Monday, July 23, 2018

From the shelf: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1)

Title: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1)
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Mythology
Date read: July 2018
Dawn Rates:  (5/5)

Summary (cr: goodreads)

Magnus Chase has seen his share of trouble. Ever since that terrible night two years ago when his mother told him to run, he has lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, staying one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, Magnus learns that someone else is trying to track him down—his uncle Randolph, a man his mother had always warned him about. When Magnus tries to outmaneuver his uncle, he falls right into his clutches. Randolph starts rambling about Norse history and Magnus's birthright: a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

The more Randolph talks, the more puzzle pieces fall into place. Stories about the gods of Asgard, wolves, and Doomsday bubble up from Magnus's memory. But he doesn't have time to consider it all before a fire giant attacks the city, forcing him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents. . . .

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die.

My Review: (also in goodreads) 

I know that this book came out in 2015 and I was supposed to read each year after it came out but I wanted to binge read this series (says me with the never ending TBR).

This take on Norse mythology is set as a trilogy much like his earlier take on the Egyptian mythology (Kane Chronicles). I admit, I don't know much with regards to the Norse mythology other than Odin, Thor, Loki, Freyr, Freyja, Hel, and Fenris Wolf not to mention Marvel's take on this. So it was refreshing to acquaint myself with the characters. I am more familiar with Greek/Roman mythology and knowing the names in this folklore is too hard for me: the spelling and the pronunciation is akin to an infinite tongue twister.

The story begins when the protagonist dies. A little weird, but that's how the story starts and that's how it grabbed my attention. I often see a bit of Percy Jackson within Magnus Chase, though his humor is a little dry but hilarious nonetheless. Magnus, Sam (a valkyrie) together with Blitzen and Hearthstone go on a quest to stop Ragnarok (the event, not the online game) by tying up Fenris Wolf while fighting a hoard of other valkyries and Surt. Did I spoil anyone? I hope not. But that is the gist of the story. It was nice reading this and seeing Rick Riordan's signature humor written in the stories. This makes his take on mythologies fun, page-turners, and of course educational too.

I love that Magnus Chase connection to the Percy Jackson universe is the fact that he is Annabeth Chase's cousin. After feeling all the feels while reading "The Kane Chronicles" x "Percy Jackson" crossovers on 3 novellas, should it be a stretch to wish for an ultimate crossover series? I'm feeling we'll be having that one in the future. That would be epic.

Till the next read...

Sunday, April 8, 2018

From the shelf: Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5)

Title: Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Date read: April 8, 2018
Dawn Rates:  (5/5)

Summary (cr: goodreads)

The enchantment continues....

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in WonderlandStars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century

My Review: (also in goodreads)

While turning the last pages of Winter, I already am dreading the days I would miss the Rampion crew....wondering if there would be a novella, an epilogue maybe. And this book did not disappoint. This book is a collection of novellas within The Lunar Chronicles series. These novellas got me a glimpse of everyone's life before they got together and it is nice to see where everyone came from. I was most surprised learning that Thorne was really rich before becoming a fugitive. Every story made me miss them even more and if I would choose a highlight it would be the epilogue to Winter: Something old, something new. This takes 2 years after the death of Levana and it showcases a reunion of sorts with the Rampion Crew. This also cemented the fact that my real ship is Thorne and
Kidding aside, I would love to see more of them (that's just my fan self talking) but I guess this is a fitting end to a well-loved series.

Till the next read....

Saturday, April 7, 2018

From the shelf: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4)

Title: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Date read: April 5-7, 2018
Dawn Rates:  (5/5)

Summary (cr: goodreads)

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won't approve of her feelings for her childhood friend--the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn't as weak as Levana believes her to be and she's been undermining her stepmother's wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

My Review: (also in goodreads)

That's what I thought as I read the last sentence of the final chapter of Winter. I am always nervous when I read through an entire series because the succeeding books might not hold their own or not even surpass the awe given to me by the first book and I'm awfully glad that "The Lunar Chronicles" kept getting better and better.

Following the theme done during the previous installments, Winter is also a re-telling of a well-loved children's tale: Snow White. Winter has been introduced towards the end of the third book and even had a backstory in Levana's story: Fairest. I liked the fact that Jacin's character isn't just supposed to be the Prince Charming to Winter's Snow White but the assassin character was incorporated to him too. And like the evil queen, Levana is just as power-hungry and insecure if not much more. What I liked with the plot is that all the characters had their own charm, they held their own without me hating on anyone in the crew. I know I've said last time that I'm not much of a fan of how mushy Ze've and Scarlet could be but I admire Scarlet's sass and how she is almost like Cinder in a sense. In fact, I could not choose which I liked more between the four ladies: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress or Winter. All of them had their own colors and their own charms that I get excited every time I turn the page, wishing what the other would do next.The character development in this series was abundant and that is what I liked with all the characters involved even the men: Kai, Thorne, Ze'ev and Jacin.

I knew that I craved for the Thorne/Cinder dynamic but I didn't know I would love Thorne with Kai, Winter with Scarlet and Jacin with Cinder....oh, Kai and Iko too. There were too many pairings and I'm awfully glad the author played around with everyone working with everyone.

I loved the fact that every character was made easily for anyone to relate to: broken and with insecurities. I am not a fan of perfect characters, no room for development. What I especially love is the fact that despite the insecurities, everyone danced around it to make everything work. And it did.

