Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Kate Daniels Series

Synopsis for the first book, Magic Bites:

One moment magic dominates, and cars stall and guns fail. The next, technology takes over and the defensive spells no longer protect your house from monsters. Here skyscrapers topple under onslaught of magic; werebears and werehyenas prowl through the ruined streets; and the Masters of the Dead, necromancers driven by their thirst of knowledge and wealth, pilot blood-crazed vampires with their minds. In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, she must choose to do nothing and remain safe or to pursue his preternatural killer. Hiding is easy, but the right choice is rarely easy . . . -

If you're looking for a series with a kick-ass heroine, this is it. Kate Daniels is such an awesome character that you can't help rooting for her. The supporting characters are interesting as well, with a mix of shapeshifters (the standard wolves, lions, tigers (even a vegetarian one LOL), bears? And even hyenas? LOL), vampires (none of that sparkling nonsense here), demons and of course, normal human beings (though they seem to be limited in numbers).

Most of the series focus on Kate battling a huge life-threatening, world-destroying challenges. Save the world before it ends prematurely and all that jazz. But there are also running threads throughout the series e.g. Kate's mysterious father and her relationship with Curran (heh it's hard to write about a series without giving something away :P)

I love the fact that the world Andrews created have magic and technology in an unpredictable relationship. Magic and tech battle for dominance, with magic surges rendering most technology obsolete and when it wanes, most of the spells are useless. The unpredictability lends an additional level of complexity towards the plot and created a more interesting twist to the phrase "urban fantasy".

Ilona Andrews is actually the pseudonym for the husband and wife writing pair, Ilona and Gordon. That's probably the secret behind why even though the story was written from the female POV, it maintains enough badass element to not be considered a "girly" series. In fact, this is probably my second favourite writer pair - the first being David & Leigh Eddings. (My introduction to the fantasy genre was through The Redemption of Althalus by Eddings. And I was hooked from then on LOL.)

I can't wait to see how this series progresses and what will happen when Kate finally meets her father. In the meantime, I am going to check out another series written by Andrews, The Edge.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Contest, Giveaways & Offer

Head over to Book Galaxo to win a copy of Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals (my review here)

There's also the Midsummer Eve's Giveaway Hop. And various giveaways listed on my sidebar.

And Bookdepository still has the Summer Festival going on.

So just get clicking!



Latest giveaway just popped up on my reader is from Gripped Into Books who is celebrating the end of exams by giving away USD10/GBP7 worth of book(s) :D

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Read-a-thon Update

So here's the progress of my read-a-thon so far:

Total Books Read: 3 (The Goddess Test, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes)
Total Pages Read: 863
Books Read Since Last Update: 3
Pages Read since last update: 863
Total time read: Roughly 12 hours? Obviously with breaks in-between
How I'm currently feeling: Satisfied

Mini Challenge Q&A

If you had bookshelves FULL of all of your favorite books, how would you organize them?

I organise them by author, and then by series. Stand alone novels are organised by author and height. My favourite genres and authors get 'premium' shelf space i.e. I put them at eye-level.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Garden Spells

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants--from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys--except for Claire's rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire's quiet life is turned upside down--along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom or with each other.
- from goodreads

Link to

I first found out about Sarah Addison Allen when I read the interesting synopsis of The Girl who Chased the Moon in Kinokuniya. I didn't realise I had this book at home since it was under my mother's pile of unread books. Only after I scrolled through the app I use to keep track of my books did I realise one of her books is sitting under my nose all this while LOL.

The first thing I noticed about this book is the cover - it's beautiful! And girly/sparkly LOL. The cover and the swirly designs for some of the pages rounds up the book theme of magic and romance quite nicely. If you've gathered from the previous post, I don't really read a lot of romance books. But once in a while, I do curl up with a good romance sprinkled with a bit of magic (like The Girl with Glass Feet - this one is such a beautiful, heart-breaking story).

I love the atmosphere of the story. It's filled with warmth and the ups and downs of relationships, be it between sisters, mothers and daughters, friends and of course, between lovers. She managed to create a quirky but lovely world in the small town of Bascom. As I read, her characters grew on me, especially the Waverleys - Claire the talented caterer who embraces her Waverly talents fully, Sydney the girl who wanted to ditch her roots and be normal, Evanelle the quirky cousin who can't resist giving people things. Allen also created what could probably one of the most interesting tree of all time - the apple tree in the Waverley's garden which loves throwing apples at people LOL. I would've loved to meet a tree like that.

Since I'm a sucker for happy ending, this book really did it for me. I think almost everyone got a happy ending LOL. I'm in fact looking forward to reading The Girl who Chased the Moon when it arrives soon!

