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The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Saturday, June 29, 2013 Geraldine 2 Comments

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?
The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career. 
 Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one. 
 But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

This book, written by Joelle Charbonneau, had piqued my interest for a while now. I haven't been able to get around to reading it; been a bit busy lately with loads of study, but when I finally picked it up, I couldn't stop reading, and when I pulled myself away, it was to do necessary things :/

Really, I just have mixed impressions with this book. The thing that really bothered me was that it was stark clear how this book was modeled on The Hunger Games. Many elements of this story were similar or exactly alike to The Hunger Games.Sure, there is a slight variation, with the competition not being called "The Hunger Games", but "The Testing", and the fact that there were many more colonies, but the general idea remained. The main character is a girl, Malencia 'Cia' Vale (HELLO, KATNISS!!), and her love interest is Tomas Endress (HELLO PEETA!!!).

Though it is quite similar to The Hunger Games, I did like this book, based on some factors. I loved how people were selected for the Testing based on their merits, and not randomly picked out. Plus, there were also more components of the competition of the Testing, than there were in the Hunger Games. Components that involved intellectual thinking, instead of just survival. These parts were what made me so interested in this book. They all had their risks and Charbonneau writes about these tests in such a way, that the adrenalin just pumps through my bloodstream.

The ending killed me. I just couldn't believe that it would end in that way. Cia's character was so different to what I had become accustomed to. That annoyed me so much; it was as if I was experiencing the novel from another point of view! And I HATE reading different POV books! But then, Charbonneau makes it all right, and decides to torture me by sewing in the validity of Tomas's character. ERGH!!!!

Charbonneau's characters were really appealing and I liked each and everyone of them, dependent on what Charbonneau made me feel. For example Cia's character throughout the book is well-defined; she's smart, and not just school-smart, she's also street-smart. She's not perfect, but she tries her hardest to be. This combination really appealed to me. However, Charbonneau made me HATE Ryme, just by demonstrating how annoying she was.

Despite how this book sounds like a ripoff off The Hunger Games, I found this book to be really hooking and enjoyable. It stimulated some thought and ideas for me. Some of which may or may not be disturbing (i.e., I want to learn how to identify poisonous plants now...), but it is motivation for me to do something, nevertheless!

Read this book, if you want another version of The Hunger Games. It is really good and interesting! I'd rate it 4 stars out of 5, if The Hunger Games never existed, but since it does, 3.5 stars. It's on par with The Hunger Games on how awesome it is!

Keep reading and loving books,


(I got a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review)

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 Geraldine 0 Comments

The Breakdown

  • The ending was worth it; beautiful tension, intrigue and demons :D
  • The fantasy part
  • The character herself was pretty annoying, having a large ego and her attitude was unbearable.
  • The character development; none of the characters developed
  • Character identity- it wasn't a true mystery, really, since it was obvious who was 'good' and who was 'bad'.

  • Author's writing was okay; simple and easy to read throughout the book, but only interesting in the last quarter
  • Methinks the author should write more fantasy books, instead of real-life dancing ones!

Rating: 2 stars

The Review

Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . . Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . . Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed.

I've been planning to read this book for ages! The book cover= amazing! However, when I got reading, I

Vanessa irritated me, in so many ways. Firstly, there is the matter of her friends. Black seems to have created TJ, Elly, Blaine and Steffie just to give Vanessa the image of a normal girl. Vanessa brushes them off and is very condescending towards them, at one time thinking "Her friends didn't know how hard rehearsal was." However, what annoys me most is her attitude. Vanessa thinks she knows it all, and that's what annoys me the most.

Everything was really obvious in this book. Justin was obviously the 'good guy'. Yet, the main character, Vanessa, insists on believing he's the bad guy, based on the minor things he did to her, mainly to protect her. And from this, I found another thing that annoyed me about the main character, Vanessa; her ego. She knew she was good at dancing, she thought she knew everything that was going on, and pushed away people who were really trying to help.

In the blurb, it's stated that Vanessa went to the NYBA primarily to find out what happened to her sister. However, as the book progresses, Vanessa seems to get more engorged with the boys that surround her instead. I mean, considering that she's 'barely even kissed a boy', how would she be so boy-crazy? Then, there was Zep. Who 'falls in love' with a guy that quick, let alone a stranger who's at least four years older than her?

