adventure · historical fiction · retellings

Review: Cleo


Author: Lucy Coats
Publisher: Orchard Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Retelling

Summary from Goodreads:

Her precious mother is dead – and it isn’t an accident! The young Cleopatra – Pharaoh’s illegitimate daughter – must flee the royal palace at Alexandria or die too. As her evil half-sisters usurp the throne, Cleo finds sanctuary at the sacred temple of Isis, where years later she becomes initiated into the secret Sisters of the Living Knot. But now Isis’s power is failing, Egypt is in danger, and Cleo must prove her loyalty to her goddess by returning to the Alexandria she hates. She must seek out the hidden map which is the key to returning Isis’s power – on pain of death. But will she be able to evade her horrible sisters? And will she find dreamy Khai, the über-hot Librarian boy she met as she fled Alexandria years before? Cleo’s powerful destiny is about to unfold…

Gorgeous and evocative, this captivating new YA novel imagines the life of the teenage Cleopatra before she became the icon we think we know.

Comments:

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

I wanted to like this book so bad! After all, it’s ancient Egypt and it’s Cleopatra! Unfortunately, all I could settle for is 2.5 stars.

I want to start off by congratulating the author for such a wonderful idea of retelling Cleo’s life. The cover looks awesome and catchy. I also loved all the references to ancient Egypt (and Greece) incorporated in the story – the gods, the pharaoh, even the embalming process! After all, Egyptians are well-known for embalming the dead and mummification. That list located at the end was helpful because Egyptians names and terms weren’t easy to remember.

The characters were a different story. Maybe they were destined to be interesting characters but there was nothing striking about them that would make them unforgettable. Cleo was a bit whiny. Yes, she put a lot of trust into the goddess Iris through her silent pleas for help, she was stubborn and childish. She claimed that she wanted to serve Iris, but when told of what was expected of her, she wasn’t willing. I did like the portrayals of loyalty. It was a very admirable trait for those who wanted to protect Cleo.

The major hurdle for me was the copy I received. It somehow omitted some letters, e.g. finger became nger, the was e, left was ft, and it was harder to read! I would have given up at some point but decided against it since the book deserved a chance and it wasn’t the author’s fault. I hope this gets fixed.

My Rating: ★★ (2.5)

adventure · fantasy · paranormal

Review: Poison Study

Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: The Chronicles of Ixia

Summary from Goodreads:

Choose: A quick death and hell or slow poison and hell.
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Comments:

Actual rating is 4.5

It all started out with Yelena’s chance for a new life.

I love the setting the of the story. I was never into fantasy or magic, but somehow this novel made me reconsider. The pace of the story was slow, with memories of Yelena strewn along the pages. As the big picture was slowly presented, I was able to empathize with Yelena for the choice she made. The themes of loyalty, betrayal, thirst for power, and even romance worked together to create this intriguing novel. I have to agree that this is a welcome break from the usual YA.

I love the characters in the story. They were realistic in their reactions to different situations presented to them. Yelena’s distrust and survival instinct came because of all the harsh experiences she had. Valek’s loyalty to the Commander was also explained. There was Rand who was torn by his good nature and debt. The evil characters were driven by their lust for power and greediness to the extent destroying other people. The only confusion I got was from the Commander’s past which was actually weird for me.

I was a bit disappointed with the romance between Yelena and Valek. Although it was very obvious that Valek liked her, I’m not sure how Yelena came to reciprocate the feeling. Maybe it was because she finally decided to trust him by recounting her past but I am unconvinced. I feel like all she views Valek as a protector and a teacher, which somehow leveled up to be a lover. Again, that’s just my opinion.

Will definitely read the next book in the series when I have a copy!

My Rating: ★★★★ (4.5)

adventure · fantasy · middle-grade

Review: Wish You Weren’t

Author: Sherrie Petersen

Summary from Goodreads:
Marten doesn’t believe in the power of wishes. None of his have ever come true. His parents ignore him, his little brother is a pain and his family is talking about moving to Texas. Not cool. So when he makes an impulsive wish during a meteor shower, he doesn’t expect it to make any difference.

Until his annoying brother disappears.

With the present uncertain and his brother’s future in limbo, Marten finds himself stuck in his past. And if he runs out of time, even wishes might not be enough to save the ones he loves.

Comments:

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

The thing I absolutely love about this book is that it is so relatable. As the oldest of four, I know what it is like to be blamed for your younger siblings’ actions. You know that feeling when you just can’t believe your parents always seem to side them even though it’s not your fault? Yes, that is exactly what our boy Marten’s sentiments are. The pesky little brother always gets away with everything. So, out of all that rage and frustration, there is one solution left – wish that his younger brother weren’t here.

