Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

www.amazon.com

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Series: N/A
Pages: 240 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (May 13, 2014)
Rating: 4.25 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

 

GoodReads Synopsis

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

The novel, We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart describes the summers of Cadence Sinclair Eastman at a secluded family island.

Warning: Review contains spoiler!

Continue reading

Advertisements

Review: Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord

Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord

Title: Sol of the Coliseum
Author: Adam Gaylord
Series: N/A
Pages: 262 pages
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (September 17, 2015)
Rating: 4.5 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

 

GoodReads Synopsis

Deep in the bowels of the Coliseum of the mighty Astrolian Empire, the orphan, Sol, is raised by a makeshift family of guards and fellow slaves to become the most famed Gladiator in all the land. Alongside K’nal, his giant Frorian fighting partner, Sol must battle cunning warriors and fantastic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive. But when an oppressed populace transforms Sol into a revolutionary folk hero, the Empire sends its most ruthless assassin to put an end to the uprising. Sol’s only chance is to do what no slave has ever done: escape from the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.

With elegant prose, Adam Gaylord tells a fast-paced gladiator story with layered, multi-dimensional characters. Sol of the Coliseum is not your typical Hollywood gladiator story. It is a story about someone just trying to survive to see the next day with their humanity. Even though he is a famous gladiator, Sol (the main character) kills only for survival, has strong values (despite his circumstances), and tries hard to keep his humanity, which I admired.

The author’s skilled prose made reading great fun (despite the small smart phone screen I read on). When Sol must fight in the Coliseum, the fights are detailed and descriptive with Sol more often than not having a clear strategy in mind for how he and his fighting partner (K’nal) are going to survive.

I am giving Sol of the Coliseum 4.5 stars, but there were just several small things that were preventing me from giving the extra half star. While the majority of the book was very suspenseful and action-packed, the beginning got off to a slightly slow start, so I had to power through for a small stretch before things started to pick up. However this wasn’t too much of a problem because the author took that time to help the reader gain a better understanding of Sol’s world and its inhabitants. Also I would’ve liked to see more character motivations/objectives/goals. Does Sol really want to escape or just live to see another day? Why is Lysik the evil sadistic assassin that he is? Why does he serve the empire and how did he come into its service?–since I don’t see a clear motive for his homicidal streaks other than that he is clearly insane, does he have some secret backstory or history?

On a positive note, I really liked how the author had the main POV’s storyline and then minor POVs’ storylines told and then at the end they all came together and fell into place. Also I liked how there was no love triangle between Sol, K’nal, and Korra and just a friendship, which is a hard phenomenon to come by sometimes. I’m also pleased that there was more than what meets the eye with Slink (a guard who puts up an unfriendly front who is constantly enduring ridicule from the other Colisium guards) instead of just having Slink being the classic nasty guard. Furthermore, Sol was actually mature enough to listen to Occi (his mother figure) and try to be nicer to Slink.

Overall I immensely enjoyed Sol of the Coliseum and am pleased that I got the chance to read it in exchange for an honest review as I do not think that I would’ve picked up this book (much less heard of it) on my own. This book is definitely a hidden gem in gladiator stories and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a unique gladiator story. I’m left with wondering whether there will be a sequel after Sol of the Coliseum‘s ending–what will happen to Sol, K’nal, Korra, and Slink?

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Title: Truthwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands | Book 1
Pages: 416 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (January 5, 2016)
Rating: 4 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

The novel, Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard describes a richly imagined world of witchery.

Hot headed and impulsive domna Safiya (Safi) fon Hasstrel is a Truthwitch and heiress to the Hasstrel lands. Although witchery is prevalent in the Truthlands, Safi must keep her witchery a secret lest she become a political pawn with her ability to discern truth from lie. Despite being a domna, Safi is far from proper and regards her title as a restraint to her freedom.

Isuelt Midenzi, a Threadwitch is scorned by many because of her Nomatsi heritage. After leaving the Midenzi settlement, she and Safi cross paths and become Threadsisters: a bond developed through a shared life-or-death experience.