Black's writing was pretty simplistic, to be honest. Not saying that's a bad thing; it made the book easy to read! However, it was painful to read most of the books, because her writing has crafted the characters to be rather unlikable. Every movement that each character makes is painfully distinct, leaving little to the reader's imagination. The last quarter, however, where demons are introduced, is where Black's writing picks up, and you truly get to see her talent in writing.

The one flaw I dislike most in YA novels is the overt emphasis on the love story. It doesn't happen in all YA novels, but when it happens, it is almost impossible for me to enjoy the book. However, the last quarter of the book was relatively interesting though, when Black introduced demons and mythology  through Justin. Though I didn't expect it (after all, the blurb promised me a book full of intrigue, not fantasy), it was very welcome. I loved how it pulled away from all of Vanessa's troubles with guys, her large ego, and more, and focused on a mythical aspect, something that was more than Vanessa.

Really, all I can comment on is character identity. This review has been more of a rant at how poorly-formed these characters are and how almost all of them are unlikeable. Despite this, the ending was beautiful, and the tension kept rising, so this book gets a 2 star rating from me. I would say that Black is more of a fantasy writer, since the fantasy parts of this story kept me hooked and excited!

Keep reading and loving books,


Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Saturday, June 22, 2013 Geraldine 0 Comments

"Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. 'He never says please', she sighed, but she gathered up her things. When Brimstone called, she always came."

 In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole. Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

Well, before I go any further, may I add that this edition of this book is beautiful??? Look at the red door. The handprint. The OPEN DOOR. Doesn't it signify mystery, intrigue and so much more? It's what drew me in to finally reading this book. The blurb kinda turned me off; after all, I was freaked out by Brimstone. You can't blame me; he sounded scary! Either way, after 6 months of possessing this book (on loan from a friend), I finally decided to give this book a shot

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, felt like, to me, a book split into three sections. Oh sure, Laini Taylor made sure that it was definitively split into four parts (I think it was four), by leaving a page blank with only a picture and a quote or two, but I split this book into thirds. There was the 'with Brimstone' third (where she was living with Brimstone and everything was happy), the 'after Brimstone' third (NO SPOILERS!) and the 'myth' part, where the whole mythology of seraphims and chimaeras are examined, as well as Akiva's mysterious past.

I felt like the first half of the book was okay, and it kept me hooked. Taylor did a really good job of making me not scared of Brimstone. For me, she made him a very benevolent creature, from Karou's memories of Brimstone and his kindness towards her. Plus, the whole concept of wishes having values like pennies and coins, and the whole currency! This system was amazing and it sucked me in!

However, during the middle part of this book, I just wanted to put it down. I got kinda bored with it, to be truthful. Thankfully, it was only a couple of chapters long. After all, it was just Karou's ordinary life, without any chimaeras and teeth brokering, but more violence nevertheless. Karou... she just became depressed, from what I was reading. Just a teensy bit. And, I, I was also getting depressed. Brimstone had disappeared; there was no mention of him at all. I grew to love Brimstone, after that first chapter.

Then, the last third.... WAS JUST SPECTACULAR! It really peaked up I loved the whole mythology, it really sucked me in! I was so drawn in by the intricate tale at the end, of Akiva's background, of who Madrigal really was... AND THE ENDING. Just.... WHAT IS AIR??? The ending shocked me, and I
This third really solidified my love for Brimstone, especially since he was mentioned.

Karou was a mystery, and I loved how everything built up to the end, in such a climactic way. Everything kept unravelling, like scroll of paper, and I kept furiously reading, because she was such an enigmatic character. However, Karou's friendship with Zuzanna felt forced. I couldn't believe that any friend could just leave her friend, and not even question where she goes off to half the time. Zuzanna really didn't feel like an integral part of the novel, and she felt like a character who was just madde

In the end, this book = 4 stars. Why? The middle third was really the downer for me. Though it was only a couple of chapters, it was enough to annoy me quite a bit. The rest of it, however, was marvelous!