If I loved the idea, you might ask why the three stars? I think I didn’t really but that part about the shooting star. It became confusing for me because of the lack of explanation for everything that is happening. There are some ends which weren’t neatly tied together like that time when Susan accidentally teleported with them. She just went on with her life like nothing happened.

Really nice concept and good values for being appreciative of our siblings. I think children will better understand how it is to be more patient and loving to each other.

My Rating: ★★★ (3)

action · adventure · animation

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Summary from IMDb:
The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.

Comments:

Baymax: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain?

I love, love this movie! Funny, heartwarming, and clever at the same time! Who knew nerds could be super cool? And that robots could be the future of health care, or San Francisco would blend perfectly with Tokyo?

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Seriously, if you haven’t watched this, you are missing out a lot!

My Rating: ★★★★★(5)

adventure · apocalyptic · sci-fi

Life As We Knew It

Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Summary from Goodreads:
Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all–hope–in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

Comments:

I’m torn as to giving this book a rating of 3 stars or 4 stars so I’ll settle for 3.5 to be fair. I haven’t read any apocalyptic books until now and it truly was an eye-opening experience.

So what would you do being a teen leading a normal life, when suddenly an unexpected twist appears and gets all the normalcy out of you? Survival is what drives you into action, although it is something that you can’t learn from textbooks. Rather, it is time to depend on your human instincts and take whatever life throws at you. Such is what happens to our female protagonist Miranda. This is book is actually her diary – a chronicle of events as she sees it – when the world fell apart due to miscalculations of an asteroid hitting the moon.

The start of the “end of the world” was filled with exciting frenzy – stockpiling, news, a wave of calamities that seemed to be happening everywhere, – until little by little, things considered as necessity were slowly being taken away. While reading this part, I share the sentiments of the kids. Is this really necessary? Is there such a thing as the end of the world? Maybe you’re just over thinking things! As always, mom turned out to be right.

Being forced into such a life brought out the best and worst of people. I think it was adamant in this story how sacrifices were involved, but also some sacrifices which were not really necessary. One of the characters that stood out to me was Miranda’s best friend, Megan. Don’t get me wrong; I approve of being religious and of being repentant. However, I Megan and her church friends were probably victims of false ideologies because they came off as self-righteous. Other people, like Peter, Mrs. Nesbitt, and Miranda’s mom, took this as an opportunity to prioritize others and show their love.

Although certain parts of the story became boring, not that I expected a whole lot of action with what has been going on, I certainly enjoyed maturing along with the characters. Simple things were deemed of value, being together became more important than all the physical comfort, and hoping that the best is yet to come can still abound. I sure hope it isn’t in my lifetime when all these things are to happen, but we can still learn a thing or two from Miranda and her journey.

My Rating: ★★★★

adventure · fantasy · young adult

The House of Hades

Author:  Rick Riordan
Date finished reading: January 13, 2014

Comments:
Finally!! It took me longer to finish reading because it is an ebook. I guess I don’t do well with ebooks; I get sleepy

This Gaia plot is taking long! I want to know this all ends already! :p

I’ll say hello the sun and the stars for you Bob! I think you are one of the greatest things that happened in this book.

To my wonderful readers:
Sorry about that last cliff-hanger.
Well, no, not really. HAHAHAHA.
But seriously, I love you guys.”
― Rick Riordan,

My Rating: ★★★★★

adventure · animation · comedy

Frozen (2013)

Where: the mall of LA
With: Mom, pangs, Miss P
Date of Viewing: Christmas 2013

Genre: animation, adventure, comedy
Personal Blahs:
This movie made me feel the warmth of the holiday season ! The storyline was awesome! I love how the animation was made; it must have been a lot of work for the producers. But it paid of because people just can’t get over how much they enjoyed this movie. That snowman Olaf, he made awww all the time and to just once again delight in innocence and kind nature. I like how the traditional “act of love” was made different in this movie – it centered on the family. After all, it is in the family that we first learn how to love. Despite the cold weather, this movie melted my heart! And the question is, it is really possible for real life people to have a crush on animated characters? I think I know the answer too well! 😀

Olaf: [singing] Winter’s a good time to sit close and cuddle / But put me in summer and I’ll be a…
[pauses in front of a puddle]
Olaf: … happy snowman!

My Rating: ★★★★★