Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Destined by Jessie Harrell

Book Description from the back of the ARC:

ARC, 368 pages
November 17, 2011, Mae Day Publishing

When Psyche receives a prophecy gone horribly wrong, she learns even the most beautiful girl in Greece can have a hideous future. Her fate? Fall in love with the one creature even the gods fear.

As she feels herself slipping closer into the arms of the prophecy, Psyche must choose between the terrifyingly tender touch she feels almost powerless to resist and the one constant she’s come to expect out of life: You cannot escape what is destined.

Source: Jessie Harrell (Thank you!!)

My Thoughts:

Eversince Greek mythology retellings started to conquer the YA world, I’ve read many Hades/Persephone retellings. But what I was really waiting for was a Cupid and Psyche retelling that will take me back to Olympian-ruled-Greece. Finally, it has arrived!

Psyche was a princess, the most beautiful girl in Greece and Aphrodite’s daughter after Helen. As the crowds starting rolling in just to see her face, she couldn’t help but shrink back against all the attention. She wanted normalcy – something that was not fated for her. Soon, her parents started calling in suitors for her and her sister, Chara while their bride price was at its peak. Shocked and unprepared, Psyche dreaded every arrival of a suitor at her palace.

Psyche’s life was not coated in sugar. It just had a sweet, sweet icing. But underneath that was a layer of solitude, disconnection and a problematic state. The most beautiful girl in Greece had her problems too and they usually involved angered goddesses, prophecies and curses. I love how Harrell bared Psyche. I saw her imperfection, her vulnerability and her recklessness. But aside from that, she was also beautiful inside and out.

Harrell’s twist on the Cupid and Psyche mythology was perfect for me. The story was retained but the author altered parts of it and gave readers a whole new reason to love this romantic tale. The writing was of the refreshing kind. Harrell had a knack for storytelling. I was enticed, drawn into the story and unwilling to let go of Destined even in the wee hours of the morning.

Eros aka Cupid, was a captivating god. He had the mischief of Puck (The Iron Fey), the charm and good looks of Lend (Paranormalcy) and Sam (The Wolves of Mercy Falls), the devotion of Ash (The Iron Fey) and the passion of Ren (Tiger’s Curse). He was a determined, honest and passionate lover, pursuing and caring for Psyche without using his arrow on her.

I knew how the original story went but I never got bored with Destined. The characters were not simply borrowed. They were clothed with new personalities and they were well-developed. Aside from Psyche and Eros, all of these characters were not present throughout the entire book. But they made an impact nonetheless. Rasmus, the young prince who went to Psyche’s palace to take a bride home, was most interesting. He was the charming-geeky-mysterious-type. Chara, Psyche’s sister was more complex than the others. She loved Psyche as a sister but after Psyche was proclaimed as Aphrodite’s daughter, their relationship went downhill.

Psyche’s needed to pass tests in order to be worthy to talk to Eros again. This was the fun and exciting part. I was cheering Psyche all the while, urging her to make it. Through her ‘journey,’ she met a couple of immortals and encountered a handful of danger, she was unlike the many strong heroines of other novels but she steeled herself and pushed through with her plan.

Told in alternating perspectives of Eros and Psyche, Destined unravels the lives of both lovers. This was the first time that I ever read anything about Eros. It was exciting to find out about his life, his past and his thoughts.

Destined is my favorite Greek/Roman retelling of the year! It’s a journey of love, sacrifices, pain, hope and redemption. Unforgettable, consuming, heartbreakingly and painfully romantic with a sprinkle of cuteness and sweetness here and there, Destined is the perfect read for Greek-myth readers and romance readers.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Book Description via Goodreads:

Paperback,420 pages
September 27, 2011, Little Brown

Around the world, black handprints 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 grown 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?

Source: Bought

My Thoughts:

Set in romantic and enchanting Prague, the story breathed a life of its own. I was awestruck and mesmerized with its beauty. Taylor introduced a one of a kind heroine and painted a rich history of this world and of Elsewhere. In the middle of it all, was a love story like no other. My words could never, ever capture the beauty of it all.

Karou, the blue-haired heroine of Daughter of Smoke and Bone was truly an admirable character. She was unique, fierce, charming in her own way and strong. She was a true artist, an errand girl, a daughter and a friend. Having been raised in a shop filled with teeth and four Chimaeras – creatures that were part human, part animal of different kinds – she was bound to be different. She led two separate lives: one in the world, in Prague as an art student with the company of her sketchbook and Zuzana and the other, as a daughter and an errand girl for a teeth collector. Karou carried many, many secrets and it affected her relationship with anyone outside her Chimaera family.

