fantasy

Wounded Little Gods by Eliza Victoria

29413691Title: Wounded Little Gods

Author: Eliza Victoria

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Regina was born and raised in the small town of Heridos, where gods and spirits walked the earth.

Until they didn’t.

Ten years ago, the whole town produced a bad harvest – rice grains as black as soot – and the people of the town moved on, away from the soil and the farms, believing the gods and spirits have abandoned them.

It is ten years later, on a Friday before a long weekend, and Regina ends her shift at an office in Makati. She walks home with a new colleague named Diana. Diana, following a strange and disturbing conversation with Regina, does not appear at the office on Monday, and the day after that.

And the day after that.

On Thursday, Regina opens her bag and finds a folded piece of paper filled with Diana’s handwriting.

On the page are two names and a strange map that will send Regina home.

Wounded Little Gods is one of those books you can easily read in one sitting. Not simply because it’s short, but because it draws you in and invites you on quite an interesting ride.

The story revolves around Regina, a young woman who has a strange conversation with her new colleague, Diana. Shortly after their odd encounter, Diana disappears, leaving behind a strange map that takes Regina back to her hometown of Heridos. She unearths a mystery filled with strange rumors and whispers about human experiments held in a medical facility no one seems to know about.

There isn’t much I can say about this book without giving the plot away, but I have to say I really, really liked the strange combination of medical experiments and spirits/gods that are both parts of the plot. How interesting to see how human experiments–often a product of people who act like gods–somehow intertwine with the very same spirits/gods that people believe in and imagine themselves to be.

This is a delightful book that gives us appearances of the old Filipino gods, throws in a little bit of horrifying Philippine history, and combines both elements to create a delicious story that mixes both fantasy and history together quite well.

I’d have given this a higher rating but I was confused for quite a while because I had initially though the book was about a curse on Heridos, based on the book’s summary. Instead, I found myself on a wild goose chase involving experiments and spirits, and it took me a while to adjust and realize that the book wasn’t really about the town at all, but more about gods and humans and how we all make mistakes–and how sometimes, those mistakes take away the most precious things from us. (Which was quite delightful really, but I was confused for most of the book before it dawned on me–I’m slow lol)

 

 

 

 

Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

imagesTitle: Ash & Bramble

Author: Sarah Prineas

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Retelling, Young Adult

the 3 out of 5 stars

Summary:

A prince.

A ball.

A glass slipper left behind at the stroke of midnight.

The tale is told and retold, twisted and tweaked, snipped and stretched, as it leads to happily ever after.

But it is not the true Story.

A dark fortress.

A past forgotten.

A life of servitude.

No one has ever broken free of the Godmother’s terrible stone prison until a girl named Pin attempts a breathless, daring escape. But she discovers that what seems to be freedom is a prison of another kind, one that entangles her in a story that leads to a prince, a kiss, and a clock striking midnight. To unravel herself from this new life, Pin must choose between a prince and another—the one who helped her before and who would give his life for her. Torn, the only thing for her to do is trade in the glass slipper for a sword and find her own destiny.

I enjoyed this book because it has a very interesting approach to fairy tales. There are so many retellings these days that it’s kinda getting old. There’s only so many ways you can twist the story before things start getting repetitive. Or dull. Or maybe I need to start reading a different genre for a change (even though I love retellings!!). Lol.

Fairy tales usually tell the story of a poor, unfortunate girl who gets the happy ending she deserves through magic. In Ash and Bramble, a different point of view is presented. What if there is something more sinister behind the scenes? What if someone is orchestrating these happy endings, and people get hurt in the process? What if people, including the heroine, get forced into roles and have to act them out, with no say in the matter? What if Cinderella’s lovable fairy godmother wasn’t as good and nice as she seemed?

Quite interesting, right? That’s what kept me reading until the end, even though there were several times I was starting to get bored or frustrated.

For one, I disliked how the two main characters used different point of views to tell their side of the story. One minute you’re with Pin, our heroine, walking through corridors and making a nuisance of herself, all while using the first person narrative. Then, just as things get interesting, you suddenly find yourself reading things in the third person, because you’ve switched to Shoe’s (the hero, duh) view of the events. It was confusing the first time, and disconcerting most of the time. And frustrating all the time, because usually whatever is happening to Shoe is boring. It didn’t add to the anticipation of finding out what happens to Pin, it just made me sigh and put the book down and find something else to do.

