Blogging Hiatus

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Dear readers, I must announce at this time that I am going on a blogging hiatus. SPM is less than 3 weeks now, and I have to do some serious benkyō-ing!

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I really don't want to end up like this:

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So I will be very determined to finish my revisions on time! I hope you'll continue to support The Bookaholics nevertheless! Thank you!

xoxo,
Aik.

Pick Your Poison @ Sarah's Book Reviews

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Sarah's Book Reviews: Pick Your Poison!

2 winners will each win two books of their choice from the list below.

http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1299396299l/9297774.jpghttp://hobbitsies.net/bookcovers/exciteoct11/carrierofthemark.JPG
1.) Eve (The Eve Trilogy #1) by Anna Carey
2.) Dearly, Departed (Dearly #1) by Lia Habel
3.) Carrier of the Mark (Carrier Trilogy #1) by Leigh Fallon
4.) The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

This is an international giveaway.

Cover Love: Until I Die by Amy Plum

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Wow... Do you see this? Pretty amazing cover, right? This is a preview of Until I Die by Amy Plum, the sequel to Die For Me. The girl in the picture somehow looks as if she has wings! :)

You can read my review for Die For Me by clicking the image below:

Die for Me

Book Review : The Complete Horowitz Horror by Anthony Horowitz

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The Complete Horowitz Horror

by
Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 14th 2008 by Puffin
Synopsis
Welcome to a world where everything seems normal. At least, at first. But the sinister and truly terrifying lurk just beneath the surface. Like a bathtub with a history so haunted, no one dares get in it…or an ordinary-looking camera that does unspeakable things to its subjects…or an elevator filled with cannibals just waiting for their next victim to walk in…. This wicked collection of eighteen macabre tales combining both Horowitz Horror and More Horowitz Horror will send shivers up your spine.

Review

Even though this book is targeted at middle grade readers, I really enjoyed reading it. Horowitz's writing style is one-of-a-kind. Most of the endings of his stories are left hanging, leaving them to the readers' imaginations. Under usual circumstances, this would have irked me, but it didn't. In fact, I found myself wondering about the character's fates, the gears in my brain turning round and round as I decided what would be best for the characters.

I read this at night, and goodness, it frightened me! Despite my fear for the unknown and my drooping eyelids, I kept on reading; it was as if I was addicted to Horowitz's horror stories. Horowitz is the children's new King of Horror!
4.000

About The Author
Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz is perhaps the busiest writer in England. He has been writing since the age of eight, and professionally since the age of twenty. In addition to the highly successful Alex Rider books, he is also the writer and creator of award winning detective series Foyle’s War, and more recently event drama Collision, among his other television works he has written episodes for Poirot, Murder in Mind, Midsomer Murders and Murder Most Horrid. Anthony became patron to East Anglia Children’s Hospices in 2009.

Book Review : Reckless by Cornelia Funke

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Reckless (Reckless, #1)

by
Hardcover, 391 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by Little Brown Books

Synopsis

Beyond the mirror, the darkest fairy tales come alive. . . .

For years, Jacob Reckless has enjoyed the Mirrorworld’s secrets and treasures.

Not anymore.

His younger brother has followed him.

Now dark magic will turn the boy to beast, break the heart of the girl he loves, and destroy everything Jacob holds most dear. . . .

Unless he can find a way to stop it.

Review
My first book by Cornelia Funk, and probably my last.

I don't mean to sound critical, but Reckless really reads like a failed fairy-tale mash-up. Needless to say, I'm disappointed.

Characters Introduction:

Jacob really lives up to his last name. He disappears for weeks into the Mirrorworld for adventure and treasure hunting without thinking about the little brother he's left behind.

When Will Reckless follows him beyond the mirror, Jacob is thrust into a race against time before a curse will turn his brother to stone. Suddenly, Jacob knows how much Will means to him. But is it too little, too late?

Will has always believed in his brother, no matter what. But now he's followed Jacob into another world, and a fairy curse threatens to change everything about him. As the curse takes hold, Will burns with flashes of anger—at his brother. Is the curse turning Will into a monster? Or making him stronger?

Clara is studying to be a doctor. In the world beyond the mirror, she may be the only one who can lift Will's curse. But before they can live happily ever after, Clara must survive her trip to fairy tale land.

What's the problem with Reckless?

