Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Moving to a New Blog

Hi everyone! It both excites and sorta saddens me to say that as of today I will no longer be posting on Oktopus Ink.

I've had a lot of great memories with this blog, but for several reasons (some of which will be revealed in time) I've decided to start fresh and move to a new book blog. From now on I'll be posting over at A SPOONFUL OF WORDS on Wordpress.

Thank you all so much for following me these last few years. I can't even begin to express how much fun it's been reading your comments and discussing books with you. Not to be dramatic or anything, but I can honestly say that I would not be the person I am today without this site. :)

Thanks again, and I hope to see some of you over on the new blog! (To visit/follow, click the above link)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Poison by Bridget Zinn

PoisonTitle: Poison 
Author: Bridget Zinn
Series: -
Published: March 13th, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 288 (hardcover)
I checked this book out from my local library. 

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon. -Goodreads

Quirky. That's the first word that comes to mind when I think about Poison. That and then humorous. Which would make it quirkorous? Humorky? Seriously, there needs to be a new word invented specifically for this book. Don't believe me? Check out the dust jacket--it's a good indication of the kind of tone you're going to get when you pick up Bridget Zinn's book:

(I mean, come on. The book has a magic pig in it. If that doesn't scream fun to you then consider rethinking your definition of fun.)
With that said, if you're looking for a lighthearted, quick-paced stand alone high fantasy novel, then look no further than Poison. Right from page one the novel has you moving at a quick clip with a cast of characters that's easy to grow attached to. Kyra especially. As far as YA protagonists go, she's remarkably unique. I can't say I've read many novels where the main character was a potions master, yet alone one with a no-nonsense pragmatic attitude, seriously questionable motives, and a dry sense of humor that makes her endearing even in the darkest of moments. (Which in itself is a delightful taste of ironic, considering how the book revolves around the fact that she tried to murder her best friend. Um.) Also, romance! While, yes, romance isn't unique to these sorts of adventures, the love story in Poison was sweet, almost like a Disney movie. Nothing too hot and heavy, just enough to satisfy the romantic in every reader's heart. 

However, don't mistake lighthearted with predictable. While it might be easy to at first glance throw Poison into the simple-minded, fairy tale-inspired category, Poison doesn't hold back, throwing plot twists frequently throughout the adventure. And sure, while some of them are predictable, I was surprised more often then not. Thanks to the strength of Zinn's writing voice and vision, all those itty bitty teeny tiny curious hints dropped throughout Kyra's adventure (and trust me, there are a lot) are wrapped up towards the end in a very satisfying way. 

The only issue I had with the book wasn't even an issue, more like a wish; sometimes the plot moved a little too fast, skimming over details or scenes I wish would have had a little more meat on them. I'm a sucker for good world building, and Poison is the kind of story where things are explained on an "it's here, so you need to know" basis. Which, if I'm honest, really is well done (so well done that you don't really notice until you stop to think about all the things you don't know) but still didn't stop me from looking for more. Unfortunately, just after I finished reading the book I learned that the author passed away in 2011 from cancer. While I might not get the chance to explore more of Zinn's work, I'm very glad that Disney Hyperion went ahead and published Poison. This really is a must-read for those looking to collect another title to add under their high fantasy belt, one that's full of humor and heart. 


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cress by Marissa Meyer

13206828Title: Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Published: February 4th, 2014
Publisher: Feiwell and Friends (Macmillan)
Pages: 550 (hardcover)
I purchased this book.

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they're plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she's just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and CInder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has. -Cress, dust jacket


Honestly, I'm not quite sure where to begin. Even though I haven't written reviews for Cinder or Scarlet (it's been a while since I've written reviews for anything, actually), The Lunar Chronicles has been one of my favorite series for the last two years. Regardless of the fact that the books are based off of classic fairy tales, the story as a group is wholeheartedly unique, flawlessly blending science fiction, fantasy, adventure with a cast of characters you can't help but to love. There's absolutely nothing else like it on the shelves right now, a feat that should be applauded considering how market trends in YA fiction tend to fluctuate. 

