Monday, 26 September 2011

Review: Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
(Théâtre Illuminata #1)

4 out of 5 stars

Published by Feiwel & Friends

I've been wanting to review this book for quite a while now, but somehow I can't seem to figure out what to say about Eyes Like Stars. I'm not often at lost for words, but somehow this book has left me speechless.

Eyes Like Stars is nothing like a book I have ever read before. And I know I say this kind of thing quite often, but I can't stress enough that this book is truly unique. I have nothing to compare it to. I can't even give it a proper rating, because I don't have a frame of reference. Maybe it deserves 5 stars. Maybe it deserves only 3. I honestly couldn't decide, so I gave it a diplomatic 4.

Beatrice lives in a theatre. The stage is her bedroom. The players come and go as they please. With her four fairy friends she has many adventures, to the annoyance of the Stage Master. When she somehow causes a cannon to explode, she has gone too far. Now Beatrice has to prove she is necessary to the theatre, or she will be kicked out the only home she has ever known.

In this book reality and magic are so weaved together it is sometimes hard to distinguish the difference between the two. It actually took me a while to grasp the concept of the magical stage. It can do things that are completely impossible, like flood the whole thing, then somehow suck the water out again. Yet these improbabilities are explained as if they are made possible by smart contraptions built within the stage.

I really liked the character of Beatrice. She is more of a tomboy, having grown up with all kind of exciting stage props. Even though she practically lives in some kind of fairytale, she's easy to relate to. And what I liked even more is that she's not so terribly prudish as a lot of female leads are.

The cover is absolutely stunning. A big thumbs up to the cover artist, Beatrice actually has blue hair in the story. She looks just like I would imagine her.


All her world’s a stage.

Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater. She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents. She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own. That is, until now.

Enter Stage Right

NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.

COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.

ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.

BERTIE. Our heroine.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book — an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family — and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.

Open Curtain

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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Short Review: Errant by Diana Peterfreund

Errant by Diana Peterfreund

5 out of 5 stars

Short Story (33 pages)
Published by Noise Court Press

Me and killer unicorns, we go way back. The first time I heard of their existence it was like finding that missing piece that completes you into a whole being. It filled the empty little place in my heart. And still now, I can't get enough.

Errant is a short story of about 30 pages, set in historical France. Gitta, a unicorn hunter trained in Rome, is summoned to help in a symbolic unicorn hunt. But there is more magic hiding in this estate than she expected...

I loved how in this tiny short story, Ms Peterfreund manages to insert several plot twists, character development and a teasing insight into the world of unicorn hunters. The story stands completely on its own, making it accessible for both die-hard fans and the relatively ignorant.

When I wrote this review, this novelette was still available for free. Read more about this offer on Diana Peterfreund's blog. Go read it, NOW!


In 18th century France, a noble family prepares to celebrate their daughter’s arranged marriage by holding a traditional unicorn hunt. But when an unusual nun arrives at the chateau with her beloved pet to help the rich girl train, nothing goes as expected. Starring hunters, fine ladies, fancy frocks, and killer unicorns.

A standalone novelette set in Peterfreund’s killer unicorniverse, which includes the novels RAMPANT and ASCENDANT.

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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Books I Couldn't Finish (Yet)

I am one of those people that keep reading, even though every page is a pain to get through. I have no idea why, but I just HAVE to finish a book once I started it.

However, some books you just kind of... forget about. I read about 3-5 books at a time, so slow or dull books stay on the "currently reading" pile for months. After a few months I will admit to myself; I just cannot finish this book.

Here are a few books that I just could not finish:

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (Languedoc Trilogy #1)

In this extraordinary thriller, rich in the atmospheres of medieval and contemporary France, the lives of two women born centuries apart are linked by a common destiny.

July 2005. In the Pyrenees mountains near Carcassonne, Alice, a volunteer at an archaeological dig stumbles into a cave and makes a startling discovery-two crumbling skeletons, strange writings on the walls, and the pattern of a labyrinth; between the skeletons, a stone ring, and a small leather bag.

