Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Saga of Larten Crepsley by Darren Shan

NOTE: This review is very general to the whole series, being a prequel and all. There are no spoilers.
Birth of a Killer (The Saga of Larten Crepsley, #1)
Title: The Saga of Larten Crepsley (#1 Birth of a Killer, #2 Ocean of Blood, #3 Palace of the Damned, #4 Brother's to the Death)
Author: Darren Shan
Rating: 5 stars
Blurb: (Of the first book only)
Ocean of Blood (Saga of Larten Crepsley, #2)The highly anticipated prequel to the New York Times bestselling Cirque Du Freak series!
Before Cirque Du Freak...
Before the war with the vampaneze...
Before he was a vampire.
Larten Crepsley was a boy.
As a child laborer many centuries ago, Larten Crepsley did his job well and without complaint, until the day the foreman killed his cousin as an example to the other children.

In that moment, young Larten flies into a rage that the foreman wouldn't survive. Forced on the run, he sleeps in crypts and eats cobwebs to get by. And when a vampire named Seba offers him protection and training as a vampire's assistant, Larten takes it.

Palace of the Damned (The Saga of Larten Crepsley, #3)Review:
Darren Shan has done it again. The Master of Horror is now too the Master of Originality, and the Master of Storytelling. He is the Master of Masters. Brother's to the Death was the fourth and final in the Larten Crepsley Saga, and though this saga is a prequel to the Cirque Du Freak Saga (many sagas there), it contained the same
 thrill, emotion, and depth as a non-prequel. I say this because prequels can often get tiresome. The events do not always bear a shock or surprise, but the same cannot be said for Darren Shan's Larten Crepsley books.

Brothers to the Death (The Saga of Larten Crepsley, #4)The idea behind his novels may revolve around vampires, but do not be fooled. These vampires are some of the most ancient, most noble and vicious. These vampires do not glitter and nor do they turn to ash beneath the sun. They are not all handsome (most are not), but they are some of the most heartfelt vampires I have ever read about. Mr. Shan has simply blown the scales of the 'Feel-o-Meter'. The characters, vampires and non vampires alike, are heavily padded with realism and depth. Their lives are so fascinating. Even after having turned the last page I found myself stuck in the 19th century, standing beneath a dark sky. The atmosphere of the story seemed to have drifted from the pages, engulfing me, blinding me like a thick fog.

I implore everyone to give Darren Shan a try. Although it would be a good idea to start from the original saga, The Cirque Du Freak. His characters are some of the most profound I have ever set eyes upon. His plots are some of the most fascinating. I can proudly say that Darren Shan rests a place in my heart along with Rick Riordan, Patrick Ness, and Neal Shusterman.

(On a side note, in this review I've tried to speak generally of all four books in the Saga).

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

The Beginning of EverythingTitle: The Beginning for Everything
Author: Robyn Schneider
Publisher: Katherine Tegen/Imprint of HarperCollins
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Blurb:Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures. (More)
My Review:
After having read many dystopian and fantasy novels, I felt relieved when I sat down with The Beginning of Everything. I just needed something sweet and normal; a light read that was anything but my usual genre. To my delight, this book gave me just that, and it even threw in a surprise ending.

Ezra Faulkner is high on the plateau of social status at his high. He is a popular jock who has everything, until his own personal tragedy makes him realize that he, in fact, had nothing. The readers are made to embark on a journey of self discovery, of what it means to more than just exist in the world.

Right from the start I was getting a nice vibe from our protagonist. His tone was distinct from the usual in a chick lit, and his character was nicely built. I could really connect with him, and I felt myself rooting for him from the very start. When Cassidy Thorpe, the protagonist’s crush walked into the picture, I started predicting how the plot would unravel, which was a bit of a downer. You know, a typical boy falls for girl novel. But of course it wasn’t that. There was a mystery about the new girl and I just couldn’t seem to put a finger on what the issue could possibly be.

The writing itself was flawless. I loved the pace and the descriptions, and oh, the use of the Panopticon analogy was simply genius. A Panopticon is a building where a watchman can observe all of the inmates without their knowledge. The idea is that nobody can step out of line in fear that they may be watched. This idea was related to the world Ezra lives in. Great isn’t it?

Nicely paced and well written, the Beginning of Everything was a breath of fresh air. I especially loved the ending. Things didn’t wrap up as I had expected, and for that I was surprisingly glad. The book truly portrays what it means to go beyond existing by the expectations, and into actually living.   

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)Title: The School for Good and Evil
Author: Soman Chainani
Rating: 4 stars
Blurb: The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil. (More)

My Review:
Even before starting this book, I knew it would be different. Perhaps I felt this way because of the integration of fairy tales. Can I just say, finally. As a child growing up, I was obsessed with tales of princesses and princes living their happily ever after. Those times were truly magical, and reading this book has brought back the magic in an original and breathtaking way. I was pulled into the fairy tale world the author created from the very first line, and the excitement only grew as the story steadily progressed. I found myself lost in the plot, constantly envisioning the vivid imagery of the world in the story. 

The story line follows two best friends, one pretty, and one supposedly ugly. Sophie, dressed in pink and busy with good deeds, wishes for nothing but to be taken to this fairy tale land where she would acquire her happily ever after. Of course, when her friends Agatha, drab and constantly dressed in black, lands in her dream school, things take and unexpected turn. 

The idea I have to admit is ingenious. I mean, a legend about a fairy tale school the product of which are villains and charming princesses? Nice. Now add in just a touch of romance and mystery and you've got a perfectly wonderful book. 

The characters were, I would say, just right. I especially loved the son of King Arthur, who proved to override the mainstream Prince, though he had his times. The qualities and actions of the characters made me grow fond of them, and I even found myself teary-eyed at their occasional sorrows. 

Like every story, of course, this one did have flaws, the biggest being target audience. The length and vocabulary seemed much too long for a young audience, and yet the characters were aged only twelve and so the dialogue was sometimes tedious. I feel the problem could be easily resolved with an age swap, because frankly, it's difficult trying to picture a twelve year old Snow white, and even harder to picture a twelve year old prince charming. 

That's not to say that the story lost its effect on me. The plot line and world building cast aside my doubts and swept me to a truly enchanting ride. I was once again reminded that no one is ever too old for a fairy tale. 

And the cliffhanger! I will now start pulling out my hair. Oh, and did I mention, I'm loving the cover. 

Can't wait for 2014

Guys, it's almost the new year, and more than anything else, that means: NEW BOOKS. I don't know about you all, but I for one am just craving sequels and prequels and just other novels somewhere down a saga. And of course, just books that I've heard lots about. Oh man, you guys ready for the list? Here goes!

1) The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5) by

Coming out: October 7th, 2014

Unwind"2) Undivided by Neal Shusterman (Unwind Dystology #4)

Ah, the Unwind Dystology. The fourth and final book comes out this year and I am just stoked! Neal Shusterman is an amazing storyteller, and his books are just heart robbing!

If I recall, the last book that came out, Unsouled, promised a very very intense last book. Let the epic journey begin!

Coming out: Summer of 2014 (yay, during stress free summer).


The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave, #2)
3) The Infinite Sea (The Fifth Wave #2) by

A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil, #2)

These are just a few that I was absolutely looking forwards to. There are many more, some I might not even realise until later on. What about you guys, what are you all looking forward too?