Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Prince William and Kate: A Royal Romance

Biographies or Autobiographies or even Non Fictions are not my thing but i do love to read them if the person in question is interesting and yes if the subject is the English royal family then they are pretty much included in the interesting faction and I chanced upon netgalley and got to read this ARC(advanced reader copy) of Prince William and Kate: A Royal Romance by Matt Deoden.

Here is the summary :

On April 29, 2011, the whole world watched as Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton exchanged marriage vows. This royal wedding was one of the most anticipated events in England in recent years. Ever since the couple officially announced their engagement in November 2010, every detail of the wedding has captured headlines around the globe. Why all the excitement? William is second in line to become Britain’s king. William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales is the firstborn child of Charles and Diana, Prince and Princess of Wales. And through marriage to William, Catherine Elizabeth Middleton—known as Kate—turned from a commoner into a duchess. If William becomes king one day, Kate will be the Queen Consort. Follow the couple’s royal romance from their first meeting at the University of St. Andrews, through the ups and downs of their relationship, to the romantic wedding ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey.

Although the entire details presented in the book was pretty much showcased on news channels around the world during their wedding preparations but most of audience to which this book is targeted wasn’t yet born when Diana’s death happened, so the short review within the first few pages was just perfectly sized, considering that this isn’t the story of Diana and her children, but of William himself and of his history with Kate. Not too long, not too short, and perfectly reverent.

The titular character - personality of the book are upon whom the whom the whole thing is based upon. The book goes on to chronicle William’s history up until he meets Kate, and then it’s a joint history leading up to their wedding. Considering that this is a middle-grade book that will probably be ending up in elementary and middle school libraries all over the States (and other places too), there is a lot of information contained within these few pages that will hold the attention of these readers quite easily. The glossy pictures and the articulated pages don’t hurt, either, especially when it comes to digesting all of this information.

The writing is straightforward, with very little in the way of speculation or gossip and the author has included definitions of some words that may be new to the intended audience. (Example: “perceptive” – able to see and understand things clearly.) The new Royals seem to have given hope back to the world, even though their power is more or less just constitutional anyway. Everyone roots for the underdog, and for a long time William was the underdog due to the obstacles thrown at him by life and his family.

While not for the seasoned royal watcher, Prince William & Kate: A Royal Romance is, all-in-all, a good introduction to the newlyweds for the pre-teen crowd.

Genre :      Non-Fiction, Auto biography

PublisherLerner Publishing Group

My Copy : Courtesy of netgalley

Rate:              3/5 (Liked it)

The Ultimate Sacrifice

New authors everyday and its was pleasure to read them giving new meaning to used concepts and even adding new points to the ever increasing and fantasizing young adult fiction bases. Read on about The Ultimate Sacrifice by Talia Jager.

Here is the summary :

Within our world exists a much darker world only known to a select few. Some are identified as "gifted" and brought to a special institute where they develop their own unique talent and understanding of this world within our world. It is here Kassia finds out her talent is both dangerous and difficult to control. She has the ability to inflict pain on an individual within her sight. It is only after a friend is being attacked that she realizes her talent is much more powerful when she brings death to the attackers. Little did she know that use of such a powerful talent alerted demons to her existence. Suddenly she is on the run with her best friend, who ironically is immune to her power, and a new kid at school she was falling for. Realizing she can't outrun the demons, she seeks the guidance of a local shaman. The shaman explains the only escape is through her own death. In order to protect her friends and institute, she sets out to do just that.

Think would you be able to give the ultimate sacrifice to protect your loved ones, your friends? 

The Glendale Institute students are "gifted." This story focuses on Kassia, a mind-blower, one who delivers pain with her mind and can even cause death. Her friends, Mira, Daxton, Noe, Auralee, and Zane all play equally important roles as they come together to stop an army of demons, disgustingly rotten creatures of darkness - of hell; from taking over and everyone being destroyed by them and their evil leader, Kern.

The plot was pretty easy to follow, there’s absolutely nothing complicated about it. Still, at the same time, I was longing for more details and challenges because it was such a good story with added twists. Nonetheless, I’m giving the author some kudos because after a few chapters, I was fixed to the book. I wanted to read more of it, but before I knew it, it’s over. The story took off a bit slow, revolving around school and romance, but as it progressed, everything started to go wild and quite thrilling. On top of that, the first person perspective worked well in bringing both Kassia and Mira to life. The voice was very teenage-like, matches their characters and their emotions were portrayed in convincing manners. All in all, the language used was simple yet flawless.

Although we don't have enough details about all the character but Daxton was interesting. Anybody would love a guy who can whisk you out of your troubles to fantasyland, literally without breaking a sweat. I'm sure every girl out there wants a Daxton too!

The author has a great why of capturing the readers attention. I almost felt like I was there with the characters in the action scenes. I just hope there is a squeal to this one. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal

Pages :      221

My Copy : Review Copy - all thanks to the author

Rate:              4/5 (Really liked it)

Pendragon : #10 The Soldiers of Halla

As expected I didn't like the end but i'm glad so now i can move onto another series, now that its the final book #10 The Soldiers of Halla of the Pendragon saga is complete. Lets find out why...

Here is the summary :

It has all been leading to this. Every victory. Every loss. All the thrills and sadness; the hope and despair. Bobby Pendragon’s heart-pounding journey through time and space has brought him to this epic moment. He and his fellow Travelers must join forces for one last desperate battle against Saint Dane. At stake is not only the tenth and final territory, but all that ever was or will be. Everywhere. This is the war for Halla. Every question is answered. Every truth is revealed. The final battle has begun.

The book exactly delivers all it promises, all the answers. The answers that have been missing since the book 1 but dumping the whole thing at once as well as adding dump load more - no good at all. In short an epic failure. All the preceding books have been following the same formula but Machale starts to change the game around from 8 and now in book 10 proves and epic downfall.

