Mini Hiatus

Sorry about the lack of posts these few weeks, I was heavily laden with homework and didn't have time to read and write reviews. I currently read in a extremely slow speed of one book about 4 days.... Therefore, I decided to take a mini hiatus, I will be certainly back by January, when I don't know, since I have term finals the start of January. This hiatus will give me time to read and catch up on my reviews as well as storing a few reviews so I could sometimes read in a more leisurely pace. See ya guys soon! ;)


Review: Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson (Valkyrie #1)

Title: Valkyrie Rising (Valkyrie #1)
Author: Ingrid Paulson
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Mythology
Publisher: HarperTeen
Synopsis/Summary: Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there. 
What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.
Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.-Taken from GoodReads
From the book on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository

      This book included a very special element, it incorporated Norse Mythology, like the Percy Jackson series, only that I have never heard of Norse Mythology (yeah, not really an expert in mythologies... :P), and that made the book that much more interesting.

     The plot introduced a new kind of paranormal creatures that hardly ever appeared in books, Valkyries. I had a lot of fun reading about them, although I still think that they are not that different from vampires and werewolves, at least in their abilities. They can move super fast, fight extra hard, heals fast and hypnotize people. Well, that fits the description of vampires pretty good, right? Minus the blood-drinking part of course. Anyway, despite their similarities, it was still interesting to know about Valkyries, apparently they collected dead soldiers' souls and give it to the God of Death, Odin. Their purpose was really what set them apart from other paranormal creatures. Still, I appreciate Paulson's effort in putting something new in her story.

     Most of the story took place within two days, and events just kept happening one after the other. To put it simply, this is a fast-paced story. True, there were still moments when after a long chapter (actually most of the chapters are pretty long, like 30 pages or so, which proved inconvenient especially since I insist on finishing the full chapter before dropping a book), things are still in the same place, but things can progress really fast if the author so wants. Truth be told though, the plot didn't quite pull me in, the whole wild-goose-chase thing wasn't really my thing, plus, I found Ellie to be incredibly frustrating. That said, the plot was still enjoyable and wasn't really that bad, just that it wasn't my thing, but I loved the romance! Tuck is a great love interest!

     The ending was kind of great, most of the things were resolved, and there were a few loose ends that was left to the reader's imagination. I am totally fine with this being a stand-alone, but apparently it's going to be a series. There are many series these days, huh? Anyway, I like the idea of reading about Valkyries again, though Ellie wasn't my favorite, I did want to see her grow into a proud Valkyrie.

    As mentioned before, this book featured Norse Mythology, which was refreshing. However, I don't think Paulson had used the concept to its full when writing Valkyrie Rising. The only thing that resembled Norse Mythology was its mythological creatures, however, I would love to see a more Percy-Jackson approach, you know, with the story sort of alluding a story from the mythology, that would definitely attract me, plus it allows readers to know more Norse Mythology.

     As mentioned, I didn't like Ellie. Sure, she was kind of sweet and kind, at least not really that bad. But she kept getting more and more impetuous by the story, and that really annoyed me. I know that was part of her Valkyrie nature, but being a Valkyrie didn't mean you should go around taking risks that were A) Not worth taking and B) Totally stupid. I actually hate these kind of behavior on a heroine, you've got to keep a clear head especially in the heat of battle, and while Ellie was rational at times, her choices were really stupid, she kept doing dangerous things, didn't she understand that if she was killed, she could never save her bother? Think before you act. Although, now that I think about it, she did think, though her head most be wired very differently from mine, because I disagreed with most of her decisions.

     Now, let's talk about the love interest, Tucker! He was portrayed as a player, yet he had been friends with Ellie for years, as he was also Graham, Ellie's brother's friend. That gave the perfect reason for their relationship. I knew many people actually hated insta-love, so this friendship-turned romance should be pretty satisfying. Despite being a player, Tuck was pretty good guy, he was sweet with Ellie, funny even in the direst of situations, and most importantly, he was a really good friend. He kept away from Ellie even though he likes her because of Graham, showing that he is a really loyal friend. This one's a keeper!

