Mortal Heart: A Book Review

“We are all of us, gods and mortals, made up of many pieces, some of them broken, some of them scarred, but none of them the total sum of who we are.”

Book: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)
Author: Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)

Blurb:

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has.

My thoughts: 

Just finished reading Mortal Heart and I was totally blown away. Like a tornado just ripped through me. Seriously. But then I expected nothing less. Ever since I read the first book in the trilogy, I knew I was going to love all of Robin Lafever’s books. So far, I haven’t been wrong.

Like all us His Fair Assassin fans expected, this book was all about Annith. To be honest, I was a little worried about that. Both Ismae and Sybella constantly mention Annith’s saintliness- her nobility, her kindness and her innocence. In their heads, she sounds so freaking pure and pliant, I thought I was going to hate her on principle. Luckily she’s not and luckily I didn’t.

Growing up in the convent has made her a little more naive than Ismae and Sybella who were well and truly jaded by the outside world but Annith does have a backbone and she’s not boring to read about. Not in the slightest.She’s a completely ordinary daughter of death (or about as ordinary as you can get when you’re a daughter of death) meaning she doesn’t have any special gifts at all. But what she lacks in talent, she makes up for in pure determinaton and a stubbornness that you can’t help but admire. What endeared me most to her was her talent at pretending to be the good little novitiate while eavesdropping on secrets behind closed doors (Come on, who can resist a protagonist who eavesdrops?). Despite her ferocity and skill, she has her embarrassing moments (like a failed seduction, or excessive name-dropping)  and is heartbreakingly childish in her quest for affection from anyone.

This book is more than just a story of Annith’s self discovery; it’s essentially crucial in wrapping up the arc of this trilogy. In the end: this is the end. I just cried a little as I realised that.
It was a bit slow at the beginning- if anything, it has reaffirmed in my mind why I would never go to a covenant: It would be too boring. Let’s face it, if a fictional covenant where kick-ass female assassins trained occasionally felt tedious, I would never make it  in a real and totally ordinary one?

But don’t worry, the story picks up the pace really fast as soon as Annith makes her grand escape. What follows next is a series of action, wild horse rides, crazy stunts, arrow-shooting and warriors (both male and female). 464 pages of medieval fiction and I didn’t even get bored once!

Balthazar was the love interest of the story and well…let’s just say that who he is is surprising. I was less surprised than I was supposed to be because of this alternatively pesky and lovely little things called spoilers (which I try not to give out unless I’m actively trying to annoy someone or they beg me for them).
He’s charming- quite dashing actually and like all the guys in this series, he has a dangerous edge and is very, very good with banter. I might have a tiny crush on him (just a tiny one though- I have a strict policy on historical book boyfriends). This romance was not without it’s challenges and trials, and I was constantly guessing at how it would end.

Comparing it to the other two books in the series, I would say that Dark Triumph is my favourite followed by this one followed by Grave Mercy. The historical politics and court intrigue of the the previous books took a back-seat in Mortal Heart. It was less historical fiction and more fantasy, with more time spent on the truly fascinating Pagan religious beliefs of the time and the Nine Gods which were essential to them.
Another notable difference was that this book felt significantly less dark than the other ones. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was light, but it did deal with less heavy topics compared to the previous ones. I think a huge part of that was because of Annith’s upbringing. Growing up at the covenant wasn’t a cakewalk but at the same time it was nothing compared to regularly being abused by your father and sold off like livestock to a ‘husband’ like Ismae or dealing with violence that was almost off-hand in it’s execution and the threat of incest like Sybella.
Like all of the books in this trilogy, I think you could read this alone, but reading it in order of sequence will make this series so much more enjoyable.

One last thing. Before I I start handing out ratings to the book, I want to hand out a couple of hints to those of you who haven’t read it yet. Not spoilers- just hints.
The title of the book, Mortal Heart probably refers to Balthazar and the cover unlocks the huge role Annith is supposed to play (but we don’t get to find out what that role might be until close to the end). So, chew over that, will you?

My ratings:

Cover: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Characters:5/5
Romance: 5/5
Plotholes:5/5
Ending:5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5 
Other books like this: The Throne of Glass series with it’s assassin and fantasy is evolving book by book to slowly become as awesome as this one.

The Giving Tree: What’s Wrong With the Book

Don’t read this post if you don’t want to see one of your childhood books get demolished. You have been warned.

