In 1983, when a teen boy is found dead, emptied of blood, Oskar, 12, hopes revenge has come at last against all the school bullies who harass him. More important is the new girl next door. Eli has never seen a Rubik’s cube, but solves it at once. They become friends and more. Something is wrong with her, and she only comes out at night.
The day Iris Beaumont turns seventeen, she is threatened to be taken by the Beasts, the rulers of the new America. After the destruction of the world, the Beasts provide citizens with whatever they need in exchange for the one teenage girl they enslave every week. They call them the Brides, and they never comes back. Iris isn’t the worrying type though; she’s been defying the system since she was ten and never cared for the Beast’s rules.
Then she meets Colton Ray, who is not like any other boy she’s ever seen. His confidence and dominance are otherworldly she can’t rationalize the attraction she feels for him. Colton had one slight problem though. It’s rumored he is one of the Beast, and Iris could be the next on the Beast’s list.
I hate myself. Do you know why? Because I was supposed to write the review for this book a week ago. No, not because I was on a deadline, but because I loved it so much that I should have written the review immediately, when my impressions and emotions were fresh. On the other hand, maybe it is better that I’m reviewing it now. I might actually be able to explain why it was such a good read. Anyway, first things first: I started reading it at about 8 PM, I read one or two chapters, then I took a break because I was supposed to finish some work, and then I picked it up again, and I stayed awake until 3 AM because I couldn’t put it down. That’s right. I couldn’t go to bed and wait a couple of hours to continue the story. I had to find out how it ended right then.
The action takes place in a dystopian world, where people live in a city made of metal, in a country called the Second United States. The Second is ruled by the Beasts, who, it seems, have saved the Earth from destruction, and now they keep everyone safe by watching them from above, their space ships looming over the city just out of people’s sight. In exchange for their protection, the Beasts demand that one seventeen-year-old girl is sent to them every one or two weeks. The girl becomes a Bride for the Beasts, and she is never seen again. Iris Beaumont is one of the few who dare to speak against the Beasts. She often breaks the rules, she skips school, and, once in a while, she goes beyond the Great Wall to see the Ruins of the world that was, and practice her secret hobby – Pentimento.
Iris is very easy to like as a character. She is curious, she’s not willing to take everything as it is, and she’s constantly looking for answers. She is the only one who is brave enough to defy the Beasts, and when her best friend, Zoe, is taken by them, she is ready to do absolutely anything to save her. She doesn’t even care that by rebelling against the Beasts she won’t be able to see Colton anymore, the boy she is in love with. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always liked the characters that don’t consider love the most important thing in the world. When so much is at stake, Iris knows that hiding in Colton’s arms and enjoying the short time she can still spend with him is not an option.
Of course, it’s Cameron Jace’s style to introduce a huge twist when you least expect it. Because it’s not the first book I’ve read by him, I was sure something like that would happen, and somehow I was ready. Still, he did it in a very clever way. Practically, you realize what’s actually happening when you reach the last two or three pages. Until then, you can’t be quite sure.
The ending was what I liked best about Pentimento. I thought it was perfect. Once again, Iris’s actions prove she has a strong personality, and that she will never let herself influenced by anyone. Compared to Zoe, Iris stands her ground even when she understands that things have always been completely upside down. She will never give up on her beliefs, and, most importantly, she will never accept anyone’s pity, something that all the other girls who were turned into Brides did.
At the end of the book the author says that his intention was for Pentimento to be a stand-alone, thinking that it doesn’t need a sequel. To some extent, I believe the ending was perfect, and a second book might ruin the whole thing if it’s not done properly. But, on the other hand, I would love to read more about Iris and what she’ll do now that she knows the truth. I sense a nice love triangle, one that would probably develop in a good way, not in a cheesy, clichéd way as it does in most YA novels. So, yes, I do want a sequel! I am ok with open endings, really. But this one is too open. It demands a sequel!
After his grandfather dies, avid scholar and budding forensic investigator Cí Song begrudgingly gives up his studies to help his family. But when another tragedy strikes, he’s forced to run and also deemed a fugitive. Dishonored, he has no choice but to accept work as a lowly gravedigger, a position that allows him to sharpen his corpse-reading skills. Soon, he can deduce whether a person killed himself—or was murdered.
