Monday, 25 August 2014

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant


Book Summary : I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.

And then the games began.

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.

But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out .

My Rating : 3 of 5 stars


My Thoughts : Many readers might get shocked to know this is my first Michael Grant book. Yup, I haven’t yet read Gone series. However, I must accept, my first impression and experience was neither good, nor bad. Messenger of Fear is quite different PNR from its cousins where the genre is concerned. It was blended with gothic horror and a spoonful of mythology, finally garnished with adolescent drama.

The story begins with our protagonist, Mara, waking up in limbo sort of field, engulfed by strange mist pressing close to her. And from the mist appears a mysterious figure, who calls himself the messenger of fear. Mara, as she doesn't remember who she is (except her name, of course) and why she's here, follows the messenger in a game—the price of which she has yet to understand.

As for the story, it was flat, moved at snail’s pace and bored the living shit out of me. Almost nothing happened throughout the story, except the MC witnessing lives and their untold stories, and watched the Messenger deliver penance for their crimes. I understand if the first installment is meant to be the set up for the next ones. So, despite having thought about DNF-ing, I reined my frail penitent from disintegrating into dust and kept reading, only to end up giving it three stars. I think that makes it pretty decent read for me.

The book deals with good amount of social issues teenagers often face; how one moment of mistake can turn their life upside down, how one small action can cost consequence beyond imagination. The book delivered us the definition between right and wrong, myths of warring gods, and the balance that must be kept at any price.

The best thing about the book was its writing. The prose was refined and philosophical in many places, further reinforced the story. The gritty details, and violence described, are still aglow in my mind even after a week of finishing the book.

As for the characters, Mara was rather a flat one with a mature voice of narration. Although I don’t blame her for being so boring, because she was written in such way and was put in situations where she could do nothing but to observe and be horrified at the inexorable images of various lives unfolding before her. At first I was intrigued by her character, but as the book progressed, I started guessing the big twist and my interest lessened.

Messenger of Fear, on the other hand, was a silent and seductive creature thousand times better than his other YA counterparts, trust me. He bears pain of those he inflicted punishments upon, and despite stripped from his humanity, he still longs for his lost love. To me, he was a paradox. A puzzle better remain unsolved till the next installment.

And blessedly, there was no romance.

So, Yay folks, go an pick the book up if you’re in the mood for no lluurrrvvv and want something gory to satisfy your appetite.



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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Blog Tour : The Ghost Bride

Character Spotlight: Ox-headed Demon

Thank you so much for having me! My book, THE GHOST BRIDE, is a historical fantasy set in 1890s colonial Malaya (the old name for Malaysia where I come from) and is about a young Chinese woman who receives a marriage proposal for the son of the wealthiest family in town. The only problem is, he’s dead.

I had a lot of fun writing this book, based as it is on the blurred borderline between spirits and humans. In fact, there's strong Chinese literary tradition of strange tales set in the shadowy, elaborate Chinese ghost world, where nothing is as it seems and beautiful women turn out to be foxes. I enjoyed reading a lot of these stories when I was young, and I also heard many odd stories about ghosts while I was growing up in Malaysia.

When I was writing the second half of THE GHOST BRIDE, when the main character Li Lan ventures into the world of the dead, it seemed natural to populate it with all the colourful and peculiar creatures of Chinese folk beliefs. The animal-headed demons, along with the withered hungry ghosts of those who died with no funeral offerings, tree and plant spirits, dragons, and women with backwards pointing feet. It is a world filled with spirits and ghosts, where the horses, houses, and servants are all made of burned paper funeral offerings.

Structurally, the Chinese Afterlife is often conceived as a bureaucratic version of Imperial China, complete with bribable officials and various Hells where souls are tormented before being reincarnated. In all these stories, there were often references to 牛头马面 - the ox-headed and horse-faced demons of Hell. These were almost exactly as their names describe - animal-headed demons whose jobs were to escort the dead and also act as jailers. You see them also in Japanese depictions of the underworld. Growing up, I often thought it was such a bizarre, yet strangely frightening idea. In real life, oxen and horses are herbivores and to think of them wielding cutlasses and saws was quite disturbing!