Every Day (Every Day #1)

Recently I was reading Every Day by Daniel Levithan. I found myself mentally comparing it to Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall  although technically this book is supposed to be the very opposite of that one: In Everyday, one person (or individual) lives a single day in the life of multiple people while in Before I Fall, a girl re-lives the day she dies over and over again. Both of them have really interesting plot premises but somehow the narrative voice and the lack of attention to anything BUT the romance kind of killed the books for me. Every Day is a fair book even if it’s not exactly a good book. I’ve heard that John Green fan’s like this book. But then I wouldn’t know; TFIOS’ers (or constellations, whatever you’re calling yourself) are like a whole another species to me.

Before I Fall

Anyways, I’m not here to write about Every Day (tempting though it may be). One thing from the book that really resounded was the character’s opinion on the Giving Tree. Here’s the direct quote:

“I absolutely HATE The Giving Tree.”

I am so relieved. “Thank goodness. That would’ve been the end of us, had that been your favorite book.”

“Here—take my arms! Take my legs!”

“Take my head! Take my shoulders!”

“Because that’s what love’s about!”

“That kid is, like, the jerk of the century,” I say, relieved that Rhiannon will know what I mean.

“The biggest jerk in the history of all literature,” Rhiannon ventures. Then she puts down Harold and moves closer to me.

“Love means never having to lose your limbs,”

As a kid, there was always something about the Giving Tree which made me uncomfortable. I loved other Shel Silverstein works but this one always rubbed me the wrong way. But I was never able to quite put my finger on it as a kid, and when I became slightly older I just sort of forgot about it. This quote brought back everything.

If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s about a boy and a tree. You can read the poem (sans illustrations) with this link.  The tree gives the boy whatever he asks for-fruits, sticks, lumber, money –   because she ‘loves’ him. Even when the boy is an old man and has taken everything the tree has to offer, the tree (now a stump) lets him sit on her to rest.  Supposedly, this is meant to show how generous, loving and selfless the tree was but I think it shows another thing: the tree was a doormat and she let the boy walk all over her in the name of love.

I’m not old enough or wise enough to know what love is (is anyone ever truly that old and wise?) but I do know that love isn’t all about giving until you have nothing left of yourself. Love is about give and take- And I don’t mean the kind of giving and taking where one person taketh and the other giveth.

This book is not about the selflessness and generosity of the tree, it’s about the selfishness of a miserable little boy who grows up to be a miserable man. The Giving Tree? Hell no. It’s the Taking Boy.

Trust Me, I’m Lying: A Book Review

Book: Trust Me, I’m Lying
Author: Mary Elizabeth Summers
Trust Me, I'm Lying

Blurb:

Fans of Ally Carter, especially her Heist Society readers, will love this teen mystery/thriller with sarcastic wit, a hint of romance, and Ocean’s Eleven–inspired action.

Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal..

My thoughts:

I haven’t read many debut books lately, or realistic fiction either for that matter. And I’ve actually been feeling guilty about it. So I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone by reading ‘Trust Me I’m Lying.’  This books been hovering around on my to-read list but I had put it aside because lately I haven’t really been in the mood for chick-lit.
If I have to be honest, what attracted me to this book was the paradox of a title. I mean, if someone says you should trust them and that they are lying, wouldn’t you trust them as liars and therefore distrust them?… That sounded a lot more coherent in my head. If it helps, it’s pretty much like Pinocchio’s conundrum : If Pinocchio said he was lying, would his nose grow or not?

You can work yourself into a headache later. Right now, let me tell you about the characters of the book.
Julep (its not her real name and the story behind how she got it is absolutely hilarious) is a talented grifter or con-woman- whatever you want to call it. Using her skills she helps people at school by doing stuff like convincing their parents they got accepted into prestigious colleges or by subtle means ensuring someone gets a favourable reply when they ask the most popular girl in school out- all for a price, of course. A self-confessed liar, she has a heart of gold and good reasons for doing what she does. I think she’s one of my favourite characters this year.
The secondary characters in these books aren’t half bad either. We don’t really see much of her dad, but we get a clear picture of him thanks to the narrators fond memories and casual remarks. Mike, Heather, etc- they’re all pretty brilliant characters. They don’t play big roles in the book, but they they are invaluable. The thing to remember in this book is that everyone has a secret. Some people have secrets bigger (and more unbelievable) than the others but everyone in this book has a double motive and you can’t trust everything they say on face value.

