Days of Blood & Starlight, Laini Taylor – Book Review

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Title: Days of Blood & Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young adult, Romance, Paranormal
Order in series: Book # 2 in a trilogy
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Length: 513 pages
(total of 84 chapters + an epilogue)

Synopsis

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

1st sentence

Prague, early May. The sky weighed gray over fairy-tale rooftops, and all the world was watching. 

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What— To continue with the story, of course.

The cover — This time the color is red. In the cover of the first book the name of the author was written in red to introduce the color of the 2nd book so here, the author’s name and the part showing from the praise page is yellow – which is the color of the last book.

My thoughts

As expected I also loved the sequel. Action-packed with so many interesting character development. Karou was busy with Thiago building an army of stronger chimeras while Akiva was trying to save as many of chimeras from being killed by his own people (angels..). Even though there weren’t many times of our couple together it was still exciting to read. I also believe that it made their two brief reunions even more impactful.

Zuzanna and Mick played a bigger role in the second book. They were so adorable and brave in getting themselves involved in the whole unearthly business. It does help that they were also having the time of their lives.
We get some more insight on Akiva’s mother and Jael’s dreadful ambitions. We also have a few flashbacks of the times Akiva spent with Madrigal.
I’m still angry about Hazael’s death. I know that writers always kill characters in YA books but why is it that it’s always the ones who love life and having fun who get killed off?!

I admire Laini Taylor’s storytelling more and more. She’d introduce new characters in a chapter and continue with them in more scenes in a way that keeps you questioning their necessity and then she connects them with a main character in a very clever way.

Ziri, the only surviving kirin left, was an interesting new character. He used to have a crush on Karou and he helps her out in midst of other chimeras who are filled with hate towards her. I liked that he was honest -like when he told Karou that he thought Akiva might have saved his life, he could’ve easily hid that piece of information to himself to not make her like Akiva again but he did what he felt was right.

There was this one scene with Thiago, by the pit, that was rather brutal and rough to read but it just increased my disgust towards the White Wolf. I’m glad we won’t see anymore of him.

Overall

A thrilling read. Seeing both Akiva and Karou leading a rebellion and fighting towards the same cause each in their own world was amazing.       5/5 stars

“It’s not a life worth living,” he said. “Not one worth handing on to children.”
“Children,” said Karou, and she was so bleak–and so beautiful. Akiva couldn’t help himself–he looked at her and looked at her, and he ached, looking, knowing he would never again touch her or see her smile.

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The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Roald Dahl – Book Review

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Title: The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Author: Roald Dahl
Genre: children’s book, classic, humor
Release Date: 1985
Length: 73 pages

Synopsis

A small boy with a desire to own a candy shop meets a window-washing team of a giraffe, a pelican, and a monkey and together they go to work for the wealthy Duke of Hampshire, who makes all their dreams come true.

1st sentence

Not far from where I live there is a queer old empty wooden house standing all by itself on the side of the road. I long to explore inside it but the door is always locked, and when I peer through a window all I can see is darkness and dust.  

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What — Well since my little brother enjoyed the first Roald Dahl book I read him he asked for more, so I guess we’ll make our way through the rest of the books till he gets bored then I’ll finish reading whatever is left. He also wanted a short story this time and he picked this one. 

The cover — All the main characters are crammed in the cover in a very nice way and I love the combination color of green and orange.
The book in the box set has black and white illustrations but I’ve read that The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me is also available as a picture book with colors. 

My thoughts

This is such a sweet and short read about a boy named Billy and the new friends he meets at an abandoned building that used to be a sweet-shop that he’s been admiring for some time. He meets a giraffe, a pelican and a monkey (the ‘Me’ in the title. The monkey keeps on singing and one of the lines he sings is “The giraffe and the  pelly and me!”) and all four start a window washing business, through which they get to work for the Duke who’s quite loud and bossy but ends up giving the 3 animals and the boy everything they desire. 

My little brother loved the part with the thief who stole the duchess’ jewelry and the way she reacted with her loud opera voice.
As for me, I really liked the reference to Willy Wonka’s Factory (from the author’s famous book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). In the book Billy asks the Duke for his help to make the building he admires into a candy shop and so he does and Billy orders candy and chocolate from all over the world, which also includes special candy form Wonka’s factory and I loved that Dahl included that here. 

Overall          

A nice story to read to little kids. There aren’t lots of funny moments in this book but you’ll enjoy Dahl’s writing and of course Quentin Blake’s marvelous illustrations.    4/5 stars

The Giraffe stooped low and went out through the tall door. The Monkey jumped off the window-sill on to the Giraffe’s back. The Pelican, with me in his beak hanging on for dear life, flew across and perched on the very top of the Giraffe’s head. And away we went.

