Saturday, 25 February 2012

Review: The Forever Girl: Sophia’s Journey (The Forever Girl Series, Vol. 1) by Rebecca Hamilton

The Forever Girl: Sophia’s Journey (The Forever Girl Series, Volume 1)
Author: Rebecca Hamilton
Publication Date: January 26, 2012
Publisher: Immortal Ink Publishing
E-book Pages: 5200
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy, Occult
Source: Won it from the Author

Book Description from Amazon: Sophia Parsons’ family has skeletons, but they aren’t in their graves…
Solving the mystery of an ancestor’s hanging might silence the clashing whispers in Sophia’s mind, but the cult in her town and the supernaturals who secretly reside there are determined to silence her first.
As Sophia unknowingly crosses the line into an elemental world full of vampire-like creatures, shapeshifters, and supernatural grim reapers, she meets Charles, a man who becomes both lover and ally.
But can she trust him?
It’s not until someone nearly kills Sophia that she realizes the only way to unveil the source of her family’s curse: abandon her faith or abandon her humanity. If she wants to survive, she must accept who she is, perform dark magic, and fight to the death for her freedom.
Upon reading the description for this book, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this, it was so unassuming, but the first few sentences captured my attention and it wouldn’t let me put it down until I finished the book.
In the beginning of a story we usually get insight into the main character’s normal day to day life, and when we first meet Sophia Parsons it’s immediately apparent that her life is far from normal. She hears voices, whispers and practises Wiccan arts in order to try and quell these voices. As the voices become more persistent and louder, Sophia digs through her family’s past to try and find a solution, but what she finds and what finds her, is so much more than she bargained for.
The cover of this edition is especially eye-catching, which features a girl dressed in Gothic Lolita style with gorgeous intricate black jewellery and lace parasol, set against the model’s stark skin and blond hair with emphatic eye makeup creates a bold contrast. Especially when the background to the model is reminiscent of a colourful fall day.
Hamilton's writing is so smooth and descriptive, it keeps you enthralled and lets the scenes play out graphically in your head easily as you read (especially the scenes with the whispers, they will haunt me for a while). The story takes the bare bones of many concepts such as vampires, witches and shapeshifters and completely reinvents them into something new. The story had so many supernatural elements in it, I wondered at how Hamilton would pull it together, but then she completely blows you out of the water with the reveals and everything clicks into place - which just ends up leaving the reader wanting to know more!
I really enjoyed reading from Sophia’s perspective. She’s such a likable character because she’s strong willed and doesn’t let other’s opinions phase her. She’s loyal and uses whatever she can to defend her friends be it her smarts or her power, but she’s also not an over the top super hero, she knows when to ask for help from her friends. She also has so much patience… her interactions with the super religious cult leader Mrs. Franklin and her brainwashed cult following mother are outwardly calm and logical, even though when I was reading I was screaming frustrations at the pages, they were such well written antagonists.
When we first meet Charles, it’s the banter between him and Sophia that had me rooting for him. They are adorable together! Then he gets really mysterious as the plot thickens and he has a major hero complex that gets worked out frequently and not always to the results he wants. As a boyfriend to Sophia, their relationship is pretty iffy at the beginning, but it eventually leads to some pretty steamy scenes.
The other characters such as Adrian, Ivory and Lauren worked really well as supports for Sophia, but what really caught me off guard was how when I had pushed one of these to the back of my mind as a boring background character they suddenly come roaring back as an integral character to the underlying plot.
All in all this was a really enjoyable read and I cannot wait to read more from Rebecca Hamilton!

Rating: 5/5 Steaming Cups Of Tea!

First Post! Review of Cinder by Marissa Meyer


Author: Marissa Meyer
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 390
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction with a splash of Fairytale.
Source: Bought it
Book Description from Publisher:
     Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being Cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
     Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived. 
     But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for. 

