The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3)

via Goodreads

Read from: 18th – 20th of August

Rated it: 5/5 stars

Well to say at the least, things are sure heating up. I do like that we get to see more of the other gods. Titan’s Curse is definitely more action packed and it’s only going to get a whole lot more livelier as the series progresses. I love the secondary characters (new ones!) and how their own back-stories are connected to the various parts in the plot. I’m certain that I am not alone when I say I’ve missed Annabeth. That girl.

I have no hope for Luke. The boy is lost. Is it the power that seduced him in the first place? The bitterness towards his father and the other gods? Both probably, but like most dreams of victory on the ‘other’ side of the battlefield, I think he finally found that Titans and Gods alike laugh at his plans and he’s caught up in a massive sticky spiderweb.

Perhaps by now he realizes that he’s no more than a spawn, the very thing he loathed to become in the first place. Or does he need a itty-bitty pit stop before he goes off and fail again after close encounters? Continue reading

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George R.R. Martin

via Goodreads

Rated it: 4 stars

Finished on: May 4th

I’d read A Game of Thrones a few months before so it only took me a little while to get reacquainted with everyone and all that had happened. A Clash of Kings is a bloody good (spot the pun!) second book. The people, the places, the treason, it’s all so realistic and I can’t help but be emotionally invested.

Theon was somewhat of a surprise. I understand what drove him, what ate at him but he was impatient and too full of himself. I hate him for what he did to Winterfell and I so so hate him what he’s done to further split the Stark children apart. At the same time though, I felt sorry for the fool but that pride is a terrible thing.

The expedition beyond the wall was exciting to be sure. He hadn’t known what he was in for when he joined the Night’s Watch but it’s becoming clear to me it’s where Jon’s supposed to be. Who is he other than the bastard of Winterfell? The trials he’s to grapple with and battles he sure to face ahead will challenge and shape him and perhaps eventually he’ll begin to learn what sort of stuff he’s made of. I am itching to know what the wildlings are up to. When will we finally see this King Beyond The Wall?

Bran. I don’t know what to say. He’s the one in the most precarious situation, him and Rickon. Even cripples have to fight. I hope to god that Osha is as good as her word.

Tyrion Lannister is the black sheep of that lot, in more ways than one. He knows what Cerci and Jaime had been up to, he knows what those of his house are capable of. So so very unlike Ned Stark, he keeps what has been under wraps, biding time, and playing chess and still remain loyal to his house. While being Hand of the King he does what he can for the realm, not for himself.

Okay I mean, fine Continue reading

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

via Goodreads.com

Rated: 5/5 stars

Eyes mark the shape of the city.

- page 3, 11:56 PM

Have you ever felt that a certain book could have been written just for you? After Dark is mine. Possessive, I know, that’s how it feels but then since when has a book never been personal? It’s a quiet and observant work of art, one that just states it purpose in an understated inflection that belies its significance, its message to us.

This is my first Haruki Murakami and I have fallen in love. I’ve tried so much, struggled to express into words the soft-but-firm clinging strings of the spell that the night has cast upon me. So far, I haven’t found a short version, After Dark is the long one, and it’s come close.

Commuter trains of many colours move in all directions, transporting people from place to place. Each of those under transport is a human being with a different face and mind, and at the same time each is a nameless part of the collective entity. Each is simultaneously a part of a self-contained whole and a mere part. Handling this dualism of theirs skillfully and advantageously, they perform their morning rituals with deftness and precision: brushing teeth, shaving, tying neckties, applying lipstick.
– page 241, 6:50 AM

This fact of being an individual entity and a part of an ever morphing jigsaw puzzle of existence simultaneously, has always been on the fringes of my awareness and reading this it fills me with some contentment, now that I’ve finally seen it put in a coherent arrangement of words.

Mari has made her way through the long hours of darkness, traded many words with the night people she encountered there, and come back to where she belongs.
– page 243, 6:52 AM Continue reading

Currently reading: After Dark by Haruki Murakami

It it a beauty?

Isn’t it a beauty?

I’ve been eying this one up for a good time too. The title alone caught my attention since I’m a night animal myself. I’m at page 181 of 244, I’m not sure what to say and I mean that in a good way. I could probably gather my thoughts properly if I wrote after reading it but I’m trying to do like an in-between kind of thing.

