Book Review: Zali Luna: Movie Star

Book Title: Zali Luna: Movie Star

Author: Emma Jamvold

Genre: YA Contemporary

Ratings: DNF

Sixteen-year-old school girl Zali Luna has just been cast in her first Very Big Movie. But while going to Sydney and working with her gorgeous, world famous co-star Oliver Lamond is a dream come true, Zali also has a very big problem. She’s pretty sure that she’s the only sixteen-year-old girl in the world who hasn’t been kissed, and soon she’s going to have to kiss Oliver on screen. Zali’s determined to get some kissing practice in before the big day, but there’s her malicious rival, child star Emma Small to contend with, and then there’s Harry, who may have feelings for Zali that go deeper than just friendship.- Goodreads

Special thanks to Emma Jamvold for providing me a copy of Zali Luna: Movie Star

This book reminds me of a 12 years old diary. The writing is really simple and the description is not vivid enough. Oh and did I mention that I’m not really a fan of love-at-first sight? I accept this request because the blurb sounds good and I thought that it’d be a really fun and light-hearted story – turns out to be a cheesy one.

 

∞ ϟ 9¾ ♔ ⚯͛ △⃒⃘ ➵ ♆

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Book Review: Company Daughter

Book Title: Company Daughter

Author: Callan Primer

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: The Children of Astraea

Ratings: DNF

A girl. A saucepan. A plan to conquer the universe.

Aleta Dinesen doesn’t see the point of hanging around home, not when she can cook a mean paella. But her plan to conquer the universe one meal at a time runs afoul of her overprotective father, commander of a tough mercenary company. And when he puts his foot down, he’s got the firepower to back it up.

Undeterred, Aleta escapes the dreadnaught she calls home one step ahead of the gorgeous, highly disapproving Lieutenant Park, the unlucky young officer tasked with hauling her back. But the universe isn’t the safe place she thought it was. Stranded in a dangerous mining community, she clings to survival by her fingernails. Only by working with someone she can’t stand will she have a chance to escape, proving to everyone that a teenage cook can be the most dangerous force in the universe.

– Goodreads

Special thanks to Sarah Canning for providing me a copy of Company Daughter

I tried picking it up several times but it just didn’t work. I was confused about everything right from the start and couldn’t bring myself to read any further.

∞ ϟ 9¾ ♔ ⚯͛ △⃒⃘ ➵ ♆

Book Discussion: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Book Title: Pivot Point

Author: Kasie West

Genre: YA Sci-fi, Fantasy

★★★★

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
– Goodreads

 
I don’t recommend reading it (especially the ending) just before bed. Although the story doesn’t sound scary at all right now, it creeps you out when you’re reading it.

[If you haven’t read it yet, don’t scroll down. You can’t get spoiled, especially for this book.]

 

The Plot

I swore that I’m going to give it a 3 stars when I’m halfway through the book. Sure, the idea of the Search is fun, but it was quite disappointing as I thought this was going to be an intense sci-fi/paranormal book.
However, the last couple of chapters proved me wrong. I was absorbed in the story and it felt so real.
It was almost 12 am and I was in the toilet brushing my teeth. I was reading the part where Poison kind of took control over Addie’s nervous system and then Bobby locked her in. It was REALLY creepy *shivers*
I guess I shouldn’t have set my expectations that high. The plot wasn’t as epic as I thought it would be, but it’s satisfying.

 

 

The Search

Do you want this superpower? It’s quite useless since you couldn’t change the future, but at least you could take the other path.
It’d be quite creepy though, knowing what would’ve happened (or what will). If I don’t have a friend who can erase my memory, I don’t think I’d enjoy having this power haha.

 

Generally speaking, Pivot Point is quite an interesting book, though I’ve expected more of a memorable and epic story. Anyway, I’d definitely read the sequel later on. What do you think?

