It's 20 minutes past 3 in the morning and I had just finished The Butterfly Garden and I had to because it is really a page-turner. I can't help myself but to finish the book because what was done to make me find out more, it is thanks to Dot Hutchison for doing a fine job in making a reader out of me to continue reading towards such a morning... but where do I start with this book?
The Butterfly Garden is a mystery crime suspense thriller that draws the reader into a world of serial criminals. Firstly, the good stuff.
The book is divided into three roman numeral parts, which I felt I would like to call it The Before, The Garden and The After. Why would this book voted as the second best choice for Goodreads under the category 'Horror' (which I felt, the book isn't really under 'Horror' if you ask me but rather what I said in the second paragraph), it manages to bring that suspenseful feeling of knowing more about a victim, that could be the suspect - Maya, one of the girls that had been held captive in a place called 'The Garden'. Before, she has another name and a life that describes what sort of horrible life she went through until she was kidnapped by 'The Gardener'. She wakes up in a cave that is designed like a garden, with twenty other women, whom were also being held captive as well not their own will by 'The Gardener'. He tattoos Maya a butterfly wings, rapes her as he sees fit but took care of her. So were the other girls that are there. She gets to know each of the girls and know that by the age of 21, once a beauty reaches its maturity, no one ever lives through that age... and like a Butterfly encased on resin, beauty preserves. Do you understand where I am heading with this summary?
So even though the book is divided into three Roman Numerals, the story is told in two scenes - Maya being question by two FBI investigators after being rescued with some other girls and Maya's story before her rescued and what her experience was in the Garden and her life before. This does feels like a method being used and told like Bryan Singer's The Usual Suspects. You see, Agent Victor Hanoverian isn't sure if Maya is a victim at all and he needs to know the truth. Interesting enough, the way that the author deliver each page was quite ingenious and had me hook for quite some time. I would have read it in one sitting but there is so much to absorb and to like - especially the description of each character, the Garden, the intentions and goals involved, the sickness of it and to a point the understanding is pretty well-done. To sum it up, I really enjoy it and it has been quite a while I found a book that I enjoy it because it does not really beat around the bush. I mean, yes - Maya did beat around the bush with Victor during interrogation but it was pretty straightforward kind and the exchange of dialogue is challenging. The sick philosophy about Butterflies from the perspective of a serial rapist is well explained of its intentions and why he tattoos them is all cleared and made of. And to read it overall as a book - its a book I held my hands wanting to know more and finally, I just read past my bedtime and now typing out this review means this book is a worthy read.
There are some problems along the way as I read it. For one - the realism of the premise is just unbelievable. I mean - twenty over kidnapped girls in one big cavern garden controlled by The Gardener and one sick older son... any of these kidnap victims can overwhelm them. Maybe the logic behind is that they are very young and afraid but in today's modern world, I do wonder how victims are chosen... especially when one of the victims sort of out on her own loop on the head side. I had to suspend disbelief in order to accept it because it is rather unrealistic. One victim I can truly understand but 20 girls its high maintenance. Secondly, the The Gardener background story, even though it is well explained of its intentions I felt it is rather quite think. The why is explained... its just that the basis of it just don't hold too strong of it. And then... the ending. Well, yes - there is a twist in the ending but rather, I felt the twist is rather weak. I mean, okay I can understand all of that but that twist is just not able to make it deliciously tasty. It just feels like when I ordered my coffee to be hot, it just taste lukewarm. Not that I complained much but that twist wasn't necessary even though it does explain certain parts as its meant to be part of but rather, its not and I would not want to reveal more of it because I do not want to spoil it.
In overall sense, I suspend the realism and get to enjoy the book. Thoroughly it has been a while since I read some thing very good even though there are some parts I do not agree upon. There is no struggle in giving it a four star rating (and not even a 3.5) because its worth that much of a rating. What manages that is how the delivery and flow of the story was written well by Dot Hutchison and since this is the first of the trilogy of The Collector series (not connected to one another), I can say I am looking forward her next book. If she can come up with some thing this good of a suspense mystery, I do not mind waiting for the next one and reads it.
What I hold is the first of the trilogy of Knights of the Borrowed Dark, a fantasy middle-grade book about knights and the court of order holding the balance of the universe. What I never expect was the fantasy I had longed for for a long time since the good old days of the 1980s I loved so much (like Ron Howard's Willow and 1981's Clash of the Titans). Those were the days where fantasy really meant some thing of good versus evil. Knights of the Borrowed Dark has that fire that burns deep into the hearts of any reader who long for such fantasy books... and to my surprise, it does not even read like a middle-grade book at all.