The romance in this book doesn’t play that much of a role either. There were a few moments where I thought the romance would overshadow the plot of finding out what happened to Julep’s dad but Julep’s pretty determined and focused. She has her head in the game all them time, and never lets a couple of kisses come in the way of finding who is most important to her: her Dad.
While we’re still talking about romance, be warned that it’s a love triangle. One of the guys is scarily perfect and the other is her best friend. I just want to take a minute to thank whatever gods that may be up there for ensuring the romance never took up too much of the fore-view.

Moving on to plotholes, I was really annoyed with how fast Julep decided to trust Tyler. Within a few days,she’s telling him stuff that she hasn’t told most people all her life and he just seemed a little too motivated and interested in ‘helping’ her. If I was a con-man (or con-woman, whatever) I wouldn’t give up my life-story easily to a guy I just met, no matter how cute he was or how deep his brown eyes were. Sure, Julep made a couple of token remarks like ‘What am I doing, telling this guy a barely know, the story of my life’ but she shows less resistance than I would have expected from her.

The ending was just perfect. I could actually see it working out this way in real-life. In terms of books, it left just enough questions in my mind to justify wanting a sequel while perfectly wrapping up one arc of the story line.

There’s on obvious plothole. One. But if you can ignore it , then you’re going to have an amazing couple of hours as you read this book. It’s humorous, it’s light and I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down until you get to the last page.

My ratings:

Cover: 3/5
Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Romance: 4/5
Plotholes:3/5
Ending: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Would I read another book by the author: Definitely. Yes!
Books like this: Heist Society,How to Lead a Life of Crime, Curseworkers

Talon: A Book Review

Book: Talon (Talon #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa

Talon (Talon, #1)

Blurb:

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

My thoughts:

I sat down to write this review almost a week and two posts ago. That should give you an idea of just how difficult I found it to review this book.I may dislike writing negative reviews but I really, really hate writing disappointed reviews.

It’s hard to believe that this book is written by the same author who wrote the Iron King series and the Blood of Eden series. They were so good and this is so…not. At the same time, I can see that Ms. Kagawa tried to copy some of the elements which made the above series so compelling into this one. The keyword here is tried.

She tried taking the manipulative and violent nature of the fae and putting it into the dragons. And though the punishments in the book were certainly draconic in nature, the character themselves did not feel like dragons; they felt more human than anything else- too kind, to naive, too noble and too boring.

She attempted to duplicate the air of secrecy, double-crossing and back-stabbing that had us flipping the pages as fast as was as physically possible in the Blood of Eden but here too she failed. Can I just say, I saw it all coming from miles away?

The characters didn’t dazzle me or delight me either. You know they’ve been written badly when you feel completely detached even after 413 pages of reading. Part of it was the main character’s fault. She’s one of those annoying characters who aren’t really that special but has everyone tripping over their feet trying to kiss hers. Her twin brother (though promising in the beginning) barely made an appearance at all. To excuse his lack of presence, we were constantly told something like He went water-skiing with the guys’. And their relationship? Total fail. Ember constantly tells us she loves her brother, but honestly I can’t really see the love. She forgets about him all the time, constantly whines at him and resents him for the most pointless of reasons. Having a twin was more of a plot device than anything else. The secondary characters were just as bad. They appeared sporadically to be boy-crazy, make bad boy-decisions, push Ember at one of the boys and give her dating advice. They were totally inter-changeable and one dimensional.

The romance? Where do I start with this one. First of all, it’s a love triangle. I don’t get why YA authors think we like love triangles. We don’t. But we can tolerate them if the rest of the book is good enough. Or even if the love interests are interesting and different enough (take Puck and Ash from her Iron Fey series, for example). If it’s not already pretty obvious, the rest of the book wasn’t good enough.
There are two love interests- the dragon  and the dragon-slayer <cough, cough Firelight by Sophie Jordan cough, cough>. In both cases, it’s a case of ‘forbidden-love’ and star-crossed lovers. In the dragon case, the dragon is a rebel and an outlaw. In the dragon-slayer case… hello? dragon- SLAYER here. But other than these two things, the love interests are pretty inter-changeable. Both of them are emotionally-distant and stricken with a serious case of insta-love. Both of them are non-human (I’m of the opinion that the dragon-slayer is a robot; he certainly acts like one). Both of them are boring. Blah, blah, blah.

