Monday, September 24, 2012

Tiger's Destiny, by Colleen Houck

- The Tiger Saga #4
Release date: September 4th 2012
Published by: Splinter
Genre: Young Adult
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

With three of the goddess Durga's quests behind them, only one prophecy now stands in the way of Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan breaking the tiger's curse. But the trio's greatest challenge awaits them: A life-endangering pursuit in search of Durga's final gift, the Rope of Fire, on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.  It's a race against time--and the evil sorcerer Lokesh--in this eagerly anticipated fourth volume in the bestselling Tiger's Curse series, which pits good against evil, tests the bonds of love and loyalty, and finally reveals the tigers' true destinies once and for all. 

Oh, my. This is was a hell of a ride, that's for sure. Tiger's Destiny took long months to get published, and when it finally happened, I read it as fast as one can possibly read a book. It took me 5 hours to get through this 400-page monster, but it was worth it. It was so worth it. One of the things I like most in a series is when it has a sense of finality, or even a sense of purpose, when you know that what're you reading will make sense in the future. In Tiger's Destiny, I got exactly that. It all got wrapped up so perfectly in the ending - answering questions so long overdue - that it was easy to forget all the negative aspects and give it a 5-star rating. Now, however, I'll try to explain both the good parts, and the bad parts. 

Kelsey herself, the main character, was an interrogation point for me. She was a very likable and relatable character through the story, but when it came to the love triangle between her, Ren and Kishan, I disliked her a lot. She was immature, and her lack of good sense put both boys in a lot of trouble. I'm not saying I would behave much better, had I been in a situation like this, but Kelsey could've thought some things over before saying them. There's an specific scene in my mind right now, but I won't spoil it for you. Let it just be said that I wasn't completely satisfied with Kelsey. 

The Big Bad Love Triangle that Colleen Houck created in book 2, Tiger's Quest, still amazed me - when it came to the boys, of course. It's incredibly easy to like both Ren and Kishan, even with the obvious differencies between them - Ren being the more provocative and protective type, and Kishan being a little more sweet and understanding when it came to Kells. The author did an excellent job at making us feel torn between these two, and feel everything - every decision, every blow in the heart - that Kelsey had to go through. Maybe it's because of this that I didn't quite like Kelsey - I didn't always agree with what she chose. 

When it came to the plot and storyline, Tiger's Desting was just as complex and confusying as the previous installments. The Indian culture and history background play and enourmous role in setting the stage for Kelsey, Ren and KIshan, and while I failed to understand much of it when it came to time periods, I was still blown away by it. Here in Brazil we have a very famous saying: "Reading is culture". I always say that this series has the power to prove this sentence true. The amount of culture that you absorve when you're reading The Tiger Saga is frightening!

The Tiger's Destiny was everything I thought it would be, and much, much more. It had just the right dose of action, a little too much of romance (not that mind!), a lot, a lot of heartbreak, that left me sobbing sometimes, but most important of all, it offers this series a conclusion that I didn't see  coming. Colleen Houck is a genius... she's answered every single question that has haunted us since Tiger's Curse, and honestly, the ending couldn't have been better. It just felt right. I'm really satisfied with the way this book has turned out, and I'm excited for the next book, Tiger's Dream. I have no idea what it'll be about, and I'm afraid of how Colleen is going to continue with the storyline, but I'm anxious nonetheless! 

 4.5 stars

PS: I'm really sorry about my absence lately. School is crazy, but my tests have just ended, so now I can finally catch my breath! It feels so good to be posting on my blog again :D

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa

- The Iron Fey #1
Release date: February 1st 2010
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult
Find it on: Amazon, Goodreads

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

When you think about faeries, what exactly comes to your mind? I used to think Thinkerbell was all there was to it, but Julie Kagawa, thankfully, proved me wrong. Faeries aren't glittery little beings. They're soulless creatures that crave a good bargain, and are always looking for ways to trick a human. They're beautiful, alluring, and may be the death of you. It's so refreshing to start reading a book in which the mythology is something unique and - though not unexplored - open to endless possibilities. 

In The Iron King, first book in the Iron Fey series, we have Meghan, an ordinary high school girl whose life turns upside down when her brother, Ethan, is kidnapped and taken to the Nevernever, home of the faeries. The story basically is about a girl trying to get her sibling back, and though it was never boring, it failed to blow me away completely. 

