).

This book isn’t so much a sci-fi story as it is a story about survival against all odds and relationships put into extreme circumstances. There is romance as well, in the form of a love triangle (or to be exact quadruple) - something I can assure you has never been seen before, but very much believable, thanks to Meyer’s writing.

To me, the best part of the book was the characters and their interactions with each other during the course of the story. This is where Meyer proves to us again, just why we fell in love with the characters in Twilight. She really knows how to develope her characters well. Once again in Host, it is as if you know all the people (and one alien) inside and out, so well in fact, that you feel and breath with them. On finishing the book, I felt really sad having to leave the great bunch of people I’d come to known throughout the book.

All in all, this is a great book which I highly recommend.

10/13/11

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Series: The Seven Kingdoms trilogy, book #1

Published: October 1st 2008

Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books

Details: Hardcover 417 pages

My grade: 4/5

My summary:

Great book which is a coming-off age story about a girl Katsa and her relationship with the prince Po set in a fantasy land called the Seven Kingdoms, somewhat similar to the set of Lord of the Rings. Great read about a strong heroine with paranormal abilities and a believable love story.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing.

She lives under the command of her Uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to carry out his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him. Breaking arms and cutting off fingers are her stock-in-trade. Finding life under his rule increasingly unbearable Katsa forms an underground Council, whose purpose is to combat the destructive behaviour of the seven kings – after all, the Middluns is only one of the Seven Kingdoms, each of them ruled by their own king and his personal agenda for power.

When the Council hears that the King of Liend’s father has been kidnapped Katsa investigates …and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap him, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced fighter who challenged her fighting skills, for the first time, as she and the Council rushed the old man to safety? Something dark and deadly is rising in the north and creeping across the continent, and behind it all lurks the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king …

My thoughts:

I hardly ever venture into fantasy land, The Lord of the Rings series being the one and only exception. And now that I come to think about it, it’s strange, because seeing as I devoured that series I wonder why it never occurred to me to seek out other books in that same genre?

Anyway, to cut it short, I am a novice when it comes to the fantasy genre, and so Graceling wouldn’t be my usual pick. But as I stumbled across reviews of this book on various book blogs, I was intrigued, both by the tough heroine with paranormal abilities and of course the romance. (I’m a sucker for the latter)

So, as for the review, I can start by saying that Graceling was a page-turner. I think I read the book in about 2 days. It’s filled with action-packed adventure and a beautiful romance, but at its core it is a coming-of age story about Katsa.

The story is set in a land of seven kingdoms where some children are born graced with an extreme skill. A skill that can be anything you might think of, from trivial things like walking backwards, holding your breath, climbing trees to more advantageous graces like exceptional sword fighting or mind reading. Katsa is burdened by the grace of killing, and is naturally feared by most people. Ever since her grace was known (by accidently killing an annoying cousin) the king has been using her to perform his ill-willed tasks. In order to balance out the acts of evil she performs under the influence of the king, she has started a secret council, bent on doing good. It’s during one of their missions that we are introduced into the book.

At the start of the book, Katsa carries around a lot of anger. She’s angry to be burdened by her grace which is making her a “freak”, lonely and feared by most people. She’s angry to be used by the king carrying out his dirty missions. More importantly, she is not entirely sure how to separate the evil acts she performs for the king with herself. She is doubting her own “goodness” so to speak. As the story moves on she gradually comes to terms with who she really is and how to accept her grace as a part of herself.

One character that helps her on her way to self-discovery is Po, a prince from one of the other kingdoms who sets off with Katsa to solve the mystery of the kidnapping (the council’s mission at the start of the book). Po is a wonderfully drawn character, and as he has that emotional maturity and security that Katsa lacks, he appears to be that perfect person to befriend the temperamental, angry and wild Katsa. I just loved watching the two of them getting to know each other!

Another great character is introduced halfway through the book when Katsa and Po cross paths with Bitterblue, a child princess from yet another kingdom. This is when it starts getting really interesting, not only because the story itself heats up, but also because Bitterblue is such a likable character, strong, brave and mature, who immediately forms a strong bond with Katsa.

In short, I loved the plot which contained everything you might wish for; adventure, romance, fighting scenes, creepy villans and a tough cool heroine.

My only minor criticism is that I found the language a bit uneven. There were parts in the book where I got distracted from the story because certain paragraphs were constructed in such odd ways. The language just didn’t have that effortless flow, at least no constantly throughout the book.

Either way, it’s still a good novel with one of the most interesting heroines I’ve encountered in a while, not too unlike Katniss in Hunger Games.

Graceling is the first book in a trilogy. The third book in the series is to be focusing on princess Bitterblue, once again involving Katsa and Po in the story.. and well, I know I’ll be running out to get my hands on that book as soon as it is released!

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