Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday 30/07/2014

“Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

This week's pick is "Talon" by Julie Kagawa and it's scheduled to be released on October 28th.

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

Why am I waiting? Well, the answer's easy: dragons! Also, how cool is that cover?

What are you waiting for this week? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Authors I own the most books from.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Brooke and the Bookish. This week's list is of ten authors I own the most books from.

Jenny Nimmo - I own five of her books.

Louise Rennison - I own five of her books. 

Cornelia Funke - I own five of her books.

J.R.R. Tolkien - I own five of his books. 

Neil Gaiman - I own six of his books.

J.K. Rowling - I own seven of her books.

Meg Cabot - I own nine of her books.

Diana Wynne Jones - I own nine of her books.

Cathy Hopkins - I own ten of her books.

Cassandra Clare - I own eleven of her books. 

One thing I noticed while I was making this list is that my favorite authors and the authors I have read the most book from are often not the same thing. I like Neil Gaiman's, J.K. Rowling's and J.R.R. Tolkien's works much better than Kathy Hopkins' or Meg Cabot, for example. What determines how many books I read for each author was the quality of their writing, but how fast the books were to read has a great impact too - I remember going through four of Hopkins' novels in a weekend, for example. 

What authors do you own the most books from? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Quote-Tastic 28/07/2014

"Quote-Tastic" is a meme hosted every Monday on Herding Cats & Burning Soup . To participate you have to post a favorite quote from a current or past read.
After rereading "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" last week, I have been rereading the second installment in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." That's where this week's quotes come from.  
“Hang on . . .” Harry muttered to Ron. “There’s an empty chair at the staff table. . . . Where’s Snape?”
"Maybe he's ill!" said Ron hopefully.
“Maybe he’s left,” said Harry, “because he missed out on the Defense Against the Dark Arts job again!”
“Or he might have been sacked!” said Ron enthusiastically. “I mean, everyone hates him —”
“Or maybe,” said a very cold voice right behind them, “he’s waiting to hear why you two didn’t arrive on the school train.”
Harry spun around. There, his black robes rippling in a cold breeze, stood Severus Snape.

“Ginny!" said Mr. Weasley, flabbergasted. "Haven't I taught you anything? What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain?”
What are your favorite quotes this week? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Sisters of Treason by Elizabeth Fremantle

*I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley*

"Sisters of Treason" by Elizabeth Fremantle tells the story of Lady Jane Grey's younger sisters, Katherine and Mary in the years following Jane's coronation and subsequent execution. Their story is interwoven with Levina Teerlinc's, who is the court painter.
The point the novel is trying to make is to show how royal blood is  less of a blessing and more of a curse, especially in Tudor times: the lives of the three Grey sisters are destroyed by it, and they are not the only ones, as this is the case also with both Mary I and Elizabeth I. 
The writing and pacing are quite good, even though the book dragged for a bit in the second half.
The novel focuses heavily on the characters, and, as such, it's made or broken by them. 
The eldest sister, Jane, who only features in one scene before being killed, is quite unbelievable as a character. She is much too perfect, no one ever remembers her doing anything wrong or questionable. For years her sister Mary asked herself what Jane would do when she was in need of advice. Of course, Jane's flawlessness might be because the people close to her are so blinded by grief that they make a saint out of her to deal with their loss. This would have been really interesting, but there was nothing to suggest that to the reader, I'm just speculating.
The second-born sister, Katherine, was one of the three POV characters, along with Mary Grey and Levina Teerlinc. She is depicted as a beautiful, lively girl, driven mostly by love, who defies the queen one too many times and ends up having her life destroyed. Her slow descent into madness is depicted very well: the fact that she is far more frail than she likes to admit is shown from her very first appearance, as she tries to drive her grief away by focusing obsessively on her love life. 
Katherine's capacity for love is, at least in the mind of the other characters, both her greatest weakness and her greatest strength, but it seemed to me that she was in love with herself first and foremost, anyone else comes second. This is shown clearly in her relationship with Juno, Katherine's best friend,  lover and eventual sister-in-law. Katherine and Juno look very much alike, and one of the things Katherine likes about being with Juno is the fact that she can imagine being with herself instead - how self-centered is that? 
Additionally, since Katherine was built up to be in love with Juno first, and her brother Hertford second, I couldn't really get into the forbidden love story between him and Katherine. Hertford seemed like a second-best choice for Katherine, the closest thing to marrying is sister that was socially acceptable.   
Mary, the youngest Grey sister, was the best-developped out of the members of her family. She is crook-backed and a midget, so people think her the work of the devil. For that reason, she spends much of the first part of the book behaving impeccably, as she has to work harder than anyone else to show that she is not wicked. 
She is very smart and sharp-witted and she is capable of using her abilities in her favor and to help her family, and she is brave, risking much in order to protect those she loves, which makes are selfless, as well. She's quite politically savvy, as well. And she is a kind creature at heart. 
That being said, she isn't completely devoid of faults, which makes me appreciate her character even more: she is spiteful, she is vindictive, she is a bit childish sometimes. 
Levina Teerlinc, the court painter and the third POV character, was one of my favorite characters in the whole book: she is a skilled painter and makes a career out of it, despite the fact that it's Tudor times and she is a woman. She earns more than her husband does and it's thanks to her work that her family can lead a luxurious life.
As she is not even a member of the peerage, much less of royal blood, Levina's story has nothing to do with how royal blood is a curse. The trials she faces are brought on by her own choices.  
One of the things I liked about her is that she knows that her actions have consequences. She realizes what risks her choices entail. She puts her marriage in jeopardy because her husband thinks her too incautious, but I think that she is brave more than foolish. She knows perfectly well what the stakes are and she still acts, she still does what she has to do for her faith and for her friends. This makes her a much stronger character than Katherine, who is only capable of coping if she pushes the consequences and implications of her actions out of her mind, whose optimism, which her sister Mary admires so much, is not optimism at all, rather the result of her self-deceit. 
All in all, I do think that this book is worth reading. I especially recommend it if you are a fan of the Tudor period, as it explores some of the less well-known figures from that time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday 23/07/2014

“Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.
This week's pick is "A Little Something Different" by Sandy Hall and it's scheduled to be released on the 26th of August.

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, somethingis happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together....

Why am I waiting? Because, judging from the blurb, "A Little Something Different" is going to be adorable, fluffy and a bit silly, which can be a great combination!

What are you waiting for this week? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Brooke and the Bookish. This week's top ten is of characters I'd want with me on a deserted island. 

10. "Grimalkin" from "The Iron Fey" by Julie Kagawa
Yes, he's a cat. But he's an incredibly funny, magical cat. You certainly wouldn't get bored if you had to spend time with him. Doubtlessly, though, he'd leave you stranded alone in an heartbeat.  

9. Finnick Odair from "The Hunger Games series" by Suzanne Collins 
He's got survival skills and he know a lot about the sea. Plus, he's nice to look at, which is always a plus!

8. Will Herondale from "The Infernal Devices" by Cassandra Clare
He's a sarcastic demon-hunter. Be still my heart! With his mad hunting skill and his humor, he'll be pleasant and useful to have around!

7. Lin Cinder from "The Lunar Chronicles"by Marissa Mayer 
She's a mechanic and a cyborg and she can create illusions with her magic. Sure, she's a bit dangerous to have around, but if there's any wreckage around the island, she'll be useful!    

6.  Sherlock Holmes from "The Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories" by Arthur Conan Doyle
Holmes is a genius, even though he's a bit mad. He'd definitely find a way to survive on the island, and he'd be an interesting conversationalist while he's at it. 

5. Percy Jackson from "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" by Rick Riordan 
Percy's father's the god of the oceans. He'd be great to have around if you're stranded on an island, you'd get out of there in no time flat!

4. Aragorn from "The Lord of The Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien
He's a chivalrous king who spent years as a ranger. Surely, he has good surviving skills, and he also is quite easy on the eyes.

3. Gandalf from Tolkien's "Middle Earth" works
He's practically a god, and he'd have ranked higher on the list if I didn't have the impression he'd leave anyone so unfortunate as to end up stranded with him alone back on island because they'd need to find out for themselves how to escape.   

2. Aziraphale and Crowley from "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
I'm kind of cheating by lumping these two together, but they are a team, and they are most fun when they're together. They are an angel and a demon and they have great powers. Your stay on the island would be fantastic!  

