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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Ink (Paper Gods #1), by Amanda Sun


Title: Ink (Paper Gods #1)
Author: Amanda Sun
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive."

My Opinion:  I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

I was so intrigued by this title when it came up on NetGalley because it just seemed so different from other books in its genre, paranormal young adult books that also include mythology, something new to shake up the lovers of this genre. And shake me up it did! To begin with, it was set in Japan and dealt with Japanese mythology, something I admit I know little about, which just made me want to read it more so I could learn about it. I had no idea there were such things as kendo or Kami (the Japanese Gods), but I enjoyed learning about all of this, and much more about Japan in general. The descriptions of the sights, smells and tastes of Japanese life were amazingly well done, and when ink started dripping off of drawings and out of notebooks, I got chills!

The main female character, Katie, was very likable. She lost her mother and was sent to live with an aunt she doesn't even know very well in Japan. Instead of crawling into a shell and just trying to get through each day until she can go back to the US and live with her grandparents, Katie takes the opportunity to immerse herself in the Japanese culture. She soaks up as much as she can, and even begins to thrive, especially after she meets the "gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school's kendo team." She finds that she has a weird connection with Tomo, but unfortunately Tomo also has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being around Katie is making him lose control of his abilities, which I will not describe here because it is a long and very interesting story that you must read the book to learn.

I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read the next book in the series, Rain. I would enthusiastically recommend this book to my friends, and to all lovers of paranormal young adult books that have a bent towards mythology, because unless you read YA books that deal with Japanese mythology on a regular basis, this book will definitely appeal to you. 

I happily give it 5 stars.

Review: Holiday Hats for Babies: Caps, Berets and Beanies to Knit for Every Occasion, by Debby Ware


Title: Holiday Hats for Babies: Caps, Berets and Beanies to Knit for Every Occasion
Author: Debby Ware
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "These sweet and sassy baby hats will bring a smile to your face! 25 adorable patterns for every celebration of the year: Birthday Cupcake Cap, Halloween Hat, Holly Holiday Hat, Baby Chick Cap, Crystal Party Hat, Firecracker Topper, Leaf Peeper Cap, and more."

My Opinion: I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion, and that opinion is that I loved this book! I very rarely review books about knitting, but when I saw this book offered, I just had to take a look inside, and I'm so glad I did! This is not just your regular, every day book on knitting baby hats, with the standard patterns repeated over and over, or with a few variations thrown in to shake things up. Each hat is uniquely different from anything I've seen before, more like something an artist would draw rather than something a knitter would knit. I guarantee you that no other baby in your Mommy and Me group will be wearing anything close to what your little prince or princess will have perched on top of their little head!

Although there were some patterns in the book that I would not personally choose to make, each one was festive and fun, with clear, easy-to-read and follow instructions. Each pattern tells you what weight yarn you will need and then lets you know what yarn was used to make the sample in the picture, which I find very helpful. It's not really that big of a deal, but sometimes I just don't want to take a chance on substituting a yarn and not getting the desired result. It's just nice to have both options. The book also shows multiple views of each hat, both on and off of the very adorable babies who are modeling them. Sizing is done by head circumference rather than age, which just makes more sense to me. Some of them are one size fits all, and some have a small and large option, but again, the head circumference is added for each one. 

My personal favorites include the Holly Holiday Hat with giant holly leaves and bright red berries on it, the Glitter and Glow Beanie which they say is a snap to make, and you get to tie the top of it up with a giant fancy ribbon, adding your own personal touch to it, and the Halloween Hat, a little pumpkin hat on which the eyes and hat are added using the Duplicate Stitch, giving you the freedom to create any expression you want. 

In summary, I found this book a delight to read, with simple instructions, and hats that are so unique you will not find anything like them in any book other than this one.  I would happily recommend it to my friends and anybody who is looking to knit something a little bit different for their unique little one.

