Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (6)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to let bloggers share books they've added to their shelves weekly. 

November 19 to 25, 2012

I didn't have Stacking the Shelves posts in the past two weeks because I didn't buy anything! Yay! But for this week and next week, a bookstore near my uni is having a sale on selected titles. Usually these selected titles don't really catch my eyes but the new price tags just beg to be noticed, so I came home with a few.

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
This Will Change Everything: Ideas That Will Shape the Future
On The Tip Of My Tongue: Questions, Facts, Curiosities And Games Of A Quizzical Nature
Words Gone Wild: Fun and Games for Language Lovers by Jim Bernhard

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

November has been a very busy month for me, so that's why I haven't been posting as regularly as I wanted to. On a positive note, I finished the whole Iron Fey series up to date! My review on The Lost Prince will be coming up soon. :-) In the meantime, read my other Iron Fey reviews!

B's book blog!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Knight
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Iron Fey #4
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: October 26, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback
Pages: 394
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from November 5 to 11, 2012
My rating: 3 stars: I like it
Summary: Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing. Unless he can earn a soul.
To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought. Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive. With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side. To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale. And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

I will be with her again, or I will die. There aren't any other options. 

I finished the previous book, The Iron Queen, with so great a satisfaction that I expected nothing less from this follow-up, but after pages and pages of adventure and mysteries and secrets, I ended up disappointed. This is not to say that The Iron Knight is a bad book, only it just didn't live up to its three predecessors, and is in my opinion the most mediocre one out of the four.

In this book, Ash sets out on a dangerous journey to the End of the World in order to earn a human soul, as it is the only way he can be with Meghan in the Iron realm without eventually dying from Iron. Ash isn't alone in this quest; there are the usuals—Puck and Grimalkin—and other two surprising characters accompanying him and seeing him through to the end. They follow a very dangerous path into the strangest and darkest parts of the Nevernever where it is said those who have gone in there have never come back.

As much as I love Ash, I didn't find the narration via his POV to be very satisfying. There were more than a dozen times when I felt like this book was written in the third person POV rather than Ash's, because if he's voicing the story, I didn't hear it. Only in some chapters did I really get into his head. Any other times it just felt like I'm reading dialogues. And I would doze off and then not pick up the book until another day came. In all honesty, I would say that I enjoyed Meghan's storytelling far more than Ash's.

When I neared the end of the book, I was praying so hard that Ash would change his mind. I was never one to compromise my identity, who I am, for someone else, so that's why I didn't completely agree with the journey he takes on. I didn't find his quest romantic, instead I found it stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid Ash. But what can I say? Love makes you blind, right? His undying love for Meghan didn't touch me quite as deeply as the sacrifices made for him, and the friendship offered to him by other characters. When Ash lives the future in his head, I felt his sadness and I hoped he would turn his back. A Winter Prince—invincible, immortal—wants to become a weak mortal for his love? I just couldn't grasp it. Why not wish for an immunity against iron instead? That would make much more sense.

The part that I hate the most is when it's one of those weird moments again when I don't like a book as much as everybody else. Every one of my GR friends who have read this all gave it 5 stars. Let me repeat, all of them gave The Iron Knight five stars. And when I finished the book, I was sitting there and all, "Really? Is that it?" and feeling very very very underwhelmed. My feeling and enjoyment while reading this have been sadly rather static in a pretty mediocre level. It felt almost as tedious as household chores. And I hate that because I feel like I missed out on something that nobody missed that could have added two more stars to this rating, or could have made me love this book with all I had. Which obviously didn't happen. 

On the whole, I'm happy with the way things turn out. Meghan and Ash get what they deserve in the end. In the past month I've been reading the whole Iron Fey series, and it has given me so much joy. Naturally, I felt sad that I had to let these characters go. I've grown to love them a lot. And I will terribly miss them.

This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review: The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Queen
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: The Iron Fey #3
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback
Pages: 358
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from October 30 to November 3, 2012
My rating: 5 stars: I love it! It's amazing!
Summary: My name is Meghan Chase. I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it. This time, there will be no turning back.

You've become a major player in this war. You're balanced on the edge of everything—faery and mortal, Summer and Iron, the old ways and the march of progress. Which way will you fall? Which side will you choose? 

When I read The Iron King and The Iron Daughter, I felt they had a great potential but weren't quite there yet, so they both got four stars from me. I didn't expect the third installment, The Iron Queen, to surpass the previous two, and that's why I was so blown away by how truly amazing this one is, which I didn't see coming at all. This book is much better than the first two and that made me believe that this is Julie Kagawa at her best.

The story picks up instantly where book two leaves off: Meghan and Ash's exile from the Nevernever. Meghan thinks that she won't be bothered by the fairies anymore, but she's dead wrong. Iron fairies are still roaming the mortal world looking for her, because the false king believes that by killing Meghan, he'll get King Machina's power. At the same time, the false king's army has been getting stronger and attacking Summer and Winter. And Meghan might just be Nevernever's only hope to defeat the false king and restore peace.

