Monday, March 30, 2015

Mark This Book Monday: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson!!

Hey there guys!

Today is not a common Monday for me, because after working the weekend I have the day off, and I'm going to choose the right colour for my kitchen, have breakfast with my co-workers, get a pair of parcels in the mail and work on some bloggy things! And read too!

To start this Mark This Book Monday I have the Alyssa Recommends book for March up for review! This one was another success for Alyssa since I loved it! And since I made a category of Alyssa Recommends books for 105 Challenge, it is counted that way too!

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles, #1)The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had been wondering about this book for quite a while since before it came out last year, but because my bloggy friends were quite torn about it, some hating it and others loving it, I couldn't decide whether to read it or not.

But then Alyssa added it to the Alyssa Recommends list and since I'm in such a fantasy-reading kick, I felt it would be the perfect book for March.

And it very much was! I love that it was medieval fantasy with a touch of postapocalytpic (and possibly dystopia, though I cannot be sure, maybe once I read the sequel). Our main character is Lia, her Royal Highness, Princess of Morrighan and First Daughter, that decides to run away from the shackles of tradition & court.

She's impulsive and stubborn and given her temperament and the way she was raised... I'm not surprised she just decided to give the middle finger to everything and run away from the palace just before her wedding. Yes, the marriage was very important to ensure the alliance of the kingdoms and probably their survival, but I can understand how she just wants out, how she's tired and sick of being told what to do like she's useless, and she decides that she needs to take control of her life in any way she can.

We follow Lia in her flight with Pauline, he attendant and friend, and we see them both establish their new home far away from Civica, the kingdom's capital. I loved how Lia threw herself into her new simpler life with gusto, not shying away from hard work and always being a good friend to Pauline, even when things got hard.

And then we get to two guys and the other two POVs in the book, Kaden and Rafe, the prince and the assassin, and we don't know who is who till well close to the end of the book. And it kept me guessing all the way till the end of the book and I decided to stick with my very first guess... and I was wrong. Which if you think about it makes very much sense, so yeah, there's that.

And this leads me to the part of the book that I liked less... the sort of love triangle! Both prince and assassin go on a search for Lia, for obviously very different reasons and both then decide to stick around and get to know her better because she's intriguing. Fair enough, I'll be very ready to believe that when it comes to the prince, because well... she was supposed to become his wife and she run away, and he wants to know why, and he can be intrigued about why she run away and started working in a tavern. But the assassin?? His job was to kill her, and instead of doing his job he decides to stick around, getting to know her which could lead into making it harder for him to kill her in the end! What pitiful, sort of crappy assassin is that one?? Hmph!!

And Lia clearly is more attracted to one of them than the other from the start, and when I say clearly, I mean clearly, she only flirts with the other guy to make guy #1 jealous because of his warm and cold (that could be understood for once) moods towards her. So I don't understand why we need the other side of the triangle to make things muddy, mostly because I don't understand why the assassin has to stick around to get involved!!!

Okay, enough with my big pet peeve that costed this book one star, because I absolutely adored Lia, with her temper, her very necessary growth as a character, how she sees her kingdom from the very foundation that it's the common people, how she struggles with finding herself and her worth and deciding that she needs to face her responsabilities. She's a fighter through and through, and I loved her for that, flaws and all.

The world building was fantastic, the descriptions are so visual and they never felt overwhelming or boring with details, instead they were woven into the narration flawlessly, changing and moving with the plot. And I loved how some details and mentions here and there hinted at this world maaaaybe being something more than just a medieval/epic fantasy. I loved the mentions of the Ancients, the lore of the Remnant and how their religion is slightly different from one kingdom to another.

A fantastic first installment in a new series that I'm completely hooked on already. It would have had 5 stars if not for the love triangle and uncomprehensibly incompetent assassin! Well deserved 4 stars though!

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Pages: ARC Review of Shadow Study by Maria V Snyder!!

Aaand as my next and last Saturday Pages entry a review of a book that I got approved for via NetGalley, thank you so much Harlequin Mira for the chance to read this one!

As a book I got for review it will count towards that category for my 105 Challenge!

