Wednesday 29 May 2019

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa - A Review

Today's review is about a book that is well loved by many people. We are talking about Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa which is the first book in a series and it was published last October by Harlequin Teen. 

When I started reading it back in November, I found it a little bit boring, so I stopped reading it. This month I picked it up again, finished it in a few days and really like it. I don't know maybe I wasn't in the right mood back then. 

Anyway, this is the story of Yumeko, a half kitsune who is forced to flee in order to save her temple's greatest treasure. 

The rumors for this book are true. It truly reads as an anime and I liked the way it is written. The Japanese inspired world-building, with its yokai and demons, is very well constructed as you would expect from Julie Kagawa. Also the characters were incredible.

I cannot wait to see how things will go in the next books. Thankfully there is not much time left to wait as the second book comes out in June.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos. Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.
Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.
There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.
With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

You can buy this book from Book Depository using this link (affiliate link)


Wednesday 22 May 2019

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin - A mini review

Today we are talking about a children's book from the famous author George R. R. Martin, who we all know from his series A Song of Ice and Fire. 
This book is called The Ice Dragon and it is his only children's book, if I am not mistaken. It was written in 1980 and illustrated by Luis Royo.

According to the synopsis, The Ice Dragon is an enchanting tale of courage and sacrifice for young readers and adults. Lavish illustrations enrich this captivating and heartwarming story of a young girl and her dragon.
In the world of A Song of Ice and Fire the ice dragon was a creature of legend and fear, for no man had ever tamed one. When it flew overhead, it left in its wake desolate cold and frozen land. But Adara was not afraid. For Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze that anyone, even the Old Ones, could remember. Adara could not remember the first time she had seen the ice dragon. It seemed that it had always been in her life, glimpsed from afar as she played in the frigid snow long after the other children had fled the cold. In her fourth year she touched it, and in her fifth year she rode upon its broad, chilled back for the first time. Then, in her seventh year, on a calm summer day, fiery dragons from the North swooped down upon the peaceful farm that was Adara's home. And only a winter child—and the ice dragon who loved her—could save her world from utter destruction.

It is a beautiful and  atmospheric story with gorgeous illustrations, that complement the story and the theme of the book perfectly. It is a well written book with magical descriptions. The ending leaves you with an impactful and symbolic message.

If you love dragons and GRRM you should read this book, even if you are not a child.

I read the greek version of the book, translated by Eirini Paidousi for Metaixmio Publications.

You can buy this book from Book Depository using this link (affiliate link)


Wednesday 15 May 2019

Vicious (Villains #1) by V. E. Schwab - A Review

Today's review is about Vicious, the first book in the Villains duology by the amazing V. E Schwab

It is about Victor and Eli who started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. 

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end? 

I loved this book, especially as the plot was moving on and the story of Eli and Victor developed. It is a very original story, where we do not follow the classic hero but on the contrary the "anti-hero" or the villain of the story. The villain is our protagonist and that is very fascinating, as you can see how the characters develop through the story. 

It is a dark story and it's very different from anything else from V. E. Schwab that I have read before. It is also a fast paced book with a lot of action. The way it is written makes it more thrilling to read. 

I can't wait to read Vengeful, the sequel to the story, and of course you should definitely read this one.  

You can buy this book from Book Depository using this link (affiliate link)


Wednesday 8 May 2019

The Garden of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges - A Review

Today we are talking about this little book which comes from the Penguin Modern Classics collection and contains 5 short stories from Jorge Luis Borges. It's called The Garden of the Forking Paths which is also the title of one of the stories. 

It is described as fantastical tales of mazes, puzzles, lost labyrinths and bookish mysteries, from the unique imagination of a literary magician.

This was the first time that I read something from Jorge Luis Borges and I do not know what to make out of it. I am a little bit confused. I enjoyed reading these stories but I can't say that I loved anyone particular. 

The first story was The Garden of Forking Paths, which started as a spy story but then it confused me. It was nothing particularly original or special. 

The second was The Book of Sand, which was the one I liked the most. It had a very interesting idea. 

The third story was The Circular Ruins and it was okay for me.

The fourth one was On Exactitude in Science and it was only one page. 

The last story was Death and the Compass which was a kind of  a mysterious Jewish mysticism-inspired serial killing.

Overall, I think that the Penguin Modern Classics is a very good starting option if you want to know a new to you author. I can say that I will definitely search and read more of Jorge Luis Borges works in the future.

You can buy this book from Book Depository using this link (affiliate link)


Tuesday 7 May 2019

David Bowie by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara - A mini review

Today is the publication day for the new addition to the Little People, Big Dreams series by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara.

The new book is called David Bowie and it tells us the story of David Bowie, obviously. It is illustrated by Ana Albero. 

It is a little picture book (just 32 pages) that you should definitely buy for your little readers. It is very cute with beautiful illustrations and tells the story of David Bowie. 
It is perfect for young readers and can offer children inspiring messages. The whole series is very empowering.

I wish this kind of books existed when I was a child.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
New in the critically acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of David Bowie, the starman who dazzled audiences with his music. As a child, young David had a head full of songs and ideas. He was inspired by the pop and mod scenes in Britain to pick up the saxophone. After earning his stripes in some of the coolest bands in London, David splashed onto the solo scene. His songwriting talent and musical skill made him one of rock and roll's all-time greatest artists. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the musician's life. 

More about the series
Little People, BIG DREAMS is a bestselling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardback versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review


Exhalation : Stories by Ted Chiang - A Review

In today's post we are talking about a collection of science fiction stories, that comes out today (7th May) by Knopf. It is the book Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang. 

