Friday, June 28, 2013

Pretty Dark Nothing by Heather L. Reid

I can't figure out what's going on with this book. It seems to be part teenage angst (a valid genre in itself - especially for teens) and part paranormal.

You see, Pretty Dark Nothing is about Quinn, a cheerleader (captain), who's going through a bad patch. Her boyfriend was stolen from her, another cheerleader is going around spreading rumors and she's on academic probation. Oh, and her dad left her and her mom, and her mom is never around. With all these, I wasn't sure if the nightmares Quinn had were just her daily life manifested in dreams or something more. (hint: the answer is the second option)

But here to the rescue is Aaron, this guy who just can't keep away from Quinn. And he really did try. He seems to have this bond with Quinn, and he can't help but come to the rescue whenever she's in trouble. Too bad she's still hung up on her ex-boyfriend.

This alone would make for a pretty interesting book (especially if you're into unrequited love), but add in that sneaky "is something bigger going on" element and I was really just racing through trying to figure out what was going on. Personally, I think the mix of elements, combined with plot was the book's strongest point.

Character-wise, I'm kind of torn. I liked Quinn, I liked her friend Reese, I even quite liked Aaron, ok fine, I liked most characters. But it was a meh like, like "hmmm.... you're not annoying me, so I suppose I like you as a character".

And I know this is just a book, but I'm quite disturbed by the fact that Quinn is left largely alone. I know people can develop coping mechanisms and all, but her grades are dropping, she's fainting, and her school doesn't seem to be doing much. In fact, her coach seems to be more concerne with the team advancing for regionals (which require Quinn to be in top form) rather than Quinn's mental health (think of it, what captain will willingly give away her spot and help her successor? Especially since the friction is so obvious). But ok, plot purposes, I'm keeping that in mind.

This is actually a good book. It's dark, and there's quite some swearing and crude language, but if you're a little older and you want something darker, you should give this a try.

Disclaimer: I got this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Whodunnit? Murder in Mystery Mansion by Anthony E. Zuiker

This is a whodunnit that is quite unlike most I've read. It starts with the butler (GIles) who is employed by some mysterious person. Then the guests come and no one can leave.

And like Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, they start dying one by one. Until the murderer and one other gust is left (that guest "wins"), which I guess is a huge difference from Then There Were None. But the whole murderer among the guests thing is the same.

After each murder, the remaining guests/victims are given the option of examining the corpse, the last know place of the victim or the crime scene. They then have to figure out how the victim was murdered. The one with the correct/closest to the truth theory gets to live, while the two lousiest detectives are "Scared" - so one of them will become the next victim.

What I liked about this book is that we got to see the book from the Giles' eyes. Most of the time, we see the book from either the victim, the detective or the murderer. The staff? Hardly ever.

Which is why the part I didn't like about this book was that after a while, it started alternating between the guests and Giles. The problem was that we are given a glimpse of all the guests, including the murderer.

Therein lies the main problem. The narrative is third-person, but it's not objective. Basically, it's impossible to guess who the murderer is - and that was really what fustrated me the most.

Lastly, there was this loose end which was introduced at the end and never tied up. At least I still don't understand what was going on with that. It's not a big deal, but if you like to have everything neatly tied up by the time the book ends, you may be a bit annoyed.

Disclaimer: I got this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

I'm not a steam-punk reader, and even though I keep talking about reading more of the genre, I never seem to find books that I feel like reading. Until this one. This one is awesome.

Etiquette and Esponiage is the YA version of a steampunk/paranormal series (Parasol Protectorate) that I have never read. But it still holds its own as a standalone novel. I imagine that if you follow the series, you'll find some familiar characters or something like that.

The book follows Sophronia, an unruly fourteen year old who gets sent to finishing school. Only it's a finishing school like no other - where else do you learn to kill? But even if it's a different school from what she was dreading, fitting in and learning the ropes is bound to be hard, especially when you're what they call a 'covert recruit' (which means she had no idea what she was getting into).

For some reason, this book reminds me of the Enid Blyton boarding school stories. There is the mean girl, the shy girl, the girl you become best friends with, really, most of the story is about friendships. There is a plot about a secret device, but it seems to be on the backburner for most of the story. I don't really mind, because I love reading this sort of stories though.