Plot summary: Denizen Hardwick lived almost his whole life in an orphanage at Crosscaper. When a man named Grey appeared to pick him up as the sun sets, Denizen did not know that he was part of a lineage of Knights of the Borrowed Dark that secretly protects mankind from unknown creatures of the dark after he and Grey encounter one. As it comes, there were much bigger plotted evil that is arising as the Knights will have to faced old foes that will once and for all, bring destruction to mankind. But Denizen's first problem would be the turn of his 13th birthday that will, without a choice, putting his life on the line of death and misery.
Just reading this small summary of mine or even from what was provided on the blurb doesn't sound that awesome but after a few chapters, I am beginning to think how far this book can truly go. It has so much potential to be made into a movie. Heck, it is so much more than that as it is well written with poetic sentences and words that is truly rich of learning. Words like:
The whole scene had the glassy, unmoving perfection of a postcard.
... or even...
Simon whispered as they picked their way through a graveyard of candles, the carpet of sea of crushed tallow, the air darkened by a thousand snake tongues of smoke.
I am floored by how well describe each chapter has that not only it is meant to, but it has been a long time since anyone wrote any of that way much better than any middle-grade book I have read. The fantasy element is quite original, but it has been seen before. The execution of the story is pretty much a fantasy adventure kind, that is both exciting and thrilling for me and although one part of the plot is predictable, I felt its forgivable because the delivery is just as exciting as I enjoy it the second 1/2 of the book. Yes, the first 1/2 of the book can be a little draggy as introductions of the characters are well weaved but the excitement begins later. Well, rounded as the characters are memorable and although this is a trilogy, Knights of the Borrowed Dark was only recently released earlier this year and so, some parts of the book have questions to readers that I hope, will be fulfilled in the later sequels.
I have long for a good fantasy novel for quite some time, but a modern fantasy novel that has the standards of what most other would appeal to fans of Rick Riordan and Derek Landy, anyone that hasn't read Percy Jackson would be happy to read this book if they give this a shot. I am glad that I did, satisfied with it and can't wait for the sequel to be released next year.
There is so much to talk about Counting by 7s that for a middle-grade book, there is philosophy that can't be ignored. This is a story of a gifted girl named Willow Chance that has a significant character of 7s and has a way about herself that nobody understood her. Adopted by foster parents - tragedy strikes and she was left alone in a world that devastated her to a world of uncertainty and not knowing what to do. Along the way, she met flawed characters - her guidance counselor Dell Duke, a teenager girl name Mai, her brother Quang-Ha and mother Pattie and a Mexican taxi driver name Jairo. The loss of her foster parents changed her but the people she meet along the way make her a better person. It's a story that is witty, quirky and funny. There is drama, adventure and a little bit of suspense. Its the slice of life about... well, life and how we deal with personal loss and foster care. About the unknown certainty and the fear of moving forward...
... and what we never expect happen and what we expected, never do.
I truly enjoy the details and the specific grooming of each character that is significant on its own. The development is so individualistic, Holly Goldberg Sloan did a good job in creating unique flawed characters of acceptance and the important lessons of accepting people. Even a cat named Cheddar that only appear 10% of the book memorable. What I enjoy is how it brings out certain emotions when I read. Its not easy to laugh just by reading and I did mention before in previous reviews of books I read, its not easy to make me laugh and it did. There is so much that I do agree in what was said there. The book is almost perfect but there were a few chapters I felt it does drag a little, otherwise it would have been a good rating of five star. What was, to me, a let down was the closure that does not seem realistic. It does falter a little in the ending but overall, its the kind of story that I like about and its pretty well-done in the character department.
I am surprise middle-grade books these days are so well-written and its meant for those age group. For me, as an adult I find the appeal can also be read to older readers because its relaxing and fun to read. The chapters are well divided and given attention to and for me, I like how its done. Books like this should not be ignored, its meant to be read in any age.
Well, it took a while. I mean, almost a month to complete. Now why is that, you must wonder? Let me laid it out and why this book deserves a four star rating from me.
All the Birds in the Sky is an original, unique story unlike any other with a blend of science fiction and magic. Its a story that spans a few decades where an unforeseen future takes place and an inevitable fate where two unlikely people (Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead) cross path that would shape the future of mankind. To top it off - its also a very weird story.