Another thing I didn’t like, and it’s probably just me being nitpicky, is that I just can’t accept (or imagine) Cinderella in a red dress. Not to mention the description of the dress reminds me of Katniss, the original girl on fire. X’D

At the hem is the faintest hint of ashy gray, but the rest is flowing silk the color of living flame. I burn against the shadowed walls of the dressing room. I turn and the skirt swirls with vermilion and gold and the brilliant crimson of glowing embers. The air shimmers around me as if with the heat of fire.

See what I mean?

All in all, the premise is interesting, but I found the execution lacking. The evil behind the mysterious Story wasn’t explained properly enough for me, and I don’t really like the main characters enough to continue reading this series. I thought the descriptions of things were written quite well, and there’ll probably be more about Story in the next book, but that’s not enough for me to continue, especially when I have a TBR list that’s as high as Mt. Everest. Haha.

The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

18664342Title: The Fever Series

Author: Karen Marie Moning

Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death—a cryptic message on MacKayla Lane’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

I’m reviewing the entire series as a whole because I binge-read it and I have too many feels + it would be too spoilery to review them all. Haha. Also I honestly lack the skill to express just how good this series is so I made this list of reasons why it is amazing and why you should definitely read it:

  1. I read six books in this series in a week. Which is saying something considering how short my attention span is lately. 😄  To be honest, I’ve seen a lot of praise for this on Goodreads. I was hesitant to start the series though, because the cover of Darkfever (at least the first one I saw on Goodreads heh) looked like something from the New Adult genre and I wasn’t in the mood to read NA. But now I’m really, really glad I read the series because it was so much more than I ever expected. 
  2. The characters. Ms. Moning is an excellent writer who gives us well-written, complicated characters that you just can’t help but love and cheer for. The main characters, Mac and Barrons, are the epitome of everything I hate in characters. Mac is that silly, spoiled, weak, selfish girly girl who whines a lot. Barrons is a douchebag who is possessive and violent and the ultimate alpha male. Despite that, I love them. I’ll admit I was pretty annoyed while I read Darkfever, but they grew on me. It’s amazing. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I love them so so much that I am already dying for the next book, which doesn’t come out until next year. RIP me. I particularly love Mac soooo much, she’s an excellent example that female characters CAN be as tough as nails (ala Katniss Everdeen) AND enjoy fashion/shopping/painting your nails/etc too. Because being feminine doesn’t mean you’re weak! The Unseelie King is another fave, but I refuse to say anything else because everything is potentially spoiler-ish. Lol.
  3. The world-building. Even if for nothing else, read it for the magnificent world Ms. Moning has created. My mind was blown away by the different courts and kinds of Fae she created. I want to live in this world, even if it’s only so I can meet Barrons i’m so shallow lmao Just keep those fecking Shades away from me! I’m afraid Ms. Moning has upped my standards to impossibly high levels for urban fantasy and Fae-related stories because this is probably the best Fae-related plot I’ve read.
  4. Excellent writing. I’m super super glad there were three public holidays last week because I spent them all hiding underneath the sheets while reading the books. I couldn’t put them down, even when I was freaking out because the Shades are so scary and and my brain was frantically wondering if they’re nomming on me now in the dark? but who cares because I need to know who killed Alina and what the hell Barrons is and how Mac is going to survive all this shit?? Also can I just say that it is super, super awesome how Mac gets into shit and she always gets out of it herself instead of Barrons or V’lane or some other guy swooping in to save her?? Mac is awesome, guys.

Confession time: Okay, fine, I skipped Iced because Dani’s way of talking annoys me so I don’t know if I can survive a whole book of “fecks” and “dudes” but I will attempt to read this eventually!! I mean, I love Dani but I can only stand her in small doses :(((( I’m hoping this will change when I get around to reading Iced. X’D

 

Rook by Daniel O’Malley

10836728Title: Rook (The Checquy Files #1)

Author: Daniel O’Malley

Genre: Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Mystery 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

“The body you are wearing used to be mine.” So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her. She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own. In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined. Filled with characters both fascinating and fantastical, THE ROOK is a richly inventive, suspenseful, and often wry thriller that marks an ambitious debut from a promising young writer.

