The Two Pearls Of Wisdom / Eon - Alison Goodman

Adult cover

Young Adult cover

Summary from Amazon:
Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, candidate Eon is training to become a Dragoneye – a powerful Lord able to master wind and water to protect the land. But Eon also harbours a desperate secret… Eon is, in fact, Eona, a young woman who has endured years of disguise as a boy for the chance to practice the Dragoneye’s Art. In a world where women are only hidden wives or servants, Eona’s dangerous deception is punishable by death. Still in disguise, Eona’s unprecedented talent thrusts her into the centre of a lethal struggle for the Imperial throne. Summoned by the Emperor to the opulent and treacherous Court, Eona must learn to trust her power and find the strength to face a vicious enemy who would seize her magic . . . and her life. Inspired by ancient Chinese lore and sharing the wonders of films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this thrilling novel is set in a brilliantly envisioned world where both appearances and loyalties can prove so very deceptive…


This book is like a punch in the gut. Beautifully written and brilliantly crafted, the book tells the tale of young crippled* Eon who hides his identity as a woman to be able to become a Dragoneye. Only men are allowed to be candidates but Eon (Eona) is the most brilliant of all. Not only can Eon feel the dragons and control his Hua the best (energy), but he is the only one who can see all of the dragons as if they were physical beings. 

The plot has the appearance of a coming-of-age adventure of a poor humble child who goes on to save an empire but has in fact strong political and social themes as well as a humanistic approach. Eona's fight and her obligation to transform as a boy in order to have a life is the fight of all women in this world. But the story doesn't only centre on man/woman struggles. The story shows the poverty in some regions of the Empire and the cases of slavery for some people as well as the fight of the less able-bodied (Eona has a crippled leg and her friend Chart has communication issues) to be recognised as proper human beings and not as inferior beings/animals/creatures of the devil.

Eon/Eona is a truly fascinating character. Eon is constantly struggling to bury Eona deeper each day and try to show the world that a cripple can do all these things. Eon's ambition has no end and he will do all it takes to get there. Eon also has a heart and he is generous with people, especially when they don't only see the crippled leg.
All the other characters are multi-layered and have their own private struggle to deal with. I really liked the diversity of characters and loved characters like Lady Della, Chart and Eon who would show that sometimes the outside isn't what is really on the inside. I've always thought that fantasy was a way to talk about reality in other words and I find the characters very realistic and bringing very contemporary themes.

The setting of the story is breathtaking. From the places to the traditions and the organisation of society, Alison Goodman creates a thoroughly and meticulously described painting of Eon's world. The Chinese and Japanese influences are visible but they are masterfully woven with an original fantasy world. The Two Pearls Of Wisdom is one of the most interesting effort to set a fantasy world in an Oriental-inspired world. The cultural aspect is very rich and the whole Empire, with its set of tradition and beliefs is simply flawless. The dragons and the Hua are truly fascinating and the book is a fantastic addition to the genre (as of 2009 of course :) ).

I am literally in love with this book and can't wait to dive into the second book, The Necklace Of The Gods. If you are a fan of fantasy, the originality of the story and the incredible writing and plot will amaze you. Non-fantasy fans may like the writing, the characters and the strong ideas beneath the story. Go read it!

* The word "cripple" has a pejorative sense but is widely used in the book.

The Two Pearls Of Wisdom / Eon | Alison Goodman | 2009 | Bought and read on my kindle

Foreign Book Covers - Charlie Higson

Hello book lovers!

I hope you are all doing well :)

Several months ago I came across the Italian cover of The Hunger Games which is, by far, the best cover of the book I have seen (remind yourself of its beauty here) and I wanted to share it with you. 
I have been thinking for quite some time to create a semi-regular feature to showcase some foreign book covers. As several features exist in the blogosphere on US vs. UK covers, I will focus on French and Italian book covers as I keep falling for their originality.

I am really excited to show you the Italian and French covers of the wonderful Charlie Higson books The Dead and The Enemy. You can check out my reviews of The Enemy here and of The Dead there.

UK covers:


Italian covers:

Only the children avoided the infectiousness.
Now they have to defend themselves against zombies.

Nowhere is safe
when Death is onto you.


French cover of The Enemy:
Either this is front and back cover or two different covers for the same book

They chase you
They kill you
They eat you

You thought that your parents 
would always be there to protect you...
You were wrong


I have never been much of a fan of the UK covers. I think there are too many things on them and nothing very striking comes out.
I really love the old school feeling of the Italian covers and how they remind me of old zombie films. I find that they encapsulate that zombie tradition but maybe they are not modern enough for younger audiences.
I find the French cover very attractive and better suited for a younger audience and I like the simpler design. 

