Saturday, 23 February 2013

Review: Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2) by Tahereh Mafi

WARNING: If you haven't read Shatter Me the following review is going to be spoilery.
Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2) by Tahereh Mafi

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: February 5, 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 461
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Source: Bought It
Goodreads Description: 
Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.


     After the action packed ending of Shatter Me where Juliette, her love Adam and the hilariously awesome Kenji make it to the rebel resistance base Omega Point; while leaving the devious Warner injured and humiliated in his attempts to recapture Juliette. With Juliette among other gifted people like herself, and finally able to have physical human contact with someone she loves, you'd think she'd be in absolute bliss! But it's not all sunshine and roses deep in an underground bunker where there are constant whispers about the girl who kills with a touch of her skin, a boyfriend who's harbouring a dangerous secret and a new player in Sector 45 that's hellbent on finding Juliette...

     Firstly, I hate cover changes in the middle of a series; but for these ones I'll make an except because they're ridiculously gorgeous and eye catching (sorry I couldn't resist).

     Juliette is having major problems adjusting and in typical teenager fashion she just wants to be completely absorbed in her beau. For a good portion of the first half of the book she was completely self depreciating, whiny and generally a downer. I really thought I was going to snap and throttle the book in frustration because I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep going, but then Juliette does this complete 180 when she taps into her powers with purpose. She becomes methodical, ruthless and a comment I made while reading was "Juliette Hulk SMASH!" because...WOW what a change. Mafi creates this incredible divide in Juliette filled with obstacles and internal struggles - at the end of the book it's almost like a rebirth and Juliette's finally chosen what kind of person she's going to be. 

     What makes Juliette's depression in the first half of the book bearable was characters like the leader of Omega Point Castle and his right hand man Kenji who call Juliette out on all her excuses and force her to move out of her isolation no matter how much she resists. 

     Kenji -who I LOVE to bits is honestly the best character ever. We got a glimpse into his personality nearing the end of Shatter Me but there just wasn't enough Kenji to go around. I'm so glad that Mafi has given him a much more prominent role in Unravel Me and we get a good look into his equally tragic past. He's the down to earth guy that you just have to love, you can see why he inspires so much confidence and leads people so effectively. He knows when to joke to ease the tension, and when to break out the master plans. 

     I think that we all knew that there'd be a serious love triangle between Adam, Juliette and Warner at some point. Unravel Me is equal parts heartache and passion. A secret creates a chasm between Adam and Juliette. This turns Adam into a really weird desperado that spends all this time being moody and angry - it was a radical change from the Adam we know and love in Shatter Me. It's a completely legitimate reason, but I got tired of his mopiness halfway through - I'm just hoping he can pull himself together in the next installment. But this leaves it wide open for Warner! Juliette and the readers discover that behind that hard slightly psychotic soldier exterior Warner can be an actual caring person - mind you he's still a bit unstable but I think I'm totally on team Warner now. Also that fabled chapter 62? Ahem...yea WOW, it was totally worth it to get to but in true YA fashion someone always ends up with a serious case of blue know. 

     Mafi's continues with her signature languid and richly descriptive writing as it pulls the reader into the mindsets and voices of of the characters. In Unravel Me Mafi gives us a taste of intense action, steamy romance and one of the HUGEST TWISTS EVER. I didn't see it coming at all - Mafi buried it perfectly in the action! 

Overall: 4/5 Hot Cups of Tea!
Mafi gives a great recap of Shatter Me for those who might have forgotten the exact details. She also gets into the special gifts of people a bit more, there's a lot more character development and backstory and she introduces a new villain that is worse than Warner - who knew that was possible? So if you haven't read Shatter Me yet and you love dystopians and X-Men/Avengers/Comic Book heroes in general definitely go check it out!

Find the Author on:
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Website

Friday, 22 February 2013

Mini Review: Destroy Me (Shatter Me, #1.5) by Tahereh Mafi

Destroy Me (Shatter Me, #1.5) by Tahereh Mafi

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 103
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Fantasy, Paranormal
Source: Bought It
Goodreads Description:
In Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me, Juliette escaped from The Reestablishment by seducing Warner—and then putting a bullet in his shoulder. But as she’ll learn in Destroy Me, Warner is not that easy to get rid of. . .

Back at the base and recovering from his near-fatal wound, Warner must do everything in his power to keep his soldiers in check and suppress any mention of a rebellion in the sector. Still as obsessed with Juliette as ever, his first priority is to find her, bring her back, and dispose of Adam and Kenji, the two traitors who helped her escape. But when Warner’s father, The Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment, arrives to correct his son’s mistakes, it’s clear that he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner simply cannot allow.