“The body you are wearing used to be mine.”

It’s an intriguing start for a book, one that wanna makes you read on. Unfortunately, the info dumps in the first half of the book that so conveniently spell out everything for our amnesiac heroine almost put me to sleep. I almost DNF’d this because I kept falling asleep in the middle of a looong explanation about someone or something related to the Checquy.

Now, I’m not a hater of info dumps. I’ve read and loved many books, such as Feed and Ready Player One, that have a lot of information thrown at you. I quite like explanations, really, because it helps me understand the characters and the world they live in better. So I guess Rook was an exception. Sometimes the explanations were so long that I wanted to just throw the book away. I honestly don’t know how Myfanwy managed to read and absorb so much of that huge purple encyclopedia binder she carried around in such a short span of time.

I actually managed to completely miss an important plot twist because I was skimming some parts out of sheer boredom. I only realized it when people started getting murdered and I went back and reread stuff to get what was happening. Lol.

Another thing about the info dumps was they would pop up just as things were getting exciting. Here we have Myfanwy struggling in the present with some Chequy problem and just as it’s starting to get good, bam! Hello information from past self, let’s just fall asleep for a while. Instead of making me highly anticipate what the explanation was about and how it would help Myfanwy in her present sticky situation, it just made me close the book and go to sleep. Oop.

Despite all my whining, don’t let that put you off this book. I really enjoyed the humor throughout the book. It was quite entertaining and probably the sole reason why I slogged through the first, very slow part of the book.

The Chequy, which is a supernatural CIA-ish branch of the British government, and the people working for it were all interesting and, despite the info dumps I did not really enjoy, it’s quite an amazing organization. It doesn’t hurt that people have weird, random powers that ranged from really creepy to super cool.

Another intriguing thing that kept me reading is Myfanwy, both her past and present self. Past Myfanwy was a brilliant but passive administrator who had excellent organization skills. Present Myfanwy maintains that brilliance but drops the passive nature along with the loss of her memory. It was quite intriguing (and amusing, if a bit baffling) to see how an amnesiac managed to fool a whole branch of CIA-ish people into thinking she was quite all right WHILE trying to sniff out a traitor. Although sometimes it just wasn’t that believable that she managed so well and barely anyone was suspicious, especially since she started acting quite different from her past self.

The second half picks up the pace and makes up for all the complaining I had during the first half. A lot of shit happens, including people getting killed, creepy supposedly imaginary organizations come to life, not to mention Myfanwy meets her estranged sister.

There’s quite a lot going on in this book, which is surprising when I remember the first half, but the British humor is so on point here. I looove it so much. Despite the fact that Rook is a book filled with gore and murder and crazy shit going on (and a skinless man to boot!), it was quite surprising because I wasn’t really expecting it to be so…dark. I suspect Myfanwy’s humor and sort of laidback attitude throughout the whole ordeal influenced me into not really expecting horrific murders to happen lol. Or at least, read descriptive paragraphs of how people were being murdered. Heh.

I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series, if only so I can enjoy more of that dark humor and to learn more about the Chequey and their creepy yet interesting enemy, the Grafters. 😀

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Title: Uprooted

Author: Naomi Novik

Genre: Adventure, Magic, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood’s powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost to the wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia – all the things Agnieszka isn’t – and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.

From the author of the Temeraire series comes this hugely imaginative, engrossing and vivid fantasy novel, inspired by folk and fairy tales. It is perfect reading for fans of Robin Hobb and Trudi Canavan.

My first reaction when I finally finished reading this book:

anigif_enhanced-28672-1393949331-8

And this is coming from a person who is fed up with all the book series that are all the hype these days mainly because it means I have to buy more books that I already do not have room for in my tiny apartment 😄

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

9361589Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction, Magic

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

The night circus, Le Cirque des Reves, is beautiful. I’d like to spend days just lying down and imagining it in my head. Better yet, I’d like it if the circus was real and I could spend nights wandering around, discovering all the wonders it has to offer. I’d be one of the reveurs, always following wherever the circus goes.