But with the end of the treaty that keeps the several empires of the Witchlands from fighting approaching, Safi and Iseult’s peaceful lives will dissipate as they are both forced to run to stop Safi from becoming a political pawn.

With the help of Safi’s uncle’s arrangements, Safi and Iseult manage to make a wild escape and ride a ship to Nubrevna captined by Prince Merik, a Windwitch. However with secret political deals and a vengeful Bloodwitch on their trail, their fight for freedom to live their own lives will not end when they reach Nubrevna.

Continue reading

Review: The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

1year100books.wordpress.com

1year100books.wordpress.com

Title: The Elements of Style
Author: William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
Series: N/A
Pages: 105 pages
Publisher: Longman; 4th edition (August 2, 1999)
Rating: 4 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

The writer’s reference book, The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White provides writers a handy resource for editorial advice.

True to its description of “manual,” The Elements of Style gave practical editorial advice on writing style and grammar. Everything was definitely good advice and was a good writing book as many reviews said, but I can’t say I was very interested since informational non-fiction isn’t my favorite genre.

However I did like the fact that this reference book was thin and only included good advice, so it was a much more feasible reference book read than The Chicago Manual of Style. I’d recommend The Elements of Style to anyone who wants to become better at writing or editing. In addition to The Elements of Style, I’d also recommend On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott to anyone interested in writing.

Review: On Writing by Stephen King

ammarshabazi.blogspot.com

ammarshabazi.blogspot.com

TitleOn Writing
Author: Stephen King
Series: N/A
Pages: 288
Publisher: Scribner; 10 Anv edition (July 6, 2010)
Rating: 4 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

 

The part memoir, On Writing by Stephen King delivers advice hand in hand humor stories to aspiring and experienced writers alike.

Two of my favorite sections in this captivating part memoir and part writing book were:

  • C.V.–The hilarious memoir section.
  • On Writing–The instructional and helpful part on writing, as the title suggests.

On Writing, written in first person, is a funny, yet informational read filled with useful pointers for all writers. Throughout the book, King includes personal experiences and how they shaped him as a writer.

Along with Bird by Bird by Anne Lammott, How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card, and The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, On Writing is one of the best books on writing I’ve read.

Review: Chained by Susanne Valenti

www. susannevalenti.com

www. susannevalenti.com

Title: Chained
Author: Susanne Valenti
Series: Cage of Lies Saga | Book 1
Pages: 313
Publisher: Susanne Valenti; 1 edition (October 1, 2015)
Rating: 4 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

 

The dystopia novel, Chained, by Susanne Valenti, describes a world where fear of Contamination keeps people inside of walled cities through the perspective of Maya Summers.

Like the rest of humanity, Maya lives behind the Wall in the Guardian protected city. But she is also an orphan. She has been for awhile ever since her parents died in a fatal lab accident.

Invited to join a scientific expedition outside the Wall by her best friend, Maya’s life is turned upside down. One simple mistake sentences her and her best friend, Taylor, to a brief SubWar sentence for endangering the population.

Although Maya and Taylor are only supposed to carry messages and not engage in combat, circumstances force them to fight for their very lives. One event leads to another and soon Maya finds herself outside of the SubWar boundaries with Taylor and a mysterious stranger who rescues them along with Laurie.

Now that they’ve left, there’s no going back to the city petrified of the Contamination, which lies outside of the wall, unless, of course, they want to serve a life sentence in SubWar. And Maya will soon discover a terrifying, but releasing truth about the walled city and herself.

Continue reading

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

jeriwb.com

jeriwb.com

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Series | Book 1
Pages: 382
Publisher: Quirk Books; Reprint edition (June 4, 2013)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, blends black-and-white photographs with a haunting dark fantasy.

Sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman lives a relatively ordinary life. But when his senile grandfather, Abraham Portman, calls him frantically for help and raves madly about someone coming to find him, his mundane life is shattered. At the sight of his grandfather’s murder, he beholds a terrifying monster, but even more terrifying: only he can see it.