Shadow Study (Soulfinders, #1)Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had been wanting to read the Study trilogy for quite a while, even before I read the Healer trilogy about Avery, the healer from Kazan. But seems that they kept being pushed back for other books till I got approved for this one, which I'm not sure if I should call a continuation of the trilogy or a spin-off but with the same characters?

Anyhow, I finally read and loved the three Study novels, loved Yelena and Valek and their relationship and came to be really intrigued about the world, the two rival countries Ixia and Sitia and adored so many of the secondary characters (Arin and Janco, I'm looking at you!).

I loved revisiting the world and the characters, even if I was lucky and didn't have to wait for this book as long as most fans did. Time has passed for Yelena and Valek and they continue their relationship as they can when their respective duties allow them, and make the most out of it.

I was quite surprised but very glad when I saw that we were getting more than Yelena's POV in this one! I loved that we had Valek's POV in this one and also Janco's. Valek's was my favourite because we finally find something more about Ghost man through flashbacks to his past. It might have taken us a bit off from the current action, but I loved those glimpses so much, that I really didn't mind at all!

Now that Yelena has grown into her powers and she is sure of them, what twist could be thrown in to add a proper sense of threat? Clearly the only way to do that effectively was having Yelena lose her powers! And oh boy, now that was an absolute game changer! Yelena was so worried and so completely lost without her magic! But I simply loved (and it broke my heart) that the thing she missed the most was her connection with Kiki, her utterly wonderful and adorable horse!

We have Yelena and Valek separated and working on different leads during most of the book and we get introduced to some new characters too. Little Miss Assassin (nicknamed lovingly so by Janco) wants Valek's position with the Commander and he's quite tempted to let her have it, once he gathers if she really can be trusted. And other characters that I would have known if I had read Opal's spin-off before reading this one! Oh well, I'll get to the eventually!

Yelena trying to discover who wants her magic-less and dead and Valek trying to see why security acount the Palace is so lax and trying to crack a smuggler's operation end up leading to an old enemy that they thought was dead but wasn't, and that makes them wonder a lot about loyalties and who can they really trust.

The book ending with quite a bomb being thrown but not with a painful cliffhanger which is something to be thankful for! Still, I really cannot wait to get my hands on the next book of the series! Very much deserving of 4 stars!

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Saturday Pages: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett!!!

Hi there everyone!

The weekend is here and I have to work, but I had a lovely lazy and full of reading day off yesterday, so I will not complain!

Today as my first Saturday Pages review I have The Midnight Garden's Classic YA & MG challenge book for March! As per usual (except for last month) it was a book I had not read before and as per usual, I thoroughly loved and enjoyed it! As usual I will be taking part in their discussion post and writing my usual looong babbling novel of a comment, and I have my own review up here!

The Secret GardenThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another gem of a book discovered via the #tmgreadalong. I really am extremely happy that I decided to join the ladies at The Midnight Garden in their classic middle grade & young adult challenge last year, and I do plan to continue to be part of as it as long as they have it!

I was intrigued by the beginning and despite our lil Mary being quite contrary I felt immensely bad for her. She was ignored and spoiled and unloved and she didn't even know what she was missing, which is the worst part of the whole thing.

Then she is taken to England and gets stuck in another grand house where she might not lack anything except love again, but thankfully for her she doesn't have the same kind of servants attending her, but a young pure Yorkshire girl that takes no nonsense from her. I simply loved the change in Mary as she was first a lil forced and then allowed to play on her own and explore and be a child outside!

And I absolutely loved her determination to find the Secret Garden and to make sure it was kept alive! I adored how she was so different with Dickon and Martha and how she loved everything about them and their family and how she stopped thinking herself as above them and never acted like she would have before. She might have been acting out of selfish reasons, but she was kinder that you could have expected her to be!

I was quite surprised when we got introduced to Colin, the small Rajah, and the biggest tyrant you could imagine. I could barely conjure any sorry feelings for him at first, and I was beyond happy when in one of his "fits" Mary came to him and confronted him with her own "spoiled girl" manners! Who would have thought that Mary could be such a great influence, along with Dickon, the red breasted robin, Dickon's menagerie and loads of fresh air!

I just loved how important family was in this book, and how it showed the influence of good examples and encouragement can be. It's also quite a tongue in cheek dig at the way children in afluent families were raised, primed & pampered but without real affection, and it's a wonder how those kids grew to be even half functioning adults!