But as enchanting as the circus is, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. At the very start, a challenge between two magicians is issued. I waited for this moment, when they would reveal themselves to each other and the competition would commence. The circus tried to distract me, to enchant me with its own magic, but the competition was always in the back of my mind, and I couldn’t help but think, “When is it starting? When will they compete?”

I belatedly realized that it was already underway, I hadn’t even realized it started. It felt so silly, because I had waited and waited only to be told it was already happening. I felt slightly cheated because, although I admire and like the subtlety of the magic weaved through the circus and the story itself, it couldn’t make the disappointment go away. I felt somewhat cheated because the summary promised a “fierce” competition–it didn’t feel fierce at all. How the competition was resolved seemed a bit anti-climatic too because I was expecting too much.

Nevertheless, the circus itself was enough for me to enjoy the book, even though I felt all my waiting for something to happen was wasted. 😄

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner’s Crime

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Genre: High Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement… if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

If there’s one thing to get you out of a slump (read: being too busy/lazy to blog and write reviews), it’s finding the perfect book to make you feel things that demand to be felt and written about. Or else you might explode from all the feels. I don’t think my sister will appreciate seeing my guts all over the house so…here have this messy review. X’D

I wasn’t planning on reading this for a long, long time, considering how long I’ll have to wait again for the next book, but thanks to peer pressure (Thanks Anj for threatening me with spoilers! I hate you! Joke lang haha), I caved in and read it. And couldn’t stop. I tried to read it whenever I could. Heck, I even woke up two hours too early and decided sleep wasn’t as important as finishing this book. Because 3 am decisions are the best decisions amirite?

Nope.

Don’t read this. I swear, you’ll regret it. As the sun started to rise this morning, I felt like crying for the two hours I spent reading. Why did I cave in? Why didn’t I just sleep? SLEEP WAS TOTALLY MORE IMPORTANT THAN THIS. So yeah, don’t read this if you don’t want your heart to be shattered in a million pieces, only for it to heal itself and start hoping for something better to come, only to have it crushed. Again. And again. And agaiiiiiin. (Or yes, if you’re a masochist, you should totally read this and join the rest of who are in agony right now.)

I TOTALLY DID NOT NEED THIS HEARTBREAK. How dare you toy with my emotions, book. How could you make me feel like I was Kestrel, so desperate and lonely and angry because everything was shitty and everything hurts. How could you make me taste Arin’s pain like it was so fucking real that I wanted to weep and tell him to not lose faith, to not give up, to make him just stop walking away because all is not as it seems but he can’t seem to fucking figure that out because he’s so uncertain and feel so much pain and I just want to hug these characters so badly okay ;A;

I am such a mess. Such a terrible mess that I kept stopping while writing this because I kinda want to roll around crying instead. Like all the fucking time. How am I going to survive until next year?

Mini-review spree: Shine, Trese, The False Prince, and Zombies vs. Unicorns

I’ve already read 5 books so far this year and I’m feeling slightly panicky because  something tells me that if I don’t blog about them soon, my lazy ass is gonna just shrug it off and I’ll ignore them forever…and I don’t really want that to happen. Lol.

So to counter my laziness, I figured I’ll do mini-reviews for each book I’ve devoured so far because I figured that if I attempt to blog about them one by one, they might end up as drafts that never see the light of day. (Ugh, I’m sorry I’m so lazy T_T)

These books deserve recognition. Plus, they’re part of my reading challenges. Yes, challenges with an “s” because I am a masochist who wasn’t content with just one challenge. Guess who’s going to be crying at the end of the year as she struggles to complete them all. 😄

The first challenge is the one I posted here, and the second one is a personal goal I decided on not so long ago: read 20 books by Filipino authors this year. I really, definitely need (and want) to be more aware and discover the gems of my own country’s literature.

Anyway, TL;DR: here are the reviews (which are short and probably don’t make much sense because I scribbled them down during lunch, hah)!

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