Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Publication Date: December 20th, 2011
Harlequin
Format: E-ARC from Net Galley
Add it to your Goodreads!

SUMMARY

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life…

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MY TAKE: 4/5 STARS

I wasn’t too keen on picking up another fantasy book after reading Froi of the Exiles. But I thought I’d give this book a try anyway because I’ve been a fan of the author ever since I read her Poison Study.


Touch of Power is set in the same world – realms, mages and regency dominated the pages. This book didn’t disappoint. In fact, I can readily admit that I liked this more than Poison Study….gasps! I know. The thing is, I’m a romance reader before anything else. I loved the relationships formed in this book better than Poison Study. While both book has no insta-love, I found myself more receptive to Avry and Keering’s relationship. Nothing really happened between them until the last pages, but throughout the book, the tension between them was explosive.

This is the story of Avry, a healer hunted by pretty much every kingdom jockeying for position to rule all of The Fifteen Realms. On the day of her execution, a group of rogue bandits abducted her for the purpose of healing a prince in stasis – a prince who had crusaded against her people. In the mercy of an unforgiving captor, Avry learns that now more than ever, the choices she must make as a healer determines the fate of those who are left of all the kingdoms ravaged by a plague.

This book has most of the makings of an incredible fantasy novel. Devoid of all the clichéd subjects we’d normally see in YA, this book captured my attention right from the start. The plot is well conceptualized and the characters were all written well. It’s the first of the series so the ending, though resolved, made me regret ever reading this book ahead of its release date; because now, I have an even longer wait for the next one to come out.

One complaint:  The language used in this book doesn’t seem to match the era from when the book was set. Judging by the wardrobe and the description of the environment, I know that this book is supposed to be historical/fantasy. But it seems the author opted to use simple and modern language to write this novel. I didn’t mind it at all because it made for an easier time in understanding the dialogues and events but I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t point it out.

Otherwise, I’m buying myself a copy of this book on its release date! This book had me reading at the office practicing the art of minimizing my screen fast so no one would catch me, well, not working. 🙂


PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY HERE:  AMAZON | !ndigo

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Publication Date: September 27th, 2011
Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 452 pages
Goodreads Summary

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.
_______________________________________
MY TAKE 4/5 STARS
I’ve been an avid reader for years but had only been active in book reviewing for the last two years. And over that span of time, I’ve learned that sometimes, the most anticipated books does not necessarily equate to the most enjoyable reads.

I know a lot of people were itching to read this book and I was probably one of the few who stood in the sidelines and waited patiently for Mara Dyer’s release. I’ve learned to curb my enthusiasm ever since my fervor eagerness for Starcrossed and Die for Me fell to a crushing disappointment, so there wasn’t much excitement on my end when this book came out.

Slap a hat on me and call me Susie.

I absolutely enjoyed this creep fest of a book and for once, I wasn’t riding on everybody else’s enthusiasm but mine.

I loved the mystery that surrounds the entire story. The guessing game never ends. One hundred percent of the time, I was completely vested in it. So much so that I had to re-think and second-guess myself. Was Mara having delusions? Or was it actually happening? Was it just a product of her antipsychotic pills or was the ghosts of her friends really haunting her? Was it all real? The questions were endless.

Mara is such a beautiful, broken character. The demons that she constantly fought with showed how admirably strong she is. But the ultimate chink in her armor was discerning what was reality and what had become her reality. Little by little, she also learned what she was capable of. Let’s just say that you better not make her angry or she could kill you with a thought.

The romance in this book is a tad over the top. Actually, I should just say that NOAH SHAW is a little over the top. Don’t get me wrong, this snarky, Brit boy is the ultimate hottie in my book. But seriously? Who are we kidding here? I know this is fiction and it is a paranormal book, but try not to kill us with this handsome, smart, multi-lingual, literature-quoting yumminess, who by the way, is richer than Bill Gates. Not only that, he’s freaking BRITISH (yes, I know, I mentioned this already…but come on! British!) – a gentleman when he wants to be and an absolute jerk when he chose to be. I do love him but I think Michelle Hodkin reached her maximum limit for perfecting the ultimate book boyfriend. No joke.