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The Enormous Crocodile, Roald Dahl – Book Review

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Title: The Enormous Crocodile
Author: Roald Dahl
Genre: children’s book, picture book
Release Date: November 1, 1978
Length: 60 pages

Synopsis

The ENORMOUS CROCODILE is planning what to have for his lunch.
This FOUL FIEND – the greediest croc in the whole river – wants to eat something JUICY and DELICIOUS.
His TEETH sparkle like knives in the sun and he’s getting HUNGRIER and HUNGRIER.
But what can the greedy, grumptious BRUTE guzzle up?
BEWARE! He’s looking for someone …
someone that looks a lot like YOU …

1st sentence

In the biggest, brownest muddiest river in Africa, two crocodiles lay with their heads just above the water. One of the crocodiles was enormous. The other was not so big.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What — Well, we were in a bookstore and my brother was going through Roald Dahl’s books saying “we have this and this and this…” then he spotted The Enormous Crocodile -which isn’t included in the Roald Dahl box set I have- and said “What’s that? Why don’t we have this? look, there’s colors inside … get it .. GET IT NOW.” so, I had no choice but to get it after making him promise to listen to the whole book or else I’m returning it.

The cover — Unlike the books in the box set, the cover of this book has some parts -the book title, author’s name and the crocodile- popped out of the cover a little. Also, the inside of the cover includes the synopsis written in yellow with a red background while the inside of the back contains a collage of 16 of Roald Dahl’s books.
The cover is quite creepy with the kids scared of one hungry crocodile. 

My thoughts

This book follows a crocodile who decides to leave the river in search of juicy children to eat. During his search he encounters different animals who are disgusted by the crocodile’s plans. Later in the story, wherever children are surrounded, the enormous crocodile would disguise himself in many funny, and at times, unbelievable forms in order to attack and eat them. But with each time, he gets his hidden identity discovered by one of the animal characters he’d met before.

Here, Roald Dahl repeats some words over and over (like: enormous, tricks, plans…etc) which helps kids learn that word by heart after they’re done with the story, without even being aware of it themselves. So in a way, the kids will enjoy the funny incidents in the book and learn a few words along the way. 

Some characters mentioned here I’ve seen before in Dahl’s other book The Twits (The Roly-Poly Bird and Muggle-Wump the monkey). So it felt nice seeing characters that we’ve seen in a book we previously read show up here too.

Overall          

A beautiful book with colors that will entertain all children. I also loved it as well.  4.5/5 stars

“I have secret plans and clever tricks,” said the Crocodile.
“You mean you’ve nasty plans and nasty tricks,” said Trunky. “You’ve never done a nice thing in your life.”
The Enormous Crocodile grinned up at Trunky and said:
“I’m off to find a yummy
child for lunch.
Keep listening and you’ll hear
the bones go crunch!”

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Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen – Book Review

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Title
: Northanger Abbey

Author: Jane Austen
Genre: classic, gothic fiction, romance
Release Date: December, 1817
Length: 286 pages
(total of 31 chapters as 2 volumes)

Synopsis

Catherine Morland is a young girl with a very active imagination. Her entry into the fashionable social scene in Bath results in an invitation to stay with new friends at Northanger Abbey, but Catherine’s naivety and love of sensational novels lead to embarrassing and entertaining consequences.

1st sentence

No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What— Having read 3 of Jane Austen books I plan on reading the rest so I picked up Northanger Abbey. I also remember watching the PBS movie when it first came out in 2007.

The cover — This Vintage Classic is very beautiful. Their height are a bit shorter than the usual trade market books and easy to hold. The inside of the cover is the pattern used in Emma, which I also have.

My thoughts

There’s just something about Jane Austen that always captivates me. I love her writing and the stories she created are considered classics for a very good reason.
In this book I liked that she was narrating the story and she kept addressing the reader about certain characters and what to expect next (e.g. “I fear, to the bosom of my readers, who will see in the tell-tale compression of the pages before them, that we are all hastening together to perfect felicity.”) you see, doesn’t it make you feel like you’re getting personal with the author, like she’s reading you a story while sitting in the same table together?

In Northanger Abbey we follow Catherine Morland visiting Bath for the first time and the friends she makes there. She had a very pure and innocent upbringing so she naively assumes that all other people are like her until she discovers the true self of Isabella Thorpe who she befriended and who was  her brother’s fiancee for a while… I really hated Isabella, seriously woman who are you fooling with your fake acts and lies.
Then we have: Henry Tilney, he’s a fun male lead character; he’s sarcastic and honest. I would like to become friends with him and enjoy his company. Henry and Catherine hit it off instantly and I loved reading the parts with the both of them together, you can feel the ‘falling in love with each other so fast’ coming straight out of the pages.

