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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Title: Salvage
Author: Alexandra Duncan
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publishing House: Greenwillow
ISBN: 9780062220141
Source of Copy: Edelweiss


Ava is the captain's daughter. This allows her limited freedoms and a certain status in the Parastrata's rigid society - but it doesn't mean she can read or write or even withstand the forces of gravity. When Ava learns she is to be traded in marriage to another merchant ship, she hopes for the best. After all, she is the captain's daughter. Betrayal, banishment, and a brush with love and death are her destiny instead, and Ava stows away on a mail sloop bound for Earth in order to escape both her past and her future. 

The gravity almost kills her. 

Gradually recuperating in a stranger's floating cabin on the Gyre, a huge mass of scrap and garbage in the Pacific Ocean, Ava begins to learn the true meaning of family and home and trust - and she begins to nourish her own strength and soul.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary from Edelweiss)


While Ava thinks that she is forced to decide either between life and death after being caught with someone who was not after all her intended, it seems that the fates are in favor of Ava choosing life, but not without sacrifices. Born as the daughter of the ship's captain, Ava knows nothing of life outside the ship, and ergo, definitely nothing of life in another planet. Ava must learn to navigate the intricacies of daily life and understand the nuances of all that she's missing, if she wants to prove to others, but most especially to herself, her inner strength and worth.

Suffice to say, I really enjoyed Duncan's Salvage. It has ships, interplanetary galaxies, a heroine who despite being backhanded by life, struggles to find herself and her place in the world. Ava initially can't care much for others because life on the ship didn't exactly train her to know what to do, but she gradually learns and heals, and I just wanted to give her a hug for getting through all that.

I found myself surprised at a lot of points in the book, because I really didn't quite know what to expect. Last that I read the advance reader's copy summary of Salvage, it was just a paragraph with a lot of blanks and spaces to fill up. I really thought that there would be some revolutions here and there (It's the cover, you see) but you won't find any of that in here, which makes it kind of cleansing to the palate of the reader who's already way in over his/her head with government vs the people scenarios typically found in recent YA books. Salvage is just about a girl, who even if she appears to be in the most fortunate circumstances, is unfortunate enough to be treated as a pawn in a game of money and power. World-building is pretty great, and I had no problem reading this one as it did provide a lot of surmising and surprising. 

If you're in the mood for intergalactic revolutions and stuff, Salvage is not it. It's like a contemporary novel, except that it takes place in a very sci-fi environment, which is pretty cool like that. If you've had too much dystopian novels with conspiracies going on and fancy taking a break but still want to linger in the sci-fi environment (or if you want to check out Mumbai after the apocalypse and everything), pick this one and cheer on Ava who proves that we all learn and grow from our mistakes.


Monday, April 14, 2014

NICOLE'S REVIEW + Novel Nails #12: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Title: Perfect Ruin
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: October 1 2013
Publishing House: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781442480612
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows to never end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder - betrothed to the victim - but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find - or who she will lose.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads. )


Lauren DeStefano books always have amazing covers. Remember the Chemical Garden trilogy and their gorgeous book jackets? Those were damn pretty. So I guess it's safe to say I bought this book based on the cover alone - it was totally worth it, friends.

Recently I've been plagued with this really nasty reading slump, I started a lot of books but I couldn't finish them, and Perfect Ruin along with this other book was able to pull me from my funk. And I swear, after reading a slew of books that were 3 rainbows at best I was dying, deprived. I needed something good. Something that would make me want to paint my nails (4 rainbows pls omg). A book that I could read late into the night non-stop. This book was just what I needed. 

Morgan Stockhour lives on Internment - a floating island in the clouds where people are warned to stay away from the edge because the edge brings madness. Case in point: her brother. After he jumped, Morgan was determined to not follow in his footsteps although she has imagined what's there to see over the edge. When someone gets murdered and Morgan chances upon the supposed murderer - Judas - she can't help but investigate and the secrets she unveils reveals a darker side to her supposedly perfect society.

First off, what I really loved about Perfect Ruin was the world-building. DeStefano is not afraid of details and I love it. She has managed to build Internment to be equal parts interesting and foreboding. And as I read the book and learned all about Internment, which is fascinating by the way, I got this sense of something darker that lurks beneath it's seemingly pristine surface. I just love it when the world-building is done beautifully and I just want to say that DeStefano did a really, really, really good job with this one. 

What I couldn't help but adore, also, was the writing. It's so lyrical and poetic but doesn't come off as holier-than-thou and it doesn't sound forced. Now, I don't usually mark my books with post-its and the likes but I couldn't help it with Perfect Ruin. My copy is seriously overflowing with yellow post-its.