Brimstone raised Karou in his shop. He was always working and always sending Karou on errands for him. He collected teeth and in exchange, he gave out wishes. He was a serious and wise figure who had fondness for Karou. He was a mystery.

Akiva was one of the three angels sent to the world to mark the portals that lead to Brimstone’s shop. With his wings of fire, golden eyes and good seraph looks, he was a sight to behold. He was incredibly strong and excessively attractive but he had an abyss-deep pain, sadness and longing that had made his gorgeous golden eyes look dead. He was the embodiment of purpose and vengeance, devoid of any emotion on his face until he met Karou. I found Akiva very interesting, surpassing all the other angel characters I’ve encountered in the past. Girls will be fangirling over this guy.

Akiva’s relationship with Karou was a hesitant but unavoidable one. The pull between them was just too strong for him to fight off. Like two pieces of a whole they had drifted close to each other, almost forgetting that they were supposed to be enemies. The attraction built up until it fizzed and sparked like lightning between them. They had cute, hesitant moments together, as well as awkward and silent ones. I like how it developed through the book. It seemed realistic enough for me.

Caught in the middle of chaos, Karou discovered that the world that Brimstone belonged to was smeared with the pain and blood of war between the Chimaeras and the angels. The world that Taylor created was so vivid, so full of life and death, joy and pain, wonder and magic. I never imagined anything like it. The history that came with the knowledge of this world – Eretz – was colorful, tragic, wondrous and overall, amazing. Taylor’s storytelling was perfect and it gave justice to the story – not rushing it and not slowing it. It had the right pace.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is my favorite paranormal romance novel of the year. It’s beautifully written and perfectly delivered, with well-developed characters, two vivid worlds, a colorful history and an amazing love story. Hypnotic, breathtaking and absolutely unforgettable, this book will take readers to faraway places and let them experience everything from love to action to tragedy. I highly recommend this to paranormal romance readers! Everyone should read this! I mean it, it’s THAT amazing.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Waterfall by Lisa Bergren

Book Description via Goodreads:

Paperback, 369 pages
February 1, 2011, David C. Cook

Lisa Tawn Bergren's new YA series, River of Time, is romantic, historical fiction in which the plucky heroine doesn't have to fear a vampire's bite but must still fight for her life.

In Waterfall, American teenager Gabi Betarrini accidently finds herself in Fourteenth-Century Italy . . . Knights. Swords. Horses. Armor. And Italian hotties. Most American teens want an Italian vacation, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives there with their archaeologist parents. Stuck on yet another hot, dusty dig, they are bored out of their minds... until they place their hands atop handprints in an ancient tomb and find themselves catapulted into the Fourteenth Century and in the middle of a fierce battle between knights bent on killing one another.

Source: Borrowed (Thank you Kai!)

My Thoughts:

Gabi and Lia were spending yet another boring summer with their mom in Tuscany. Their mom was an archaeologist and she was obsessed with anything related to the Etruscans. The beginning of the novel was captivating. The manner in which the author introduced the characters, to me was completely smooth. They were well-developed, with their own little flaws that made them all the more realistic to me. I, myself, am really interested in archaeology (I even took up Archaeology 2 last semester) and the detail that the author paid attention to about the site of the Etruscan tombs, the procedure and the snippets of history embedded in the minds of the sisters rang true.

After finding two handprints in the cave, Gabi and Lia, curious as ever, were sucked into a different time. However, Gabi found herself alone in the 14th century, in the midst of a real-life battle – swords, blood and all. She was rescued by the knights of Castello Forelli. She pretended that she was from Normandy, lost in Tuscany while searching for her mother and sister. Of course, there was some truth to that. She was lost in time, with her mom back in the present and her sister missing in action. As she pondered about why all this bizarre experience was happening, she had found a second home in Castello Forelli.

Marcello was the tall, dark and handsome knight who rescued Gabi. He captured Gabi’s heart, the same way Gabi captured his. But Marcello was already betrothed to someone else – to a pretty and rich Italian girl with an attitude, Lady Rossi. Gabi outshined her with her modern ways, her free spirit and her untamed nature. The love triangle was classic: boy and girl meets but boy already has someone else, with an amazing twist. Marcello and Gabi’s relationship was against fate or maybe it was exactly what fate wanted. It was somewhat strained but it was also full of sweet moments and fireworks.

