Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

vesselVessel
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publication: September 11th, 2012 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: YA Fantasy, Mythology
Goodreads

Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. She will dance and summon her tribe’s deity, who will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But when the dance ends, Liyana is still there. Her tribe is furious–and sure that it is Liyana’s fault. Abandoned by her tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. The desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice–she must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate–or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.

Continue reading Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

[Review] Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

days of blood and starlightDays of Blood and Starlight
(Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2)
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication: February 25th, 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page count: 513 (Paperback)
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Goodreads

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.
This is not that world.
Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is–and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.
In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.
While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.
But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Continue reading [Review] Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Mini Reviews: The One & Finnikin of the Rock

The One
(The Selection #3)
by Kiera Cass
YA – Romance, Dystopia

No improvement at all from the previous books, as I had already expected. This series is clearly not for me, though I admit that it was indeed sort of a guilty pleasure. The plot if there is even one in this series is non-existent and the character development is totally lacking. Moreover, I’m so tired of reading about how kind America is or how beautiful she is because if I came across just one more praise for her I swear I would go crazy and throw this book against the wall.

Needless to say, The One is completely focused on romance and the book ends in the most predictable way. 300+ pages are spent on literally nothing. NOTHING I SAY. Nothing other than America being confused and indecisive as usual (it’s an old story, I know). Nothing other than America and Maxon getting along then suddenly having a ridiculous fight over unnecessary things and then one of them realizing they are wrong and then the making-up happens. Repeat the cycle. Really, just as things became slightly more bearable this book just HAD to pull off something that got on my nerves. Frustratingly shallow. Yes, that’s how I would describe this book in two words.

I really don’t understand the need for a fourth book in the series. A. Freaking. Fourth. Book. (Titled The Heir in case you don’t know.) Maybe there will be a fifth book about their son as an adult being in The Selection again. The cycle can be endless.

***
 

Finnikin of the Rock
(Lumatere Chronicles #1)
by Melina Marchetta
YA – Fantasy

Yeah, the book seemed like a let down at first. Well, not a huge disappointment because the characters were okay and the world building was admittedly solid, though I was having troubles getting into it. But luckily I made the right decision of continuing and GAHHHH IT GOT MUCH MUCH BETTERRRR.

I really like how Melina Marchetta portrayed the exiles in this book. I could sympathize wih their pain and struggles. Needless to say, the social justice issues are very believable and handled expertly. I particularly like seeing depiction of family relationship a lot of times throughout the book. Whether it’s a brother protecting his sister or fathers willing to sacrifice anything for their family’s safety especially the daughters…in those moments I felt something tugging at the strings of my heart and that’s when I knew that the author had successfully delivered the message to her readers as she had intended.

One particular scene that had me in tears:

“If we challenged or resisted,” Jorge of the Flatlands told him, “the bastard king’s men would return the next day and say, ‘Pick one.’ ” The man fought back a sob. ” ‘Pick one you love to die. If not, you sacrifice your whole family. Your whole village.’ ”
“Men were on their knees begging, ‘Take me. Take me instead,’ ” Roison of the River explained.
“We would sit and discuss our plan, Finnikin,” Egbert of the Rock whispered. “We would work out, as a family, who we would choose to die alongside us if we were forced to decide. Better to make the choice as a family, rather than in moments where there would be no time for good-byes.”
“So men would choose their sons?” Finnikin asked, sickened by the idea of Trevanion having to make such a decision.
The man looked at him with tears running down his face. “No,” he said, shaking his head. “No fathers would leave his daughter behind to be raped and abused. We chose our daughters. Always our daughters.”

***

First reviews posted in 2015! I read these books last week though. I was too lazy to take notes so these reviews were based on my thoughts immediately after finishing the books.

To be honest I haven’t read a single book until today but I will try to change it this week. I was busy marathoning Ansatsu Kyoushitsu >__<

[Review] Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising
(The Grisha #3)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publication: June 17th, 2014 by Henry Holt and Company
Page count: 417 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – Fantasy

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

I have been putting off reading Ruin and Rising for a while and well… you know that unbelievably high expectations that comes with series conclusion. One of my favorite series, actually. And to top it off, I haven’t been the most diligent reader for the most of 2014. I often lose interest upon cracking open a book and I was scared that it would happen to this book. I was scared that I ended up disliking it because of the condition I had been in.

This morning I was thinking “oh screw it” as I viciously tore open the plastic covering this pretty baby. I had enough of waiting and since I’ve successfully finished 2 books in this week, it was going to be the same this time.