Eight hundred years earlier, on the eve of a brutal crusade to stamp out heresy that will rip apart southern France, Alais is given a ring and a mysterious book for safekeeping by her father as he leaves to fight the crusaders. The book, he says, contains the secret of the true Grail, and the ring, inscribed with a labyrinth, will identify a guardian of the Grail. As crusading armies led by Church potentates and nobles of northern France gather outside the city walls of Carcassonne, it will take great sacrifice to keep the secret of the labyrinth safe.

In the present, another woman sees the find as a means to the political power she craves; while a man who has great power will kill to destroy all traces of the discovery and everyone who stands in his way.

I made it about 200 pages in. Then I was just so bored to tears by the slow moving plot that I put this book back onto its shelf and let it be.

Cry of the Newborn by James Barclay (The Ascendants of Estorea #1)

The Estorean Conquord has stood for 850 years. Its Advocate, Herine Del Aglios, knows that she presides over the greatest civilisation in history. But she wants more. And in Estorea's recently conquered territories dissent is brewing. Forced to fight old friends and neighbours in the cause of the ever-growing Conquord, they face brutal choices and savage demands for money and men to be fed into Estorea's wars - demands made by Paul Jhered, head of the Gatherers and the iron hand of the Advocate, With Jhered by her side, Herine believes that nothing can go wrong. Until a disastrous and bloody reversal in the war to overrun the Kingdom of Tsard puts Estorea's armies on the back foot and has Tsardon troops flooding into the Conquord. As the empire trembles, far from the war four unique children are discovering their powers. They are the first true Ascendants, in touch with the elements, able to shape the world. An empire descending into war is about to discover the wonder and terror of magic ...James Barclay's new series is a triumph of epic plotting and heart-stopping action.

I actually quite enjoyed the book. It was just one of those fantasy books that has so much description in it that it takes away the speed of the book. I am still planning to finish it when I have lots of reading time. Plus, I really like the cover.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

When Richard Mayhew stops one day to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk, his life is forever altered, for he finds himself propelled into an alternate reality that exists in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He has fallen through the cracks of reality and has landed somewhere different, somewhere that is Neverwhere.

I was very disappointed that I didn't like this book. Mr Gaiman is such a popular writer that I figured I MUST like his book. Couldn't get though Neverwhere. Ugh.

Raven's Kiss by Toni LoTempio (Raven Grace #1)

Raven Grace was a college senior with ambitions of a career in law enforcement when she met the demon Aega, whose bite turned her from mortal to Shapeshifter. Now a member of the Recovery Organization, Raven keeps the peace between humans and errant Hellhounds, trolls, wizards and the like while trying to track down Aega and bring him to justice. After a particularly dicey encounter one night with a Hellhound, she goes to the aid of a girl who’s been attacked and near death—and is amazed to find Aega’s bite mark on the girl’s arm. Determined to get to the bottom of this, she revisits the victim’s apartment and there discovers her closet is a portal to a parallel universe, where people she knows lead vastly different lives. She also gets a glimpse of the Recovery Captain there—a six foot, redheaded Scotsman named Finn McPhee, whose sexy accent and even sexier bod sets her senses aflame. Seeking answers, Finn takes Raven to the magickal underworld, where an ancient fae informs them the demon’s quest is rooted in Scottish mythology and magick. As they delve deeper into legend, the truth comes to light—Aega is only a pawn, subservient to another, darker demon…a being who knows the truth about Raven’s heritage, and who orchestrated her return to this parallel universe for the ultimate showdown. Now, Finn and Raven find their passion for one another must take a backseat to Raven’s battle with a dark force who won’t be satisfied until he’s claimed her soul for his very own…

There was nothing really wrong with this book... It just felt like one in a dozen. Raven was a heroine I have read about multiple times before, and I just don't find her and her love interest that interesting.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Read Your Own Books Marathon: Final Update!

The Readathon isn't officially over yet, but as my bed is beckoning me with warm and fuzzy promises (it's half past one over here), I will do my last update now! I had a great time and am quite proud to have read so much the last few days, even though life has interfered quite often. The total stats:

  • Books read: 2
  • Pages read: 722
  • Books started but unfinished: 1
  • Tweeted with #SIRYOBM: way too often
For those still busy with the challenge: happy reading!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

2 out of 5 stars

Published by  Harper Collins, Inc
Review copy received through Netgalley

I didn't really like this book. It was completely over the top for me. I like books with a message, as long as it's done subtly. Bumped is just one bombastic piece of culture shock with messages flying all over the place, with the subtlety of a grenade-impact.