     All we really saw of Warner in Shatter Me was that he was a control freak hell bent on having Juliette whatever way he can. I'll admit I was equal parts scared and fascinated by Warner and in Destroy Me we finally get a look into Warner's twisted mind and what I found in this dark cruel dungeon was something completely unexpected...

     Told from Warner's point of view we get to see the passion that drives Warner to be so obsessed with Juliette but also a bit more clear reasoning behind it (I just always figured he was a super creepy...and he still is - I just understand his motives a whole lot better). Mafi crafts intricate and deep characters full of emotions, doubts and plenty of trauma. My assumptions about Warner's brainwashed but privileged upbringing was completely turned on its head as we meet the terror that has molded and defined Warner as we know him. If you thought Warner's ruthlessness was horrifying, you haven't seen anything yet! 

     Mafi makes Warner human and relatable in Destroy Me, he ropes you in and does things that are so left field that you didn't think Warner had it in him to do. Mafi sets the stage for the Warner that you find in Unravel Me as his and Juliette's stories converge at a pivotal moment. 

Overall: 5/5 Steaming Hot Cups of Tea!
This is a definite must read before Unravel Me. This isn't just a rehash of a scene from Warner's point of view; it's an in depth character development and mini prequel to the next installment. 

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Stacking the Shelves (17): The Sequel Releases Edition

Hosted by Tynga

The past couple of weeks on Tea And Text:

It's been an awesome and crazy couple of weeks of releases!


What's new in your guy's shelves this week? 

Review: Prodigy (Legend, #2) by Marie Lu

Review: Prodigy (Legend, #2) by Marie Lu
Author: Marie Lu
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pages: 384
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Source: Bought it
Book Description from Goodreads: 
June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long. 

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?


     On the heels of their great escape June and (the presumed dead) Day try to track down the last of their friends and family before they make a run for it to the fabled Colonies - where life is supposed to be better. But their plan comes crumbling down as The Republic has its own shake up when the Elector Primo dies and his young son Anden takes his place as the new figurehead. With The Republic in such a fragile state of transition the Patriot rebels seize the opportunity and offers Day everything he could want: retribution against The Republic for his family's death, his brother back and a better life in the Colonies ... the catch? The two biggest celebrities of The Republic have to come out of hiding to very publicly execute the new Elector.

     I love the cover and its more grungy spray painted feel. Like the symbol on Legend, the meaning of the falcon like bird is revealed in the book, so it's a cover with a deeper meaning! I'm also a total sucker for deckle edged binding (uneven feathery paper edges). Aesthetically my favorite part of these books is the contrasting font colors for Day and June. This time Day get's this gorgeous deep blue instead of gold. While it might not add much to the story, it's a small detail that sticks out in a reader's mind and helps mark the transition from June to Day easily while reading. 

     I know a lot of people were disappointed that Legend didn't tell us much about how The Republic was formed or the rest of the world. Prodigy reveals it all! Or at least everything important. We get a quick world history lesson and if you thought life in The Republic was bad, wait until you see what's outside. Lu creates a shocking and eerily probable world in The Colonies that will leave you wondering where you would rather be. 

    June - the prodigy of The Republic and at one point their greatest weapon. She gave up her life of luxury and prestige to be with Day and to fight against the festering corruption and secrets that were plaguing The Republic. She grows so much in this book! While she still kicks a tonne of butt, we get to see her more analytical and political side. The way she reasons and rations situations, plots and interacts with others makes me completely forget that she's only 15 years old!

     Day - the champion and hero of the poor just wants to pick up the broken pieces of his life and move on. He's willing to do anything for it, even something he hates like killing. I'm glad that even though he was a pawn in a plan he didn't forget who he was at his core, and his values. People's ideas and opinions about him and June constantly assault at him but he keeps up healthy amount of skepticism and trust in June. 

     This time characters that make a somewhat brief appearance in Legend are a bit more central to the plot such as Tess and Anden. Tess - who was this innocent street urchin that was like a little sister to Day. Her attitude shift completely surprised me, the persistence and dogma in her words made her seem like a master interrogator of the Patriots. 

     When I first met Anden - I approached it like a paranoid Patriot with a "kill all Republic scum!" [heh Star Wars] kind of attitude and I was just waiting for Anden to slip up and reveal his true nature. But Lu doesn't make it so easy. She creates villains that hide in plain sight and I was never sure who was going to betray whom until the big reveal!