The Goddess Test

It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess. - from goodreads

Buy from

The cover and synopsis pulled me to choose this book from a list of titles to be read next. I had high expectations for the book, but somehow the book just didn't meet them. I can't seem to get into the story. The first few chapters in fact reminded me of Twilight, with the "new girl being the talk of the town" scenes.

Kate is likeable enough but I feel the other characters are not really believable. I mean, Ava makes a move extremely fast even for a bitchy cheerleader LOL. But then, the relevation at the end of the story might have played some role. Some characters are developed well like Kate and Calliope, while some others could probably do with more fleshing out e.g. Xander and Theo.

I have to admit the author chose a creative way to weave Greek mythology into the story. And she did manage to keep me guessing what are actually the tests set for Kate. However, I would've enjoyed this more if she had focused more on the mystery regarding all the previous candidates and not on Kate's relationship with Henry. Though I can guess why she did it - to attract the younger generation (OMG I feel so old T_T). So yeah, I love a good mystery more than romance LOL.

I just realised this book is part of a trilogy when I browsed goodreads for its synopsis. Suffice to say, I wouldn't be waiting in line for the next book to come out. A good read, especially if you like Greek mythology, but nothing to shout about.

Friday, June 17, 2011


This post is to announce to the world that I'm participating in the Spring into Summer read-a-thon hosted by Enna Isilee of Squeaky Books!

This read-a-thon is going to be so great! It's two days where you try do NOTHING but read. It's a great chance to get rid of some of those books that have been sitting on your TBR pile forever.

But that's not all! There will also be awesome mini-challenges and a TON of giveaways! In fact, just for signing up you are entered to win a $25 gift card to Amazon! SO GO SIGN UP! And if you say that layen sent you, you'll get 5 extra entries to win that gift card! CLICK HERE to enter to win, and know all there is to know about the read-a-thon.

Here's my goal:

I plan to participate on: BOTH DAYS
I plan to read: 2 books
I hope to read: Magic Burns & The Goddess Test

Well, have you signed up yet? DO IT NOW!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hex Hall & Demonglass

Synopsis for Hex Hall:

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
- from goodreads

I've been browsing around book review blogs for the past couple of weeks. Seems that I keep stumbling upon reviews of books for young adults/teens and they were mostly holding very interesting giveaway. Who could resist free books? Not me definitely LOL.

Since I was looking for something light to read after struggling with study materials, these are two of the titles that grabbed my attention. It's a part of a series (probably a trilogy?) with two books already published and another one in the works.

The story is just so-so. I enjoyed it, but it's not something I'd fangirl about (unlike Harry Potter for instance LOL). The first book, Hex Hall, follows Sophie's life as a boarding school student and her relationships with her fellow boarders. Several interesting characters crop up, the most interesting being Jenna, her vampire roommate who is obsessed with the colour pink. The mystery is engaging, though Sophie keeps getting sidetracked with who else but a developing love interest in Archer Cross, the most popular and good looking guy in Hex Hall. By the end of the school year, Sophie not only has solved the mystery, but she has seen a classmate murdered and betrayed by another classmate. She also learns more about herself and her mysterious father.

The second book follows Sophie as she learns more about controlling her power from her father. While both had a mystery thread running through the story, I found the first book more engaging. The second book was more about Sophie waffling between her interest in an ex-classmate and the obvious danger a relationship with him would bring. However, the revelation in Demonglass is indeed a surprise and the ending is a cliffhanger D:

It took me a while to warm up to the heroine as the prologue seems to paint her as a stupidly reckless girl who is so confident in her magical prowess. Thank goodness she seems to realise her lack of control over her magic when she arrived at Hex Hall. What won me over was actually her sarcasm LOL. I do love characters who are sarcastic (e.g. Silk from David Edding's Belgariad series) because I find their lines hilarious LOL.

Overall, I'd give this series 3.5 out of 5 stars. Enjoyable, but not something I'd read over and over again in the future.


Oh head over to bookdepository as they are holding a 10% off sale (on top of discounts already given). To get the discount, just refer other people to the site and they'll send a discount code to you. I'm contemplating on buying more books, but since I've already splurged on books and skin care for the past couple of weeks, I might have to hold that urge back.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

End of (unintended) Hiatus

Exam's over! I'd rather not think about the end result until I receive the email. Ended up splurging on books on Book Depository since today was the last day of their 10% off. First time ordering, so I hope there won't be glitches.

Anyway, the point of the post is just a heads up that I'll probably start updating again (notice the word probably there?) :P Till then ~