Cress, the third book in the series, continues the adventure right where Scarlet left off. With war on Earth's doorstep, Cinder and the gang attempt to rescue Cress, a shell trapped in a satellite circling far above the Earth. I'm always impressed with an author who is able to continuously expand their cast of characters while keeping their voices and personalities unique, and this is one of Meyer's strongest skills as a writer. Up until this point everyone introduced on this adventure has brought something new to the table, and Cress is no exception. Understandably naive and adorably obsessed with fantasy (a not so spoilery-spoiler: when she gets nervous, she convinces herself that she's an actress, playing a character who has the skills she needs to get through whatever stressful situation she's in), her skill with computers make the next leg of Cinder's mission possible and balance the variety of skills already highlighted in our heroes' story. And speaking of story...

As far as story goes Cress is sort of like the calm before the storm--except Cress is anything but calm. It moves along at the kind of pace we've come to expect from the previous two books, with things going from bad to worse to worse x2 before all is well again. (Er, or at least as well as you can expect things to be when there's an evil alien queen trying to take over your planet.) However, the novel is also different than its predecessors in the sense that it's darker. For the first time we get to actively see how malicious and cruel Queen Levana is in a scene that literally made me wince to read it. I WAS NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED. To say the stakes were raised is the understatement of the galaxy. 

With that said, for those of you waiting read Cress for fear of a nasty cliffhanger, put your mind at ease. Cress leaves us at a reasonable spot, a place in the story that feels natural and completely prepares you for what has to come in Winter. And I for one can't wait. Brace yourselves for the "Winter is Coming" jokes, people! Seriously though, even though I'm sick of the snow, Winter can't come fast enough. (Ba-bum-pish.)  


Monday, September 16, 2013


Hey y'all! Wow, so...long time no post. And by "long time", I mean really long time. Holy crap. First, I'd like to apologize for the lack of updates on Oktopus Ink. Two years now I've been gone, super busy with finishing up school and dealing with the stuff of life. But I'm happy to say that I'm back now and will be reviewing books on a regular schedule once again!

So with that said, I'm going to be making some changes to the blog. Nothing major; I just want to add some new widgets and features. All current content will still be available, but don't be surprised if you see random code floating around or encounter a broken link or two for the next week. 

Anyway, thanks so much for sticking around. I've missed you guys, and I can't wait to start gushing about books again. The next new review will hopefully be posted soon. Until then, I hope you all have an amazing week and that the books in your bags are all worth 5 stars! Ciao! 


Sunday, September 4, 2011

GIVEAWAY WINNER: Guardians Inc.: The Cypher

The gods behind Random.org have spoken, and the winner of a signed copy of The Cypher is...

(a.k.a. blissfulrains)

The winner has already been contacted and will receive their book in the mail shortly. Thanks to everyone who participated, and look for more giveaways in the future!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Wayfinder by Darcy Pattison

Title: The Wayfinder
Author: Darcy Pattinson
Series: ???
Published: March 1st, 2011
Publisher: Mims House
Pages: 212 (paperback)
I received this book from the author in excange for an honest review.

Young Winchal Eldras is a Wayfinder, one of the gifted few of G'il Rim who have the ability to locate anything: a lost ring, the way home, a blue dress in the marketplace, a lost child. "Finding" is a valuable talent in this city that sits dangerously close to the Rift, a mysterious, unexplored chasm. When the Rift claims his little sister in a bizarre accident, though, Win is reduced to a Wayfinder who's lost his way.

But suddenly there's no time for grief--the plague has come to the Heartland. And only healing water from the Well of Life, on the other side of the Rift, can stop it. A prophecy commands that Win must make the terrible journey to seek the Well. But no one has ever braved the dangers of the Rift and returned to tell about it! To make matters worse, Win suddenly has a traveling companion in Lady Kala, a prized-and royally stubborn--Tazi hound with a few gifts of her own. A Wayfinder with no direction can't possibly manage this imperious creature from the King's kennels, much less save a civilization on the edge of destruction.

Or can he? --Goodreads


The Wayfinder is a fast-paced high fantasy novel, written in the tradition of journey-based fantasy classics like Lord of the Rings. I was surprised how quickly I was able to accept the world and the type of magic it supports. Though the concept of guiding magic is simple, the world building is so convincing (without pages and pages of boring description) that I wonder why no one has done it before. Win himself was an unusual sort of hero, weighed down by loss and guilt with a perspective that I could understand and sympathize with.