It was nice to have our main character obsessing over gothic novels. Sure it got her to imagine things that led her to some trouble and sadness but it’s the side effect that comes when getting too immersed in a well-written book.

Overall          

A novel that doesn’t get that much love which deserves to be read by more readers.        5/5 stars

….fond of Mrs. Morland, and probably aware that if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad, invited her to go with them. Mr. and Mrs. Morland were are all compliance, and Catherine all happiness.

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Cinder, Marissa Meyer – Book Review

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Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fairy tale, Science Fiction, Romance, Dystopia
Order in series: Book #1 in The Lunar Chronicles
Release Date: January 3, 2012
Length: 387 pages
(total of 38 chapters as 4 parts/books)

Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

1st sentence

The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.

What made me get it and thoughts on the cover

What— I remember wanting to read this book for the longest time. Back when it first came out it was one of the years when I used to read a lot and the idea of a retelling of Cinderella appealed to me but the book wasn’t available in my country then. I finally bought it a few months ago after I was sure that my sister will be able to bring the other books of the series with her from the States (and she did). I decided to make it my first read for October -since it’s my birthday’s month I take extra time in choosing awesome books to read throughout the month.

The cover — I love all the covers of The Lunar Chronicles. Here, I  love the dust jacket with an illustration showing the mix of Cinderella’s slipper with the science fiction part, and I also love the black hardcover with the red engravings on the spine; And the thing I like the most is the font of the text inside; rarely do books get published in a font other than what they normally are printed as, so I liked that the font used here was different.

My thoughts

Cinderella isn’t my favorite Disney movie ’cause I don’t like how the prince never actually got to know her, he just fell for the person he danced with and that’s it. That’s why I prefer retellings of the story which show us the prince getting to know Cinderella before the ball (Luckily there’s a lot of movies out there that did that). 
In this book the concept of the Cinderella story we know is here but everything else is different, I mean she’s actually a cyborg and a lunar and the prince is asian and it’s set in the future. 

I enjoyed all of the characters; Cinder is a strong character that only shows her strength when the situation demands it but when it doesn’t she’s quite calm and patient in enduring the rough times she goes through and I liked that she’s a tom boy (I prefer the female characters that way); Prince Kai is a tall and handsome prince who really cares for the people of his country, what I loved the most about him is his sarcasm, even in serious situations he always has something smart and funny to say; Queen Levana – the villain of the story – well I had so much fun imaging her dialogues being played in my head, she’s elegant and you could feel the amount of fear people have of her with just the mention of her name, I’d like to see more of her in the future books; and Dr.Earland a guy with a secret of his own, he has a certain mission which put him in the gray area, sure he has good intentions to reach a certain goal but the thing he did to reach that were questionable.
Of course, there’s Ika – Cinder’s android – she was sweet and a really good friend to Cinder. And let’s not forget Cinder’s mean stepmother and stepsisters, Pearl and Peony, Peony was nice though and her storyline was sad. Oh, and there’s Torin, the prince’s adviser, he’s this silent character who always seems to know how to calm a political argument.

The chemistry between Cinder and Kai was great, loved their banter and the prince’s flirtations. In their situation it was Cinder who knew everything about him from their first meeting since the prince’s face is everywhere, he was always in the unknown with her and even when all the truths of Cinder were revealed in the end I liked how he took her side and defended her even when he discovered that she’s of the race he despises. So I do forgive him for his anger towards her, he was okay with everything but when he discovered that’s she’s a lunar with the capability of brainwashing others it’s very natural for him to misunderstand her.

 I was shocked with the open ending, I thought that each book dealt with the titular character’s story but with an the ending we got I sure hope that we’ll see the continuation of their story in Scarlet.
Cress was introduced in this book and Winter was mentioned. So I can’t wait to read more about them in the other books.
One last thing, I liked the reference of her escape car looking like a pumpkin, get it?

Overall          

If you’re a fan of fairy tales, like me, then you’d definitely enjoy reading this book. The only thing that I felt was weak is the writing; for some reason I wasn’t that impressed with the writing style of the author, I felt it was too simple and direct. The good concept is what saved the book.     4.5/5 stars

Kai tilted his head, peering at her as if he could see right through to the metal plate in her head. The intensity of his gaze didn’t mellow. “I think you should go to the ball with me.”
She clutched her fingers. His expression was too genuine, too sure. Her nerves tingled. “Stars,” she muttered. “Didn’t you already ask me that?”
“I’m hoping for a more favorable answer this time. And I seem to be getting more desperate by the minute.”
“How charming.”
Kai’s lips twitched. “Please?”
“Why?”
“Why not?”
“I mean, why me?”
Kai hooked his thumbs on his pockets. “So if my escape hover breaks down, I’ll have someone on hand to fix it?”

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