And I love how doing something with your hands, making things grow and watching and interacting with others that are different from you can be both eye opening and sobering. It's not like planting a flower or two and interacting with someone with a different upbringing will solved every problem for spoiled kids... but it will make them confront themselves with different realities and with some luck make them think about what they have and what other's have and not.

I adored the descriptions of the moor, the gardens, the secret garden and all the food that they were getting! It made long for some warm oatmeal and buns and scones and tea time... *sigh*. It was a wonderfully visual book! I could clearly picture myself in every room and every part of the gardens, and even at the cottage in the moor!

If I had to pick a favourite character it would be Susan Sowerby, even if we don't get to have her in the flesh in the pages till the last part of the book, she's very much present at every turn of the page, with her advice, her observations and her considerable common sense wisdom! She is the archetype of a mother figure and I loved when we finally got her to interact directly with Mary and Colin!

A wonderful book that made me long to visit the moor, skip around the secret garden, have some buns and scones with my tea and made me long for the Magic. Well deserved 4.5 stars!

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Reads: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger!!

Finally! My second Friday Reads post is up!

This one is all about The Reader's Lounge Book Club's book for March! I love how I'm discovering some wonderful books through our monthly picks! Not that I wouldn't have read them otherwise but they've been moved to the front of the TBR pile and read, so that's great!

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat FriendThe DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The DUFF was chosen as March's book for my book club: The Reader's Lounge and since I already had a copy gifted by my friend Becca from Pivot Point Reviews, I was all set and ready!

I didn't start the book till this week and surprisingly enough (or maybe not...) I was completely hooked and ended up reading it in one night! I do suck at reading a book in installments it seems!

Bianca is your cynical, too jaded for her age but somewhat sensible teen, and boy did I identify with her... I was pretty much like that when I was 17 or 18 and I was the voice of reason for one of my excessively romantic friends. She's got two best friends that are quite different from her, a crush on the perfect boy and a rather complicated family dynamic.

It all start with Bianca being with her friends at a club, with them dancing and she fighting a headache (I liked dancing loads, so that was not something we have in common) and being approached by the biggest manwhore of the whole school that calls her a DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) which causes her to throw a drink on his face (I cheered!).

Bianca always felt like a very real and complicated teen (we are all bloody complicated as teens) and even though I obviously I didn't agree with all her actions, I could understand most of her motivations, even if I saw quite clearly what she didn't seem to manage to see, which means hindsight and some perspective works wonders.

I loved her friendship with Cassey and Jessica, and how they were all different and leveled each other up. I hated how Bianca kept herself so closed up with her friends and pretended she was alright all the time, but I surely can relate to that to an extent too. And despite their disagreements and whatever problems they had, they ended up talking things through and not resorting to simple name calling and catfight drama, which is a very positive example to show.

Every interaction between Bianca and Wesley had the potential to be hilarious, irritating and swoony all at the same time, and I really felt like like smacking Wesley for his continued use of the "Duffy" nickname even if it was quite clear that he wasn't trying to belittle Bianca at all by the use of it after a while. He seemed quite genuine and proved to be a good friend to her more than once, and I actually cheered when he defended Bianca from the "whore" accusations with a good punch.

It seemed rather funny that the guy that was the first to label her ended up being the other that also gave her the best kind of advice about labels of all sorts and the one that made Bianca realize that she is so much more than a DUFF, and that we are all labelled at some point and we all end up labelling others and almost always is because we want to feel better about ourselves by putting others down.

The family dynamics are very important in this one because Bianca's family life is not easy with her parents' issues and how they affect her. I loved that parents aren't perfect here in this book but aren't bad people just because it suits the story. They are not made the enemy, and are also made flawed people with redeeming qualities that are trying to do what they can and will not win a "parents of the year" award while they sort their issues but that do try to do the best they can once they're out of their own cave.

All in all, this was a deeper read that I was expecting at first, and although there were a few disturbing things for me, the main one having a 14 year old in a relationship that included sex with an 18 year old which I felt wasn't addressed as wrong well enough, it was full of positive messages for both teens and adults, because we all need the reminders about facing our problems, not lying to ourselves and accepting help from others, not labelling people and standing against those labels.

