Live in Infamy (WW2 #3) by Caroline Tung Richmond

“For in the darkest of nights, we shall strike – and strike again.”

Return to the world of The Only Thing to Fear!

In the eighty years since the Axis powers won World War II with their genetically engineered super soldiers, America has changed drastically in the hands of the unforgiving victors. But there are still those who aspire to what the country used to stand for: freedom for all.

In the Western American Territories, Chinese American Ren Cabot has lost nearly everything to Imperial Japan’s rule. After the public execution of his mom for treason five years ago, Ren lives under constant scrutiny of the Empire, afraid that one wrong step will rip apart what remains of his family for good. However, when a chance encounter with a resistance group offers Ren an opportunity to save lives and quite possibly topple the government, he agrees to their deadly plot. But his role will lead him straight into the heart of enemy, and if caught, death would be a much better fate than what the Empire will do to him . . .

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Live in Infamy is an alternate history where the United States lost World War II. Divided in different territories, America is under different regime. The Nazi held the Eastern States; the Japanese Imperial Court take the Western States; and Middle America states are under the rule of Italy.

Ren Cabot is a Chinese-American living in a Western American territories that is controlled by Imperial Japan. At a young age, he witnessed his mother executed for treason. Now at sixteen, he and his father lives under constant scrutiny of the Empire, waiting for their one wrong move. When an opportunity to help the resistance came to Ren, he pose as a tailor working inside the home of the Japanese leaders. There he help to plot a way to kidnap the Japanese Princess and infiltrate Alcatraz – a place where Japanese held their experiments to produced powerful soldiers for the Imperial Army.

This is my second foray to Caroline Tung Richmond’s works. The first one is her debut novel, The Darkest Hour, which I also devoured reading. In Live in Infamy, Caroline continue to write alternative history for young readers with ease. She clearly know what she is doing. Her writing not only shows how intensive her research but also her alternate version fit so well to all the historical backgrounds where her story dated. She easily created a believable versions of an alternate history in her novels.

Through Ren, Caroline Tung Richmond show the power of written words. The part where Ren fight the Imperial Japan under a pen name, sharing his words to inspire others to fight, reminds me of our own history here in the Philippines. Back when our country is still under different regime, some of our heroes also fought battle using the power of literature and written words. Ren’s fight become an echo of our own history, making his struggle easily close to heart.

Caraline Tung Richmond’s simple and straight-forward narrative will surely appeal to middle-grade readers, but older readers might find it more on the side of telling-than-showing, especially near the end when the story started to reveal things and tried to tie up loose ends.

Though alternate history, Live in Infamy is still a gritty and terrifying story that tells a reality of every wars. It is a glimpse of an alternate history that can easily be a looming future to some parts of the world.

* This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for my honest opinion about the book.


The Traitor’s Game (The Traitor’s Game #1) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

“Life doesn’t give us what we want. It gives us what we need and asks what we will do with it.”

Nothing is as it seems in the kingdom of Antora. Kestra Dallisor has spent three years in exile in the Lava Fields, but that won’t stop her from being drawn back into her father’s palace politics. He’s the right hand man of the cruel king, Lord Endrick, which makes Kestra a valuable bargaining chip. A group of rebels knows this all too well — and they snatch Kestra from her carriage as she reluctantly travels home.The kidnappers want her to retrieve the lost Olden Blade, the only object that can destroy the immortal king, but Kestra is not the obedient captive they expected. Simon, one of her kidnappers, will have his hands full as Kestra tries to foil their plot, by force, cunning, or any means necessary. As motives shift and secrets emerge, both will have to decide what — and who — it is they’re fighting for.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Will you play a game if you know the players consist of traitors?

The Traitor’s Game is a foundation of a new fantasy series from Jennifer A. Nielsen, which follow Kestra and Simon as they both play a game they are not sure how to win or if the sacrifices are worth the prize.

From the title itself, I expected lots of lies, betrayals and scheming from the plot, especially with Nielsen’s behind the writing. For those who have read her previous fantasy series, The Ascendance trilogy, you understand what I’m saying for sure. Nielsen is the master creator of one of the smartest and cunning fictional character in the middle grade fiction, Jaron. Then meeting the main character of The Traitor’s Game for the first time, and knowing her situation and relation to the Kingdom, I imagine Kestra Dallisor to be playing a complicated game of politics and alliances, like Kestrel in Marie Rutkoski’ss The Winner’s trilogy.

Though this new fantasy series is not exactly what I expected, it is still a welcome addition to the genre. In The Traitor’s Game, Jennifer Nielsen use simple yet proven formula in writing fantasy, which somehow make the story of The Traitor’s Game overly familiar, especially since I have read many fantasy books before this one. There’s the tyrant ruler with magical power, unloving father, rising rebellion, classes divisions, and magical dagger. But in-spite of the familiarity, The Traitor’s Game still manage to pull some surprises. And when it does, readers will realized that it is more complex than what they initially thought. So by using the same proven formula, The Traitor’s Game is also a success.

