Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Read from April 12, 2012
to April 28, 2012
Book: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Number of Pages: 485
Genre/s: Young Adult, Paranormal, Dystopia

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn't easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for. - Goodreads

Excerpt: "I wasn't prey. I was a corpse, a creature whose heart didn't race, who didn't breathe or sweat or smell of fear. I was dead."

I swear to myself that I would never read a vampire novel (except for the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward) again because of my disastrous history with the bloodsuckers. I haven't read the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa before as well, so this was my first encounter with Kagawa's writing. Fortunately, I might just have to read the Iron Fey series because The Immortal Rules kinda rocked.

There's only so much you can do in the genre of paranormal especially if they are about vampires. They're like sell-out creatures that once were feared but have been turned into a glam-up version that either watches you in your sleep or whore around. *snorts* And hallelujah to Kagawa because she did not used the sexiness and lure of the vampires to create yet another romance. 

What she did was very wise in her part, because she did not entirely focus on the love aspect but into the world-building. Allison lives in a world where vampire rules. Humans are pets and rabids are abound. Registereds have to bloodlet for the vampires and Unregistereds have to scavenge for food to survive. Allie hated the vampires because her mother died due to them but when faced with a situation between life and death, she chose death, at least technically. She became a vampire. 

Divided into 3 chapters, it provided a lot of direction for the book. It gave Kagawa a leisure time and space to establish her world. If you are into detailed worldbuilding, then The Immortal Rules will seriously blew you away. However, as I come to realize, I'm not that kind of reader. I love solid world-building but I love things to move a little bit while the author engages us with the plot and characters. Pacing is what I think lacked in The Immortal Rules

Everything else was splendid. The characters were fine. Allie is a predator and even rabids and forest alphas were minding to stay out of her path. I've never seen such a kick-ass heroine in such a long time. Her fight for humanity even if its against what she is showcases her strength and capability. The concept was inviting and interesting. The love when it appeared was a welcome distraction. I was like into the first-third of the book, and I was thinking about the seriousness of it all.  I kept thinking is there a love story in this? 

And voila, here comes Mr. Lover Boy, whom I think has the most interesting name of all, Ezekiel Crosse. But fret not, he was not just there to keep Allie company. He was an important part of The Immortal Rules. And him being around ignited the rest of the story to its completion. 

Another aspect of the book that really amazed me, was the concept of faith and how it was handled by Kagawa in The Immortal Rules. I tell myself all the time that I don't read books to look for underlying messages but it always awe me if underlying message or not, the book touches me enough to think and ponder upon it. The incorporation of faith and belief into something or someone even though there is only pure devastation around you and you feel like you were abandoned in a living hell, is something that is really believable in the story. I remember a teacher of mine telling us that when all is lost, faith is the only thing that a person can hold on to. 

The Immortal Rules indeed take the vampire lore into the next level and redeemed some of the existing taboo about them. Vampires were supposed to be feared, you are supposed to pee in your pants if you ever see them, you have to plea for your life if you unluckily met one. Despite my slight reservations with The Immortal Rules, the other good aspects outweighed it enormously. So go read and indulge yourself with a well-written dystopian/paranormal novel. On second thought, run, it's out already.

Cupid's Verdict:
4 Cupids
An advance copy was provided by the publisher at no cost via Netgalley.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: How To Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie DeBartolo

Read (March 5 - April 1 2012)

Book: How To Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie DeBartolo
Publication Date: September 1, 2005
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Number of Pages: 417 
Genre/s: Adult, Contemporary
Source: Bought

Written in her wonderfully honest, edgy, passionate and often hilarious voice, Tiffanie DeBartolo tells the story of Eliza Caelum, a young music journalist, and Paul Hudson, a talented songwriter and lead singer of the band Bananafish. Eliza's reverence for rock is equaled only by Paul's, and the two fall wildly in love.