The Soldiers of Halla begins with the ten Travelers, including Uncle Press, meeting in a crumbling wasteland of a city. They are immediately attacked by a helicopter, forcing them to seek refuge in the buildings. Bobby and Loor are trapped in a pit and watch as a colony of people are caught by the helicopters in a nearby building. When the helicopters leave, however, the Travelers gather back together. The first generation of Travelers quickly appear, such as Osa, Loor's mother, and Seegen, Kasha's father, and lead the other Travelers away. Bobby is met by his family again, who tell him that the wastleand was in fact the New York City zoo on Third Earth.

His family leads Bobby to another place, that is filled with dark clouds and crumbling, gray earth. They confess that they know all that has transpired in Halla so far, including Bobby's murder of Alexander Naymeer on Second Earth. Moreover, they tell him that Solara is indeed the essence of Halla and thus the ten territories. Each victory and defeat inflicted by the Travelers and Saint Dane is reflected in the overall health of Solara. All of the souls of Halla are transferred to Solara after they pass on in Halla. They admit that Saint Dane was once a leader of Solara, along with themselves and Uncle Press, to maintain its health.

This book is more philosophical than any of the previous volumes. We realize that this has not been simply an adventure story, but the screenwriter MacHale has given us a saga that allows us to reflect on the essential reality of humanity: the freedom to choose good and to fight evil. All of the main characters of the earlier volumes make their reappearance here in the final fight for Halla and for the vindication of the human spirit.

I will admit I am a fan of the first few books and really have enjoyed the concept of the Travelers, the different worlds (territories), and the battle against Saint Dane. Unfortunately, the last few books started to feel very repetitive with little suspense. It was almost like the story was only fresh enough for 5 really compact books instead of 10 really drawn out volumes.

My biggest complaint with the final book was that I was expecting something different or new in the conclusion to the story. Instead we get the same opening letter from Bobby which then leads to a series of familiar feeling mini-adventures (bad guy attacks, overwhelming odds, surprise rescue - over and over again).

The entire book is written like the end of every one of his other books. there is no end to the action and no real apex to the story because of it. I loved hearing about mark and courtneys journeys to help bobby and their feelings about it all spaced in between bobby's journals but McHale would have none of that in this book. Its all from bobby's perspective and makes all of the main characters incredibly flat feeling.

The ending was DEEPLY DEEPLY unsatisfying. All the travelers go back to the spirit world except bobby who somehow gets his uncles permission to keep living his life which somehow leads to an ending describing bobby's life if he had never been a traveler and is told in hindsight by bobby when he is about to die in what seems to be an old folks home. none of it makes sense i had to reread the previous two chapters trying to figure out what had happened, to try and find some reason for this ending. there was none im sorry to say.

I really dont know what happened with this book. McHale seemed to love to shout out the moral to the story every chapter or so. it made it a very shallow story. The ending was wrong. just wrong. i cant describe it in a better way.

Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Coming of Age

PublisherSimon & Shuester

Rate:              1/5 (Didn't Like it)

In My Dreams

Bookblogs is proving a wonder. You get to meet so many new folk - blogger, readers, reviewers, authors alike and I chanced upon In My Dreams by Cameo Renae and loved it.

Here is the summary:

It was happening again. The dreams. The nightmares. It was something seventeen year-old Elizabeth "Lizzy" Hayes thought she'd outgrown; dreams that would come true; detailed premonitions of how people would die. This time she dreams about her boyfriend, Michael Young, and soon discovers that he's been found... dead. Michael hasn't crossed over because he was murdered, and now his murderer is coming for Lizzy. His spirit won't rest until she is safe, and as a newbie spirit, the easiest way for him to make contact is through Lizzy's dreams. When she dreams, it's as if he hasn't died. Lizzy must learn to pull on her inner strength to survive horrifying events. Meanwhile, in the spirit world, Michael learns everything he can about his supernatural gifts to help. But will it be enough to save her?

A general element about a novel - it should be well paced. Well no questions asked In My Dreams is a well paced novel. Descriptions (especially of landscape) were atmospheric and breath-taking. And the plot points were well laid out. And most of all the language was simple nothing too modern and nothing too classy. But the best thing is - I was hooked from the beginning - normally whenever I read I make a point to stop after 4 or 5 chapters for a day but this had me hooked to the teeth and I knew I simply had to finish it at once. And I must also add Ms. Renae you made me cry with the last chapter of this book and that's saying something cause I'm not a very crying type of a person.

So, Lizzy Hayes is our protagonist here and much to her chagrin has grown accustomed to having dreams of how people will die - dreams that are actually detailed premonitions that eventually come true. So, when she has a dream about her boyfriend, Michael, Lizzy discovers soon thereafter - much to her horror - that his dead body has been found. Because he's been murdered, though, Michael's spirit has not crossed over to the other side, and he's determined to do whatever it takes to stop his killer - who now has his sights set on Lizzy. But can Michael save his endangered lover before it's too late...? - A fairy tale romance - the perfect boyfriend and a dependent gal - but don't go thinking about Bella Swan (Twilight) - Lizzy is way better than her (Bella is say was the most irritating protagonist is have read about....more so after Kristen Stewart began to play the role.....then she became pathetic - but don't go flaming me I like Bella-Edward saga and i'm just making a ref.) but yes Lizzy and Michael's relationship is way sweet and serene.

Although the main plot point is pretty common and has been done before but the author breathes new life in it and makes it so that we feel that we are the one experiencing it as it is happening and not just as a simply reader but we feel that we are a part of the story.

In My Dreams is quite the exciting supernatural thriller. Author Cameo Renae breathes intriguing new life into what has become a rather familiar concept. As the action of the novel unfolds, readers are sure to find themselves on a roller coaster of different emotions, including everything from sadness, tantalizing terror to joy - culminating in the desperate hope that Michael and Lizzy's efforts finally come together to prevent her untimely demise.

