Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

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Title: Lady Midnight
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices | Book 1
Pages: 720 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; 1 edition (March 8, 2016)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

 

GoodReads Synopsis

The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.

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Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

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Title: A Thousand Pieces of You
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird trilogy | Book 1
Pages: 384 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen; Reprint edition (November 3, 2015)
Rating: 4.5 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)

 

Book 1 of the Firebird trilogy, A Thousand Pieces of You, by Claudia Gray describes sixteen-year-old Marguerite Caine’s quest for vengeance to kill Paul Markov, her parents’ (two famous scientists) prodigy and lab assistant, after the theft of the Firebird: a device which allows users to leap between different dimensions (realms of different outcomes and possibilities).

GoodReads Synopsis

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.

Lately, A Thousand Pieces of You is the second book I’ve read with multi-dimensional travel, but I think it is the first book I have ever read that completely delves into what multi-dimensional travel would really look like. In this book, people travel to different dimensions by using the Firebird to transfer their consciousness into a dimension that had another version of them. While in that dimension, they would inhabit and control the body of their other dimensional self.

In different universes, especially the “Russiaverse” (where Marguerite is a grand duchess), this makes for “moral” conflicts, especially when Marguerite makes some big decisions for her other self while she is inside her body. This added an element of character vs. self and made the plot more interesting as Marguerite also grappled with external conflict as she hunted down her father’s suspected killer and the thief of the official Firebird prototype through the dimensions.

Another story aspect I liked were the plot twists. As Margeruite learns more about multi-dimensional travel, she discovers a secret about her travel companion. When the main character discovers not once, but twice, that two things she thought were true weren’t, it makes for some very suspenseful moments.

Like in The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, the author starts the book in the thick of things (Margeruite chasing her father’s killer through the dimensions) and then jumps back in Margeruite’s memory throughout the chapters to give the reader background information on events. I’m not a big fan of this, but it did not make me want to stop reading.

However, Claudia Gray did do an excellent job of developing the characters. Chapter by chapter she reveals a new layer of the characters, which makes them more believable. It also altered my opinion of them for better or for worse.

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Review: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

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aspiritedmind.com

Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Series: N/A
Pages: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper; Reissue edition (March 29, 2011)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The novel, Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie describes an enthralling murder mystery on the Orient Express.

GoodReads Synopsis

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stopped the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train was surprisingly full for the time of the year. But by the morning there was one passenger fewer. A passenger lay dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.

As usual, Belgium detective Hercule Poirot must solve the mystery of who the murderer is. But as he begins investigating, every new fact he learns complicates everything he already knows about the mystery. Can Poirot find the killer before they escape?

Warning: This review contains spoilers!

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Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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barnesandnoble.com

Title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: N/A
Pages: 181 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (June 3, 2014)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman weaves a psychological thriller about an ‘ocean’ at the end of a lane where a man (unnamed deliberately by the author) lived as a young boy.

GoodReads Synopsis

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

Despite it’s relatively thin length for a novel (181 pages), The Ocean at the End of the Lane compacts a lot of meaning into those pages. And it left me still thinking after I’d finished it with the thought-provoking plotline. The author, Neil Gaiman, did a good job holding my interest through every page and generating intrigue.

A unique twist on the classic good vs. evil story with an adult tone to it, The Ocean at the End of the Lane took a little time to set up before fully launching into the story. I think what made this book fascinating was the surprise ending, and–highlight for spoiler– (the horridness of one Ursula Monkton), and how the author described memory and trauma.

One aspect of the novel that I found to be an interesting choice on the author’s part was the deliberate decision to keep the man (the main character) namelesss throughout the novel. In a way, I thought that it made sense.

Although the novel’s synopsis did not  intrigue me, I decided to give it a try and I’m glad that I did. Once you begin to read the book, it grips you and does not let you go until you finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel from the excellent writing, plot development, and character development.

I’d recommend this book to people who’ve read and enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s other novel Coraline or are looking for a good horror-psychological-suspense novel.

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave by Rick YanceyTitleThe 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Series: The 5th Wave trilogy | Book 1
Pages: 512 pages
Publisher: Speak; Reissue edition (February 10, 2015)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

 

The dystopia The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey describes a post-apocalyptic world decimated by four alien-sent “waves” of terror.

GoodReads Synopsis

“After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.”

A flawless read of rich writing: it was not too descriptive and it flowed very nicely. The excellent writing was definitely a very strong part of the book. Normally I prefer books that don’t use too many complicated metaphors, but The 5th Wave broke the norm. Throughout the novel, Yancey used metaphors through the characters as they tried to cope with their difficult reality.