As expected, the initial offering of this series left a lot of loose threads. Don’t expect a tidy ending because you’re not going to get one. There’s not even a resolution, all you’d be left with are a bunch of questions.

Lately, I’ve become a fan of enumerating my grievances…er questions so I’ve got some here.

(a) How did Mara’s ability come to be? Did she inherit some mystical powers from her deceased grandmother? Does her grandmother even play a role in this series? Or was she just a passing thought? Did her ability come from the same souls that haunted her every waking and sleeping moments?

(b) I sometimes found the writing style jumpy. Or perhaps it’s the pacing. Sometimes there’s no smooth transition. An example is when she’d end her chapters in an ominous way and then I’d read the next chapter only to find that nothing really happens to explain why the previous chapter was ended in such a manner. What can I say? I’m a very impatient reader. I’ve never been a fan of foreshadowing that takes place a long ways a way before the conflict and eventual resolution. But hey, that’s just me…and I’m rambling.

(c) I felt like what happened in the asylum was revealed with very little fan fare. Considering it was the catalyst for the story, I had hope for more details. The little trickles of memory or nightmares weren’t enough for me. I was really looking forward to the high priest’s aid in getting Mara’s memory of that night but I was disappointed when the next scene was in Noah’s room. Though, if I may be honest, I was elated as well…*winks*

(d) And lastly, there were too many things going on. The book lack a certain unity that would’ve made this an incredible read. Subplots like: The murdered girl and Leon Lassiter; Noah’s powers/ability; I wish they were all gift wrapped and tied in a nice bow. But sadly, they weren’t.

You know what though? This book is, in a word, amazing. The writing was so natural and pretty, especially the dark, creepy scenes. I was completely into it as soon as I flip to page one. Perhaps it was the intention of the author to leave me in such a daze – thoughts and questions swirling in my head hours after I finished reading – enough to drive me insane. All I can say is, well played, Ms. Hodkin. Well, played. 

BUY YOUR COPY HERE: Amazon | The Book Depository | !ndigo

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (2)

It’s Monday, What are you reading? is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read and the books to be finished this week. 
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READ & REVIEWED LAST WEEK:
THIS WEEK’S READING QUEUE:
So far, I’m enoying Mara & Dearly, Departed. I have yet to crack Exiled open but I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a while and I’m anxious to start.

Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Publication Date: January 4th, 2011
St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: E-ARC from Net Galley
Goodreads Summary

The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.
Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

_____________________________________
MY TAKE: 4/5 STARS
Firstly, the cover instantly reminded me of an angel story so I wasn’t really gung-ho on reading this book. There’s just something about the boy and a girl falling from the sky that immediately scream angels to me. But when I read the synopsis, the time traveling element piqued my enthusiasm. Once I was in the thick of things, I was unable to look away from the pages and was quickly drawn into Jackson’s world.


Tempest is told through Jackson’s point of view, which makes this book doubly awesome. There’s just something about his voice that makes even the most touching scenes seem lighter. He’s awfully confident without being cocky, sweet and real. I’ve always found that there are story themes that call for a boy’s POV, which eventually helped to tell the story in a more realistic manner no matter how far-fetched the story may be. The romance is toe-curlingly swoon worthy. I just loved the way Jackson chased the girl without being incredibly obvious about it all. 

I’ve had a hard time following the dynamics of time traveling, and in this case, even more so because genetics was involved. My mind have not always been receptive to scientific explanations, so I found myself re-reading some parts in an attempt to fully understand it. And although I failed to comprehend this subject miserably, I’d like to say that the author did a good job of avoiding the use of any scientific jargon that could’ve made it worse for me. Everything was explained in simple words but like I mentioned before, all those were simply lost on me.