    I would give Valkyrie Rising 4 stars. It was enjoyable, though the story was kind of fussy with all that was happening at times, and I hated our protagonist's constant reckless choices, the refreshing mythology incorporation made up for it. Valkyrie Rising was a unique kind of paranormal featuring a fast-paced storyline and a sweet love interest, I would recommend this to YA paranormal fans, especially ones who are tired of reading about vampires, werewolves, fallen angels, etc. all the time. Hope you guys enjoy it!

I was totally clueless about Norse Mythology, actually, I knew very little about mythologies around the world. So, tell me, any particular mythology that was very interesting? I would want to know more ;) Did you enjoy the book? Tuck was charming, right? Tell me in the comments below! :)

Review: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter (White Rabbit Chronicles #1)

Sorry about the mini hiatus guys! I was a little too busy last week, had to prepare for a debate, and had to stay at school till very late to finish everything. We had only 5 days to prepare! Anyway, our team won, which was a good thing, my schedule was interrupted, which was bad :P Okay, let's go to the review now.

Title: Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles #1)
Author: Gena Showalter
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal(Zombie), Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Synopsis/Summary: She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.
Her father was right. The monsters are real….
To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….
I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish.
-Taken from GoodReads
From the book on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository
       I really think this book is good, very good, and wanted so very much to give it 5 stars, but once I've calmed down and survey the whole situation, I found that this book had some flaws, and that's why I had to give it only 4.5 stars :( (Actually, that was pretty close to 5, whatever :P)

      I like the opening, very ominous, with Alice's note and such, I was immediately piqued to what Alice was talking about, what happened that made her regret things so deeply. The car accident was timed well, starting the book with a BANG (no pun intended). I really liked it :)

     The book had several climaxes, I would say about 3 to 4, and most of the fighting scenes were in there. I was cool with that, it kept the book from those awkward middle phases where everything was still in the same place for chapters, and the readers were tempted to leave the book and start another one (I knew I did, I actually still hadn't finish Fallen, I planned on reviewing that :P) But, the multiple climaxes kind of took the excitement from the one main climax near the end of the book, the one that really matters. It's just that the previous semi-climaxes were so great, I felt that that one was a little rushed, the whole fighting scene just span around 10 pages, whereas others had about the same or more. If it was gonna be in the spotlight, you've got to give it more juice, make it special, alas, that was my only complain about the book.

    I seriously LOVE the romance of this book! Cole and Alice were so good together. Although there was a little bit of a insta-love, I still loved it! Plus, they didn't let things go from there just because they were apple to their eyes in the first sight, they got to know each other as sort of friends, though of course they actually would date, so don't worry, the romance is still the romance ;)

    One more thing to praise, I really liked Showalter's writing style. This is my first Showalter book and it left a pretty good impression. She didn't write very lyrically, like Laini Taylor, but more laid back and urban (sorry, couldn't think of other words, please re-frame from saying that I am actually 60 years old, because I am genuinely 14.5 ;P ). It was easy to read, and made me get into the book really fast, whereas I had to reset my channels when I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Both were great though :)

     The zombies in this book was really different from what you had seen before. This wasn't some Hollywood block buster, where tons of fake blood and makeup were used, and the zombies were actually evil spirits. They needed to be defeated differently than hand to hand combat, and the setting was really cool. Although I actually knew that the zombies were different before I even read the book (some reviews I've read), I liked it even more when I actually read it. It just had this epic feel to it, good vs. evil, I love it!

    Um, can I say the characters of this book were really all super awesome? Hell yes! Everyone was really well-written, and the characterization was definitely there, I could see it in every character that Showalter created for this book.

