Friday, August 28, 2015

Angellfall by Susan Ee

Title: Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1)
Author: Susan Ee
Publication Date: January 1st 2011
Publisher: Skyscrape

Rating: 5 out of 5 

Goodreads Blurb:

It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.
The apocalypse has arrived in the form of the angels and nothing in Penryn's world is ever the same. She lives in constant fear- not only for herself but also for her little sister, Paige, and schizophrenic mother. One day while she scavenges the alleys for food she finds herself in the middle of an angel showdown. Trying to protect her wheel-chair bound little sister, she tries to flee but captures the attention of one of the lackeys. Soon, she's left with a broken angel, a lost mother, and a kidnapped sister. The rest of the novel is about her journey to the angel's nest to recover her sister. During this journey she "befriends" the hurt angel. His name is Raffe. But his friend call him Wrath. Hehe. (it was a lame joke but those who have already read this book will hopefully laugh along... :D).

I read this book a year or two ago and loved it soo much that I forced my best blogger friend Emma to sit still while I read it to her. Not one of my best moments, but I was desperate to discuss this wonderful book with someone I knew. And lo and behold, the read aloud ended about 2 chapters in with Emma promising to finish reading this book. And she also posted proof on her blog that she did actually read it :D here's her review.

I loved this book. It had THE PERFECT blend of real characters, an imaginative plot, wrenching emotions, and an originally humorous voice. In the cluttered, often dismal world of YA post-apocalyptic fiction, Susan Ee's Angelfall is a blindingly white angel feather. (Yet another one of my arguably witty allusions to the book.)

Penryn. She is the modern YA heroine- strong, intelligent, and a bit snarky. She is one of my favorite heroines of all time because of her unwavering loyalty and down-to-earth humor. She handles every situation responsibly, very unlike a seventeen year old (one of the side effects of being forced to grow up because of an angel apocalypse). Penryn (this book will make you love the name Penryn- when I first read the official blurb, I was like Penryn? Ugh. But this book has the power to make you change your mind, trust me) was willing to face evil angels and cannibalistic Nephilim creatures (that turned out to be something else entirely 0.o) just to save Paige. My favorite scene was when the bad guys broke into her building and started fighting Raffe. I will not give away why it was my fave, but I will tell you that I absolutely loooved Raffe's reaction. Now go read the book to find out what I'm talking about.

Raffe. Even though he is supposedly an all-knowing divine being, Raffe definitely does not act the part. Apparently he even watches tv shows in his heavenly adobe. LOL. One thing I loved about Raffe was his humor, which defused many tense conversations, as well as his nobleness: he was trying to do what was right when the rest of his brethren were ignoring the fact that they were divine beings who were supposed to uphold the law. And although he comes off as indiscernible at the beginning, he quickly becomes a charming hero.

This book was filled with several comical scenes, a few which included the revolutionaries Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, as well as emotional ones, such as at the very end where something-really-really-big-I-can't-spoil-for-you happens.

Filled with unique character- the mother, Obi, Uriel, and Laylah- this book is so wonderfully refreshing. It is the BEST angel book I have ever read (and I've read a bunch of them: Shadows by Paula Weston, Outcast by Adrienne Kress, The Collector by Victoria Scott, Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, Sanctum by Sarah Fine, Inescapable by Amy A. Bartol) aside from Cassandra Clare's TMI and TID series' which completely redefined angels.

This white feather of a book will raise your standards of literary creativity and thoroughly cure any book slumps you may be feeling this dry summer. I recommend it to those who enjoy the post-apocalyptic, fantasy, action, or general awesomeness genres.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

WoW: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

A weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating!

Click here to order on Amazon!

Title: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
RELEASE DATE: September 29th 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Goodreads Blurb: 
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

Six stories packed in one, each more interesting than the other- how can I not want to read this? Heist, spy, magic, criminal prodigy-- all these words are like little fireworks in my head, promising absolute brilliance. Ever since Heist Society (when is the next book coming out?!) the word "heist" triggers the excitement and a rush of adrenaline one may feel after successfully pulling off a con. Not that I would know first-hand how that feels like...