Very much well deserved 4 stars for this one!

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Friday Reads: Fire Study by Maria V Snyder!!

Hello there! Happy Friday!

Friday is my day off this week since I work the weekend and yesterday was my day after night shift and I was fuzzy-brained all day!

Today's Friday Reads will be a bit uphazardly done, but I do plan to have two reviews up, and the first one is the final book in the Study series!

Fire Study (Study, #3)Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have thouroughly enjoyed reading this series! Since this is the final book in what originally was a trilogy you can expect some spoilers for events that happened in book 1 and 2, so keep that in mind!

It's a wonderful fantasy series that also has a good look at political differences between two countries and how things are seen differently from inside each one of the sides!

Yelena is still trying to accept her magic and to what point it might determine who she is. It already determines how the people around her react to her, judging her based on the acts of another. And despite how big the mistrust from others is, the worst rejection comes from Yelena herself, since she is scared of her powers and her magic.

Being the Soulfinder is a scary and largely unknown power and Yelena is not sure how to get herself train and get her abilities under control. The First Magician is the biggest advocate for Yelena to be eliminated for being too dangerous and once that possibility is ruled out, she decides she'll be the one to train Yelena, and that doesn't sit well with Yelena at all, as is to be expected. And driven by her fear of her own abilities, her mistrust of her own control and her unwillingness to face it all, Yelena ends up running head first into trouble without much planning or thinking.

The plot was continuining from what started in the two previous books and expands in worrisome ways. I didn't really guess who the bad guy behind it all, because it was such a verbal and in your face character, you wouldn't have expected such deception too, even if it was also the most obvious at the same time.

We get a lot of our beloved characters all working together and it's good that they come become because Yelena is gonna need all the help she can get trying to figure out her abilities, finding the Warpers, fighting the Fire Warper and trying to prevent an all out war between Ixia and Sitia.

Valek and Yelena undergo their first and biggest bump in their relationship because of Yelena's fears and denial and her trying to make sure no one gets hurt because of her makes her push the ones she love away, and takes their right to choose what to do, if they want to help or even how to help. But I still really enjoy how they make a fantastic team and Valek always seems to know when to get to her aid no matter what.

The ending wrapped up things rather well, leaving enough threads here and there for possible new stories with the either the main or the secondary characters and I'm glad that they are a reality, because I am in love with the world of Ixia and Sitia and I want to spend more time here! Very well deserved 4 stars for this end of a trilogy (that is not as final now any more!).

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday #87!!

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted at Breaking The Spine  that spotlights those can't-wait-to-get-my-hands-on-them books that we are eagerly awaiting!

What book am I biting-my-nails-while-I-wait-for-it-to-download-to-my-Kindle-on-release-day? Forged by Erin Bowman!!

Goodreads Summary:

"Gray Weathersby and his group of rebels must make their final stand in the epic conclusion to the Taken trilogy, which New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu called "an action-packed thrill ride from beginning to end."

The Order is building an unstoppable army, with every generation of Forgeries harder to detect and deadlier than the one before. It’s time for Gray and his fellow rebels to end the Order's world of lies. But when the most familiar faces—and even the girl he loves—can’t be trusted, Gray will have to tread carefully if he wants to succeed. Or survive.

Why am I eagerly awaiting Forged? This is the final book in the series and I cannot wait to see what's gonna happen now, because in the final book we were ready for an all out war!! Also, I want the love triangle to be properly resolved!!"

What are you all (im)patiently awaiting this week?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mark This Book Monday: ARC Review of Claimed by Sarah Fine!!

Hey again guys!

As my second Mark This Book Monday entry of the week I have the sequel to Marked and the reason I finally started reading the series, because once I got approved for this eARC on NetGalley I felt like I really HAD to start the series!

Since this one is a fantastic mix of genres and it's an ARC I can count it towards three of my challenges, the 2015 Mythology Challenge, the Dystopian Challenge 2015 and the 105 Challenge for the books for review category!

Claimed (Servants of Fate, #2)Claimed by Sarah Fine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Getting approved on Netgalley for Claimed is what made me start this trilogy and I'm thankful for both the approval and for the push to start this series because I'm simply in love!

