Featured Review: "Talon" by Julie Kagawa »

December 31, 2014

Happy New Year! Last Post of 2014 ♡

Happy 2015 everybody! ♡ Although it is still 2014 here in Toronto, I'm sure many of you have already crossed over to the new year!

How has this past year been for all of you? It has been incredibly tough for me; I went through a ton of pain and wept a ton of tears. Things just kept on turning out terribly for me this year, but hey, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

Shout out to all my good ol' friends (Mel, Rachel, Sam, Hilda, Joie, Natalia-oneechan) in this blogging community! You are all awesome, and even though some of you don't regularly blog anymore (I don't either, eek!), and some of you still do, I wish you girls the best for the new year.

Honourable Mentions for 2014

● The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran ●

This is one of those books that really changes your life. It is a masterpiece of moral philosophy, and is a collection of poems on numerous aspects of human life, such as 'Joy and Sorrow', 'Love', 'Pain', 'Self-Knowledge', 'Freedom', and more. Whenever I feel like I've lost my way in life, or need a bit of  guidance, I reach for this book. This particular edition also features beautiful artwork by Gibran himself. Whether you are in your teens like me, or in your twenties, or forties, I highly recommend this short collection to everyone. Even if your own morality does not perfectly align with Gibran's, it is still a thought-provoking and brilliant work of literature.

● Kafka on the Shore, by Haruka Murakami ●

My first Murakami book, and it absolutely blew me away! The day after returning my library copy, I went to the book store and bought my own. I even have stickies labeling sections that I particularly enjoyed, which I go back and reread every now and then. This is definitely not a book for the faint of heart, because it is psychological fantasy that delves to very complex depths. Also, there are certain sections of it that are really gruesome, so definitely 18+. It is beautifully written, intellectually challenging, and an absolutely amazing read.
● Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn ●

 I finally gave in to the 'Gone Girl' hype this November. This book will twist your brain into knots, light it on fire and bam!- blow it to bits. It is all just so...messed up...and sick...but shocking and amazing too. There's really no other way to describe it. I'm not brave enough to watch the movie though, but a friend informed me that it was "pretty well done".

Ushering in 2015

These aren't necessarily special picks for the new year; they just happened to be at the library today so I took them out, haha!
● The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne ●

When I was going through a lot of obstacles during 2014, I started searching online for anything that would help me to get back on my feet. One day, I found the website for The Secret, and turns out, it's a self-help book that enables people to unlock and utilize the Law of Attraction to live happier and healthier lives. The mini passages on the website definitely helped me, so I have decided to now read the book itself.

● Beautiful Disaster, by Jamie McGuire ●

Remember this?! All of us book bloggers a couple years back will definitely remember this title. The blogosphere was in complete juxtaposition, just like the two words in the book's title. Reviewers either absolutely loved it, or completely hated it. I'm super late on jumping the bandwagon, but definitely curious on which side I'll be falling on.

That's about it for this final 2014 post. Thanks for reading, as always! 
Vivian ♡

December 20, 2014

"Talon" by Julie Kagawa

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17331828-talon?ac=1[Click the cover for Goodreads]

Title: Talon (Talon #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publication: 2014, Harlequin Teen
Summary: Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.  

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught....read more

Review: "Talon" is an imaginative and passionate dive into a quasi-realistic fantasy world that has humans and dragons in heated conflict. The dragons' population is controlled under the regime and protection of an organization named Talon. Facing the dragons across from the battle field is St. George, a human organization that is dedicated to hunting down and killing the dragons. After her iconic The Iron Fey and the more recent Blood of Eden series, Julie Kagawa is back with full steam ahead in the first installment for her latest fantasy series. 

The thing with the changing point-of-view approach in writing a book is to find a good consistency in spacing so that the reader will not be confused or frustrated with following the characters through the plot line. I personally wince a bit every time I find out that a book I'm reading is employing this technique. Thankfully, Julie Kagawa manages to pull off the switching POV very well. The book flows seamlessly, with small and nicely executed overlaps in between the POV switches that makes sure the reader won't get lost in the action. Kagawa's characters are also very distinct from each other, therefore making it easy and comfortable to adjust to each character's first-person narration. 