I give this book 5 stars.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Review: The Pillars of Hercules, by David Constantine


Title: The Pillars of Hercules
Author: David Constantine
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "Alexander, Prince of Macedon, is the terror of the world. Persia, Egypt, Athens… one after another, mighty nations are falling before the fearsome conqueror. Some say Alexander is actually the son of Zeus, king of the gods, and the living incarnation of Hercules himself. Worse yet, some say Alexander believes this…

The ambitious prince is aided in his conquest by unstoppable war-machines based on the forbidden knowledge of his former tutor, the legendary scientist-mage known as Aristotle. Greek fire, mechanical golems, and gigantic siege-engines lay waste to Alexander's enemies as his armies march relentlessly west—toward the very edge of the world.

Beyond the Pillars of Hercules, past the gateway to the outer ocean, lies the rumored remnants of Atlantis: ancient artifacts of such tremendous power that they may be all that stands between Alexander and conquest of the entire world. Alexander desires that power for himself, but an unlikely band of fugitives—including a Gaulish barbarian, a cynical Greek archer, a cunning Persian princess, and a sorcerer's daughter—must find it first… before Alexander unleashes godlike forces that will shatter civilization.

The Pillars of Hercules is an epic adventure that captures the grandeur and mystery of the ancient world as it might have been, where science and magic are one and the same."

My Opinion: I requested this book because the blurb sounded like something I would really enjoy reading. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations at all. I love reading about Alexander the Great and I love steampunk, so I thought "how could I go wrong with this book". Well, I'll tell you how. The story lines were way too vague, with too many characters popping in and out without adding anything to the story. Also, it felt like the author was just meandering through whatever popped into his head instead of picking and choosing what was important and tightening up the story that way, I almost didn't finish the book, and that's saying a lot right there because I can usually get through any story if I know I'm going to be writing a review for it, but this one was really a challenge. I can say that the first half held my interest much more than the second half did.

I thought this was going to be a story in the vein of an "epic adventure" since that's what the blurb told me it was. Instead, I had to get through tons of info dumps that felt like they were just there to make the book longer instead of telling me something that was relatable to the story itself.

There were too many characters who weren't necessary and I felt were just there to make the story more mysterious, but instead of being excited to find out how they would fit into the story, I was just left more confused than ever trying to make connections that just weren't there. The story was told by many different viewpoints, but instead of understanding clearly why they all had a voice, I again was left confused by why some Greek army fellow and a random messenger had viewpoints at all since they weren't essential to the story! They just dragged it out even more!

And lastly, I expected something to happen at the end that would clear up all of my questions and doubts about the book, but alas, it wasn't to be. The end was even more confusing than the rest of the book, which I didn't think was possible! I'm not even going to get into what it was, because I firmly believe that just because I personally don't enjoy a book, someone else might, and I don't want to spoil it for them. Suffice it to say that I myself didn't care too much for this book overall.

I would give this book 2 to 2.5 stars.

I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: Monstrous Beauty, by Elizabeth Fama


Title: Monstrous Beauty
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences.

Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra’s help, Hester investigates her family’s strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago."

My Opinion: I was quite impressed with this book as it was different from most other mermaid books out now. I tend to love mermaid books anyway, and this one was unique enough to really grab my attention. To begin with, it's written from the POV of two different female mermaids, one in our time (Hester) and one who lived one hundred and forty years ago (Syrenka)! Then we have poor Hester, whose family history shows that to fall in love means death. Since Hester thinks it's a family curse, she is determined never to fall in love, but as we all know, teenage hormones are not going to go along with that at all! First she starts having feelings for her neighbor and friend, Peter, and when she runs away from him, she runs smack dab into gorgeous Ezra on the beach! What's a girl to do? Then there's the weird happenings at the church and in the graveyard that I'm not even going to tell you about because I want them to be a surprise :) 

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. Syrenka and Hester had very different voices and ways of talking so it was easy to switch back and forth between their POVs, which is always a plus. The characters were compelling, the pace of the book was spot on, and I definitely recommend it to all lovers of YA mermaid tales :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, July 26, 2013

I've added my blog to Bloglovin!!

