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Mandafofanda Reads Lots

The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no?

And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?
Doesn't that make life a story?

- Yann Martel, Life of Pi

The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard #3) by Scott Lynch

The Republic of Thieves  - Scott Lynch

Mr. Lynch, you have me thoroughly captured by your humour, your writing, your characters and your awe-inspiring imagination regarding the complex cultures in the world of the Gentlemen Bastards.

The Lies of Locke Lamora introduced me to this merry band of thieves, both making me crack up and breaking my heart in turn, Red Seas Over Red Skies solidified the true bromance that is Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen, and The Republic of Thieves now introduced the long-awaited character of Sabetha, the Rose of Camorr to Locke's Thorn.

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The Dream Thieves - Maggie Stiefvater
"In that moment, Blue was a little in love with all of them. Their magic. Their quest. Their awfulness and strangeness. Her raven boys."
First Grave on the Right - Darynda Jones Hilarious one-liners? Totally. But, at the end of the day... that was kind of all this book had.
Untold - Sarah Rees Brennan Oi! Relationship drama galore! Disappointing that the minor flaws in the first book were magnified here, so that while there are still the laugh out loud moments, the book overall didn't stand up to my expectations.
The Dream Thieves - Maggie Stiefvater

Ok, my New. Favourite. Ongoing. Series.

Also, if I read into a couple statements right, the best subtle reveal I've read since Hannah Moskowitz's Teeth.

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor - Lucy Christopher The awkward moment when I put a kidnapping story in my "travel-i-want" shelf...

But, god, those descriptions of a desolate Australian landscape far from the noise and chaos of society and surrounded by the serenity of the wilderness are so gorgeous that it did make me wish I was there.

Which is supremely messed up, I know.

[b:Stolen: A Letter to My Captor|6408862|Stolen A Letter to My Captor|Lucy Christopher|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1311064295s/6408862.jpg|6597789] was a lovely surprise and an emotional and captivating read.

What I expected from this book prior to reading:
- a romantic take on kidnapping
- a naive, innocent girl
- some Stockholm Syndrome
the first two points above contributing to my skepticism of liking this book.

What I got:
- beautiful writing
- a very real and relatable girl
- a boy that I empathized with more than I hated
- a hint of "romance" I have mixed feelings for
- a perfect ending

This book isn't one romanticizing kidnapping. It's about a girl's emotional struggle with surviving her circumstances. It's about the cruelties and harshness of urban living. It's about beauty in a rugged terrain. It's about the blurred line between empathizing (what she sees) and being manipulated (what others see). This book screws with your head because you go in thinking something then come out questioning what is right. And that's why I love it.

The Tied Man

The Tied Man - Tabitha McGowan I wish I loved this book more than I ended up doing, because it turned out to be a lot more than I expected. With richly drawn characters, a slow-building friendship and a truly horrifying situation that didn't simply feel like a shock factor, there's a lot more to this book than its cover and blurb make it seem. Lilith and Finn are two of my favourite protagonists, with her confidence and fierceness, and his sense of humour and enduring will to survive. This book has every emotion tinged with heartbreak, because with every laugh or smile or awww-moment, there's that sadness from the situation these characters are in, and their utter helplessness to change anything.

So what do I wish was done better? First of all, the richly-drawn characters I mentioned above are strictly the "good guys", the ones you're rooting for. The "villains" of the story (Blaine, Coyle, all the other "guests") are simply drawn as EVIL. And McGowan doesn't hold back on the amount of horrific and sadistic characteristics to endow on these characters, but I wish that we could've seen a bit more complexity to them. Secondly, there were a few throwaway lines here and there throughout Finn and Lilith's narrations where they speak as though reflecting back from some time in the future. It wasn't something like every couple paragraphs or chapters or so. It was like three or four sentences in the entire book. And each time it felt odd and awkward since the rest of the time you feel strictly in the present. Finally, I feel that the ending was a bit too neat and happy to fit with the grittiness of the rest of the book. I'm not saying that they deserved their HEA, because, by god, they do, but I felt that a bittersweet or won-with-losses or just something to show the lasting consequences from what they went through would fit better with the overall tone of the book.

Fearscape (Horrorscape)

Fearscape - Nenia Campbell I found this to be kind of like [b:Twilight|41865|Twilight (Twilight, #1)|Stephenie Meyer|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361039443s/41865.jpg|3212258] without the doe eyes and sparkles (elaborating on that a bit - I meant that in a good way, where the creeping and staring and stalking isn't terribly romanticized).

