Review: Water Song: A Retelling of “The Frog Prince” by Suzanne Weyn

725806Blurb from Goodreads

Young, beautiful, and wealthy, Emma Pennington is accustomed to a very comfortable life. Although war rages abroad, she hardly feels its effect. She and her mother travel from their home in Britain to the family estate in Belgium, never imagining that the war could reach them there. But it does.

Soon Emma finds herself stranded in a war-torn country, utterly alone. Enemy troops fight to take over her estate, leaving her with no way to reach her family, and no way out.

With all of her attention focused on survival and escape, Emma hardly expects to find love. But the war will teach her that life is unpredictable, people aren’t always what they seem, and magic is lurking everywhere.

Paperback, 194 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Simon Pulse
edition language: English
genre: Historical, Retelling, Young Adult
My Thoughts
I never read nor watch the movie of The Frog Prince before, but I get the idea of what it is all about. When I picked this book up, I wonder how the author will tell and transform the hero into the frog. To be honest, reading a frog prince is not that appealing for me. I’m more curious of the way the author retells it, which brings me to this book.I really like how it feels like a new story for me, despite that I’ve already known (a bit) the story. I also liked the historical setting which takes place during the WWI. It feels like the fairytale isn’t that far away with our world. And the author provides the historical background quite well, I think.I liked the main characters, Emma and Jack, they are strong will and brave in their own way. Although at first there is prejudice between them, I cannot help not to love their banter and wit. It’s so good reading their dialogues, they can make me smile or even laugh with their wit.

However, I want more about Jack’s magic. I think it doesn’t describe well, at least not as descriptive as I want to. It’s like it’s so natural for Jack he hopes I, as a reader, can understand it without him describing it. And there are also things that I think too easy for the characters. Jack’s magic that feels too convenience for their own good.

All in all, as my first The Frog Prince retelling I think it’s a good and enjoyable story. It feels too short though. I wish there is more story about Emma’s father, Jack’s family and his magic.
Result: 3 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge:
– GoodReads: Book #18
– YA Buddy Readers’ Corner ♥: Read books I never thought I’ll read.
– Popsugar: A book set in a different country (in Belgium)
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Review: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5, Fairest by Marissa Meyer

22489107Blurb from Goodreads

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Hardcover, 222 pages
Published January 27th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
edition language: English
series: The Lunar Chronicles
genre: Dystopia, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”

― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones

This is a story about love, a love that causes jealousy, hurt and madness. Levana craves love; from her parents who never able to show it to her, from her older sister who is cunning even in earlier age and most importantly from a man that attracts her from the first time she met him. She has love she’s willing to share yet she doesn’t have anyone to share with.

Levana as all we know is an evil antagonist in The Lunar Chronicles. So evil I want her to meet her end in a very hurtful way. But somehow, I can guess that there is a story, her reason, why she acted the way she did. I’m glad she has her own story, as I know her more well now. I think it’s a sad story, as sad as Disney’s live-action Maleficent. I feel sorry for her, but it doesn’t mean that I forgive her for all of her cruelty. What she did is beyond reason and unforgivable. But that’s the best thing about this book. It can make me sorry for her as much as hate her at the same time.

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As a bridge between book 3 and 4 (or is it a prequel of book 1?) I already knew most of the things in the story. Reading it is like putting the puzzle of who is who and what they will become in next books, one by one. I think it’s good because it means that it intertwines with a whole Lunar Chronicles books. But in a way it’s also kinda boring. There is a time when I wish I get surprise from the story, just so I feel like I get something else something different in the story. So it is good Levana is a strong character. She can make me bear a bit of boredom and turn it into engaging story.

Although there isn’t much happens here, at least not much if I compare with other characters in Lunar Chronicles’ story, I think Levana’s story is stronger than Cress’ and probably more complex than Cinder and Scarlet’s story. Now I can’t wait to read the final one, Winter.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge:
– GoodReads: Book #17
– YA Buddy Readers’ Corner ♥: Finish at least 5 series I’ve started.
– Popsugar: A book based entirely on its cover

Review: Taking #3, Collide by Melissa West

16032329Blurb from Goodreads

Military legacy Ari Alexander has survived alien spies, WWIV, and a changing world order. But when the new leader of Earth uses Jackson—the only boy she’s ever let herself care about—to get to her, Ari has no choice but to surrender.

To free Jackson, she agrees to travel to the national bases to train others to fight. What she discovers is a land riddled with dying people. Ari has the power to heal by turning the fighters into aliens—half-breeds like her. If she succeeds, together, they have a chance at overthrowing the alien leader, Zeus. But if she fails, everyone she holds dear will be wiped away forever.