  1. An insubstantial opening. Basically, I really had no idea what is going on at the beginning of the novel and it took me moments to realize the identities of the characters. They felt boring but I forced myself to go through it, since I didn't want to give up so soon.
  2. Deeply flawed plot. The story started with Will turning into a Goyl and Jacob wanting to find a cure for his brother. There is no explanation as to why he is turning into one. It felt so strange that I couldn't help but wonder whether this was supposed to make the reader feel excited or bewildered.
  3. No chemistry between supposedly "in love" characters. The relationship between Will and Clara seemed so fake, if you get what I mean. I couldn't sense the love between the couple. They did not emanate the feeling that they were in love.
  4. Bad fairy-tale mash-up. This story is full of mythical creatures, but anything that is overboard is not good. This case applies for Reckless. Bits and pieces of fairy-tale is mashed up to form a story. Though the concept of Man-Goyl (man of stone skin) is new, but I didn't like it. I still don't. And perhaps I never will.
  5. Translation. I understand that this book was originally written in German and was then translated into other languages. This explains some of the strange sentence structures and certain weird phrases I encounter in the book.
While I didn't like reading this book, it doesn't mean that it is completely devoid of good elements. The themes of family love, friendship and courage are shown clearly in Reckless.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Funke was born and raised in Germany, just like Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. In German, “Funke” is pronounced “FOON-kuh” which means spark. Cornelia grew up in a small town which wasn't a very adventurous place so she became a book eater at the age of 5 and loved her walks with her father to the public library from which they both returned with piles of book treasure. Books were, as Cornelia says, her windows and doors to the world. They promised adventure and hundreds of interesting characters she couldn't find in the streets of her home town. Nevertheless she never imagined that one day she'd write books herself. She thought this to be quite a magical skill only performed by very mysterious beings who for sure were either very old or very dead.

Read more at Get Reckless

Here's a better cover of Reckless:
Reckless

Book Review : Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

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Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, #1)
by
Mass Market Paperback, 360 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Zebra

Synopsis
When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants, the wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?

But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid's life is far less exotic. At least there's her day job at a local bookstore—free books; all the white chocolate mochas she can drink; and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can't.

But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle's demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won't help because Georgina's about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny...

Review
I've never read any book with a succubus as the main character, until this book. In folklore traced back to medieval legend, a succubus (plural succubi) is a female demon appearing in dreams who takes the form of a human woman in order to seduce men. In Succubus Blues, Georgina Kincaid is a heroine who, despite being a succubus, has many traits which are comparable to humans. She drinks coffee, reads books, and has a crush on her favourite author. She also can shape-shift into anyone she likes. But she is clueless about what she wants. Even when she knows what she wants, she has no guts to admit it.

While this book has some pretty interesting characters - I couldn't really relate to any of them, but I somehow understand Georgina's feelings and lack of confidence in getting what she really wanted. Georgina's favourite author, Seth Mortensen is seriously lacking of interpersonal skills. He is quite an introvert and likes to speak monosyllable terms. Georgina's other admirer, Roman is a dashing, unabashed man who seems to have the confidence to do anything in order to woo her. However, I seriously don't like this character. He is too cocky, and in my opinion, a little perverted.

The plot is good, though. It keeps me guessing who the villain is, and when the villain is finally revealed, I couldn't help but feel a tinge of pity for him/her even though he/she is a total baddie. Succubus Blue is quite good, but it still has rooms for improvements.

Rating: 3.685
Warning: This book is PG-18.

Book Review : Constantine by John Shirley

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Constantine
by
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 25th 2005 by Pocket Star
Available on Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Synopsis
Hidden from mortal eyes are the angels and demons that coexist with mankind...supernatural beings who seek to influence our lives for better and for worse. Amoral and irreverent renegade occultist and paranormal detective John Constantine is blessed and cursed with the ability to interact with this secret world. When Constantine teams up with skeptical L.A. policewoman Angela Dodson to solve the mysterious suicide of her twin sister, their investigation catapults them into a catastrophic series of otherworldly events — even as the forces of Hell conspire against Constantine to claim his immortal soul....

Review
Alright, I admit it: I bought this book because I loved the movie. Unsurprisingly, it didn't let me down. I totally enjoyed reading it. Constantine is portrayed as the same cynical, irreverent supernatural detective who is dying of lung cancer caused by too much smoking. He knows he is damned to hell for his past attempt of committing suicide and tries his best to win back God's grace. This book pretty much follows everything that's shown in the movie, although there were some minor differences. Constantine is a mix between paranormal and action, and reading it is really an exhilarating adventure - you wouldn't want to miss it!

