goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl
Genre: Paranormal
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 380
Date read: December, 2012

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. WhenLena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Very different from what I had expected, and I actually ended up very pleasantly surprised. This was written long before "Twilight" which shows clearly by it not having a single element that usually identifies a Twilight-clone - most importantly, there's no love triangle! Yay! :)

In general an enjoyable read, although I did have one problem with a plothole very early in the book: Lena is accused of breaking a window that she's standing next to, even though the window breaks inward, towards her (actually cutting her with some of the glass). If she had physically broken the window, the glass would mostly have been on the outside, away from her.

Something any sleuth worth his/her salt would have caught.

That's a minor nitpick though :)
goodreads: (Default)
Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Dystopian
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 441
Date read: December, 2012

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn't understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she'll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

As dystopian novels go, I wasn't too impressed. It's a decent enough story, but books like "Divergent", "Matched" and "Uglies" do a better job of creating a very similar universe, and all in all this one just ended up seeming predictable.

It did keep me nicely entertained, but I was never fully engaged in the story. It didn't become personal, the way I like books to be.
goodreads: (Default)
Title: Scorcher
Author: Kelly Edwards
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 238
Date read: December, 2012

Orphaned by the accidental use of her pyrokinetic abilities at the age of 11, Aidan O'Donnell had nowhere to turn when the secret criminal organization known as Iris took her in and used her powers of fire manipulation for their own nefarious purposes.

Hoping to one day break free of Iris' hold, Aidan closely guards the secret of her criminal life as she struggles to maintain a separate identity as Aidan Grey.

Aidan can't let her guard down, especially not with New York City Detective Marty Knox, the man who won't turn his back on her and the man she can't resist.

But Marty has a secret of his own, one that would endanger both their lives if discovered by Iris

I'd had my eye out for this book for quite awhile as I've been reading the author's blog, so when she revealed that it was free of Amazon weekend before last, I jumped at the chance. I started it a few days later, and it didn't take me long to realize that this would have been well worth shelling out proper money on. A quick and very enjoyable read.

In atmosphere, it most of all reminded me of the animated movie "The Incredibles". The entire idea of superheros hiding among us, and their abilities (although not their secret identities) being common knowledge is incredibly appealing to me, and I especially liked the fact that the superpowers aren't explained! They aren't paranormal creatures, they haven't been bitten by radioactive spiders or fallen into the pot of magic potion as a baby, they're just... super. I'm really glad Kelly Edwards didn't feel the need to give any explanation or reason for that.

The book nicely straddles the line between fantasy and romance, without dipping too heavily into either genre. It has a fairly open ending, but as the plot evolved, it was the only way for it to end, and there were no specific cliff-hangers to annoy me. Still, I can't wait for the sequel, and hope that Kelly Edwards lives up to the high bar she's set for herself here.
goodreads: (Default)
Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
Genre: Crime, Historical fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: Audiobook ~10hrs
Date read: December, 2012

It is the summer of 1950 - and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia's family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.

To Flavia the investigation is the stuff of science: full of possibilities, contradictions, and connections. Soon her father, a man raising his three daughters alone, is seized, accused of murder. And in a police cell, during a violent thunderstorm, Colonel de Luce tells his daughter an astounding story - of a schoolboy friendship turned ugly, of a priceless object that vanished in a bizarre and brazen act of thievery, of a Latin teacher who flung himself to his death from the school's tower thirty years before. Now Flavia is armed with more than enough knowledge to tie two distant deaths together, to examine new suspects, and begin a search that will lead her all the way to the King of England himself. Of this much the girl is sure: her father is innocent of murder - but protecting her and her sisters from something even worse....

I'm typically not too interested in detective/sleuth type novels. They have to be something very out of the ordinary for me to be impressed (which is probably also why I've never cared for Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes), so it was with some trepidation that I started this audiobook. However, it came highly recommended, so I figured it was worth a shot.