The dual point of view narration between Kestra and Simon is distinctive and engaging. I had no problem distinguishing the voice between the two characters. Even without checking the header, I know right away who is talking. Not only they have different narrative style, but also different way of seeing things and situations.

Kestra is determined, daring and smart. To save those who serves her, she needs to outsmart not only the rebels but also the tyrant and powerful Emperor whom his father serves loyally. She is all-in when it comes to removing the Emperor to his power, but she doesn’t know if the rebels can be trusted. So without knowing who to trust and not to trust, Kestra has to rely on her own self. She needs to be smart in every move she will make and equally cunning.

The characters relationship either between Kestra and Simon, or Kestra and Trina feels a bit underdeveloped, but never the less fun to read. Though I’m not a fun of quick attraction or insta-love as they call it, in this one it’s no big deal for me. Given that Kestra and Simon has previous life together, I’ll forgive the connections that comes few days after meeting again. But the animosity between Trina and Kestra, that’s a different case. Trina’s character sometimes fall messy. The hot-and-cold treatment she give to Kestra is quite confusing. Clearly she’s not someone to trust fully, but still there are times when I find myself hoping she’s one of the good guys, and wish to understand her better.

Centered from a character who is a pawn, a player and a hero, this new fantasy series from Jennifer A. Nielsen will surely enjoy by the author’s followers.

The Traitor’s Game is a tale of courage and a bit of romance, a story of power and those who play the game of power. Will definitely continue reading the next installment.

* This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for my honest opinion about the book.

Blog Tour: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce (Review & Aesthetics)

“There was always someone with more power.”

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.

Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Tempest and Slaughter is a new prequel series from the legendary fantasy writer, Tamora Pierce, that tells the early years of one of the greatest mages of Tortall, Arram Draper or most know from other Tortall books as Numair Salmalin.

Arram Draper is a talented young mage. At the age of ten he went to studies magic at the Imperial University of Carthak. Arram loves to learn new skills and he excel in his studies. When he accidentally flood his classroom during one of his lectures, Arram was given an advanced classes instead of suspension. At a young age his masters saw the great mage that he is. From then on, Arram honed his natural talent in magic, learning from the university masters. Being the only kid in higher classes is not easy for Arram, but he eventually found his closest friends with Verice and the young Prince, Ozorne. The three of them become inseparable since then. Together they start to carve their paths in the world of magic and politics.

“Learn it now or learn it later,..But a wise man does learn it.”

It’s been a while since I last read a novel from Tamora Pierce, and I am gladly surprised that she is finally writing from a point of view of a male character in Tempest and Slaughter. To those who haven’t read Tamora’s other fantasy series, Tamora is known for her kick-ass heroines. She always created a champion in them. Girls who are not only feminine but also warriors. I drew inspirations from her characters and from her as an author. Her books shows girl-power and a lot more. Her male characters, though not the main narrators are also well crafted, and to have one of them tell a new story in this latest fantasy novel, Tempest and Slaughter is surely a welcome experience for Tamora Pierce’s followers like me.

Tempest and Slaughter is a character driven novel which may easily feel dragging, especially to readers who are not yet familiar with the Tortall realm. But if you fall into that category, I dare you to continue reading, because not only Arram is really an interesting character but also Tamora Pierce offer a wonderful world of magic and myth in Tempest and Slaughter. Even if you haven’t read her other fantasy books, there are many things to love and to enjoy in this first instalment of a new prequel series from Tamora Pierce.

“If a little power doesn’t do what you want, think of something else before you try using a lot of it.”

Arram’s character development is interesting to follow. From his inner struggles to fit-in with his classmates, the challenges he encounter in learning more about magic, and using what he learned to help people around him. His inner thoughts shows his true character, like how he questioned the life around him, the slavery, and role of mages in politics. He maybe young but he is learning not only about magic but also other important things around him. I look forward reading how he transformed from Arram Draper to the powerful Numair Salmalin in the future.

Tamora Pierce also introduced a rich mythology in this book. The presence of Gods in different forms, like Enzi, the crocodile god of Zekoi, and other powerful beings that shows their interest to Arram are all wonderful addition to the story. Even if you haven’t read the other books of the Tortall world, Tempest and Slaugther will give you enough background to fully grasp the fantasy world of mages.

Overall, followers of Tamora Pierce will surely love this new addition to the world of Tortall, as they read new things about the familiar character, Numair Salmalin. It’s like rediscovering the greatest mage and loving him more than we never thought is possible.