Keep reading and loving books,

June 18: Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books At the Top of my Summer TBR List

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 Geraldine 14 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish, and, by golly, when I found out about it, I decided to join in on the fun! Every Tuesday, a new topic comes out for bloggers to post a list about. This week, it's the Top Ten Books at the Top of My Summer TBR List

I have work to do, usually. So the only way I find out about new books, is through procrastination on this blog... Nevertheless I procrastinate, quite a lot, so there will be a few books on this list. When you look up'Summer 2013' on Google, it pings back with a result saying that summer starts on June 21, and ends on September 21st. So I'll be using this period of time! Mainly because I have so many books I want to read coming out in September... Read on, and feel free to add more!
  1. Antigoddess by Kendare Blake- I'd read Anna Dressed in Blood, and it kinda hooked me in, but I didn't fully love it. I wanna read this book, mainly because it's on one of my favourite topics, Greek mythology, and because I wanna see if Kendare Blake can surpass the standard of writing she had with Anna Dressed in Blood and its sequel, Girl of Nightmares, I think it was called.
  2. Isla and the Happily Ever After- This means I should probably finish reading Lola and the Boy Next Door, if I want to finish the Anna and The French Kiss series. I just want to know how everything ends, and I want to read more of Etienne St. Clair! September 17th, I can't wait for you!
  3. Crown of Midnight- Eek! It's the sequel to the amazing Throne of Glass! It comes out in August, and I can't wait! I've been waiting for so long. The agony, the feels!
  4. Ink by Amanda Sun- It sounds so good!!! Japan, intrigue and ancient gods!!! Exciting!
  5. 45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson- This book is one that I think I'll have fun reading! Who hasn't felt down about themseles many many times, because of the people that surround them? I'll be picking this book up, thank you very much!
That's all I have right now, thinking them up on the spot! What about you? Add to this list and let me know! I WANT MORE BOOKS TO READ!!! As if I haven't got enough already >.<

Keep reading and loving books,


Wild Children by Richard Roberts

Friday, June 14, 2013 Geraldine Lee 0 Comments

Bad children are punished. Be bad, a child is told, and you’ll be turned into an animal, marked with your crime.
The Wild Children are forever young, but that, too, can be a curse.
Five children each tell a different story of what they became:
One learns that wrong can be right, and her curse may be a blessing.
Another is so Wild he must learn the simplest lesson, to love someone else.
An eight year old girl must face fear and doubt as she dies of old age.
Love and strangeness hit the lives of two brothers in the form of a beautiful flaming bird.
Finally, the oldest child learns that what is right can be horribly wrong.

Together they tell a sixth story, of a Wild Girl who can’t speak for herself, and doesn’t seem Wild at all.

Firstly, before I go on, I must say that I didn't finish this book, because I expected a book about a group of five children on an adventure to save the last Wild Child. Instead, after reading the first story, I realized it was a bunch of stories about five Wild Children, all written separately. Nevertheless, I continued on with reading it, until I finished the third story, where I couldn't take having to read about a new scenario

I liked the complex ideas Richard Roberts writes about in this book. I loved how only children could change, and be a half-human, half-animal creature. It was a really nice concept, one that intrigued me. In doing this, Roberts dips into religion frequently, but somehow, he has the art of not being able to offend readers by talking about religion.

The first story I read tells of how a girl became a Wild Child, and her love and devotion for her caretaker. I loved this story. I absolutely did. It was heart-wrenching, and it told of a child's innocence and trust. I felt like this was a beautiful story. It introduces the concept of the Wild Child really well.

The second story in this book, one about Jinx, the black cat Wild Child who fell in love with a donkey Wild Child. This.... Well... This story partially reminded me of Twilight, and Jinx, or Edward Cullen. Eating dreams, watching a sleeping girl... Well, maybe Edward doesn't eat dreams, but for me, the stark comparison between Edward and Jinx became clear when I read about Jinx and his thing for Hind.

Finally, the last story I read was one about Coo, the dove frequently mentioned in the first and second stories. I liked Coo. I dunno, but she kinda inspired a bit of hope for me, like the goodness inside of her. Her story was finally being told, and after the first two stories, I was already getting curious about her, from repeated mentions of her in the book. Coo just comes off as ethereal and unearthly, and she inspired curiosity in me.