His prowess earns him notoriety, and Cí receives orders to unearth the perpetrator of a horrific series of mutilations and deaths at the Imperial Court. Cí’s gruesome investigation quickly grows complicated thanks to old loyalties and the presence of an alluring, enigmatic woman. But he remains driven by his passion for truth—especially once the killings threaten to take down the Emperor himself.
Inspired by Song Cí, considered to be the founding father of CSI-style forensic science, this harrowing novel set during the thirteenth-century Tsong Dynasty draws readers into a multilayered, ingenious plot as disturbing as it is fascinating.
In 2012, The Corpse Reader received the Zaragoza International Prize for best historical novel published in Spain (Premio Internacional de Novela Histórica Ciudad de Zaragoza).
The ancient powers lost to Potara have returned. The Brotherhood of the Black Rose rises to bring Thoth into disorder. And, while the Brotherhood reclaims their power, chaos reigns among the survivors. Six individuals have emerged from the aftermath struggling for control over their lives and a divided land. Kem and Shirin, who abolished the five thousand year reign of the Amun Priests, rule from the golden throne of the Oracle’s Chair in the Hall of the Nine. Dio and Axios struggle to piece together a resistance worthy to challenge the ancient magic which resides in the Great Temple of Amun, and Leoros and Atlantia try to remain true to their hearts and their cause despite tragedy.
But when the Book of Breathings is discovered, the path to immortality is revealed. Leoros and Kem race to capture the Soul of the World unaware of the challenges awaiting them. This time, the gods themselves will intervene.
In a tale where boys become men and girls become women, where treachery and deception are around every corner, and where primeval mysticism finds its way back from the grave, victory is reserved for neither the good nor the evil, but the powerful.
Just like in the first book, Joshua Silverman amazes the reader with the complexity of the world and mythology he created. I found the first few chapters fascinating thanks to the history behind The Brotherhood of the Black Rose, and the whole process of becoming a god. In the first book, Leoros thought he killed Kem, but Shirin saved him, and now they have been ruling over Thoth for two years. Because Kem has been chosen by the Staff of Hermes, the Brotherhood brings him the Book of Breathings, which contains the secret to immortality. If Kem obtains the power of a god, then Potara is lost forever. And, to make things worse, Leoros is trapped on Earth – an orphan thought crazy because of his stories about Potara, who cannot find a way of going back to his friends. Amazing premise, right?
As I said, the author’s writing has improved greatly. The characters are more complex and realistic, and they grow with every chapter. The book is better structured than the first one, each chapter focusing on one character. Unfortunately, in my opinion, not all of them had something to say. My heart was with Leoros and Atlantia when I read their points of view, but the other ones… they just made the action drag, with some exceptions. I’m not very fond of Shirin, but in her case I am perfectly aware it’s just me. I think many people will find her interesting and intriguing. She’s strong, determined, and so dark – I’ll give her that. If I were to choose between her and Kem, I’d always choose her. She is a driving force compared to weak Kem, who always seems to do what he’s told. So, why is Kem pushed to the front? I understand he needed a point of view because he is a main character and he’s the one who goes after the Air of the Gods, but other than that, he didn’t say much to me.
On to the other points of view: Dio and Axios. I loved Dio in the first book, but in the second one she was such a disappointment. Yes, I get it: that was the whole point – to see her defeated. When she failed to stop Kem, her pride was so wounded that she became an alcoholic. And I say “pride” because I didn’t feel like Dio was hurting because some of her friends died, or because Shirin and Kem are now terrorizing Thoth, or because Leoros is gone. No. She was hurting because she had lost her self-respect. As much as I loved Dio in the first book, in the second one she was pathetic and nothing more. Somehow, I felt that for her everything was about herself. Every chapter that was focused on her was just emphasizing that, and not once did I feel sorry for what she had become. I swear I was like: “Woman, pull yourself together, and if you can’t, just get out of the book because your self-doubt, self-pity, and lack of self-respect are getting old.”
Axios… well, all I can say is that Axios is a good guy and he deserves much more than what he got in this book. I admire him for never giving up on Dio.
What else can I say about The Soul of the World? The first two or three chapters pulled me into the story, I loved Atlantia’s and Leoros’ points of view, and somewhere during the second half of the book the action picked up enough to make me read more at once. I’m waiting for the third book in the series, hoping that the characters will be more likeable this time.