    Alice Bell was our main protagonist, and I love her. She somehow always had a snarky comeback for things, although when I read the book I pictured her as kind of meek, goes to show that everything is not what it seems. She was a very pleasant main protagonist, not too whiny, even though her parents and her sister died within the first 30 pages. Not too strong, there were times when the female protagonist was too invincible (I am talking about other books), and it just kind of ruined the whole thing :P But strong enough to defend herself (physically) and pull herself together for everyone to see (mentally), I really liked this kind of heroine. Not perfect, but perfect enough ;)

    I love Cole a lot too. True, he was actually a very guy guy, but he really cared a lot about Alice and constantly showed it in his protective nature, and I like that he was very loyal to his friends. I guess that was required though if you were to hunt zombies together :P

    When I read the reviews, I found that many people actually loved Kat a lot. I was okay with her too, and quite strangely, her oversized ego didn't bother me at all. Which just goes to show that Showalter really was great with her characters :)

    And, like I said before, I loved the romance! Alice and Cole would be so cute together, I just knew it! They had so much passion (?) for each other, especially Cole, who seemed madly in love :P I wouldn't go into details but I must say even before they were officially together, there were a lot of steamy scenes which was skirting the line of YA books ;) So expect some drama and some steam if you catch these two together~

    I would give this book 4.5 stars, the 0.5 was actually attributed to the not too impressive climax among semi-climaxes, which showed that less is more. Other than the minor complaint, everything in this book was just peachy! This book featured an exciting storyline with multiple fighting scenes, original world-building and lovable characters! I would recommend this to general YA readers, although it was a paranormal, it was definitely worth your time!One more thing, the cover design of this book was so great, I actually sighed whenever I see the book cover. I liked the model, the frames, the backgrounds, everything. And since I bought the American hardback edition, I could take away the cloth and saw that even the spine of the inside of the book was gorgeous, seriously, the cover alone could actually warrant a 5 star from me ;)

Rating: 4.5 stars!

The zombies were making its comeback! I saw many zombies that was released this few months or next year. So, how do you like your zombies? I know decaying flesh was hardly a lovable trait, but you never knew ;) This book might have some similar traits with Alice in Wonderland, but as you would have read in other reviews, it was not a retelling :P I knew that some people were disappointed at that, but I wasn't, the moment I saw that there was a character called Cole in the book's website, I knew it wasn't a retelling (I don't know how, sixth sense?), so I was prepared :) Anyway, were you disappointed that this wasn't a retelling of Alice in Wonderland? If you've read the book, how do you like it? Does it make up for the fact that it fooled you with its resemblance with the famous tale? Happy reading!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving you guys! We don't have Thanksgiving here in HK, but I think it is a great idea to always be thankful. So let's talk about some people I am thankful for:

1. My friends

     Sorry, no pictures of me and my friends, I have already decided to maintain faceless :P I am thankful to them as they made me laugh and time spent with them is probably my happiest times! :)

2. My sister

    I have a sister, but she's currently studying aboard, so she's not living her anymore. To be honest, she was never a very good sister, she was selfish (she never shared, nor was she grateful when I help her or share with her), arrogant (she kept saying that I am a little kid so I am stupid and blah blah blah... I don't get it, what does being young have anything to do with my intelligence? Plus, she's just 4 years older than me, it's not like she's that superior :P)  and generally treated me with no respect, and I actually still kind of hate her for it, but you know, you can't live in the past. So I am going to thank her for giving me a thicker skin.

3. My parents

    Yeah, me mother and I argue a lot, classic teenage issue, I can't help it, sometimes I am just so frustrated around her. My father is one of those people that seldom gets angry, but if he does, watch out :P I am thankful for them as they raised me and taught me. Plus, my father was basically the one footing my bill on most of my books ;)

4. Awesome authors!

    Thank you for writing books that are so AWESOME.

5. You!

    Basically, I am still very insecure about blogging, I kept thinking that not one will read my posts and reviews, but you guys helped me and without you guys, there is no blog, so THANK YOU!


Review: Red Glove by Holly Black (Curse Workers #2)

Title: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2)
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Synopsis/Summary: After rescuing his brothers from Zacharov’s retribution and finding out that Lila, the girl he has loved his whole life, will never, ever be his, Cassel is trying to reestablish some kind of normalcy in his life. That was never going to be easy for someone from a worker family that’s tied to one of the big crime families—and whose mother’s cons get more reckless by the day. But Cassel is coming to terms with what it means to be a transformation worker, and he’s figuring out how to have friends.
Except normal doesn’t last very long. Soon Cassel is being courted by both sides of the law and is forced to confront his past—a past he remembers only in scattered fragments, and one that could destroy his family and his future. Cassel will have to decide whose side he wants to be on, because neutrality is not an option. And then he will have to pull off his biggest con ever to survive….-Taken from GoodReads
From the book on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository

This review doesn't contain spoilers, so go ahead! Read on! ;)(This is going to be pretty short, since I've said most of what I had to say in my review of book 1, White Cat.)