Despite the grief, Win’s adventure of self-discovery to overcome said burden is action packed and exciting all the way up until the very end (in between one-eyed giant eagles, killer crocodiles, and killer wolf tribes, how could it not be?). It was the story about a boy and his companion, learning to trust themselves and each other. Even though it was over sooner than I had hoped for (I easily finished it one sitting), it felt completed, with an ending that left me satisfied, morally uplifted, and ready for a sequel. The Wayfinder is one of those books that shouldn’t be overlooked!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Title: Lost Voices
Author: Sarah Porter
Series: Lost Voices #1
Published: July 4th, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 304 (hardcover)
I purchased this book.

What happens to the girls nobody sees—the ones who are ignored, mistreated, hidden away? The girls nobody hears when they cry for help?

Fourteen-year-old Luce is one of those lost girls. After her father vanishes in a storm at sea, she is stuck in a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village with her alcoholic uncle. When her uncle crosses an unspeakable line, Luce reaches the depths of despair. Abandoned on the cliffs near her home, she expects to die when she tumbles to the icy, churning waves below. Instead, she undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid.

A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. The mermaids are beautiful, free, and ageless, and Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: they feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks.

Luce’s own talent at singing captures the attention of the tribe’s queen, the fierce and elegant Catarina, and Luce soon finds herself pressured to join in committing mass murder. Luce’s struggle to retain her inner humanity puts her at odds with her friends; even worse, Catarina seems to regard Luce as a potential rival. But the appearance of a devious new mermaid brings a real threat to Catarina’s leadership and endangers the very existence of the tribe. Can Luce find the courage to challenge the newcomer, even at the risk of becoming rejected and alone once again?

Lost Voices is a captivating and wildly original tale about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive
. --Goodreads


I picked up Lost Voices for two reasons: the first was that I have never read a novel about mermaids, and the second was that plot actually interested me. I mean, a pack of mermaids murdering people at sea? Sounds dark. And the first forty pages of the book were great. Luce seemed like a nice girl and was one that I could sympathize with, even though I’ve never been in her position before. But after she turned into a mermaid, I felt like the novel lost its steam. Not only were action sequences sort of choppy, but Luce became a…dare I say it? A…a…Mary Sue.

As soon as Luce turns into a mermaid and joins her tribe, she becomes close to perfect. She’s good at being a mermaid, even without any training. Her voice is so beautiful that it challenges the skill of her tribe’s leader. The other girls (who sort of blend together as one catty voice) love her and fuss over her and make excuses for her mistakes without even getting to know her­. It was like she could do no wrong.

Now, all these details would be fine and dandy, except that Luce handles them a lot like a pancake; that’s to say, she does a lot of flipping. Honestly, I could never tell if she was happy to be a mermaid or not. In one paragraph, she’s thrilled to have the freedom to swim with baby seals and to have the power to lure boats of people to their death. I found this insanely disturbing because, oh, I dunno, I guess I would have figured that a girl in her position would have more sympathy for an entire boat of people that she accidently murdered. But in the next paragraph (literally), she’d brood over the fact that she becomes excited by the thought of killing people even though she wants to do it again and won’t fight it when the urge comes on. These conflicting emotions prevented me from really getting a lock on who she was after her transformation, at least up until the very end. And even though I understand that some characters need to work out their emotional ambiguity as part of the plot, I just didn’t believe that Luce knew she was conflicted when I was sensing her inner conflict.

Aside from the mixed messages Luce was sending throughout the story, there were elements of the plot that were quite disturbing. The mermaid lore is never really explained, except that young girls turn into mermaids as the result of abuse from other people in their lives. Serious topics when you consider them, except that the ideas are not fully explored in Lost Voices, just skimmed over in casual conversation never to be addressed again. Overall, these topics seemed out of place and sort of inappropriate, especially since the characters didn’t strike me as a group of girls that I should care about since most of them enjoyed their dark power and wanted to abuse it

Would I recommend this book to others? To be honest, no. While the idea has potential, and the writing in certain places is quite poetic, the characters are not fleshed out enough to send a solid message to the reader. Even though a sequel is scheduled to come out next year, I don’t think it’s one that I’ll pick up, unless I hear very, very good things about it.