Sunday, March 7, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I've been wanting to review this book for a while. Now I don't have any homework (what a miracle!), so I'll take advantage of this time. The book is Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I heart the cover really!

Of course first of all, here is the synopsis

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

When I read the review I immediately wanted to read it. I read the first few pages, and I was feeling rather confused. I guess it's because of the whole medieval setting of the story and the early action, which is great, don't get me wrong, but it took a while for me to really get in the book. I got through the confusing part and I became even more and more immersed in the book.

So Katsa (I love her name, it's so unique) is a Graceling. One of those people in the kingdoms which possesses a special and sometimes extreme skill of their own, they have a special characteristic to define them. That characteristic is the different colors of their eyes. Some of these talents vary, like physical skills, hunting, fighting or emotional skills such as influencing people and reading their minds. Katsa's skill is a very extreme one, which is the ability to kill someone very easily. This talent of hers was put of use by her uncle who is the King to carry out her killing skills to various activities among the seven kingdoms. To put it in a simple way, if anyone crosses the King, or meddles with his political status, he'll order her to wound that person to very extreme extents. So other people respect her, they fear her too. Katsa doesn't always like this, and as the book progresses, her dilemmas about her uncle's use of her power will continue to surface. Alliances will form, and other good stuff which I enjoyed tremendously. I really liked Katsa's character, she is very determined, sheltered. Although she is a bit insecure about her powers, she's not used to people looking into her eyes.

It was definitely a page turner, and the plot was played out really well. The setting of the story was very enjoyable, which is in this not so distant medieval time, with the fantasy twist delightfully thrown in there, it was also detailed but it didn't trail on with a bore. I was able to imagine the setting very nicely in my head. I love the never-ending adventure of the story.

Then she meets the Leinid prince, Prince Po, a Graceling himself equipped with excellent combat skills. He's very charming, open and likeable, then they both get closer, and their skills seem to match each other, so perfectly. Katsa was really thrilled that she has found someone that will give her a good challenge. He isn't afraid of her, and they began to practice fighting almost every day. Together, Katsa and Po teams up to solve a mystery that threatens the seven kingdoms. I love how their friendship gradually blooms into something more, and turns into this heart-throbbing romance that I couldn't get enough of in the story.

Katsa and Po's journey really involves a lot of action, suspense, mystery and adventure. I was biting my nails because of some of the action-packed aspects of the book, and it really deepened especially as it grows to the end. The romance was very enjoyable, vibrant and refreshing. i liked how Katsa and Po are so comfortable around each other, and they don't have to pretend. Other supporting characters in the book was superbly well-drawn and described and that is a big, big plus for me. I love how the characters grow within the story. I also liked how Katsa, in this book, is basically on the journey of becoming a young woman, dealing with her powers and emotions, and all that melted along with her relationship with Prince Po.

I extremely enjoyed the radiance of this book, definitely one I will treasure.


Grade: B+

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I've been wanting to have a review for this book. Now just to tell, you I read this book in one night, just when I bought it. That was how amazing this book is. Well, this is no supernatural love story like the previous books that I have read. But this book just captures me so intensely. Thirteen Reasons Why also brings up an issue that teenagers face around the world.

Now the synopsis,
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a first-hand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself – a truth he never wanted to face.

You can pretty much get a picture in your head on what is going to happen in the story. Clay Jensen simply gets these 13 tapes that Hannah recorded before she died. Each of these tapes reveals confessions, feelings, and stories from Hannah which she has kept bottled up inside her for so long. And let me tell you, Hannah's words from the tapes were so haunting and intense. Once again, I could feel chills in my body as I read, I wonder how much more intense it will be if I actually heard those tapes.'

Every second I was with Clay during the story, I was so captured into the words. It was pure suspense really, it was so great that I can't just turn the pages fast enough. Before I knew it I was finished with the book.

The things that Hannah went through with different situations, different people in her life was explained so honestly, some of those things were so relatable, and it was so painful reading some of her experiences. I salute Jay Asher and his excellent writing in the book. I connected with Hannah, I felt her and I also felt some empathy for Clay, just so it's clear, he cared about Hannah. I love how the story developed, how every word just gets so intense. This story is played in two different perspectives, Hannah and Clay. It was really interesting to see these two perspectives melted together.