I've been a member of Bloglovin for a while now under my name, Julie Witt, but I've decided to add my blog to it so people can find me by searching for "In Julie's Opinion" as well. Apparently I have to add this text to my post in order to do this (<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/3596367/?claim=d4xwmrh9m4a">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>), so here goes nothing! Hopefully this will work (unfortunately, I'm rather computer illiterate), so wish me luck! :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: Crimson Rising (Skyship Academy #2), by Nick James


Title: Crimson Rising (Skyship Academy #2)
Author: Nick James
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "Our best-selling sci-fi series continues

Following their dramatic showdown in Seattle, Jesse Fisher and Cassius Stevenson find their world’s been turned inside out. The faculty at Skyship Academy is keeping Jesse a prisoner in his own home, fearful of his influence over Pearls. And Cassius, once a loyal Pearlhound for the Unified Party, has been pushed into hiding, fearful of his government's retaliation.

When Jesse smuggles a mysterious red Pearl onboard the Academy, he sets loose a destructive chain of events, which lead him to a reunion with Cassius and a confrontation with Theo -- a bloodthirsty Pearlhound with a dangerous secret. 
But a larger threat looms in the stars. An enemy is gathering, with plans to exterminate the entire human race. And Jesse and Cassius might just be the lynch pins that trigger mankind's destruction."

My Opinion: My opinion is very simple: I loved it!! What an awesome installment in what is becoming one of my favorite series! This book blends action, suspense, and science fiction perfectly!

In the Pearl Wars, we're introduced to a post-apocalyptic/dystopian society where sources of energy, or Pearls, are desperately needed, so when one comes down from space, the race is on to see who will find it first. Enter Jesse and Cassius, one working for the Skyship Academy and the other working for the Unified Party, who find out that they are brothers. We also find out that they are aliens, which really intrigued me. Now they are both trying to learn how to use their powers (Cassius burns from the inside and has a bad habit of catching rooms on fire without meaning to, and Jesse can open Pearls, which comes in handy in this destitute world where they are in such demand). They are both also on the run and separated from each other, so they each have their own exciting adventures in the book before they come together for what turns out to be a big showdown. 

I often find that sequels to books that I absolutely fall in love with aren't as good as the first, but that's not the case here. The writing was just as exciting, and the twists and turns that the story takes kept me on the edge of my seat! The characters, good and bad, are all well written, and the pacing is perfect. I honestly can't say who I like better, Jesse or Cassius, since I go back and forth all through the book, but I think that makes it all the more exciting! 

In summary, I absolutely loved this installment in the Skyship Academy series and recommend it to fans of action packed YA sci-fi stories. I'm giving it a very enthusiastic 5 stars :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Girl with the Iron Touch (Steampunk Chronicles #3), by Kady Cross


Title: The Girl with the Iron Touch (Steampunk Chronicles #3)
Author: Kady Cross
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads: "In 1897 London, something not quite human is about to awaken 

When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What's left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends' lives. 

With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke's sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him...and for Griffin. 

Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel's desolate alleyways to Mayfair's elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine. 

To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist's ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she's to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn't know she has...."

My Opinion: I was so excited when I got to read this book because Steampunk Chronicles is one of my favorite series, and I love Kady Cross's writing. I thought it tied things up nicely in most cases, but I felt bad for poor Jasper, one of my fave characters, who really didn't have much to do in this book and was just kind of hanging around. Fortunately, I got to see lots of Finley and Griffin, and Emily and Sam, with some awesome Jack Dandy thrown in for good measure, so I was a happy camper!

The gang has returned to England from their trip to and adventures in America, and everybody's trying to recuperate from that. Unfortunately, Griffin isn't doing too well, but he won't share what's going on with any of them, which really irks Finley. Emily and Sam are getting closer and are finally going to admit how they feel to one another when Emily is kidnapped, and the rest of them have to find her and bring her back, while keeping Sam under some control because he's totally losing it. 

Since I already told you how much I love this series, it's not surprising that I loved all of the characters, and enjoyed going back and visiting them again. The writing was, as usual, exciting and the pacing was perfect. I have to say that I am going to miss these guys a lot! 

I thought this was a good conclusion to the Steampunk Chronicles series and I give it an enthusiastic 5 stars. I  highly recommend it to fans of YA steampunk :D

I received a copy of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.