22365577The Luthier's Apprentice by Mayra Calvani
Published: May 10th 2014 by Twilight Times Books
Pages: 184

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice. But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma's family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier's apprentice…
"They spent the next hour talking "violin talk"-harmonies, favorite composers and violinists, trills, pizzicato, vibrato and other techniques. Time just flew by. He was just as passionate as she was and she couldn't wait to see him playing Brahms in a tuxedo." 
Thank you Mark My Words Publicity and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book!

The Luthier's Apprentice surprised me in more ways than I imagined. If this book has been bad then I would have been able to say that I was fooled by the beautiful cover. This novel, however, has plot twists at every corner and is above all, filled with mystery. It's unlike any other book in the young-adult genre I've ever read, and definitely deserves the four stars I didn't think I would have given.

A book of which its main storyline is centered around music and violins usually gives the impression that it's not made for everyone. I can agree on certain terms. You will always have these people who are not into classical music or don't want to read about it. I would have considered myself to be a part of that group, if not for this book. There are still many names and musical definitions in here that I have never heard about. I really am not the biggest fan of classical music and its history, nor do I know much about it. Still I enjoyed this part of the story very much. It's different in a good way, and it's obvious that the author combined her real-life passion with writing. I can honestly say that I learned so many new things while reading, and yet I never felt like I was reading a textbook.

The actual plot itself has, as it's obvious by now, a lot of musical elements to it, but also lots of mystery. From the start of the book when I thought this was going to be a slow read, the story started progressing and it built up lots of mystery. There's a continuous flow of questions and answers, and still I found myself to be desperate near the end of the book. I was trying my very best to retrieve the last pieces of the puzzle just because I was so intrigued. My guesses were therefore sometimes very close, yet in the end I never got it right. There are just a lot of plot twists involved that kept the story going. On a side note, I also loved how the author combined facts and historical figures with a paranormal storyline. There are so many options to continue with if that's the case, and it's clear that Calvani used it well.

It doesn't happen very often when I read a book where almost all the characters are lovable. Ranging from protagonists to side kicks to minor characters, they all had a personality of their own. They all had their flaws and they call came across realistically. Some maybe more developed than others, but I didn't pay that much attention to it as I was already gripped by the story. If it wasn't for the characters themselves, I often found myself being very interested in certain characters's backstories. Corey's background with his dad and other ancestors is a great example of that, especially it eventually all comes together in the end.

The only downfall this book had for me was the villain that shouldn't be named because of possible spoilers. This villain had my eyes rolling way too many times to come across as believable. To be honest, I'm not very picky when it comes to villains in books. There only has to be considered with the fact that villains themselves should have this vibe of evilness and cruelty. With this one, however, I had to constantly wrap my head around the fact that people were actually scared of her. In my mind, she looked like a spoiled princess who's so-called revenge has gone to her head. It just would have been great if she wasn't like any other villain in young-adult books with those typical evil lines and luxurious attire.

To write about something lighter again, I found the romance between Emma and Corey to be sweet and enjoyable. They began to know each other through a friendship, like normal teens would do. The normal frienship soon turned into flirting, so I knew this had to turn into romance eventually. That transition is done well because it was built up slowly and believable. You have your typical teen romance but because of the involvement of the plot, it still felt like something different. The Sherlock Holmes quoting between the two of them felt a little bit over the top in the beginning. There was already so much going on and I didn't need another teen obsession which didn't feel right. It also had to be that the two had to have that also in common. Yet it soon grew on me when I realised I have the same thing, but with many other books I've read.

In other words, The Luthier's Apprentice is a beautiful combination of music, mystery and paranormal. It's not something you find a lot, and because of that you should read it if you're intrigued after reading the synopsis. With characters you surprisingly get to love, a plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat and an eyeroll worthy cliché here and there, The Luthier's Apprentice is an excellent read.