I Quote - It is a definite page turner, an engaging, attention-grabbing read from beginning to end. You Won't be able to keep it down until you read it till the .

Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal


My Copy : Review Copy - all thanks to the author

Rate:              4/5 (Really liked it)

The Woman in Black

I amn ocacasional horror reader and with the news of the release of the movie The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe and based on the said book by Susan Hill I knew I had to read it and I simply loved it.

Here is the summary of the book:

What real reader does not yearn, somewhere in the recesses of his or her heart, for a really literate, first-class thriller - one that chills the body with foreboding of dark deeds to come, but warms the soul with perceptions and language at once astute and vivid? In other words, a ghost story by Jane Austen. Austen we cannot, alas, give you, but Susan Hill's remarkable Woman In Black comes as close as the late twentieth century is likely to provide. Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated causeway, the story has as its hero one Arthur Kipps, an up-and-coming young solicitor who has come north to attend the funeral and settle the estate of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. The routine formalities he anticipates give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister and terrifying than any nightmare: the rocking chair in the nursery of the deserted Eel Marsh House, the eerie sound of pony and trap, a child's scream in the fog, and, most dreadfully, and for Kipps most tragically, the woman in black. The Woman In Black is both a brilliant exercise in atmosphere and controlled horror and a delicious spine-tingler - proof positive that that neglected genre, the ghost story, isn't dead after all.

With all the hosh-posh crude horror being published these days a pure classic horror forms a respite. What better way to spend the day than to read Ms. Hill's ghostly composition. Set in Victorian England, this atmospheric, supernatural tale of evil, terror and revenge sent chills down my spine on more than one occasion. It starts peacefully and builds up to a frightening crescendo that will "haunt" you long after you put the book down.

Ms. Hill begins her well-written narrative happily enough in the home of Arthur Kipps, who is surrounded by his loving wife and family for the Christmas holidays at their country home, Monk's Piece. Kipps is a full partner at a prestigious London law firm. Esme is his second wife. He lost his first love as a very young man. It is Christmas Eve and the grandchildren are all in bed. Their young parents, the Kipps' grown children, gather around the fire for a cozy ghost story session. At one point Kipps, obviously agitated, gets up, leaves the room and goes outside. He has hidden something significant about his past from his wife and family for years now - a tragically real ghost story of "haunting and evil, fear, confusion and horror" - of which he was a part. These events will certainly effect him all the days of his life. Kipps realizes that for his own peace of mind it is time to write his experience down and exorcise the demons, at last. He had hoped this inextricable part of his life would never have to be consciously recollected...but it is time. He decides that, at least during his lifetime, the tale will remain for his eyes only, and so he begins to write. He is our narrator.

At the very beginning of his career, many years before, Arthur Kipps, an energetic, idealistic junior solicitor was sent by his employer to attend the funeral of an elderly widow woman, Mrs. Drablow, one of the firms former clients. As the deceased owned property, including her home on the salt marshes near the town of Crythin Gifford, and had no heirs, no children or extended family, Kipps was asked to go and sort through her papers, and generally tidy-up the old woman's affairs.

The Drablow mansion, called Eel Marsh House, is quite isolated, situated in the middle of an estuary, connected to the mainland only by the Nine Lives Causeway, a small pathway barely visible through the marshes and quicksand, and only navigable a few hours a day. The road is underwater the rest of the time due to the strong tides.

It was at the funeral that Arthur Kipps first saw the tall, emaciated woman dressed in black. Despite his many questions to the locals, they refused to discuss the woman or address his concerns surrounding the Drabnow house, although they were extremely amiable and ready to speak out on every other topic. Suffice it to say that at the funeral, Kipps was the only one to see the woman in black. No one else even glimpsed what was so apparent to him.

Obviously, as his work led him to spend time at Eel Marsh house, there were to be be many more surreal episodes, each more frightening and dangerous in nature. Although these encounters are really scary, there is a mystery here also. Who is this mysterious woman...and if she is a ghost, why can she find no peace?

But as Arthur journeys across the treacherous causeway at low tide to explore the dark and brooding Eel Marsh House, things begin to shake up a bit. Not only did the late Mrs. Drablow keep every scrap of paper that ever crossed her twisted path, but she also harbored several dark, sinister secrets. But as you well know, secrets have a way of coming un-done and as would be the case for dear Arthur, he gets smack in the middle of a real doosey.

There's a mysterious locked nursery door, buckets full of eerie moonlight and a terrifying, recurring sound of a pony and trap (wagon) clip-clopping into the darkness always ending with a child's desperate scream as he is heard drowning in the marsh--over and over again. But there is also an evilness; a sheer hatred of anything remotely human at Eel Marsh House and it follows Arthur. And it waits for Arthur. And it strikes him in a way that truly will take your breath away.

The author packs this novel with twists, turns and the unexpected at almost every turn of the page. The description of the brooding countryside, the house and surrounding marshes is at times beautiful, but always spooky. There were a few occasions when I wanted to shut my eyes - but unlike a scary movie, if one shuts one's eyes while reading, well it gets too dark to continue.

I Quote - what a small and frightening thing! I am not prone to bouts of depression, but I will say this - once I began to read about the lawyer's forays into the marsh, the house and even the town - the atmosphere was so thick with darkness that I began to feel depressed. I'd have to put the book down, do something else and then continue. How I held my breath each time he investigated a sound! And the carriage falling into the marsh over and over...the end haunted me for days. It was such a simple, neat, tidy unexpected and abrupt end that I had no choice but to sit there speechless.

Genre :      Classic, Horror

Publisher: David R. Godine Publisher

Rate:              5/5 (It was awesome)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

My First Blog award

Thank you ~ Cameo Renae of
for awarding me the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award.

