Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: In the Hand of the Goddess (Alanna #2) + My Opinion on Love Triangles

In the Hand of the Goddess
Tamora Pierce

"I don't want to fall in love. I just want to be a warrior maiden."
Still disguised as a boy, Alanna becomes a squire to none other than the prince of the realm. Prince Jonathan is not only Alanna's liege lord, he is also her best friend -- and one of the few who knows the secret of her true identity. But when a mysterious sorceror threatens the prince's life, it will take all of Alanna's skill, strength, and magical power to protect him -- even at the risk of revealing who she really is...

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna's second adventure continues the saga of a girl who dares to follow her dreams -- and the magical destiny that awaits her.

Alanna's journey continues...

That said, it was a good sequel. The story starts off about 3 years after the last one left off, Alanna now a squire to Prince Jonathan and Tortall on the brink of war. Her real identity is still unknown to most of her friends except Jon and George, who become the main love interests throughout the book.

And that's what bothered me.

Now I know there is a huge debate among readers about  love triangles; personally, I think it depends how they're done. Sometimes, it makes sense and written realistically, like the Hunger Games, in which Gale and Peeta fell in love with her because they had each been through so much with her, and let's face it, she's an amazing person. It also tied in well with the plot, everyone's feelings majorly influencing what happens. And the key point (for me at least) is that they didn't sit around waiting for her to choose. I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority here, but I was happy when Gale left. I mean, why should he stick around forever till Katniss will  finally make up her mind and stop kissing them both? What with everything she was going through, and her love for both of them, she might never have done it. And let's be honest, Gale is too independent, strong, smart, and eligible for that. He would have lost all my respect and thankfully didn't.

MY POINT IS, some love triangles are great, and this wasn't one of them. For starters, there is a 7 year difference between Alanna and George. With adults it's not a big deal but the whole time I couldn't help remembering how she was ten when they met and that's creepy. And besides, she was only 18 during the second part of this book.  As for Jon, well, I was rooting for them. He is a great guy and true friend and I couldn't help but love him. The main problem was that they both wanted her and she kinda just...let them. Like, they would be all lovey-dovey and give her a kiss and she would be all 'I don't want to fall in love' but let them kiss her anyway. It seemed beneath her, you know?

Also, I was a weensy but annoyed with the pacing. The book seemed divided into two different plots, with about 2 years separating them, and while the writing flowed wonderfully (hence, only "weensy bit" annoyed) it was a little disconcerting having Alanna in a more mature mindset in the space of a page.

BUT, as mentioned above, it was a good sequel and great writing. The characters are lovable and annoying (making them very human to me ) and the whole thing was an enjoyabele read. Recommended. It may seem middle grade, but be warned, it's not. Grade: 70%

Have a good weekend!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. This week is a freebie so I thought I'd share my top ten conclusions to series that I MUST HAVE NOW. (I'm sure you'll be able to relate to at least one:))

1.Clockwork Princess-  alright, is there anyone who's NOT dying to get their hands on this one?? Cassie Clare is a literary genius and if you have not experienced it yet than I would like to know WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? Go get Clockwork Angel NOW. While obviously I look forward to the solution to the war against Mortmain, let's just be honest here and say it all comes down to WILL OR JEM?? Will Jem even survive?? Release date: March 2013

2. City of Heavenly Fire- 1 word. JACE. JACE JACE JACE. Wherefore art thou, Jace? GOD I LOVE THIS BOY. Ok, enough about Mr. Hotty-Pants. I'm salivating for this one because I ABSOLUTELY WORSHIP these characters. Izzy is the most kick-ass heroine that exists in YA in my opinion, Simon and Alec are heart-breakingly sweet, and Magnus is MAGNUS . While I do think Clary acts like the damsel-in-distress more often then not, I've been liking her more and more as the books progress. Unfortunately this one doesn't have a cover yet:/ Release date: March 2014

3. Perfect Scoundrels- I adore every one of Ally Carters books, Heist Society even more than the Gallagher Girls. They're just so realistic in a fantasy kind-of-way and so HYSTERICALLY funny and have the most lovable characters (hello? Hale? Gabrielle? Simon? Angus?) I anxiously await Perfect Scoundrels because I just can't wait to hear how Kat's story ends!! Release Date: February 5th, 2013

4. Beautiful Redemption- If you've read Beautiful Chaos (and survived the cliffhanger) you don't need an explanation. If you haven't, all I can say is pick up your copy of Beautiful Creatures pronto. This one is out already and I really need to get my hands on it!!