In my book, the ox-headed demons appear as general foot soldiers. I debated whether to add the horse-faced demons, but decided that one type of animal was enough. If I ever write a sequel, however, I might have to feature them too. :)

Thank you so much for having me - it’s been a pleasure!

Author Bio: Yangsze Choo is a fourth generation Chinese from Malaysia. After graduating from Harvard, she worked in various corporate jobs while secretly writing fiction between financial spreadsheets. Now a stay-at-home-mum, she writes late at night when her kids have (finally!) gone to sleep. Yangsze eats and reads too much and often does both at her blog http://yschoo.com/



About The Book : Oprah.com’s Book of the Week, a Carnegie Medal nominee, and Goodreads 2013 Best Fantasy finalist. THE GHOST BRIDE is a historical fantasy.

“One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride…”

Li Lan, a young Chinese woman, lives in 1890s colonial Malaya with her quietly ruined father, who returns one evening with a proposition — the fabulously wealthy Lim family want Li Lan to marry their dead son. After a fateful visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets, before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

Now The Giveaway Time.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Don't Forget To Visit Other Tour Stops

Aug 4th Guest Blog @ Fire & Ice
5th Character Spotlight @ Pages From My Thoughts
6th Author Interview @ The Mod Podge Bookshelf
7th Recipe Reveal @ Pieces of Whimsy
8th Character Spotlight @ Gobs and Gobs of Books
11th Guest Blog @ A Dream Within A Dream
12th Recipe Reveal @ Bookish Things and More
13th Author Interview @ Bibliophelia, Please
14th Recipe Reveal @ Fantasy's Ink
15th Character Spotlight @ Addicted Readers

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Bees: A Novel by Laline Paull


Book Summary : The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut.

Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen. Yet Flora has talents that are not typical of her kin. And while mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is reassigned to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. Then she finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous. Enemies roam everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. But Flora cannot help but break the most sacred law of all, and her instinct to serve is overshadowed by a desire, as overwhelming as it is forbidden...

Laline Paull's chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, The Bees is the story of a heroine who changes her destiny and her world.

My Rating : 2 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : I really don't have much words to summarize my thoughts.
description

Once in a while a book comes along that is so original and so inventive that it completely blows you away. But there are some books like The Bees that tried to be unique, but its uniqueness is what causes its downfall. In this book, the bees communicate with one another and honestly, the all too humanization of bees bothered me enough, and when they said ‘amen’—actually said ‘amen’, I knew I was done.

description


It’s the story of Flora 717, a sanitation bee in a bee hive. She has many talents not normally seen in a sanitation bee and this special snowflake of a bee tells us her life story among the hive. When Flora was born, instead of killing her, she was saved and rose to a higher level, where she learnt she had a role to play in the ploy for power. The politics, the religious power play in its complexity in a bee hive seemed too human to me. Now torn between her One Truuueee Wuuv (Yes, our bee MC fell for a certain Sir) and her sacrifice, which side she will choose? With she fight for her fierce love that will that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, and her society—or she will chose the destiny she was meant for.

The plot was decent, and nothing happened much until the end, however the characterization of bees made it difficult for me to push on. The Bees has received comparisons with The Hunger Games and The Handmaiden’s Tale, and I honestly have no idea how. Both are great books in their genre and of history and I don’t see any valid reason behind these comparisons. Sadly, such innovative idea and its imaginative implementation didn't just work for me.




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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid


Book Summary : One girl could change four lives forever…

Mysterious Leila, who is on the road trip of a lifetime, has a habit of crashing into people’s worlds at the moment they need someone the most.

There’s Hudson, who is willing to throw away his dreams for love. And Bree, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. Elliot who believes in happy endings…until his own goes off-script. And Sonia who worries that she’s lost her ability to love.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. But Leila’s trip could help her discover something bigger — that sometimes, the only way to find what you’re looking for is to get lost along the way…

My Rating : 3.5 of 5 stars

My Thoughts : These days, when contemporary are all the rage after the grand success of The Fault in Our Stars, Let's Get Lost didn't deliver me the satisfaction. The writing itself was good, in not great.

