Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday(18): Trial by Fire

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

Book: Trial by Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy #1) by Josephine Angelini
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?
- (source)

Alternative universes usually don't appeal to me because my brain generally can't comprehend its magnitude in terms of its foundations and principles. Nevertheless, I am intrigued by this "terrifying sensual" world and having a superior alternate self, so I'm definitely looking forward to reading this title.

So what books are you waiting on?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles #3) by Melina Marchetta

Read from June 11 - 12, 2014
Book: Quintana of Charyn (Lumatere Chronicles #3) by Melina Marchetta
Publication Date: September 26, 2012
Publisher: Viking Australia
Number of Pages: 516
Genre/s: Young Adult, Medieval Fantasy
Source: Bought

There's a babe in my belly that whispers the valley, Froi. I follow the whispers and come to the road . . .

Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi must travel through Charyn to search for Quintana, the mother of Charyn's unborn king, and protect her against those who will do anything to gain power. But what happens when loyalty to family and country conflict?

When the forces marshalled in Charyn's war gather and threaten to involve the whole of the land, including Lumatere, only Froi can set things right, with the help of those he loves. - (source)

This review does not contain any spoilers for this book and the rest of the series. Hurrah!

Melina Marchetta never fails to break my heart into smithereens. Reading the Lumatere Chronicles has been a tremendous experience. She made everything seemed tangible to me. The anguish coming from Froi was also the same anguish coming from me, the trust between Phaedra and Lucian, the love between Isaboe and Finnikin, the protectiveness Quintana has for her King baby, they were gushing out from me too. She made my heart swell past its size that I became stretched too thin and wrung out from all these feelings coursing through me. It was emotionally exhausting, but it was worth it. Seeing everything fall into place felt like a satisfying compensation for all the pains the characters have to endure.
As always with a Marchetta novel, you know you're going to get a good story. For me though, it will be the characters that would initially entice me in and would refuse to let go. This power is much more potent here because we've been with these people since Book 1. We shared their tragedies, torments, and losses as well as their camaraderie, love, and triumphs. They have burrowed themselves into my heart like real people and my affection for them is just all-consuming. I am heartbroken to have reached the story's end but I am also glad to know that they are in a better place now.

It's admirable how Marchetta has the command not only of her readers' attentions, but also their hearts. Marchetta might have broken my heart countless of times but she constantly put the pieces back together again despite making it more fragile than ever before. She's a masterful storyteller and a genius creator of this world and its characters. 

And I'll never forget them, Melina Marchetta. Never.

Cupid's Verdict:
4 1/2 Cupids

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Let's Talk About Anime

To celebrate my upcoming birthday tomorrow, I would like to share what I do in my spare time besides reading. But really, I just wanted to have an excuse to make this short list. *winks*

I'm a total book nerd but I'm a huge anime nut job too. Although I don't watch a lot of anime like I used to, I have a few favorites that I find myself rewatching every now and then. Without further ado, here they are, in no particular order: 

1. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)

This anime just came out last year, rocking and blazing with its addictive OST, and that might seem not too long ago but fans have been waiting for the second season since forever. This includes yours truly and as we all know there's no fun in waiting. Plus, this just increases the chances of being spoiled (right, Meg?) by all those who read the manga. *shakes fist*

Struggling to survive inside the wall against man-eating Titans, Shingeki no Kyojin depicts humanity at its weakest and most vulnerable state. It is chock-full of action, twists and deaths that once you start watching, you'll end up gobbling up everything in one-sitting. This happened to me and it's bound to happen again. You have been warned.

2. Death Note 

Many will say that Death Note should have quit while its ahead, but it is definitely one of a kind and deserves more episodesno matter how convoluted the story became.

This anime is so sick and twisted that the evil in me was extremely delighted in watching the antihero deemed himself god and savior of humanity. He's cleansing out the world by killing all those who are evil using the notebook provided by a bored Shinigami, and the scary thing is, I don't see anything wrong with what Light Yagami/Kira is doing except perhaps trampling on the justice system. It's exciting to watch everyone try to capture this elusive and lethal Kira and it became even more nerve-wracking when L entered the picture. I'm quite ashamed to admit that I kept switching alliances between the two brilliant leads.

Controversial and engaging, this anime is a must watch for those who love dark, suspenseful anime.

3. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Magical girl anime are meant to be light, so I started watching this expecting a Sailor Moon-esque fun, only to find out I was in for some deep, bleak shite. I definitely meant that as a compliment on account that I was pleasantly surprised and I loved every second of it. 

Deconstructing the magical girl genre, possessing stunning visuals, pyschological and heavier in theme, Madoka Magica intends to enthrall neophytes and lovers of the genre.

And out of all the anime listed here, I would definitely egg you on with Madoka Magica because you'll be more inclined to check this out since it only has 11 episodes. I repeat, it only has 11 episodes. Yeah!