18126198Four: A Divergent Collection (Divergent #0.1 - # 0.4) by Veronica Roth
Published: July 8th 2014 by HarperCollins
Pages: 208

Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.
"It's been so long since someone said my name that way, like it was a revelation and not a threat." 
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

The Transfer is centered around Four at the time of his Choosing Ceremony, and is therefore the tale of his life at Abnegation. Four was such a different person two years ago. He was scared and wasn't able to stand up for himself. The only thing I could think of while reading was how bad I felt for Four. There was barely anything new to the story, because this part of his life was already told in Divergent. So although we knew why Four made the choice to transfer, this novella offers the opportunity to understand his actions towards Marcus, and that is what made it good. Four stars for The Transfer.

Out of all the four novellas, I think I like The Initiate the best. This one contains a lot of character development for Four and adds more background to his character, but also to other minor characters we got to see in the trilogy, including Dauntless borns such as Shauna, Zeke, Marlene, Uriah, Amar and Max. There were scenes when Tobias's initiation resembled a bit too much to Tris's, but they were eventually easy overlooked because I really enjoyed reading the story and Four's adventures before he met her. Four stars for The Initiate.

While the other novellas are fairly good, The Son reminded me way too much of Allegiant for my liking. The reason why might astonish you even more, because this one is also filled with plot holes and unexplained situations. It brought up questions I never received an answer for and left me confused. By that point I didn't know what to expect of the last novella anymore because this one was just meh. Two stars for The Son.

The Traitor takes place during the events of Divergent and is basically contains our favourite scenes - minus the ferris wheel scene, I still wonder why that one wasn't included - and a few of Four's internal monologues. This one didn't feel like an actual novella anymore, because everything is just told from a different point of view and added almost nothing to the trilogy. It was still nice to read it, but at times this novella felt more like a collection of snippets instead of a real story. Three stars for The Traitor.

After the terrible work of art which is called Allegiant, I never thought to read something from Veronica Roth again. The highly anticipated last book in the once-fantastic Divergent trilogy ruined it in more aspects than I imagined. I didn't enjoy the film as much as I wanted to, I completely lost connection with the trilogy, etc. It's probably the number one reason why I didn't want to pick up this collecion of four novellas set before and during the events of Divergent. It all seemed a bridge too far and an obvious money maker. Despite all that, I did enjoy these short stories and would rather consider them as a satisfying 'conclusion' to this trilogy.

18157967Endless by Amanada Gray
Published: October 8th 2013 by Month9Books, LLC
Pages: 384

Jenny Kramer knows she isn't normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them.

When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life.

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren't alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has travelled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back.

While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock - and the Order - Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life - and beyond death.
"We have time. Right?" 
His expression was somber but he reached across the counter and took her hand, squeezing it and saying exactly the thing she needed him to say. 
Thank you Month9Books, LLC and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book!

From the day I watched 20th Century Fox's Anastasia, I slightly became obsessed with the Romanov family, their assassination, the mystery involving Anastasia, a girl who's also known as the lost princess because her body was never found upon a few years ago. Finding a book on Netgalley that not only involved time travelling, but also the Romanovs? I can easily compare it to a dream come true. Endless was a book that started out great for me, but the second half wasn't my cup of tea.

The plot itself was fantastic. Now that you're aware of my Romanov obsession, I can't say I didn't love that aspect of the story, because I did. I loved that. The flashbacks to that particular time were so well done. I felt like I was really pulled into the scene. Every flashback was part of the big mystery this book handles, and they all built up to the climax at the end. I really liked the way this was done. One moment I was so intrigued I almost started flying through the pages. It didn't last long though, because after a short while I was able to figure out the rest of the book. There weren't plot twists left for me to gasp at, nor a will to keep reading because of the incredibly slow pace. Besides the research and discovering of secrets regarding the big mystery, there wasn't much left to hold my attention. After a while it started dragging, especially when the so-called romance came in.

I have my reasons for calling the romance 'so-called'. Starting off with a typical problem with love triangles: when the girl starts a cute friendship with one guy and you start shipping them, but then, another one comes in and suddenly the girl is head over heals for that one. The reason why makes me want to roll my eyes over and over again. The mysterious guy who just came in happens to be the love of the girl's life. They are destined lovers and promise each other eternal love and joy. Not only is that just ridiculous, especially for a seventeen-year-old girl, but it also reminded me a bit too much of other books I really didn't enjoy. The romance itself didn't grab me. I can't mention a scene when sparks were flying, and because of the destined-to-be-lovers, it came across way too unbelievable for my taste.