And it was. It kept me nicely entertained for the 10'ish hours it lasted, and while I doubt I'll read any more books in the series, I did rather like Flavia de Luce... even if she wasn't a very believable 11-year-old.
goodreads: (Default)
Title: The Forgotten Garden
Author: Kate Morton
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 660
Date read: December, 2012

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra's life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace - the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century - Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

Fascinating book. Rather sad, but without being depressing... just melancholic in places. I liked the way the mystery was unraveled through 3 generations and more than 100 years. I had guessed part of the solution, but definitely not all of it.

It's an engaging book that's difficult to put aside. I rather liked the way the story was told from several different 'voices', although as always - of course - some were more interesting than others. I was glad to see that all the pieces of the puzzle fit together in the end, even though I could have wished that some had turned out differently.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Prisoner of Heaven
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Genre: Historical fiction, suspense
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 278
Date read: December, 2012

Christmas in Barcelona in 1957, one year after Daniel and Bea from The Shadow of the Wind have married. They now have a son, Julian, and are living with Daniel's father at Sempere & Sons. Fermin still works with them and is busy preparing for his wedding to Bernarda in the New Year. However something appears to be bothering him.

Daniel is alone in the shop one morning when a mysterious figure with a pronounced limp enters. He spots one of their most precious volumes that is kept locked in a glass cabinet, a beautiful and unique illustrated edition of The Count of Monte Cristo. Despite the fact that the stranger seems to care little for books, he wants to buy this expensive edition. Then, to Daniel's surprise, the man inscribes the book with the words 'To Fermin Romero de Torres, who came back from the dead and who holds the key to the future'. This visit leads back to a story of imprisonment, betrayal and the return of a deadly rival.

Even though The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in the series of the Cemetary of Forgotten Books, it isn't necessary to have read the two first books in the series. It continues some of the story of especially Shadow of the Wind in such a way that will satisfy people who have read that book, but not confuse readers who haven't.

In The Prisoner of Heaven Fermin is in focus, and we are given his history - how he was imprisoned during the Spanish civil war, how he escaped with the help of a fellow prisoner, and how these events brought him into Daniel's life.

It's very different form the two other books - not the least because it's a lot shorter - but it still has the same gothic style, and I actually ended up thinking it was the best of the lot. I appreciated the look into Fermin's life and getting a better understanding for why he is the way he is.

The book clearly paves the way for a fourth book in the series, and I'll be interested in seeing what happens to Daniel and Bea next.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: And All the Stars
Author: Andrea K. Höst
Genre: Science fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 247
Date read: December 2012, January 2015

And All the Stars is the story of an alien invasion. Madeleine has skipped school in order to paint her beautiful, androgynous cousin, Tyler. However, this put her in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time to be targeted by the mysterious onslaught of an alien invasion.

In a world gone mad, Madeleine has to trust the odd group of people, fate has thrown her way, and together with them try to find a way to rid the world of the alien invasion without getting possessed themselves along the way.

To might delight, And All the Stars turned out to be "Tomorrow, When the War Began" (John Marsden) meets "The Host" (Stephenie Meyer) - two of my favourite novels with regards to both atmosphere and plot. What I assumed at first would be a fairly straight-forward science fiction novel, threw me with its twists and turns and managed to surprise me more than once.

There are three things I especially appreciated about this novel:
1) The characters. Both the characters and the relationships between the main characters turned out to be a lot more complex than I had anticipated, and Madeleine's transformation from being self-sufficient to having to trust and rely on other people was very well done and believable. Madeleine and Noi, Madeleine and Tyler, Madeleine and Fish, Noi and Pan... None of them were left for the reader to think up themselves, but eloquently described through their interactions.

2) The atmosphere. This is where the comparison to "Tomorrow, When the War..." is most apt. It was just as thrilling, and left me just as much at the edge of my seat. I found myself imagining only too vividly what such an invasion would be like.

3) The fact that it - in spite of my original fear - turned out to be a stand-alone novel. There are so many series being published these days, that a true stand-alone novel is a rare treat.

For these, and many other reasons, And All the Stars blew me away. I can't remember when I've last had this strong a reaction to a novel, and it's well placed to be labelled my "Best Read of 2012".

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