Rating: 4.000

Spooktacular Books Challenge

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Eli to the nth is currently holding a a Spooktacular Books Challenge. To enter, you must pick 3 or more "spooky books" to review in October.

Here's the list of spooky books I will be reading and reviewing:


If you wish to participate in the challenge, please go to Eli to the nth to read the rules.

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Book Review : Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

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Rules of Attraction
by
Paperback, 324 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by Walker & Company
Available at The Book Depository at $9.31

Synopsis
When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for the past year, he doesn't want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Colorado. When he meets Kiara Westford, a good girl totally unlike any of the girls he's usually drawn to, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she's too good for him. But will he put his pride aside when he realizes that being with Kiara might finally allow him to be his true self?

Review
I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. In this book, the second Fuentes brother - Carlos returns to America and meets a down-to-earth, studious good girl by the name of Kiara Westford. At first, Carlos seems to dislike Kiara, but later, he discovers that this girl is kind and one-of-a-kind. She wears sluggish clothes, has her hair constantly tied up in a ponytail, and like Carlos himself - loves challenges. Kiara, despite not feeling any attraction towards Carlos initially, can't stop herself from falling in love with Carlos after she glimpses different sides of him and observes the real person behind his bad-boy facade.

I don't know why, but I just love the conversations between Kiara and Carlos. They are witty and funny at times - but never boring. The characters' development is also well penned by the author. We have Carlos, who is protective towards his loved ones and is actually losing hope about having a bright future, Kiara, who has a minor speech problem and is close with her family members, little Brandon (Kiara's 6 y/o brother) who is cute, innocent and extremely excited over the prospect of having Carlos staying in their house, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Westford, who are kind and accepting and treats Carlos like their own son.

Just so you know, the cover actually portrays a scene in the book, where Kiara and Carlos kissed in the rain, which is uber romantic. However, parents should take extra care in letting their children read this book because this book has some *coughs* inappropriate scenes between two unwed teenagers. In my humble opinion, this book, along with Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles are must-read books, but if you think you can't handle the profanity, drugs, alcohol and teen sex, you'd better wait until you're older before picking up this book in the bookstore.

Rating: 5

About The Author
http://brittanyroshelle.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/simone-elkeles-blogimage.jpg
Simone was raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and then Loyola University-Chicago where she earned a Master’s of Science in Industrial Relations while working for a manufacturing company creating diversity programs for their employees. In her spare time she’s a hockey mom and an active Girl Scout leader specially trained in outdoor education. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors.


Links
Simone Elkeles' Website
Perfect Chemistry Website

Facebook Fan Page!

Visit Simone's MySpace Page

Simone's Fan Forum Page


CymLowell

Graphic Novel Review : FAMOUS CHINESE DIPLOMAT: Through The Ages

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FAMOUS CHINESE DIPLOMAT: Through The Ages
Available at AsiaPac Books SGD $8.50
ISBN : 981-229-147-1
Written by : Asiapac Editorial Board
Illustrated by : Ren Changhong
Translated by : Geraldine Goh

Synopsis
DIPLOMATS abound throughout the history of China. From as early as the Eastern Zhou Dynasty to the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Chinese diplomats had played a pivotal role in maintaining peace and prosperity for their homeland.

Twelve stories have been specially selected to demonstrate the eloquence, wit and courage of Chinese diplomats living in turbulent times.

Jiang Ziya and Zhuge Liang were astute negotiators and war strategists. Zhang Qian, the adventurous ambassador to the West, opened up the Silk Road. Feng Liao, the first female Chinese diplomat, averted war for the Han Imperial Court. Lin Zexu launched a furious campaign against the use of opium.

These stories and many more - full of charm and appeal, wit and wisdom - serve as an excellent introduction to the history and development of Chinese diplomacy.

Review
Diplomacy is the art of conducting negotiations between representatives of nations, normally used to gain strategic advantage in a social manner. In the olden days, diplomacy is one of the best ways to prevent a country from hemegony and colonisation as official diplomatic ties can help a country to foster good relationships with its neighbours, ensuring peace and harmony.

FAMOUS CHINESE DIPLOMAT: Through The Ages contains 12 stories in total, and I'm going to write a brief review for a few of my favourite stories:

Ziya Defeats Lord Hu by Diplomatic Tactics
Jiang Ziya was a famous sage and military strategist in ancient China. In this story, Jiang Ziya helped Lord Xibo to avenge his son's terrible death caused by Lord Hu. Lord Hu, a treacherous man, accused Lord Xibo of being disloyal. As a result, Lord Xibo's eldest son was make mincemeat and cooked in soup, and later forced down the throat of Lord Xibo himself per the orders of King Zhou. Jiang Ziya's wit in dealing with this matter helped Lord Xibo to triumph in the battle against Lord Hu.