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of this series, and it's been a wonderful ride to read all the books all over again. However, I couldn't help but notice how The Iron King isn't perfect like I thought it was. Maybe it's my own sense of criticism that is changing, but maybe the thing that drew me to it a year ago, when I first got my hands on this series, doesn't appeal to me now. And that factor is Meghan herself. 

She is a pretty strong heroine, but only in general. She matures greatly as the series progresses, but in The Iron King, specifically, she's still that same protagonist that I've seen so many times in other YA books - fierce, beautiful (but thinks she's flat), and a Mary Sue sometimes. It's interesting (and a little amusing) to compare this Meghan to the girl she has become later on, but I can't help but notice these differences, and how - if this had been my first experience with the book - this would've bothered me. 

The side characters were the best part of the book for me, especially Puck and Grimalkin - not that I'm saying that I don't like Ash. It's just that in The Iron King, we don't get to really know him, and though he passes off as an alluring, dark prince and a good love interest, I didn't immediately fall in love with him in this novel. That said, Puck and Grim are the best characters in this book. They're just so funny and entertaining! I wish I had a best friend like Puck. It would surely make my life more interesting, LOL. 

With a fascinating mythology and captivating characters, The Iron King has two different flavors mixed together: the flavor of Disney's magic, and the darkness of a medieval movie, especially one with fantastical creatures and handsome knights. I do believe this series is a must read, but more than that, it's something that will make you squeal like a fan girl, and satisfy your need of action scenes. It's no wonder Julie Kagawa is one of my favorite authors!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Showcase Sunday #8

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Books, Biscuits, and Tea, inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and The Story Siren. Its aim is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week.

Well, I can't say I wasn't excited for September - a lot of good books are coming out this month, and I bought way more than I should. Oh, well.

Origin, by Jessica Khoury
Archangel's Storm, by Nalini Singh
The Dark Light, by Sara Walsh

I finally got a copy of Origin - I've been dying to read this book. The setting is what attracts me most in this novel. I mean, come on! Amazon jungle! \o 
Nalini Singh is an awesome writer, and I fell in love with her Guild Hunter series. Now, however, each book in the series is about a different angel, and I don't like that. The first three books were about Elena and Raphael, and I still wish she'd keep writing about them. I'm not overly enthusiastic about Archangel's Storm, but you never know!
The Dark Light sounds so good (also... hot cover). 

And last, but totally not least, Tiger's Destiny, by Colleen Houck. Words cannot describe how excited I am to read this book. The Tiger's Curse series is fantastic, and I cannot wait to see what's going to happen in the fourth installment.

What about you? Leave me a link, or just tell me in the comments!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Heaven, by Alexandra Adornetto

- Halo #3
Release date: August 21st 2012
Published by: Feiwel and Friends
Genre: Young Adult
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

Only sixteen when she started the series, Ally Adornetto knows how teen hearts beat, and this long-awaited conclusion is certain to be her most popular book yet.

Bethany, an angel sent to Earth, and her mortal boyfriend, Xavier, have been to Hell and back. But now their love will be put to its highest test yet, as they defy Heavenly law and marry. They don’t tell Beth’s archangel siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, but the angels know soon enough, and punishment comes in a terrifying form: the Sevens, who are rogue angels bent on keeping Beth and Xavier apart, destroying Gabriel and Ivy, and darkening angelic power in the heavens.

The only way Bethany and can elude the Sevens is to hide in the open, and blend in with other mortals their own age. Gabriel and Ivy set them up at college, where they can’t reveal their relationship, and where there is still danger around each corner. Will Bethany be called back to Heaven – forever – and face leaving the love of her life?

It's incredible how much taste in books can change over the years. When I first read Halo, two years ago, I loved it so much I read it again three times. I adored Hades as well, although I agreed about everything the negative reviews said (ironic, I know). When Heaven came out a couple of weeks ago, I knew I probably wouldn't like it, but well... I decided to give it a try. 

I wish I hadn't.

Let me be honest with you guys: I didn't finish reading this book. My review is based entirely on the first nine chapters, because that's as far as I went. I'm not saying this book is awful from the beginning to the end - that would be highly hypocrite of me - but from the beginning to chapter 9? Yeah, it's pretty bad. A few gems were enough for me to drop this book and want to burn it.

Bethany and Xavier are going to marry (and they're not even nineteen, let me tell ya), and apparently Heaven has a problem with this, since, you know, Bethany is an angel and Xavier is a human. An earthquake strikes the town, and suddenly, Bethany knows something is wrong in the Kingdom. And what do they do? They hurry to a chapel, and get married. 