1. Hermione Granger from "The Harry Potter Series"
If somebody would know a great spell to make a raft and get off the island, it would definitely be Hermione! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quote-Tastic 21/07/2104

"Quote-Tastic" is a meme hosted every Monday on Herding Cats & Burning Soup . To participate you have to post a favorite quote from a current or past read.
I am rereading "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" by J.K. Rowling, so I'm taking this week's quotes from there. 
Wood cleared his throat for silence.
"Okay, men," he said.
"And women," said Chaser Angelina Johnson.
"And women," Wood agreed. "This is it."
"The big one," said Fred Weasley.
"The one we've all been waiting for," said George.
"We know Oliver's speech by heart," Fred told Harry, "we were on the team last year."
"Can't stay long, Mother," he said. "I'm up front, the prefects have got two compartments to themselves --"
"Oh, are you a prefect, Percy?" said one of the twins, with an air of great surprise. "You should have said something, we had no idea."
"Hang on, I think I remember him saying something about it," said the other twin. "Once --"
"Or twice --"
"A minute --"
"All summer --"
What are your favorite quotes this week? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday 16/07/2014

“Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

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

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

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.
Expected publication date: August 5th 2014 

The blurb sounds really intriguing, and I hope the novel will focus on the sibling aspect just as much as it will on the romance. 

What are you waiting for this week? Let me know in the comments! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Quote-Tastic! 14/07/2014

"Quote-Tastic" is a meme hosted every Monday on Herding Cats & Burning Soup . To participate you have to post a favorite quote from a current or past read.
This week's quotes are from "City of Heavenly Fire" by Cassandra Clare.

“Brother Zachariah,” Isabelle said. “Months January through December of the Hot Silent Brothers Calendar. What’s he doing here?”
“There’s a Hot Silent Brothers Calendar?” said Alec. “Do they sell it?”

"Isabelle!" he called again. "Let down your raven hair!'
"Oh my God," Clary muttered. "There was something in that blood Raphael gave you, wasn't there? I'm going to kill him.”

What are your favorite quotes this week? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

**I got this book as an eArc from Netgalley**

The concept of taking a well-known story and shifting the point of view to that of the villain is hardly something new, and it's hard to do it right: the authors that write that kind of book attempt to make it as though the villains are just misunderstood. Villains are fun because of their villainy, not in spite of it. We don't want them to be brave and noble, we have heroes for that. 
Now, let's all give a standing ovation for Lisa Jensen. because she didn't attempt to convince us that Captain Hook has truly been a hero all along. At least in the beginning, he is no hero, he is just sympathetic. The situation he has been forced into is truly horrible, but it is a consequence of his actions.
Hook is a coward, proud to the point of folly, he's convinced that the whole world is out to get him. He went on a crusade to have his revenge on all those who screwed him over, and, trust me, he has a right to be angry. However, he has no right to be downright vicious. 
When he turns against the wrong woman, the voodoo priestess Proserpina, he ends up banished into the Neverland.
The Neverland is the children's dreamland, as full of beautiful, whimsical things as it is of dangerous creatures, and most of the time the inhabitants of the Neverland are both as once: wonderful and deadly.
Children all over the globe need the Neverland, as a safe place where they can live out their dreams and where they can safely explore their fears. As such, even though Peter Pan is cruel and sadistic, he is needed. That way, despite the fact that he is the story's antagonist, he isn't a completely black or white character, just as Hook is morally ambiguous.
Another thing I liked is the fact that the Lost Boy's viscousness is explained: they are children, and as such they don't understand the concept of the fact that actions have consequences. They don't see how killing is not something to be taken lightly, that when they attack and kill the members of Hook's crew, they are harming other human beings, just like them. This is made even plainer by the fact that the pirates are former lost boys.
"Alias Hook" is at its core, a coming-of-age story. There's a reason why Hook's punishment is to be sent to the Neverland. He his, at heart, still a child. He blames other people for his misfortunes, and he refuses to face the consequences of his actions. He longs to escape the Neverland, he'd even prefer death to being stuck there any longer, but he can't until he grows up (metaphorically of course).
There are many other things about the book that I liked: Hook's sense of humor, which was sarcastic and occasionally even laugh-out-loud funny (and trust me, it takes a lot to make me laugh out loud when I'm ready), the side characters, which were quite likable, the mermaids, which were awesome. I can't even remember the last time I read a book where sirens were featured so heavily while remaining pretty awesome. Their nature is a twist that I don't want to spoil, but trust me on this: it's good. The fairies were well-done, too.
And of course, I adored the love story. It has an actual purpose inside the narrative, Hook's love interest is an interesting and likable character in her own right, she doesn't exist just to be his girlfriend. I truly rooted for the two of them, and the development of their relationship felt absolutely normal, there's no insta-love here. 
The only thing I disliked about the novel is that it sometimes it focused a little too heavily on the character development aspects, and a little less on the actual plot. Sometimes nothing much happened for several pages and so the book felt longer than it actually was.
Nevertheless, on the whole it was a fun and interesting read. I definitely recommend it, especially if you like your reads to focus heavily on the psychological aspect of the story.