I think the worldbuilding was really great! I like all the stuff they did, and it was very very interesting to read about a world run by steam, and with werewolves and vampires.

Personally, I'm looking forward to reading more of this - I'm glad it's going to be a series (it says Finishing School #1 so it has to be series!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Wrong Girl by C.J. Archer

According to this book, there's a girl looked in an attic in every gothic novel. So guess who our new heroine is? If you say "girl locked in an attic", you've got it right! So I guess that's the summary of the book?

Ok, so not quite. The heroine of this book, Hannah, has nacrolepsy while her friend (who's Lady Violet and thus her boss) has the ability of setting things on fire. Or so she says (She only sets things on fire when Hannah's asleep).

So one day, Hannah gets mistaken for Lady Violet, kidnapped, brought to a place which has the nickname Freak House and is expected to master her powers of fire. Only she's a narcoleptic. But (of course), there's this really cute guy and well.....

What I liked about this book was really the premise. But since she makes it clear she really wasn't locked in the attic, and she wasn't the one making an escape attempt, it was a bit of a let down. Because seriously, apart from the attic thing, this book really resembles a super-power YA novel.

What I didn't really like was the lack of resolution in the book. There are several mysteries (Why was she kidnapped? Why do so many people want to kidnap her? Why did Violet - ok, I'll stop before I write out a spoiler), but almost none of them get resolved in the end. I'm guessing there's going to be a sequel, but I would have liked it if everything was solved and then we had a promise of more to come.

Overall, this book wasn't as unique as I thought. It's still a fun read, but it's not going to blow your mind.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Reign by Ginger Garrett

I think that, apart from Jesus, there hasn't been such a polarising character in the Bible such as Jezebel. Actually, scratch that, everyone agrees that Jesus is good, the argument is whether He's God. Jezebel though, there are two camps - she's the first feminist, or she's pure evil.

So naturally, I'd find a book that tries to imagine her life (I'm not sure what this is called, creative biography? Slight fiction? Bible-based fiction?) quite interesting. I was also really curious as to how her character would be portrayed.

And you know what? I'm really impressed with this book. It somehow manages to be sympathetic to Jezebel without downplaying the magnitude of the sins she committed.

In Reign, Jezebel is a reluctant bride to Ahab. She was never loved in her family, and she decides to leave her mark on the world by killing the God of Israel. While she gives others the illusion of freedom of choice, her real motive is to drive all of Israel to her gods.

Opposing her is Obadiah, the palace administrator. He's an example of how one can be afraid yet still serve God. I wish he was braver in speaking out, but in this book, he's human - the same flawed beings that God works through.

The only character that gave me pause was King Ahab. In Reign, he's portrayed as (in the end), believing in the God, only that he was too weak to stand up to Jezebel. Personally, I don't think Ahab ever repented - but I could be wrong.

All in all, I think this is a good re-telling of the life of Jezebel.

Disclaimer: I got this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Foreverland is Dead by Tony Bertauski

Quite some time back, I read The Annihilation of Foreverland (link to review). It was a pretty good read, and now the sequel - Foreverland is Dead is out! So from the start, I want to thank Tony for offering me a review copy(:

The Annihilation of Foreverland followed Danny as he discovered the truth about foreverland (that was an awfully repetitious sentence). And well *SPOILER ALERT* they manage to rescue everyone from that awful dream thing. But, if you think about it, only the boys were rescued at the end of the book - so what about the girls?

And that is where Foreverland is Dead comes in. All the girls in the girl version of Foreverland wake up without their memories. There are two girls that are going to be our main characters - Cyn, who becomes the unofficial leader and Miranda, this pretty girl who wakes up in the house (all the other girls wake up in a hut). As they try to figure out what happened, it becomes clear that there are a lot of problems.

Since there was a pretty significant period of time between the two books, it took me quite a while to get my bearings. But once I remembered what went on in The Annihilation of Foreverland, it was pretty easy to figure out what was going on in Foreverland is Dead. Trust me, that cut down on the temptation to read the ending first so I could find out what happened (I'm really not a wait till end girl - I like to find out the end first, then focus on how the story is told). If you've read the first book, then instead of the suspense of "what's gonna happen next", you'll have the suspense of "argh, hurry up and realise what's going on". And yes, I prefer the second type of suspense.