5. The Council of Mirrors (The Sisters Grimm book 9)- This series is middle grade, but its among the best out there. Its about all the fairytale characters(+Shakespeare ones- Puck is AWESOME) come to life in a little town and as you can imagine, a lot of trouble gets stirred up there on a regular basis. So it's up to the sisters Grimm, descendants of the brothers Grimm, to sort things out. This book is the last of the series (t was released this May, I think) and I reeeaaaaalllly want it. Now.

6. Requiem By Maggie Stiefvater- Oh, how I love her writing. This is the third and final book of Lament and Ballad and unfortunately no cover or release date yet:((

7. Hidden- Cassian or Will? I loved this series and can't wait to read Hidden. It's such an original spin to dragons that you can't put it down. And what a gorgeous cover!!!

8. The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl book 8)- Again, middle grade. But I bet you can't read these books with straight  face. I dare you. LEPrecon may be the cleverest joke I've read since the Weasley twins. (You'll get it when you read) (Fine. maybe it's not that funny to everyone else. But it gives me tears of laughter) . It's suspenseful and adventurous and completely GENIUS. I can't wait for this one. In fact I might get my butt to a bookstore as soon as I'm done for this one.

9. Nevermore- It would seem I'm in a middle-grade mood today. But grrrrrr I want this book bad. My friend ordered it and we waited like crazy and when she went to pick it up it turns out the store worker heard "evermore" and not "nevermore" and ordered the wrong book. While I agree with most of the reviews that I've seen that this series has gone downhill, I'm still really excited for the ending.

10. House of Hades- I'm gonna cheat on my subject a little 'cuz this one isn't a conclusion but it's at the top of my MUST READ OR DIE list. I love Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson is s close as it gets (in my eyes) to Harry Potter. He's like my best friend and reading about him in the Heroes of Olympus series is a little nostalgic pinch to the heart. WHEN OH WHEN IS THIS COMING OUT??? (October 2013)

So that's it folks!! If you like what you see/read here please follow and/or leave a comment! Happy Holidays:)


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: Leviathan

Scott Westerfeld
fantasy/historical fiction

It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. The Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men. Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered. With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.

Why oh why have I not read this book until now?? It's been around for awhile and I've heard sooo much about it and I absolutely LOVE Scott Westerfeld so I really don't know. All I can say is, I'm glad I finally did.

The plot, the characters, the pacing and the points of view were all done flawlessly. I was reading this on a school and dance day so I couldn't just sit and read for hours straight but believe me, I wanted to. It was one of those books that you can't let go of, and if you have to it calls your name all day and you're like 'I'm coming, I'm coming!'

In the beginning, it may be a little hard to understand. Even if you have some basic background in World War I, some of the facts are changed so it may confuse you. Not to worry though. After the first few chapters you'll swing right in.

As for the story...

(Just so you know, Leviathan takes place in an ALTERNATE World War I. The advanced technology and biological knowledge didn't exist at the time, and frankly that kind of DNA grafting still doesn't) Alek is an heir shunned by the throne for his mother's less-than-royal heritage and now on the run for fear of his life. He fights with 'Clankers'. Deryn is a girl who dreams to fly and joins the British Air Force as a boy to accomplish this. She fights in "Beasties". While obviously I'm rooting for the allies in terms of their actions and what they stand for (let's all assume for a moment we don't know the outcome of this war), I had to agree with Alek about the moral ethics of the beasties. It seems wrong to take innocent, living animals and graft them with others to create mutants that can be attached to engines and used for war.. kinda chilling and unnatural. Although you should take a stand on this after reading the book because I might not be explaining this properly.

The book is obviously meant to be the first in a series as no major plot point are resolved, rather, it introduces us to the characters (and their many problems), the world, and brings us to the (quite funny) circumstances in which Deryn and Alek meet (I smell romance next book!). But that's not to say it lacks in action. It is full of terrifying fighting scenes and lots of tension and suspense. The first thing you'll do after reading Leviathan is try to get your hands on Behemoth! My grade: 100 PERCENT !!