When Bananafish is signed by a big corporate label, and Paul is on his way to becoming a major rock star, Eliza must make a heartbreaking decision that leads to Paul's sudden disappearance and a surprise knock-your-socks-off ending. - (source)

“The music defied classification. If I had been writing a review of the show, I would have labeled it progressive, guitar-driven rock ’n’ roll. But the guitars made sounds guitars didn’t always make. Symphonic sounds. Sacred sounds. The music dug in so deep you didn’t hear it so much as feel it, reminding me of a dream I used to have when I was a kid, where I would be standing on a street corner, I would jump into the air, flap my arms, and soar up into the sky. That’s the only way I could describe the music. It was the sonic equivalent of flight.” - taken from How to Kill a Rock Star
So this was the first book I finish this summer vacation, and I couldn't pick up a more deserving book. To be honest, I've been reading this for a while now and only got to finish it today (Apr 1). I'm really surprised that even though days and weeks had passed before I continue reading, when I did pick it up I was still so into it, it seemed like no time has passed since the time I put it down.

It must have been the humor, the characters, the romance, the betrayal, the sick twist in the end but this book, in Paul's fashion of saying things, is one "goddamn" of a gem. 

Music and rock 'n roll is a huge part in the story and although I'm no rock star, the magic connection was still skillfully created between me and How To Kill a Rock Star. When Eliza described the music I'd give anything just to hear what it sounds like for real. It sounded so beautiful and it feels like I'm hearing it in her eyes.

Bananafish is a struggling band, with Paul Hudson as the lead singer and the Michaels. Between  having crappy part time jobs to pay for rents and whatever there needs to be paid, their time revolved around having gigs wherein only the deemed "loser bands" played. Then came along Elisa Caelum, the sister of one of the Michaels and she became the roommate of Paul.

I've never felt chemistry so palpable like between these two. Their attraction to one another is undeniably thick, it could have zapped a fly if there ever is one between them. 

I mean, Paul was no heartthrob, he was pale, skinny, has a nose that defies the proportion of his face (I still don't know how that looked like), has the optimism of a frog which is saying a lot. But goodness, I do like him. Not in the crushy-sort of way but in a way that made me really root for him to make it in the business. And him with Eliza was like reading something that's really worthwhile.

This book was such a success not only because of the romance but because of the passion just right underneath. The music was such a big part of their lives, you can just feel the passion and the grit. 

The other characters were not just characters, but people who made the story really worked. Loring, who was the real heartthrob in the story, was in all sense the catalyst of all the screw-ups. But calling him a jerk would really end up with me being the jerk not him. 

And you know what, if I haven't implied it enough, the dialogues are to die for. They were witty. It will have you snorting and giggling on any vehicle anywhere, everywhere (I know I did), but boy when they got serious, it passes right through your heart, sits on your brain just for laughs and would really messed you up. You were laughing one minute, and then this horrible feeling of sadness will just creep up on you without you even knowing. 

The shocker twist was just too much as well. I was sobbing like crazy. I was devastated, heartbroken and trashed.  I remember wailing, "How can a book that started so hopeful, end up so tragic?"  But if you think that was the end of all ends, then you're in for a treat.

DeBartolo did really well in fleshing out her characters. She made them vulnerable, relatable and human. That is why they will be forever immortalized in my mind. I probably didn't give half the justice this book rightfully deserves, but I'm telling you, if the title How To Kill a Rockstar, didn't draw you in or at least put this book into your radar, then I will not be in the least bit surprised that you might be one of the "heathens and pagans" Paul keep mentioning about.

Cupid's Verdict:
4 1/2 Cupids

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Random Ramblings (14): The Avengers Saved Us

Guess what happened today? I got a haircut! Nah, just kidding. I've watched The Avengers today. That's right. I indulged myself with hawt superheroes and mindblowing action scenes.