    Again, I am astonished with the pure smartness of this book. This time, the story was more of a murder mystery, and I just love how Holly Black never held onto any evidence, instead placing it all on the table, letting us discover things alongside Cassel. I have read mysteries that drop hints by brushing over something significant with only a sentence or two. Some may admire it, but I call it misleading. Luckily, this never happens in this book :) Oh, and I just love all the con knowledge and such. Con works actually requires a vast range of knowledge, and though I don't think I would ever be a con person myself, it's still so fun to read about them. Especially with motion deceptions, they are so true!

    This is not much of a plot twist or climax this time, but everything flew through well and kept me interested 'til the end. Plus, trying to intercept Cassel's actions is fascinating enough, he is a guy full of surprises, and he's actually very loyal to his family, while his family members all have a secret agenda of their own.

    The political aspects are toned down a little for this book, but there is still our protagonist dancing around the edge of law (actually, he does plenty of illegal stuff :P). And the whole proposition 2 thing is pretty new in YA books, where we seldom talk about politics.

    I have grown a fond love for Cassel and his (real) friends, Sam and Dancea. The characters are all full of surprises, and all have their own characteristics. I still loath Lila, but I will bear with her, since Cassel likes her :P

    I would give this book 4 stars. Red Glove is a good installment to the Curse Workers series with its colorful characters, thick mystery and originality in including little parts of politics in its plot. Personally, I like solving murder mysteries more than facing life-and-death experiences (book one), but both books are good. And I should confess this, I read about 30 pages of Red Glove before I started White Cat. Not that I wanted to, but I grabbed the wrong book by mistake and didn't notice it :P Despite not having read the first book at all, I had no problem understanding the first 30 or so pages of the book, it goes to show that Holly Black does nice recaps of her previous books, she doesn't throw a recap at you with a lengthy paragraph and the main protagonist launching into a monologue of we happened in the last book :P I would recommend this book to YA mystery and crime novels readers, they are gonna love the conspiracy and mystery featured in this book! :)

Ratings: 4 stars!

Do you like murder mysteries? Any must-reads? I would love to expand my TBR list ;) Did you like White Cat? What about this book? Better or worse? Personally I think this book is better. The mystery is deeper, and while there are no "ah ha" moments, I love it :)


Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1)

Title: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Synopsis/Summary: Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. 
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?-Taken from GoodReads
From the book on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository

     Gosh, this is a really great book, with its epic story line, the wholeness and richness of the world-building, even of its slightly strange aspects, this book is close to perfection in my opinion.

    First of all, I must say I love all the mysteries set up from the start of the book. Black hand prints on doors? Made by mysterious people with winged shadows? I am sure you could guess what species these strangers are, but you don't know the rest, and I am sure you will be delighted to find out ;)

    Second, I love all the strangeness (in a good way) of the book, especially at the start. When we were introduced to Karou, a girl with blue hair naturally growing out of her head, runs secret errands for her sort-of-family, I was immediately riveted by her. She was just such an interesting character that I couldn't help but want to find out more about her. And knowing her we did, and the pull Karou had on me kind of vanished, with her secrets being peeled and we saw her, knew her. But by then the story had already drawn me in and even without the urge to know all about this peculiar main character, I still read on, and was deeply satisfied with my experience :)

    Which brought me to the third thing, the wholeness of this book. There was a past-life story line going on there and I was glad that the mysteries of the past was revealed slowly, chapter by chapter, bits by bits, mostly through out the book (the last part had more of the past, but it was so cool, I loved it!). There was not really a second when this book was boring, or any parts or events that were redundant. The story was fully developed with a solid back-story, amazing world-building and mysterious and intriguing characters.