The book was a union of four separate stories, every one of them has one character in common—Leila, and her impact on four other characters. While two of the stories kept me upright, the other two bored me to tears. Especially Bree’s story.

For Hudson’s story, it was so-so. It didn't pull me in, neither compelled me to stop reading. I understood his situation perfectly—a moment’s indulgence that tore him between his interview for bright future and the girl he just met. Their encounter might give you sense of an insta-love, however, it didn't bother me, because such happens. In fact, I've seen my own friend falling in love like that, at the first sight. Blessedly, the feeling sticks to likeness rather than love, and slowly develops through the entire night they spent together.

The next was Bree’s story. For me it was the most boring one, uninteresting. I couldn't connect with Bree or her reasons to leave her sister, a sister who, despite her own distraught, loved her so much. And Bree just rubbed it all on her face and run away. How selfish.

The next is optimistic and enthusiastic Elliot, whose story I just luuurrrved. I loved his idea about friendship and love and happy endings, I loved that his utter devotion to his best friend he was secretly in love with, and strongly believes she’ll someday return his love. And his belief was shattered into shards when his story goes off-script. Here, I can’t say anymore, ‘cause that’ll spoil the readers.

The story I most loved Sonia’s. She was a mutli-layered character, her inner turmoil and conflict with herself was presented is a way that touched my heart. Mostly because I've closely experienced something her character had. When she lost her love, she worried she had lost her ability to love too, until she encountered someone else. It was story of self-growth, overcoming her fear, and moving on with life.

All the characters and their stories were bound by a thread called Leila, a carefree spirit who is hiding her own sadness behind a happy façade. I kept reading the book to see her ending—if it was a tragic or happy one. And trust me, I’m super pleased.



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Monday, 14 July 2014

Paper Towns by John Green


Book Summary : Quentin has always loved Margo Roth Spiegelman, for Margo (and her adventures) are the stuff of legend at their high school. So when she one day climbs through his window and summons him on an all-night road trip of revenge he cannot help but follow.

But the next day Margo doesn’t come to school and a week later she is still missing. Q soon learns that there are clues in her disappearance . . . and they are for him. But as he gets deeper into the mystery – culminating in another awesome road trip across America – he becomes less sure of who and what he is looking for.

Masterfully written by John Green, this is a thoughtful, insightful and hilarious coming-of-age story.

My Rating : 4 of 5 stars


My Thoughts : John Green's books are like sugar candies. Sweet and fluffy and addictive. With John Green’s classy prose, the plot was definitely engaging enough to engulf any reader, but having read The Fault in Our Stars first, I found it little let-down in comparison to TFIOS.

Margo Roth Spiegelman and Quentin Jacobson are neighbors since childhood. While Margo is cheerful and full of live, a bluff-master and a maverick, Quentin is just the opposite. Their friendship remained into category of ‘just-friends’ until one night Margo suddenly shows up in Q’s window and persuades him to become her official driver-cum-partner-in-crime in eleven mischievous (some revengeful) acts that needs to be accomplished on the same night. Those impish acts range from exposing a lecherous relationship between her ex-boyfriend Jase and her best friend Becca, to breaking into the highly secured SunTrust building.

Though the whole night Q enacted the role of a fearsome guy, but still those were the hours when he could actually anticipate what Margo is all about. Not to mention, his likeness for her starts morphing into something more than that. And, as expected, after the night he expected their friendship to grow. However, he is proven wrong. The next day Margo is gone and a week later she is still missing. Unlike the previous times she eloped leaving everyone clueless with her strange clues, Q leans this time she left clues only for him.

For she is Margo-the-maverick, her clues lead Q to nowhere.

The story then accelerates its engage-charm when Q becomes desperate to find Margo, accompanied by his three friends Ben, Rader and Lacey in this search mission. And here is John Green’s wizardry. He made the story to be told from a wannabe graduate Q’s perspective unfolding many thought elements which are so much accurate and primitive for existence.




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