Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Blog Tour + Review: The Empress Chronicles by Suzy Vitello

Published by Diversion Books

Title: The Empress Chronicles (The Empress Chronicles #1)
Author: Suzy Vitello
Release Date: 4th September 2014
Publisher: Diversion Books

In this dazzling first book in the EMPRESS CHRONICLES series by the author of THE MOMENT BEFORE, one courageous girl seeks keys to the past to unlock the future...

When city girl Liz is banished to a rural goat farm on the outskirts of Portland, the 15-year-old feels her life spiraling out of control.  She can’t connect to her father or his young girlfriend, and past trauma adds to her sense of upheaval.  The only person who seems to keep her sane is a troubled boy who is fighting his own demons.  But all of this changes in one historical instant.
One-hundred fifty years earlier, Elisabeth of Bavaria has troubles of her own.  Her childhood is coming to a crashing end, and her destiny is written in the form of a soothsaying locket that has the ability to predict true love.  But evil is afoot in the form of a wicked enchantress who connives to wield the power of the locket for her own destructive ends.
When Liz finds a timeworn diary, and within it a locket, she discovers the secrets and desires of the young Bavarian princess who will one day grow up to be the legendary Empress of Austria. It is in the pages of the diary that these two heroines will meet, and it is through their interwoven story that Liz will discover she has the power to rewrite history—including her own...

Readers of books like Rachel Harris’s MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY will love THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES

Detailed Review: *I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review of the book for the blog tour*

OK, first, I must admit something. I chose to enter the blog tour for The Empress Chronicles because of one thing (amongst many other things): the cover. Yes, I'm ashamed of that. 

After reading the blurb, my desire to read this book intensified- oh come on, who wouldn't love a good historical fiction?

I wasn't disappointed and disappointed at the same time. 

My most heartbreaking moment wasn't to do with any of the characters or even the story, it was the grammar in this book, which was unbearable at times. It had me wanting to take a marker pen and scribble the right form of a word in there. 

The story was written in two voices, Liz's and Sisi's (Elisabeth). It was actually two lifetimes in one story, but they each had a connecting point somewhere in each other's life. This was definitely what I liked.

When I read the blurb, I was expecting more of a time-travel story, but this was different, original- something I like and need. 

I honestly preferred Sisi over Liz, although Liz played an essential part in her counterpart's life. I was happy the OCD part wasn't written too out of character, but I overall had the impression that she was a weak and helpless person. This needs to be changed in the sequel immediately. Sisi was more daring and was pretty much the voice that drove the novel, despite Liz's part of the story. Cory, Liz's love interest, was really pushed to the sidelines, in my opinion, even though he did help with Liz's recovery. It wasn't that I didn't like Liz and Cory; they were good enough, but they could be more.

Having two heroines is an incredibly hard thing to do, so I decided to be lenient about it. AND having a too-perfect main character wouldn't do either, so yes- I would prefer Liz to be flawed than to be perfect. Sisi, please please stay the way you are, in the sequel. That's all I'll say.

The romance in the book wasn't heavy, and I'm not going to fault it because having lots of romance would actually ruin the story. The subject in the book isn't just about the romance; it's also about family and history and much much more. A romance-driven book would not be suitable for a storyline like The Empress Chronicles'.

Fortunately, the writing style was one I liked. It was descriptive, but not too descriptive, not giving unnecessary details to the reader but drawing him/her into the story all the same. It engages the reader well. 

I almost forgot to comment on the twists; some of them were inconsequential, but some were really well-written to the point where I would give the author a round of applause. 

The Empress Chronicles did follow the unsaid trend in the YA book industry though, which frustrated and delighted me all at the same times- a cliffhanger that was unexpected. One that would beg me to read the sequel.

Brief Review: Elisabeth's story is one of intrigue and magic, mixed in with some much-needed spunk; Liz's story is one of love and family. The author skilfully unites them together with just one factor: unfortunate circumstances that is conveyed through a journal. This is what makes me hold this book at higher regards than I would have. If only the novel was more polished, and the characters more likeable, a 5 star rating would have been guaranteed on the spot.

Final Rating: 4/5 'Liked It'


This seemed an accurate description of the magical connection between Liz and Elisabeth,

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind---Nathaniel Hawthorne

Your Reviewer:

About The Author
Suzy Vitello is a proud founding member of a critique group recently dubbed The Hottest Writing Group in Portland, and her short stories have won fellowships and prizes (including the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Award, and an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship).
Twitter: @suzy_vitello

Waiting on Wednesday: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication 'can't-wait-to-read' selection is:

Title: The Secrets We Keep
Author: Trisha Leaver
Release Date: 28th April 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Girroux (BYR)
Find on: Goodreads

A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters.

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.

When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister's life.

You had me at 'emotionally charged'. I've developed a sudden craving for emotional books (call it the John Green effect) and this seems to fit the bill. Any cover judger's got to love that cover too! DUH.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Teaser Tuesday #9

Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I just finished reading The Empress Chronicles by Suzy Vitello and I thought I'd share a teaser from the book with you! I really liked it and I think historical fiction fans would like it too!!! Here's a snippet from the last page of the book!

