Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cliche Much? Haven't We Seen that Before?

Crooked Smile? Check. Love Triangle? Check. Angels/Vampires? Check. Forbidden Love? Check. The list goes on, but only stops short to repeat itself. We've all been critical of it, the cliches, the "Haven't we seen this before?", the "Sigh. Not this again." response. As a book reviewer, I've always rolled my eyes at the fact that, not again, a vampire who tries to be good and send his girl away (Haven=Twilight) or the love triangle, where another boy is left behind as third wheel, pining for his love of another girl. Believe me, not only these cliches come up in books, but in Korean dramas, or any other dramas/TV shows for the matter. There's the rich boy who's a snob, (Chuck in Gossip Girls & Go Jyun Po in Boys Over Flowers), but then changes for the better because of a girl, who's usually poor. But then, oh no, here comes the past lover or the best friend who's left  behind. 

But I want to bring it to the fact, can we really blame the author for not being creative enough to think of new ideas? While working on a project for social change for a social entrepreneurship activity, I realized how a lot of my ideas were just "reinventions of the wheels" and it was extremely difficult to think of an innovative idea that was out of nowhere.

I don't think it can be justified that a book can be 'bad' or it can be justified in blaming the author for just copying the trends of teen novels. It's very rare do I come across a book that I think is original and has a plot or a character that I've never seen before. The nuances and the delivery of the characters are the factors that determine the book's quality or not. Take Demonglass for example. We've seen the forbidden love thing (enemies as lovers), the magic (Harry Potter), the burgeoning love triangle, witches, warlocks, vampires, werewolves. But what made me love this book was the humor and the characterization. How the author delivered the growing romance and created the suspense with the plot. 

Sorry for the ranting :(. I just wanted to express my opinions and say that even though I may slip up sometimes in my reviews, by mentioning I'm exhausted by the constant vampire fighting or the sympathy for the poor best friend, I only blame them for its depiction, not for its ideas. What are your responses to the growing number of cliches?  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In My Mailbox (19) + Movie News

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie.

From The Library (Reading)
  • Strings Attached by Judy Blundell (I read her other book and it was a departure from the normal and I like the book. So far, this story is really intriguing with the historical time travel.)
And I know you're thinking, ugh, another Hunger Games movie news? Well I just had to put this out there, but they finished the casting for all the tributes (below). I wish I can say I'm super excited, but I can't with the main casting all gone wrong in my opinion. But I'm getting interested with all the tributes (last one cast was District 2, and I think they both look great in my opinion. But...the person playing Cato looks too nice. Maybe he should have played Peeta?)

(Almost) Summer & (Almost) Blogosversary Giveaway

To thank all of my followers for sticking with me, even if I disappear without a trace for many months, I'm hosting a belated blogoversary giveaway (or an it's almost the end of school year giveaway.) I have a lot of books that are sitting on my bookshelf that I hope others can find joy in and read. Some of them are ARCs and others are finished copies. Thanks again to all my loyal followers and readers and please expect more of me during the summer. (More time to read books). Also, I've done a little renovation in the site, but there's still going to be a lot more done in the few months so please expect more :)

Official Rules:
  • Open to only US residents (Sorry international readers.)
  • 1 Winner (Winner chooses from list of book.)
  • Ends Friday, June 3 (11:59 PM EST)
  • Fill out form below to enter
List of Books
  • Impossible by Nancy Werlin
  • Drought by Pam Bachorz
  • Death Cloud by Andrew Lane
  • Slice of Cherrt by Dia Reeves
  • Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting on Wednesdays (14)-Series Edition

So this is what happens when you get off blogging for a couple of months. A bunch of new book covers that make you cry because they're so beautiful. Probably most of these already came out ages ago and I'm lagging behind, but they all were absolutely stunning and just made me want to cry more because I have to wait so long, that I did a series editions of Waiting on Wednesdays, inspired by Breaking the Spine.

Title: Silence (Hush, Hush #3)
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Release Date: October 4, 2011

The noise between Patch and Nora is gone. They've overcome the secrets riddled in Patch's dark past...bridged two irreconcilable worlds...faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust...and all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth. Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they've worked for—and their love—forever.

Title: Hades (Halo #2)
Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Release Date: August 30, 2011

Even the love of her boyfriend, Xavier Woods, and her archangel siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, can’t keep the angel Bethany Church from being tricked into a motorcycle ride that ends up in Hell. There, Jake Thorn bargains for Beth’s release back to Earth. But what he asks of her will destroy her, and quite possibly her loved ones as well. Can he be trusted in this wager? And what does Jake have Xavier believing about Beth’s fate that may result in an act of betrayal that will leave Bethany – and readers – wondering if Xav is so good after all?