The second book expands on the world building and twists the plot another notch and although Eli and Cacia are present and continue to be important in the book, the focus is not on them this time, very much like it paranormal romance series, we have a new couple to take the lead, with their own conflicts and their on path to finding their way together.

Since most of the world got established in the first book, we focus more on the plot in this one, because even threads that we though had got solved in the first book aren't exactly as well tied as we thought, and things get even more dire, with people dying without getting Marked, rogue Keres are popping up everywhere and we aren't really sure who to trust at all! The tension was even higher in this one than in the first book, because even the good guys could be influenced and turned against each other.

Galena and Declan are an interesting couple because both are very closed off for their own reasons, but given how Galena is an abuse and rape survivor, some warning for triggers need to be given. It is explored rather well, in my uninformed opinion, but despite their relationship starting as a very marriage of convenience, Declan always gave Galena the power of deciding and choosing what, when and how, and she was the one that made the choice to finally stop letting her past control her.

We discover that there are traitors in both the Keres and the Ferrys and that the Fates are not as in control as we'd think (or even hope) and we meet more Greek myths in this one. Maybe that's why I guessed who the bad guy was a bit early in advance and it made me a bit mad waiting for the rest to catch up, because of my knowledge of Greek myths.

The mix of paranormal romance, urban fantasy in a postapocalyptic setting and Greek mythology is flawlessly done and I was turning pages as fast as I could read them! A fantastic sequel that was as good or even better than the first book was! Very well deserved 4.5 stars for this one and cannot wait for the final book in the trilogy!!

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Mark This Book Monday: Marked by Sarah Fine!!

Hello there guys!

A new week starts with another Monday and it's a working Monday for me, but before that it is a Monday to juggle kitchen estimates for the last time! I'm finally choosing a design and estimate! And I'm hoping for some awesome book mail to arrive too!

To start this week's Mark This Book Monday I have a book that had been in my Kindle library a while, and that I was prompted to read once I got approved for the sequel on Netgalley! Since this one is a fantastic mix of urban fantasy, paranormal romance with a generous dash of both Greek mythology and postapocalyptic it counts both towards my 2015 Mythology Reading Challenge and the Dystopia Reading Challenge 2015!!

Marked (Servants of Fate, #1)Marked by Sarah Fine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have heard such great things about Sarah Fine's books and although I have her YA series already in my shelves and Kindle library, once I got approved for the eARC of the sequel, I decided to start her first adult series!

Marked is fantastic mix of different genres, since it's got mythology, dystopian, paranormal, urban fantasy and some quite awesomely done romance.

We meet Eli once he's just moved to a new city with his sister Galena, we don't know much of their past or the world they live in, but we keep getting tidbits here and there. Eli is a paramedic and find himself paired with Cacia Ferry, who aside from a great paramedic is also the daughter of the most powerful man in the city. And that man and his family have a few mysterious secrets.

I loved how everything was so well described, from the futuristic work as paramedics with techniques even if the technology is different, to the dystopian/postapocalyptic setting and world, with climate changes and water shortages. Even if we don't get the full background story about how it came to happen, we get enough information for us to get a clear picture of the world.

And the most intriguing part is the Greek mythology that's woven into the story. How a family has the charge to help the souls of the dead cross to the place they ought to go (they Ferry them along...), the head of the family is the Charon and those who will die are "marked" by Fate and then the Kers are the one that make sure they die. I wasn't expecting that twist added and really loved it!

I love how the plot and the world building progressed pretty much in parallel, finding out more about the world as we try and unravel the murder mystery that is the linchpin to all the events to come! And at the same time we're trying to figure out things and make sense of the world and discover who's behind everything that doesn't make sense, we also see the relationship between Eli and Cacia develop, from an early attraction that both refuse to act on, to becoming partners at work and a big support through tough times to finally getting together. And boy, do they have chemistry! Chemistry enough to jump off the pages!

Both Cacia and Eli are complex characters that have many secrets that belong to the past that shapes them, but they discover that together they can find a way to go ahead accepting that past and stopping it to define who they are and who they can be.

My first Sarah Fine book was a complete success because I stayed up till 4 am reading till I finished the book, completely engrossed with it, its world, the plot and the amazing romance between Eli and Cacia! Very well deserved 4 stars!

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