An Ember in the Ashes (Sneak Peak) by Sabaa Tahir
Published: March 23rd Penguin Young Readers Group

I will tell you the same thing I tell every slave.

The resistance has tried to penetrate this school countless times. I have discovered it every time.

If you are working with he resistance, if you contact them, if you think of contacting them, I will know.

Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

Elias is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.
"The field of battle is my temple. I mentally chant a saying my grandfather taught me the day he met me, when I was six. He insists it sharpens the mind the way a whetstone sharpens a blade. The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release."
Thank you Penguin Young Readers Group for providing me with a sneak peak for review.

Legend meets The Winner's Curse in a breath-taking novel. Or at least, that's what I have gathered from the sneak peak. Honestly, I'm surprised with how much I loved this shortened version of An Ember in the Ashes. I'd never imagined to rate a sneak peak five stars, but my unbelief doesn't stop there. It was so action-packed I could barely wrap my head around it. This was only the beginning of a story about the clash in an ancient Rome-like empire, yet it didn't hold author Sabaa Tahir back from anything. There was action. There was such a heart-wrenching scene. There were wonderful characters I now care for.

There's no questioning Tahir's talent, as I could gather so many different aspects of the book, just by reading one chapter. Despite the fact that the world belongs to the fantasy genre and thus requires a lot of world building, it drew me in very quickly and didn't let me go. Without having to deal with info dumps, there's a lot of information brought to the reader in a smart and insightful way, combined with some excellent and just gorgeous writing. In my case, it only left me hungry for more.

In a nutshell, I absolutely loved loved loved the sneak peak of An Ember In The Ashes. For now I can only cross my fingers and hope for the rest of the book to be this good.  After all, if my hopes turn into reality, there is no denying my excitement.

18664167Mind Games by Teri Terry
Published: March 5th 2015 by Orchard Books
Pages: 448

Luna is a no-hoper with a secret: in a world of illusion, she can see what is real. But can she see the truth before it is too late?

Luna has always been able to exist in virtual and real worlds at the same time, a secret she is warned to keep. She hides her ability by being a Refuser: excluded by choice from the virtual spheres others inhabit. But when she is singled out for testing, she can’t hide any longer.

The safest thing to do would be to fail, to go back to a dead-end life, no future. But Luna is starting to hope for something better, and hope is a dangerous thing...
"Five minutes of Realtime, and it is nearly two hours before I stop being sick. That's a pretty good reason to be a Refuser, isn't it?"
Thank you Orchard Books for providing me with an advanced reading copy for review.

DNF at 50 %

I wonder if I was fooled by the gorgeous cover, or the premise of Mind Games. As with so many books these days, a synopsis can be either exactly what you think it is, or turn out to be something entirely different. It's sad to say that Teri Terry's novel falls into the last category.

Throughout my reading experience, it was required to read this book with all the attention and focus I could get. Most of the times it's not necessarily a bad thing, but I didn't like how Mind Games played with my mind. I had to read every single word with care and attention, in order to follow along and understand both the story and the world building. Nonetheless, I still got very confused along the way. Mind you, I don't hold a single grudge against being thrown into the world of a book without any explanations. It's mostly a lot of fun because I have to figure out what is going on all on my own, but not in this case.

There was an overload of unknown terms, combined with such little explanation. The only choice I had was to continue anyway and hope that I would be less confused as I go on. None of that happened. Once I started to get a hold of the story, so many other aspects turned my knowledge into chaos. A lot of that had to do with Terry's futuristic world full of technology. This is where a certain aspect I adored jumps in: the virtual reality. It was my ultimate main reason for requesting the book in the first place, and also what made the book so fascinating. It was so different from any other dystopian I've read before. How could I not be excited about that? However, things started to take a turn when I that aspect fell flat. In my opinion, there wasn't much world building to be found. I felt like a lot was just thrown in my face, and I had to deal with it. I couldn't connect to anything and because of the lack of world building, I never understood how it all worked or how some things were even possible.