The Avengers (from left to right): Hulk, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Nick Fury,
Black Widow, Captain America and Thor
I do think that a little disclaimer is needed here. I'm no comics addict. Never read one, my knowledge is as far as the movies I've watched go. This post would be unbelievably full of fangirling about Chris Hemsworth (He's my man! *winks*) and blurting shameful things like bulging muscles, and bulging muscles. I know that is totally shallow and unprofessional but what the heck I'm not a movie critic, I go out and watch movies for exactly 5 reasons:

1) My Johnny Depp will be there. Or any other fave actors of mine.
2) It's one my most anticipated film of the year. Or it's on my bucket list. Whichever comes first.
3) It's a movie adaptation of a book I've enjoyed. Ironically, the movie adaptation seldom gets it right.
4) I'll be with my friends so I could endure the torture of a movie that's surely going to bomb. Case in point, ah no case in post, let's keep this clean.
5) Johnny will be in a different costume with a mixed-up accent. Wouldn't miss it for the world.

I love going to movies, I even go alone if no one wants to come with me.  So there, not a movie critic, just a movie lover. Let's get to business then and I'll promise to try to keep the muscle word count under 5. 

Frown like you know
you're business
What do you get if you assemble several remarkable people to save the Earth? One amazing spectacle of muscles and buttkicking. I am a big fan of superheroes, I remember wishing to be a Power Ranger when I was a kid.

But I digress. This was such a dream come true for me. You get Iron Man (Yo!), Captain America (I don't really care about him), Thor (Woot!), Hulk (Norton, where are you? Ruffalo nailed it), Hawkeye (Really cool archer), Black Widow (Cool spy), and Nick Fury (He just sits around and cooks schemes to get his team to work, but he still rock it). 

Do not insult me petty, tiny people.
I am not a demigod.
And man, they have their scenes and moments to shine. It was kind of a torture to wait for Thor for about 45 mins into the movie but when he came out, he was gloriously muscular, blonde, and fully charged with thunder. His voice was so godly and he was big. He was really something. 

That was really wrong. *shakes head*

Anyway, I was sitting on the theater seat for about 3 hours and never once was I distracted, OK, a lil' bit.  I was half-plotting to bash this little kid behind us because he keeps talking, in a shrill, loud voice, like we care. And his father was trying to shush him which only added to the ruckus his child is making. I do not know why, but there's always this someone who has to tarnish the movie experience. 

RAWR. Translation: I smashed Loki like a ragdoll. 
Puny god.
The humor was right on cue. Everybody was laughing in the theater and I have this insane thought that all the people in the other 4 theaters that time we're laughing as well. Yeah, all 5 theaters in that mall, was booked just for The Avengers. Surprisingly, Hulk got the most laugh out of me. And he was a green monster then. Iron Man (Downey, Jr.) was spot on, quirky as always. Thor (Hemsworth) booms. Capt. America (Evans) leads. Hawk Eye (Renner) jumps in tall buildings with just a bow. Black Widow (Johansson) tied up in a chair can still beat you up. Even minor characters rocked. Smulders aka Robin in HIMYM as Agent Maria Hill, was kinda different in a good way. Agent Phil Coulson (Gregg) managed to snag a little spotlight to himself as well. 

Well, sorry Loki. The Avengers have Hulk.
Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has a whole section because he was just pure awesomeness. I admit to have a little budding crush on him. He was just right for his character. All the Avengers were on to him, so we have to really feel that he's badass, and he delivers. Like he was born to be Loki, the scheming badass. There was this vulnerable side to him too that only Thor could reach and it was utterly believable. 

CaptA: Big man, in a suit of armour...
take that away, what are you? 
Iron Man: Uh...genius, billionaire,
playboy, philanthropist...
The dynamics was also surprisingly well done. I was not expecting a lot here. Because it's complicated to work on several superheroes on just one screen but I truly enjoyed it.Great ensemble, incredible movie effects, marvelous feel, splendid story telling, this movie would be a "smash"-ing hit. At least I hope. That's why go watch and support them, so we could see future The Avengers  movies (with I hope X-Men and Spiderman included) in the years to come. 