I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.

The name of the author is probably very familiar to you. That is because Ted Chiang is an award-winning science fiction writer (whose short story "The Story of Your Life" was the basis for the Academy Award-nominated movie Arrival). 

This is his long-awaited new collection of original, humane, and already celebrated short stories. These are tales that tackle some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only Ted Chiang could imagine.
This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary "Exhalation," an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality. And in "The Lifecycle of Software Objects," a woman cares for an artificial intelligence over twenty years, elevating a faddish digital pet into what might be a true living being. Also included are two brand-new stories: "Omphalos" and "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom", where he talks about the ability to glimpse into alternate universes that  necessitates a radically new examination of the concepts of choice and free will.

Unfortunately this collection of short stories isn't for me. I can't say I didn't like it at all, because there were stories that I enjoyed. From the nine stories I really liked two of them and two more were okay.

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate, which had time travel and some magic into it.
The Lifecycle of Software Objects, which was about A.I. as pets and it was very thoughtful and beautiful story.

Of course, no one can deny that Ted Chiang writes in a stunningly original, provocative, and poignant way. 

The collection includes stories that were previously published in magazines or anthologies but there are also two brand new stories. The first seven stories were the "old" ones and the last two, Ompalos and Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom, were the new ones. I also liked some aspects of the new stories. 

Overall, I think that this book was not aimed me but at people who are more familiar with science fiction that I am. If you enjoy science fiction and Ted Chiang stories and writing, I think you will love this collection. 

You can buy this book from Book Depository using this link (affiliate link)


Wednesday 1 May 2019

April 2019 wrap up

This April was a little bit different from the other months. I am talking of course about how my reading went. April was the month of readathons for me. I took part in two of them.

The bigger one and the one I was most excited about was O.W.L.'s Magical Readathon that was organised by G (@book_roast on Instagram & YouTube) and took place all of April. You had to read books the fulfilled prompts which corresponded to the classes at Hogwarts.

From the 5th until the 15th we had FantasyAthon which was, as you can guess, based on reading fantasy books. This one was organised by Julie (Pages and  Pens on YouTube), Madi (The Book Pusher on YouTube) and Ali ( Ali Corvere books on YouTube). 

So, without further ado let's see the books that I managed to read this month.

As Kismet Would Have it - Sandhya Menon

This is a funny, romantic and very sweet novella which is a sequel to When Dimple met Rishi (see review here). It is a very beautiful story and I really liked reading again about Dimple and Rishi. I hope there is more in the future. 

OWLs : Muggle Studies (contemporary) 

Είμαστε Αστρόσκονη: Σύμπαν, μια ιστορία χωρίς τέλος - Διονύσης Π. Σιμόπουλος 
(We are Stardust: Universe, a story without end - Dionisis P. Simopoulos)

It was an interesting book about the universe and its story from the birth of stars until their death and everything between. It was written in a simple language so that everyone could understand. 

OWLs: Astronomy ("Star" in the title)

Saga, vol. 4  - Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

I read another volume of this graphic novel and I enjoyed it a much as the previous ones. I can't wait to read the next one.

FantasyAthon: A fantasy in a genre/format you don't normly (graphic novel/ebook)

Exhalation: Stories - Ted Chiang

Unfortunately this book was not for me. I enjoyed some of the stories but not all of them.

I will soon have a full review of this.

OWLs: Divination (Set in the future)

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

I have heard so many things about this book and thankfully it didn't disappoint. It is a well-written and funny book that talks about the end of the world.

OWLs: Arithmacy (work written by more than one authors).

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) - Philip Pullman

I finished the second book pf this trilogy and the only thing that I can say is that I loved it.

OWLs: Potions (next ingredient: sequel)
FantasyAthon: Start or continue on in a series

Literary Landscapes: Charting the world of Classic Literature - John Sutherland

Books about books are my sweet spot. I always read them and I always like them. This one was no exception and it certainly added more books to my already big tbr.

Circe - Madeline Miller

I have heard so many good things about it but I didn't know exactly what to expect, only that it was a retelling of Circe's story. It was much more than that and I really liked it.

OWLs: Charms (Age-Line: read an adult book)

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

This book won a Pulitzer award and for good reason. I enjoyed it even though at some points I fell a lit bit lost. You observe the relationsphip between father and son and it is written in a kind of different way.

OWLs: Defense Against the Dark Arts (Reducto: Title starts with R)

I am Marie Curie - Brad Meltzer & Christopher Eliopoulos (ill.)

eARC from Edelweiss+

This is a very cute little picture book about the life of Marie Curie with very beautiful illustrations. I really liked it.

David Bowie - Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara &Ana Albero (Ill.)

eARC from Netgalley

This new addition to the Little People, Big Dreams series is one you should buy for your little ones. It has beautiful illustrations and it is very inspiring and empowering.

OWLs: Transfiguration ( Sprayed Edges or Red Cover)

Uprooted - Naomi Novik

I really liked this one. It is like reading a Grimm's fairy tale. You can consider it as a retelling of Russia fairy tales. I enjoyed the writing and especially the depiction of the Wood. It is a magical book but at some points I wished it was more fast paced.

OWLs: Ancient Runes (Retelling) 

I managed to complete my OWLs for the career of Curse Breaker and in total completing 9 exams.
I did not do as well in FantsyAthon and I completed only 3 promts finishing only 2 books during its period.

That's it for my reading wrap up for April.