What do you think? 
Which one do you prefer and which one would suit the book better?

Della says: OMG! - Keris Stainton

Summary from Amazon:
Don't miss this fantastic debut novel - Keris Stainton is a fabulously contemporary, witty and fresh new voice who teen girls will adore. Della’s over the moon when she kisses her long-standing crush at a party – but then she discovers her diary has disappeared... When scans of embarrassing pages are sent to her mobile and appear on Facebook, Della’s distraught – how can she enjoy her first proper romance when someone, somewhere, knows all her deepest, darkest secrets?


Della Says: OMG! made me incredibly happy when I read it! I finished it a few months ago and went through it again to write the review and I found myself rereading it! Sweet, funny and witty, Della will definitely make your day and you will want her as your best friend!

Della is an average teenager living in the UK. She is in that No-Man's-Land between popular and complete loser but she's ok with it. Her sidekick best friend Maddy is made of awesome and she helps out Della with that sisyphean quest towards popularity. When Della's big sister Jamie organises a party in their house to celebrate her departure for America for the summer, Della is dressed with nice clothes and she makes out with Dan Bailey, her longtime crush, who seems to be interested in her. What should be one of the best days of her life turns into a horrific nightmare when *gasps* Della's diary is stolen and she receives (very embarrassing) pages of it through Facebook in a stalkerish kind of way. I know, OMG!

Della is a very down-to-earth teenager and has a great personality. I really loved being in her head and seeing her react to the loss of her diary. She is a great friend and very fun to be around. Her budding romance with Dan is wonderfully portrayed, they are adorable together and the moments where they get to know each other are swoon-worthy. I also liked the way Dan sees Della and how it contrasts from the vision Della has of herself. Della wants to take over from her parents' Deli business and run one of her own and it was great to see her liking her summer job running one deli!
The other characters are all well described and great! I *love* Della's parents!

Through the pages of Della's diary which are put in various locations and sent to various people, we go through Della's most personal thoughts and you can't help cringe at some of the situations. But Della is courageous and she goes through this with the help of her friends and Dan. It also touches important themes for teenagers and it gives a great depth to the story. One of them is the relations between family and friends and it was really great to relate to some of the events in the story.

You know I'm a sucker for an interesting background to a story and I loved the Britishness of Della's story and all the popular culture references. I also loved the fact that they seemed to be *gasps* normal teenagers (you know, the kind you were yourself in that grey area between angel and  thug).

The book is told from Della's point of view and the general style of writing flows perfectly. I could really feel Della's personality and thoughts rising from the pages and most of the episodes are laugh out loud funny and original.

I can't quite describe this novel, it is a real piece of sunshine. The story is incredibly uplifting and after finishing it I was dancing around and quite horrifyingly singing to cheesy music and having a blast (*cough* I mean, I know a friend who did that - not me, I swear). Della says: OMG! is one of the best contemporary novels I have read recently and by far the funniest and wittiest. Go read it - you won't be able to resist it!

And boy am I excited for Keris Stainton's new novel Jessie Hearts NYC out in July (YAY!!)

FYI: The kindle edition was entirely in italics (Twitter tells me the paperback isn't)

Della Says: OMG! by Keris Stainton | 2010 | Bought and read on my kindle

Huntress - Malinda Lo

*massive love*
Malinda Lo is one of those writers who speak directly to my soul. I honestly don't know what I would do without her books.

(what do you mean "over the top, much?" :D)

Summary from Amazon:
Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance. To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet their two destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever...


Huntress is set in the same world as Ash but takes place some eons of time before.  Huntress's setting though has some clear Chinese influences in terms of cultural and religious aspects. If you haven't read Ash (*gasps* Seriously? What are you waiting for?) and want to read my review, head over here.

I really felt that the setting was very important in this book and that it grounded the plot and the characters. Malinda Lo is a very strong advocate of Diversity in YA and not only does the book touch LGBT themes but it has also some feminist and POC aspects.

The characters in this story all have their different stories, experiences and outlook on life. Kaede is the daughter of the King's Chancellor and has a path already prepared for her where she marries a rich important man to secure stability in the Kingdom. But Kaede doesn't want to get involved in politics and get married to a man she hardly knows (*cough* to a man, period. *cough*). She wants to choose her own life and keeps opposing herself to her father.
Taisin comes from a very modest family and only owes her place in the Academy thanks to her extraordinary gifts. She is very talented and dedicated to become a sage.
The secondary characters also have their personalities and their own inner struggles. I liked Con, the King's son, who, having spent time in the army with trusted soldiers, knows how to take care of himself and his people, as well as Shae who is a badass warrior despite being a woman (that is no me being sexist, it is the general idea in the book).