Once again, everything Ari’s come to believe is thrown into question. In a world of uncertainty, loyalties are tested, lies are uncovered, and no one can be trusted. If Ari and Jackson have any hope at survival and at preserving a life for the future, they must fight the final war with their eyes wide open.

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published February 9th 2015 by Entangled: Teen
edition language: English
series: Taking
genre: Dystopia, Sci-fi, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

When book 2, Hover, didn’t live my expectation, I don’t except anything to the final one. But that’s when the best thing for the series happens. This book is the best among the three. I think it’s perfect as the last book.

Ari doesn’t lose focus anymore here, instead she’s so determine and clear of what she wants and what she has to do. She’s more badass which I liked, by the way because she doesn’t waste her talent into some wishy-washy thoughts like in book 2. Her romance with Jackson is also spots on. And it doesn’t shadow the action. But then again, it’s one of things I like from the series. There is romance but never shadow the story of the human versus the alien.

I couldn’t agree more with the tagline of the book, The War is Imminent. You’ll find more action and tension here, more than in book 1. It’s like Ari and other characters are always in the run and danger as the war approaches. But my favorite thing is Zeus’s mind game. It’s so good I keep wandering which one is real and which one is not. When I read it, I think I know when Ari dreams but then I’m not so sure anymore. I liked the feeling when I read it. It’s confusing but in a good way, if you know what I mean.

But if I have to point out one thing I’m not quite satisfy, is Ari’s POV makes some scenes aren’t not clear enough for me. Her POV limited few things I really want to know more. It’s just my preference, though. This book is still the best of the series.

Note: Is it just me or do you feel like there is a potential of sequel or spin-off of the series?

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge:
– GoodReads: Book #15
– YA Buddy Readers’ Corner ♥: Finish all of ARCs (Advance Reader Copy) I have by the end of 2015.

Review: Rebel Wing #2, Storm Fall by Tracy Banghart

23556036Blurb from Goodreads

In the action-packed sequel to Rebel Wing, Aris battles for life and love . . . and not everyone will survive.

Aris Haan gave up everything to join the Atalantan Military: her family, her boyfriend, even her identity. In the end, though, it didn’t matter that she was a war hero. When the all-male Military discovered that she was actually a woman, she was sent home and erased from history.

Now she has a chance to go back to the battlefield—as herself. But as hard as it was to be a soldier in disguise, it’s even more difficult now. The men in her unit undermine her at every turn. The Safaran army has spies everywhere, perhaps even on Aris’s stationpoint. And she’s falling for her mysterious superior officer, Milek. But their relationship is forbidden, just stolen moments between training sessions and missions. There’s no room for love in war.

Then Aris discovers that Safara’s leaders have set their sights on her, Atalanta’s hero. And she must find them before they find her . .

Kindle Edition, 230 pages
Published December 16th 2014 by Alloy Entertainment – Powered by Amazon
edition language: English
series: Rebel Wing
genre: Dystopia, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

I think this sequel is much better than Rebel Wing. In Rebel Wing, half of it was boring, but here there isn’t any single dull moment I can find. It’s so engaging I read it in one sitting. It’s fast-paced from the beginning to the end.

I have to admit that the idea that Aris has to struggle (again) in the military made me doubt the story. Although I have a high hope to this book, I also think that it can be repetitive as Aris has to do the similar things as in book 1, though for different case. She’s indeed struggle for her position again, but the author write it well to avoid the similar things happen twice. And for that I’m so happy. It’s so good reading her struggling and determination throughout the story, as well as her hide and seek relationship with Major Vadim.

However I still don’t like reading Ward Neko and Ward Vadim relationship. In fact I couldn’t care less of their romance. For me, as leaders, especially Ward Neko, they don’t bring much contribution to the war their dominions have to face. I see him as a weak character. Maybe he’s meant to be that way, but his regret over his past love doesn’t give any good to his dominion. And reading it is so annoying. I rather read about Dysis relationship, or even Pallas story. So I think it is good they don’t take much in the story.

This book is still action-packed. Not just from Aris’ flying ability, but also from the nightmare that she has to face. It’s like the tension is all over her and she doesn’t have anything to avoid it.

On a side note, I think this book still has unclear things, just like in book 1. 1) I’m wondering where Theo goes? He’s the one who recognize Aris flying talent but he still doesn’t show up in the story. It’s like the author forgets him. 2) The invisible wingjet. It is invisible not only from the outside, but also from the inside of the jet, as in the pilot cannot see its nose and all. Does it make sense? I mean if it is the case, doesn’t it dangerous for the pilots for not being able to see their own jet? I know there are these kinds of military jet in our world, stealth jet, if I’m not wrong that can invisible from the radar and all. But I don’t think it’s truly invisible as in there is nothing that can see it, including its pilots. 3) Similar case with Theo, where does Aero Contas go? He’s an ass and is being station to another stationpoint, but I thought, well I assumed, to be honest, from his talk to Aris that he will appear again in the story. But until the last page, he doesn’t show up anymore.