Title: Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2)
Author: Ally Carter
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners. 

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed. 

Title: Crossed (Matched #2)
Author: Ally Condie
Release Date: November 1, 2011

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door (Companion to Anna and the French Kiss)
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: September 29, 2011

For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous, the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.

When the family returns and Cricket—a gifted inventor and engineer—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Demonglass Review

Title: Demonglass
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Published Date: March 2011

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?


Have you ever had that experience when you’re starving and you land your eyes on a piece of chocolate? You tell yourself, I’m going to savor it and take a slow time eating because I’m going to regret it. But when you take that first bite…you can’t resist and devour it, leaving you happy for a second until you realize that you’re still hungry.

Well instead of chocolate, imagine secrets at every taste, romance and hot kisses at every bite, humor and sarcasm at every savor, and hot boys, loyal friend, a blossoming (and humorous) father-daughter relationship. Yep, it just got 100 times more intense.

Sophie Mercer travels to London with her best friend, Jenna, and Cal to visit her father to not only learn how to control her power and demon nature, but also to learn of the burgeoning and grave problems facing the Council. As Sophie learns about the formidable and foreboding power of The Eye, the rising demons, her family history, she can’t face her heartache for Archer.

I thought I had loved Hex Hall and its humor, but Sophie’s humorous and sarcastic comments literally made me laugh out loud (in the library, where a few people looked at me strangely). Her relationship with her father, as she starts to build an emotional connection and learns to accept him was beautifully delivered, without any awkwardness or melodramatic tears. Their relationship was always lively and you could see it grow (even with a hint at another romance with Sophie’s parents) without feeling corny.
He snorted. “She once put me out by the side of the road in Scotland because I made a completely harmless joke about her map-reading skills.”
“Mm-hmm. Had to walk nearly five bloody kilometers before she stopped to let me back in.”
“Dude. Mom is hard-core.”
The secrets from every chapter, every page puts you into the action so much and didn’t make you bored at any moment. And the cliffhanger at the end, of course they had to do it, but bloody hell! How I am going to wait another year for the third installment!

And of course, Archer. Archer, Archer, Archer. Could someone please just transport me to a Hogwarts like place, somewhere preferably with a guy like Archer? No, no, no…a guy EXACTLY like Archer? Archer does come into the second half of the novel, but not before Hawkins introduces another rival and (in my opinion, another cute couple, Daisy and Nick). And the romance, kisses just made me beg for more (of their cute relationship and hilarious banter).
“She was my assignment”
“From the Eye?”
“No, from the Boy Scouts. That Witch Dating badge just kept eluding me.”
Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5 (Loved the new characters, Nick and Daisy. I really hope we see them again in the next book. Jenna was absolutely brilliant with her depth and complications.)
Cover: 4.5/5

The cover is similar in design with Hex Hall, but the contrast is absolutely stunning. The chaos, with the fire and the two different personalities was portrayed so well, in addition to the beautiful model that really looks like Sophie in my mind.

Overall: 5/5

I've seen some reviews that criticized Demonglass for being too cliche or following other novels, but even though there are similarities to other novels, Hawkin's delivery of it with her characters, which were developed thoroughly, humor, romance, and the mystery element spun Demonglass to a beautiful and hilarious novel, remind me yet again, how much more exciting life would be in going to a Hogwarts-like school.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Author Interview: Amanda Brice (Codename)

I'm so glad to welcome Amanda Brice today to discuss her new debut teen novel, Codename, which was published about a month ago. I haven't had the chance to read it yet, but I absolutely cannot wait to. But without further ado, a million thanks to Amanda Brice for the interview, who will talk about her transition to YA novels from adult romance novels, experience in participating in a ballroom dance competition, and penchant for Grease.

Describe the synopsis of your new book as if you were writing a recipe.

Add one part dancing to one part suspense, and add in a dash of romance. Stir well!

What was your inspiration for your new book?

When I was a kid, I used to write stories about a cool crime-solving chick named Nancy Flew who had this hot boyfriend named Ted Tickleson. Yeah, not so original. But...

Have you ever wanted to be a celebrity or a ballet dancer?

I’ve danced pretty much my entire life. Apparently I used to jump up and down to the tune of the Coke commercial when I was a toddler, so my mom knew she had to enroll me in dance classes as soon as I was old enough. I eventually was part of a local company when I was a teen. Some of my friends are still a part of that world in various capacities (most have moved on to teaching, although a couple are still on Broadway or in ballet companies), but I decided I didn’t want the pressure of a dance career. If you have a job, it’s wonderful, but unless you’re at the very top, there’s a constant cycle of auditions and waiting tables while waiting for your big break. Not to mention never knowing whether you’ll ever get another role. And your career can come screeching to a halt with just one injury. Too stressful. I admire everyone who does it, but it wasn’t for me.