7 random facts about me:

1. For one i'm a female...lolz keep guessing.

2. I'm book crazy...and i blame Jo Rowling for it. You'll always see me with one book or another.

3. I love boy bands and Japanese manga.....guilty pleasure.

4. It is my greatest desire to win the grand trophy at the writers of the future contest and get published.

5. In the future i wanna be an animator and continue writing as a part job or something.......we should only go for jobs and careers that interest us don't you think??!!!

6. Noodles.....oh I love it

7. Sometimes i wish we had those mutant x-genes like the X-men.......i would love to have Professor X's ability to read minds.

How The Award Works: 
1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 (more or less is fine) deserving blog buddies.
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Pendragon: #9 Raven Rise

The long Pendragon series is about to end. Its the penultimate book #9 Raven Rise and its getting ugly and its also getting dystopic. Which is my kind of good. Lets read,

Here is the summary of the book:

This is where it begins. The showdown for Halla. At stake is nothing less than all that ever was and all that will be. There's only one thing missing--Bobby Pendragon. While Bobby remains trapped on Ibara, the battle moves to his home territory: Second Earth. Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde are left on their own to defend Second Earth agsinst the forces of Saint Dane. They must face off against a charismatic cult leader who has risen to power by revealing a shattering truth to the people of Earth: They are not alone. The Convergence has broken down the walls. The territories are on a collision course. The final phase of Saint Dane's quest to rule Halla is under way. And Bobby Pendragon is nowhere to be found.

The story starts after Bobby trapped himself and demonic Saint Dane on the tropical Ibara, yet it seems that his sacrifice was pointless for the Convergence has already begun. On Third Earth, Patrick wakes up to a dystopian future Earth. He meets up with Mark and Courtney in 1930 and they go to Second Earth to try and stop Saint Dane's plans. Nevva is disguised as Telleo (trying to get Bobby to fall in love with her; no luck) and lets a few minor details slip. Bobby then finds out that Saint Dane has escaped Ibara, and goes after his to his home territory Second Earth. A cult leader named Alexander Naymeer (an English idealist, brainwashed by Saint Dane) is creating chaos with Ravinia (the name of the cult). Bobby, Alder, Mark, and Courtney try to avoid the Ravinians while looking for the leader of the rebellion. In a giant battle known as the Bronx Massacre almost half the characters die or at least seem to be dead (leaving clinchers for the next book), and Saint Dane seems to have won. Yet the ending gives readers hope for Bobby and the travelers.

So literally all hell has broken loose. Although the previous book should be called for "where-all-hell-started-to-break-loose". D. J. Machale has completely discarded all the formula he used in the previous books and its chaotic and to some extent I've been expecting it since I began reading it, we'll take of this later. 

Bobby Pendragon is now grown and his decisions have not gotten any easier. The bond of friendships are still what make him such an endearing and flawed character. Halla is pretty chaotic and things are not as they are meant to be. That premise drives the book, shakes up former realities and brings us one step closer to understanding what is really going on in this Matrix-like world of adventure. (Just a ref. matrix is way better than this whole stuff)

Although the first few (I said few since this series is not my favourite) books were amazing and real pageturners, this one was a bit hard to keep up with. machales writing style was not top quality and quite repetitive. it was like the entire series led up to this one book and everybody was expecting it to go out with a bang but it turned out to have a quite weak plot and did not live up to the reputation of the series. This installment of Pendragon is both exhilarating and disappointing all at the same time. There is so much going on and so much to take in from the past books that the bulk of adventure from any one territory is muted, which disappoints me because I love the individual experiences on each of the territories. I still am lingering on the past descriptive genius of unique territories such as Cloral and Eelong! The cool part is that the story line all still works well and I could not put this book down.

I felt that this whole book was the lets watch the hero be stupid so that when he gets his act together later it will be more impressive part of the story. Now I can stand that for a chapter or two, but not a whole book. It got very old for me very quickly. All that you need form this book to get to the last one is a page or two on the few actions important to the plot. I do hope that the next book, the "hero has his act together". The battle is on in RAVEN RISE. The battle for Halla. The internal battle of Bobby Pendragon. The battle of the people of the territories. And the battle between Saint Dane and Pendragon. This is what it is all coming down to.

Bottom line is its good but don't waste your money borrow it from a friend.

Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Coming of Age

Publisher: Simon & Shuester

Rate:              3/5 (liked it)

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Born in Dublin on 16th October 1854, Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wille Wilde is one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London with more than 15 works including novels, poetry, plays, articles, collections and short stories.

‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ his only published novel fetched Oscar Wilde as the book of 2010 for Dublin City’s “One city, one book” festival in its 5th year. The 231 paged fiction first appeared as a leading story Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine on July 1890, later a revised edition was published by Ward, Lock and Company in April 1891.

Set in the 19th century the novel tells of a young man named Dorian Gray, the subject of artist Basil Hallward. Basil is impressed by Dorian’s beauty and becomes infatuated with him, believed his beauty is responsible for a new mode in his art. Talking in Basil’s garden, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of Basil’s, and becomes enthralled by Lord Henry’s world view. Espousing a new hedonism, Lord Henry suggests the only thing worth pursuing in life is beauty and fulfillment of the senses. Realizing that one day he himself would age and grow old, he game his soul to the devil. Dorian’s wish was fulfilled, plunging him into debauched acts. The portrait serves as a remainder of the effect each act has upon his soul, with each sin displayed as a disfigurement of his form or through a sign of aging.

The novel reveals Wilde’s philosophy more than any of his other works; reading it is an essential key to understand his artistic mission as a whole.

Our modern society is so obsessed with youth that there is a multi-million dollar industry simply devoted to making us look younger. Just why, because we live in a culture where youth is idolized and age is the enemy of the people – the goal these days seems to be not just to stop aging, but to get younger.