Despite the romance being a complete flop, the characters were an overall okay for me. Jenny was a good protagonist. Although her choices and actions regarding the romance aspect were just stupid, she had something special while still being an ordinary human. Her talent in painting was really something I appreciated, though I don't know why. I guess I have always fancied characters with an artistic touch to them. Jenny's passion for painting is special, without it being mentioned on every single page. What she wanted to do with her hobby in the future is portrayed realistically. She loves to paint, and the society we live in, even now, isn't that encouraging when it comes to a career in the fine arts. Another thing about Jenny is that she doesn't give up. She stands up for what she wants in life and who she cares about.

I can't express enough how much I liked Ben, and how disappointment I am because he is the poor character who needs love. Everyone in his environment was too dumb to see it, while my love for him kept growing. His backstory was touching, his personality was lovable and he as a character was so unique. He is the hero of the story, certainly of what happened at the end. Nikolai, on the other hand, can leave for all I care. There was little to zero character development in his character, and even after so many pages I still don't know anything about him. Hopefully there will be a possible sequel to clear that up, because I am not that kind of girl who would fall for a mysterious guy who was suddenly a destined a lover because the universe was trying to tell something.

In a nutshell, Endless was an okay read. A fantastic plot with lots of mystery, and aspects of time travelling. The romance ruined it but the characters I liked managed to keep me reading. I'm currently crossing my fingers in the hope of a better sequel.

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1) by Gayle Forman
Published: April 6th 2010 by Speak
Pages: 262

On a day that started like any other,

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken away from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.
"I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard." 
The main reason why I started If I Stay, was because of the movie coming out soon and I wanted to be all hipster and read it before its release. The trailer and its music made it seem as if this was a book that would compel you and would be full of tears, love and friendship. Despite all that, the book actually felt like a beautiful short story that got stretched out and filled up with flashbacks, so in the end it turned into a major disappointment.

There is basically no plot to this book whatsoever. I have my reasons for calling it a beautiful short story before, because it would have been. It could have been so fantastic. The premise of a young girl with such a bright future ahead of her and everything she wanted, struggling with a choice of literally life or death, is beautiful. I'm not saying this because I have written a short story in those terms, but because it totally fitted the first impression I got when reading the synopsis. What seemed to have happened here, was that the author wanted to create a story long enough to get published, and what she did to achieve that, was to write every character's life story. I cannot count on my fingers how much back stories I thought were so irrelevant to the actual plot. I'm sure there are others out there who loved to read them in order to connect with the characters, and it's a shame I didn't. In my opinion they didn't do anything and the utterly slow pace made everything so boring I'm kind of proud I didn't stop halfway through.

When it comes to the characters, they all seemed so realistic because of their back stories. Yet somehow I don't know why I wasn't very interested in their lives. They are ordinary but manage to stand out. They are special in a way that doesn't turn them into perfect characters. It was only Adam and his rock 'n roll lifestyle that was kind of enchanting. He's passionate about what he does, and cares for the people he loves. Adam isn't like any other character in a young adult book, and I really appreciated that. It's also probably because of him I'll be reading the sequel Where She Went. Besides him, I quickly came to the conclusion that the other characters just fell flat. They were a bit too much clichéd for my liking. You have the cute little brother, the best friend who's different because of her religion, the parents you've always wanted to have, etc. Mia was overall an okay character for me, but despite her love for the cello and her ambition, she wasn't as interesting as I hoped she would be.

The feeling I had with the characters in If I Stay is overall the same with the romance. I don't think there were enough scenes in this book that described the intense and passionate relationship between Mia and Adam. There wasn't enough development in their relationship, and had very little content. A perfect romance should have palpable chemistry, something to root for. I didn't find anything here. The cello scene, for example, was plain weird, and totally ruined the romantic aspect of what that scene could have been.

Call it a difference of tastes, but I'm really sad right now that I didn't love If I Stay like everyone else. This book is after all, so praised and called 'heart-wrenching'. In my opinion, it fell flat on so many aspects. I can't do anything else but to call it a major disappointment.

Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home