 

∞ ϟ 9¾ ♔ ⚯͛ △⃒⃘ ➵ ♆

 

Book Discussion: The One

Book Title: The One

Author: Kiera Cass

Genre: YA Dystopia

(Audiobook)

★★★★ (3.5 stars)

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.
– Goodreads

*Do not read this discussion if you haven’t read the first two book in the Selection Series.*

This series goes from a love-I-don’t-know-how-many-angles to a love-quadrilateral to a love-triangle. It’s just like a reality tv show – loads of dramas and yet highly entertaining. It is a fast read and I’ll recommend to anyone who couldn’t invest time in a big book.
 
Characters

America

I like how America’s able to stand up for what’s right, even if it defies the King. She is courageous and I love that, however, she could be really irritating and annoying. She keeps saying to herself that she needs to tell Maxon about Aspen, and then when the opportunity comes she’ll be like ‘nah not now’ (Seriously?).

Celeste
She changed drastically. I’m glad that she’s now everyone’s bff, but the personality flip is kind of unnatural.
August and Georgia
I want to know more about them! They seem cool 😛
Maxon
Do you think he’d be extremely guilty if he chose Kriss as his wife? Like I just don’t understand how could he change his mind so quickly. At least give America some time to explain and perhaps postpone the engagement (please?)
 
The Plot

It’s very predictable. We all knew that America would be ‘the one’ from the beginning of the series.
YA Dystopian
This book is classified as ‘YA dystopian’, however, It focuses on the romance and the drama, neglecting the world outside the palace. Sure, The One mentions more about the rebellion activities than the first two book, but it’s just not enough.
When I found out that America’s father was a rebel, I was aching to know how it’d affect the plot. How about Kriss? What would happen if America told Maxon about her? Paige, the poor girl on the street – what happened to her afterwards? She literally just pop out for a few seconds and disappears.
I wish Kiera Cass could put more effort in showing the dystopian society instead of focusing on the romance 😦 It’d make the series stands out from other princess books.
(I haven’t read the novellas yet so I might have missed something. )

 
Being Yourself

At the beginning of the book, America suddenly got the idea to be trashy –
‘Oh I should be the one who act first’
*three seconds later*
‘Yup I’m going to seduce the prince’
*a day later*
‘Oh my gosh it was so embarrassing’
*a couple of pages later*
*everything’s normal again as if nothing has happened*
I guess Cass wanted to bring out the message of ‘being yourself’, but the scene feels detached from the whole plot.

 
Audible
I hadn’t listen to any audio books before this one so I don’t know if the narrator did a good job or not. But I did enjoy her ‘Maxon’ voice 🙂
 
The Ratings
You might be wondering –  why on earth would I still give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars if I kept on ranting? The thing is, I’m absorbed in the story. As I’ve said before, this is a reality tv show, and what do reality tv shows do to you? They put superglue on you. Same with this book – even though it has quite a number of flaws, the story’s able to grab my attention. It’s a page-turner (though they’re no pages for me to turn haha).

Also, I understand that the focus of this book is on the romance, not the society. Even though I wish it includes more dystopian elements, I still really enjoyed it.

The Selection Series

The covers
They are beautiful! It’s rare for me to say this as I generally don’t like covers that has real people on it.

The Heir
The next book in this series is going to be released on the 5th of May, 2015. (More details here) I think I’ll read it someday but I won’t rush and get a copy when it’s released.

So what do you think of The One?

∞ ϟ 9¾ ♔ ⚯͛ △⃒⃘ ➵ ♆

Book discussion: Ruin and Rising

Book Title: Ruin and Rising

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Tsarpunk, YA fantasy

★★★★★

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.- Goodreads

 

Hands down this is the best book in the Grisha trilogy.

 

The Characters

Alina

Her character development is amazing. I’m glad that she’s grown so much (as you know, I don’t really like her in Siege and storm)

Mal

I’m still not really fond of him, but it’s good that he has become less emotional and more bearable.

Nikolai

ASDFGHJKL He is THE best. He’s witty and a good leader and I’m so thankful that he doesn’t turn evil (phew). The part when he turned into a Volcra though… I really hope he’ll live a happy life 😦

 
Reference to Russian History
I do see some Russian history reference

  1. Nikolai has a similar name with Tsar Nicholas II (1894-1917). Hopefully I won’t write ‘Nikolai’ in the exam (lol)
  2. The Apparat reminds me of the Orthodox Church in the Romanov Dynasty

 
The Story
I thought Alina would not kill Mal. And it’s kind of weird, how he resurrected. The ending… I feel empty – after embarking on an extraordinary journey, they live an ordinary life again. However, I cannot think of a better one: I want the Darkling to remain evil (and dead), I don’t want Alina to be the queen, and I want Alina to be happy.

Overall I really enjoyed the story and it’s a great sequel (as you all know, sequels can sometimes be disappointing.) I absolutely love the science reference (e.g. refraction, bending light etc.) It’s not pure fantasy, it has science in it (whoop)

A side note: I accidentally flipped to the part where Mal’s discovered as the last amplifier and I was like ‘NO NO SPOILER ARRGH I’m ruined’

 

Good and Evil

Both Alina and the Darkling are very powerful – they are very similar. But what make Alina ‘good’ and the Darkling ‘evil’ are their decisions and how they rule.

Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.

Well, in Alina’s case, it’s faith. Loads of people have faith in her, and because she cares about her followers, people are willing to bow down to her and call her a ‘Saint’. The Darkling uses fear to rule, and his follower only bow down to him because they fear him.

There is no greater power than faith, and there will be non greater army than one driven by it.

To be honest, both Alina and the Darkling are power-hungry. I love how they are very similar, yet so different. Also, characters like Genya and Zoya displayed their bright and dark side throughout the story. Leigh Bardugo makes this message clear – We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are. (what’s up Harry Potter reference)

 

∞ ϟ 9¾ ♔ ⚯͛ △⃒⃘ ➵ ♆

The Grisha Trilogy as a whole

The covers are AMAZING! I can’t choose between these two:

 

Even though it’s not an action-packed fantasy, it brings out important messages. The world building is amazing, and the characters are well developed. There’s no fine line between good and evil – everyone can be both at the same time. I’ll definitely recommend it to those who are new to the fantasy genre and it is one of the best trilogies I’ve read this year 🙂

∞ ϟ 9¾ ♔ ⚯͛ △⃒⃘ ➵ ♆

So what do you think of Ruin and Rising? Are you satisfied with the ending?

Book discussion: Seige and Storm

Book Title: Siege and Storm

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Tsarpunk

★★★★★ (4.5 stars)

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
– Goodreads

This is a sequel to Shadow and Bone. If you haven’t picked it up yet, I recommend you to do so. So far it’s not an action-packed series, but the characters and world building are amazing… So bye! Non-spoiler people!

Tsarpunk
The edition I have includes a Q&A session with the author. One of the questions is about the genre of The Grisha trilogy. It could be classified as High Fantasy or Epic Fantasy, but Leigh Bardugo prefers ‘Tsarpunk’.

So how do you define Tsarpunk?
I’ll say that Tsarpunk is fantasy that takes its inspiration from the aesthetics, culture, politics, and social structure of early 19th century Russia. – Leigh Bardugo

[ Read the full interview here: http://ageofsteam.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/genre-friction-what-is-tsarpunk-by-leigh-bardugo/ ]

‘Tsarpunk’ sounds cool 😂 I’m learning Russian history at school right now and I wrote ‘Tsarpunk’ all over my notes to keep myself from falling asleep. (Shouldn’t be doing that. Whatever.)
Later when people ask me what genre is this trilogy classified as, I’m definitely going to say ‘Tsarpunk’

 

Okay. Enough Tsarpunk. Now let’s move on to my thoughts on the book.

 

Characters
I love how Leigh Bardugo creates the character – even the hero/heroine have their dark side. It makes the characters more human. And this (in addition to the amazing world-building) are the reasons why I still love this trilogy though it’s not that action-packed.

Alina
I was so afraid that Alina would be power-hungry and eventually become the next Darkling (Lightling, maybe). And the fact that she doesn’t tell Mal about the appearances of the Darkling irritates me. I hate it when characters keep ‘secrets’ from each other. However, as I’ve said before, heroine has her dark side, so although I don’t really like her in S&S, her character is interesting.

Mal
I’m never fond of Mal. His relationship with Alina in this book bugs me a lot, but I’m going to wait till I finished the whole series before I comment on his character.

Sturmound
If he doesn’t turn evil, he’s probably my favourite character in this trilogy. He is just AWESOME, but I don’t trust him yet.

 

Faith
Sankta Alina
I like how Leigh Bardugo made the pilgrims worship Alina as a saint. There are something or some messages behind ‘faith’, but I’ll have to wait untill I finish the whole trilogy (again) before I talk about it.

 

The Ratings
The plot of Siege and Storm is pretty good – there are surprises, politics and actions.
The first 2/3 of the book is kind of slow. After coming back to Ravka, the characters have to deal with their personal matters, so that part is not gripping at all. I was ready to give it a 4/5 stars. But then there’s Nickolai’s birthday, and things start to get intense. The final battle is just EPIC. I loved it so much, I just can’t give it a rating lower than S&B.
It’s not a 5/5 stars because I really don’t like Alina keeping secrets, and Mal kind of bugs me. But I’m looking forward to their character development in R&R.

I’m probably going to do a discussion post on the trilogy as a whole.

Book discussion: Shadow and Bone

Book Title: Shadow and Bone

Author:  Leigh Bardugo

Genre: YA Fantasy

★★★★★ (4.5 stars)

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.- Goodreads

I read this back in February. I decided to re-read it because now I own the whole trilogy. Marathon time!

The First Read
It took me quite a while to get used to the world. Back then I haven’t read many fantasy novels so I was quite unfamiliar with what to expect. The names and places were confusing and at some point I had no idea what was happening.
But still, the story was gripping and I loved it.
As I have a bad memory, I don’t really remember my thoughts towards the book. I just know that I was tricked by the Darkling (how naive).

The Second Read
I thought I would forget the whole plot, but I went in knowing what to expect and what’s going to happen in this book, so it wasn’t an exciting and thrilling read. (How I wish I could erase my memory and read it again for the first time) However, I did ‘discover’ some details that I’ve missed in the first read.

The Description
I overlooked the vivid descriptions. I knew the palace is beautiful, I knew the kefta is beautiful, but I didn’t pay attention to the words. I just labeled them in my mind as ‘beautiful’ – they were blurry images in my mind. It’s the process of re-reading it that made me realised how much beauty I’ve missed.

Belonging somewhere

I’m not like you, Mal. I never really fit in the way you did. I never really belonged anywhere.

Alina and Mal are both orphans, but Alina feels like she never really belonged anywhere. Grisha? She’s kind of an outcast and doesn’t really fit in those regular summoners. She belongs to Mal, but she also belongs to herself.

Sometimes we try really hard to fit in somewhere. We feel insecure being ourselves because people will think that we’re strange. ‘Eww weird’
Alina used all her energy and will to suppress her power when she was small. She didn’t want to face the truth because she didn’t want to leave Mal. Now I’m not criticising her decision, it just reminds me that a lot of the time we refuse to be ourselves just to fit in.

The problem with wanting is that is makes us weak. How right he was. I’d wanted so badly to belong somewhere, anywhere. I’d been so eager to please him, so proud to keep his secrets. But I’d never bothered to question what he might really want, what his true motives might be. I’d been too busy imagining myself by his side, the savior of Ravka, most treasured, most desired, like some kind of queen.

The Ratings

Shadow and bone is close to perfect, but I didn’t give it a 5 out of 5 stars because I just feel like there’s something missing. The world building and the characters like Genya and the Darkling are amazing, but it’s not action-packed enough for me. Also, I didn’t really enjoy the ‘running-away’ part because it’s kind of a common thing and sometimes it bugs me. This is a totally personal thing, objectively speaking there’s nothing wrong with this book, I just feel like it hasn’t reached the level of pure epicness.

 

∞ ϟ 9¾ ♔ ⚯͛ △⃒⃘ ➵ ♆

 

I’m definitely excited for the sequels! What do you think of Shadow and Bone? Do you like it? Are you attracted to the Darkling? Comment down below your thoughts!