In the end, I wanted to like this a lot more, but I just felt constantly annoyed by Val's naiveté, and the only character that intrigued and interested me was Gavin. Loved the dark ending to this story, but unfortunately most everything leading up to it was meh.
The Adults - Alison Espach Really hilarious observations and dialogue, but the plot was too meandering and felt incomplete. I probably would read this again and like it better, though!
Omens - Kelley Armstrong If you love Kate Daniels, you'll love this book. I'm a sucker for the animosity-turned-reluctant-allies-turned-eventual-mutual-respect story.

So excited to continue this series!
The Rules for Disappearing - Ashley Elston I really liked the beginning, with the whole moving-to-a-small-town-and-hiding-your-identity thing. But it was a bit of a romance that escalated too quickly, plot twists that I correctly guessed about early on that it was actually her fault and not her father's, Agent Thomas, a lack of emotional resonance and then the whole teens can do this better than the FBI! thing that killed it for me.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - April Genevieve Tucholke Honestly, I wish that River had stayed that creepy psychopathic character he was at the beginning. I kept wondering if he was casting some sort of spell over Violet to make her always be so drawn to him. And yeah, I was paying attention when Neely(?) mentioned the other siblings so I had an inkling that there was someone else wreaking the havoc.
Going Under - S. Walden This book contains one of the most terrifying scenes that I've ever read, and would never want to reread again, ever. But I'm glad that the author decided to include it in this book, and write it in a realistic and respectful way.

Just had to put that up there because that's something that really hit me painfully after reading this book. But while this book doesn't shy away from grittiness, there is also an uncovering of a mystery, a sweet romance and a story of self-redemption that balances the darkness.

There is a lot of this book that I fell in love with. The not-always-so-slick sleuthing. The protagonist's determination and drive. The multi-dimensional cast of secondary characters (Terry! Gretchen! Her father! Lucy!) The totally swoon-worthy love interest Ryan whom I would've been devastated to discover was one of the rapists (I had this tension for half the book dreading that reveal). The funny banter between friends.

I liked that the villains of this book never felt flat. They were evil, yes, but humanly evil (ultimately scarier). They can also all die slow and painful deaths.

I felt that Walden took a very difficult subject and made a thoughtful, respectful, emotionally realistic and well-written story. I couldn't put it down and I'm glad that I read it, but it's one of those books where I loathe to recommend because of the pain and terror I felt while reading it that I'd want to spare people I care about.
The Assassin and the Princess - Sarah J. Maas An interesting beginning and entertaining heroine quickly drew me in, but the incomplete worldbuilding and non-mystery took away from the overall book. The banter is fun though!

Celaena is an intriguing character. She's a "world-famous" assassin and she's haughty, arrogant, and likes to tease and rile those around her. Within the first couple chapters, with her relentless tormenting of the stoic Captain Chaol, she had more or less won me over. But if you're looking for a glimpse into the mind of an assassin, this isn't that book. There were multiple times in the story that I was seriously questioning her skills. Like, if there is a murderer going around and you wake up with a giant bag of candy next to you, you aren't going to be cautious about gorging yourself at all? And how on earth do you constantly fall asleep around people or get snuck up on?

What this book has is a fun light read with banter and swoon factor, with a sprinkling of action sequences.

I really wish Maas had taken out all of Lady Kaltain's viewpoints, though. I don't think it added anything of value to the story and just served to emphasize how much of a social-climbing.. ahem.. girl she was.

And oh Chaol, you're adorable.
Swim the Fly - Don Calame Oh, I remember that summer - the one where I was desperate to see a real live naked girl! Oh wait, no, I was never a hormonal teenage boy.

This book made me laugh, and cringe, and laugh and cringe (craugh? linge?). Also, made me kind of glad that I was never a teenage boy. Though, looking back at the crazy antics this trio got up to, the stories would make awesome "Remember when..?"'s to craugh about later in life.
Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier, Sally Beauman I hoped that I would like this book more, as it's a much-loved classic and favourite of many. Unfortunately, though the characters are creepily fascinating (especially Mrs. Danvers), and the writing wonderfully atmospheric, I only got really interested in the plot at approximately the 3/4 point once Maxim confessed to having killed Rebecca. After that point, there was twist after twist after reveal after reveal and multiple character revelations that made the book un-put-down-able until the end.