Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Dance of Cloaks (Shadowdance #1) by David Dalglish

17669067This review was written by: C
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: October 2015
Pages: 448
Stars: 3.5/5

Summary of the Story:

"That is the power you must one day command. Let them think every breath of theirs is a gift, not from the gods, but from you. Do this, and you will become a god among them." ~Thren Felhorn, A Dance of Cloaks

Aaron Felhorn lives in a world filled with murder, mayhem, deceit, and darkness. His father, Thren Felhorn, is the most feared man alive. He is the greatest assassin his time has ever seen, and he commands most of Veldaren's underworld. He will stop at nothing to bring the Trifect, a group of filthy rich noblemen, from continuing their reign of wealth and control. He is utterly prepared to unite every thief guild under his command, and he is almost finished with turning his son into the perfect heir, a killer that the world will fear. However, even the greatest schemes never work out as planned.

Aaron must choose sides and decide whether he wants to become the head of his father's criminal empire that was built upon Thren's trail of rotting corpses or choose his own fate. He will learn that every action has its own consequence and that the paths of darkness and light are never quite clear. Aaron's fate will lead him down a road filled with harrowing obstacles, making him learn that redemption may be just out of reach.

My Thoughts:

First off, I have to say that Dalglish completely built a believable and stunning fantasy world fully equipped with its owns religion, systems of power, a stunning society, and a maniacal underworld. Thren and the various thief guilds actually kind of remind me of Assassin's Creed, especially when I first saw the cover of A Dance of Cloaks. The various thief guilds are pretty interesting, too because they are all  killing machines, but they often bicker, only fight for themselves, and are perfectly content with taking one another out to increase their power. Dalglish also formulated a great storyline. His characters were believable, and he gave each one of them interesting morals, perspectives, and skills.

I would have to say, however, that this book was not one of my top favorites mostly due to the fact that I felt that it took me a little too long to actually read it. Perhaps it was because I did not have a lot of time to read while I was tying to finish this book. This made it a bit frustrating to get very far in the story just in one sitting. I also felt that the beginning was a bit slow because it had to lead up to Aaron's current life, but Dalglish had to first establish a bit of Aaron's early childhood in order to establish this character as Thren's heir. 

I do have to commend Dalglish on his ability to write great fight scenes. Some authors have trouble writing action scenes.  They can often become confusing. Dalglish did fairly well with this aspect of the story, creating an in depth criminal underworld of blood and gore. I do have to warn you that this book is not for the lighthearted. It is filled with blood, guts, murder, and all the characteristics associated with struggles for power. Overall, I did enjoy the character of Aaron, but it took a while for him to grow on me. I definitely wish he had been older. This novel is meant for mature audiences, therefore I thought it was a bit strange that the main character was thirteen. But then again, this may have been done to stress the fact that a child could be a harrowing and deadly individual in a world of criminals. It also drew the audience to a character whose innocence had been lost at an extremely early age and who had been groomed to fill a position that he may not have truly desired to fill. 

Aaron had quite a bit of internal conflict. He committed murder before the age of ten and he was groomed to be a fierce assassin that would one day fill his father's shoes. You definitely end up feeling a deep sadness for a character that has a disastrous path chosen for him, especially when that character is only a child. I believe that I will eventually finish this series and am excited that Aaron is much older in the next book. Perhaps more dark themes will be further explored, and I am curious where David Dalglish will take Aaron's story.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga


This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: February 2015
Pages: 302
Stars: 5/5

Official Summary:
A stunning novel about the transformative power of love, perfect for fans of Jay Asher and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death.  With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There's only one problem.  She's not sure she has the courage to do it alone.  But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel's convinced she's found her solution - Roman, a teenage boy who's haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner.  Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other's broken lives.  But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it.  Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.  Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.  

This is a gorgeously written and compulsively readable novel about the transformative power of love, heralding the arrival of an extraordinary new voice in teen fiction, Jasmine Warga.

My Review:
Something inside me clicks.  It's like I've spent my whole life fiddling with a complicated combination only to discover I was toying with the wrong lock.  And now, the vault inside of me that contains all my secrets is swinging open and I feel this rush of blood swell in my chest.

My Heart and Other Black Holes is part beautiful, part sorrowful, and most importantly, part hopeful.  Overflowing with heart, pain, honesty, and truth, Warga weaves an expert tale that no one would be able to guess was her debut.  It's fear.  It's bravery.  It's love.    

While I have never faced depression nor have known anyone with it, it is still a very real and heartbreaking condition that can consume one's existence or overtake a life.  This novel, in my opinion, possesses an extremely real element that, while reading, made me believe that Aysel was a real person.  Her feelings and thoughts overwhelmed my own.  Frighteningly genuine and authentic, her voice rang out to me and traveled through the pages into my heart.  I believed every word she said.  The darkness inside Aysel was real, a "black slug" that she never imagined she could escape.  Her depression was eye-opening, and Warga wrote each and every word found in  My Heart and Other Black Holes sincerely. 

I frequently felt myself feeling intense emotions towards not only Ayself but also towards Roman.  Their stories were profound, taking over my every waking moment.  This book literally consumed me for the two days that I read it.  Both tragic and touching, I can't possibly fathom how Warga's novel could be more perfect.  It's not just about suicide and depression, though.  In fact, this novel is so much more than that.  It's about living for one's self and for others.  It's about trying to see yourself and the world in a completely new and brighter perspective.  It's about love, family, and discovering what it means to live again even though it seems impossible.

I will be stronger than my sadness.

I have never read a book that left me with such strong feelings of optimism, faith, and hope by the end of it.  Warga knows how to make an ending count.  I cannot recall how many times I fell in love with a book only to become deeply disappointed with its ending, inevitably resulting in me "breaking up" with it.  However, I was completely satisfied with My Heart and Other Black Holes's outcome.  I actually sat there and contemplated what I had read for once.  I wasn't even eager to start something else because I knew I would be disappointed with whatever book was placed in my hands after reading this masterpiece. 

I don't know how to thoroughly convey my feelings about Warga's novel without consistently rambling on some more; so, I'll leave you by saying that this book embodies hope.  I actually feel optimistic.  On top of that, her writing is beautiful and deep and her characters are realistically painful yet magnificent.  I highly recommend this book, and I'm eagerly waiting to see what Jasmine Warga puts out next!!!!    

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