At first, I do find that each part (which are called Books) does not seem to connect too well with one another. It took me a while to figure out where this is going as I felt every single chapter is a filler. It was to a point of part 4 that every thing was laid out and how each of these chapter connects in a weird sense. As the story progress, there are some back stories (fillers) which was kind of important that leads to the main plot but weak on supporting characters, which at times are forgettable and unmemorable. Still, part of its science and fantasy blend was so different, I never expect it to connected well that I even accept it. Its the sort of weird that I like and never read before but the kind of fun weird that I enjoy most.
To me, the book may not be anyone's normal kind of reading where even reading, reader's had a set of rules of acceptance that can not be broken. All the Birds in the Sky breaks all that belief and in a way, I like it a lot. Its fresh, its new and simply put - its just some thing I like surprisingly. It did took me a while to finish it because I did had a hard time to accept but in the end, the realization of how good this book is finally dawn on me and it is good. Its just I need to suspend what I know and accept what this book is meant to be told.
"Next time, we're moving somewhere hot and quiet before any of this happens,"
Time travel stories are a dime a dozen. When I picked up The Next Together by Lauren James (her debut book), it was on a whim of a simple 3 line plot. I never thought it was so much more after I read it last year and now re-reading again this year!
Here's a short summary: Kate Finchley and Matt Galloway are destine to meet. Each time they meet, they were tragically destine to separate... in three different timelines. What happens if the next time they meet, they will decide to control their present, future and their past lives? What I love about this book is not just the science fiction of time travel and reincarnation of meeting past lives, but the romance between the two protagonist that had me going. The dialogue is witty, funny and the exchange between the characters is realistic. Not to mention, there is a unique part of this book besides the text print - there are other images included like letters, maps, website screen capture and more that makes the reading more visual for the reader to follow. Its also an easy read and easy to follow with three different timelines converging into one single story. What makes it even better, the execution is thrilling and mysterious as a bonus that makes you want to know more what is going on
While this is a duology series, yes the first book has many unanswered questions and ends with a cliffhanger. Anyone picks up the first book will probably have an unsatisfactory read due to some gaps in the story that needed answers. No worries - the release of The Last Beginning is available for pick up to complete the series. I do hope it does answer all questions but some how reading the first prologue of The Last Beginning, I am happy to say its on a good start. Lauren James debut book has a promising start with this book. It's fresh, different and clear in writing the story. I am looking forward to any books she will be writing in the future.
Trilogies. The last time I read a trilogy was Ransom Riggs Peculiar Children series and it was good. My second trilogy was the Firebird series... and I have to say A Million Worlds with You was so much better than A Thousand Pieces of Youand Ten Thousand Skies Above You. The final book has thoroughly explored almost all possibilities of the multiverse that every single chapter ends with a wanting to read further (I know it took me more than 2 weeks to complete but due to year end work, I wish I could finished it in a day!). The change was so significant - there is a whole lot of action, less repetitive narrations which was a lot in ATPOY & TTSAY and it does get annoying, the unexpected surprises involve where every thing you thought that had you in the previous two books, this was a change that is surprising and a pretty good balance or romance and science fiction, which to say the previous was out of whack. The exploration of fate, chance and destiny has finally been answered satisfactory and I can understand why it was explored in TTSAY since there were more questions than answers but it is answered in AMWWY. What I was not prepared of is the adventure that I enjoyed most reading this book and a great discussion yesterday about A Million Worlds with You with other book readers and a chance to Skype with Claudia Gray with other book readers too.
When I read a series, it is important that the beginning set its course, the middle is the purpose and the ending completes the purpose itself. While A Thousand Pieces of You and Ten Thousand Skies Above You does have a bit of a weak beginning and middle, A Million Worlds with Youcovers it so well that its almost a perfect read. Clearly, this has become one of my favorite reads of 2016
We are unhappy because we think that love is something we require from someone else. Our salvation depends on a simple gesture that is nonetheless the most difficult act we can perform: We must give away the thing we most long for. Not to receive but to give.
