Wrap-Up Post: July 2015

julyrecap

This is my first full month blogging, so I wanted to follow the cool kids and do a recap post! Things I learned in making this post are:

  1. Book blogging has taken over my life.
  2. I love it + you.
  3. I need a book budget, cos wtf.

ReviewJuly

= 15 REVIEWS! 

Which means my credit card bill is going to be monstrous this month *CRIES*  I hereby impose a book buying ban.  Self, please concentrate on your ARC pile in August!  *leers*Read More »

Review: Under The Empyrean Sky

3star

Title:  Under the Empyrean Sky

Author:  Chuck Wendig

Series? Yes, 1 of 3.

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads


I received a copy of this book from Netgalley + Skyscape in exchange for an honest review.

I had such a hard time writing this review, as this book fell victim to my dystopia burnout (I thought Red Rising cured me, oops).  I really wanted to like this book because i) I like reading the author’s blog and ii) these covers are freaking amazing (yes, judge away!).  Alas, I didn’t love or hate it – I felt plain meh.

empyreansky-settings

The setting was my favourite part of this book. Set in a futuristic world where mutant corn have taken over the Earth and is the only crop the people of the Heartland can sow.  Above them lives the Empyrean in their floatilla, who has access to luxuries and rigorously control the planting of crops and the distribution of wealth.  It reminded me a bit of Interstellar, one of my favourite movies last year, where the Earth could only sustain okra and corn.

As with all dystopia, we get to see elements of the oppressor and the oppressed. Heartlanders live in poverty under the Empyrean sky (points for using the title!).  Not only are they starving and malnourished, many of their kinds also suffer from an advanced form of cancer, hinted as a side effect from consumption of genetically modified corn.  There’s also the Blight, a creepy mutation that reminds me a little of The Wood’s effect in Uprooted.Read More »

Discussion: Book Trend Burnout

Confession Time:  This discussion post only happened because I saw these cute medical icons Designed by Freepik and was determined to use them somehow 😛  But I hope this is still a valid bookish topic haha.

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What is this strange disease and do you have it?  Read on to find out, my friend!

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Book Trend Burnout:  When a reader encounters a specific storyline, trope or characters so many times during their reading experience that they decide to quit that genre forever.

Sound extreme? I’ve certainly contemplated doing so more than once.  If Goodreads or my twitter feed is any indication, I am not alone in this predicament.  There really can be too much of a good thing, once 1984 and Brave New World were my favourite classics – making me mad for the dystopia genre.  Now that it’s become a buzz word, I think twice before purchasing a book featuring it on the blurb.

I would love to judge a book purely on its own merits, but it’s so easy to get jaded when it feels like the plot line has been done a hundred times before.Read More »

Book Review: Spark

Spark Rachael Craw

4-star

Title:  Spark

Author:  Rachael Craw

Series? Yes, 1 of 3.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads


I spent my formative years in New Zealand, I’m a self-identified Kiwi through and through.  When I heard that Spark was written by a Kiwi, and that it’s a science fiction riddled with genetic hijinks, it was an insta-buy. Though I felt some parts of the book could use polishing, I love the creativity and uniqueness of the world building. I unreservedly recommend it to everyone after a fresh take on scifi!

Firstly, an infographic, as I think it’s the easiest way to summarise the complicated premise:

STRAY-Infographic
Credit:  The silhouettes used in the infographic above was provided by Freepik & Vectoropenstock.

THE PLOT:

“It’s called the Fixation Effect.” It’s what you experience when you think of Kitty, when you see her, what you feel, that sense of being drawn to her. For a Shield, it’s what compels us to protect our Spark. But for the Stray, you take everything you feel about Kitty and twist it so she no longer looks like the victim who needs your help but the virus destroying your sanity and threatening your life.”

In this world hides a secret organisation that specialises in eugenics, secretly modifying genetics for commercial and military purposes for decades.  Evie is an unwitting Shield, DNA-bound to protect her best friend and Spark, Kitty.  She has super enhanced strength, distress frequency detection, speed, recovery, the works… to help her accomplish this task.  On the flipside of this is an unknown Striker, whose instinctively obliged to eliminate Kitty.  Once Kitty is theoretically removed, this Striker will become a Stray – an aggressive being who preys on targets indiscriminately.Read More »

Book Review: Half A King

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

4-star

Title:  Half A King

Author:  Joe Abercrombie

Rating: 4/5 stars

Series?  Yes, 1 of 3.

Goodreads


This book has been on the radar for a while, with the last book of the series coming out in August, I finally take the plunge.  Short version:  I loved it!  Here’s why you will, too.

halfaking

A man swings the scythe and the axe, his father had said. A man pulls the oar and makes fast the knot. Most of all a man holds the shield. A man holds the line. A man stands by his shoulder-man. What kind of man can do none of these things?