The blurb sounds interesting, and the simple cover appealed to me. There are the twin-sisters split from birth, a virus that makes having children after the teenage years impossible. And don't forget we're living in 2035, so advanced technology is present.

This book would have been so much better if the main characters, Harmony and Melody, were even remotely close to likeable. I was in constant discussion which one of the twin sisters I disliked more; the annoying my-God-is-better-than-yours sister or the equally annoying what-others-think-of-me-is-the-most-important-thing-evar sister. Even worse is that they don't develop as characters, but that towards the end of the book there is a sudden "halleluja!" moment where they for no reason at all change into a "better" person. Ugh.

I think this book was more written to shock its audience than truly have something to say. It's a continuing rampage full of made up words, orgies, Brave New World kind of drugs and a whole belief system based on supply and demand. Add the Psalm-spewing twin for some contrast, and you have Bumped. Even though categorised as young-adult, I would definitely not recommend this for your fifteen-year-old. This book is more on the adult than the young side.


When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Read Your Own Books Marathon: Update

Finally got the time to start the marathon in earnest. Still had to go to the university on Friday, making it quite impossible to read yesterday. However, I was able to finish my first book for the marathon this morning! I read Blood Beast by Darren Shan. That brings my stats to this:

  • Books read: 1
  • Total pages read: 269
  • Goal books read: 2
  • Goal total pages read: 750
  • Pages to go till goal: 431
I'm now starting in the second book of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, Bloodfever. I hope I can finish it today, so I'll surpass my goal!


Update No. 2! I have finished Bloodfever. It was pretty awesome. I don't know if I liked it better than the first, but it definitely was a 4.5 star read. Of course it ends on a massive cliffhanger, so I'm glad I have the next part of the series Faefever close by! I think I will start reading it tonight, but I don't think I will be able to finish it, as I have to work on a boring Engineering project tomorrow. I guess I'll just try to squeeze in as much reading as I can! My updated stats:

  • Books read: 2
  • Total pages read: 606
  • Goal books read: 2
  • Goal total pages read: 750
  • Pages to go till goal: 144

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Read Your Own Books Marathon!

I'm joining The Bibliophilic Book Blog's Read Your Own Books Read-A-Thon! This is a great way to read all of those books you have once bought, but never got to because you have all these review copies piling up. As I probably own about a hundred books that I haven't read yet, I'm definitely in for this challenge!

My Goals:
  • Finish 2 books
  • Read 750 pages
  • Be very proud of myself
  • Post about my progress at least once every day
The Read-A-Thon will run from Thursday the 15th till Sunday 18th. That means it is starting today! However, you can still sign up and win pretty awesome stuff. Just hop over to The Bibliophilic Book Blog and join the fun. If you're participating, feel free to leave me a comment. I love checking on others to see how they're doing (:

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Storm Front by Jim Butcher
(The Dresden Files #1)
4 out of 5 stars

Published by Penguin Group US

I really liked this book. It being a first book in a very long series, there were a lot of characters to learn to know, but the main characters voice was very distinct, and I loved him immediately.

Harry the wizard for hire takes on a case of a woman, searching for her husband. He expects that he's just having an affair, but he'll look into it anyway. However, this case is not as simple as it looks on first glance. When his help is also needed by the police in a suspicious investigation, Harry might be in over his head.

This might even be the first UF book I've read with a manly main character, and I was pleasantly surprised. Even though Harry is pretty much the ultimate geek that is attracted to about every woman he sees, I still liked him because deep down, he's quite kick-ass.

The world Mr Butcher sketches here is highly entertaining and interesting. He has a slightly different take on vampires and other supernaturals, that make me curious for the next books in the series.

Storm Front is action-packed with a fast moving plot, and a great introduction into this series.


Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he's the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don't play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever.

There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name. And that's when things start to get interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

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Saturday, 10 September 2011

Author Awesomeness: Patrick Rothfuss Writes a Rhyme

This is something I came across last week and it made me smile so long my cheeks were starting to hurt.