This book blew me away. The non-stop action kept me constantly hungry to read more and to read faster. It is definitely the most complex and yet the simplest time traveling book I’d ever read. If the action doesn’t keep you on the edge of your seat, the secrets and the eventual revelations surrounding Jackson’s and his twin sister’s birth will definitely keep you in suspense. And even with the constant “jumping”, the cohesiveness that tied all the scenes never slacken. It was truly amazing to see how incidents in the past flowed smoothly into the present.

As much as I’d love to give this book a full 5, my heart just couldn’t stop aching from the way this book ended. One thing’s for sure; I will sell my soul to the devil to get a copy of the next installment!

BUY YOUR COPY HERE:  Amazon | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | !ndigo

Review: Remembrance by Michelle Madow

Publication Date: July 27th, 2011
Dreamscape Publishing
Format: Paperback, 314 pages
Goodreads Summary

New Hampshire high school junior Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from Regency Era, England … but she doesn’t know it yet. 

Then Drew Carmichael transfers into Lizzie’s school at the beginning of the year, and she feels a connection to him, almost like she knows him. She can’t stop thinking about him, but whenever she tries talking with him about the mysteries behind her feelings, he makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with her. Reaching him is even more difficult because she has a boyfriend, Jeremy, who has started to become full of himself after being elected co-captain of the varsity soccer team, and her flirtatious best friend Chelsea starts dating Drew soon after his arrival. So why can’t she seem to get him out of her mind?

Even though Lizzie knows she should let go of her fascination with Drew, the pair of them soon find that fighting fate isn’t going to be easy.

_______________________________
MY TAKE: 3/5 STARS

I’m not going to lie. I had to listen to Taylor Swift’s Love Story for me to understand how this book was related to the song from which the author took her inspiration.  I had to You Tube that baby and soon realized that the entire book was NOT based from the song but parts of the lyrics inspired some scenes in Remembrance. 

This book is pure romance. The subject of reincarnation was glanced over but never really explained. Basically, it’s about Lizzie and Drew who had shared a past – maybe even another lifetime, and met in the present where Lizzie was already involved with somebody else. They recognized each other immediately and have made a connection in an instant. In an attempt to avoid a repeat of their history, Drew treated Lizzie like a pariah while Lizzie vacillated between love and hate for this mysterious newcomer. In the end, their pull was too much to ignore. 

I have some problems. 

First: Drew cheated on Lizzie in the past life. Was this just an exchange of kisses or did it go deeper?Because of this, Drew was adamant to keep Lizzie away from him. I’m not sold. It’s definitely not cause for Drew to treat Lizzie like dirt, especially if he was the one who did the cheating. If Drew was trying to prevent her from getting hurt again, how was being a jerk so much better than trying to make amends? I mean, reincarnation is a chance to make another path for their lives but I don’t see how jerking Lizzie around could’ve avoided Drew from repeating history.

Second: I honestly couldn’t empathize with the characters. Lizzie never showed a single backbone when it comes to Drew and to her best friend, Chelsea. How could I swoon over a jerk like Drew? By the time he switched personalities, it just felt forced to me. I had hopes that he would eventually redeem himself, but in the end, he failed miserably. I can’t even talk about Jeremy (the ex), and Chelsea (the ex best friend) without hurting the neighbor’s cat. Lizzie has an annoying habit of hiding behind her hair (sorry, it’s a pet peeve).

Third: The ending. Okay, picture this. You see your boyfriend standing not too far but not too close to your best friend and they were talking. All of a sudden, a memory comes over you, a memory of your past life where you saw the exact same thing, only your boyfriend was kissing your best friend. So what do you do? 

Do you: (A) Stick around and interrogate the jerk about the memory that he didn’t want you to remember? Or (B) Run away with your ex in hysterics? 

Which scenario do you think Lizzie picked? 

Once again, I’m a minority in this one. I have asked myself if I were reading the same book as everyone else because everybody else seemed to be in the same page. But try as I might,  I really couldn’t love this book. 