“You look very confused when I say I’m just trying to help these lost souls make their way to Heaven,” he said. “The reason you’re confused is that you think I’m speaking metaphorically. Well, my dear friend, take it very literally. You see, I may have introduced myself as Asmodeus, but let me run off a few of my more well known aliases. Now, let’s see, we have Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Bafomet, Iblis, The Fallen One, Lucifer, The Morning Star, Lord of the Dark, The Devil, oh and my favorite; Satan.”Face to face with Satan, Michael has awoken in the bowels of Hell with no memory of who he is, or why he has been damned. Hell, however, isn’t what he expected. Rather than the fires of torment, he finds a hedonistic city of gambling, sex, murder and revenge. With the Devil as his guide, Michael embarks on a quest of self-discovery and self redemption. But will he get a second chance at salvation? And why is Satan helping him?Hellbound is a contemporary view of Hell, exploring today’s idea of sin and religion, through witty dialogue and bursts of descriptive prose. Dark, funny and philosophical.
Disclosure: My copy was offered by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Now… why did I wait so much time to read this novel? I read it in two sittings, which says a lot about how much a liked it. I think I should turn this into a criterion after which I rate my reads – how many times I had to pick up the book until I finished it. If I read it in one or two sittings, then it deserves a 5-compasses review. More than three sittings… oh well. It might get difficult with books that have more than 400 pages.
Back to Hellbound! I liked it way more than I expected to like it. By the end of it, I realized I liked it more than I had expected to like it after going through the first half. It was just getting better, and I loved how everything was wrapped up. Let me try to explain. First of all, Tim Hawken showed a lot of imagination and creativity in building his vision of Hell. I must admit I was a bit concerned at first that Hell would end up drowned in clichés, but it didn’t happen. I liked the author’s idea of Heaven, Hell, and the Creation. The fact that Hell is a place destined to the rehabilitation of corrupted souls was interesting and unique. The “system” the author imagined made every bit of sense, and I liked that my questions about it were answered in the end. The Devil’s city is the perfect image of fun, sin, debauchery, and total freedom to do as one pleases. It’s not a surprise that many souls fall even deeper into sin, surrender to it, and become demons. However, the Devil has a weapon that helps him make sure Hell doesn’t become overcrowded: The Guilt. Every hour, the souls are torn apart by their guilt, and are forced to remember the terrible things they did on Earth. This torture makes them regret their sins, obtain forgiveness, and eventually go to Heaven.
The main character is Michael, an ex-fighter who ends up in Hell after being killed by a God fanatic. But I can’t say I liked Michael that much. Actually, my favorite character was the Devil. That may be because I’m always curious to see how authors depict the Devil, and I was glad to see that Tim Hawken made him a fun, witty, and tricky character. He helps Michael get revenge, but, of course, he has his own agenda. It was great to follow this character and try to guess what he really wanted. I mean, yes, he obviously wanted to find out God’s secret and throw him off his throne (he even said so), but I could feel there was more than that.
I usually take notes when I read a book and a certain thing draws my attention. For instance, in the second half of the book I was annoyed that the Devil was contradicting himself. One moment he says that he hates God for trapping him in Hell and that God created humans for his own amusement, and the next he says that God is love, and His love and forgiveness are what truly make life on Earth matter. I mean… what?! Bipolar much? Oh yes, and he had a good reason for it! This is one of the things I loved most about this book: every detail made sense, even those that didn’t at first.
I can’t wait to read the next books in the trilogy. I hope they are at least as good as the first one. If I didn’t know what to expect from Hellbound, now I sure know what to expect from I Am Satan and Deicide.
Once Upon A Time…Is how the fairy tales go. But this is no child’s story.This is the tale of Edward Cordwainer, dissatisfied with his position as a lowly shoemaker in the remote village of Houndstooth. Then one night during a surprise erotic encounter, Edward makes a wish to become the most famous man in all the Kingdom.When his wish is granted, Edward experiences wealth greater than he could ever imagine, a lascivious relationship with the Princess and renown throughout the Kingdom.But magic is a tricky lover.The more Edward takes for himself, the more darkness he inflicts upon his wife, his lovers, and the townspeople of Houndstooth. As his one simple wish threatens to destroy his world, Edward must choose between his carnal desires and saving his soul.
After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll’s paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland’s real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamonds, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science.