It’s really an interesting read to discover the beginning of many familiar characters in this book. I am looking forward to see more about Arram and his friends, Verice and Ozrone as well as the other mages in the next book of Numair Chronicles.

* This review is based on an ARC I received from the publisher, Penguin Random House International.


Here are some aesthetics for Tempest and Slaughter to entice you more into reading the book.

@credit to owners / artists

Blog Tour: This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter (Review)

“Don’t do anything you know you’ll regret. But do enough to know exactly what you’ll regret and learn to regret less.”

A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor?

Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive. However, this route only offers her a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given a second chance at life. Except Leah discovers who the donor was — a boy from her school — and they’re saying he killed himself. Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened.

Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he’s certain it means something. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew living, took more courage than dying?

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

This Heart of Mine is a genuine portrayal of life of a teengage girl living with chronic illness with a dose of mystery.

Leah McKenzie’s heart failed due to virus that caused Myocarditis, so she has an external mechanical heart to keep her alive while waiting for a heart that will match her. But with her rare blood type, Leah is not very optimistic in getting a transplant soon.

Matt Kenner has lost his twin brother, Eric after declared brain-dead due to the gunshot in the head. Eric’s heart match to Leah’s need, so she received a new heart the same day Eric’s died. Leah knew Matt and Eric, they attend the same school and live in the same town, and after realizing that she has Eric’ heart, she can’t help but think that Eric is gone and she is alive because of it.

The police ruled Eric’s case as suicide, but Matt doesn’t believe it. He knows his twin brother very well, and he can’t accept that Eric will take his own life. When Matt and Leah finally able to catch up with each other, they learned that they’ve been having the same dreams lately, and it’s all about Eric. Like Eric is telling them something about his death. The two then try to find out what actually happened that night Eric died, hoping to bring justice for Eric.

Told in alternating views between Leah’s first person and Matt’s third person narrative, This Heart of Mine offers story of griefs; from Leah and her family who is dealing with Leah’s condition, to Matt and his mother’s grief after losing not only Eric but also Matt’s Dad, and also those friends who are somehow connected to those who are gone like Eric.

Aside from dealing with griefs, and the mystery of Eric’s death, and more than the romance between Eric and Leah, the story also reminds readers how important it is to live in the moment and take chances in life. With Leah’s condition, Leah doesn’t know how long she has to live. Even with the new heart, there’s still the possibility that her body will reject it. And Leah learn to accept that the hard way. She learns to appreciate whatever time she got and try to live her life as normal as possible. She seize the moment, try to be brave and be happy with her life even with her condition.

“Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Win or lose. That’s what life is, a bunch of chances.”

C.C. Hunter successfully delivered a heart-warming story with a touch of mystery in this first contemporary novel of her.

A story with a heart.

* This review is based on an eGalley I received courtesy of the publisher, MacMillan in exchange of honest opinion about the book.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

“There’s always something left to lose.”

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Book Links: Amazon | B&NBook Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

The Cruel Prince is a dark, rich and wicked fantasy story that will surely delight readers.

Open with a brutal murder where the readers were introduced to the main character and narrator, Jude. Jude is a human girl raised in the Faery realm by the fae who killed her parents. Jude live among the faes in the land of Elfhame, together with her two sisters, Taryn – Jude’s twins sister and Vivi a half-fae. Under Madoc’s care, Jude and Taryn are getting the same privileged like any faes. They get to attend schools, parties and have every material things they need or want. But being human makes them an outcast by other faes. Jude wants nothing more than to be accepted by the Folk. She aims to be a Knight with the hope that when she becomes one, the fae will finally accept her and also to be able to protect her sister, Taryn.

“That’s what comes of hungering for something: you forget to check if it’s rotten before you gobble it down.”

Jude is a humanly flawed character which sometimes make her not very likeable. She is impulsive, a bit greedy, ambitious and even brutal at times. But Jude is also strong-willed and loving. She knows what she want, and she will do her best to get it. She will protect her family and those she loves.

In the beginning, it is easy to assume that the title refers to Cardan, who Jude see as someone loves to hate her because she is human. But as the story progress, and the fae court politics were introduced, readers will question who is the titular Cruel Prince is? And with everyone’s motives unknown to Jude, readers will have to guess and make assumptions as they read from Jude’s limited point of view.

And in the topic of motivations, there are some characters motivations that makes my eyebrows rise. First, Valerian, I don’t like the guy from the very start, but still I hope that Holly Black will have deeper explanations on why he love to bully and torture Jude other than because he simply likes to hurt others. Not only it doesn’t make sense since he has friends, but also it seems that it become an excuse for Jude to kill. Next is Cardan, his actions towards Jude is also pretty shallow. It’s make him look like an attention-seeking kind of guy, which is understandable given his family set-up and compare to Jude, but like with Valerian, I wish there’s more deeper explanations.