4. Cowboy Bebop

So if you're one of those persnickety people who value lists above all and check them for recommendations, you'd see this on top anywhere, and it's not without valid and satisfying reasons. This is a mature anime that showcases odd yet compelling characters and relevant, weighty episodes. 

Since it was episodic in nature, I didn't immediately fell head over heels in love with Cowboy Bebop. In time though, I was pretty sucked in and once I read some fantastic analyses (yes, I read them just because) regarding each episodes, I realized Cowboy Bebop is more than what meets the eye and I loved it even more. Heartbreaking and jaunty, Cowboy Bebop would definitely appeal to young and old anime lovers alike.

5. Bleach

You won't see this on any Top Anime Series of All Lime list and I know many hardcore anime fans would dismiss this as mainstream anime with no substance. But you know what? I don't care. We're all entitled to love what we like and vice versa. I love this so much that I started reading the manga because I simply cannot wait for the anime, and I terribly miss Ichigo Kurosaki and the gang. Being a Shinigami or Death god is the name of the game and Ichigo Kurosaki became one despite being a human.

I understand and acknowledge that there are glaring flaws in the series but my unconditional love would still be undeterred. I've watched this series since 2007 and I've seen the characters grow not only in strength but also as individuals, and I'll be in the Bleach bandwagon for the long haul. Even the critics have to admit that Bleach started really strong and it boasts a wonderful OST. Like, Will of the Heart and Never Meant to Belong, which I'm listening to right now for added inspiration and feels. 

I know watching 366 episodes might seem daunting but trust me, you'll fly through it. I suggest skipping the filler episodes and you'll wait with me in no time for the hopeful return of the anime.

So these are some of my favorite anime. Do you watch anime? 
What are some of your favorites? I'm open to any recommendations.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Read from March 27 - 29, 2014
Book: Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard
Publication Date: July 24, 2012
Publisher: Harper Teen
Number of Pages: 388
Genre/s: Young Adult, Steampunk, Horror
Source: Bought

There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia...

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family as fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walkers by. But this is nothing compared to what she's just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor... from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she'll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. An now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.
- (source)

I almost didn't finish this book. With a cover like that and an intriguing premise, I thought Something Strange and Deadly was a book right up my alley. But all I could think about while reading was: this is not going very well.

I'm not certain why I found it hard to immersed in Dennard's world. There are a lot of possible factors I think. It could be the almost nonexistent world-building, the slow pace, the predictability, or my love/hate relationship with Eleanor, the heroine.

Eleanor for the most part is a heroine I actually admire. She's smart, sassy and brave. She's strong-minded and she has a distinct personality. But she's quite hammy for my liking. Case in point, this scene: 
"My breath shot out. I swayed back, but Daniel lunged forward and caught me before I could fall. For a moment he held me, his arm looped around my waist and his eyes gazing hard into mine."
This happened at least thrice in the book. It's a minor thing, a nitpick on my part, and naturally something that might've irked only me, but I don't like my heroine melodramatic.

Now about the story. The Dead are rising everywhere, an ominous spirit was released caused by a séance gone horribly wrong, and on top of it all, Eleanor's brother still has yet to come home. On the brink of bankruptcy and worried for his brother's safety, Eleanor must find out where his brother is and to do this she would need the help of the Spirit-Hunters.

I have to be honest. I've figured everything out even before halfway through the book so definitely there's nothing left to go on but see how Dennard would execute the events leading up to the reveal and the reveal itself. I'm not particularly impressed but I was thrilled the pace picked up once the story's ready to go in that direction.

What turned up as a surprise for me was the romance. This took a back seat and I loved how Dennard played it. I think it was one of the main strengths of the book. I found myself smiling and the subtlety of it all excites me because even in the slightest of nudge, the chemistry of Eleanor and Daniel was undeniably remarkable.

And I have to say I was so pleased at how the story concluded and this ultimately saved the book for me. Battling the Dead with a lunatic Necromancer at large was, of course, without consequences and I appreciated how Dennard handled this. Eleanor ruined her reputation, yes, but she also lost someone and something tangible. It's permanent and I think this would be one of the few times where I would see my heroine damaged, a tad unwhole, but unquestionably stronger.

I was prepared to give this book less than 3 stars but it did pick up its pace and I loved how the story endednot with a cliffhanger but with a promise of something more. I'm glad I didn't give up on this and I surely am looking forward to the next installment.

Cupid's Verdict:
3 Cupids

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday(17): Gates of Thread and Stone

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

Book: Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Skyscape

In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.
- From Goodreads

This book promises time sorcery and I'm so up for it. Unravel the threads of your past Kai and I'll be right there with you, pinky swear!

So what books are you waiting on?
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