The vague plot dragged immensely, and at some point I had no desire whatsoever in picking it up again, ultimately resulting in a DNF. As sad as I am to admit it, Mind Games was all in all, a boring read which could have been so much more.

7624Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Published: October 1st 1999 by Penguin Books
Pages: 182

Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought and literature.

William Golding's compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic. At first it seems as though it is all going to be great fun; but the fun before long becomes furious and life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic and death. As ordinary standards of behaviour collapse, the whole world the boys know collapses with them—the world of cricket and homework and adventure stories—and another world is revealed beneath, primitive and terrible.Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies has established itself as a true classic.
“The thing is - fear can't hurt you any more than a dream.”
The premise of Lord of the Flies had always intrigued me, to say the least. Then again, I never thought my first classic would be a story about a group of civilized boys, turning into wild animals. I wanted to understand what the world has been talking about since 1954. When I finally picked up a copy, it didn't take long before I was drawn into the world of these savage school boys.

I feel like this book is in the end, all about the hidden meaning and the symbolism. According to the author, no one can survive without any civilization. The savagery of boys like Jack is much stronger than intelligence or knowing the difference between right and wrong, resulting into a remarkable and well-executed evolution. Honestly, the development of going from preppy school boys to bloodthirsty animals is the best part of the entire book. Unbelievable or not, I was still kind of fascinated when events started to take a turn. After all, scared kids aren't the same as adult leaders. They tried to find their way towards responsibility and obedience, as it was clear how they tried to solve their problems. One way or another, their fear took over.

Blood was spilled more quickly than I imagined and the weirdness factor began to increase at an alarming amount. The vivid writing style helped a lot in adding that touch of gore to a book I already found to be disturbing. In the end, it wasn't as horrific as I expected it to be. Also some parts felt unnecessary and a bit confusing for me, and others were just hard to follow.

I didn't particularly feel much attachment to any of the characters besides Piggy. It was obvious he was going to be the loser from the moment he and Ralph met. I can't help but secretly love an underdog. Though he too stood for a specific value, he felt more developed and real to me than any other character in this book. Apart from all the other ones whose personalities looked so alike, there were only a few I could properly distinguish.

Lord of the Flies was a very slow read for me, despite the fact that is was a thin novel. There no doubt about the excellent symbolism and development to savages, but unfortunately, I look for more in a book than just those two aspects. Not my cup of tea.

17904985Gates of Thread and Stone (Gates of Thread and Stone, #1) by Lori M. Lee
Published: August 5th 2014 by Skyscape
Pages: 335

In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power. 

“My nails clawed against the smooth tiles as I pushed up onto my hands and knees. I rose unsteadily to my feet.
Speed is my ally. Breathe. In and out. Focus. Time is my power.”

Thank you Skyscape for providing me with an advanced reading copy for review.

My overall reaction with Gates of Thread and Stone has a lot to do with my disappointment. I expected to receive an epic fantasy about a girl who can weave the threads of time, unraveling the mystery behind her brother's disappearance. It certainly had those aspects, as it started out great and also ended on a high note. I can't shake off the feeling of discontent. I wanted so much more.

In the beginning of the book, I found it to be well-paced. The mystery jumped in from the start and made my interest grow with every page I read. Somewhere along the thrilling ride, that very interest suddenly disappeared. Although I was already two hundred pages in, I felt like there was nothing happening anymore. The more the book progressed, the less I knew what was actually going on. The characters were heading back and forth and no one seemed to have a plan anymore. The several actions scenes didn't even feel as action scenes anymore. They were rather scenes to fill up the pages. They weren't enough to make me want to continue, which resulted into a reading slump that carried on for far too long.

It wasn't until the book was nearing its climax that I grew interested again. The dull storyline picked up very quickly, and from then on the thrilling chapters kept coming. Even though the ending was a bit weird and rushed, it certainly left me wanting more. Something that didn't improve, was my lack of care. The characters themselves, for example, were okay. They didn't stand out, but there was nothing that made them bad or underdeveloped. I still felt no attachment to any of them.