Boy, how glad I am right now because Ruin and Rising turned out to be a perfection. I could not ask for more. The whole time, I had zero complaints and I usually don’t have zero complaints. I just don’t. But reading this book, I could simply enjoy every page and savor every moment. The characters I was in love with in the previous installments — Leigh Bardugo made me fall more deeply in love with them. As for the characters I wasn’t too fond of? She even made me care about them. I could feel their pain and struggle. I laughed along with their silly jokes and teasing. I ached for each of their happiness, despite knowing that not all of them were going to survive this war. When some of them died, my heart broke to million pieces.

“I am ruination.”

But seriously though, every single one of them was lovable. Alina’s character has developed for the better. She isn’t the same girl, unsure about her power. She is now much more determined to kill the Darkling and is not afraid to taunt him. Yes, taunt the evil old Darkling.

You know my infatuation with Sturmhond and even though he doesn’t appear much in this installment, his lines always seem to make me giggle or put a smile on my face. His smart mouth surely isn’t the only thing that makes him charming for me. His charisma and good leadership, his ability to administer justice fairly to everyone (royals or servants alike), his desire to make Ravka a better country and his optimism to find a way out no matter how improbable it is… Ehem, seems like I’ve gone a little too far and I could go on and on about him but the point is – he will be a great king and I’m looking forward to his ruling. Possibly in Bardugo’s other series set in the same universe The Dregs? (Please please can he appear even in one page?)

And Genya – definitely a tough lady considering all the things she had to go through. I liked that she has accepted and embraced her condition. Btw, I really ship her with David!! Oh, the socially awkward yet kind-hearted David. I was practically swooning over his speech to Genya about how strong she is!! <3 And Zoya. Gosh, I never would have imagined how I would be so attached to her. But her snarky remarks and complaints grew on me. See? Leigh Bardugo is remarkably skilled at writing likable characters. Whether old friends or new allies – they are all equally developed you can’t help but to sympathize with them. Tolya and Tamar… Nadia and Adrik… Even the quirky Harshaw who keeps talking to his cat… I just loved them all so much, so much that mentioning them is the least I can do.

Not only Zoya that grew on me, but Mal as well. I remember that he was never particularly stood out to me in the previous books. I even thought he was annoyingly insecure to the point that I started rolling my eyes whenever he appeared. But he is different in Ruin and Rising. More confident and this time he knows his purpose – what he is supposed to do and what sacrifices he has to make.

The entire journey is purely satisfying and extremely captivating. The plot moves at the right pace. I didn’t feel bored, even for once and the surprising twists had my heart churned. I certainly didn’t expect the story to go into the direction it eventually takes. But although it isn’t the conclusion that I initially desired before reading this book, I thought Ruin and Rising definitely ends in a seamlessly fitting way.

[Review] Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
(Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1)
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication: September 27th, 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page count: 418 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Goodreads

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?

Review

Before starting this series, I’d been highly recommended by a lot of bloggers that this book was amazeballs and the writing was so beautiful it was totally unbelievable how such gorgeousness could exist. To be honest, I was underwhelmed because it took me so long to be fully engrossed in the story.

“She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing.” 

Karou is a great heroine – she is eccentric with her blue hair, tough, independent and definitely not a damsel in distress. She has initiatives and needs no man to save her. However, I’m not gonna lie that I felt completely detached from her most of the time, which made me rather uninterested in the beginning. I didn’t feel like I was her, in her mind, breathing the same Prague air. Instead, I felt like I was only an outsider, watching her from the distant like there was a giant screen in front of me. Moreover, the forbidden romance between Karou and Akiva seems to happen too fast. This, of course, saddened me since I had a huge expectation to begin with.

“Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?” 

There isn’t much happening in the first half either. It’s basically an introduction to the world Laini Taylor has created (which I greatly appreciated, by the way). We are kept in the dark, with only bits and bits of clues scattered on the pages. But once everything is unveiled, wow… I mean, WOW… the chimaera world and its exotic creatures were extremely mesmerizing I wanted to cry. The writing is a little tedious during the first half, but the descriptions of the other world are reasonably detailed so it wasn’t hard for me to get lost in it. 

My last complain was the romance. It started too fast, became much more engaging, but near the end it was a tad too dramatic and predictable for my taste. I suppose romance is pretty dominant in this book and it doesn’t take over the WHOLE plot, thank goodness. But I was hoping for more action and badassary so it was a let-down.

I cannot overlook the fact that I was disappointed in a few ways. However, Daughter of Smoke and Bone becomes more and more beautiful the closer we get to the last page. I would recommend this book to people who love beautiful writing and exquisite worldbuilding.