Oh, how romantic. And stupid. 

Bethany, you know something is wrong in Heaven, and it all started the second Xavier tried to put a ring in your finger, and you still run to the freaking chapel and get married. Do you want to die, or is it just a subconscious wish?

All right, moving on. They get married, the priest dies in front of them, and they're suddenly being chased by the Seven, rogue angels who want to keep them apart. Actually, Heaven itself wants to keep them apart. Gabriel and Ivy defy the laws to help them (as if the Archangel Gabriel would defy God to protect an angel and a human and allow them to be together. Go figure), and you know how Beth and Xavier feel about all of this?

They're okay with it. They don't regret the fact that they got married and a lot of people could die because of it. They don't regret it at all, and that just pissed me off. They're feeling guilty because the priest died, but not because it was their decision to marry in the first place. I can't even begin to say how wrong this is. 

Also, there were a few quotes that jumped at me (meaning, I wanted to kill myself when I read them):

"We can think of it like a game," I replied. "Winning the right to be together... that's our goal, and we're just playing against an especially difficult team."

Yeah, you're playing against Heaven. And a person has already died because of it. What are you going to think of that, Bethany?

"You know that won't ever change, right? I'll always be here." Xavier pressed his forehead against mine. "You can bet on that. Besides, fending off these Sevens should be a piece of cake after what you've been through."
I thought about that for a second and decided he was right. What could be worse than being dragged to Hell and trapped in an underworld where those you loved couldn't find you?

LOLOLOLOL. Seriously, I laughed out loud at that. NOTHING happened to her in the underworld! NOTHING! She stayed in a first class hotel, being pampered by the Prince of Hell himself, and not even once was she hurt in the process. Yes, emotionally, that was hard, but come on. Being hunted by rogue angels who wanted to kill you and would do anything to accomplish that is slightly more tormenting, isn't it?

"How many babies do you want to have?" With any other teenage boy, that kind of question would have set off major alarm bells. But as usual, Xavier was unfazed. 
"Probably no more than a dozen."
"Be serious."

They're teenagers. She's an angel. They're being hunted by Heaven. People can die. Gabriel and Ivy are going through Hell to help them. And that's what they're talking about.
Oh, God. Why.

And that's not even the worst of it. They're in bed, trying to get some sleep, and Bethany just won't shut up about it.

"Do you think there's much change of it happening?"
"Of what happening?"

"Us having kids."
"Sure. Definitely. One day."
"Can we call our first born Waylon if it's a boy?"


If you're asking yourself "Could it get any worse than this?", well... yes. Yes, it can. Bethany's stupidity can reach unspoken levels, to the point where they're supposed to stay in a cabin, and not come out, for anything, and this is what happens:

"Can we drive into town today?" I called out to Xavier, trying to sound blasé. "I really want to get out of the house."

Sure. Why don't you hang a sign on your neck, as well?

"Fine." He sighed heavily. "But if we're going outside you need to cover up to make sure you're not recognized."

"By who?" I asked sarcastically. "The paparazzi?"

I can't even.

Apart from those little gems that I just loved, there's the obvious things that pretty much pissed me off as much as those quotes. The fact that everybody just adores Bethany, even those who don't even know her:

"Oh, I can wait," she said emphatically. "You're so nice and pretty I don't wanna mess you up."

Oh, please.

There was also the fact that Xavier spoke British English most of the time, even though he's supposed to be American, through and through:

"But I reckon he must be pretty pissed off at someone."

Xavier was forced to smile at my analogy. "Reckon we can beat 'em?" he murmured. 

However, I must give credit where credit is due. Gabriel and Ivy surprised me a couple of times (positively!) and I can't help but mention these wonderful quotes:

"Do you expect us to keep defending you no matter what you do?"

"You do not experience emotion, Bethany - you wallow in it, you are controlled by it, and everything you have done is based entirely on self-interest."

"Just because you don't understand love doesn't make it wrong!"
"This isn't about love anymore. It's about obedience and responsibility. Two concepts you appear not to understand."

To those two, I only have one thing to say:

Apart from those quotes, Heaven failed to impress me. It was shallow, uninteresting, and the characters made me want to kill myself. I know this review is insanely long, but I had so many things to say, it was impossible to make it short. I regret all the time I spent reading this book, and honestly, I'm glad this trilogy is over. I know there are a lot of fans out there that are really sad Heaven is the last book, but for me, three books about Bethany was enough. More than enough, really. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Innocent Darkness, by Suzanne Lazear

- The Aether Chronicles #1
Release date: August 8th 2012
Published by: Flux
Genre: Young Adult/ Steampunk
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

Wish. Love. Desire. Live.

Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock's hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer's eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her and brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed, otherwise, the entire Otherworld civilization will perish.

This book was everything I thought it would be, but at the same time it surprised me. I was expecting a great - but not awesome - book about faeries and a great world-building, and Innocent Darkness was exactly that. However, some other aspects of it caught me by surprise, like the love triangle and Noli herself. 

Maybe it's because I'm used to reading books about faeries that have a strong heroine (I only have Eugenie Markham and Meghan Chase as a reference, come on!), but Noli's delicate, insightful nature was completely unexpected, and pleasant all the same. She was different, wild and still feminine, and this balance of personality fit the world-building perfectly. The mythology surrounding faeries is dark and alluring, and Noli was a perfect main character. A bit naive sometimes, but not enough to make me angry. Put it in a simple way, she was a remarkable heroine, and I really liked her. 

What I'm feeling torn about is the love triangle. I loved V, Noli's best friend - he was cute, caring, and fierce at the same time when it came to her - but throughout the book, he fell into the same category as every other guy of a love triangle that I have ever read about. Dark, flat, and silent most of the time, without a deep personality or reasonable motives, who thinks that making a decision that affects the main character without consulting her is okay. All right, this is a historical fiction, and back in the 1800s, men did make decisions without asking the women first, but I'm tired of reading a love story that doesn't have equality. I get it that V has more experience than Noli, but for once, I'd like the guy not to fall in the same Edward-esque cycle of brooding and being mysterious without a reason to. 

I didn't like Kevighn at all, and I really hope Noli won't run after him. Please, give me a break, the guy tried to confuse Noli and use her as a sacrificial lamb, and I'm supposed to feel for him? Okay, he changed and suddenly fell in love with Noli, but he still tried to kill her - and even after admitting that he was in love with her, he was still thinking about her as the sacrifice... as if Noli being the girl he loves was nothing more than an unfortunate issue! Yes, faeries are supposed to be heartless, but this won't work for me. If Noli has to end up with someone, please, let it be V. He's way better than Kevighn. At least he genuinely cares for her. 

The world-building was interesting, if not amusing. I have a certain familiarity with faerie books, and it was fantastic to see these creatures through a different point of view, a different story with another essence altogether. Innocent Darkness was a very good debut, and I look forward to its sequel. I hope the story will impress me more; it certainly has the potential to do so!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Showcase Sunday #7

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Books, Biscuits, and Tea, inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and The Story Siren. Its aim is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week.

I got some really good books this week, as well as... well, some not so good ones. Overall, I'm happy about everything that I got.

 The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Daughter, by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Knight, by Julie Kagawa

Finally - finally! - I own the entire Iron Fey series. I read this series last year on my e-reader, and I always wanted to have physical copies of it. There was a bookstore here with all the books in stock, and I just couldn't pass this opportunity. I'm re-reading The Iron Daughter right now, and boy, let me tell you, this series is as good as I remembered!

The Iron Legends, by Julie Kagawa
Foretold, edited by Carrie Ryan
Vanquished, by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié

Two anthologies that I've been looking forward to for months now. The Iron Legends was pure perfection, but Foretold was a complete disappointment, unfortunately. I hope Vanquished will be as good as I'm hoping. I'm not a big fan of this trilogy, but Crusade was fantastic, so fingers crossed that this one will be good!

Over You, by Emma McLaughlin
Heaven, by Alexandra Adornetto
White Cat, by Holly Black 

Over You sounds ridiculously cute, and I adore the cover. I really need some fluffly contemporary novel right now ^-^ I tried to read Heaven, since I enjoyed Halo and Hades, but I couldn't get past page 70. My taste in books must've changed a lot, because honestly, this book was awful. I've heard really good things about White Cat. Really hoping it'll live up to its hype!

So, that was all that I got this week. What about you guys? Tell me in the comments, or leave me a link to your post, and I'll check it out! :D

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Homecoming, by Richelle Mead

- Homecoming is part of the Foretold anthology. 
Release date: August 28th 2012
Published by: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon

Synopsis of Foretold:
Richelle Mead, Lisa McMann, Michael Grant, Meg Cabot, Laini Taylor, and nine more of the hottest YA authors to hit the shelves explore the concepts of prophecy and prediction in this story collection edited by NYT bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan.