Fortino, the heir to the throne of Castello Forelli, was a gaunt and sickly version of Marcello. His days were numbered and he often spent his time alone, until Gabi stumbled into his chamber one day. As a girl from the future, Gabi had a hunch on what could’ve caused Fortino’s being sickly. So she tried to cure him, make his life a little better. Another amazing knight from this novel was Sir Luca. As Marcello’s closest confidant and captain, he was often around Gabi. But it turned out that fate wanted him to lay his eyes on another beautiful woman from the future.

Mesmerizing, romantic and funny, Waterfall is a powerful read. It had everything I wanted: romance, suspense and mystery. It had me hooked by the first page. I highly recommend this to historical readers and romance readers.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Review: Half-Blood by Jennifer Armentrout

Book Description from the ARC:

ARC, 283 pages
October 18, 2011, Spencer Hill Press

The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of the two Hematoi – pure-bloods – have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals – well, not so much. Half-Bloods only have two options: become trained sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially # 1: Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem – staying alive long enough to graduate from the Covenant and become a sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon. And being hunted by Aiden.

And that would kind of suck.

Source: Kate from Spencer Hill Press (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Half-Blood started with action. Alex was fighting daimons. She and her mother had left Covenant three years ago, knowingly left the safety and protection of the island behind.
Pures and Halfs were targets of daimons. They were like vampires but instead of needing blood, they needed aether. Daimons had broken into their house and drained her mother’s aether, her life essence. Alex fled after seeing her mom’s drained body. Now, Alex was left alone to defend herself.

She returned to Covenant after being saved by Sentinels from daimons. She hadn’t been in there for three years. She was left behind in the training classes. But with Aiden as her trainer, she was relieved and excited. Pures and halfs were not supposed to have any kind of romantic relationship but that doesn’t mean that she couldn’t crush on Aiden. He was adorable, thoughtful and kind. He wasn’t like the other pures who were always looking down on half-bloods. He treated her as his equal and Alex was grateful for that. As the trainings went on, Alex found herself getting to know Aiden and vice versa. Their trainee-trainer relationship had an underlying current of attraction and risk.

Life at the covenant was made up of four elements: parties, gossip, hooking up and training. It really reminded me of Vampire Academy. Only in Half-Blood, the students were tamer. In terms of training, everyone was being schooled on how to defend themselves and kill daimons as Sentinels. For half-bloods, it was the highest possible rank. But there was always a chance that when break the rules, they could end in servitude, with their free will taken away.

Lucian, Alex’s stepfather, was now a Minister. He was strangely concerned and sweet to her now that she’s come back. But that never happened in the past – he always regarded her with disdain. But that’s not the only thing that she’s thinking about. Grandma Piperi, the oracle, had rattled off half-crazy stuff about her future and her life. The Apollyon, Seth, was with Lucian. And he always seemed to be trailing after her, popping up where she was. Seth had good humour, laced with a little bit of sarcasm and he exuded confidence with his powers. His conversations with Alex were fun to read. I would love to know more about his character in the sequel.

With her mother’s death, Alex was fueled to become a Sentinel more than ever. She was eager to learn. Although she was stubborn and sometimes recklessly brave, she never let those get in the way of moving on with her training. But with fate and the council, things were not always what they seemed. Could Alex deal with more life-changing surprises?

Half-Blood had romance that can turn girls to jelly, action, and enough twists and turns to shock readers. Aiden and Alex are such endearing characters. Seth added kickassness, spice and humour to the story. I recommend this to paranormal readers and greek-mythology fanatics. Readers of the Vampire Academy might like this.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

In My Mailbox (2) - I'm Back!

Hi everyone! After eons, I’m finally posting my IMM. I’ve been half-MIA for weeks now. The books have been piling up – good thing the sembreak started, so I can do something about that massive pile.
In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren. It aims to encourage blogger interaction and to explore the newly acquired books of several bloggers.

I’ll start with the ones I bought because this is the first time that I spent my money on books. My money and not my mom’s or my dad’s. After 19 years of existence, I finally have a work!

Anyhoo – these are what I bought (sorry for the crappy pictures – I don’t have steady hands):

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – Just started this. Amazing. Prague? Karou? Wow.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (loved it! Reviewed here.)
Matched by Ally Condie – I know everyone on the planet have read Matched aside from me. Now, I’m going to catch up in time for Crossed’s release.
Fateful by Claudia Gray – I love Claudia Gray! Looking forward to starting this one.

Borrowed from Kai of Amaterasu Reads!