For those of you who don't know who Patrick Rothfuss is, he is the writer of the awesome books The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear. He was having a photo contest on his blog, calling on all fans to picture his newest book in an unusual setting. This, as did his previous contest, results in thousands and thousands of beautiful, funny, or plain weird pictures.

Well, as a little thank you to all of the entries, Pat has made a very cool framing narrative thingy with a selection of the entries. It's hard to explain, but it FRIGGIN' AWESOME.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Review: Marked by P.C. Cast

Marked by P.C. Cast
(House of Night #1)
3.5 out of 5 stars

320 pages
Published by St. Martin's Press
I picked this book up, expecting some kind of female Harry Potter, but this time with vampires (or "vampyres" as they are called in Marked).

Well, this book was nothing like that. It was somehow a lot more mystique, otherworldly. When Zoey "Marked" by a vampyre Tracker, she has to be sent to the House of Night, otherwise she will die a horrible death. Here she learns about vampyre society while she is changing. Here no one of the fledglings know if they will survive the change, or if their body will reject it.

I quite liked the House of Night and Cast's concept of vampires. They worship the Goddess of the Night, Nyx. This means that there are several rituals led by the leader of the school, High Priestess Neferet. The rituals were detailed, reminding me a bit of Wiccan rituals, with the summoning of the elements and the closing of a circle.

However, I did dislike the way Ms Cast tried to not so subtly convince us with her morals. She especially has a strange conception of what defines being a slut. You want to kiss a guy that is hot and nice to you? Such a slut. You're wearing a tight short dress? Well, you must have bought that in a ho store. And if you have to take it from Ms Cast, giving a guy a blowjob is truly the most horrible thing a girl can do, 'cause you know, you'd only do that if you were forced. I really didn't like her condescending tone. This will just give teenagers that read these books the idea that every small sexual desire for a guy is totally wrong and disgusting and slutty. Such a judgemental attitude is strange for a character that is a teenager herself, without being influenced in these ideas by anyone around her. I got the idea Ms Cast wanted to give us a message, and put these words badly disguised in her main characters mouth.

Another thing I thought was pretty weird, especially in the first half of the book, is how Ms Cast is trying way too hard to sound like a teenager. References to Paris anorexia and Pamela Anderson's boobs stand out between completely normal conversations, standing out in a not so good way. Again, it felt like Ms Cast was criticising modern day society through Zoey.

This book is somewhere between a 3 and a 4 star rating, depending on my mood. This book was surprisingly different, not at all what I was expecting. Yet, I couldn't stand the author's attitude. I will read the next book in the series though, I'm curious to see where these books go.


The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed.  In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire--that is, if she makes it through the Change.  Not all of those who are chosen do.  

It's tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling.  She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx.  But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers.  When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

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Sunday, 4 September 2011

Review: Photographs & Phantoms by Cindy Spencer Pape

Photographs & Phantoms by Cindy Spencer Pape
(Gaslight Chronicles #1.5)
3 out of 5 stars

50 pages - Novella
Published by Carina Press

A sweet little novella set in 19th century Brighton, England.

Photographs & Phantoms is pretty much your standard romance short story. There is the girl with the problem, in this case a ghost that seems to target clients she takes photographs of, and there is the awesome-wizard-guy that comes to save her. And while he's playing Superinvestigator, they fall in love.

The mystery was actually pretty good, I liked how everything came together in the end. Although I think the ending was quite abrupt, I would have liked to see a few more pages about the how's and why's.

While being advertised as a steampunk romance, this book was a little bit too light on the steampunk references for my taste. This book could just as well been set in the "ordinary" 19th century, it wouldn't have changed a thing. Luckily, I like normal historical novels too, so this was an entertainingly quick afternoon's read.


Brighton, 1855
As a member of the Order of the Round Table, Kendall Lake is overqualified to be investigating strange phenomena at a seaside photography studio. But since the photographer is related to the Order's most powerful sorcerer, Kendall reluctantly boards a dirigible to Brighton.

Amy Deland is haunted by a shadow that appears in some of her recent portraits. In each case, the subject died within days of the sitting. Does she have her grandmother's gift of foresight, or has she somehow caused the deaths?

As Kendall and Amy search for answers, their investigation draws them together in a most improper way—but it seems the evil presence in the studio is determined to keep them apart…

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