BUY YOUR COPY HERE: Amazon | !ndigo | The Book Depository


IMM #10

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. This is the tenth episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition.
_________________________________________
Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories
Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
The Death Cure by James Dasher (Geebus. 2nd copy)
A Web of Air by Philip Reve
The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas
Dark Passage by MJ Putney
Angel Arias by Marianne de Pierres
Awake at Dawn by CC Huntley
Crash Into Me by Albert Borris
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
Without Tess by Marcella Pixley
The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith
Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield
Out in Blue by Sarah Gilman
Bridger by Megan Curd
I Toss Till Dawn by Ben Hewitt
Without Alice by DJ Kirby
FOR REVIEW

What’s in your mailbox?

Confessions of an Addict (8): I AM AN EPIC FAILURE.

Oh Dear God.

I’d like to apologize to the following winners on my recent blog contests.

JUSTJAHNVI who won copies of Anna Dressed in Blood & Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.
MEL ROB who won a copy of The “What If” Guy and to whom I neglected to send an email notifying her that she won a paperback copy instead of an e-copy.
VALERIE of StuckInBooks.com who also won a paperback copy of The “What If” Guy.

From the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry. I have not been able to send these books out to you. But I promise you that I’m packing them as I type this post.

UPDATE:  Just posted these packages! GO ME!!! 🙂 

Review: Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Publication Date: September 12, 2011
Harcourt Children’s Books
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Goodreads Summary

Willa is lucky: She has a loving blended family that gets along. Not all families are so fortunate. But when a bloody crime takes place hundreds of miles away, it has an explosive effect on Willa’s peaceful life. The estranged father she hardly remembers has murdered his new wife and children, and is headed east toward Willa and her mother.
Under police protection, Willa discovers that her mother has harbored secrets that are threatening to boil over. Has everything Willa believed about herself been a lie? As Willa sets out to untangle the mysteries of her past, she keeps her own secret—one that has the potential to tear her family apart.
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MY TAKE: 4/5 STARS
This book was such a disturbing read. It starts off with a picture of seemingly perfect nuclear family – each one supportive of each other. At one point, you couldn’t really foresee anything will go wrong to destroy Willa’s somewhat unusual family set up. She lives with her mother, her stepfather Jack, and his two daughters from another marriage. Everyone gets along – but like all other families, resentments and bitterness bubble close to the surface.


One blow was all it took for this house of cards to come tumbling down.

Right off the bat, we learned about Willa’s secret. What she does to escape the pressure of always wanting and never having. That secret alone was disturbing. I try to stay away from stories involving cutting but I was glad that in this book, it wasn’t really the main focus. It was about Willa’s biological father’s murdering spree. He killed his entire family – his wife and his three children. The murders were gory, violent and hard to comprehend. This was the catalyst for Willa’s awakening, to find out who she was and to stop ignoring the potent blood that gurgles through her veins.

I have read Life As We Know It by this author and I’ve enjoyed it as much as a book about an Armageddon scenario could be enjoyed. So I wasn’t really surprised when I felt the same way about this after reading. Ms. Pfeffer has a way with words – dark and gloom seem to be her area of expertise.

Honestly, it took a lot to convince myself that Willa will not end up like her father. The author did a good job of planting that seed in my head. That because Willa likes to cut herself, she’ll somehow ended up like her father, one who has a penchant for blood and knives. I kept waiting for her to finally snap, and really who could blame her? I would’ve if I’d been in her shoes. Living with her stepsisters alone should’ve been cause enough to kill them in their sleeps, but hey, that’s just me. They’re really not that bad, if a little spoiled and privileged. They have their moments of decency. I can’t really fault them for having lived their advantageous lives.

I love Willa’s relationship with her stepbrother, Trace – brief, sad but tender just the same.

My heart was beating out of my chest when Willa was imagining how her father’s family met their demise. All the blood, all the violence and the disturbing way he cradled the youngest’ severed head in his arms. It was truly a scene out of a psycho thriller flick.