The series' elements were really not life-changing or anything since these are the basic story line a series within a dystopian genre would have but what I loved about The Lunar Chronicles series was how everything was woven together. I know I've said in the past that the 1st and the 2nd book was a slow burn and everything made sense during the 3rd book as it paved towards the action I was waiting for all in the 4th book. And this easily was my favorite book. I didn't care if it was 800+ pages I didn't even feel it pass by. Everything that happened in this book was so breathtaking especially the parts where POVs were jumping from one character to another, one chapter at a time. It makes one wanting more, it makes the reader (mostly me) curse the final page, unbelieving that it finally comes to an end, leaving on to hope (even plead) for continuation.
    If I would rank the books in the series hands down it would be Winter then Cress then Scarlet/Cinder. Off to read "Stars Above" right now. I think I'm going to suffer separation anxiety. I miss them all and its only been a few minutes since I was done with the last book. Oh, well....

    Till the next read....

      Tuesday, April 3, 2018

      From the shelf: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5)

      Title: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5)
      Author: Marissa Meyer
      Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
      Date read: April 2, 2018
      Dawn Rates:  (4/5)

      Summary (cr: goodreads)

      In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

      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.

      My Review: (also in goodreads)

      Like I said in my last review, I have this feeling that Levana wasn't naturally a cold bitch. I honestly believe that every evil has its reason and surprise, surprise....I was right. Levana's story is somewhat a re-telling of a popular tale, the unknown life of the evil queen in the story Snow White. So should I suspect the next book's protagonist to be a re-telling of Snow White? That I would see. 

      Maybe Lunar royalty have this natural evil ambition embedded in their heart. But for the most part I kind of sympathized with what Levana went through while her sister Channary was alive. It even justified my never-ending question through the series as to why Levana abhors justified her evil doings but it doesn't this gives her a free pass to manipulate anyone. She is an epitome of the unwanted sister or the spare tire which everyone ignores. She's the culmination of all the love she wished she had, the attention she never had, and a crown that would never be hers.

      I almost sympathized with her.

      I would've rooted for her like the underdog she has become but it was so hard to. If Channary is the epitome of evil, she's the epitome of deceit and manipulation. She wants everything to be hers. Her insecurity drove her insane. Heck, she's insane. I know I should blame her sister for what happened to her, and she had the power to stop herself from being the one thing she hated the most...but she didn't. She did the worst thing anyone could do to another person: that is to manipulate free will. She even committed murder in pursuit of her ambitions.

      I liked her....then I hated her.
      ....and I loved it.

      Till the next read....

      Monday, April 2, 2018

      From the shelf: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)

      Title: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3)
      Author: Marissa Meyer
      Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
      Date read: March 25-April 1, 2018
      Dawn Rates:  (4/5)

      Summary (cr: goodreads)

      In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

      Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she's just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

      When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

      My Review: (also in goodreads)

      I know that I should've finished this novel days ago but reality bites and I had to stop here and there. Anyway...

      Just like the books before, this third installment is a re-telling of a popular tale: Rupunzel. Cress is a Lunar shell that has been isolated within a satellite and tasked to spy on the Earthen union which for the most part her task is to trick them. She's doing it so well that no one suspects when in fact she's been secretly helping the "band of misfits" as everyone would say, aboard the Rampion. She was introduced in the 2nd book where the crew were broken apart due to their plan being hijacked, with Scarlet in danger with Lunars.

      It's funny how the author made Cress as a lovesick Thorne fangirl and it made me laugh a few times which was both entertaining and embarrassing especially if you're reading the book in a public place. I've always said that Thorne is my favorite character aside from of course, Kai (sorry Ze'ev, you're too cheesy for me though I admire your loyalty and your capacity to love). Thorne has this playful glint in his eye and though I love the fact that Cress is obviously his partner, I'm still a fan of the Thorne/Cinder dynamic. As for Dr. Erland's secret, I've suspected it before it was revealed towards the end of the book which was kinda anti-climactic for me. 

      I'm also kind of a believer of the fact that not everything is evil in the first place. I have this feeling that Levana wasn't that evil in the beginning. I couldn't shake off the fact that I can give her the benefit of the doubt though whatever deaths she orchestrated is inexcusable, I really feel that there's a reason behind everything.

      I have said in the last two reviews, that the pace was kinda slow which I believe was the buildup the author wants to get everyone hyped for the climax and I'm really glad that everything is being pieced together in this book. Everything is coming together even though not everyone is together. Levana's step daughter is introduced in this book and I suspect that she is going to tell her story in the last installment of the series. 

      The last line is my favorite:

      "You said that people of Luna need a revolutionary. So I'm going to Luna, and I'm going to start a revolution"

      A revolutionary. A revolution.
      I know that this has been the theme for all the books in the dystopian genre and what reeled me into the series is the author's unorthodox way to weave a re-telling of childhood tales with science fiction and humor....okay, of romance too.
      I need to read Winter now. This is the advantage of having the full series at my disposal: binge-reading it is.

      Oh, much as I love Cinder and Kai, well they are canon after all, and the fact that Iko has been publicly harboring a crush on Kai....I would like to see Thorne squirm his way towards Cress more. Scarlet and Ze'ev is kinda okay for me, too romantic for my taste but I like Scarlet's spunk....oh, and I would also love more of Cinder and Thorne's friendship.

      Till the next read....
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