We’re not the first culture to embrace this cult of youth though. As we see in the novel, our predecessors in the nineteenth century also longed for undying youth and beauty. In fact, the quest for the Foundation of youth is one of the oldest stories there is; apparently, humanity in general has had a hard time getting over the fact that we all grow old and die.

For this reason, Oscar Wilde’s 1890 novel never ceases to be relevant – until we finally discover the secret of real eternal youth, we’ll always be interested in Dorian’s quest for it.

Genre :      Classic, Horror

Publisher: Prestwick House, Inc.

Rate:              5/5 (It was amazing, go for it)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

POTTERMORE is finally revealed: "Just Follow the owls"

Through an artfully designed treasure hunt, the coordinates to a new website have been revealed An article in Publisher's Weekly described the treasure hunt like this:
"Rowling gave coordinates to 10 Harry Potter fan sites, which were posted yesterday. Fans could enter the coordinates at another Web site, which uses Google Maps technology; when sitegoers zoom in on each coordinate, a letter from the [Pottermore.com] URL can be found. Fans who found the letters at all 10 coordinates could then piece together the name of the new site."
They go on to say that Rowling's PR agency has said it's not another Harry Potter book, but they won't reveal any more, other than to say - "keep an eye on the website."
You can be sure of that! Also, I found when you click on one of the owls - it takes you to a YouTube site which says "the owls are gathering....find out why" and has a countdown until JK Rowling announces (approximately 5 days!) 
A screen shot of www.pottermore.com


And Pottermore is definitely not a game site as many had been saying......read on -

Pottermore, a mysterious new site by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, is an online hub for everything Harry Potter-related, Rowling revealed on YouTube moments ago.
Pottermore will include an interactive reading experience of the Harry Potter books, but fans will also be able to buy audio books and, for the first time, Harry Potter novels in ebook format.
The site goes live in October, but some users will be able to enter early. Additional details about that will be revealed on the site on July 31, but Rowling dropped a clue for those aching to enter the site early: “follow the Owl”, she said.
Check out the video of the announcement below.

These are some teaser images poster on mugglenet :

(Maybe the rumour of an interactive gaming site is actually true)
Pottermore Explainer of the Day: So J.K. Rowling’s mysterious “Pottermore” project was (mostly) unveiled today, and it seems early reportsthat it would be an online gaming experience were only partially correct.
While Pottermore is indeed an “online experience,” which revolves around the premiere of the Harry Potter books in eBook form, its “gaming” aspect appears to be limited to interactive “Moments” users can engage with while reading the books online.
“On entering,” says the press release, “you choose a magic username and begin your experience. As you move through the chapters, you can read and share exclusive writing from J.K. Rowling, and, just as Harry joins Hogwarts, so can you. You visit Diagon Alley, get sorted into a house, cast spells and mix potions to help your house compete for the House Cup.”
The site will contain “extensive new material about the characters, places and objects in the much-loved stories,” written by Rowling herself — so that’s something.
Additional details on early admission will be revealed July 31st, and the site is expected to open to the public in October. Until then, “follow the owl.”

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

2011 Reading Challenges

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

The Iron Druid Chronicles: #2 Hexed

Our favourite Druid is back, book #2 Hexed of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne is here before we actually had the time to digest the first books. But i'm not complaining. Come on Atticus is hot and he is the only druid left. I definitely loved the second book as well as the first book.

Here is the summary of the books:

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II. With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

Atticus O'Sullivan is a modern day druid, the last of his kind. And lately the crazies have been coming out the woodwork. You would think that defeating a couple of Celtic Gods, exorcising a few demons, and killing half a coven of witches would earn a guy some Rest & relaxation. Think again. Tempting Tempe, Atticus' little Arizonian oasis is starting to look ripe for the picking to some pretty nasty supernaturals.

Atticus here is in a rather strange position in this latest installment. His success against Aenghus Og has left him a marked man. Everyone is seeking him out to try and convince him to help them with their own God problems. The entire paranormal world now seems to have his number, which leads to some intense demon battles, some fierce sex, and a steep learning curve for his new apprentice. Most of the characters are back from Hounded, and we get to know some a little better this time around. The only Druid left in the world, all he wants to do is live a quiet life under the radar, grow the herbs he sells in his store, train his new apprentice and heal the large area of earth that was destroyed in the fighting from the last book. But demands from the coven of local Polish witches as well as Coyote, have him fighting to take out the escaped demons and destroy the others that have come to town to cause harm. And he's being bombarded with requests to take out Thor.

Demons released by the bad witches in the last book need to be dealt with, a group of Bacchants come to town wanting to take over the territory, as do a group of demon-casting German witches who announce their presence by trying to kill Atticus and the polish witches using a spell from afar. The police have become suspicious of Atticus as he matches the description of a guy with a sword at different scenes, and a priest and rabbi are getting way too noisy. If that weren't enough, two goddesses want to claim Atticus as their own personal weapon.

Kevin Hearne gives us another funny, action-packed tale. Atticus develops as a character, too. He has survived the centuries by being paranoid, but now he's forced by circumstances to make alliances and put himself in a position to owe favors. Looks like the biggest one is coming due in the next book, Hammered.......... Not going to advance any further on that all will be pretty clear after July 5th when the last book releases.

Hexed is on account even funnier than Hounded. Some scenes and quips had me howling with laughter. Wait till you see how Atticus explains a singed kitchen cabinet to the police, or what Oberon becomes obsessed with now that he's over his Genghis Khan kick, or what happens when an a stuffy vampire tries to learn modern slang. In addition to the humor, there are some touching moments. As the owner of an aging dog, I sniffled a bit when Atticus talked about the usual lifespan of an Irish wolfhound and the measures he has taken to keep his best buddy Oberon by his side.