     With these two characters Lu drives a wedge in early on between Day and June and we end up with this love 'U' that I was both uneasy and curious about at the same time. Class and wealth will always be a problem between Day and June - I just wished that it wasn't repeated so often by absolutely everyone. 

    Loaded with action, political tension and a few stolen moments between June and Day the ending is what took the cake. In a spectacular bout of action, death defying flight and riots Lu manages to craft an ending that gives hope for a better world but at a terrible cost. That ending, *sigh* it just gets you right in the feels. 

Overall: 4/5 Hot Cups of Tea!
That ending leaves me so conflicted for what I think/want/hope for in the next installment now entitled 'Champion'.



Friday, 8 February 2013

Review: Renegade (The Elysium Chronicles, #1) by J.A. Souders

Renegade (The Elysium Chronicles, #1) by J.A. Souders

Author: J.A. Souders
Publication Date: November 13, 2012 
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 364
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Source: Arc provided for review from publisher via NetGalley

Book Description from Goodreads:
Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.
But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie. 
Her memories have been altered. 
Her mind and body aren’t under her own control. 
And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.
Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb... and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.


     Renegade manages to blend old world aristocratic charm with the spectacular technological wonders that are the bones and heart of Elysium; a bubble in the deep blue sea, like the fabled lost city of Atlantis. Separated from the violent and unruly surface, the people of Elysium live a charmed and orderly life with designations for their jobs, who they have kids with and where they live. In the gardens of this paradise we meet Evelyn - the chosen Daughter of the People, where she explains that her life is "Just about perfect." But pobody's nerfect...

    The cover speaks a lot about the story itself and it's not until you read it that you realize the significance of the hair and the roses, or the drops of blood and the mix of technology and scenery blended into the cover. But to me it feels like the head to body proportion is off a bit. Almost as if the neck is too short and the hair makes everything look too heavy. It just throws me off a bit. 

     We first meet Evelyn in her prized rose garden elaborating about Elysium and how everything works. It was hard to get into her narrative voice at first because it felt so stiff and rehearsed, but it wasn't until her days literally - and even the words that were coming out of her mouth started repeating themselves that I was intrigued. Being trained to lead the people of Elysium after Mother, Evelyn has to be absolutely perfect - right down to the genetics that give her the blond hair and blue eyes (sounding eerily familiar yet?) that Mother prizes. But when she steps out of line Mother has her dealt with....crafting a carefully scripted daughter every time. Under the superficial title as Daughter of the People, Evelyn is naturally curious and does what's right...even when it goes against everything she's been taught. 

     Gavin, the gruff survivalist surface dweller that stumbles into their little slice of heaven is in for a rude awakening as he's hunted down ruthlessly. But upon meeting Evelyn he sees a glimmer of hope for getting out of this incredibly tough situation. I don't really have strong feelings about Gavin. He's the usual head strong, run in without forethought kind of guy that wants the girl and to live happily ever after. He has really sweet moments though, especially at the end. 

     Their relationship is an unconventional one. At first Evelyn wants to save him out of pure curiosity - she's never met a surface dweller before and this might be her only chance. What starts out as a thirst for knowledge slowly starts to grow into something more as she gets to know Gavin and soon Evelyn's own loyalties are tested as Mother gets suspicious of her interest in the surface dweller. Their relationship takes on hilarious twist, but after Evelyn starts seeing the cracks in the illusion of her perfect world she throws all her chips in with Gavin in hopes of escaping Mother's clutches. However, every step closer to the surface reveals a secret about Mother and Evelyn's own past...

     I loved watching Evelyn break past the brain washing, her voice and tone noticeably changes from formal to more emotional and passionate so that when brain washing moments do happen there's a distinct demarcation in her attitude. 

     For most of the book the story felt almost like a role playing video game. There is a droning monotony especially when the characters ran from one end of the dome to the other, back and forth completing little quests along the way while avoiding the authorities in order to get to their grand escape plan. It was a bit predictable unfortunately.

     But where the story really picks up and completely gripped me is the the last 1/4 of the book. It takes on a really dark tone as all of the skeleton's in Mother's closet are revealed and Evelyn's character does a complete 180 and becomes a lethal ticking time bomb while there's hordes of crazy zombie-esque creatures between them and freedom. Here Souders builds an air of desperation, intense action and where I could finally jump on the Evelyn and Gavin train to cheer for their success! 

Overall: 3/5 Drinkable Cups of Tea
It's a really interesting concept when it's all revealed. But it's the stuttering, repetition and awkwardness of the first half of the story that was a bit hard to get through. The whole situation at the end though was spectacular and I'm really curious as to where Souders might take the rest of the series.