All in all I really liked this sequel. I’m enjoying it more than book 1 and is as good as I expected. It still has things I dislike, though. But it doesn’t mean that I won’t read book 3, in fact I cannot wait to get my hand on it!

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge:
– GoodReads: Book #13
– YA Buddy Readers’ Corner ♥: Finish all of ARCs (Advance Reader Copy) I have by the end of 2015.

Review: Taking #2, Hover by Melissa West

16032322Blurb from Goodreads

On Earth, seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander was taught to never peek, but if she hopes to survive life on her new planet, Loge, her eyes must never shut. Because Zeus will do anything to save the Ancients from their dying planet, and he has a plan.

Thousands of humans crossed over to Loge after a poisonous neurotoxin released into Earth’s atmosphere, nearly killing them. They sought refuge in hopes of finding a new life, but what they became were slaves, built to wage war against their home planet. That is, unless Ari and Jackson can stop them. But on Loge, nothing is as it seems…and no one can be trusted.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published August 13th 2013 by Entangled Teen
edition language: English
series: Taking
genre: Dystopia, Sci-fi, Young Adult, Romance
My Thoughts
Although book 1 of Taking series is only a 3 stars for me, I think it has interesting idea and I like the way Ms. West wrote it. And compare to some of dystopian YA books I’ve read, it is a better one. So I have a high hope to its sequels.

This time, Ari’s story takes place in Jackson’s planet. As a place that is so far away from the earth, I need a vivid worldbuilding, or at least enough description about the place so that I believe that the characters are in other planet, outside the earth. Just like book 1, the writing is still good, the description of the worldbuilding is also so clear I can picture it in my mind easily. But I feel like there is no difference with the earth. Everything seems similar to the earth. I don’t get the feeling that it is a place that is so far away from the earth that you need a wormhole to send messages.

I also feel there is not much happen in most of the story. Thus it feels slower than book 1. I know what Ari has to do here is not an easy task. But she’s being with the enemy, I feel she loses focus of what she has to do. In a way she spends her time training as a RES, Republic Employee Spy, since she’s a half-human, half-ancient now but I don’t see she does much training as other RES do. In another hand, she has to kill Zeus. I don’t see much of her plan or effort to do it either. All of her attempts are mostly caught in the act kind of thing, without so much planning as she wants to. And her I-have-to-kill Zeus speech at the end of many chapter sound like a broken record for me.

But don’t worried I still have things I like. The writing is still good. Despite the slow-paced, it is an engaging story. I also like the way Ari chooses not to be in a relationship with Jackson immediately. She needs time which is understandable and it makes the story not all about herself. She places her people and her task above her relationship with him. So book 3, here I come!

Result: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge:
– GoodReads: Book #12
– YA Buddy Readers’ Corner ♥: Finish at least 5 series I’ve started
– Popsugar: A book you own but have never read

Rebel Wing #1, Shattered Veil by Tracy Banghart

20951188Blurb from GoodReads

When everything that defines you is stripped away, who do you become?

War has invaded Atalanta’s quiet villages and lush woodlands, igniting whispered worries in its glittering capitol. Far from the front lines, 18-year-old Aris Haan, a talented wingjet flyer, has little cause for concern. Until her beloved Calix is thrust into the fray, and a stranger makes her an impossible offer: the chance to join a secret army of women embedded within the all-male military.

Aris’s choice to follow Calix to war will do more than put her in physical danger; it will make her question everything she believes about herself. When she and her enigmatic commander uncover a deadly conspiracy, her expert flying may be the only hope for her dominion’s survival…and her own.

It’s Mulan meets Battlestar Galactica, with a heroine who is strong enough to save a nation…but only if she’s willing to sacrifice everything, even the one promise she swore she’d never break.

Kindle Edition, 372 pages
Published February 24th 2014
edition language: English
series: Rebel Wing
genre: Dystopia, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

I think this is a good book and I enjoyed reading it, mostly in second part.

The first part was a struggle for me. Despite the war that is looming in Aris’ world, the story is a bit boring. Although I admire her eagerness to be with her loved one, Calix, I’m also annoyed with her. She’s joining the military to be close to him, so she should know the consequences. But in all her training time she’s whiney and is so innocent, if not a bit silly and careless. I know it is needed for her character development, as we can guess she’ll soon realize her role and reasons in the military is bigger than her initial reason, but still I felt like I want to tell her to stop complaining. In a way, it makes the story feels slow. And then, there is another story between the leaders of the dominion, it isn’t as interesting as Aris story and I felt it kind of dragged on.