P.S. So how did everyone survive the end of the world? :)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's reviews. This is my first meme EVER so... here I go!
This week, I received: 

The Naming by Alison Croggon
Messenger by Lois Lowry
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Fearless by Francine Pascal
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
In the Hand of the Goddess (Allana book 2) by Tamora Pierce

Sorry about the sucky picture.. I'll do better next time. And thanks to the various friends who gave me the above books! So what's on your reading agenda this week? 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: Takeoffs and Landings

Takeoffs and Landings
Margaret Peterson Haddix

A journey to the center of their hearts. Ever since their father's sudden death eight years ago, Chuck and Lori's mom has spent most of her time on the road as a motivational speaker, leaving them and their younger siblings in the care of their grandparents. But this trip is different; this time, their mother has invited Chuck and Lori along in an attempt to reconnect with her eldest -- and now most distant -- children. 
Lori is so angry with her mother for her constant absence she can barely look at her, and Chuck, as usual, tries to make himself invisible. From the start the trip seems doomed. But slowly, walls built up over the years begin to show cracks. Laser-sharp glares are finally and painfully turned inward. And in the end secrets are finally revealed -- secrets that will change all of their lives forever....

So. This author is a friggin' genius and I've thought so since I read Among the Hidden in 4th grade. Since then I've read a number of her other books and most of them seem to have the same kind of theme. A different kind of world, whether in the future, an experimental enclosure, or some faraway fictional country (fantasy). Takeoffs and Landings takes place today (well, more or less. 2001) and is about regular kids who live in a regular place. I was overjoyed to see that Margaret Haddix did as much as a good job as she always does.
I really loved this book. It was sad and hopeful and pretty emotional most of the time but it was never cheesy or stupid. Poor Chuck and Lori had it rough. Their dad dies of an accident when they were little and then their mother starts to travel so much they never see her. I really empathized with Lori. I also have a lot of little siblings (thank god) and I would resent my mother had she left me, too. As for Chuck, my heart broke for him. Considered fat and stupid, he has not an ounce of confidence or self respect. As you read, you discover more and more about the incident and what led to the anger, guilt and ignorance that the characters feel toward each other and it shows you what damage not talking about something can do.
The point of view alternates between Chuck, Lori and their mom, which i felt was important to the plot because it was centered around the family, not one particular member. It was a beautiful read, really recommended. Grade: 80% 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


So I have two books I need to review and I will hopefully get around to that on Thursday, but in the meantime I'm rereading Harry Potter for quite possibly the millionth time (billionth if you count the times I just feel the love and choose one of the books and open to a random page and read for a few minutes). Honestly, I don't think there are many readers in the world who don't relate to the above picture, because it's HARRY FREAKING POTTER. The seven books that are leagues above any series in the world, phenomenal as they may be. Every time I read the series I discover another seemingly unimportant detail that ties in with the overall plot at the end and leaves me with my mouth open thinking 'long live queen Rowling' She is too unbelievable for words, capitals, or exclamation points (notice how this post is relatively calm). And it's so true. There are no more books, movies or any other exciting releases to look forward to and yet something keeps me (and pretty much everyone) coming back. The magic is still there, and always will be. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review:Saving Francesca

Saving Francesca
Melina Marchetta
Contemporary YA

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians, a boys' school that's pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom.  Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player.  The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about.

Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, along, and without an inkling who she really is.  Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

You know that love-hate relationship you sometimes develop with certain books? Saving Francesca was totally one of them. It's told from Francesca's point of view and  I must say, in the beginning I absolutely hated her. She refused to become friendly with her new classmates because in her old school, her friends thought they were weird. Everything she did she wondered what her old friends would say. She let her mom control every aspect of her life and didn't do anything that could remotely be considered fun and then accused other people of not having a personality.  Can you say POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK?

But as usual, I judged the main character a little too quickly.

As you read, you find out why she became this way. To me it still didn't justify, but what do I know about the psychological effects our friends have on us? It did give me some food for thought, though.  The rest of characters were fun and lovable,  despite being annoyingly one-dimensional. They seemed to be one specific thing and that's it. Tara, for example (one of her friends) is an ultra-feminist and she didn't say or do anything in the book that didn't have something to do with that. Whatever.