I learnt a lot from this book, and it has really woken me up and gave me more insight to some of life's principles. As I said the issue that surfaced from this book is teenage suicide, and I loved how Jay Asher is speaking to all of us about it through the story, it was very appealing to me. From this book I learnt that, we can just never know how we can affect other people, especially when they're already in so much pain, and how we are (sometimes unknowingly) adding more to their pain. I was able to see how the seemingly little things various people in her tapes have done to her can lead to her reasons for committing suicide. Those individuals could have just changed their actions, their attitudes, their behavior.

But us humans can be a little insensitive and we don't know how our actions can affect other people. I honestly wanted to help her, I could relate to her. I desperately wanted to help her and tell her to have faith, and all this would pass. But in this book, everybody else was ignorant, they never helped her, and that's why it had to tragically end.

So, from this book I really wanted to change my ways. I want to treat people as well as how I want them to treat me. I also want to help people in my life who are going through the hard obstacles life is giving. I highly recommend this book and I hope that people will gain awareness about this issue around them before a similar disaster like this happens.


Grade : A+

Fallen by Lauren Kate

I've just finished a book borrowed from my lovely friend Neysa. It is a book that I have been anticipating for quite a long long time. I jumped and shrieked at the sight of it when I saw Fallen at the mall bookstore when I was spending time with Neysa and her friends. I encouraged her to borrow the book, since she's a book lover like me.

So here it goes, first, of course, the overview.

There's something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price's attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He's the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce--and goes out of his way to make that very clear--she can't let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret... even if it kills her.

Dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, Fallen is a page turning thriller and the ultimate love story.

I knew this book was worth waiting all those months! I loved it and read it within a span of 5 days. I've fallen (woot!) for the alluring scent of supernatural fiction books and Fallen is one at its best. Like the silly teenage girl that I am, I'm going through the years where the words "boy" and "love" are currently the loudest rings in my ear. Books like this are getting my attention, and I simply devoured this one like a bowl of Chocolate Mousse. This book just keeps tugging at me, with Lauren Kate's superb execution of the plot and her way with words. I get caught up in the mysterious, eerie setting of Sword & Cross reform school, I swear to you I've had a couple of chills up my body while reading this book.

The characters were brilliant and I really connected with them. Just in case you didn't know, that is a plus on my list. I really liked Luce, she's a troubled, disturbed girl because of these dark "shadows" that keeps appearing before. And that has shaped her the way she is in the book, and she definitely learnt a lot more. She has just these troubled emotions and she dealt with them a lot especially when it involves the gorgeous, mysterious and strangely familiar Daniel. Daniel is oh so intriguing, and he just seems to have this problem with her and she confuses over it. But you'll find out more about him as you read and as the pages unfurls, you can't help but feel empathy for him. Then there's Cam, and there would be something that you'd never expect of him, mostly because of his "like-ability", he was almost to good to be true. But I'll leave that for you to find out ;)

There is also Arriane. She's the first girl Luce talked to at Sword & Cross, and she is this quirky, funky girl that you'd want to be best friends with and can't help but love. I really, really liked her. Then there's Penn, the funny, easygoing who also befriends Luce.

The story just builds up chapter-t0-chapter and it gets a lot more interesting and twisty nearing the end of the book. But it's never boring, never. It doesn't feel slow at all like other books I've read (like Going Bovine by Libba Bray). Lauren Kate just has this way of keeping you on your toes as the story progresses until it really starts building up. She kept the story interesting, capturing without using so much flowery or "cheesy" words. You will keep wondering about so many things in this book and you just might come up with some questions.

Of course, the good stuff. The forbidden love. The irresistible yet intense chemistry between Daniel and Luce. I simply loved it. Why I love reading about love so much is that, I think love is worth striving, worth fighting for, and I've had my share of fighting. I really connected to the characters and understood more on how they feel, and I felt that too. The way Lauren Kate speaks about her characters just felt so genuine and real, I could relate to some of Luce's emotions especially towards people in this book.

Alas, my review is coming to an end. Now, as you pick up Fallen, I must say, don't pick it up and compare it with other books that relates to this type of genre. Because this book itself is just so one-of-a-kind special, unique and amazing.

And, don't you think that the cover is just to die for? It will definitely get my vote if there was ever an award for Best Book Covers of the Year.

This engrossing, gothic love story is just too irresistible for me. And I will definitely read the next book, which is Torment. I loved the whole mystery of it, and it will leave you hanging, until the last word.



Grade: A+

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