     I did have a small complaint, that was that the romance aspect actually took up too much of the story, if you ask me. I am not really a fan of romance, but I don't hate it. Every book has a little romance, sometimes even the whole book is a love story, and those were the kinds that I am quite annoyed with. The whole romance just felt a little too boring to me, I mean some moments were sweet, by too much really made me wanna gag, and I felt that this book had gone a bit overboard. But that's just my opinion, I know a lot of people love books that have a bigger romance aspect in them, or even a whole romance novel, and I am sure this book's love story will be satisfying to you ;)

    By the way, I absolutely loved the writing, the prose. It was so lyrical, beautiful, the prose helped wove a beautiful yet tragic love story with the most unique world-building I have ever seen!  At times the whole metaphor and analogy thing might me a little annoying, when you just want to know what happens next, but most of them are good, and the third person POV blended into the story perfectly. I was aware of it, not like when I read The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers, when I didn't even realize I was reading it, but it was still very good and worked well with the story. Plus the transition of POVs was not confusing at all, and there weren't actually that many POVs, just two, so I am good :)

    Oh, the world-building, where do I begin? It was so great, everything about it was just so well thought-out, there were no holes in it at all. Well, maybe some tiny ones, but those could be easily overlooked. The whole world-building was very imaginative, the paranormal aspect was so unique, it definitely made it stand out of all the paranormal novels being sell these days.

    The story was first set in Prague, and most of the story happened there. I have never been to Prague, but I liked it. The way Taylor described Prague, it sounded like a beautiful city, yet I could feel the melancholy in the air, in between the lines, and that fitted the story pretty well. Hack, this book made me want to go to Prague!

    Like I said before, there were some really interesting characters in this book. Karou, as an example, and Akiva too. His story felt a little less riveting as Karou's, but no doubt it was a sad one. I absolutely love Zuzana. She is Karou's best friend and I really liked her. She might get ignored a lot because Karou always had to read secret errands, but she didn't really left her side, no matter how hurt she was that her best friend was hiding secrets from her. She didn't really appear in the last half of the book, but I would really want to see her more, and I am sure Karou does too! ;)

    I would give this book 4.5 stars! Why not 5 stars you ask? Since I sounded like a salesperson just there, keep ranting on about how great the book is? Well, because the romance kind of annoyed me, so the 0.5 star was gone :P Anyway, it was still a very good book, a little too long for a relaxing read, but it was definitely worth reading. You could read it one part at a time if you don't have time to finish it in one sitting, and the beauty of the book is, it has short chapters! Really, I am that kind of person who couldn't put down a book unless I finish the chapter I was reading, and the short chapters really did justice :P Daughter of Smoke & Bone is a high fantasy novel with unique world-building, mysterious and eccentric characters (at least at first glimpse they were :P And I meant that in a good way) and a bitter-sweet love story that I am sure readers will enjoy, though some parts are a little too much for me. I would recommend this book to every reader out there, the paranormal aspects of this book is really different, the love story was flushed out, though at first it felt a little like insta-love, it turns it wasn't. Hope you will enjoy this book! :)

Rating: 4.5 stars!


Weekly Wrap-Up (4)

Sorry for the missing posts this week and last week...Anyway, check out some new books that I bought! ;) (Linked to Goodreads!)

This week's posts:

Monday: None, sorry :(
Tuesday: Okay, I know I was acting out of line but I didn't post anything either :P
Thursday: Another undeserved break...
Saturday: None, I was going to post a review but I couldn't finish Daughter of Smoke & Bone in time, it was good, but I am in sort of a reading rut these past week, I had to will myself to finish White Cat :P (Not that it was bad or anything)

Okay, that's it for this week's wrap-up guys! Did you have a good reading week? Actually mine wasn't really that great. I had all these desire to start a new book when I see an awesome cover, then halfway through I just keep hoping the book would end soon, and the book wasn't really that horrible! I think I am having some sort of reading ADHD, I can't stay in a same book and finish it... Ugh, any cure? I am going to try reading the Dead is series books by Marlene Perez since her books are all super short yet jam-packed with mystery, it would be a good pick-me-up read, but if this doesn't work, I don't know what will... :(


Feature & Follow (9)

I missed posts this week, weird... I forgot them when I crashed right into the bed at night, I think all the studying then writing the novel for NaNoWriMo was getting to me... Well, I did have a good week, I went on the school picnic (it's kind of a tradition in HK school, the name is pretty self-explanatory, each class go on a trip on the normal school day, no class that day!) this Thursday, we went to the beach and had a great time! There was sand everywhere though :P Okay, question of the week:
Q: Books are turned into movies all the time! Turn it around. What movie would make a great book?

Movie into books... Can I say TV shows? I am not exactly a fan of movies :P Just thinking about sitting there for 2 hours makes my butt fall asleep... Well, if it was about TV shows I would say that Once Upon A Time would make a great book series! It would be a wonderful retellings. The show basically had all the elements of a retellings. Dark story lines. Check. A modern twist on the orginial. Check. Plus, it has two main story lines, Storykrook (modern world) and the fairy tales world, these two story lines intertwined all the time, which definitely would look great in a book! Now that I have wrote this, I actually wanted to see the TV show made into a book! :P

What about you guys? What movie would you like to be made into a book?


Review: White Cat by Holly Black (Curse Workers #1)

Title: White Cat (Curse Workers #1)
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Synopsis/Summary: Cassel comes from a family of Curse Workers - people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail - he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.-Taken from GoodReads
From the book on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository

     I don't know how to describe this book, only that everything is not what it seems and many things in this book turned out to be a con. Con is a main focus of this book, and though I haven't read any con stories before, I liked it. I love books that have heavy mystery, books that make me think (not in a philosophic way, though those are good too) and this book provided just that.

    Cassel woke up from his sleep and found himself standing on the roof, ready to jump. He survived, though somewhat disgracefully, but the school has suspended him. In his leave from school, he went to live with his granddad, and was rewarded with a mystery so big that it could change his whole life...

    The plot is fairly interesting, I love reading about the con work, since it's a complete new territory for me. As I have said before, I love the mystery, and despite the mystery factor, the plot was easy to follow. However, even though the book was all kinds of awesome, I just couldn't get into it. I found myself constantly reading the book then putting it back down after several minutes. It's not that there was anything wrong with the story, or even the writing, but I just couldn't get myself psyched for it at all. There was some close-calls, but I wasn't gripping the book when I read through these parts. There was clearly a climax, yet I didn't find myself racing through the pages, dying to know what happens next. Everything just flows through and I have nothing to criticize about the book, even though I didn't like at all that much. It's kind of weird :P

    I just love the idea of curse workers! It's pretty creative. There are 7 types of curse workers: emotional, luck, death, physical, memory, dream and transformation. Their abilities are pretty self-explanatory from the names, so I won't spend time talking about that. There are blowbacks when you curse someone, so you don't really see workers roaming freely in the book, but the setting did make the book more interesting.

    Almost every character in this book have a secret agenda, and each are just as cunning and suspicious of others as the other. Cassel Sharpe is our guy, the main focus of the story. He is the non-worker in a family of workers, so he's kind of a black sheep in that area, but not in the con part. He is smart, I am sure everyone who finished this book would give him that, but somethings it's a bit irritating that he pretty much let people throw him around like a punchbag. I wanted him to man up, but he didn't really change that much throughout the story. So...

    I hate Lila. She's kind of a love interest for Cassel, and I hate her! She's a self-centered, spoiled brat, and the whole bullying thing doesn't really do it for me. I hate her attitude towards Cassel, she was one of those people that pushed Cassel around and that's not okay with me. I know she has problems of her own but that's not the way to treat the person that's supposed to be your "best friend", according to the blurb.

    The characters that I do like are Sam and Daneca. They are Cassel's friends, and it's nice to finally see someone treat Cassel right.