Zhang Qian Opens Up the Silk Road
Zhang Qian was an imperial envoy to the world outside of China during the time of the Han Dynasty. Zhang Qian spent a huge part of his life on his mission - to make contact and build an alliance with the Yuezhi against the Xiongnu. During his travels, he was captured by the Xiongnu and married a Xiongnu wife, who bore him a son. Eventually, he escaped and arrived at Yuezhi after much hardship. On his return trip he was again captured by the Xiongnu who again spared his life because they valued his sense of duty and composure in the face of death. When the Xiongnu leader died and internal strife occurred, he managed to escape and return to China. He never gave up throughout the journey even though he faced a lot of troubles and difficulties. His indomitable spirit initiated the development of the famous Silk Road.

Zhuge Liang Thrashes Cao Troops at Chibi
Zhuge Liang was a chancellor of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. He is often recognised as the greatest and most accomplished strategist of his era. In this story, Zhuge Liang convinced Sun Quan to join forces with Liu Bei's army to fight against Cao Cao. The allied armies of Liu Bei and Sun Quan scored a decisive victory over Cao Cao's forces at Chibi. Zhuge Liang's wisdom and intelligence was well-shown in this story.

Zheng He Outwits and Captures the Ceylonese King
Zheng He was an outstanding mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral during the Ming dynasty. In this story, Zheng He showed his ability to stay calm in times of stress and successfully regained his fleet of ships from the greedy hands of the Ceylonese King. His wit ensures the safety of his goods and also the lives of his men.

Huang Zunxian Stands Up for the Overseas Chinese
Huang Zunxian's brilliant verbal-counterattack regarding the sanitary conditions of the slums and prisons successfully helps to reverse the unfortunate fates of overseas Chinese. His words were powerful and to the point, he totally threw the officer-in-charge of Chinese affairs off balance.

FAMOUS CHINESE DIPLOMAT: Through The Ages is the perfect book for youngsters to learn about diplomacy and the advantages of forming diplomatic ties with other countries. With easy-to-follow descriptions and attractive illustrations, this book is both enlightening and fun to read.

Rating: 5

A Note of Thanks
Many thanks to Jane from Asia Pac Books for sending me a paperback copy of FAMOUS CHINESE DIPLOMAT: Through The Ages for this review. FAMOUS CHINESE DIPLOMAT is available at AsiaPac Books for SGD $8.50.

Graphic Novel Review : FAN LI & XI SHI : Master Strategist and the Beauty

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Fan Li & Xi Shi Master Strategist and the Beauty
FAN LI & XI SHI : Master Strategist and the Beauty
Available at AsiaPac Books SGD $
8.50
ISBN : 981-229-171-7
Written by : Asiapac Editorial Board
Illustrated by : Terry Lim
Translated by : Geraldine Goh

Synopsis
Amid the turbulent, long-drawn war of the Spring and Autumn Period, Fan Li stood out as an upright man of great political insight.
* He served King Goujian of Yue with absolute loyalty, choosing to remain as a slave to be with his master.
* He mooted the idea of sending Xi Shi, his beloved soul mate, to the enemy’s palace as a spy.
* He rescued Yue from destruction and transformed it into a powerful state.
*Disheartened by the cruelty of war, he retired from his illustrious political career. To hide his true identity, he even changed his name to Tao Zhugong. Nevertheless, his business acumen soon led to many successful business ventures, and he became respected as the founding father of Chinese business strategies!
* In this book, you will get to know the visionary politician, the sagacious strategist, and the innovative business entrepreneur. His achievements, resourcefulness and upright character will inspire you!

Contents: A Scholar's Battle Strategies, First Display of Talent, Suffer Humiliation with the King, Strategise the Revenge, Final Victory, Business Pursuit and Success

Review
I have heard of the story of how the skilled politician Fan Li helped the King of Yue, Gou Jian (Chinese: 越王勾踐) to rise above the dominance of Wu (a state ruled by King Fuchai), but I only knew it vaguely. This book helped me to gain insight of the accurate historical events that occurred during the exact time frame. By reading this book, I get to witness the the fall and rise of a great power, as well as the display of ethical leadership in chaotic times.