It really is a good book. If you liked the first one, you'll definitely like this. And if you want to read about dreams, body-snatching and friendship you should read this too.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a free and honest review.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Contributor by Nicole Ciacchella

Ok woah, this book was intense. In a world where everyone is marked by how much they can contribute to the Job Creators/Society, Dara is an up-and-coming student, vying for the prestigious position of Apprentice to the Head of Engineering. But her perfect life starts to fall apart when the ruthlessness of the competition starts to eat at her, and her family undergoes a trial that challenges her beliefs.

Can I say that Dara really reminds me of me? Not the "has a boyfriend part", but in the beginning, when she believes that hard work will be the key to success, wow, that was something that I used to believe. I'm not the smartest person (certainly not the smartest person in my family), but like Dara, I used to think that as long as I worked hard, I would get the good grades, the scholarships, the secured future.

But that future is never secure. As Dara finds out, a system based solely on how much you contribute will neglect the importance of friends and family. And Contributor is a book that follows Dara as she finds out who are her friends, and how much her family actually means to her. It is, I think, very much an exploratory sort of book - it is only at the end of the book that Dara makes a decision based on what she has learnt.

And because of that, I really admire her. I won't give away any spoilers, but let's just say that while this book does promise a book two, the cliffhanger is not very terrible. I like the ending because of the possibilities, and Dara's decision (while not very surprisingly), is admirable.

In short, this is a book that I think deals with an issue very close to all our hearts. Capitalism is very much a dog-eat-dog world, and Meritocracy, while great, does tend to be a little too hard-hearted. This book is one that can make the reader ask "am I focusing on success at the expense of the more important things in life?"

Disclaimer: I got this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bees in the Butterfly Garden by Maureen Lang

After taking quite a while to get started on the book, I got hooked once I read past chapter 5 and ended up finishing Bees in the Butterfly Garden in two days. Once again, this proves that I really do need to persevere with my books.

Bees in the Butterfly Garden is about lying, stealing, and how God will never let go of us. Hmm.... that sounds like a pretty decent, if generic, one sentence summary. Now for more detail. Meg (the protagonist) finds out that her largely absent father is a thief. Now that she knows this detail, she's determined to follow her father's footsteps and more or less coerces her father's protege Ian (who has this serious crush on Meg) into helping her. So she goes undercover at this rich "friends" house, but that's where she runs into problems.

You see, the Pemberton girls aren't the stuck-up girls Meg remembers. Sure, Evie is a handful (and due to her jealousy, a source of most of the trouble in the book), but Claire is a genuinely sweet girl, who's grieving over a lost love. Their brother Nelson is also a really good person, and this family practices the love of God. That definitely touches Meg's heart, and the only reason why she didn't stop straightaway is because of her stubbornness.

While I liked Claire, I wasn't sure where I was with Meg. She could be a little annoying at times, but I had to remind myself that I had both Meg and Ian's point of view, which meant that I knew more than Meg, and so, my decisions would have been different from her. I know that by providing two points of view, the tension in the book increases, but it does make me give Meg less empathy than I would have.

The rest of the characters were very well-fleshed out, and I really enjoyed reading about all of them.

In fact, the only 'complaint' I have would be that I wanted to see the villain of the piece get his just rewards. But I think by avoiding that scene, the book's message of grace and mercy is conveyed more strongly.

If you like reading about high-society New York, you'd probably enjoy this book.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

After a long long hiatus, I went to BookOff, and surprisingly, found quite a lot of books that I wanted to buy. Thankfully, I managed to restrain myself, although I couldn't help buying a copy of Please Look After Mom. I have this impression that I've heard lots of good things about it, and it's only 105yen! I can definitely afford to gamble on this book.

So, Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB of ShouldBeReading. To take part, all you have to do is share a two-sentence teaser from whatever you're reading. My teaser this week is:

"Bright light bounced off the roof and the yard, but the young woman's expression was dark. She looked up at the clear autumn sky once in a while, craning her neck."

This sounds like an interesting novel! I can't wait to share my review once I'm done!

What is your teaser this week?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Secret for a Song by S.K Falls

Ironically, I read this book while I was ill. Not ill with the flu or something like that, but ill in the sense of "I'm not sure what's wrong with me, but I think that my Thalassemia is getting worse (or so my doctor thinks as well)". So being in that general condition may have something to do with my reactions to the book.