Yarvi is the youngest prince of Gettsland, born with one crippled hand, he was trained for a life in lores and herbs rather than to rule.  When his father and elder brother are murdered, Yarvi – who was always told he’s only half a man – must step up and become a king.  Before he is able to appreciate the enormity of leading this warrior nation, he’s betrayed and sold into servitude (I admit, here my mind also wandered towards a Half A King/Captive Prince cross over, haha), and a whole different struggle begins.

1.  Complex Characters

“I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”

My favourite thing about Half A King is definitely its cast of characters and how fully realised they all were.  Firstly, we have Yarvi: who rises above his disability and grows into his own person through the book by relying on his wit.  His rise in a society that values brain above brawns was so delightful to watch.  It also gave me warm fuzzies to see him make friendship in unlikely places and inspire loyalty in the least likely places.  Yarvi’s no typical hero, he had no strength of body nor bravado – but he’s a damn interesting one that you could really root for.  Plus, it helps that he’s totally hilarious! I like my men with a sense of humour.

‘Laithlin, the Golden Queen!’ She spoke the name like a magic spell. ‘They say she’s owed a thousand thousand favours, that a debt to her is a matter for pride. They say her word is valued higher than gold among merchants, because gold may go down in worth but her word never does.’

Aside from Yarvi, I also adored the many strong women featured in the story.  I loved Laithlin, Yarvi’s mother, bargainer extraordinaire in all her manipulative glory.  I loved Sumael and her unwavering sense of direction: both physical and personal.  I even loved pirate and slave owner Shadikshirram and all her swagger.  Can’t wait to see more of these awesome women in future installments.  Other side characters were also well developed, especially the friends Yarvi made during his days as the oarsmen.  Nothing is an especially interesting figure, but the less I say on that, the better for those who have not read the book.

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Tags: Blogger Recognition Award

BloggerRecognition

Thank you so much to the lovely Princessica of Books (edit: and Twins Turn Pages, just this morning, sorry it’s a scheduled post XD) for nominating me!  I am so behind on all my book tags, I will try and slowly get through them soon!

Here are the rules:

  • Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to.
  • Write a post to show off your award! Give a brief story of how your blog got started, and give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers.
  • Provide a link to the original post on Edge of Night. That way, anyone can find the original guidelines and post if needed, and we can keep it from mutating and becoming confusing!

BloggerRecognitionstory

I have been a long time lurker of the blogging world.  Since 2009, in fact!  I had a blogspot account in those days, but I was very poor at maintaining it.  That blogging stint lasted a total of 1 month, and I had 7 blog posts to show for it.  Then I decided blogging wasn’t for me and was content to watch from the sidelines and just read reviews sporadically until June this year.  As my real life schedule freed up, I found I had a lot of time to read books and wanted a place to document and motivate myself to conquer the TBR pile.  Now that I’ve started interacting with the community, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop any time soon!

Here are my tips, but I am also a newbie at this, so take my words with a few tonnes of salt!

BloggerRecognition2

Be yourself & Find Your Voice are the most often quoted comments in Book Blogging Tips 101.  There’s a good reason for that:  the internet is filled to the brim with book blogs.  Not only on WordPress, but also Tumblr, Instagram, Blogspot, Youtube, basically every corner you turn there’s a site dedicated to books.  What makes your review stand out from the other thousands about the latest dystopian hit/terminal illness bestseller?  The beautiful you!  That is why it’s imperative you find your style and be truthful to your readers.  It won’t happen overnight (and definitely hasn’t happened to me yet haha), but after writing a dozen reviews you’ll find your x-factor!Read More »

Book Review: Cruel Beauty

Beauty and the Beast by Rosamund Hodge

4-star

Title:  Cruel Beauty

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Series?  No

Rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads

Book Depository


If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you already know I go a bit gaga over fairy tale retelling – having composed two lists of all the ones I could find here & here.  Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite tales to see retold, so let me compare Cruel Beauty to the original tale in this review today!

Cruel-Beauty-Rosamund-Hodge

Blending Greek myth & fairy tale, Cruel Beauty is a dark, intense take on the classic tale.

Cruel-Beauty-ONE

I was raised to marry a monster.

When the novel begins, we learn that Nyx Triskellion has been betrothed to a monster.  Her fate is bound to a bargain her father made before she was born – a bargain that killed her mother during childbirth, leaving her father bitter and hungry for vengeance.  Nyx knew growing up that though she has a twin sister, she’s the one her father chose to sacrifice.  Not only is she to marry this demon lord, she’s to kill him – burdened with the responsibility of saving the whole of Arcadia.