Where my own face had just a few moments earlier looked out from the keepsake, there was now a picture of a girl, a peasant, ruddy of cheek, and freckled. And where her peasant's bonnet should have been was a head of tufted, fuzzy hair.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication 'can't-wait-to-read' selection is:

Title: Golden Son (Red Rising #2)
Author: Pierce Brown
Release Date: 13th January 2015
Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Find on: Goodreads

With shades of The Hunger GamesEnder’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation. Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within. A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

Genre-defying? Check. Epic? Check. A sensation? Check. Red Rising was definitely all those. I really can't wait to see what the author brings us in Golden Son, as I was very impressed with how Pierce Brown created his own ground in the dystopian genre. Even the cover looks promising! Fingers crossed!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Teaser Tuesday #8

Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today my teaser will be from a novella, called This Night So Dark by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. It's set between These Broken Stars and This Shattered World. If you haven't read These Broken Stars, go read it!!! You can find my review for it HERE.

And here's the snippet:

"Nice to meet you," she manages, still shaky as she starts working at my bindings.

"You too," I say with a hint of a smile I don't expect. 

Review: Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown

Title: Red Rising (Red Rising #1)
Author: Pierce Brown
Release Date: 28th January 2014
Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Find on: Goodreads

Quick ReviewThe Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda

Detailed Review: *I received an e-galley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review* (This is not an ARC)

I believe I have just found the newest breakthrough in dystopia.

Let's face it, there are plenty of authors who write about dystopian worlds, the most obvious being Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth and many more.

Red Rising is different. 

Of course, some things still need to be kept the same, because it's still a dystopian book- there's a hierarchy of people, and the main character is always in the lowest level. A rebellion is essential for the plot to progress. It needs a purpose.

These things still exist in the book, but Brown decided to have a different take. The reversal of roles is not very common in dystopian books. That is, you seldom find the main character immediately becoming someone who possesses power by becoming a person of high class. Usually the main character becomes famous through an act of rebellion.

In Red Rising, Darrow is a LowRed, a miner who drills for the resources that are needed to terraform the planet of Mars. His wife, Eo, is also like him- but she makes a living by creating silk. 

The hierarchy is basically divided into colours- a Red being the lowest and a Gold the highest. Each Colour has their own role within the society.

Then, a life-changing event causes him to join the rebellion which his wife was so passionate about. His status changes from that of a peasant to the highest level- a Gold, as he tries to infiltrate the class of people whom he has grown to hate, destroying them from within. 

The Academy's layout was one I liked; it was reminiscent of Harry Potter, where there were different houses, like the one Darrow joins, House Mars. Others included Minerva, Jupiter, Apollo, Pluto and many more.

My favourite character throughout the book is a Gold named Sevro. There will always be levels within levels, and in the Gold society, he is considered weak. And yet, he proved himself to be worthy and became Darrow's sidekick as he navigated the battlefield that is the Academy. Sevro has got to be one of the best sidekicks I've ever read about.

Red Rising was a very character-driven book. Darrow's voice, along with those with him, are what drives the plot and the twists in the book. The characters were each fulfilling in their roles and also engaging with their unique personalities.  They balanced each other out really well, creating an atmosphere of palpable tension and mouth-watering action.

Darrow's transformation into a Gold was easily the best part in the book, because it was miraculous to watch someone transform before your very eyes. Also, the reality of not trying to change into the society you are cast into proves to be engaging as Darrow tries to keep his old self as he plays a new role.

Another thing I liked was how the author depicted Golds. There were two sides- one where they were nasty and cruel, and the other where some were not. It's a challenge which Darrow has to face most of the time. 

I also sensed a new love interest- another Gold who has an unexpected family background which Darrow didn't learn about until the very end. Her nickname is Mustang, but her real name is Virginia, and it appears that she is the daughter of the ArchGovernor, the very man who changed Darrow's life. 

I shall leave it to you to figure out what happens in the end. The ending was not decidedly a cliffhanger, but it certainly promised more...

Warning: Plot twists are pretty common in this book. (I don't think it can be considered as one, is it? Anyway, happy reading!)

Brief Review: In a genre that's growing competitive with many mainstream ideas, Pierce Brown isn't afraid to take a leap of faith and jump in with a completely new idea that will satisfy all the restless readers out there. Crafting a complex world where nothing is as it seems- where even if you are the best, you must still try harder- the author also weaves a tale of sacrifice and love as a teenage boy is forced to acknowledge the cruelty of the world which he lives in, and fight back.

Final Rating: 5/5 'Totally Amazing!!!


This certainly describes Darrow's motivation in fulfilling his role in the rebellion,

Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness---Napoleon Hill

Your Reviewer:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that highlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication 'can't-wait-to-read' selection is:

Title: The Walls Around Us
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: 24th March 2015
Find on: Goodreads

“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.
Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

These types of creepy stories are my favourite because they definitely don't bore me and I'd definitely like to see how the author manages to tell the story from the POV of a dead girl. I heard she does it quite well :p Did I mention the cover is beautiful? I believe it really captures the book's overall atmosphere!! This will be my first Nova Ren Suma book and I can't wait! P.S. I got approved for an e-galley of this book on NetGalley and can't wait to dig in!!!