Secret for a Song revolves around incredibly privileged Saylor (who, if she's the one depicted on the cover, doesn't really look half-Indian) who's also has Munchhausen Syndrome. Munchhausen Syndrome is an illness where the sufferers intentionally try to make themselves ill.

Now I, for the life of me, can't understand why. I remember being healthy, and I'm now what you could possibly be considered sickly, and I prefer being healthy. Sure, when Saylor talks about being fussed over for being sick and stuff, I can sort of understand how the attention is nice, but it's nothing compared to being healthy. Being healthy means I can do things like kendo and golf and go to school and meet my friends, and well, I might get lots of messages when I'm sick, but that doesn't help when you're so tired and feel so terrible that all you want to do is sleep. Sleep is good. Sleep is... ok, back to reality.

To sum up that rather rambling paragraph, I have very little sympathy for Saylor. I did, however, admire the other characters - Zee, Drew, Pierce, all those in TIDD (a support group for those with terminal illness). I think the strength of the book lies in how those characters are not pitied at all.

As a note to younger/more sensitive readers, there's a lot of f-bombs in this book, and sex. It's not explicit, but it's not implied - the act is simply not described (thankfully). So you may not want to read this book if things like this disturb you - added on to the subject matter and you may have a very negative reaction.

This is an interesting book, and I think it deals with two very difficult subjects rather well. If I was less sensitive and in a better state of health while I read it, I would probably be fangirling right now.

Disclaimer: I got this galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Going On Another Break!

Hey all~

Just to let you know, from today (Thursday) till Sunday, I'll be away visiting my sister in Zhu Hai, China! You're seeing this post thanks to the lovely power of "scheduling a post".

I will be back with more reviews soon~

I cannot wait to see my sister! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blood Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

So yesterday, I reviewed the first book in this series (link leads to my review). To sum, it's an awesome book about chasing after a female serial killer. And after introducing the complexities of Carla, Alexandra (check author's name) wraps up this two-part series by tieing up the past and the present.

I'm probably confusing you, so let me explain. [SPOILER ALERT FOR THE FIRST BOOK. MAYBE]. As we learn in Huntress Moon, Carla is the only survivor of a serial murderer only known as the Reaper - twenty five years ago, he massacred whole families before suddenly stopping.

So in order to catch Carla, Agent Roarke decides to use an existing family massacre as bait - to pretend the Reaper is back. But when he goes to 'investigate' the case, he realises that startlingly, the Reaper IS back. It's a coincidence he hates, but hey, we as the reader get to see all the loose ends tied up.

Blood Moon can stand alone, but it makes much more sense if you've read Huntress Moon. For one thing, the character developement carries on from the previous book - so if you start here, you might not understand Carla. And Carla is awesome. If I met here, I'd totally reccomend that she takes up kendo.

Agent Roarke is kind of awesome too. But not as awesome as Carla (I'm sorry, I have this image of Carla as River Tam from the movie Serenity [and by extension, the series Firefly, which I will watch once I scrub the traces of Chinese from my brain]).

What I did like about Agent Roarke was really the growth he did. It seems that at the start of the book he's a rather two-dimensional character - he hunts down bad guys. Over the course of these two books, we start to see more about him, why he chose the FBI and well, coming into contact with Carla, it changes him. I don't think all the changes are for the better (his subordinate Epps doesn't thing so), but it's definitely interesting.

If you're looking for a quick series that will pull you in, you should definitely give these two books a go!

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the author. The overwhelmingly positive review was all me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

What can I say about this book? It was addictive and I loved it! (And no, I'm not saying this just because I got a free copy).

If you remember, I took part in the Merely Mystery reading challenge last year, which shows that I really do like mysteries. Well, this isn't really a mystery (we know who the killer is from the start), but it's a fantastic police (ok FBI) procedural.

Huntress Moon follows FBI Agent Roarke as he tries to find the woman who killed one of this undercover operatives - by just speaking to him. As he chases her down, he realises that she may not be the evil one.