I will love this book, and of this I am certain. My prediction is not solely based on the fact that the blurb is absolutely fascinating but also on how much I adored Shadow and Bone, Ms. Bardugo's other great novel.

I'm constantly looking for the next awesome book, so feel free to comment below on any books you are waiting for!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Title: The Scorpion Rules 
Author: Erin Bow
Publication Date: September 22nd 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

*ARC provided by NetGalley*

Goodreads Blurb: 

A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace - sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals - are raised together in small, isolated schools called Preceptures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.  

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Prefecture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace, even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.  

Enter Elián Palnik, the Prefecture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Prefecture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages.  

What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war? 

I requested this ARC because the blurb seemed intriguing. But after I read the first chapter, I started questioning if this was actually the book that the blurb was describing. The style of this book is highly esoteric and unlike anything I've encountered before.

Let us first examine the characters, who are oh so serious and proper, with the exception of Elián and Talis who provided much needed comical relief to the reader. Greta, the princess, was respected by everyone and acknowledged by her Precepture ("Amish" settlements where the royalty learn to live off the land) as the "leader". She is the MC but her relationships with the other characters are non-existent at best. She is almost like a robot herself, and although she is portrayed as such for a reason, it did not help me connect to the story what-so-ever. The other hostages Xie, Thanda, Grego, and Han are obviously important, being Greta's closest companions, but there was startlingly little emphasis placed on their thoughts or actions. Elián, however, was portrayed as refreshingly real, but by the end, him and all the other characters seemed so helpless in their society and it was a little frightening. Talis. The Ruler of the World. He was so pathetically childish that I found myself ridiculing the others for following his lead. There was not enough information given to substantiate everyone's profound fear of Talis; yes he did blow up a city (which, btw, was so random and made no sense) but he is so silly.

The world-building is so lacking; although we know there are more countries, they are never talked about. This book is apparently supposed to be a science fiction (dystopian) novel but it never had that vibe; in judging dystopians, the book I use to scale is 1984 by George Orwell. This book lacked the "reality" that was present in 1984; it simply DID NOT feel real and felt entirely made up, almost as if it was some type of fantasy in which powerful robot dudes had the power to blow up cities.

The best aspect of this book was not the characters, or the plot, or even the backstory/history (which was barely explained unless Greta felt like spouting random facts). The best aspect of this book was the science, in which there could have been more a lot more detail. But, the field of AI is quite interesting and arguably, AI is a misnomer for the robots in this book considering those robots are uploaded with a human "essence", for lack of a better word. I thought the idea of immortalizing a human in a non-organic body quite similar to that of The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson.

The plot was entirely one directional, and uncomplicated. There were no side stories, no surprising twists, and absolutely no depth. I found it extremely stodgy and lackluster- I wanted a story that engaged me and appealed to either my emotions or brain. This story did not have enough science (political or technological) or enough action/dialogue/life to satisfy my expectations. However, if straightforward, uncomplicated books work for you, you will definitely enjoy this novel.

The 2.5 rating I gave this book is based on it's ideas that had the potential to captivate. It is also based on the fact that it was highly unique and took a new (although uninteresting) approach on AI as well as dystopian fiction.

This book was not my type of book; it was dull and I found it hard to appreciate the futuristic world presented. But, like I stated before, the style was esoteric and I'm sure this book will appeal to those who look for and appreciate the subtler connotations to the story. One of those interesting nuances that I appreciated is the fact that the use of hostages is an ancient practice (which is stated in the blurb, not the book... but an interesting fact nevertheless). But even with those connotations, it is hard to naturally enjoy this book. However, if I read this with the intent to uncover those connotations and use my critical thinking skills to pick apart the plot, then maybe what I would find would be thought-provoking. But alas, that was not my approach and consequently I was quite frustrated with the lack intrigue and life in this book.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

WoW: Soundless by Richelle Mead

A weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating!

Title: Soundless
Author: Richelle Mead
RELEASE DATE: November 10th 2015
Publisher: Razorbill

Goodreads Blurb:

From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore.
For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.
When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.
But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.
Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever...