Aaaaaand for the romance....

Well what girl doesn't like a good romance? Will (no matter how many YA guys have that name, it's still smoking hot) was a little like me, which made me like and understand him. Always planning ahead, head of his house at school (my school doesn't have that but I represent my class in all sorts of things) and sometimes unnecessarily annoyed. Unfortunately he, too, was what I just described and nothing else, therefore losing points with me. HOWEVER,  his dilemma about going out with Francesca was realistic and many couples finishing high school face that decision so I did sympathize with him (though scorning his behavior) .

As for the depression....

My heart really went out to Francesca and her family. I mean, how many happily married, mother of two, successful professor, extremely social,  music and inspirational quote-loving women just suddenly decide they don't want to get out of bed one morning? Naturally it shocked her, her dad, and her brother and even more so when nothing they did would help. I admired Francesca for her courage and looking out for her little brother while trying to find out happened to her mother, and (maybe even more importantly) what happened to her wild, crazy, ambitious old self she left behind in grade 7.  Grade: 86%



Sunday, December 2, 2012

introducing myself and my blog

Hi there! My name is Esty and for as long as I can remember I've loved to read. When I got older I started to get involved with my favorite books online too, which led me to other people's blogs and I absolutely loved the idea. After a year or so of reading reader's reviews I decided to start my own so.. here I am! 

I chose my title because I go to a part time boarding school (its a long story. Basically I go to boarding school but I live very close to it so for me it's more or less part time) and as much as I love my friends, books have been my been my roommates way before high school ;) 

So I might as well get it out there. I really have no experience blogging so I'm just winging it and figuring it out as I go along... therefore any help would be much appreciated:) Or, if you could help me spread the word about my site in the book blogging community I'll love you forever. Also, if u have a book blog yourself I'd love to look post your link in a comment and I will.

Well I guess thats it.... Happy reading and please feel free to leave comments! I will be setting up an email address especially for everything blog related and I'll post it when I do. Thanks!

Review: Twisted

Laurie Halse Anderson
Contemporary YA

High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn't believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father's boss' daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy, and Tyler's secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in school, in his family, and in the world.

So those of you who have read any of Laurie Halse Anderson's other books will know what I'm talking about when I say I was expecting an emotional roller coaster. And while I REALLY LIKED the book, and in a lot of ways it was a roller coaster, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. 

When I started reading this, I was wondering when it would get to the OMG-STOP-NO-DON'T-DO-THIS moments that I experienced while reading Wintergirls, Catalyst, and Speak (all of these are MUST READS) (BUT LIKE REALLY, GO READ THEM NOW) because in the beginnings of those books, there was already this dark, deep, and intense atmosphere to them, whereas Twisted started out lighter (when I say lighter, I mean lighter in when compared to her other books. In itself, it wasn't light at all)

But enough with the comparisons.

Twisted was one of those books that are hysterically funny and really thought-provoking at the same time (think like, John Green) . In between clutching my belly and thinking 'did i really just read that?!' I was comparing those scenes at the school to my school and my life and realized that while it was on a totally different scale (thank god), some of the elements were kinda similar. In fact, while at times it seemed a little cliche, it was totally realistic!! (yes, I am aware that I just contradicted myself) I mean, don't all cliches come from real life anyway?

A word about the characters. I loved Tyler. I can't say I understood all of him and agreed with the things he did, but there were reasons why he did those things, and he was stupid, sweet, funny and totally realistic in his thoughts and reactions. Bethany, on the other hand, (his love interest) was totally unreal. She was written like the supposed "popular girls" in the movies. Gorgeous, mean, and absolutely CLUELESS, which reeeeeeeaaaaaallly bothered me. To Tyler's credit, at least he never said he thought she was smart.

At the end, I'm glad to say that I did get my OMG-STOP-DON'T-DO-THIS moment that I've come to associate with this author, and thankfully it was worth the wait. By the way, that moment was intense and it dealt with a serious topic so I wouldn't recommend it to a younger reader.

All in all, aside from certain unrealistic characters (Tyler's parents and Bethany) I really liked this book. I just want to add, that maybe the characters seemed unrealistic because I've never met anyone like them. In that case, if you have, you'll love it. Twisted gets a 75% grade from me.

Oh, and welcome to my blog! :) -Esty