First of all, I would like to praise the artist of this comic book, Mr. Terry Lim for his brilliant artwork. Without his captivating and expressive drawings, this book would not be as charming as it is now. I find myself constantly admiring the graphics in this book. The personalities of the protagonists are distinctly displayed - King Fuchai's rage over his father's death and determination to avenge him, King Goujian's arrogance over their initial victory and later humiliation of being a slave to Fuchai, Fan Li's indisputable loyalty towards Gou Jian and his plan to help his master to rise from the ashes, like a phoenix reborn.

One of the four beauties in ancient China, Xi Shi also played an important role in this story. She was offered to King Fuchai as a gift along with another beautiful girl, Zheng Dan. On the outside, it seemed that Yue was willingly offering tributes to Wu, but this was actually a plan to overthrow Wu by using beautiful women. Unable to resist beautiful women, Fuchai soon forgot all about his state affairs and at their instigation, ordered his best adviser Wu Zixu to perform suicide.

The most popular scene is the one where Goujian returned to his native state and started consuming food suited for peasants and forcing himself to taste bile to remind himself of the humiliations he suffered while serving Fuchai as a slave. He also slept on firewood as he was not used to soft beds anymore. People eventually created a Chinese idiom with the literal meaning sleeping on sticks and tasting gall (卧薪尝胆 Pinyin: wò xīn cháng dǎn), to refer to Goujian's perseverance.

FAN LI & XI SHI is a book which kids and youngsters are bound to love. Through the vivid drawings and easy-to-read descriptions, readers will be transported back to the Spring and Autumn Period as the story unfolds before their very own eyes. I thoroughly enjoyed this unique and one-of-a-kind trip, and I'm sure it will be the same for you.

Rating: 5

A Note of Thanks
Many thanks to Jane from Asia Pac Books for sending me a paperback copy of FAN LI & XI SHI for this review. FAN LI & XI SHI is available at AsiaPac Books for SGD $8.50.

Book Review : The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

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The Iron Queen (Iron Fey, #3)
The Iron Queen by
Paperback, 358 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Harlequin Teen
Available on The Book Depository at $9.26

Synopsis

My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

Review
While this book is written with the same style as its previous installments, I feel as though there is something which this book lacks. I can't pinpoint it, but I can tell you that I don't feel so captivated by the story anymore.

In the first half of the novel, Meghan basically did nothing impressive. It was only until the very last part, where she fought the false Iron King that she actually showed her power. In her body, there were two opposite powers and she had to learn how to use them together, like composing a piano song.

The series is supposed to end as The Iron Queen comes to an end, but there is a book #4 (The Iron Knight) which is told from Ash's point of view. But I think I'll skip that one, since I prefer the story to end right here.

The Iron Fey series has been quite a good read, and I really appreciate Julie Kagawa's writing style. I'm glad I have the chance to accompany Meghan on her journey to embrace her destiny to be the Iron Queen. For her, honour comes before love, but the love with never die - it will remain in her heart forever, as well as Ash's.

Rating: 4.000

About The Author
Julie Kagawa was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel.

Graphic Novel Review : Pariah #1 by Aron Warner

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http://openbooksociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/pariah1.jpg
Aron Warner's Pariah #1 (Of 4)
E-book available at Sea Lion Books for $3.99
Pre-order (Comic) at Amazon.com for $2.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal

Review
Brent Marks is not a freak. He’s one of the “Pariah”, a group of teens who become extremely intelligent after being cured of a genetic disorder. Although in most ways a normal teen, Brent is considered dangerous and is tracked down by the government who see these kids as an enormous threat.

The storyline of this book has great potential, but the storytelling lacks depth. Brent Marks is a highly intelligent Vitro, and his appearance is generally that of a nerd. None of his classmates actually pay attention to his presentation even though he's having a great point.

When an explosion occurs at the Marinus Laboratories, a deadly toxin is released into the air, and the Vitros are accused of bombing the place. They are also accused of terrorism and genocide. What will happen to Brent Marks?

http://www.pariahonline.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/BM_TEACH.jpghttp://www.pariahonline.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/BM_DANGER.jpg

I didn't really like the artwork of the book. I find the lines to be messy and has not much appeal to the eye of the reader. The colours, though vibrant, gives me an impression of being too fantastical and unrealistic. I hope the next installment will be better than this one.

Rating: 3

A Note of Thanks
Thanks to Sea Lion Books for sending me an e-copy of this graphic novel for review!