I continued to dance for fun in college – ballet, flamenco, tap, ballroom. Then my junior year, Duke started a competitive ballroom dance team, and I knew I had to audition. It was a blast! I continued to compete for a couple of years after college, but stopped once I went to law school. Now I take a weekly ballet class. Well, when I have time, that is. I have a toddler, so weekends can be crazy. I can’t wait until she’s old enough to dance!

You were an adult romance novelist before. Why did you decide to make the transition and how was the transition for you in writing style?

Pretty easy, actually. YA comes a lot more naturally to me. Perhaps that’s more of a reflection on my maturity than anything else. LOL!
I decided to start writing YA because one day I had a book idea, and it just happened that the characters had to be in high school. It wouldn’t have worked any other way. So I sat down to write, and the ideas just flowed. I think my voice is more suited to YA.
I enjoy writing for teens and preteens because the emotions are so close to the surface. You tend to tamp that down as you get older. I feel like it’s much more real for teens.

As a writer, we all have writer’s block or can’t seem to get the ideas flowing. How do you overcome yours? Do you have a special technique that you can share?

I don’t know if it’s a special technique, but if I feel blocked, I give myself permission to just write crap. You can always revise it later, but you can’t edit what isn’t written.

Any projects you’re working on? Can we expect a sequel?

Indeed you can! Dani’s adventures continue in Pointe of No Return, which should be out in November. We’ll see how things go with the first two books, but I hope to write a third in the series.
I’m hard at work writing the sequel, but I’m also working on a cozy mystery for adults.

Favorite book when you were a teenager?

I had several favorites, but I think the one that intrigued me the most at the time was probably Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. We read it in my sophomore English class, and I was fascinated by this gothic tale, even though it has parallels to Jane Eyre, which I didn’t particularly care for. There was just something so primal about the new Mrs. De Winter’s fascination with her husband’s late wife, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Later that year our English teacher asked us to choose one of the books we’d read and create some sort of derivative work based on it. Some students painted pictures, someone produced a rap video.

Last movie you just watched?

Does Dora’s Ballet Adventure count? No? Hmmm…I can’t even remember the last time I saw something in the theatre, but I just saw Black Swan on DVD and Emma on PBS. My “comfort movie” (the one I can watch a million times and it never gets old) is Grease. What can I say? I’m a sucker for singing and dancing!

What character would you like to become from your literature?

Would it be a total cop-out to list a character in one of my unpublished manuscripts? I know that’s sort of unfair, because you have no way of knowing who I’m talking about, but the heroine (Julie) in Party Like It’s 1899 is pretty cool. She buys an old book from a used bookstore while on a class trip to Paris, and the next thing she knows, she and a guy she considers a total arrogant jerk get magically transported back in time to the days of the can-can, Impressionist artists, and the Moulin Rouge. And since this is a romance, obviously she learns that the guy isn’t all that arrogant after all. It’s a very fun story and I hope publish it some day. 

The concept of time travel is just fascinating to me, so obviously I’d love to spend a day in Julie’s shoes.

As for books that you can currently buy, I think I’d say Maya from Codename: Dancer. I know, I’m supposed to say the heroine, not her sidekick. And I do love Dani, but there’s just something really cool about Maya. She’s brash, snarky, and not afraid to speak her mind. She totally stands up to her high school’s high society, too. Not afraid to call them out, even if it makes her unpopular. I think she’d be a blast to write. Who knows, I might write a book or two from her perspective. Analisa’s POV, too.

Again, thanks for Amanda Brice for her interview and congratulations to her new teen novel. If you're interested in buying it, which I'm sure you should be, check it out here

In My Mailbox (18) + News Bites (Hunger Games)

Hey everyone! I know I've been out of the blogosphere for over 2-3 months and I know apologizing a lot won't help and neither would giving out boxes of cookies will either. But I hope a giveaway will :). I'm planning to update my blog and revamp, and start off fresh with a giveaway, which I'll post in the coming days. So stay tuned! (In addition, an author interview is looming its way today.) On another note, my library got a huge pile of new books and I cannot wait until all my testing is over to start reading them.

From Library (Reading):
  • Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins (Loved Hex Hall! And I'm loving Sophie again here.)
  • Entwined by Heather Dixon (The cover is absolutely stunning, and so far the story is too)
From Library (To Read):
After my testing finishes next week, I'll start posting daily reviews.