Seeking answers, Jacob convinces his parents to let him travel to a Welsh island with an abandoned orphanage that might hold the keys to his grandfather’s past and his future.

When Jacob visits the orphanage, which was destroyed by a World War II bomb, he encounters a girl who can hold flames and an invisible boy. Through them, he is drawn into the world of the Peculiars: a group of people with Peculiar abilities who can never age as long as they’re in their time loop.

But there are wonders and dangers in the Peculiar world. Tentacled creatures called hollowgast prey on Peculiars when they can and the wights–hollowgasts who’ve preyed on enough Peculiars to regain a semblance of human life–are planning something new.

Can Jacob embrace his own powers while protecting his newfound Peculiar friends?

Continue reading

Review: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

apageofheaven.wordpress.com

apageofheaven.wordpress.com

Title: The Assassin’s Blade
Author: Ransom Riggs
Series: Throne of Glass Series | Book 0
Pages: 464
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Reprint edition (March 3, 2015)
Rating: 4 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

The prequel to the Throne of Glass series, The Assassin’s Blade, by Sarah J. Maas describes Celaena’s life as an assassin of the Assassin’s Guild.

The Assassin’s Blade includes five novellas about Celaena’s life:

The Assassin and the Pirate Lord: When Celaena defies Arobbyn Hamel’s business wishes with Sam, she learns how unforgiving her master can be.

The Assassin and the Healer: Traveling on her way to the Red Desert as punishment, Celaena meets an inn maid who dreams of being a maid. Despite her brutal upbringing, Celaena shows the maid kindness when she teaches the maid self defense and gives some of her money to her.

The Assassin and the Desert: Celaena trains with the Silent Assassins of the Red Desert so she can win their Master’s letter of approval, then she can leave. There she befriends Ansel, who has many secrets. In the desert, Celaena learns what pain turned to hate can do to people.

The Assassin and the Underworld: After Celaena returns from the Red Desert, Arobbyn Hamel expresses his regret over what he did, but Celaena realizes that she can never fully trust him again. When Celaena learns about the debt she owes to Sam, her rival in the Guild, her life slowly begins to change.

The Assassin and the Empire: Celaena continues her work as an assassin in the Guild. This novella describes the events that led up to Celaena’s time in Endovier.

Considering how much I love Sarah J. Maas’s writing and Celaena, I am surprised at how long I postponed reading this. As a prequel, this book far surpassed my expectations. This was a book of novellas about Celaena. It is a marvelous book of insight on Celaena’s character and why she acts the way she does in Throne of Glass. Although Celaena still isn’t very nice in this book, you learn about her fellow assassin, Sam Cortland and how Celaena’s master, Arrobyn Hamel played a part in her capture and enslavement in Endovier.

How do you think Celaena was similar before and after Endovier? How do you think Celaena was changed by Endovier? What do you think is the bravest act Celaena has done?

Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

The novel, Clockwork Angel, by Cassandra Clare follows the story of warlock, Tessa Gray in Victorian London.

Since receiving a ticket to London from her brother (Nathaniel Gray) Tessa has been taught how to magically Change into another person (and assume their identity) by the Dark Sisters. She did not know of her powers until recently and they frighten her. But the Dark Sisters plan to marry her to the mysterious Magister of the Pandemonium Club, a shadowy organization, frightens her.

After being locked in her room after attempting escape, two Shadowhunters: Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs save Tessa from marriage to the Magister by. Her rescue was not their original intent,  but related to their first purpose.

The Shadowhunters of the London Institute offer Tessa sanctuary and help to locate her brother. While Tessa stays with the Shadowhunters, she develops relationships with Charlotte Branwell, Will (William Herondale), Jem (James) Carstairs, and Jessamine and learns more about the Shadow World. As Tessa remains in the Shadow World, she soon realizes that her brother is entangled in many mysteries of the Shadow World and getting him back will not be easy.

Continue reading