Cryer’s Cross by Lisa Mcmann
Waterfall by Lisa Bergren (finished – it’s amazing)
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren
Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson

For Review:

Half-Blood by Jennifer Armentrout (ARC)
Far From the War by Jeffrey David Payne
The Chair by James L. Rubart (ARC) - this one is adult but it sounds interesting
Hades by Alexandra Adornetto (ARC)
Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett (ARC) – surprised with this one! I never thought they’d send me a copy!
Dragonwood by Janet Lee Carey (signed ARC) – read the first few pages. It’s good!
I’m not Her by Janet Gurtler
If I Tell by Janet Gurtler
Destined by Jessie Harrell (signed ARC) – eeep! Cupid and Psyche retelling!

From and For Pinoy Book Tours:

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton – one signed for me and one signed for a blog tour!
The Juliet Spell by Douglas Rees (for Pinoy Book Tours) – Charming. Reviewed here.
The Carrier of the Mark (for Pinoy Book Tours) – Loved it! Reviewed here.


Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – excited for this! I will read its Spanish version – Desde mi Cielo – soon!


Lots of The Faerie Ring bookmarks, which will be shared with bloggers participating in The Faerie Ring blog tour. Lots of swag from Spencer Hill Press too! Signed Bloodspell, signed XVI and signed Destined bookmarks – love them.

A big thanks to:
Kai from Amaterasu Reads, Kate from Spencer Hill, Jeffrey, Kiki, Marissa, Ksenia from Feiwel and Friends, Pinoy Book Tours, Jennifer from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Janet, Sourcebooks Fire, Berns and Jessie!

That’s all for IMM this week. What did you get? Please leave your links and I’ll visit later!

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Book Description via Goodreads:

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

Source: Bought

My Thoughts:

Months ago, when I first watched the trailer of Anna Dressed in Blood, before the cover was released, I knew I was going to love it. And I wasn’t disappointed, Kendare Blake delivered well.

Cas was a ghost hunter just like his father. His job, his interest and his life revolved around the dead. He was not exactly antisocial but he didn’t get too close with people because he didn’t want himself to miss them and vice versa. He was the kind of guy who moved around a lot with his mother, depending on where his next ‘ghost’ lived. He was focused on his job – sending violent ghosts to wherever they should be – and intent on becoming strong and skilled enough to avenge the brutal death of his father.

Anna Korlov was his next ghost. She’s a strong, violent and terrible ghost – having killed so many people in the past 50 years. Everyone who stepped into her house was killed. Everyone aside from Cas. He never expected that the strongest and most frightening ghost he would encounter would spare him. He came to Thunder Bay to kill her but there was something about Anna that was different. She knew that she was dead. She was aware of what she was doing and this made her more human than the shuffling wraiths Cas has encountered in the past. But all that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t do what he came to do.

Thomas Sabin, the odd geeky witchy kid, was eager to be in the game. At first Cas never even considered including him, preferring to work alone. But after a couple of deaths, police interrogations and sleepless nights later, Cas’ circle of friends started to grow. Carmel, the Queen Bee of his high school, wanted truth and justice. She was pretty, determined and curious. Together, Cas, Thomas and Carmel started to investigate about Anna’s death, why she was strong and what could have possibly bound her to her house.

Cas and Anna started out as unlikely friends. Cas couldn’t get her out of his mind. He always found himself on her driveway staring up at her, talking to her and trying to find out more about her past. It was personal and not personal at the same time. Cas wanted to know Anna just for the sake of knowing how she ended up the way she was but on the other hand, he also needed to know about her death so he could get her out of the living world. He knew that she was not safe, violent and 100% deadly. Love, dilemma and impossibility charged the story.

Anna Dressed in Blood is highly entertaining, addictive, kickass and romantic.  With a distinct, humorous voice, unpredictable ghosts, a handful of witches and dark secrets, Anna Dressed in Blood is a dark paranormal romance that will leave readers craving for more. I highly recommend this to paranormal romance readers!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Girl of Nightmares Cover = Swoon worthy

Hello, my lovelies!

I know I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. I went MIA! *sighs* But school is over now. It’s sembreak for me! I’ll try to be around more often. In fact, I have 3 reviews ready to post. One of which is Anna Dressed in Blood. Before I rave about it – my favorite ghost story of the year – I’ll show you this gem:

It’s the cover of the sequel! Girl of Nightmares! I’m mesmerized by the cover – not so haunting anymore, but it has an edge of honesty, suffering and pain to it. A crimson longing of some kind. It makes me WANT it now. Now that I’ve just finished Anna Dressed in Blood. Kendare Blake is a-ma-zing, you have to pick her novel up. You won’t regret it. ;)