Throughout the book, I was kind of comparing The 5th Wave to James Dashner’s The Maze Runner. Both had good writing and strong plot development, but I think The 5th Wave won in terms of character likability. The 5th Wave is definitely a very re-readable book because it shocks you just enough to keep you reading, but at the same time spends time developing the characters, so you actually enjoy reading it again. On a side note, the book was told from the first-perspective and the literary conflicts were: character vs. character, character vs. supernatural, and character vs. self.

The characters were layered and complex, despite the rotating first-person POV. There were also more amazing female characters, much more than The Maze Runner and far more likable: Cassie and Ringer. Of the two, however, I found Ringer to be the more intruiging character. I thought that her bearing was more unique than other female characters’ who I’ve encountered before in literature. And Teacup: a bellicose seven-year-old drafted in an army of adolescent soldiers. She was definitely an interesting character. In a way, she kind of reminded me of a younger version of Johanna Mason from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

I did not find the two main male characters: Evan Walker and Zombie (Ben Parish) were not nearly as compelling as Cassie and Ringer. I found Evan’s intentions as an “alien” and infatuation with Cassie slightly confusing, but this part makes more sense in the next book. Zombie was definitely brave because he took care of Cassie’s brother, but at times it seemed like the reality of the apocalypse had not quite fully sunk in.

I would’ve preferred there to be less swearing, but I suppose, because the narrators were teenagers there would be. I’d recommend this book to fans of YA dystopia and books like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

What are your thoughts on The 5th Wave? Have you seen the recent film adaptation? What are your thoughts on it? 🙂

Review: Origin by Jessica Khoury

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alicemarvels.com

TitleOrigin
Author: Jessica Khoury
Series: N/A
Pages: 432 pages
Publisher: Razorbill; Reprint edition (September 17, 2013)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The novel, Origin by Jessica Khoury, draws you into the world of Little Cam.

Little Cam (short for Little Cambridge) is a secretive research center in the Amazon Rainforest. The scientists of Little Cam’s goal: to create a race of immortal humans. Their first success is Pia, an immortal girl with flawless memory and impenetrable skin.

One day, Pia’s Uncle Paolo says, Pia will take over as head of the Immortis Team. But to do this, Pia must succeed in a series of calculating tests: the Wickham Tests. In one of the tests, Pia must watch a bird get electrocuted over and over. She begins to secretly question the scientists’ means. However, Uncle Paolo insists, “the end always justifies the mean.”

All her life, Pia has stayed within the gates of Little Cam. The gates and fence are charged with electricity and almost always closed. After her seventeenth birthday party, Pia discovers a gap in the fence. With her pet jaguar, Alai, she ventures into the forest. In the jungle, Pia discovers a world she never dreamed of.

But as Pia becomes attached to the world beyond Little Cam, she finds herself in a dilemma. Eventually, she must make a choice between freedom and a dream of creating immortals. As Pia learns more and more about Little Cam’s hidden secrets, she learns about herself and most importantly, what the Little Cam scientists did to make her. Whose dreams is she choosing?

I really, really enjoyed this book. It kept me reading non-stop from page one. Also, the development of Pia’s character is well done. By the end of the book Pia had evolved completely and both grown and matured as a character. Furthermore, the author had two very important themes in her novel. The first was that end does not always justify the mean. Find out whose dream you are living for, the second theme, was subtle compared to the first one. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science-fiction books on immortality and scientists who cross the boundary between inhumanity and ambitions.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this book in the comments section. Are there any similar books you would recommend?

Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

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booklust-lisa.blogspot.com

Title: Unbroken
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Series: N/A
Pages: 528
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 29, 2014)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The biography, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand describes the life of Olympics runner and World War II POW Louis Zamperini.

In his childhood, Zamperini was a locally notorious boy with cunning mind. He’d break into people’s houses (to steal something edible) or set up a prank contraption.

Determined to find a way to channel Louis’s wildness, Pete Zamperini (his older brother) attempted to interest him in track. Initially the attempt failed, but eventually Louis gained interest and he began to break records.

But when Pearl Harbor was bombed and America entered into World War II, Louis became an Army Air Corps bombardier. After narrowly surviving combat missions from the Hawaii base, Zamperini and two fellow Air Corps men, crashed in the Pacific Ocean and set a record for longest record at sea.

Eventually as they drifted east, the Japanese captured Louis and his crew. Following his capture, Louis was sent to various POW camps where several cruel POW camp officials and guards abused them. One official, known as the Bird, was exceptionally fixated upon abusing Louis.