I'm not much of a fan of Ms. Mead's Vampire Academy, but I did enjoy her Gameboard of the Gods. So I have a 50-50 chance with this book. However, I believe the odds are in my favor because the blurb makes it sound enchantingly mysterious and worldly.

Also, I love learning about different cultures so a book entrenched in Chinese folklore is right up my alley. I don't have many expectations with this book, ergo I hope to be pleasantly surprised when I read it. Which itself is most decidedly an expectation...

I can't wait for this to release so I can move past my decided indecisiveness regarding my expectations for this book.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

Title: Stitching Snow 
Author: R.C. Lewis
Publication Date: October 14th 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Rating: 4 out of 5

Goodreads Blurb: 
Princess Snow is missing.
Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.
Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.
When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

I've heard that this book is similar to Cinder, being all futuristic and cyborg-y but honestly I didn't even see the similarities until someone pointed them out.

Stitching Snow was a wonderful Snow White retelling, complete with the evil queen, huntsmen, handsome prince, and the seven robots. That's right robots. They were brilliant robots and I really really wish they all had a bigger part in the story.

One thing that made this quite different from the original Snow White is that there were a lot of different races/countries involved. There were four to be exact, and the politics/war between the countries stood out from the standard YA Snow White retellings.

One thing I couldn't believe was that Dane's father died. That was honestly so heartbreaking because 1) it was so unexpected and 2) it totally threw everything in a loop because Dane's father was the catalyst for all the action in this book.

The two main characters, Essie and Dane, are both royalty who assume different roles to suit their purposes. At first they seem like they're on opposite sides, but by the end they totally unite against the evil monarchy of Windsong.

Essie was strong in the physical sense but she didn't really have a sense of purpose; she was perfectly willing to live disguised as a Thandan instead of going to reclaim her throne and fight for her life back. She acted all tough but throughout the book I see glimpses of the frightened nine year old girl whose world just collapsed. I fully empathized with her situation and admired how she pulled together and prevailed in the face of such odds: almost killed by her step-mother's decree and living in a harsh, unaccommodating planet just to spend her days fighting in the Cage to earn money. But near the end, Essie definitely lost some of that admiration. She was rude and dismissing, especially towards Dane, and after Dane's father died, that was definitely not ok. But overall, Essie was a well developed character.

Dane was great, and his actions (kidnapping Essie, going undercover, saving Essie's life) were either understandable or undeniably brave. He was the most down-to-Earth (does that phrase even apply in galaxial settings? Should I say "down to planet"...) person in the entire novel and I totally agreed with everything he said and did. Even kidnapping Essie. He was kind and unassuming, and also focused. Almost the opposite of Essie. Overall, Dane was great, but also a bit of an uncomplicated person (definitely an oxymoron- uncomplicated person), which however didn't help in enlivening his character.

Filled with robots, an evil Queen, interplanetary travel, and superpowers (yup, it fits in somehow), Stitching Snow is a book I recommend to fairy tale lovers as well as those who enjoy a more futuristic setting.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

WoW: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

A weekly post hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating!

Click here to order on Amazon!

Title: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
RELEASE DATE: September 1st 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens 

Goodreads Blurb:
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.
Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
I've been waiting for this book since I read Heir of Fire 10 months ago... 10 MONTHS. It's agony and I know that every other YA high-fantasy lover is suffering similar apoplectic fits for having to wait soooo long for this. But the promised 656 pages of literary nourishment should be an appropriate reward for our patience (not that I'm being very patient...). I know this is like the SECOND most awaited book in YA fiction in 2015 (the first being Winter by Marissa Meyer), so having this as my WoW is a bit redundant because it goes without saying that EVERYONE is waiting for this book (a tad exaggerated, just a tad). 

The main reason I'm such a fan of Sarah J. Maas's writing is because her characters are sublime and her plots are so enthralling. And her books are so emotional that I'm guaranteed to shed tears. Celaena's emotions come across so clearly and I definitely feel them as my own. Also, her depiction of the fae is is a thing of beauty and no one describes them like she does.

Oooh I just cannot wait! *off to invent a time machine*