The Kingdom is organised as a patriarchal society (aka ruled by those little things known as "men") from what we can gather from the beginning, and even if some strong female figures exist in the Academy as sages, they are magically gifted. The society isn't big on homosexuality either, in case you were wondering. So a very important part of the story is that Taisin and Kaede are both fighting social conventions (kapow!) to be something which doesn't exactly exist and which they don't know they can reach. Slowly, they realise that everything that have been fed to them by everyone since they were children doesn't apply to the reality before their eyes and doesn't prepare them to anything they will have to confront. And no matter how hard the situation is (may it be going to the Xi or understanding they feeling) they cannot not fight this fight.

That is why I really loved the romance part (yes, that is really me saying that :) )! You really could feel Kaede and Taisin's feelings for each other grow every day more. It started as a tiny spark and kept growing as their mutual respect and admiration for each other grew. Their story was very sensitively portrayed and it didn't distract the reader too much from the main action of the book nor did it seem too boringly romantical.

In the book, the main fairy characters are the Xi who are a type of Elf/Fairy/You-Name-It who live eternal lives, have very developed magical skills and are very close to nature. Their personalities are very much in line with their species' characteristics so it felt realistic (as realistic as fantastical creatures in a fantasy world can get). It was also interesting to see the human characters discover the contrasts between the two species. The fantasy aspect is also not too heavy so non-fantasy fans can read this without risk of sudden death.
Malinda Lo has fantastic story-telling skills and I really loved the fact that the story took some very unexpected paths and didn't go the way I anticipated it would go. The story uses a third person narrator who goes in the head of all characters.

Colour me partial but this is definitely my kind of book through and through. I love the style of writing, the story, the characters and the setting. I really want to read more about Kaede and Taisin (and it does feel like a sequel might be possible)!

Huntress by Malinda Lo | May 2011 | Read on my kindle.

Dragondrums - Anne McCaffrey

I am reviewing Dragondrums as part of the Anne McCaffrey Reading Challenge which I am hosting here!

If you would like more information on the Challenge, check out my post here.


Each Pern novel can be read as a stand alone, but Dragondrums is the third book in the Harper Hall trilogy so if you want to read the books in the order, head over here and check out my review of the first book of the trilogy, Dragonsong. And head over here instead to read my review of Dragonsinger, the second book in the trilogy.

The story starts at the end of Dragonsinger where Menolly is made a Journeyman. Piemur prepares himself for a big event where he will be the lead singer until his voice breaks and he realises that his one and only ability which made him special has now disappeared.
But Piemur is very far from having just this one ability and Master Robinton knows how precious Piemur is. That is why Piemur is seemingly hired as a drums apprentice when in fact he is asked to becoming the Master Harper's ears and eyes wherever he goes.

I was at first quite disappointed to see that I wouldn't be in Menolly's head anymore. I really loved Piemur but I was so used to see things through Menolly's eyes that I thought I wouldn't be able to like the book. But then Piemur started being Piemur and I couldn't remember why I could have been worried in the first place.
Piemur has always been very cunning and at times manipulative to get what he wants and seeing his reasoning behind his cunning schemes was fantastic. He is a sweetheart and you can't stop laughing at his wild schemes! I think he is one of my favourite characters ever!

It is so heart-breaking when his voice transforms, I could really feel for him, especially with the weight of everyone else's reaction, but thankfully - and quite frankly, in a typical Piemur fashion - he springs out of it and finds something else to do. He has such a great spirit that he sees the positive aspect of things.

I really don't want to spoil the story by telling you what sorts of mischief he conjures up in this book, but I can promise that you won't be disappointed. I thought that my favourite books would be the first ones because they are told by Menolly and because they focus on those gorgeous little things named fire lizards but Dragondrums is such a special story of someone trying to find himself. It is such a wonderful story that I cried at the end because it made me so happy. (I am not even kidding and I understand I am losing all my street cred by confessing this.)

I know these books were published years ago and no one particularly cares to discover Anne McCaffrey's books today when they can read modern stories and such but those stories really hold something others don't and I really can't wait to read all of Anne Mccaffrey's other books (thank God there are so many!). So you need to read those books too! 

This trilogy is one of the best fantasy novels I have ever read. It transports me to a beautifully vivid world and makes me travel alongside amazing characters. Plus now I know that I want a fire lizard as a pet so that's that.

Long Lankin - Lindsey Barraclough

Summary from Amazon:
A chilling, beautiful debut novel inspired by a haunting folk song about murder, witchcraft and revenge.
Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss . . .

When Cora and her little sister Mimi are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Bryers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome, and are desperate to go back to London. But Auntie Ida's life was devastated the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall, and now her nieces' arrival has reawoken an evil that has lain waiting for years.
A haunting voice in an empty room ... A strange, scarred man lurking in the graveyard ... A mysterious warning, scrawled on the walls of the abandoned church . . . Along with Roger and Peter, two young village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries - before it is too late for Mimi.
Intensely atmospheric and truly compelling, this is a stunning debut.


This book came out of nowhere and took me completely by surprise. Rich, eerie and thrilling, the story overtakes your senses... and makes you regularly turn around to check if your window is still closed.

Cora and Mimi are being sent to live with their Auntie Ida after their mother leaves home and their father can't take care of them by himself. They arrive in the very isolated village of Bryers Guerdon and on one side make friends with local boys Roger and Pete but on the other receive a rather cold welcome from their Aunt. Slowly, Cora realises that their arrival has awakened an evil presence in the marshes. An evil presence which is irresistibly attracted to Mimi. 

The book is set in a Sleepy Hollow-esque small village in the English countryside. The life and the characters are really well described and brilliantly intertwined with the English ballad Lamkin/Long Lankin. The atmosphere created by Lindsey Barraclough becomes almost a rather suffocating character in the story, following the main characters around and biding its time before striking.

The story is pretty straightforward, while still shrouding Long Lankin with enough mystery, but the real beauty of the book lies in the writing. It is inescapably haunting and beautiful. Alternating between Cora, Roger and Auntie Ida, scenes are seen through different set of eyes and understanding, which is a very interesting way to tell this story. You also get different point of views during the same action, making you know everything which is happening except Long Lankin's whereabouts and thoughts.

The back story to the song - which I'd rather not explain for spoilery reasons - and the religious aspect of the story bring quite a lot of depth to the story (without it being too heavy). Kids and teens will love this book, but adults will also appreciate other sides to the story that might remind them of their youth. 

I really loved the characters. I felt that the living in a small isolated village and the weight of traditions and hearsay were strongly felt during the book. Even though the book is primarily the scary Long Lankin story, the whole frame carrying the plot holds its own.

I was personally not dramatically spooked, so don't automatically dismiss this book if you don't like scary stories. And if you do like horror stories and mysteries, you really shouldn't miss this truly original book. It is definitely one of a kind in the current YA market.

Note: perfect for boys and girls and anyone with an interest in folk. The scary bits are mainly psychological and there are few "violent" scenes (though not too bad) 10+

Long Lankin | Lindsey Barraclough | Random House Children's Books | April 2011

I bought the ebook version for my kindle but I also received an ARC from RHCB! 
Thanks to Rosi at RHCB for sending this book!

Holiday readings!

Hi book lovers!

I am back from Italy where my diet consisted of pizza, chocolate and ice-cream and where I turned a cute lobster-y colour!

Part of my holiday was visiting some gorgeous places but another part was to read awesome books!!

I went back to Turin (I lived there two years for Uni), then I visited Milan for the first time and went back to the gorgeous city of Rome. 

Il Duomo (Milan)

Fontana di Trevi (Rome)

Colosseo (Rome)


I only packed my Kindle (I *love* my kindle!!!!) for the holiday (packed with books of all shapes and sizes - of course) as well as the book I was currently reading for Mostly Reading YA's Translation Month.

Real World by Natsuo Kirino is a Young Adult Crime fiction book written by a Japanese author. 
I had some issues getting into it at first and I really disagreed with how the teenagers inside the book handled the situations, but I was then impressed by the undercurrent themes in the book. From the day-to-day pressure from society to the loss of hope for the future, I found this insight into Japanese teenage minds really interesting.

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider #1)
This ebook was in promotion on Amazon and I kept hearing great things abou it so I impulsively bought it (well, duh).
It is action-packed and the plot is quite clever, definitely the perfect holiday read!

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
I was really excited to read this book and the story didn't disappoint. John Stephens really knows how to hook the reader and I thought the story was a great addition to YA adventure books.

I knoooooow, it took me ages to get read this book and I can honestly say that the hype surrounding this book isn't overdone - on the contrary!!
The book is even better than I imagined (and I loved the films and kept hearing from people how fantastic the books were).
A must read. Can't wait to read the two sequels. I *love* Lisbeth Salander!

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
Last book of my holiday reads which I just finished and I really loved how unique this story was. Fans of Sleepy Hollow and folk horror tales will love this!
One thing though: I haven't really been afraid (though I would understand kids would be) contrary to what everyone has been telling me!!

That's it! Reviews will hopefully follow as soon as I get organised and write them :D

I hope you had two lovely long weekends with the bank holidays.


x Caroline