Roberts writes in a descriptive manner, where words just flow out of the page. Instead of hindering the reader, like how some descriptions do, the descriptions in this book aid the reader, through the wide, magnificent and emotion-prodding vocabulary that Roberts uses. Read this passage for example:
"My heart was so light that there was a thump, and flames burst up out of me, swam around me, and I leapt off the floor. The ceiling was no obstacle. I was too hot, and it simply fell out of my way as ash."
Isn't it beautiful? You can literally imagine it!

In the end, I rate this book a 3 stars out of 5. It is unique, and it is unlikely I will come across any book quite like it again. The reason I've rated it a 3 stars out of 5, is mainly because I felt like this book was not my book. I struggled to read through a bit of this book, mainly because it was just not the type of book I would usually read.

Keep reading and loving books,

(I got a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review on Netgalley)

A commentary on literary analysis and a bit of Top Ten Tuesday

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 Geraldine 0 Comments

So, here's a change! I'm not doing the meme 'Top Ten Tuesday' today! Why? Haha, I really don't go to the beach.... and also because I have BLOCK exams.... They've sapped too much life out of me. Well, my exam block for this week consists of:

Tuesday (today): English and History
Wednesday (tomorrow): Maths and Physics
Thursday: Chemistry

Seeing as I had to write a literary analysis of a book (The Great Gatsby, I know, perfect time to study it, with the movie coming out and all) today, I was thinking I should probably use my spare time now to write a post! I really should be studying for Maths and Physics -.-

Anyway, literary analysis is fun! Well, as long as you don't have to write an essay. Essays are boring, and they really suck the life out of you. You have to follow this strict regimen, this strict format to write essays, and then you also have to be CLEAR and SUCCINCT. Really? Why make it so hard?

It's so fun, looking at how deep The Great Gatsby is, but I hate writing essays on it; I just hate it. The interwoven meaning in the words, the use of colours to make the story so much more vibrant or dull; it all just sets the tone and mood! It's just beautiful how the author has so many underlying themes.

In the test today, I got given a question, where I had to discuss to what extent is moral decay of men and women not content with their reality a reliable assessment of The Great Gatsby. I know, huge words to read. I pulled out the big guns, mentioning symbolism (yeah, I went there!), characterisation and the plot. While planning for this essay, I kept marvelling at how well-written the book was, how everything just fits. It's such a complicated plot, but Fitzgerald really does make it flow very well!

Speaking of the plot, I swear, I would never be able to fully describe the plot of The Great Gatsby. I've tried explaining it to one or two of my friends who aren't studying The Great Gatsby, but it's one of those books you need to read to understand. The affairs going on in that book are so confusing if you try to explain it!

Not to fear though, I still love my YA books! Only, my recent exposure to literature has really opened up my eyes to how in-depth it all is, and why people chose to read it. I'm most definitely going back to reading some of my classics and trying to find hidden meanings, foreshadowing, etc., because this, this is really interesting stuff! Go out there, go read The Great Gatsby, go out and just read!

With mention to the Top Ten Tuesday meme, The Great Gatsby is a book I'd most definitely place on that list if I'd done it this week. Set in the summer, full of parties, intrigue.... It's everything I would want to bring to a beach!

Keep reading and loving books (especially YA and literature),


Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Saturday, June 08, 2013 Geraldine 0 Comments

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life....

I discovered this book at my local library, and it was NEW. A new book, at the library. You could just imagine my excitement. Plus, I've been wanting to read Maria V. Snyder's books for a while now! I definitely was not disappointed.

Avry drew me in from the very first chapter. She was compassionate, selfless and hardworking, but still quite intelligent, all values which I found compelling. He character was what drew me to the book, what made me keep reading and reading and reading. In short, she was the essence of a YA heroine's character. She was independent, and had her own views, while not being overbearing or pushy.

However, Kerrick was like a masked figure to me. He was abrupt, and I really didn't understand the moodswings he'd go through. It was difficult to tell when he was doing something for his own benefit, or if he was really being genuine for once. This creates a kind of mysterious atmosphere about him, which was both bad and good, in my opinion. 

This book really pulled me in, and I had to force myself away from it. Whenever I promised myself to spend only 10 minutes reading it, I'd somehow eventually end up reading for a whole hour. This book kept attracting me, due to its fast pace. I kept wanting to know what would happen next, what horrors, betrayals or capture they would run into. 