If this book was more about dragons and less about the romance, it could have been salvageable. But it’s not. I still have a hard time believing the book was about dragons and not about humans occasionally turned into lizards with wings. Where was the treasure-hording? Where was the fiery and angry nature? Where was the freaking worldbuilding?
The blurb looks really interesting but don’t be taken in by it. There’s no moral dilemma or a struggle to understand different species. There’s only cheap, bland romance between robotic, self-obsessed characters who come with pre-written scripts.

This book suffered a massive case of blandness. It was extremely formulaic and seemed like it didn’t even try to get much originality in. There was no plot. No interesting characters. No hot romance. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Trust me, you won’t miss anything if you don’t read the book.

My Ratings:

Cover: 2/5

Plot: 1/5 (Plot? What plot?)

Characters: 1/5

Romance: 1/5 (I really want to give this thing a zero)

Plotholes: 1/5

Ending: 2/5

Overall Rating: 1.25/ 5

Will I read the next book: No way. Dragons will turn generous and caring before I read the next book in the series again. And, no I don’t mean the so-called dragons in this book. 

Book like this: Firelight by Sophie Jordan (more draconian dragons, an actual plot ,better sibling relationships, hotter love interests, -go read that instead)

5 November 2014 Books I Really Want To Read

1.)

Book: Talon (Talon #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa

Talon (Talon, #1)

Release Date: November 1

Blurb:

In Julie Kagawa’s groundbreaking modern fantasy series, dragons walk among us in human form.
Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret St. James has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey — and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him — and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons


2.)

Book: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3)
Author: Robin LaFevers
Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin, #3)

Release Date: November 4

Blurb:

Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.
She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has.


3.)

Book: Waistcoats and Weaponry (Etiquettes and Espionage #3)
Author: Gail Carriger

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School, #3)
Release Date: November 4

Blurb: 

Class is back in session…
Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style–with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what–or who–they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine’s proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.


4.)

Book: Reap the Wind (Cassandra Palmer #7)
Author: Karen Chance

Reap the Wind (Cassandra Palmer, #7)
Release Date: November 4

Blurb:

You’d think that being Chief Seer for the supernatural world would come with a few perks. But as Cassie Palmer has learned, being Pythia doesn’t mean you don’t have to do things the hard way. That’s why she finds herself on a rescue mission skipping through time—even though she doesn’t entirely understand her dimension-bending new power.

Rescuing her friend John Pritkin should have been an in and out kind of deal, but with the near-immortal mage’s soul lost in time, Cassie has to hunt for it through the ages—with Pritkin’s demon dad in tow. He’s the only one who can reverse Pritkin’s curse, but with the guardians of the time-line dead set on stopping anyone from mucking about, Cassie will have to figure out how to get her friend back without ruffling too many feathers—or causing a world-ending paradox or two…
Please Note that this Book is not Young Adult Fiction.


5.)

Book: Black Widow (Elemental Assassin #12)
Author: Jennifer Estep

Black Widow (Elemental Assassin, #12)
Release Date: November 25

Blurb:

With wicked Fire elemental Mab Monroe long gone, you’d think I could finally catch a break. But someone’s always trying to take me down, either as Gin Blanco or my assassin alter-ago. Now along comes the Spider’s new arch-nemesis, the mysteriously named M. M. Monroe, who is gleefully working overtime to trap me in a sticky web of deceit.
The thing is, I’m not the only target. I can see through the tangled threads enough to know that every bit of bad luck my friends have been having lately is no accident—and that each unfortunate “coincidence” is just one more arrow drawing ever closer to hitting the real bulls-eye. Though new to Ashland, this M. M. Monroe is no stranger to irony, trying to get me, an assassin, framed for murder. Yet, as my enemy’s master plan is slowly revealed, I have a sinking feeling that it will take more than my powerful Ice and Stone magic to stop my whole life from going up in flames.

Please Note that this Book is not Young Adult Fiction.


As you can see, November 4 is a day I’m really looking forward to; with 4 amazing books coming out on that day- I’d be insane not to look forward to it.
What books are you looking forward to in November 2014?