Goodreads blurb

At its center are two sisters—Eri, a fashion model slumbering her way into oblivion, and Mari, a young student soon led from solitary reading at an anonymous Denny’s toward people whose lives are radically alien to her own: a jazz trombonist who claims they’ve met before, a burly female “love hotel” manager and her maid staff, and a Chinese prostitute savagely brutalized by a businessman. These “night people” are haunted by secrets and needs that draw them together more powerfully than the differing circumstances that might keep them apart, and it soon becomes clear that Eri’s slumber—mysteriously tied to the businessman plagued by the mark of his crime—will either restore or annihilate her.
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The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan

via Goodreads

Rated it: 4.5 stars

Goodreads blurb

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

I’ve had this on my to-read list for a couple of years, until recently I finally decided to give it a try. I’m pleased to say that I was not disappointed. Percy Jackson is a smart mouthed kid, more than a little hot headed, slightly annoying, I’d say strong minded when it counts and vulnerable but yet ready to take chances. In the beginning I was thinking if he could get more complaining it’s going to be a problem, however, as it turned out he was okay.

Prior to reading this I was aware of Harry Potter parallels. There are certainly similarities, I can make a list now that I’ve finished; there’s the twelve cabins of the major Gods and Goddesses (twenty in all) in the place of the four houses for example. It’s no problem to me because whatever those intersecting concepts are they have valid purposes, it doesn’t seem like a cut-and-paste.

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

via Goodreads

Rated: 4.5 stars

Blurb

Invited to an extravagantly lavish party in a Long Island mansion, Nick Carraway, a young bachelor who has just settled in the neighbouring cottage, is intrigued by the mysterious host, Jay Gatsby, a flamboyant but reserved self-made man with murky business interests and a shadowy past. As the two men strike up an unlikely friendship, details of Gatsby’s impossible love for a married woman emerge, until events spiral into tragedy.

Regarded as Fitzgerald’s masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of American literature, The Great Gatsby is a vivid chronicle of the excesses and decadence of the “Jazz Age”, as well as a timeless, cautionary critique of the American dream.

~

I didn’t think I’d like this as much as I’d previously thought, the classics genre often hint to a bore of a book, often but not always. The Great Gatsby is, in short, a tragic love story and you’ll find here that a woman can spell ruin for a man, not that it’s news. I can see why many before me consider this a great book. Fitzgerald captured a drop of human nature during the time of easy money and high living in beautiful prose.

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

via Goodreads.

Rated it: 5 stars

Goodreads blurb

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

My review

It had taken me about 100 pages to really get into but after then I was hooked. I just fell in love with these two teenagers and their love story. Initially I was skeptical, I mean these were really a deep pair with all their in depth analyzing of well … everything. But I went with it, partly because I think that not everyone takes the time to discover themselves and while I believe Hazel and Augustus were both intelligent, this disease prompted them to grow up much faster. Then there’s a couple lines from a NPR.org review:

Green writes books for young adults, but his voice is so compulsively readable that it defies categorization. He writes for youth, rather than to them, and the difference is palpable …. You will be thankful for the little infinity you spend inside this book.”

I couldn’t have said it better, but Thomas did:

How unrealistic John Green’s characters tend to be has turned me off from most of his other books – the characters in this one suffered slightly from it too – but The Fault in Our Stars as a whole is John Green’s best book to date.

Like I said, at times Hazel (the protagonist) and Augustus (the love interest, but so much more) came off as wise beyond their years. They notice this, their parents notice this, and readers will notice this. However, there is something so human about the way Green portrays them that makes them relatable. They are not simply teens suffering from cancer, but teens who doubt their place in the world, who are filled with angst and longing and confusion and hope. I can’t say I’ve experienced the exact same emotions as Hazel and Augustus have, but I can say that it’s easy to empathize with them and feel their pain entirely.

I totally recommend that you read the entire review.

This is actually hard for me to write, I know what I feel but the words refuse to leave. The Fault in Our Stars is honest, frank, smart, funny, poignant and heartbreakingly beautiful.

TFIOS is the first book where I really don’t care for negative reviews, while they can seldom be agreeable, they won’t change how I feel at all as they used to tickle the doubt that usually lurks around. I can’t remember crying so much since Harry Potter four years ago, it just seems so real. The words read themselves to me as much as I read them, I felt the emotions they dictated head on, fighting it makes no sense.

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Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona Andrews

via Goodreads, click to see more info.

Rated it: 5 Stars

Recommends it to: Generally the Young Adult crowd into the urban fantasy realm. If you liked The Edge series (haven’t read it yet myself), chances are you might like this one as well.

GR blurb

Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.

Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…

My review

A slight spoiler is in here somewhere

I think this might possibly be the best book in the series. Not only because this wasn’t happening in Atlanta but half way around the world made me pause; it could be either really good or disastrous, because they’re going to be way out of their territory so any crap can happen but that made the prospect of reading this even more exciting. It was awesome.

Punctuated with the much loved smart-mouth remarks, Kate, Curran and Co. sail across the Black Sea on body guard duty. Having no choice on the matter really, they agree to a contract drawn up where in exchange of protecting the werewolf mother-to-be Dessandra in exchange for the precious panacea, a substance capable of drastically reducing the probability of young shifters falling prey to loupism. Dessandra though, oh my goodness, that woman is a case by herself, complex and at times pitiful (and I suspect that’s on purpose) but certainly not stupid.

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The Chocolate Kiss (Amour et Chocolat #2) by Laura Florand

via Goodreads

Rated it: 5 stars    Recommend it to: 18 and above. People who liked The Chocolate Thief, and chocolaty romance.

GR blurb

The Heart of Paris

Welcome to La Maison des Sorcieres. Where the window display is an enchanted forest of sweets, a collection of conical hats delights the eye and the habitues nibble chocolate witches from fanciful mismatched china. While in their tiny blue kitchen, Magalie Chaudron and her two aunts stir wishes into bubbling pots of heavenly chocolat chaud.

But no amount of wishing will rid them of interloper Philippe Lyonnais, who has the gall to open one of his world famous pastry shops right down the street. Philippe’s creations seem to hold a magic of their own, drawing crowds of beautiful women to their little isle amidst the Seine, and tempting even Magalie to venture out of her ivory tower and take a chance, a taste…a kiss.

Parisian princesses, chocolate witches, patissier princes and sweet wishes—an enchanting tale of amour et chocolat.

My take on the cake

How do I even begin? Magalie has trust issues that stemmed from her uprooted childhood of continent hopping due to her parents’ complicated love. Now all grown up, she’s her aunts’ protégé and sole heir to their charmingly delicious shop, La Maison des Sorcieres, stirring her sweet concoctions of dark hot chocolate thrice and a good wish for the sipper, unaware that there was magic in her mindless ritual. There on her little island just outside the bustling city of Paris is where she’s felt truly at home in a long time.

Enter Philippe Lyonnais, le Prince des Pâtissiers (which I’ll hazzard a guess means Prince of Pastries). He’s opening a new branch of his world renowned pastry shop. Magalie goes on the defensive, threatened by his presence on her territory, her future, since his very presence there can put her out of business. I believe that the fear of losing their shop means she’s going to be losing her place, her center, her only anchor. This panic inside of her blinds her to the man who Phillipe is. Okay, he can be arrogant, righteously so in his opinion. He didn’t go there specifically to  snuff them out but he doesn’t see why he shouldn’t be where he wants to be. After all, Paris was his.

They both longed for someone to love, only that she’s reluctant as hell and he’s more open to the prospect of love. Nothing was rushed, nor was it lagging much. But did I mention his arrogance? She calls him on it almost every time but then takes it upon herself to label him as ‘spoiled’, which wasn’t entirely true as he explained to her. Like Magalie, he had the passion for all that was devilment to the palate. They were meant to be, but first they must learn to control the sparks they sent flying, instead of burning each other, they could stir a love so true under that blaze of theirs.

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The Chocolate Thief (Amour et Chocolat #1) by Laura Florand

via Goodreads

Rated: 4 stars             Recommends it to: Chocolate lovers, those interested in Paris, romance enthusiasts.

Note: This is my first review for the year, and I’m once again participating in The Mad Reviewer’s reviewing challenge. Check it.

GR blurb

The Parisian sorcerer of artisan chocolate, handsome Frenchman Sylvain Marquis, and the American empress of chocolate bars, Cade Corey, play a decadent game of seduction and subterfuge that causes them both to melt with desire.

Personally, I think this snippet is a tad misleading. It’s not your typical romance with a lot of those scenes. You know what I’m talking about, and even those aren’t explicit, it’s more emotional than physical if anything.

My review

 Sweet. That’s this book in one word. The cream is in the gradual shift in Sylvain and Cade’s relationship. And the conflict too. Oh yes, when these two decide to have a go they go at it. I liked how Florand translated the passion of the craft of chocolate making. They both have that passion but are on different wavelengths but the same intensity.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a woman that I like Sylvian more. It ‘s just that I feel he has more texture and complexity as a character compared to Cade, that’s not to say she’s not interesting. No, Cade’s got the brass to go and break in to Sylvian Marquis’ lair of secrets, tenacity right there.

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