Credits: The Frisky
And on another note, even though obviously this news is ancient, who was thoroughly disappointed by the Hunger Games casting? I'm sorry, but Miley's ex boyfriend and Josh Hutcherson isn't going to do it for me.  (But I'm getting excited by all of the tribute's casting. Maybe that'll compensate. My favorite is Marvel and Glimmer, totally matches the description. And I'm loving Rue.)

Credits: ScreenRant

What did you get in your Mailbox and who's your favorite Tribute? Drop your comment below (planning to revamp comment system too.)

Also, Happy Mother Day to all mothers! 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In My Mailbox (17)

For Review (from Ingroup)
I'm excited to read this book, since it's a little different from my regular choice of books. Haha, but doesn't the cover look like Justin Bieber? What did you get in your mail?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Libraries Matter, No More Cuts & YA ARC Program Help

All book bloggers have felt it by now, unless you live in some really remote rich country or in the bottom of the sea, where they have a secret stash of cash untouched and unmarred by the economic crisis.

The library budget cuts. Libraries are being placed lower on the county agenda, replaced by schools and the county safety public departments, which are of course equally and more so important. However, as we all know, libraries are one of the perpetrators for increased literacy, help provide a place to study quietly and read books, in which we can escape the pressures of school. For me, especially, a library is a second home.

I am currently a student member of the Friends of the Library, which is a non profit organization separate from the county libraries but essentially helps provide for the funds for library programs, in addition to assigning grants to specific libraries. As a student member, I get to create programs for teenagers that benefit both the library system and the Friends of the Library.

One of the programs I hope to start is an Advanced Reader Copy program, in which teens can borrow the ARCs, which doesn't limit their reading choices to only the YA books at libraries, and can write reviews about them. To jumpstart the program, I'm planning to email YA publishers very soon. However, I wanted to ask all book bloggers for your help and even possible contributions. A lot of bloggers are in contact with publishing agents or have a lot of ARCs lying around, which can't be sold. I wanted to ask you guys to help me start the program, by donating extra ARCs for this library program or help me get in personal contact with publishers. It would help salve the pain of the budget cuts for teens at our library system. (In addition, if you have any personal suggestions or comments, please let me know.)

How do you guys cope with the budget cuts? Do you guys have any programs for teens that you think are great? If so, please please let me know. I really am open to comments and suggestions (even defamation.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Incarceron MOVIE?! Emma Watson and Taylor Lautner

Oh God. How could I miss this?!

Incarceron is being turned into a movie (projected release date is 2013, too far away) and Taylor Lautner is cast as Finn, while Emma Watson is the number one candidate to costar with Lautner (probably as Princess Claudia).

While I love Lautner (with his abs and looks, of course, drools :)), I really can't imagine him as Finn. Finn is supposed to be small and weak, who grows up, but with Lautner's body and age, I'm not sure they can pull it off. However, I do think Emma Watson will do a fantastic job as Claudia, because she express the bossy streak for Hermione really well and I absolutely cannot wait to see her in another movie.

But, I'm actually interested in how the chemistry will play out between Watson and Lautner. What do you guys think? Will this movie be a flop with the casting?

Source: ScreenJunkies

In My Mailbox (15)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie.

Borrowed (from Library):
  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver (absolutely loving it and so excited that there's going to be a series!)
What did you get?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesdays (13)

Waiting On Wednesdays is a weekly meme, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights highly anticipated releases.
Title: Wither (Chemical Garden #1)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publishing Date: March 22, 2011

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left

My Thoughts: 
First of all, I love love the cover. It's absolutely breathtaking and combines a science feel with the circles, but the overlying theme is the emotional musings of a distraught girl. The model is absolutely beautiful in a distraught way and I loved how they portray her with the make up. But enough about the cover. I also am loving the plot and I cannot wait for this dystopian novel to come out soon. And the world the author creates seem unique in its own way :)

Anna and the French Kiss Review

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton
Published Date: December 2, 2010
Price: Amazon ($10.56)

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?


The magical and luxurious Paris, a scrumptious and sexy hot boy (with of course a British accent), and a sweet love story with flirtations exuding from the pages creates the perfect touch of a young adult chick romance novel, Anna and the French Kiss.

Anna Oliphant, a senior, is sent to School of America in Paris, losing her friends, her little brother, Seany, and the security of America. She expects to be a loner, teased for her minimal knowledge of French culture (consisting of oui). What she meets is a welcoming group of friends, which consists of the hottest guy, Étienne St. Claire, who’s not only kind and flirtatious with our narrator, but has a British accent. Anna and the French Kiss is their road to discovering what it means to not be alone and how to communicate love.