Julie Kagawa's female protagonists are always top tier. Strong, opinionated, and courageous, it is obvious that Ember is cut from the same cloth as Meghan and Allison, but at the same time, she is still unique and impressionable, even when compared to Kagawa's other "daughters". Ember is very likable and it is easy to empathize with her. As the main protagonist, she is fantastic and I have confidence that Kagawa will be able to create a very memorable and brilliant future for her in the following books. The rest of the cast in "Talon" is just as well created and characterized. There are strong and resolved characters, evil characters, charming characters, but there was never a moment where I felt annoyed with a character. This made my experience of reading "Talon" completely enjoyable and positive, albeit never boring. 

"Talon" was a joyride that spanned a generous story line, but still made me feel like I wanted so much more. This book is packed with exciting action, beautiful and touching moments, and magnetic characters and interpersonal chemistry. The plot line started out simple, but it escalated in complexity bit by bit until it became a sophisticated tangle of characters, events, and emotions that made me equally excited and anxious about what's going to happen next. Regarding those emotions, they were built up over time so exquisitely and naturally, with not a hint of abruptness. The pacing was steady and controlled, with oscillating intensity that made this book a consistently entertaining and addicting read from front cover to back. 

I am completely captivated by the characters in "Talon", and am really looking forward to the next book in the series!

Rating: ✰✰✰✰ 4.5 Dragon Scales

Final Notes: I remember reading some earlier reviews for "Talon" and some bloggers seemed disappointed, so I went into it without much expectation. Boy, did I love it though! This is honestly the best cup-of-tea for me out of all of Julie's books (aside from The Iron Knight of course), and I enjoyed "Talon" more than "The Immortal Rules", which I know may seem like a total surprise for some people. Also, it was entertaining that my university has three campuses and one of them is known as the St. George campus, haha! ...Does that make me a dragon slaying St. George soldier...? Yikes!

Thanks for reading! Vivian 

June 14, 2014

"Surrender" by Lee Nichols

[Click the cover for Goodreads]

Title: Surrender (Haunting Emma #3)
Author: Lee Nichols
Publication: 2011, Bloomsbury
Summary: After a devastating battle at headquarters in New York, the ghostkeeping world is in shambles. When Emma and Bennett return home, they are determined to defeat the wraithmaster, Neos, forever. But it's not going to be easy. Bennett's parents kick him out when they realize he is still using drugs to enhance his powers. Emma is convinced her aunt has come back from the dead...read more

Review: As the final installment of the charming paranormal trilogy Haunting Emma, "Surrender" delivers an adequate amount of intensity but overall, I felt that it didn't quite hit home. Instead of a motor propelling the plot through from head to tail, "Surrender" adapted the style of rest until the last quarter of the book.

Although definitely not a powerful page-turner like the first two books, "Surrender" still brings back our wonderfully delightful and beloved characters, perhaps even at the top of their forms during the ending action scenes. This book was more of Emma and her friends preparing for this last, crucial fight, and also of them having a bit of a break from it all, with Christmas in the air. Although it wasn't as exciting for me as a reader, I felt like they deserved the break. 

The final battle, however, greatly contrasts the previous sections of the book and is an epic whirlwind as "Surrender" inched to the climax. Without fail, the finale itself adds beautiful finishing touches to the trilogy and all is peacefully resolved. 

Somewhat a disappointing book as a whole, especially the plot and the lack of constant drive, but nonetheless it will secure your love for the heart-warming and courageous characters in this boldly entertaining series. I did not enjoy "Surrender" alone as much as I did the first two books, but it definitely didn't reduce any of my admiration for the characters and the trilogy as a whole. 