Despite the fact that it really drew me in, I felt like I couldn't visualise where Avry, Kerrick, Flea, Quain, Loren and Belen were. The description of the setting seemed mostly monotone and each one was exactly same to me. It was always a foresty region. I felt like Snyder could have done a better job in describing each setting, making each one unique, and not just the forest. Visualisation is a huge part in reading a book for me, and if I can't visualise what's happening in a book, I can't really connect with it.

Touch of Power is a gripping book that deserves a 3.5 stars out of 5 from me. It kept me hooked, and I had to pull myself away from it when I really should've been working. I'm heading into the library to forage for the next book, Scent of Magic now~

Keep reading and loving books,


June 4th: Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books featuring travel in some way

Tuesday, June 04, 2013 Geraldine 10 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish, and, by golly, when I found out about it, I decided to join in on the fun! Every Tuesday, a new topic comes out for bloggers to post a list about. This week, it's the Top Ten Books featuring Travel in Some Way.
It’s probably just a personal thing, but I feel like a lot of books contain travel in some way or form. I could pretty much type in a list of my favourite books and still somehow also be able to incorporate travel in them.

Anna and the French Kiss- I feel so guilty for including this book, but it was the first book that popped up into my head~ Mainly because I love it so much! I’ve included it way too much in this meme! The travel in this book is pretty much Anna’s travel to and from France, going to a boarding school in France, while returning back to Atlanta.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- Travelling by Portkey definitely should count! I love Harry Potter, and this book is one of my favourite books, mainly because of the whole quest thing. Harry’s venture with the dragon, the undersea scene where Harry tries to rescue so many people… It’s all exciting and fun! Plus, the Quidditch World Cup! The Chamber of Secrets also has some pretty good travel scenes in it, like the smashed Ford Angelica!

Beauty and the Beast- Is this a book? I pretty much just read the Disney cartoon, and I consider a cartoon/comic to be a book. Beauty and the Beast pretty much has Beauty travelling from her home to the castle, to and fro. I thought of it, mainly because I was watching Once Upon a Time (heads up; it’s so good!!!). Not that I like Beauty in OUaT, but I love the traditional story. Other fairytales that incorporate travel in them, that I think are pretty good too are Cinderella and Snow White.

Tintin- These are comics, but COMICS COUINT AS BOOKS. THEY MUST. See, the Tintin books are really cool, Tintin and Snowy go off on cool adventures and they beat the bad guys, and there’s always some kind of occult thing going on, and really, all I can say is that it’s cool.

Pride and Prejudice- I’ll sing this one out from the rooftops if I have to. I really love this book, and Elizabeth’s journey to Pemberly with her aunt and uncle really does impact on the plot line so much~ So yes, Pride and Prejudice, really does deserve to be in this list.

20, 000 leagues under the sea- Well, it pretty much is all travel. After all, the Professor starts off going on a journey, and eventually comes across the Nautilus. Also, it’s by Jules Verne. Although many people may argue that another Jules Verne book, ‘Around the World in 80 days’ has more travel in it, I can’t really judge, seeing as that I haven’t read it yet. I know, what a shocker! But I’ve added it onto my to-read list, so it’s all good.

Anne of Green Gables- The frequent travelling done by Anne may lead her to trouble (i.e. the Haunted Woods), but count so much to the story! Anne of Green Gables would not be the same, if Anne just stayed in one place the whole time, and didn't make up names for every place she went. It's what gives the story a magical, effervescent quality to it.

The Lost Son; Heroes of Olympus- Festus! Leo, Jason and Piper travel by way of Festus, a talking (kind of, it whirrs) metal dragon, which is so cool, may I add!

Last Sacrifice- What list would be complete without Vampire Academy? Last Sacrifice, there's this scene where Rose and Dimitri go to a library and flip open a guidebook, I think, and look at all the places they want to travel. IT was travelling without travelling, and one of the most romantic moments in the whole series! Also, there's Blood Promise, where Rose journeys to Russia, but I find this scene in Last Sacrifice to be one of my favourite scenes in the entire series, so I had to include it here.

My Top Ten Lists seem to be the same pretty much every week… What about you? Are your Top Ten lists frequently contain the same books? Got any suggestions for other books for me to read to include in future lists? Comment below!

Keep reading and loving books,