There was a moment of hesitation when I challenged myself to read In Lucia's Eyes. Historical novels is not part of my reading habits (and I will never touched self-help books and only certain autobiography books) but I am impressed by this English translation even though I felt I need to re-read a few times to get the gist of it because of its past and present in come chapters. Written in three parts, In Lucia's Eyes is written in the view of (in the beginning) of a girl (Lucia) and her relationship of her first love with Giacomo Casanova (yes, that infamous cheat of hearts) before the ever fate of meeting again in different circumstances. Their meeting was meant to be in the later years but the test of time of only one that Lucia needs to know from Casanova - true love
What I love about this book is the growth I get to read from Lucia - how someone as innocent as her when she was 14 and met Casanova (he was then on his way taking up a career as priesthood) and then it was love that is simple based on the heart of emotions. When tragedy struck on Lucia that cause her her disfigurement, she left her family in shame without telling what happened to Casanova. It was then, through all the years and experiences she went through changed her to a much stronger women and her understanding of love through the people she meet along the way. Chance and fate reconnects Lucia (changed her name to Galathee de Pompignac to conceal her identity) and Casanova (changed his name to Jacques de Seingalt), where one recognizes him and not her, put to a test if love prevails
Elegant and sexy, poignant and intriguing - In Lucia's Eyesby Arthur Japin is a read like no other. I was mesmerized and satisfied that I even ran out of vocabulary to add more for this review but only one I want to say now - a good read. While what was written is similar to modern love these days, I have never read a character of a stronger woman in equal stand with a man much like this (maybe because I have yet to read stories about strong women) and to see Lucia, that has grown so much with such intellect makes me fall in love with her. If any thing, I admired her courage, her strength and her ever endless battle of reason vs. emotion that shows us what is love in her point of view. Experiences of love do change the way we understand it and see it, and there is truth in this book that do says it. If any thing, it can be a heart-wrenching read but one that matures one's thinking.
You are about to read Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller that you bought from your favorite book store. As you turn to the first chapter, you realize you are reading you. You begin to read a description of you and what you would do in the book. You realize you are going through the book and wonder what are you reading. You realize this book has two different sections - one that you read about you doing the things Italo Calvino wants you to do and the other, all pieces of chapters that has nothing to do with the story itself but you have a grand fine time reading adventure, romance, mystery, a satire, an erotic, a diary and a quest piece. You wonder where it will take you and then, in the end - you realize how good this story is by the time you are done.
It took me a long time to read this and why such a long time is due to 1). Work, 2). there is so much to absorb in this book and 3). I am trying to figure out what it all means. Towards the end of the book, I realize how ingenious this book was written for the reader. Its unique, its weird and its interesting unlike I have ever read before. While the story do take different turns in many ways, its so inventive that what I had read is enjoyable in many ways. Although at times I was confuse, it does took me a while to like it. I have never read any thing from Italy but this is one of the interesting ones that I do enjoy and thankful on a whim when I pick this up, is worth a read.
Writing can change the world
There is so much we can learn from this middle grade book. Save Me a Seat is written in view of two protagonist of two different cultures - Ravi and Joe. Ravi is from India migrated to America when his family moved over here to start fresh in the land of opportunity. Joe is a boy with a condition that wants to be left alone. Both of them have one thing in common - they were bullied by a student in their class. What happens in the end... well, you have to read this book.
Both views are read from an Asian perspective and western perspective itself. What I love about this book is that is so much any children can learn the morale values in it. There are so many nice quotes included as well that we can learn from, which I won't reveal here as it will spoil the story. As the story unfolds in five days, I love the simplicity and the beauty of the plot. Its so simple and yet an endearing read.
Gita Varadarajan and Sarah Weeks done so well with this book, this should be read in all school libraries. If you have kids around middle grade age, please let them read this book. Its suitable and it teaches children the importance of learning and guidance and surviving in school. But what is more important, its how it is delivered. As a teacher myself, I would recommend this to students to read.
Whoa... what a trip! Claudia Gray has cover almost every single question there is to know or understand in A Thousand Pieces of You. What started as a journey of revenge turn into a multi-dimensional jumping across the universe to discover love has become a science fiction young adult romance with more twist and turns to a point unexpectedly ends with a cliffhanger. The shivers that came with this unexpected ending is just what is needed for turning this Firebird trilogy into a television series.
As it begins, we see our protagonist (Marguerite & Paul), once more, travel to other dimensions to save their friend Theo from an unexpected side effects of Nightthief (when the 'other' version of Theo took over his body) by finding a cure. What happens later Paul was splintered into four other dimensions and Wyatt Conley (the main villain) make a deal with Marguerite in order to save Paul's soul, she will help Conley to sabotage and destroy all Firebird technology that was discovered in other dimensions. As she travel, what she herself discover of her love for Paul questions her love for him and other versions of Paul.