The story was told from both Agent Roarke and the mysterious female killer's point of view (later, we find out her name is Carla). Since both sides are represented, the book could have gotten boring from all the information, but it managed to overcome that hurdle. In fact, adding in Carla was a stroke of genius. She's never actually mentioned by her name, in her chapters, she's just "she". It kind of captures how unknowable she is.

Can I mention how awesome I think Carla is? I mean, I know she's the serial killer, but her motives for killing are quite admirable. This means that I'm having a problem reconciling vigilantism to the idea that "murder is wrong". I mean, if someone kills a bunch of human traffickers to save a group of women and children from forced prostitution, well, it's quite hard to say "she shouldn't have done that".

And that is why Agent Roarke is so conflicted about Carla. He "knows" her best (well, he saw her and they have some connection), and as he finds out more, he starts to think of her not as a killer but a wounded person that has become a vigilante.

I thought that the introduction of FBI profiling in the book was a very clever idea. It helped make Carla that much more special without the need for the book to come and say outright "she's not a normal killer."

This was a great book! I'll be posting my review of the sequel - Blood Moon tomorrow~

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book in exchange for a free and honest review from the author.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Devil Has No Mother by Nicky Cruz

I don't think I've ever reviewed Run Baby Run, but that's because I read it way before I started this blog. I was about twelve, and this, along with the "companion book" The Cross and the Switchblade were the two books that I borrowed the most often. So when I heard that Nicky Cruz had a new book out, I immediately requested it on NetGalley.

While this book isn't like Run Baby Run (which was an autobiography), it's still an excellent book that I consider a must read for Christians.

The Devil Has No Mother deals with spiritual warfare, and in this book, Nicky Cruz goes through the ways the devil can attack us, how we can withstand it, and of course, lots of personal examples.

Bottom line, the devil is real and he's scary. Like seriously scary. Perhaps it's because Singapore (despite it's modern facade) is still at heart a superstitious society (see the Seventh Month Festival), but because of that, things like demons ands spirits are believed in. Perhaps now the younger generation (fine, my generation) don't believe in ghosts anymore, but the point is that for me, believing in the existence of satan and demons and the like is normal.

For example, even though my family is mostly Christian (or perhaps because my family is mostly Christian), we have had encounters with Satan. I have had (non-Christian) relatives who were believed to be possessed, and well, I have felt the fear that comes with the presence of evil.

So for me, this book is encouraging and invaluable. It reminds me that yes, the danger is real and kicking but we have already won. Satan knows his time will come eventually, but he's not going down without a fight. So as a Christian, I have to remember that no matter how scary the devil seems, he's not greater than my God.

Disclaimer: I got this ebook from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell

When I first came to Japan, ok before I moved here, I faced this huge huge problem - which books should I bring? And apparently, 'all of them' was not an answer. Well, after a painstaking collection, I reduced the choices to under 40kg and well, the rest is history. One of those books that made the cut would be this one - The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict.

This book is hefty and intimidating. I bought it because I'm a strange girl and because I've always had an interest in apologetics. To me, this is one of the best books you can have as a reference guide.

Kind of like Frank Morison's "Who Moved The Stone?", The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict is aimed at well, showing how logical Christianity is. But with a lot more detail. This book is broken up into four parts: The Case For The Bible, The Case For Jesus, The Case For and Against Christianity and Truth or Consequences. These are all really broad topics, and they cover things from whether the Bible is historically reliable, allege contradictions in the Bible, whether Jesus existed, Documentary Hypothesis (it's a theory that says that The Pentateuch, the books that Moses wrote, was actually written by a bunch of people who lived long after Moses died), the knowability of truth (this was very useful for IB), defending miracles, the list goes on an on.

And for a book this thick, some of the chapters can be rather short. They're all broken down to one point per section, and some sections, like introductions and conclusions, are basically summaries and so are very short. Other sections last much much longer.

My favourite part is actually Part Four: Truth or Consequences. Perhaps because it's the easiest to understand (I find Form Criticism and the Documentary Hypothesis extremely difficult to understand), but it's a section that I used over and over again in IB.

I really recommend buying this book, reading through it at least once (this is my second time reading through it), and then using it as a reference.