Another thing is there isn’t much description about most of the important things, well at least important for me.

When I read the blurb I thought that this is a dystopian story. I felt like it is a dystopian but I didn’t get clear worldbuilding and the time setting of the story. If it’s a dystopian I need to know what happened before Aris’ time takes place. My friend said this might set in an alternate universe as we felt places in the story remind us of places in our world. But there isn’t much any description either. So it’s pretty hard for me to picture Aris’ world.

As the most important thing in Aris disguise, the Diatous Veil, didn’t describe much either. Aris has to have it to manipulate human eyes to think that she’s a man. The book says that it has something to do with electrode. I don’t think it’s enough for my brain to believe it. I need more explanation about it, how about the chemistry and other technical things that connects to the electrode?

There are so many questions about it in my mind as so does with the reason of the war. I hope I’ll get the answers in next books.

Fortunately, second part is much better as the pace takes turn. Aris is more likeable. She begins to understand her role in the military. Her struggle to keep hiding her identity is also interesting. In order to keep her “mask” I think it’s impossible for her to avoid touching her friends in the military, but I also can’t wait to know when and how her disguise reveals.

I also like the way Aris and Calix relationship grows. It’s bittersweet but it’s understandable. It surely adds the drama in their relationship and become an important thing in Aris’ life. And it’s action-packed. I really enjoyed reading how Aris loves flying. I can see that she indeed loves to fly.

Can’t wait to read book 2! Thank goodness I’ve already had it so I don’t have to wait for long to read it.

Result: 3 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge:
– GoodReads: Book #11
– YA Buddy Readers’ Corner ♥: Finish all of ARCs (Advance Reader Copy) I have by the end of 2015.

Review: Ever Darkening by Janeal Falor

23403993Blurb from GoodReads

Perfection. Goodness. Elimination of evil. It’s what seventeen-year-old Kaylyn has trained her entire life to achieve. But no one is prepared for the consequences of her actually defeating all evil people on the planet. Finally successful in her mission, Kaylyn faces an unfamiliar world, full of good people doing good things, in which she no longer has purpose.

When the skies grow dark, and a stranger from another village pleads for her help, her instincts roar to life. It turns out their perfect world isn’t exactly what it seems. Kaylyn’s new quest, harder than any she’s been on before, will rip apart her friendships, her life, and her soul more than any evil man ever managed to.

Kindle Edition, 171 pages
Published January 22nd 2015
edition language: English
genre: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
My Thoughts
ARC was provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

I’m conflicted now. I liked things in this book as much as disliked other things in the story.

I liked the writing, obviously. It flows smoothly and so clear I can picture the worldbuilding and everything in the story easily. And not to mention that it has perfect pace. There is a room for slow thing as well as things that made my heart beat fast.

I also liked the unknown feeling that I got from Kaylyn, the heroine in this story. She made me wondering what really happen to her world exactly. It’s pretty predictable, to be honest and is quite easy to guess what happened and will happen into her world (and my guessed were right, if you want to know), but it didn’t mean that I stop wondering while I read her story. I always love the feeling when I’m wondering and questioning the story. It means I pay attention to it and it glues me to keep reading it.

However me questioning things could lead into something else that bring me to other things that I didn’t quite like. From the beginning I’ve already known that destroying the evil forever is not as good as it sounds because everything needs balance. So how come Showna, the leader of Kaylyn’s band of fighter (I cannot point out my finger to Kaylyn since she’s still young and doesn’t have much experience as Showna) didn’t think about it or at least questioning it to Aster and Astra, Kaylyn’s community leaders? I can ignore it, though. It’s not a big deal compare to the grand scheme of the story and is kind of understandable for them to follow all the rule and what they asked since it’s in their blood to be good person.

But it also leads me questioning that even a good person cannot be a whole good person forever. Everything needs balance, remember? At this point it seems conflicted with the plot. The good characters are described so good they don’t have any single evil thought while the story tells me that good cannot exist without evil. If the good characters are so good and they need bad characters to exist, isn’t it unfair for bad characters when they actually are good characters but are provoked to do evil things just so the balance keeps back in track? And I also didn’t buy that the good cannot be swing into evil side. If they can provoke their friend, why cannot their friends do the same thing to them?

So you see, I liked this story, I really do. I think it has good idea and I liked the ending, though it’s as I predicted. But I also didn’t quite agree with that good and evil thing. I guess it means that this book is more than an okay book as I enjoyed reading it.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenge:
– GoodReads: Book #10
– YA Buddy Readers’ Corner ♥: Finish all of ARCs (Advance Reader Copy) I have by the end of 2015.
– Popsugar: A book with a love triangle