    I would give this book 3.5 stars. The book is basically one big conspiracy and I love it. I love the smartness behind the story, how things are linked, how Cassel solved the mystery. But somehow this book lacked that something that pulls me in and keep me reading 'til the end. I wasn't really that motivated to read the book, hence the delayed review (this was supposed to go up on Monday :P). Now that I have reviewed it, I still couldn't find what exactly was the book missing, but it was still a worthwhile read. I would recommend this book to YA paranormal and crime story readers, the "crime" in this book will not disappoint, hope you guys will have a better reading experience than me ;)

Ratings: 3.5 stars!

Are you a fan of crime stories? What do you know about the art of con? What kind of curse workers would you want to be? Do you like the book? It's my first time reading Holly Black and I kind of have a high expectation, and it was okay Not striking though :)


Feature & Follow (8)

Another week had pass by, how is your week? I got most of my test result this week (except one subject, the wait is killing me :P) and most of them are pretty good but not as good as I expected, I have to work harder! ;) This week's question is:

Q: Do you mind books with similar ideas to other books? Similar concepts, backgrounds, retellings or pulled-to-publish fanfic?

No, I don't mind books having similar ideas, and I actually quite like retellings! For example, there are tons of paranormal books out there that have the almost same structure of the paranormal world, but as long as the plot is good and the author is able to add her own flair to it, I am okay. I mean, some ideas are hard to not be reused, like the whole love-triangle thing and vampires and stuff, so I think as a reader we can't expect everything from a book is completely original, because that's not possible. We all live in the same world, sometimes even the same society, so some author's thinking route might be similar to another author, but as long as they could use the similar concepts, ideas, backgrounds to spin it into their own story, there's actually nothing to complain about. Of course, there's a fine line between similar and down right plagiarizing, so far I haven't read any book that seemed like it was ripped from another book, which is a good thing :) As for retellings, I love them! Well, as least fairy tales retellings. Some fairy tales are just so bright and happy, and I like that usuallt fairy tales retellings could be a little more dark, they are definitely fairy tales for Young Adults! As for fanfic, I must say I don't read fanfic, because I mostly don't like reading on the computer, nor do I always agree with what other people intercept the characters from the novel from which the fanfic was based on, and you must admit, some fanifcs are horrible. I have never read any pulled-to-publish fanfic, but I don't think I'll be reading them in the near future. As I have said, I am sure something will be different in these books and I don't want it to affect my view on the original novel/series. So no fanfic, thank you very much. 


What about you? How do you like books that are quite similar? Do you love them because you love the ideas? Or do you hate them because you think the idea was not being used well in the other book? I mostly just treat every book as an individual, I rarely compare them, 'cause that would be quite unfair, because all books have their own unique features, even if the books are in the same genre, the comparing is still not fair. How about retellings? And fanifics? Comment below :)


Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass (The Selection #1)

Title: The Selection (The Selection #1)
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen
Synopsis/Summary: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. -Taken from GoodReads
From the book on: Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository

     I actually didn't quite know how to write this review. Not that The Selection was a bad book, but it wasn't a particularly good one. Sure, it was refreshing in all the Dystopia novels that somehow always include intense fighting scenes and being on the side of the revolutionaries. But it lacked some intriguing plots, and though I found that I enjoyed the book, it wasn't all that outstanding compared to all the great books I've read this year.

    In this dystopia world, people were divided into eight castes. The Ones being royals and the Eights being the lowest. America Singer was a Five, which meant that her family was poor, and when the chance of the Selection came, her mother urged to join so they could at least have the chance to finally step out of poverty. The Selection was actually a competition of sorts held for the purpose of finding the prince, Maxon, a wife. Since America had a secret lover in home, she refused to join, but after some persuasion from both her boyfriend and her family, she relented and joined, thinking she wouldn't even have a chance to be chosen within thousands of girls to be the one of the 35 competitors. She was wrong, obviously, and she was picked, so within weeks America was flew off to the palace and began the competition with 34 girls to win the prince's heart.

    The premise sounded quite different from the usual dystopia novel, right? That's 'cause it is! To be honest, it was a little too similar to The Hunger Games at first but this one was more of a romance novel, with a sub-plot that featured, you guessed, revolutionaries that revolted against the royals that ruled the country. I wasn't a big romance fan but I must say the fast pace of the book really kept me reading, and I had an interest to learn more about the revolutionaries.