Unrelated note: This book was re-read for the A Cup of Tea Reading Challenge. This challenge is one where you have to read books that are longer than 650 pages. For the record, this book is 687 pages. And well, if you're wondering why I'm so slow on this challenge, don't worry, I have a plan.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Mourning Hours by Paula Treick DeBoard (ARC)

Wait, is this book seriously from Harlequin? I'm sorry, but I've always associated Harlequin with light fluffy romance stories. This was deep moving, and not about romance (in the traditional swept-of-your-feet kind of way).

The Mourning Hours deals with the fallout of a missing-person's case. Kirsten (our narrator) is the younger sister of the town's (wrestling) hero Johnny. After she helps Johnny and his girlfriend Stacy get together, things start to become rather strange. Strange as in Stacy-is-insane strange.

I honestly thought this novel would end up with Stacy turning into some kind of obsessive stalker-girl.

But, it took a twist when Stacy disappeared and Johnny was suspected of murdering her. The rest of the novel deals with the fallout, and how small towns can take sides, and the mob mentality, and really, it's a look at human nature.

There I said it. I'm making some sweeping literature statement, and no, I'm not about to write an essay. I honestly think that this book could be used as a literature text, and while I'm not about to start analysing it, I think it has a lot of meaning. (Disclaimer: I was never a good literature student, so please don't take my word for it and tell your teacher that you're doing an EE about it, because he/she may not accept it.) I love how it's not just about teen love, it's not just about growing up, but it kind of has everything.

You'd think this book would be a lot longer, what with the breadth of the topic.

I can't reccomend this highly enough.

Disclaimer: I got a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani

I need the sequel to Sunbolt now! Seriously, I'm dying to know what happens! Unfortunately, according to the blurb at the back, Intisar Khanani won't be publishing the sequel until early 2014. That's at least 7 months away! (Assuming she publishes in February). I wonder, can you make a time machine? And if so, can I make my juniors make one for me?

Sunbolt follows Hitomi, a non-local resident of Karolene who hides a secret of her own - she can do magic (but she's untrained). As she tries to help a family of nobles escape one day, she gets caught and well, that's where the story begins (and so I shall stop my summary).

I think Hitomi is one of my favourite characters! She's smart, she's brave and she has a sense of humour (anyone who doesn't melt into tears because she lost all her hair must have a sense of humour). She's also definitely not a Mary-Sue character, and has no love interests, which means this story is extremely refreshing.

Wait, maybe there will be a love interest. In like, Book Two. I can see hints, but it's not obvious. Ok, I really want the sequel now!

Plot-wise, Sunbolt is best described as a primer. The book does have some action, but it ends at what I consider one of the most important parts - I almost screamed when I found out I reached the end. Good thing I have some self-control. I would say that Sunbolt is here to introduce us to the main characters (especially Hitomi) and do some world-building. Hitomi's actual 'quest' seems to come later, now, she's still at the untrained stage.

This is another excellent book from Intisar Khanani! I've loved all her books so far, and I bet I'll love the sequel when it comes out! For now though, enjoy an excerpt from Sunbolt.

Disclaimer: I received this book as part of the Enchanted Book Blog Tours in exchange for a free and honest review.


“Look what’s here,” the leader says, calling the other soldiers’ attention to me. My steps falter as they veer towards me, quickly closing the distance between us. “What do you think she is? A mutt or a half-breed?” 

A half-breed they might not bother because those who are half-human and half-something-else often have some strength or ability that could cause more trouble than these men are looking for. Unfortunately for me, the secret I guard is fully human. I glance sideways at the fish seller in the stall beside me, wondering if I can count on her. She is young, no more than a handful of years past my own fifteen, her eyes wide with panic. No help there. I swallow hard, trying to ease the fear thrumming through my veins. 

I begin to back away, offering a hesitant smile to the soldiers. A smile? What am I doing? I should run— 

But it’s already too late. Two of the soldiers have moved ahead of the others, circling past me. I’m surrounded. 

“Mutt,” says one of the soldiers, taking in my features. I feel myself flush slightly. My parents may have been from different lands, but a good number of islanders have other blood in them, even if it dates back a few generations. How else did the noble women come by their sleek hair? Their problem isn’t with my bloodline. It’s with the fact that I visibly don’t belong, and I’m an easy target. 

“Half-breed,” two others posit, their boots sounding unnaturally loud in the quiet. “Definitely a mutt,” a soldier behind me says. He’s come to a stop a couple paces away, no doubt waiting for his leader to make the first move. 