Sequels are a tricky thing - it either grabs you and lose you when you begin to read. A season reader will have more expectations than those aren't. There are twist that surprises me, some were quite unexpected that do questions Marguerite's faith on Paul. While Claudia Gray description of other dimensions and theories of similarities are logical, I do feel there are one too many times recaps repeated in the book. Nevertheless, it was not formulated and it is slightly better than the first book and of course, until that "twist" in the end, that held me abound and crave for more
Claudia Gray has created some thing what was a favorite concept of mind but what was good in the first book, has step up a little higher for the sequel. While I can say it is bias of this review because I love Quantum Leap and Sliders, the Firebird trilogy able to quench my thirst for more what I loved from both TV series. I do hope in the third and final book she will do away a lot of recap repeats in the book as it does hinder the fun in reading. This is so far a worthy sequel of the first.
When it comes to manga, there is always a focal point in their series. Be it tennis, football, food, magic, love - there is always some thing that manga creators able to bring out the best in subject.
Haikyu!! (of Volleyball) is another series debut in 2012 in Japan and recently released this year for the English version readers. I have to say - there is so much to read and lots of dialogue involve. It can be tedious when it comes to reading it but towards the end, I was entertained by its message of pure simple philosophy of playing volleyball. Nevertheless, I need to adjust to enjoy the art itself, not that I am complaining but it does feel a lot to appreciate some of it. Haruichi Furudate had a good start with the first volume and I am looking forward to get the second and third onwards.
Like most manga, if you love focal subject or volleyball, you might want to give this a try.
... revealing great shining fangs more than three inches long.
It was Halloween and in a short notice, I wanted to read ghost stories. This was in my hand quite some time ago and I thought I give this a try, skip the rest of the volumes to read Pu Songling's Wailing Ghosts. Turns out... this is more of a melancholy tale of old folk's urban legend of the supernatural.
There are 14 short stories in total, not every single one of them is a good read. A few have ambiguous endings, some were lessons and the rest were... well, interesting. I myself love Butterfly because it reminds me of an old 1980s Hong Kong film A Chinese Ghost Story... just the essence of it. The rest can pass off as some thing where you heard it from some where but as urban myths. Of its entirety, I think Pu Songling was a better storyteller rather than a writer of stories, if you get my meaning.
I kind of enjoy the first book of the trilogy. Its quite fast, I love the creative dimensional worlds description in this book and that reminds me a lot of the 1995-2000 Sliders television series that I used to love and of course, the 'taking-over' versions of ourselves in the universe that do feels like Quantum Leap (I am feeling a little old on this but hey, I love TV!) and voila - you have an 18-year old girl named Marguerite Caine travel through alternate dimensions that hunt down her father's killer named Paul Markov (a Russian physics favorite student of her fathers) together with Theo Beck (another physics student) on jumping through worlds. But what it seems to be on a hunt to bring justice to her father's killer may turn out bigger than what it seems into a conspiracy of a bigger league. That's how it sets off with the first book of the Firebirdtrilogy.
Its quite a simple read actually. Easy to follow, not much of science techno-explanation that might give you problems that you need to go back to your school days when you learn about science as a subject. Every thing was laid out pretty well and I do enjoy the actions that go along with it. Some how, it does lay thick with the romance when Marguerite was in Russia but every thing else is enjoyable. I can see why Claudia Gray succeed with this but I felt this first book was short on many things - unexplained loopholes, unexplained events that occurred and of course, the ending. Overall - I do find it an easy read and it can be done in a day (took me 4 because I got work to do). I do hope my next read will fill in the blanks but for anyone that loves science fiction in a simplify manner, this book might work for you (or if you love alternate dimensions that you are curious about what version are you in another dimension).
Imagine this - A TV Series in the making of a book series. Yes, Michael Grant's Gone is very similar to any television series you watched today (Lost, Heroes - you get the idea) except its in written format. The reading is quite fast paced with the beginning of the disappearance of adults and anyone at the age of 15 and over. Then comes the powers and the mutation and the epic battle between good and evil. The reluctant hero, the villain you will hate, the love interest, the cowardly friend and the gathering of normals and freaks. Yes, this is how this series began for Gone... and it has a promising start. I was drawn by its cover and its blurb and after reading it (about 550 over pages), I felt like I just complete watching a season of The Walking Dead, without the zombies.
I can't say much about the character development as there is much to explore and to fill in but its easy to spot who is who with so many other characters involve. There is potential, for sure to understand what is going on and how it happened and who is the mysterious 'Darkness' that delves deep into the mine's of a mountain, why is there a barrier over Perdido Beach and why nobody can get out of it. Well, like I said - its very television series material. I have no idea why but I enjoy it so far... at least it beats last night's The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 1 (damn you Negan!!!). If you haven't pick up Gone or have not even heard of it but you love television series that will give you a good entertainment value, pick up Gone. I will pick up the rest of the books (a total of 6 in the series) to find out the fate of the kids.