PS. Do not be fooled by the rolling credits. There is an extra scene after, that will introduced us to the next adversary in the sequel. I heard the name was Thanos. Do not know him, but I'll research.

Muscle word count: 4. Told ya! ;)

PPS. Joss Whedon, YOU ARE THE MAN!

What about you? Are you planning to watch The Avengers? 
What movies are you anticipating this summer? This 2012? 
Share 'em down below. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Comeback giveaway!

As promise, here's the giveaway! These are some of the April/May titles I'm most anticipating.  You can choose from any of them as long as the Book Depository ships to your country.  One winner will get to choose one book from these titles:

All titles are linked up to Goodreads to help you choose. So choose well and good luck! Click read more to see the rafflecopter form.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Random Ramblings (13): Hi Ya'll! I AM ON

Yeah, I'm pointing to you.

Hello everyone! I've been so gone these past weeks, I didn't even get to have a wrap-up post for my THGReadAThon event. All of this started because of my hectic college schedule, lack of internet resources (terrible, I know!), and everything just went downhill from there. 

I've been meaning to blog again for a while but I just couldn't get the heart to do it. *le gasp* I know I couldn't admit it at first.  One minute my blog is taking over my life and the next it just started slipping through my fingers. Overly dramatic, yes but I really thought that was what's happening. 

Because of the super-duper requirements at college, I decide to leave my blog for a while. The minute I announced it, I'm itching to take it back and act like nothing was said at all. It was hard, but I didn't realize that getting back was harder. Most specially if you have left some unfinished business, case in point my botched attempt at a blogging event. I have so many draft reviews waiting to be aired on the blog but I kept thinking that when I started posting again, I have to keep up. The more I think about it, the more planning I done, the more difficult it is to bring myself to do it. 

So it all boils down to me. It is my fault. The pressure was coming from me. I keep pushing myself to do things I'm not ready to do yet. This is my niche and I realized that no one's going to take it away from me just because of my faults and absences. I'm ready to go back, I think. But please bare with me since I'm still getting my blogging zone back.

What I learned from all this is I love blogging, I'm just much of a coward to admit to myself  that I let down people. To heat things up, I'll be hosting a giveaway very soon. So, watch out for it. ;) Again, I apologize for all the people I've disappointed. Here's hoping I never ever do them again.

Over and out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

Read (April 6- 8, 2012)
Book: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Number of Pages: 314
Genre/s: Young Adult, Retelling
Source: ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley

Mirabelle's past is shrouded in secrecy, from her parents' tragic deaths to her guardians' half-truths about why she can't return to her birthplace, Beau Rivage. Desperate to see the town, Mira runs away a week before her sixteenth birthday—and discovers a world she never could have imagined.

In Beau Rivage, nothing is what it seems—the strangely pale girl with a morbid interest in apples, the obnoxious playboy who's a beast to everyone he meets, and the chivalrous guy who has a thing for damsels in distress. Here, fairy tales come to life, curses are awakened, and ancient stories are played out again and again.

But fairy tales aren't pretty things, and they don't always end in happily ever after. Mira has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. As she struggles to take control of her fate, Mira is drawn into the lives of two brothers with fairy tale curses of their own...brothers who share a dark secret. And she'll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns. - (source)

“Don't you know the first thing about fairy tales, Mirabelle? No one is going to spoon-feed you the answers. A curse is as much about courage as it is about growth. They're one and the same.” - taken from an uncorrected ARC 
It's been a long time since I came across a book that gripped me from its very first page and that book cover could never be more appropriate for this mesmerizing novel.  
"Girls became victims and heroines. Boys became lovers and murderers. And sometimes...they became both."
Kill Me Softly revolves around Mirabelle, an orphan. Her parents had died in a tragic fire at her christening party so she lived with her two loving godmothers. She always dreamt of visiting her parents' grave but her godmothers won't allow it. So on her sixteenth birthday, she runaway and went to Beau Rivage to look for her parents' resting place. But Beau Rivage was not really a regular town and she was introduced to people whom she thought only existed on children's books and bedtime stories.