     In this futuristic retelling of the classic Cinderella story we are introduced to Cinder- a cyborg (human but with technological enhancements) and famed mechanic of New Beijing, working in her weekly stall at the market when she meets Prince Kai of the Commonwealth. Incidentally, he needs her mechanical expertise to repair an android that holds some critical information. This fateful encounter begins Cinder’s whirlwind quest for freedom from her ‘wicked’ stepmother, with a backdrop of political intrigue amid a widespread deadly plague. I picked up this book after hearing nothing but high praise for it in the days before release. Plus I’m a huge science fiction geek, and love fairy tales, so this just seemed like a perfect combination for me.
     I loved the cover, it’s simple in its design but iconic in the way it  brought together the story of Cinderella using the ‘slipper’ and science fiction by showing the tiniest hint of mechanical skeleton with a bold red colouring for the shoe to catch your attention.
     I tore through it in a day, I honestly couldn’t put it down because the pace was perfect. The moments of action were interspersed with slower dialogue scenes, but these slower scenes are vital to explaining the intricacies of the plot and tended to have one-liners, but I absolutely loved the one liners - no matter how corny they are, they lightened the mood in serious situations and brought life to the characters. The plot was a bit predictable, but I think that’s to be expected with a retelling- most people know what generally happens, but the foreshadowing and twist reveals were still brilliantly executed.
     The setting is a rich eclectic mix of modern and traditional architectures which make up New Beijing. The technology mixed with the more slum like areas were extremely effective in showing the social divide, and the gruesome details of what becomes of plague victims.
     Oh the characters. I LOVED Cinder’s sidekick robot Iko!! Iko was just so adorable and reminded me of the Tachikoma tanks from the manga/anime Ghost in the Shell, I had the dubbed voice and their little claw flailing expressions running through my head whenever Iko was talking. If you’ve never seen Ghost in the Shell and these Tachikoma’s read Cinder and then watch this: .
     Cinder to me was a very level headed, rational- straight forward individual, and this is probably the robotics side of her talking, but you can see the human side in the way she shows concern and emotions for others, Marissa  just did a great job balancing out her features.
     Then there’s Prince Kai… I’m quite conflicted as to what I think about him, one thing’s for sure he’s not your typical hoity toity royal, and that’s where he wins some brownie points, especially in the way he interacts with others, but there’s just some certain elements to his character such as self depreciation that gets a little annoying over time.
     One set of antagonists in the form of Cinder’s stepmother Adri and stepsister Pearl are perfect as the cruel slave drivers, in contrast with the other stepsister Peony as a kind friend to Cinder. Then there’s Queen Levana, ruler of the totalitarian and threatening Lunars from the moon, with their whole mysterious background filled with myths, legends and magic. I can’t wait to find out more about the Lunars.
     When I finished reading Cinder, my first thought was huh, this is kind of like Sailormoon meets Battlestar Galactica. At this point I didn’t know that Marissa started out writing Sailormoon fan fictions - but after I found out I was even more excited about this because as a 90’s kid, Sailormoon was the standard breakfast TV show (I was almost always late for elementary school because the show didn’t end till 9 am. )  and it was just a great reminder! All in all Marissa did a great job taking the bones of the Cinderella story and making it her own, this is definitely a must read!

Rating: 5/5 Steaming Cups of Tea

First Tea Review: Cinnamon Heart

Picture from DAVIDsTEA

Pu’erh Tea:    Cinnamon Heart
Ingredients: Chinese cooked pu’erh tea, Chinese black tea, cloves, Sri Lankan Cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, natural flavourings

    I’m a huge fan of those cinnamon hearts, the ones that you can only find in mass amounts during Valentines day. Although there’s only so many of those I can eat before my mouth is on fire and I can feel the lump of sugary edible wax settling in my stomach as I roll over and go “why… why did I eat so many?!”.
This isn’t the case with the Cinnamon Heart tea. It’s definitely a tea I could drink over and over again, it’s going up there as a tea to be bought again.
I always start off drinking my tea straight- and then add things to it if it needs it. So this one to start off with had a subtle bitterness from the pu’erh and black tea with a great cinnamon and spice after kick.
I confess though, I’m a sugar fiend, I like it sweet. So when I added a little bit of sugar, it hid the bitterness and softened the spice.
This tea is also stated to be of medium caffeine content- which is perfect in conjunction with the spice to have as an early morning tea to wake you up, or a pick me up in the middle of a long afternoon.
If you ever get the chance, try this one if you’re a fan of cinnamon heart candies (it seriously tastes like them)!
Overall: 5/5 Steaming HOT Cups of Tea.
I Definitely Will drink it again! 
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