The best thing out of the entire book would have to be Lori M. Lee's world. Ninurta is simply put, fascinating. I have always had a thing for a world where the chasm between the rich and the poor is remarkable, and has a huge effect on the population. As Kai has always lived in the Labyrinth, she knows how to survive on her own and doesn't act impulsive. The story puts her into unknown territory, yet she manages to play the game. Even if it takes her to unexpected losses and victories.

All in all, Gates of Thread and Stone is the kind of trilogy that could have been fitted easily into one or two books. I could have been so much more than what it is now. Despite it not being as good as I first expected, I do think this series still holds some potential. I may be hesitant towards the sequels, but I wonder where this might be heading.

18115187All Fall Down (Embassy Row, #1) by Ally Carter
Published: January 20th 2015 by Scholastic Press
Pages: 320

A new series of global proportions -- from master of intrigue, New York Times bestselling author Ally Carter.

This exciting new series from New York Times bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay--in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.
“Congratulations," I tell her with a slight bow. "I hope you and your power trip will be very happy together. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to go.”

Thank you Orchard Books for providing me with an advanced reading copy for review.

Actual rating: 1.5 stars

I can't believe how much Ally Carter's All Fall Down disappointed me. Although I know having high expectations isn't always the best thing to do, yet what should have I done when I read such an awesome and promising synopsis? The combination of that premise and all the hype surrounding it, I knew I eventually would have to give in. So yes, I may be that one reviewer with the negative review, but in my opinion I have all the reasons for doing so.

I have to admit: it was love at first sight with Grace's attitude. I've always had a like for sassy and sarcastic characters, who let their opinion always shine through. To my surprise, this case turned out differently. The love for her character left as quickly as it came. As much as I loved her witty attitude, I grew a bit frustrated with her, especially when it came to her recklessness. There is nothing wrong with being a bit of a daredevil, but the more risks Grace took, the more I grew frustrated with her. After a while, I couldn't help but not be irritated by her character. In the end, all she really did was push everyone away and react sarcastically to everyone around her, even characters who didn't do anything wrong. I didn't care for anything Grace did or how reckless she was, though it still surprised me that no other character in this book could make up for it. It was only Megan who I felt some sympathy for. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to make up for both the main character, and the sudden insta-friendship.

It's a custom in the reading community to have heard of the term 'insta-love', where it's love at first sight and lasts until they die. To my biggest surprise, Carter came up with a whole new term of her own: the insta-friendship. In this book, we see how a male character meet the heroine, and says they'll be best friends. I laughed at that, reassuring myself it's only meant as a joke. Suddenly, they are the best of friends. I felt like the whole development of going from strangers to friends to best friends, had been skipped. It made the rest of their relationship so flat and underdeveloped, it wasn't really enjoyable to read. Even now when I've finished the book, I wonder why. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll ever get an answer.

As I go through my long list of issues with All Fall Down, the setting is something worth to be mentioned. It wasn't all that believable, really. I did first love the world of the embassies, as it's something unusual to use in a young-adult novel and therefore, quite refreshing. What made me dislike it, was how much it turned out too look like an international high school. The so-called original idea was anything but original, and failed to leave an impression. Furthermore, it was a bit confusing at first when Carter chose a fictive country as her setting, but still blended in all the other countries which do exist. Maybe some can appreciate this decision. To me, it was plain weird and very confusing at first. I admit that I even had the urge to look up Adria on the world map, how stupid it may sound.

To write about the plot of the book, there's surprisingly not much to write. The book starts out on an interesting moment when you don't know much, although it was the ultimate reason why I was first so invested. There's also no doubt about Carter being  a master in building up tension, and caused my growing interest in what might happen. Nothing happened. Early on in the book, I felt like the plot went off the nowhere, and made that growing interest disappear as quickly as it first popped up.

All in all, All Fall Down isn't anything like I first expected it to be. What could have been a great novel full of action and perfect for readers around the globe, turned into my disappointment of the year.

Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home