There's plenty of action, humor, negotiations, myth, history and even his hospitality is loaded with political fencing. I've got a better appreciation for his new apprentice, Granuaile as she proves to be quick thinking. And of course Oberon, Atticus' telepathic dog, gives us more comic relief as well as show us how much respect Atticus has for his dog's feelings and happiness.

What I like most about Atticus is that he's so earth based. His relationship and responsibility to nature make Atticus a large part of who he is. Having 2100 years of experience, I find his reasoning, manners and maneuvering when dealing with others in positions of power to be both clever and savvy while remaining respectful. His philosophy speaks to me. The mythology covers a number of different pantheons and the history in this book deals with WWII.

Hexed has something of an episodic feel. There are several different plots here, and their structure is more sequential than interwoven. There are links between Atticus' adventures, but for the most part, he deals with one threat, and then either that leads to a new problem or else the new problem arises while he's trying to relax after dispatching the previous one. The overall effect is that of reading several shorter Atticus stories. Looking for the perfect mix of humor and thrills with a twist? These are the Druids your looking for. Hexed after Hounded definitely doesn't disappoint. Now on the look out for Hammered which comes out next month.

P.S. Mr. Hearne if you read this I would like to congratulate on a job well done again with Hexed....and want to ask "When are these chronicles getting made into movies?"

Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Paranormal

Publisher: Del Ray

Rate:              5/5 (It was amazing, you have to read it)

Pendragon: #8 The Pilgrims of Rayne

As we saw last in the previous book, it has started to become messier. And i'm finally nearing the end of the series. But I have to say after books 2, 3, and 4 of the Pendragon series #8 The Pilgrims of Rayne would be added in my list of books in the series that I actually liked. Lets find out why,

Here is the summary of the book:

When Bobby Pendragon first arrives on the tropical world of Ibara, he finds paradise. As he works to uncover clues about the turning point this seemingly idyllic territory will soon face, all he can determine is that the people of Ibara are blissfully happy. It’s not long before Bobby discovers, however, that they are blissfully . . . oblivious. The leaders of Ibara are keeping a devastating secret from their people, one that gives Saint Dane all the opportunity he needs to launch his final assault on Halla.

Bobby Pendragon is back and he is older, more passionate and Halla is more complex than ever before. What else is new in this series. We know that the territories all have a turning point, but we have never seen anything like what happens in the latest installment. Do you miss Loor and Gunny and Spader? How about Alder? The Pilgrims of Rayne does not disappoint. MacHale gives us everything we want this time around. I mean everything. If you ever thought, "Why doesn't Bobby do this, or that?" It is all in here. The territories have been mixed and nothing is what it once was. It would feel like everything is calm but then a twister is thrown in the mix and all hell - okay not hell but halla breaks loose - literally a chaos.

Bobby Pendragon's next territory in Halla is called Ibara. Ibara is a tropical paradise. It's sunny, warm, colorful, and the perfect place to go on vacation. Seeing as this is Saint Dane's next targeted territory, Bobby figures there's more to this utopia than meets the eye. After conversing with the Ibara inhabitants, Bobby realizes that everyone is very happy with the way they live, but later finds out that if you do not go by what the government (aka the tribunal) rules, you and your family will disappear. There is a secret in Ibara that the leaders are not telling everyone. A secret that involves Ibara's past, other territories, and an opportunity for Saint Dane to conquer another territory.

Pendragon has always been focused on the little things while Saint Dane was more about the big picture. Should've worried about the big picture. Oops. By the end of the story, things begin to heat up. Saint Dane comes a smidgen away from revealing the "big secret" and Bobby decides to stop playing by the rules, despite his fellow Traveler's skepticism.

The books have unfortunately become somewhat routine: go to the territory, figure out the turning point, make sure it goes the right way, stop Saint Dane, learn something new, and begin the whole process all over again. I'm proud to say that this book deviates from that formula in a few ways. For starters, Courtney and Mark become more and more involved in the events occuring in Halla. It starts to become less and less about the individual territories and more about everything in existence. And Saint Dane (more or less) puts the finishing touches on his convoluted yet incredibly devious and brilliant plot. It seemes that no matter what Bobby Pendragon does, it seems to play into Saint Dane's hands the entire time. If you thought he was winning the war, you may change your mind after reading this installment.

The best part to me was that when it switched back and forth to Courtney and Bobby, there was action on both sides. The past books have had some good but few GREAT instances of action from Courtney and Mark. But this book has great action on both sides. As well as the utopia vs dystopia factor that is slightly prevalent in this book. MacHale has really improved a lot in here. Although the details are much too long and practically the large size of the book is due to the unnecessary details in here but still it was a page turner. But again the obvious flaw in here we have next to actually no details besides the 2-3 lined something new in here as in the previous book. I'm serious dumping a whole lot of background in the final book is not good at all.

But still don't let my views discourage you all. I suggest my readers that they try it out particularly book 2, 3, 4 and 8 of the pendragon saga as they are my favourites. Hobey ho!

Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Coming of Age

Publisher: Simon & Shuester

Rate:              4/5 (really liked it)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Pendragon: #7 The Quillan Games

Moving onto the next journal in thePendragron saga is book #7 The Quillan Games. And the plot gets messed up.

Here is the summary:

Each new episode seems to raise the stakes of this action adventure series. In the seventh installment, Bobby Pendragon realizes that the Quillan Territory can be saved only by defeating game masters Veego and LaBerge in a fateful competition: Winning the Quillan Games could bring him a giant step closer to understanding the meaning of being a Traveler. Losing brings instant extinction.