Will Louis be able to survive and recover the physical and emotional torments of the Japanese POW camps?

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Review: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

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literarycatastrophe.wordpress.com

Title: Queen of Shadows
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass Series | Book 4
Pages: 656
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (September 1, 2015)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The fourth Throne of Glass novel, Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas continues Celaena Sardothien’s journey as Aelin Galathynius, the heir of Terrasen.

SPOILER ALERT – PROCEED WITH CAUTION IF YOU’VE NOT READ: The Assassin’s BladeThrone of GlassCrown of Midnight, or Heir of Fire.

Celaena Sardothien has returned to Erilea for many things. But she has come changed. In Wendlyn, Celaena let go of the fears of her past that constantly haunted her and embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius: heir of Terrasen. She wants to, needs to, rescue her fallen kingdom, save her cousin, and save Dorian.

But first she must face her former master, Arobbyn Hamel, king of the Assassins. When he rescued Aelin as a child, he also unknowingly took the third wyrdkey from her. Aelin must take back the wyrdkey to save Erilea, but dealing with the cunning Arobbyn will be far from easy.

Following his sacrifice so that Chaol might escape, Dorian is fighting an internal battle with an ancient evil locked within him with a wyrdstone collar.

After being named Wing Leader, Manon and her Thirteen have been sent to Morath to work with the disagreeable Duke Perrington. But the duke is keeping secrets and something sinister is going on inside the mountain and Manon is determined to find out what it is.

Negotiating with Arobbyn Hamel for support and the wyrdkey will be far from simple for Aelin. If she is to succeed in her plan though, she’ll have to accomplish many other things before she’s done, if she ever will be.

Can Aelin save the people she loves while playing a dangerous game of power?

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Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire by Josephine AngeliniTitle: Trial by Fire
Author: Josephine Angelini
Series: Worldwalkers Trilogy | Book 1
Pages: 400
Publisher: Square Fish (September 1, 2015)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The first novel of the Worldwalkers trilogy, Trial by Fire, by Josephine Angelini, tells the story of a girl named Lily Proctor with life threatening allergies.

After a humiliating incident at her first party, Lily Proctor begins to hear a voice in her head. Her voice, to be exact, but it isn’t quite her voice. The voice sounds exactly like hers’, except she knows that those words inside her mind are not of her own.

You are sick in this world. Come to me and be the most powerful person in the world. The voice urges Lily.

Lily refuses though and the voice fades away into silence. But after Lily has a terrible argument with her best friend, Tristan, the voice asks again: Are you ready to go now? This time Lily replies, “Yes. I’m done here.

It will be terrifying. It was for me. The voice tells Lily. In a matter of seconds, Lily finds herself in a different Salem, Massachusetts.

In this parallel world, Lily is a witch who rules Salem. And what makes her weak in her home universe, her allergies, makes her a powerful witch here. Her counterpart, Lillian, summoned her to this world. Before Lillian can use Lily though, Lily runs and is captured by rebels. The rebels make a deal with her: if she can save them from Lillian, then they will help her go home.

But “How can she be the savior of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?”

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Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

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reinodemismediasverdades.blogspot.com

Title: Heir of Fire
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass Series | Book 3
Pages: 592
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Reprint edition (September 1, 2015)
Rating: 5 stars (Read It!)

The third novel of the Throne of Glass series, Heir of Fire, by Sarah J. Maas describes assassin Celaena Sardothien’s journey in Wendlyn with the Fae.

CAUTION: SPOILER ALERT if you’ve not read Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, or The Assassin’s Blade.

After Chaol–the Captain of the Guard–sells his freedom to give Celaena safety in the continent across the ocean, she aimlessly roams the streets of Varese–Wendlyn’s capital–with a half-forgotten mission: assassinate the royal family of Wendlyn. But Celaena has other ideas. She needs to find out more about the mysterious wyrdkeys–the king of Adarlan’s source of power.

And there’s only one person, or rather Fae, on Wendlyn who can give her answers: Maeve, Queen of the Fae who is also her dreaded aunt. While she’s lounging on the rooftops, one of Maeve’s elite Fae warrior, Rowan, appears with orders to bring her to Maeve. However, nothing comes without a price. To receive answers about the wyrdkeys from Maeve, Celaena must complete training under the instruction of the apathetic Rowan.

As part of her training, Celaena must learn to master her fire magic. But her former master, Arobbyn Hamel, always taught her to fear her magic. Can Celaena conquer her fear?

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