 “Well, girl, what are you?” the leader asks. 

I refuse to answer in the words they’ve afforded me. “Human,” I say. “Sir.”

Don't forget to take part in the giveaway!
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - Bees in the Butterfly Garden by Maureen Lang

Alright, it's time for another Teaser Tuesday! As you know, Teaser Tuesday is a meme hosted by MizB of ShouldBeReading. It's where you can share a two-sentence teaser from a book you're currently reading.

Well, I've been "currently reading" this book for a long time, so I'm hoping that by teaser-ing this book, I'll spur myself to finish it! (There's nothing wrong with the book, it's just that I've had so many NetGalley ones to finish). The book is called Bees in the Butterfly Garden, and I think the cover is so pretty!

"Ingenuity should not be applied in fashion, home decor or prying. In such things as the former two, it is usually best not to step too far outside the accepted norms, and there is of course no excuse for prying, clever or otherwise."

This teaser is from a handbook for young ladies, from which a quote opens every chapter. I would really love to read a book like this, if you heard of a similar one, let me know!

What's your Teaser Tuesday this week?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Numbersense by Kaiser Fung (ARC)

A big big topic nowadays is Big Data (I almost watched an episode on this in Genzai Closeup - it's this Japanese show). So when I saw that this book is a way to make sense of big data, the nerd in me jumped out and clicked the "request" button. Good thing I got it, my nerd doesn't come out often enough!

Numbersense uses a number of difference scenarios, from as law school admissions to fantasy football, and shows us how data can be manipulated and how to see past the manipulations.

I'm not a numbers kind of girl, but I found this book to be easy to understand. The tone is friendly (without being condescending), and somehow, Kaiser Fung has a knack for explaining things simple.

Plus, after reading the first chapter, I'm kind of worried about the whole admissions to university thing. It's actually quite interesting to think about this chapter while bearing in mind the stuff written about in College (Un)bound (link reads to review). College (Un)bound, just to refresh your memory, is this book that I reviewed recently which looked at the necessity of college. One chunk of the book looks at which college are suitable for a particular student, and when tied in to admissions, well, it's really interesting.

For some reason, I felt like the chapter on admissions was the longest. After I finished reading that chapter, it seemed like everything else flew by. I'm not sure if it's some kind of skewed perception of time, but I do wonder if anyone else felt this way.

By the way, I think it's possible to read this book in any order, provided you read it a chapter at a time. Since they deal with unrelated topics, it's possible to read it in order of interest and still understand everything.

All in all, an interesting look at how people use data to lie to us and how we can see through the lies.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Long Reads #20

Oh my, I haven't reviewed my long reads in such a long time! HAHAHAHA, I crack myself up. Whoops, was I the only one laughing? Well, I shouldn't, because some of the essays I want to share today are extremely serious.

It's 2013, And They're Burning 'Witches' by Jo Chandler - I came across this on Facebook (strange right? Normally it's Google+). A friend had shared this, and well, it was something that sparked my re-interest in long-form essays. It covers the witchhunt going on right now in Papua New Guinea and it's heartbreaking. I can't believe that people would take out their frustrations on a helpless person. And this person is mostly women. It's just sad.

Activists allege forced abortions, sterilizations in China by Ashely Hayes - ok, this is more of a news article than an essay, but seriously, this is, I don't know. Why did I end up reading stuff that picks on my gender? This is just sad. (Also, the title speaks for itself, so I don't think I really need to summarise this horrific piece).

The global world order after oil by Barry Desker - I think energy is an issue that concerns all of us, but the science behind it, well, I don't understand most of it. Thankfully, this piece was more on how oil (and the alternative energy) influences global politics, a subject that I find interesting - especially as a former MUN-er. Definitely worth a read.

Are You 'the Polite Little Girl in the Room'? by Joan Williams - This short piece deals with how women don't assert themselves in the workplace. It really reminds me of how each gender is viewed in a different light, i.e. an assertive guy is a good, but an assertive women just gets a lot of names. Well, I'm not that polite, but I still struggle to volunteer criticism - it's something I definitely have to work on.

Alright, that's all I have so far - but, I did find a bunch of really interesting looking articles to read! I hope I can find the time to do so(: