Tag Archives: adventure

Defy by Sara B. Larson

3 Feb

Defy

author : sara b. larson

pages : [hardcover] 336

memorable quote Sometimes it seemed like those with the most rotten interiors were blessed with the most exquisite exteriors.

favorite characters : marcel & alexa

summary :

A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

review :

I didn’t go into this book with many expectations because I’d just been hearing a lot of buzz about it and thought it’d be interesting to read. Defy is about a girl who disguises herself as a boy so that she can save herself from a terrible fate and join the king’s army instead. In comparison to what would have happened to her as a girl, it’s a great choice. I do love reading books where someone is in disguise and others know nothing about this. The stakes in this were high, the world-building was great, and I was immediately drawn into the story.

I absolutely adored the first half. I really couldn’t stop reading, even when I was supposed to be doing homework instead. The only thing that almost made me put this down was reading about the breeding house. As a woman the very thought made me so uncomfortable and disgusted that I didn’t think I was going to be able to read on about the fates of those girls. While I’m glad that I persisted and realize that it made up just one element of the book . . . it was just terrible.

The second half made me dislike this book. There was too much instant love, too many decisions that made absolutely no sense. There was a huge buildup to a revelation that never really needed to happen which was majorly disappointing. The love triangle grated on my nerves, Alexa-who had been so strong and independent in the first half-was suddenly reduced to tripping over herself and acting in really useless ways once everyone found out she was a girl. Sure, I realized that there would be some changes and knew it was coming just from the summary of the book, but I didn’t realize I would dislike her character for it.

And I didn’t really see the necessity of a sequel for this book. I went in without knowing whether or not it was a series but was frustrated when literally every part of the plot but the love triangle was wrapped up in the end. I don’t know if I’ll pick up the next book.

I did really enjoy the adventurous environment and most of the story presented. It really sparked my imagination and if the second half had been as great as the first, I would have loved this book.

3/5 stars

If you like this book, you might also like Leviathan.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

28 Jan

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

author : karen foxlee

pages : [hardcover] 240

memorable quote And you might think a name is just a name, nothing but a word, but that is not the case. Your name is tacked to you. Where it has joined you, it has seeped into your skin and into your essence and into your soul.

favorite characters : opehlia & the marvelous boy

summary :

A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia’s help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy’s own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

review :

I have a special affection for children’s stories that are modeled after fairy tales. I think  it’s so important for everyone to embrace their imagination and allow it to thrive. While there were some parts of this novel that seemed rushed for me, I really did enjoy it and hope to read more by this author in the future!

Ophelia was a fantastic protagonist. Not only is she still grieving the loss of her mother, something no girl should have to do, she’s small, asthmatic, and her father and sister have changed and seem to have little time for her anymore. Finding a mysterious boy in a museum opens up a whole new world for her. I loved seeing Ophelia change throughout the story and I felt like I could really connect with her, especially her doubts and her hope that everything would turn out alright in the end.

I did get very frustrated with her family in this book, mostly because it was obvious how much she needed them and they tended to ignore her. Of course she was speaking about impossible things so they assumed she was making it all up, but she’s young and deserved more than they gave her. The end settled most of this for me.

Some of the scenes were bothersome because they were more summary than action and I would have liked to have seen how they played out rather than have them told to me. As with my frustration with Ophelia’s family, this was made up for elsewhere, but kept me from giving this read a full 5 stars.

I really think that younger readers will fall in love with this story and the characters in it. Older readers like me will be able to enjoy this quick read. I think it contains a great message as well as two great protagonists to root for!

4/5 stars

If you like this book, you might also like Catalina or A Kiss in Time.

The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten

12 Dec

The Tulip Eaters

author : antoinette van heugtan

pages : [hardcover[ 368

favorite characters : anneke & nora

summary ;

In a riveting exploration of the power the past wields over the present, critically acclaimed author Antoinette van Heugten writes the story of a woman whose child’s life hangs in the balance, forcing her to confront the roots of her family’s troubled history in the dark days of World War II…

It’s the stuff of nightmares: Nora de Jong returns home from work one ordinary day to find her mother has been murdered. Her infant daughter is missing. And the only clue is the body of an unknown man on the living-room floor, clutching a Luger in his cold, dead hand.

Frantic to find Rose, Nora puts aside her grief and frustration to start her own search. But the contents of a locked metal box she finds in her parents’ attic leave her with as many questions as answers—and suggest the killer was not a stranger. Saving her daughter means delving deeper into her family’s darkest history, leading Nora half a world away to Amsterdam, where her own unsettled past and memories of painful heartbreak rush back to haunt her.

As Nora feverishly pieces together the truth from an old family diary, she’s drawn back to a city under Nazi occupation, where her mother’s alliances may have long ago sealed her own–and Rose’s—fate.

review :

I’ve always been fascinated with the World War II era and just in the summary of The Tulip Eaters I could see there were going to be aspects included that I haven’t heard or read much about. The Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, the impact that this has had on the people there, was one story that I’d never considered researching further. Combining those aspects of history with modern incidents, this novel seeks to embrace and explain mysteries from both time periods.

I liked not knowing some answers until the end of the book because I found myself second-guessing my assumptions a lot and this helped me realize that this book is very unpredictable. The main, modern focus of the plot can get a little muddled because there are so many different people involved in it, some of whom are mentioned and never brought back into the story again. Nora sometimes makes leaps that I know, logically, would most likely never be made by people, even someone as desperate as her. Even though in reading the story I knew when she was right and wrong because I had more facts than she did, I also knew that she would never had that same level of confidence.

One other part of the book that distracted me somewhat was the prose. Sometimes when the characters were speaking the dialogue was written in a way I knew no one would naturally say.

Of course the plotline was interesting enough to grip me so that I didn’t consider these aspects constantly. I liked the suspense built over time and the dangerous situations Nora placed herself in because she wanted to get her daughter safely back home. I liked the air of mystery around the crime and the historical significance of it. This makes me what to read more by this author to see what else she might come up with!

I’d recommend this book to fans of history, crime novels, and suspense.

5/5 stars

Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck

25 May

Tiger’s Curse

author: collen houck

the tiger saga #1
book 2: tiger’s quest
book 3: tiger’s voyage
book 4: tiger’s destiny

pages : [paperback] 406

memorable quote: What is real and what is not is for your heart to decide and for your heart to know.

favorite characters: ren & kishan

summary:

Passion. Fate. Loyalty.
Would you risk it all to change your destiny?
The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and  mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.
Tiger’s Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.

review:

Oh, have I waited too long to read this book!

I’ve been stalking it ever since it was first released, wanting for my prey to come out in paperback. And that will be my only reference to tigers. I promise.

When I had the opportunity to get and read this book, there was no way that I was turning it down. If there is any genre (or sub-genre) that I’m always interested in, it’s retold or modernized fairy tales. Tiger’s Curse is different from anything I’ve ever read because it blends Indian culture and legend with the modern age, an American girl, and a plot reminiscant of Beauty and the Beast.

I loved the characters of this book! From the minor ones, gracing only a few pages, to people like Kelsey, Ren, and Mr. Kadam. Truthfully, at first, I didn’t think that I was going to like Kelsey. Her decisions seemed to come from nowhere and often frustrated me when I couldn’t see the sense behind any of it. But as her character began to come together and more of her past was revealed to tie in with her emotions, it was all perfect to me.

The one negative aspect that stuck with me for the entirety of the book was the stiffness of some of the dialogue. The descriptive scenes were beautiful and captivating. I could picture the landscapes and imagine that I was adventuring along with Kelsey and her tiger. But some of the things the characters said sounded too much like what another person would give them to say rather than having them speak in their own words. It reminded me that I was reading a book, while in other sections I was able to lose myself among the pages. I’m hoping that in the next books this won’t be so apparent to me.

Which leads to me saying that I need to get my hands on Tiger’s Quest, the second book in the saga, immediately. I need to know what’s going to happen, with a wonderfully orchestrated ending like that! Tiger’s Curse left me wanting so much more! I loved the challenges that Kelsey has to face, both the supernatural and the things that every teenage girl goes up against, the love interest, the banter, the antagonist . . . All in all, this book is an amazing mesh of different elements that I’m sure many, many other people will love as much as I do! I recommend this for YA fans, people who like mythology and fairy tales, Indian culture, and a great, great read.

POUNCE ON ANY OPPORTUNITY TO READ THIS. 5/5 stars

Want to learn more about the author?
Read this interview about her characters, the world of Tiger’s Curse, and its new paperback release!

What makes the paperback release different from the hardcover? The paperback release will bring in a whole other group of readers. I have several friends who prefer reading paperbacks over carrying around the heavier hardcovers and they’re very excited to get their hands on this new version. There is also the chance to update the book and add bonus material which all my fans know I love to write.

What are you most excited about with the paperback? I’m very excited to share Kelsey’s recipes! I’m a foodie as most of you can tell from my books and I can say from experience that there’s nothing better than sitting down with a new paperback and a hot batch of Ren’s cookies. Light a sandalwood candle too and it’s like you’re in the story.

 Is there something you can tell us about Tiger’s Curse that no one else knows? Yes! Pay close attention to Kelsey’s dreams because they are foreshadows of things to come later on in the series.

 Ren or Kishan? I honestly love both brothers and want both of them to get their happy endings. I didn’t think I’d love Kishan as much as I do but he has solidly wedged himself into my heart.

Kelsey can be sassy! Why did you choose to make her character so empowered? I wanted a heroine who could do all the cool things I’d like to do. I was a big fan of Wonder Woman. She was beautiful and could do amazing things. That’s what I wanted for Kelsey. My hope is that my female readers will see that ordinary girls can do extraordinary things.

Has your day-to-day changed since becoming a NYT bestselling author?!? What does your husband think about it? My day to day just gets busier and more hectic every week that passes. My favorite time is when I can just sit down at my computer and get lost in my story. My husband is proud and amazed. He likes to brag about his author wife to perfect strangers and hands out book marks to everyone he meets.

Last question—do you plan on visiting India? You’ve already done so much research about it! I have no immediate plans but I would LOVE to go. I think it would be amazing to see all the locations I’ve written about. I made a real effort as I wrote to layer my fantasy world on top of real world places because I like the idea of feeling like you could actually step through a doorway into another world.

Anyone else out there have a massive sweet tooth? I know that I do! I can’t wait to try out this recipe for cookies, courtesy of the prince himself:

Ren’s Cookies

2 sticks of butter

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ tsp vanilla

¼ tsp salt

¾ cup dark coco powder

2 cups flour

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 bag of chocolate chips

¾ cup smooth peanut butter

½ cup brown sugar

Cream the butter then add sugars. When it’s light and fluffy, add eggs and vanilla. Sift the next 5 dry ingredients and mix with the wet until thoroughly combined. Add one package of chocolate chips (or as many as you like!) to the dough. Mix together the next 2 ingredients to make the peanut butter filling. Then place a spoonful of the chocolate dough on a baking sheet, top with some peanut butter filling, and cover with some more chocolate dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-20 minutes depending on cookie size.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

16 Mar

The Princess Bride

Author: William Goldman

Pages [paperback]: 456

memorable quote:
Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

favorite characters: inigo & fezzik

summary:

As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini-the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik-the gentle giant; Inigo-the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen-the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.

review:

I’ve wanted to read this book, badly, ever since I first randomly caught the movie on TV. I loved the humor of it, and the adventure, and the romance . . . And I’m happy to say that I loved the novel just as much. Maybe more, because there was much more to offer. The details, a writing style until any other I’ve come across before, the little quips the characters make . . . Is it possible to be in love with a book?

What always grabs me about any favorite book of mine is that it’s different from the norm. ‘Different’ can be an entire range of things, from out of this world characterization to insightful ideas to, what caught me in The Princess Bride, a unique narrative voice and a story that held both a satirical and fairy tale quality to it. I think anyone who can pull that off is pretty awesome.

This is a book that actually made me want to read the introduction. I know. Usually those are only included in things I need to read for school, are dull and droll and dry. Basically the last thing I need to do is make myself hate the story before it’s even begun. Completely different case here. I expected to read a page or two, get bored and skip to the actual story. Didn’t happen. It actually made me look forward to the story more, like the author a whole lot more, laugh at loud and make everyone around me think I was crazy . . .

Well. Not everything can be perfect.

This is a book where you can like the minor characters as much as, and more than, the major ones. In the beginning, I thought I wouldn’t like Buttercup at all because, well, she can be a real idiot. But she’s funny. And that makes all the difference. Once I got over her (about ten pages in) it was easy enough to accept everyone else. I particularly loved Inigo and Fezzick, their rhyming together, and generally amazing abilities to not die.

This is a book I’ll read again and again and again. And I really want to watch the movie right now. It’s been a while, but while I was reading I could see clearly which movie scenes fit in where and which lines had been put directly into the film. That was fantastic as well. To anyone who’s watched the movie, go read the book. Please. If you haven’t done either, do both. And if you’ve just read the book . . . Go watch the movie already.

A NEW FAVORITE. 5/5 stars

Storm Thief by Chris Wooding

10 Jul

Storm Thief

Author: Chris Wooding

Pages [paperback]: 310

Opening Lines: The seabird slid through the black sky beneath the blanket of cloud, its feathers ruffling fitfully as it was buffeted by the changing winds.

Favorite Characters: Rail & Moa

Summary:

The city of Orokos has been lashed by probability storms-violent tempests that change whatever they touch. When a probability storm hits, streets are rearranged, children are turned to glass, rivers break from their banks, and life suddenly becomes death. Nothing is stable. Everyone is vulnerable.

Rail has struggled with the effects of one such storm for years; when he was hit, he lost the ability to breathe freely. Moa has also seen her share of struggle-as the daughter of dead rebels, as an outcast, as a criminal. Now they have uncovered their first taste of fortune: a strange artifact wanted by the most powerful people in the city. As with most fortunes, this one comes with a price.

The mysterious object is a gift to any thief. But could it be more? Rail and Moa will have to run, fight, double-cross, steal, and dodge the storms in order to find out . . . and unlock Orokos’s deepest, most dangerous secrets.

Review:

This was the second book I had to read for my assignment in the YA Best Overlooked Book Battle 2011, hosted by Alyssa over at The Shady Glade. I started the book expecting to like it, just from reading the summary and looking at that awesome book cover. And when it was over, I was happy to see that I was right.

Storm Thief follows two unlikely heroes, who work against the odds to make their lives better and to survive day by day. Barely having enough to eat, having to steal to live, when they find an old artifact with powers greater than they could have imagined, Rail and Moa think that perhaps their luck has finally turned. Little do they know that their real adventure has just begun.

This book was very easy to read, and I flew through it. It never lacked for twists and turns, pulling out new surprises every so often to keep things interesting and keep me hooked. It worked well, and had me clamoring for more.

Because of this, there was only one thing I didn’t like about the book: the ending. It was vague in some parts, detailed in others, but overall is was unsatisfying. Not enough that it detracted from my enjoyment, but it made me want a sequel, which I don’t think is going to happen, as far as I know. Definitely one of the downsides.

I give Storm Thief 5/5 stars. It was a good read that I really liked and might read again sometime.

Books to Movies: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

18 Jan

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in theaters now, is the third movie released in the world of Narnia. The series is unique in that the books were written, published, and established chronologically in completely different orders. Now, the movie order is added to that list, as The Magician’s Nephew, technically the first of the books, and The Horse and His Boy, the third, have been skipped. Presumably this is because most of the characters in those novels are not in the movies now being shown; viewers would be confused when confronted with the completely different storyline.

That said, when I saw The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (okay, I’ve just called it Narnia 3 for . . . ever, actually. The other title seemed too long), I was disappointed with how much was changed. I expected a difference because that’s the norm, but this whole mysterious ‘mist’ that was . . . attacking everyone? The root of all evil, or something? Yeah, I never heard of it before . . . To give the movie a more structured plotline, the mist was added in. It did add nice moral themes to the story.

I did enjoy seeing Ben Barnes again. ;) Caspian is definitely one character I’m going to miss.

I loved the Narnia books (they totally made my childhood) and am loving the movies. Though a lot has changed, it doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastically made. The special effects (as well as I can judge, and I know nothing about them xD) were great, and it’s a fun adventure film.

Except for that sea serpent. Ugh, I’m going to have nightmares.

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