She met Felix and she fell in love with him despite the many warnings of Blue and others. She knew what was coming, but she gave in to the temptation to know more about him. She thought she was special, the sole exception to all that he was capable of doing. She believed what she wanted to believe and that was Mira's mistake and it almost cost her life.

Mirabelle or Mira was by no means perfect. She was stubborn, hard-headed, and sometimes downright rude. But what really got to me was the insta-love. I almost hated her for it but I do think she couldn't help it. Felix was magnetic and enthralling because it is in his blood—or in his curse to be alluring to girls who are vulnerable. He might seemed perfect but he was dangerous. Blue, Felix's younger brother, tried to ward her off through unconventional deed. He share the same curse with his brother, but whilst Felix is charming, Blue is exasperating.

One of Mira's weakness was plunging blindly to love so quickly. By running away, she was finally able to stand on her own because although her godmothers love her so much, they shielded her too much and she was sicked with all the rules. The do's and dont's were just too suffocating.  That's why when Blue kept on warning her, she was fast to stay on the other path, the wrong direction which made her all the more naive and trusting to the wrong person.

Felix was undeniably, a gentleman. I liked him, although I was a bit wary with all his perfectness and smoothness. But like Mira I did not believe Blue because he was, in a lack of better word, a jerk.  He drove me nuts with his mixed-signals, inept warnings, and unwavering cockiness.

The characters although not without weaknesses and imperfections were impressively apt for the setting Cross was trying to build. Her version was not conventional wherein everything just fit perfectly into place. In Kill Me Softly, there is no guarantee that you will have your happy ending. But you were a pawn, nonetheless, because you are a character in a story that has already been written. So Cross needed her characters to stray afar from the goody-two-shoes act. She need them to rebel even if fate could just thwart their efforts.

The other characters were also very interesting. I kept guessing who's who.  The modern versions of the fairy tale characters we loved like Snow White, Beauty while greatly different from the ones we're familiar with are surprisingly fresh and fascinating.

But what really captivated me was the retelling itself. If the book cover was any indication, Cross did not choose to pattern her story with the usual "cheery" versions. It was the Grimms' version she picked, the version where The Little Mermaid did not get his Prince and became a sea foam, where Cinderella's stepsisters cut their toes to be able to fit into Cinderella's tiny slipper. It was the mixing and incorporating part that held my attention.
"She'd never looked more beautiful, more perfect, than she did when she was dead...I held her life in my hands. And then I took it away from her...I lost her. I destroyed her. But I never forgot her. I never let her go."
I hated the weakness of Mira, the insta-love, her indecisiveness and impetuousness. I almost gave up on finishing this. But Kill Me Softly has its moments, and when it has it, it was glorious. The little snippets of a story within chosen chapters were haunting but incredibly enchanting. The Bluebeard tale depicting that of the curse of the Valentine brothers (I am not really sure if this was adapted) was extremely well-done and perfect for the scene. The little details made the whole novel much more whole and solid: the animal magnetism, the taxonomy of curses, Jewel coughing up gems, Viv savaged treatment to apples, Henley's obsession to Viv, Freddie's obsession to swords, Blue's hair color, Felix bloody chamber, the razor blade necklace. It was full of everything and I would have smacked myself if I gave up on it because of its flaws and setbacks.

Kill Me Softly was an exceptional take on fairy tales. It was a whole new dimension of retelling and it was anything but fluffy or light. It was original and the plot was cleverly woven. It amazes me that beneath all the dark and twisted layers, the core was really about hope and love. If you want a leap away from traditional happily ever afters, then you do not want to miss this brilliantly executed novel. I love retellings and Kill Me Softly did not disappoint.

Cupid's Verdict:
4 1/2 Cupids
A copy was provided by the publisher at no cost via Netgalley
in exchange for an honest review. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...