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Tea Time Thursday: Black Tea: Orange Pekoe

Black Tea: Orange Pekoe

Ingredients: Black tea from Sri Lanka and India

     OKAY. I officially have taste buds back after a horrible cold/flu/sinus death. So back to Tea Time!! 

     Orange Pekoe is a complete misnomer. It doesn't actually have any orange flavoring whatsoever so just be forewarned if you're expecting this to taste like a Terry's Chocolate orange or something. It's actually a grading system reserved for the 'finest of black teas'. 

     But in this case....I kind of doubt that. Tea from David's usually has a very noticeable scent when you open the packaging, this one I really didn't get a whiff of anything. No deep earthy smell, nothing. 

     I love my black teas plain - no sugar added. Especially with an orange pekoe which should have a hint of bitterness and a slight earthy sweetness to it. But this one was really nothing special unfortunately. After steeping for the appropriate time and temperature it just wasn't wowing. It was drinkable, but there wasn't much bitterness or a sweet finish. Basically it was hot water with a hint of your basic black tea. 

Overall: 2/5 Tepid Cups of Tea
I'm seriously not going to remember this tea after I finish writing this.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Review: Insurgent (Divergent, #2) by Veronica Roth

Insurgent (Divergent, #2) by Veronica Roth
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 525
Genre: YA, Dystopian
Source: Bought it

Book Description from Goodreads:
One choice can transform you--or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves--and herself--while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.
Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable--and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Warning! If you haven't read Divergent this will be spoilery!


     Picking up where Divergent left off; the Factions are in varying states of chaos as the Erudite plan to wipe Abnegation off the map with mind controlled Dauntless was thwarted by Tris and her uncanny Divergent brain...But what seemed like a great victory came at a terrible personal cost to Tris and with the leaders of each nation shaken to the core - everyone has to choose their side as secrets fester and unlikely alliances are formed and an epic battle looms on the horizon. 

     I'm loving that the covers are following a similar Faction symbol theme, I'll be sorely disappointed if 'they' decide to change the covers midway through this series. 

     At the end of Divergent Tris grows up fast, and in a blink of an eye she loses her parents, takes the life of a friend and is left running on the lam. She's understandably shell shocked, post traumatically stressed and ridden with guilt. Her Dauntless side takes a bit of a backseat in Insurgent - that's not to say that there isn't any action, because there is. LOADS OF IT and in a much deadlier sense. But we get to explore other facets of Tris' potential, like her Erudite side. She's brilliant at seeing plots and the bigger political picture, but her trauma and guilt bogs her down and makes her act really reckless. Such as bringing a knife to a gun fight. But she ends up going down a really dark path, and I really hated how it seemed like for most of the book she was stuck in this place. However, Roth was brilliant at tearing Tris down to her foundations and at the tipping point Tris finds her reason to keep going.

     I still love Four. I'll forgive the secrets and ultimatums because he's scary awesome and a natural leader. Everyone looks up to him and he never wanted that role but this time he embraces it and it was amazing! He always has that one scene that burns into my mind (like aiming deadly objects at Tris in Divergent), Insurgent took it much further. It was still a brilliantly calculated move on Four's part, but it makes you step back and re-evaluate how you feel about Four. 

     What I was really surprised at was the trust that Tris and Four had built up in Divergent, which I thought would be pretty much unshakable. But their relationship; though filled with some very steamy scenes gets a little lost along the way. It would be too easy to just have them have a happy ending in the middle of a broken world, but at the end of Insurgent I think they'll finally be that strong team I was looking for in the third installment of the Divergent series. 

     At the end of Divergent we were treated to some incredible revelations about her mother but the secret motives behind the Erudite's plan was never fully revealed. So the big question to answer in Insurgent was the why of it all - and when we find out the answer. OH MY is it EVER a cliffhanger. Like drop your jaw - you'll probably throw the book across the room (but not really because that's mean) kind of cliffhanger. The conspiracy theory hamster in my brain is working overtime in its wheel!

Overall: 4/5 HOT Cups of Tea!
Roth took these characters and completely reshaped what I knew about them, and I LOVED it! We get a closer look at what it means to be Divergent, and what it means to sacrifice your life for something. It was a bit long at 525 pages, and I did forget who a few minor characters were (I felt like re-reading Divergent before starting this would've been beneficial) but the mysteries and political intrigue and the ingeniousness of it all was worth it! One thing: is it fall yet? Why can't it be fall yet?! I need to know what happens!

Background Labs