Have you ever been tempted to look into the future? To challenge predictions? To question fate? It's human nature to wonder about life's twists and turns. But is the future already written—or do you have the power to alter it?

From fantastical prophecies to predictions of how the future will transpire, Foretold is a collection of stories about our universal fascination with life's unknowns and of what is yet to come as interpreted by 14 of young adult fiction's brightest stars.

I honestly don't know what to think. I've been waiting for this novella to come out for two years, since Last Sacrifice disappointed me a little. I was hoping Richelle Mead would give us a wonderful closure to Vampire Academy in that book, but instead, all we got was a ton of loose ends and unanswered questions... but that was okay, I told myself. Obviously Richelle Mead had something else planned, and all these issues will be addressed later on, maybe in Bloodlines, or, umm, who knows, in a novella?

And finally, she gave us what we, fans, desired the most... a novella with Rose and Dimitri in Russia. And now that I have read this novella, all I wish for is that it was never published in the first place. I don't know what the hell Mead was thinking when she wrote this, but this novella was useless. That's it; it's just useless. It doesn't add anything to the story, let alone give us some closure. 

Let me make myself clear and just explain why I hated this so much. And yes, I tried to control myself, but there'll be a lot of ranting in this review, so I apologize for my language.

You see, the novella starts off with Rose and Dimitri in Russia, about to visit the Belikovs. Dimitri is nervous, of course, since it's the first time he'll get to see his mom and sisters after being turned back into a dhampir. And that was supposed to be wonderful - I mean, that's what I waiting for, after all - it was anything but. Most of the time Mead simply told us what was happening - she didn't show us. I kept waiting for my heart to break and for me to feel happy for Dimitri but that didn't happen, because for the first time in my life, I didn't connect with him at all. He was like a stranger to me, and that pissed me off beyond words. I felt betrayed; it was like Mead had twisted everything that I loved, changed Dimitri and Rose so much I couldn't recognize them. 

Speaking of Rose.. what the hell happened to her? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?! She was all over the place. And Rose was the biggest disappointment of all times. She was ridiculous. She kept questioning Yeva and fighting her, even when Dimitri was standing right next to her, as if Rose had the right to disrespect Yeva in front of the Belikovs. Not to mention that makes no sense - Rose knew Yeva, she spent weeks with her in Blood Promise. It's like Mead suddenly forgot that, and decided to write these fights just to show us how badass and brave Rose is. Let me tell you, Mead, it didn't work. It made Rose look like a fucking brat. 

And the romance. I won't even get started on the romance. There was no chemistry between her and Dimitri, there wasn't a single scene that made my heart race, there wasn't a single dialogue - except for one quote - that made me swoon. Can you sense how angry and disappointed I am? Even the plot of this novella was all over the place.. and come on, it's a novella. It's not even supposed to have that much of a plot, because there's not enough time for it to develop. But of course Mead had to do it. And you know what? I don't care about a strigoi that's been killing humans near Dimitri's village. I don't care about the Blood King. I don't care about a new villain. I don't care about hot dogs - because, you know, there is a conversation involving hot dogs that lasts 2 pages. This was like an awful fanfiction - and I call it "awful" because I've read amazing fanfictions that are way better than this.

I'm not saying this novella was supposed to solve every single loose end in the series. Of course that's not possible; like I said, there's not enough time for this to happen. But come on! At least give me some closure on Dimitri and Rose themselves. Show me how they're living, show me what challenges they have to endure on a daily basis to stay together, how they're managing the whole "being Lissa and Christian's guardian" thing. Please, just show me something important, something relevant. We never even get to know how they went to Russia in the first place - something is mentioned about how Rose is nervous about leaving Lissa alone, but what about Christian? I find it hard to believe that Dimitri would just leave his Moroi alone in the Court, even if he was protected by Lissa's guardians as well. Dimitri isn't like this.

I'll just put it in a blunt way: Homecoming was unnecessary. It failed in every single aspect. It lacked creativity, it lacked writing - and I don't say this lightly -, it lacked romance, it lacked substance. I honestly regret all the time I wasted being excited for this novella. It was uncalled for, because you know what? It didn't add anything new to Vampire Academy, it didn't add a single thing to Last Sacrifice, and to be honest, the only thing I'm looking forward to, right now, is forgetting Homecoming was ever published.