Rating: ✰✰✰ 3 Final Hoots

Final Notes: I was a bit sad after finishing this one since it just didn't feel like it had the original punch to it. It was still overall a decent read and you should definitely still read the end for this trilogy if you've read the first two books. This trilogy itself, nevertheless, will be remembered by me as a reader for being one of the most awesome ghostbusting-in-style reads in YA.

I'll really miss Emma and her friends and even now, I don't really want this to be the end.

Thanks for reading!

May 22, 2014

"Poison Princess" by Kresley Cole

[Click the cover for Goodreads!]

Title: Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles #1)
Author: Kresley Cole
Publication: 2012, Simon & Schuster
Summary: She could save the world—or destroy it. Sixteen-year-old Evangeline "Evie" Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they're still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux. ...read more 

Review: There is a mature kind of eery darkness that oozes out of Poison Princess that many YA paranormal romances attempt, but do not quite grasp. This YA debut of adult fiction author Kresley Cole most certainly had a twist in flavour to it compared to other YA paranormal reads, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Cole's writing is elegant and well-rounded, yet it effectively portrayed disturbing imagery in Poison Princess. (Yes, a bit of a gruesome details warning) I did not feel that Cole was holding back anything for this YA debut when she could have toned some details down, and I appreciated the sincerity in that.

The book has an alternating first person POV narration, which usually irritates me, but Poison Princess's alternations are between two narrators on two timeline tracks, and the switching points are very far apart. It is artfully orchestrated, feels natural, and by the end, I felt that the technique had framed and displayed the entire storyline incredibly well.

The ideas and plot are all very strong and creative, and although there were some rare slow moments along the way, I was kept overall intrigued and impressed by Cole's vivid diction. In terms of characters, Poison Princess will be entirely a subjective case and that it will depend on you as a reader, whether you like the types of characters that appear in this debut.

I thought all the characters were decently developed, and more and more depth was built in throughout the story. I also personally grew to like the main characters well enough, though not overwhelmingly so. Even for the minor characters, each are unique and fleshed out in their own way. However, Evie may not be your cup-of-tea heroine, nor will you for sure like Jackson as the leading man. (I did like Jackson's slight possessiveness because it was manly and NOT Christian-Grey-psychotic, but see, that's personal taste)

Poison Princess pleasantly surprised me with its depth of delicious darkness and beautiful execution when I sat down expecting another typical YA paranormal. Although I would only direct this book to older audiences (17+), I think this was a very strong YA debut for Kresley Cole and I look forward to reading more from this series.

Rating: ✰✰✰✰ 4 Poisonous Hoots

Thanks for reading!

P.S.  You guys know when you find old money in  an old jacket/jean pocket? That feeling? Well, I just found a bunch of reviews that I had written during my hiatus, for the few books that I did read! So happy that I still have old reviews to debut for you guys, haha! Thanks for dropping by!

May 3, 2014

⚘ Return. Or maybe resurrection? ⚘

I am coming back!! ❤ ...

Or is this more accurately a "resurrection"? I am most certainly not the same girl and neither will this blog be the same in the future. I'm so sorry for leaving this blog and everyone for so long, but all this while, I've never forgotten my little blog and this wonderful community that I have slipped out of temporarily. A sincere apology to all my book blog friends for vanishing for so long. I've really missed you guys a lot :(

Note: I'm really sorry for having to close off access. There was an insane amount of spam coming in and so I hid my blog to throw the spambots off my trail for a while. And then the whole multiple Google+ accounts thing confused me and I couldn't log back in to reopen my blog. Thankfully, everything is sorted out now :)

Sorry everyone :(
Things will not be the same as before; perhaps that's why "resurrection" is more accurate than "return". Nevertheless, despite any new changes, I hope that any readers passing through will still find something to their liking.

This post will most likely fall under the eyes of ghosts but I truly hope this new reborn version of my blog will be a place of happy literary explorations. That is the same idea that I started this blog with, and the sincerity of it is what I'd like to preserve. ♡

Yours truly,