After finishing the book in one sitting, even at the cost of my homework, I felt so elated and excited. Maybe it was their constant flirtation that not only made Anna fall in love with St. Clair, but also myself. Or maybe it was the humorous relationship with her friends, Meredith, Rashami, and Josh who really shone in the spotlight, instead of being shunted to the sidelines. Maybe it was the journeys and the romantic aura of Paris (making me want to buy an airplane ticket to Paris and say au revoir, America high school). Or it could just be the simple fact I love British accents and with a sexy guy attached to it, who could resist?

What really makes Anna and the French Kiss distinctive of many YA chick romance novels that are becoming increasingly cliché is the sincerity in Anna’s and St. Claire’s love interest. The chemistry and love between them starts bubbling with the progression of their friendship, in which they comfort each other with their troubles and talk comfortably about their interests (Anna’s interest in film critiquing and St. Claire’s interest in art). And even though their relationship grows steadily, it goes on a roller coaster, as they both have to face their fears before realizing their love.

Plot: 5/5
Character: 5/5
Cover: 4/5

Simple, but gorgeous placement of the Eiffel Tower and the couple on the bench. I think the girl really looks like the Anna I imagined in my head, but I wish they could have bleached a part of her hair strand (or at least put some sort of hair extension) because that’s a characteristic that makes her stand out.

Overall: 5/5 

Stephanie Perkins does a fabulous job in bringing the cliché love story true, ringing with sincerity, giving readers the hope that they can find the perfect guy, sexy, kind, and loyal (maybe a British accent) in a true love story. Even though both Anna and Étienne have flaws, it’s constantly overshadowed by their humorous banters and romantic trips within Paris. You bloody hell should read this book, or you’re really missing out on true love. 

I also attached some pictures I took in Paris in my Europe trip, to help bring the Paris aura in America. I know, it's hard.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Illyria Review

Title: Illyria
Author: Elizabeth Hand
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Published Date: May 13, 2010
Price: Amazon ($11.87)

Madeleine and Rogan are first cousins, best friends, twinned souls, each other's first love. Even within their large, disorderly family—all descendants of a famous actress—their intensity and passion for theater sets them apart. It makes them a little dangerous. When they are cast in their school's production of Twelfth Night, they are forced to face their separate talents and futures, and their future together. This masterful short novel, winner of the World Fantasy Award, is magic on paper.


Elizabeth Hand, through her beautiful language, creates an intricate and alluring painting, with fantasy, magic, and love coloring it. Hand creates depth and meaning through very little words, the narration with Maddy reverberates with the passion she feels for Rogan and for theater.

Maddy lives in a closeted family, in which she was descended from a family of theater actresses. A forbidden love arises between Rogan and Maddy, who grow together and through their relationship and their school play, Twelfth Night, Maddy understands what glamour is and what talent is.
The love between Rogan and Maddy, for me personally, is a storm hidden under the twinkling lights of the magical theater they view together in the attic. The sincerity of their love and the passion isn’t expressed through wasted pages of Maddy feeling sad and depressed when Rogan flits around (cough cough, Twilight and other teenage romance novels). The characters were also well developed, Rogan, Maddy, and even Aunt Kate. Maddy, who loves Rogan and understands the limit of her talent, Rogan, the talented and wild boy who deeply cares for Maddy.

I personally loved Maddy’s journey to discover what talent and glamour is. For me, it is the biggest question I’ve been facing ever since I entered high school, envious of my genius friends in math or English, or the violin prodigies and virtuosos. Can glamour be learned? Can you achieve an equal level to one who has talent? That’s what Maddy hopes to find out not only through her acting in Twelfth Night, but also with her relation with Rogan.

The ending left a big hole. I loved the ending section, but the years that Maddy and the reader go through are squished into a paragraph. There was a lot of places to develop in Maddy’s realization of her Aunt Kate’s lesson about ‘glamour’ and her undying love with Rogan.

Plot: 3/5
Character: 4/5
Cover: 3/5

The cover's mysterious fog hiding both Rogan and Maddy was well done, portraying the forbidden part of their relationship. Also, the solitary figures in the dreary setting created a nice tone of their closeness and sincerity in their love.

Overall: 3/5

Illyira is a nice short and quick read, a little out of the ordinary with the relationship and how Hand pursues it. Most teen books usually spend at least half the book describing how they fall in love, but Hand starts right from it and goes with the action. I also really loved how Hand balances both Maddy's journey with Rogan and her search for a spotlight. There were some holes that were too big and untied strings left at the end, which sometimes made me want to skim through the book.


Related Posts with Thumbnails