As for Locke, his play with Jude and Taryn is obvious from the start, which makes me wonder how Jude missed it. Maybe Jude is blinded or something? Anyway, back to Locke, I feel like Holly Black is not finished with this fae yet. It seems that he is still cooking something on his sleeves.

Also, I think that the duel scene between Jude and Taryn doesn’t need to happen. If there’s a need for duel, It should be between Jude and Locke, and not between the two sisters. They are sister for family sake. But considering Jude and Taryn grew up in the fae world and in Madoc’s care which is a military general of the fae’s court. I understand the impulse. Which I hope what it is – just an impulse. I hope they realized that family is still family.

“Nice things don’t happen in storybooks. Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.”

With murders, secrets, betrayal, and lies, The Cruel Prince is a wonderfully-dark and thrilling start to this new fae fantasy series, The Folk of the Air. Holly Black is clearly concocting an intricate fae mythology and equally intriguing story to wrap with it. I can’t wait to find out how she will fully developed the story and the characters in the next book, especially with Jude playing the fae-politics with Cardan.

Blog Tour: Batman: Nightwalker (DC Icons #2) by Marie Lu (Review)

Happy Thursday to all.

I am super excited to be part of Batman: Nightwalker Blog Tour organized by the publisher, Penguin Random House International. Batman: Nightwalker is the second installment of DC Icons series, after Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer. This ya series is a four books installment which feature different DC Superheroes in their teenage years, re-imagined by four talented ya authors.

In Batman: Nightwalker, Marie Lu shows to readers the life of the teen billionaire Bruce Wayne in Gotham City.

If you’d like to know what I thought about BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER, scroll down for my review. And if you haven’t yet heard about this amazing book, check down the book description below.


Title: Batman: Nightwalker
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9780525578567
Publication Date: January 02, 2018
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover, Ebook

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

Book Links: Amazon | B&NBook Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Batman: Nightwalker is Marie Lu’s rendition of Bruce Wayne’s transformation into the superhero we all know as Batman.

Bruce Wayne is a teenager, recently inherit his parents’ wealth after turning eighteen. His newly acquired richness made him a target to a group of criminals who called themselves as Nightwalkers. This group is killing Gotham’s most powerful and wealthy civilians after draining their bank accounts. It’s their way of seeking justice. When Bruce end up in Arkham Asylum for his community service, he met one of the members of Nightwalkers, Madeleine Wallace. Madeline is hard to break, the police can’t get any information from her. So when Madeline started talking to Bruce, he thought he can help the police find the Nightwalkers. But Madeline has her own motives for reaching to Bruce.

“You’re fighting for the wrong side.”

Given that the story centered during Bruce Wayne’s teenage years, I think it is fair that we don’t get yet the dark and brooding superhero we all know in most Batman movies. In this version, Marie Lu portrayed Bruce Wayne as young, kind, innocent and hasty. He is not Batman yet in this book, instead he is still in the process of becoming the rich superhero we all know. With that Bruce in Batman: Nightwalker is just a regular kid (well as regular as any rich and famous kid can be). He has friends, he go out, do some reckless things, and make mistakes. He is not that smart yet, nor techie, but with his curiosity and determination, add the experiences he gain, we all know how will he be in the future.

With Bruce’s close friends – Dianne Garcia and Harvey Dent, we see the real Bruce Wayne. They easily brings out Bruce’s character. With them readers will see the playful, happy and even protective Bruce. Dianne and Harvey makes me wish there is a continuation for this book. I want to see how Harvey Dent become the Gotham City’s District Attorney, and then the two-face villain that every Batman followers know.

Marie Lu also nailed Alfred Pennyworth character. Though with little part in the book, I still picture Alfred as the loyal, resourceful and caring guardian to Bruce. The banter between him and Bruce is perfect, just like in the comics or in the movies. They shows Alfred’s intelligence, quick wit and resourcefulness. Clearly, Marie Lu did her research well.

“The world would always have the liars and traitors and thieves, but there were still those who were good at heart.”

Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker is not about Batman, instead it is about the making of the Batman. It is about Bruce Wayne before the mask or the Caped Crusader we all know. This is Batman in his most humanized form. An origin story that is not a rehash of overly used material that is Batman.

Overall, Batman: Nightwalker is a quick and well written origin story. Marie Lu offers an interesting take to Bruce Wayne’s younger life by bringing the story up to date to modern readers while retaining the Batman concepts intact. If you are not overly familiar with the Caped Crusader’s origin, Marie Lu’s version is a good start to be get acquainted with the fictional superhero before he go full time saving Gotham City.

* This review is based on an ARC I received from the publisher, Penguin Random House International.