In this one, Bobby Pendragon, the young hero of the series,travels to the territory of Quillan, a dark world with no emotion and is controlled by a company called BLOK. Bobby soon learns what the turning-point of this world may be, since he finds out that everyone on Quillan gambles on a series of sports and games called The Quillan Games. However the people of Quillan don't bet on the games with money....but with their own lives, and if they lose, they'll pay. Determined to stop the territory from colliding, Bobby ends up becoming one of the champions, under the control of two spectators named Veego and LaBarge, and competes in a series of deadly games and tasks, risking his life for the sake of all of Quillan and, even greater, all of Halla.

While Bobby is dealing with the insanity on Quillan, Mark and Courtney are trying to put their lives back together on Second Earth. Courtney is still recovering from her "accident" at the end of the sixth book, and Mark is spending a lot of time with Andy Mitchell, his ex-worst enemy. I don't want to say much more about the plot, other than, Saint Dane promises Bobby to reveal the "true nature" of the Travelers if he does......something for him. Like all the Pendragon books, the story is action-packed and very exciting. However, the book never becomes formulaic because of some unusual plot twists, and interesting, if slightly creepy, character development. The series has gotten much darker since the first book, but still has its funny moments.

The first 200 pages really dragged. I have never noticed that the author spent so much time describing every detail for us. Maybe it was excessive in this book. I thought at first it was maybe that there is so much backtracking in his books (why does he think that every book is being read by someone who has not read any of the other books of this series?) but it wasn't the backtracking. It was the endless descriptions of uninteresting aspects of Quillan. Saint Dane doesn't even begin to appear until mid-way through the book. Up till that point, I really didn't care what happened on Quillan. From then on, "Quillan" begins to shine as the other books have done so before it. The battle of wills between Boddy and Saint Dane really are the high points of the novels: will Bobby let himself be drawn in? Will Saint Dane gain a point against him? What is the plan for this territory?

Now I can't say much because this series is actually meant for the adolescent age-group and not for me and doesn't even appeal to me but my complain - the lack of background information - the major flaw this series suffers from - Mr. Machale, don't you think that by the 7th book it is time to start resolving some of the conflicts your previous books have introduced? Well, I do. And I can't help but think that a lot of other fans out there feel the same way, even though the reviews here are overly glowing. I'll admit that the book is action packed. This is no doubt responsible for the great reviews, especially from your biggest audience the adolescent. Still, at some point even the youngest fan is going to want to know the answers to their questions about travelers. How are they selected? Where are they really from? What happens to their parents? What does it really mean to be a traveler? This book promised to provide some of those long awaited for answers. What it gave is one statement from Saint Dane that travelers are an illusion. Gee, no kidding! I think we understood that about six books ago.

All of McHale's books have basically the same storyline with Saint Daine, the monstrous Travelor determined on destroying Bobby, appearing and attempting to destroy a Territory. Each and every time Bobby manages to foil him. Tip for the writer.. it's getting a little boring. The only inspiration I have to keep reading this series is the desire to find out how Bobby manages to survive this time. I don't know how McHale is going to keep up the suspense for another maybe 3 books. Let's wait an see shall we?

Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Coming of Age

Publisher: Simon & Shuester

Rate:              3/5 (liked it)

Monday, 13 June 2011

Divergent: #1 Divergent

2011 is proving to be the year for the YA dystopia. And the next one in the line is Debutante author Veronica Roth's Divergent, the first book of the trilogy of the same name.

Here is the summary for the book: 

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Beatrice, or Tris as she later calls herself, is sixteen years old and at this age all members of her community must decide who they are and where they fit in society as this choice defines them in many ways. There's factions: Abnegation, which is the faction she grew up in, Dauntless, Amity, Candor, and Erudite. Being raised in Abnegation was challenging as it's a selfless faction and Tris never really felt good enough and self-sacrificing enough to fully fit into this community; however, she doesn't necessarily want to leave her family behind. Because if and when you choose a new faction at sixteen, you rarely, if ever, get to see your parents again and this is a decision that Tris doesn't take lightly. One the most important days for Tris occurs when her community makes their faction recommendation. Tris makes a startling discovery. After the simulation, it is reported to her that she is a Divergent, meaning she falls in more than one faction, which is considered extremely dangerous.

Miss Roth's world is so unique and terrifying at the same time. It takes place in Chicago, although the book doesn't reveal that - the book trailer does. I wish she had given the readers more background on how the factions came about, but perhaps she will in the next book, which is a good thing since a lot of authors tend to dump fat load of information in the starting books of their series'. Nonetheless, Roth creates an unforgettable and eerie world that truly stayed with me. And lets think her world may actually come true in the distant future.

Right away as you open the book you know that Beatrice 'Tris' Prior is the kind of female heroine that defines a generation. She is a remarkable young woman who's attitude will rub off on you. Every fear, fight and scar that Tris is faced with throughout the book will resonate with readers. The choices that she makes in her life become her, and it this mentality that gives her the strength she needs to push on. Her life in dystopian Chicago operates based on the contributions of all five factions. Each faction must live out the behaviours that their roles define. 

The society that now exists is supposed to offer some protection but in many ways it breeds chaos. Roth has shown young readers a different way of life, and in doing so has forced them to think. Her ability to make the content accessible to the readership, while making the story entertaining, is a stunning accomplishment.

The world we know now is like a distant memory compared to the society that Tris lives in and it is not just because of the factions. Through her visionary imagination, Chicago's most incredible landmarks have become the sites where faction members live out their day to day lives. The Sears Tower has become the Hub, a place where sixteen year-olds make the decision to choose one faction over another. The now broken down ferris wheel at Navy Pier is where Tris finds the courage to rise above and prove herself. Finally we have The Bean, the beautiful piece of architecture which has been deteriorating slowly leaving a rust covered shell of what once was. All of these pieces that make up the vibrant city of Chicago have been re imagined to create something hauntingly beautiful.