Cruel-Beauty-TWO

“I was not born to be saved.”

Nyx is a unique protagonist and I loved her narration. She’s been stewing in bitterness since birth – little wonder, as she’s been watching her sister showered with familial love while she is taught the value of heroic sacrifice and the weight of responsibility.  Though she loves her family, she also resents them – I was frustrated and angry on her behalf.

In addition to the great narrative voice and complex emotions, Nyx also has smarts, she’s feisty, and she’s got a helluva lot of agency in the story.  I dislike watching protagonist just bumble along and somehow end up the saviour of the day by blind chance.  It was so refreshing to see a heroine who’s a doer, watching Nyx proactively control her own story was delightful.

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Book Review: All The Bright Places

4-star

Title: All The Bright Places

Author:  Jennifer Niven

Ratings: 4/5 stars

Series? No

Goodreads

Book Depository


I read a YA contemporary novel.  No, hell has not frozen over, the sun still rises from the East etc… I just wanted to join in on a twitter chat with the author.  IT HURTS TOO MUCH. I still haven’t fully recovered from the emotional beating- all I know is that my heart is weak and I need a good dose of SFF to recover.  Anyway, slightly different format of reviewing today to commemorate this blog’s first contemporary review! Oodles of quotes because the writing in this book is beautiful!

atbp

The story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die.

That quote is pulled from from the cover of the book, it promises you’ll be in a world of pain.  Now, I do not like books that set out to make me cry – I hate emotional manipulation.  However, I couldn’t help but be pulled into these characters – stoic and cynical as I am.  It helped that Jennifer Niven wrote the book from a very personal and painful experience, so the book came across genuine.

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The book starts with Violet who’s contemplating to end her life at the school’s bell tower.  Once, she lead a charmed life.  She was beloved sister, daughter, and friend.  She’s still has the latter, but a car accident has left her sister dead and her broken.  Violet suffers grief and survivor’s guilt, she can’t reconcile the life she lead before the accident with the one after – how can she continue being perfect when a part of her has been torn away? Her struggle was something I could wholly empathise with.


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Discussion Post: Types of Book Bloggers

Disclaimer:  This post is not meant to be taken too seriously.
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I think every blogger have their own distinctive voice, but I also think that I can identify all the most common review styles in this post.  I feel that as reviewers, sometimes we are afraid the insurmountable wall of text we type up will turn off our reader, and I certainly employ all of these strategies below to keep reader’s attention.  Is it necessary? Probably not.  Is it fun?  Heck yes!

Do you fit into any of the categories below?

discussion3GIF

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A picture can tell a thousand words, but a gif can convey all those feelings and emotions you can’t even bear to put into words!  These bloggers employ the genius use of gif to break up walls of text and keep my attention. I admire and envy bloggers that can find an appropriate gif for all occasions whether it’s sad, glad, and everything in between, you must teach me your ways!  Furthermore, gif also shows me a glimpse what the blogger is intereted in outside of reading: whether it be Disney, anime or a South Korean drama – these things almost guarantee it makes me like the blogger even more!

Variants of this are:  The Graphics Maker, The Book Photographer.


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Book Review: Snow Like Ashes

5star

Title: Snow Like Ashes

Author: Sara Raasch

Series? Yes. 1 of 3.

Rating:  5/5

Goodreads

Book Depository


Snow Like Ashes to the second YA fantasy I’m reviewing this week that’s likened to Game of Thrones.  I don’t agree, I think it’s more similar to The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta, which is another of my favourites.  Snow Like Ashes also manages to be unique with characters that I can root for, I LOVED it.  Here’s a few reasons why.

snowlikeashes

1.  Vivid Setting

Oktuber was a maze of rickety barns and tents in maroon, azure, and sunshine orange, with the crystalline blue sky gleaming above, a sharp and beautiful contrast to the kingdom’s earth tones…Their skin glistened the same coppery brown as the leaves on some of their trees, only where the leaves were crinkled and dry, the Autumnians’ faces were perfectly creamy

There are 8 kingdoms in this world.  Four are Seasons:  with close links to magic that grants them only one season a year, thus they are named for these seasons.  Hot, dry Summer that are uninviting to our protagonist.  Cool, vibrant autumn with citizens of copper skin.  Spring, though lovely in name, is ruled by a dictator named Angra with powerful magic.  Finally, Winter, the lost kingdom of eternal snow – utterly destroyed by Angra 16 years before the start of this novel.  Furthermore, there’s four Rhythm kingdoms that undergoes the normal seasonal cycle.  We mainly got to see Cordella, a prosperous kingdom who’s chief exports are lavenders and princes that steals your heart.  All of these settings are described in beautiful clarity and reading about them was akin to a cinematic experience.  Read More »