    However, though many events happened throughout the book, if you looked at it in a big picture, nothing much actually happened. We had the start of the Selection, and I thought at least by the end of this book the Selection would be over, but it was clear that it would be stretched to the next book, with only 6 girls left as The Elite. We had a couple intrusion from the revolutionaries, but they actually never had any direct contact with our protagonist, so there were really no excitement from the sub-plot. We also had a love triangle but needless to say that was not resolved. And a little mystery from a friend America made during the Selection, which wasn't revealed in this book either. Actually, I just recalled all the big events that happened in the book, yup, that little, and there were not much progress on the plot lines except The Selection part, so you could actually guess how slow the plot development was for this book. I know I did just say it was fast-paced, but I meant that in a sense that events followed very closely, but most of these events had little significance to the plot :P

    One more complaint, the plot twists, or may I say, the climax was seriously lacking. Actually, there were no climax at all. I think the intrusion from the revolutionaries were supposed to be the climax, but let me tell, they were hiding during that particular part. Yes, so no excitements or any action more than a few ladies running around in their dresses or robes. Let me tell you, a book that has no climax is not okay with me.

    Though I seemed to have some pretty big stuff to pick at, The Selection actually was a good read. It was entertaining when reading, but when I tried to review the events happened in the book, I found how little plot development there was. No worries, if you are not especially picky, this book will be a good light read. But the next HG or Twilight? No way. (And Harry Potter can never be compared or replaced by another series :P)

    Dystopia novels rely heavy on their world-building, and the world building for this book was average. The whole caste idea actually wasn't new, I am sure you would have seen it in almost all dystopia books, but the whole monarchy thing was new, it brought a slightly historic sense to the story even though it was set in the future. There were also a little history on how Illea came to be. But honestly? I couldn't figure out why it had to be monarchy. There was no reason to start the royal system at all from what I gathered from the little history we had on Illea, and that part wasn't all that explained and developed, so I was a little disappointed at this.

    Well, I didn't take a particular liking to any of the characters in the book at all. But America was an admirable protagonist.

    America was a strong woman, not the fighting kind, like Tris from the Divergent Trilogy, but in the way that she stood her ground on things that didn't make sense and unfair. And she was kind. She was kind to almost everyone, and I think that's a really good quality, a likable one too, though I didn't particularly like her.

    Maxon is the prince, the one that America resented at the start but loved towards the end. He was a really charming (pun intended) character, and there really was no bad qualities about him. To be honest, I think he and Aspen, the other love interest, needs more distinct characterization. If you remove the whole Aspen-being-a-Six-and-Maxon-a-royal thing, there was actually nothing special about the two guys at all, they both love America, and they are willing to fight for her, and that's it. Aspen is smart, but Maxon is smart too. Aspen is strong, and America did say she could feel Maxon' muscles underneath his suit. Maxon is kind, and I am sure Aspen is kind too. Now you could see how similar these love interests are, and with the overdone love triangle, I think Cass had to step up her game in writing one with two more extreme guys.

    I know The Selection was a well-received book, and I couldn't deny it had its attraction, but overall, I think this book kind of fell flat to me. So I would give it 2.5 stars. The book needed more plot developments as well as more sub-plots beside The Selection and the revolutions that are not happening. The world-building needed to be more flushed out and the characters need more distinct traits. Despite all these flaws, I did have a good time reading it as it was a very fast and light read with only 327 pages. The ending was kind of abrupt but I would be looking forward to the next book, just because I want to know what will happen. I recommend this book to all YA dystopia fans, this is one unique dystopia with the lack of a kick-ass heroine, but was special and interesting in its own way. Hope you will enjoy it!

Rating: 2.5 stars!

Although I have many critics, I think this is a good start for a debut author, so, keep up the good work, Cass! What do you think of the book? (I wanted to think of more directive questions but couldn't think of any. I couldn't ask you which caste you would want to be in 'cause that was pretty obvious, and not which guy to choose because many of you might not even have read the book. It's kind of hard for me to come up with questions:P) Anyway, anything that you want to note, just comment below! ;)