Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

This high fantasy novel by the author of Jellicoe Road (one of my favourite books of all time) tells an incredible story in beautifully-crafted writing.

Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the cusp of manhood, is compelled to join forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere. But Evanjalin’s unpredictable behavior suggests that she is not what she seems — and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her, but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

It is the story of a boy -young man- who has to make a journey in order to save his country and his countrymen. I admit, it was a little hard to get into at first, but after the first five or so pages, I was sucked right into the story. The adventure is breathtaking, with a lot of fight scenes, sword-fighting scenes, chace scenes, escape scenes and so on. 
Of course, there is a great mystery to unfold, which was written exquisitely, uncovering pieces slowly and tantalizingly of another large story which is the entire backstory of the novel. I absolutely loved these kinds of stories, where you discover all the pieces to the puzzle, and by the last page you finally understand the whole picture. I also adore the kind of truth that was revealed at the end. It simply made the story that much more interesting and meaningful. This is just exquisite writing, where the whole book is crafted intricately into a close-woven thread and everything falls into place by the end.
The romance was intense, although not a dominating part of the book, and the heroine, Evanjalin, was one of the bravest and cleverest heroines I have ever read about. She is strong but her strength  is not shown in a way that makes you dislike her. She is stubborn, but only because she knows what she is doing, and by the way, her self-confidence is one of her best traits. She is als vulnerable, however, and I loved the fact that this was the first thing that attracted Finnikin to her. At least, seemingly the first thing. 
Finnikin was a hero that grew from a frightened and disillusioned boy into a true hero, fighting his battles and protecting those he loves.

This was an excellent read, and, needless to say, as soon as my younger brother saw the cover, he pested me until I had finished it and lended it to him. I think it is as appropriate for boys as for girls.

Rating: 5/5

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Bookish Top Ten of 2011: Covers

These are the best book covers of the books I read in 2011.
Not all of them are 4 or 5 stars books, but their covers... rock!
Only pictures this time. 
In all their glory (and in no particular order).











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Protection For Hire by Camy Tang

Product Description from Christianbook.com

Tessa Lancaster's skills first earned her a position as an enforcer in her Uncle Teruo's Japanese Mafia gang. Then they landed her in prison for a crime she didn't commit. Now, three months after her release, Tessa's abilities have gained her a job as bodyguard for wealthy socialite Elizabeth St. Amant and her three-year-old son.But there's a problem or two . or three .. There's Elizabeth's abusive husband whose relentless pursuit goes deeper than mere vengeance. There's Uncle Teruo, who doesn't understand why Tessa's new faith as a Christian prevents her from returning to the yakuza. And then there's Elizabeth's lawyer, Charles Britton, who Tessa doesn't know is the one who ensured that she did maximum time behind bars. Now Tessa and Charles must work together in order to protect their client, while new truths emerge and circumstances spiral to a deadly fever pitch.

I enjoyed this contemporary, christian fiction novel packed with action and full of realistic characters.

Tessa, our heroine, is a strong Christian woman trying to leave her dark past behind and make a new life for herself away from the Japanese mafia. But, of course, people -even her mother and especially her sister- are reluctant to give her a second chance. This was very realistic and I liked how the author portrayed the whole situation. I also liked reading about Tessa's struggles to live as a Christian and to learn to control her temper. 
Also, the choices she had to make were never easy, but she was determined to live for Jesus.
I really loved this part.

The action part was a large part of the entire story, and while I would have liked it to be a little more fast-paced, it was ok and had a few surprises along the way. There were a few action scenes too, quite well-written. 

The romance with a young lawyer, Charles, was really sweet, but also deep at times, which I loved. There was no love at first sight or any of this immature stuff, just a growing relationship of trust and getting to know each other. I just love it when the hero and heroine are forced to fight together, it just seems to make them bond much more than going on dates...

There were some funny parts, too, which I enjoyed.
The book is generally written in a chick-lit genre manner, which I am not a great fan of, and I expected it to be written differently. For this genre it was really well-written, though, although I had to skip over a few conversations that seemed boring to me. 

I rceived this book form Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Camy Tang grew up in Hawaii but she now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious mutt, Snickers. She was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. She won the Carol Book of the Year award in the Debut Author category with her novel Sushi for One? Follow Camy online at www.camytang.com.

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Bookish Top Tens of 2011: Couples

I meant to make this post sooner, but I' ve been in bed, sick, so everything got a little behind.
These are the best of the best and cutest and most romantic and intense couples from the books I read in 2011. which happens to be this past year (by the way, have a wonderful and blessed year, everybody!)

Here we go.

1. Celia and Marco

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
Like the story, 
the romance between the two duelling magicians is epic.

2. Karou and Akiva

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Of course, Karou and Akiva would be in this list. They are two exceptional characters in a unique world. 
Their love was astonishing.

3. Fire and Brigan

Fire by Kristin Cashore
The most unique love story I have read in years.
A brilliant story and an extraordinary couple. This was one of the most romantic reads of the year for me.

4. Andi and Virgil

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
A romance in Paris, a dark secret, a girl in need of saving. 
Sweet, witty banter and slowly developping trust.
It doesn't get much better than this.

5. Willow and Guy

Willow by Julia Hoban
Willow is drowning in guilt and sorrow. Guy is the only one capable of rescuing her.
And he did.

6. Tris and Four

from Divergent by Veronica Roth
It's the two of them against the whole world.
Romance at its best.

7. Kieran and Maria

Stupid Perfect World by Scott Westerfeld
in the Love is Hell novella collection.
These two teens in a sci fi future have one of the most realistic and sweetest romances I've ever read. The story is very well-written, too.

8. Noah and Mara

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
I loved the relationhsip between Mara and Noah, their banter, his protectiveness of her, the things they shared.
The story got kind of weird at the end
and I'm not sure I liked it overall,
but this definitely is one of the best couples I've ever read about.

9. Alexius and Tibi

The Champion by Carla Capshaw,
a historica, romance in ancient Rome.
He is handsome and strong and a gladiator.
She is sweet and abused and without a champion.
Together they discover the new christian faith.
Against all odds.
They are one of my favourite couples of all time.

10. Tessa and Guy

Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson,
another historical ya novel,
taking place in Vienna of 1922.
Excellently romantic
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