Blood Wounds had me from page one. Its disturbing and visceral writing make for a terrifying and realistic read. If a change of pace is what you want, I suggest trying this one on for size. Definitely not to be missed. 

Review: Eve by Anna Carey

Published: October 4th, 2011
HarperCollins
Format: Hardcover, 318 pages
Goodreads Summary

Where do you go when nowhere is safe?
Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.
In this epic new series, Anna Carey imagines a future that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will revel in Eve’s timeless story of forbidden love and extraordinary adventure.
______________________________________
MY TAKE 2/5 STARS
This is the world according to Eve:

• Men are evil.
• The world is full of them.

Okay, okay. Simmer down. You can’t really blame Eve. She grew up in a world where women are priced commodities and are apparently only good for one thing – as a part of a baby-making assembly line. I’m not kidding. This book has some serious demented concepts, far beyond the reaches of my usually open, accommodating mind.

Eve is probably one of those characters that, had she been written with a stronger personality, I’d probably love this. I’ve mentioned this before that the prime reason why I love dystopian so much is because I found it thrilling to watch humans strive to overcome adversity. This book had the right set up but with a somewhat uninspiring main character. She often depended on people and she lacked the street smarts and the spunk to survive the world she was in. Yes, I get that she lived most of her life within the cluster of equally cosseted girls who had been fed with a steady diet of lies, but this girl is beyond thick. For heaven’s sake, she didn’t even know what balls are! BALLS, I tell you. BALLS! Anyway. I think the author had the right idea when she was developing Eve’s character but I think she went too far with making her naïve – so naïve that she was borderline dumb. I’m sorry. I hate giving negative reviews but I had such high hopes for this book.

I thought that the story’s foundation was weak.

  • Why bother educating the girls with literature only to end up as drug-induced fetus vessels many times over? What was the point of it all? 
  • How are these girls being impregnated? Do they harvest sperm from the King and get them pregnant via in vitro fertilization? And if so, then the world will soon be populated with a whole caravan of half brothers and sisters. How does that work with the repopulation dilemma? Hello, inbreeding? Incest? 
  • Why was Eve so important that the entire country wanted her captured by order of the King himself? She was valedictorian, so what? I don’t get it. Give me something. Was she the most fertile woman in the world that the King wanted to impregnate her personally? *shudders* Keep in mind that the king is old. 
  • If the world’s population diminished due to the plague, won’t it be simpler to get whoever’s left to repopulate it? Why was there a need to forced girls into baby factory type of slavery? 
  • Why does the government, under the ruling of this tyrant king, insistent upon punishing and enslaving the young when really, they’re the best chance the world’s got of surviving? 


I just couldn’t follow the logic.

The ending left much to be desired. But by that point, I really couldn’t summon an ounce of heed. This book was startlingly violent but acceptable given the genre. I’m not sure if this book will be a series and I’m still on the fence whether or not I will pick up the next book.

Time will tell. 

Confessions of an Addict (7): A Bookshelf’s Letter to its Owner.

Dear Joy,

Hi! Remember us? We’re a group of awesome books that you sold your soul to the devil for to obtain…okay, not really. Anyway, we can’t help but notice that you’ve been amassing some great reads – well, you haven’t really read them yet – but we’ve been down here waiting for you *dusts self off*.

Love,

Your Indie shelf.

Dear Joy,

Do you remember one day when you were having one of those must organize bookshelf day? Your words were:

{in a falsetto voice} I’m going to put you all in front of this shelf so I can read you right away…

Sigh. We are feeling no love.

Sincerely,

Your Must-Read-Now Shelf.

Dear Joy,

We think there may be some misunderstanding. If you recall, you grouped us together so you can finally read us according to the succession of our series. But lately, we’ve noticed that you’ve been reading sporadically.

So what’s the deal?

Dusty and Confused,

Your Incomplete, Unfinished, Unread Series Bookshelf.

Me thinks I’ve finally lost it…