A large part of this story is the romance that starts to unravel. Believe me, I wouldn't have liked this book that much without this complex, gut wrenching relationship. During her journey Beatrice meets several boys Will, Peter, Albert but no one like Four who is more man than boy really. Four is probably my favorite character. Handsome, strong, and tall, the character is under a constant shroud of mysteries giving us readers a whiplash. I fell in love with Four, he basically "stole the show" for me. From the time Four walks onto the page I was fascinated and wanted to learn more about him. About 2/3 of the way through this book I wished that I could read from his POV.

The action definitely stole the show in this book leaving me breathless more than once. It seemed like there was always something about to happen and that every moment you were living right there on the edge with Tris. Divergent is as much about fear as it is about power. Roth examines how our fears dictate our entire existence and how we can learn to live above them. Even a fear of love can be overcome when the right person comes along. This is a lesson that Tris knows well and is part of what makes this book what it is. Her affection for this heart breaker of a boy will give you butterflies. Their relationship is a prime example of how Roth revels in the idea that we make choices every single day and that we can choose to live fearlessly.

The writing was captivating and all the plots well laid out and well-balanced, I might add, as Roth was only twenty-one when she wrote this book. My only complaint regarding the writing was towards the end, it felt rushed. Without giving anything away, there's a horrific event that occurred and I feel like it was a bit brushed over by Tris. On the other hand, one thing is for sure: Roth knows how to keep her readers in suspense. This book is one of the most suspenseful books that I've read in a long time and I'm not talking edge of your seat....I'm talking gripping the book while my knuckles turn white, cringing at every page turn, anger boiling over, my heart pounding and racing a mile a minute...you get the drill.

Alas, Divergent is all about the choices you make(although it is also about fear and power as stated above....). Choices have the power to change your world. The way you your life will shape up. But besides the eminent choices it is also about consequences. Although the book caters to the dystopic genre but it also teaches us an important lesson that - both choices and their consequences are important if we want to progress in life(I know this is very philosophic but couldn't help myself).  

Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopia

Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books

Rate:              5/5 (It was amazing, go for it)

Friday, 10 June 2011


Another case of me picking it up for the gorgeous cover and of the added bonus of it being a fairy-tale retelling of Cinderella. Specifically Malina Lo's "Ash" is a "lesbian-retelling" of Cinderella. But the story kind of fell flat for me - not brilliant - but good. 

Here is the summary of the book:

In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted. The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love. Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

Described as "Cinderella…with a twist," Ash is in many ways the familiar fairy tale about a girl's move from comfort to despair to true love (with a little help from fairies and magic). Standard Cinderella images set up the story: after losing her mother and later her father, Ash is treated as a servant in the home of an unkind stepmother and two unfriendly stepsisters. She has ties to the fairy world, attends the royal ball in an enchanted dress, catches the eye of the prince, and finds love by the end of the story. 

However, while structural similarities exist, ideologically Lo's beautiful and dark tale takes the story to a new place. It is not about Ash being found and saved by a charming prince; instead, it is about her courtship with Kaisa, the King's huntress, a relationship that burgeons over time and is based on more than just initial attraction. Despite Ash's grief, oppressive guardianship, and dangerous flirtation with the fairy Sidhean, who promises to steal her away from her sadness, the protagonist finds her own salvation and chooses to live and love in the real world and on her own terms.

I must say that has a whole the story dragged and went off into so many other fairy tales within the actual fairy tale to explain the actions and beliefs of the characters in the story being told. I found myself getting lost several times in the stories that Ash's or Kaisa would relate to one another of tales they had been told as children to teach them certain life lessons.... 

I found the original hook for the story to be a weak choice - 'it's like Cinderella, but for gay teens.' Even the blurb on the back of the book aggrandizes the character - it intimates that Ash learns how to 'hunt and track', but all she actually does is ride occasionally with the huntress; there is no real change in her character's actions. 

Lo has created an interesting premise in this reworking of Cinderella's story. There is absolutely no question of that. The problem is that there was too much going on. Was it a faerie story or was it a story about a girl awakening to the fact that she could be in love with another woman? The broad overview of both stories left me feeling as though Ash was disconnected from both potential romances; there wasn't any passion in either. Given that, I didn't feel the conflict Ash was supposed to be experiencing as she worked to decide which life and which partner to choose. The latter made me wish we'd had a story without that conflict at all; that it was either Ash in the faerie tale or Ash awakening to her lesbianism all the way through. I understood completely the reason for having both in the story but for me that conflict muddled the eventual love story. Particularly since we also dealt with the overpowering step-mother, the annoying plotting step sister, and bits and pieces of the prince choosing his bride from all eligible ladies of the land. As I said, lots going on. 

Clearly the author invested a lot of time and heart into placing the characters in the world of the story, but at the same time it feels like a gloss on a fairytale instead of a truly original work. I would have been far more compelled by a story where the protagonist was genuinely torn between love and societal mores, even if the societal mores involved the faery world. The slightly underdeveloped world - fantasy needs wholehearted involvement - and the reserve the author showed in really giving the reader richly drawn characters made me feel a little cheated. I wanted to know far more about the lineage of huntresses than I was given. I don't even really know what Ash looks like. And the villains in the story are virtually two-dimensional.

However, despite beautiful writing and new twists, this novel didn't create the impact I expected. I didn't feel Ash's connection strongly with either Sidhean or Kaisa, and her choice seemed obvious long before the end. In addition, while Lo's writing style provided a slow, realistic build, the novel felt sluggish due to the plot's predictability as a re-telling of a classic tale. Finally, the power of the main character potentially picking a female partner was not realized as strongly as it could have been. The book doesn't need to be a political or social treatise by any means, but this was an essential plot point and it felt underdeveloped in its significance.

Genre :      Fiction, Young Adult, Fairy tale re-telling

Publisher: Hodder Children's Books

Rate:              2/5 (It was ok)

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