The first half starts off pretty slowly and maintains its pace throughout, which made me a little impatient. But when the second half starts, things pick up fast and remain fast until the end, which I loved. I read the second half all in one sitting, and I really couldn't tear my eyes away. Julie Kagawa gives me excitements after excitements after romances after heartaches after sadness after excitements. I said in my reviews of the previous two books that the fight scenes for me felt somehow lacking. However, in this book, Julie Kagawa gave me everything and then more. It was breathtakingly fun! Fun fun fun! Best fight scenes in the series are in The Iron Queen. Epic battles. I loved it. With everything thrown my way, it was indeed difficult to stop. I swallowed it whole, I took everything in all at once. It was delightful.

The characters are more developed in this book, fully formed. I liked Meghan more now, seeing her grow from a feeble helpless half-breed to a strong warrior deserving to be Queen. And although I couldn't make up my mind earlier, I'm now Team Ash. That boy does crazy things to my stomach, let me tell you. He's so cute, like, he makes me bury my head in my pillow and squee endlessly, come up for air and then bookmark those lovely scenes. And hot scenes, because, well, they're so hot. But my being on Team Ash doesn't mean that I don't like Puck now. I still do, but less than Ash. Poor Puck, getting his heart ripped out and stomped on. He'll continue to make my heart ache, I'm sure. Grimalkin still amuses me endlessly with his wits and sarcasm. Bad kitty, as Razor says. Razor is so cute.

And if anything is to be said about Julie Kagawa's writing, I'd repeat it: this is Julie Kagawa at her best. I don't know how she does it, but she pulls it off beautifully. Her words make the story flow very smoothly and reinforces the story very well, making us see things more clearly and feel things more intimately. So charming.

Apart from all the fun it gave me, this book made me shed a lot of tears (oh, Ash). And I loved every minute of the journey I traveled with Meghan. I hope it's only getting better from here, as I am now ready to take on the next books.

 This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (5)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to let bloggers share books they've added to their shelves weekly. 

October 28 to November 3, 2012

Uni has started and I've been distracted, so I almost didn't buy any books this week! I did, though, buy only one! ONLY ONE! Hooray for self-control! And I also got one book for review. :-)

I've wanted to read Writing Tools for sometime now, and as I'm taking English Composition I this semester, this is the right time to read it! 

As for HOOKED, you might wonder why I got it now. It's not open to request on NetGalley yet, but I got an invite because I won Liz Fichera's contest, so I get this ARC early. Thanks, Liz! :-)

This week on the blog I posted two reviews:

So that's it for me this week. Back to studying literature. :-) 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Title: A Thunderous Whisper
Author: Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Publisher: Knopf
Format: eARC
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from October 7 to 9, 2012
My rating: 3 stars: I like it (2.5)
Summary: Ani believes she is just an insignificant whisper of a 12-year-old girl in a loud world. This is what her mother tells her anyway. Her father made her feel important, but he's been off fighting in Spain's Civil War, and his voice in her head is fading. Then she meets Mathias. His family has just moved to Guernica and he's as far from a whisper as a 14-year-old boy can be. Ani thinks Mathias is more like lightning. A boy of action. Mathias's father is part of a spy network and soon Ani finds herself helping him deliver messages to other members of the underground. She's actually making a difference in the world. And then her world explodes. The sleepy little market town of Guernica is destroyed by Nazi bombers. In one afternoon Ani loses her city, her home, her mother. But in helping the other survivors, Ani gains a sense of her own strength. And she and Mathias make plans to fight back in their own unique way.

No matter how loud the world gets, sometimes a single voice can be heard. 

I was first interested in this book because it's about World War II, and because someone said it is like The Book Thief, which is my number 3 most favorite book of all time. And when someone makes a comparison like this, I couldn't help but feel the need to check this book out, as it could be the next best thing that would happen to me for all I knew.

But it wasn't. It's not bad, but it's nowhere near as life-changing or sublime as Markus Zusak's masterpiece. It does have some lovely quotes that I highlighted, but other than that I didn't like anything particular about it. I wasn't into the story—I found the idea that small children can make a difference a bit too optimistic and far-far-fetched.  I was turned off by this notion, to be honest. Maybe this is because I didn't feel like the story portrays it convincingly enough, or well enough, or just enough. And in the end, I didn't believe they make any significant differences at all, and I mean at all, so that renders the title, A Thunderous Whisper, and what it stands for kind of invalid to me. And unlike The Book Thief's, the characters in this book aren't outstanding enough to secure a place in my heart. Most of the time I was just irritated by Ani and her mother.

This was an okay read to me. It's not that boring, not that bad, but also not that good. I expected it to be more interesting, but it sadly didn't measure up.

This review is also posted on Goodreads.
I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.
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