Featured Review: "Talon" by Julie Kagawa »

December 31, 2014

Happy New Year! Last Post of 2014 ♡

Happy 2015 everybody! ♡ Although it is still 2014 here in Toronto, I'm sure many of you have already crossed over to the new year!

How has this past year been for all of you? It has been incredibly tough for me; I went through a ton of pain and wept a ton of tears. Things just kept on turning out terribly for me this year, but hey, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

Shout out to all my good ol' friends (Mel, Rachel, Sam, Hilda, Joie, Natalia-oneechan) in this blogging community! You are all awesome, and even though some of you don't regularly blog anymore (I don't either, eek!), and some of you still do, I wish you girls the best for the new year.

Honourable Mentions for 2014

● The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran ●

This is one of those books that really changes your life. It is a masterpiece of moral philosophy, and is a collection of poems on numerous aspects of human life, such as 'Joy and Sorrow', 'Love', 'Pain', 'Self-Knowledge', 'Freedom', and more. Whenever I feel like I've lost my way in life, or need a bit of  guidance, I reach for this book. This particular edition also features beautiful artwork by Gibran himself. Whether you are in your teens like me, or in your twenties, or forties, I highly recommend this short collection to everyone. Even if your own morality does not perfectly align with Gibran's, it is still a thought-provoking and brilliant work of literature.

● Kafka on the Shore, by Haruka Murakami ●

My first Murakami book, and it absolutely blew me away! The day after returning my library copy, I went to the book store and bought my own. I even have stickies labeling sections that I particularly enjoyed, which I go back and reread every now and then. This is definitely not a book for the faint of heart, because it is psychological fantasy that delves to very complex depths. Also, there are certain sections of it that are really gruesome, so definitely 18+. It is beautifully written, intellectually challenging, and an absolutely amazing read.
● Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn ●

 I finally gave in to the 'Gone Girl' hype this November. This book will twist your brain into knots, light it on fire and bam!- blow it to bits. It is all just so...messed up...and sick...but shocking and amazing too. There's really no other way to describe it. I'm not brave enough to watch the movie though, but a friend informed me that it was "pretty well done".

Ushering in 2015

These aren't necessarily special picks for the new year; they just happened to be at the library today so I took them out, haha!
● The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne ●

When I was going through a lot of obstacles during 2014, I started searching online for anything that would help me to get back on my feet. One day, I found the website for The Secret, and turns out, it's a self-help book that enables people to unlock and utilize the Law of Attraction to live happier and healthier lives. The mini passages on the website definitely helped me, so I have decided to now read the book itself.

● Beautiful Disaster, by Jamie McGuire ●

Remember this?! All of us book bloggers a couple years back will definitely remember this title. The blogosphere was in complete juxtaposition, just like the two words in the book's title. Reviewers either absolutely loved it, or completely hated it. I'm super late on jumping the bandwagon, but definitely curious on which side I'll be falling on.

That's about it for this final 2014 post. Thanks for reading, as always! 
Vivian ♡

December 20, 2014

"Talon" by Julie Kagawa

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17331828-talon?ac=1[Click the cover for Goodreads]

Title: Talon (Talon #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publication: 2014, Harlequin Teen
Summary: Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.  

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught....read more

Review: "Talon" is an imaginative and passionate dive into a quasi-realistic fantasy world that has humans and dragons in heated conflict. The dragons' population is controlled under the regime and protection of an organization named Talon. Facing the dragons across from the battle field is St. George, a human organization that is dedicated to hunting down and killing the dragons. After her iconic The Iron Fey and the more recent Blood of Eden series, Julie Kagawa is back with full steam ahead in the first installment for her latest fantasy series. 

The thing with the changing point-of-view approach in writing a book is to find a good consistency in spacing so that the reader will not be confused or frustrated with following the characters through the plot line. I personally wince a bit every time I find out that a book I'm reading is employing this technique. Thankfully, Julie Kagawa manages to pull off the switching POV very well. The book flows seamlessly, with small and nicely executed overlaps in between the POV switches that makes sure the reader won't get lost in the action. Kagawa's characters are also very distinct from each other, therefore making it easy and comfortable to adjust to each character's first-person narration. 

Julie Kagawa's female protagonists are always top tier. Strong, opinionated, and courageous, it is obvious that Ember is cut from the same cloth as Meghan and Allison, but at the same time, she is still unique and impressionable, even when compared to Kagawa's other "daughters". Ember is very likable and it is easy to empathize with her. As the main protagonist, she is fantastic and I have confidence that Kagawa will be able to create a very memorable and brilliant future for her in the following books. The rest of the cast in "Talon" is just as well created and characterized. There are strong and resolved characters, evil characters, charming characters, but there was never a moment where I felt annoyed with a character. This made my experience of reading "Talon" completely enjoyable and positive, albeit never boring. 

"Talon" was a joyride that spanned a generous story line, but still made me feel like I wanted so much more. This book is packed with exciting action, beautiful and touching moments, and magnetic characters and interpersonal chemistry. The plot line started out simple, but it escalated in complexity bit by bit until it became a sophisticated tangle of characters, events, and emotions that made me equally excited and anxious about what's going to happen next. Regarding those emotions, they were built up over time so exquisitely and naturally, with not a hint of abruptness. The pacing was steady and controlled, with oscillating intensity that made this book a consistently entertaining and addicting read from front cover to back. 

I am completely captivated by the characters in "Talon", and am really looking forward to the next book in the series!

Rating: ✰✰✰✰ 4.5 Dragon Scales

Final Notes: I remember reading some earlier reviews for "Talon" and some bloggers seemed disappointed, so I went into it without much expectation. Boy, did I love it though! This is honestly the best cup-of-tea for me out of all of Julie's books (aside from The Iron Knight of course), and I enjoyed "Talon" more than "The Immortal Rules", which I know may seem like a total surprise for some people. Also, it was entertaining that my university has three campuses and one of them is known as the St. George campus, haha! ...Does that make me a dragon slaying St. George soldier...? Yikes!

Thanks for reading! Vivian