Characters. DeStefano has seriously great characters and before I get into Morgan and Basil - cue swooning - I just want to get into the side characters for a bit. Perfect Ruin has seriously well developed side characters and I like how the author manages to seamlessly integrate them into the story. I mean they're not for show and I found Morgan's relationship with every one of them - no matter how strained - so darn real. 

Morgan. She's a dreamer and her character starts off a little soft and naive. I mean I like headstrong, brash, uncouth characters and Morgan was a change of pace for me. It's hard not to feel for a character who's easy to relate to and just...real. I seriously adored her and Basil. He acts like this silent, giant pillar of support for Morgan. He's kind and good and protective and big and strong and....yeah. He's perfect. And, unlike other male YA characters who need girls to fall at their feet and act like a jerk to assert their dominance and alpha male status, Basil doesn't need all that. Perfection, right there.

Four rainbows! You guys don't know how good it feels to give another book four rainbows. I mean, awesome world-building, characters I couldn't help but adore and this plot that's all twisty and turny and how can I not like this book? You guys should really pick this one up.


"Novel Nails" is a feature of the blog that showcases nail art inspired by books and their covers. Nail art will be created by either Michelle or Nicole and will be featured alongside their reviews.

This books has such a pretty cover I couldn't resist doing nail art for it. 

Nail polish used:
Black: Orly Liquid Vinyl
White: acrylic paint
Red(for the undersides): China Glaze Salsa

Hardcovers are so pretty.

This is my thumb, I took inspiration from the gears and branches on the book jacket and painted it on my nail using a sakura brush and for the thinner lines I used a needle.

The rest of my nails. Gears and branches on my index, ring and pinkie. On my middle finger I have a lantern.

Do I match with the book?

Closer look at my index and middle fingers. Gears, branches and lanterns.

Another shot of my nails.

My nails with the book.

So for those of you who have long nails, have you ever painted on the undersides? I painted mine red so my nails don't feel so monochromatic.

Yes? No? Do I match with the book? What do you guys think?

For more book-related nail art considered checking out my instagram account @nicolereadsbooks and follow @thetwinsread to stay updated. Don't forget to tag us if you consider recreating this nail art or just nail art in general. I'm totes gonna fangirl over anything nail related.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: The Shadow Prince by Bree Despain

Title: The Shadow Prince
Author: Bree Despain
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Publishing House: Egmont USA
ISBN: 9781606842478
Source of Copy: Edelweiss


Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills Hugh - a haven for the rich and famous - Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High's prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father's mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn't the only student in Olympus who doesn't quite belong.

Haden and Daphne - destined for each other - know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers' lives collide. But Daphne won't be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended - he's fallen in love. Now to save themeselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.

(Image, summary and information courtesy of Goodreads)


All her life, Daphne Raines was safely ensconced by her overprotective mother, so when her estranged rockstar father rolls into her tiny Utah town, she jumps at the opportunity to expand her horizons. 

Haden Lord is the chosen one sent to Earth to restore the chaos in his world. Others before him have failed, but Haden is determined to find the right girl who can save them, if only to show his father up. When he meets Daphne Raines however, his determination wavers. Because if it turns out that Daphne can't save them, she'll be lost to him forever.

I almost always end up confusing this book with Kate Evangelista's Til Death (which I reviewed here). They're quite similar in a lot of ways, except Evangelista's novel carried more snark and interesting bits as opposed to this one. The Shadow Prince is by no means a thin book, so I found The Shadow Prince to be an exceptionally loooooooong novel (500+ pages aside), if only because I didn't care for any of the characters, nor did I care for the plot, ditto the romance which played a hugely annoying part. Haden is all skulk and gloom so it's not really surprising that Daphne just wants to stay away from him and his inopportune knack of showing up at the wrong places at the wrong times. Daphne is just plain forgettable. Is it also weird that I didn't particularly like the mythological names of the setting? It just felt a bit cheesy and overdone to me, as it kept on reminding me that yo, this is a mythology-inspired book, in case you forgot.

I sloughed through The Shadow Prince to see if it would get better, and it did... marginally. The ending was a bit better than I expected, but as I've just confirmed, mythology-inspired books just aren't for me, and The Shadow Prince did not dissuade me from this. 

"So why bother reading this in the first place?!" you might argue. Well, I was really curious, and I wanted to know if this was the book that could nudge me into the way of mythology.

If you're not much into mythology (like me, as it turns out), then you won't bother with this one. But if you're into mythology... I wouldn't say I'd recommend it either. The Shadow Prince carried far too many sulky teenagers and ho-hum scenes than I'd like in my books.