After completing her time at the Princess Academy and even setting up a school for the children...moreReview posted at Emily's Reading Room on August 6, 2012
After completing her time at the Princess Academy and even setting up a school for the children at Mount Eskel, Miri is given the opportunity to attend school off the mountain at the Queen's Castle in Asland. Miri is delighted to be with her friend Britta again, but soon learns that there is serious unrest in the kingdom. Between being faced with the big city, new friends, and challenging new ideas, Miri's loyalties are torn.
Oh yeah, and Peder is there.
Though I trust Shannon Hale implicitly to tell a good story, I was very.... curious to see how she would continue Miri's story when I felt like Princess Academy wrapped up so well. And it went in a direction that I absolutely was not expecting. And I mean that in the best possible way.
For some reason, I read the acknowledgements first. And I immediately knew that this book was going to be something special. Hale mentions that a portion of the proceeds of the book will go to LDS Humanitarian Services to help those who can't meet their most basic needs.
And on that note, I began the book. And I was bowled over by the most expert way that Hale handles complex situations like revolution, poverty, loyalty, and love. I've often felt that the best children's writers are able to take a sensitive issue and pose it in a way that is both thoughtful and respectful. There are so many ways that this book could have become preachy or false. But, it was handled so beautifully that I really think that I loved Palace of Stone more than Princess Academy. Which I didn't think was possible.
Miri is a strong girl. She has a strong, sound mind. Though goodness knows I love a girl that kicks butt ala Katniss, I really loved that Miri is most definitely not violent. But she is equally as strong. She comes off her mountain and out of her comfort zone. And she is stretched and tested in many ways. She doesn't always make the best decisions, but she does a darn good job of using her head and trying her best to help in a situation that is most definitely not black and white.
In regards to Miri and Peder. Peder comes with Miri in order to work as an apprentice to a stone carver in Asland. While Miri immerses herself in her studies, Peder works with equal fervor in his job. In fact, Peder becomes so entrenched (and exhausted!) by his work, Miri starts to wonder if he really does care for her. Which allows the sneaky addition of another character that opens Miri to questions about where she really does belong.
If you enjoyed Princess Academy, you are going to ADORE Palace of Stone. But, if you haven't read Princess Academy yet, you'll definitely want to get on that.(less)
Peace is teetering on the edge in the kingdom of Carthya. A divided court and rumors that the royal family has been murdered cause Conner, a nobleman,...morePeace is teetering on the edge in the kingdom of Carthya. A divided court and rumors that the royal family has been murdered cause Conner, a nobleman, to devise a plan to unite the kingdom. He purchases four orphans to train and compete as impersonators of the lost Prince Jaren, including a particularly fiesty one named Sage. With only a few weeks to prepare, and his life on the line, Sage has to learn to play the part and join in on the scheme.
The False Prince is the best middle-grade historical fiction that I have read this year. Period. I loved this book from start to finish, and was captivated. From the very beginning, Sage had my heart. He's such a rascal, but at the same time, he's just a puzzle waiting to be put together. In many ways he reminded me of Gen from Megan Whalen Turner's Thief series. Like Gen, Sage is a thief. They both have this attitude that they just can't be bothered to care about something, even when they clearly do not have the upper hand. And, like Gen, Sage manages to somehow always seem to have the upper hand. Even when he doesn't. Is that confusing? That's the beauty of both of these characters. I couldn't get enough!
In addition to its dynamic characters, Jennifer Nielsen has created a plot with twists and turns in all the right places. Upon first glance, the plot seems easy to pin down. But where this novel truly shines is by building upon itself with action not immediately shown the readers. This results in a climax that will have readers turning back to previous pages to find all the clues that were there the entire time. The way that the critical plot points unfolded was absolutely brilliant. Like a great writer, Nielsen plants little things earlier in the novel that turn out to mean something later in the book.
Give The False Prince to your reluctant readers, particularly boys. There isn't much romance in The False Prince, which is why I would consider it an upper middle grade or lower young adult. I'm hoping that as the trilogy continues, there will be a little something more there for the girls. But, as it is, I really think that girls will enjoy this book too. “The False Prince” contains very little violence and no heavy language.(less)
It is an understatement to say that I was looking forward to this book. I have been dying to read the conclusion. And, it is everything I wanted it to...moreIt is an understatement to say that I was looking forward to this book. I have been dying to read the conclusion. And, it is everything I wanted it to be and more. It's over 600 pages long, but I read it in one day. I haven't sat down with a book like that in years. More comprehensive review to come.(less)
Ever since meeting Michelle Zink at BEA and determining her to be one of the nicest people I've ever had the privilege of meeting, I've been chomping...moreEver since meeting Michelle Zink at BEA and determining her to be one of the nicest people I've ever had the privilege of meeting, I've been chomping at the bit to get a copy of one of her books. So, when I received a copy of this title on Netgalley, I immediately started into it.
Helen and I didn't really connect from the very beginning. I first realized that I was in trouble when Helen shows almost no remorse for the loss of her parents after they are murdered in a house fire. Then, she proceeded to get herself into incredibly dangerous situations, even though she KNEW she couldn't defend herself if she got in trouble. This kind of culminated into a rather funny encounter at the end where she (view spoiler)[ used her super fancy scythe to hack at the backs and shoulders of demons while letting the men do the "real work." (hide spoiler)] It is unclear why Helen's parents didn't tell her who she was or what powers that she had, except for some thing about not yet reaching Enlightenment. But, that seems like a shoddy excuse for not really teaching your child how to defend herself when you know that she's in mortal peril. And, Helen, if you don't know how to use a sword, don't put yourself in a situation where you'll die if you don't have one. That doesn't make you strong, it makes you stupid.
Then there is the issue of Helen and Griffin's relationship. I am definitely a fan of the slow burn relationship. I like my characters to prove that they should be together before they actually get together. The first kiss came way too soon. There seemed to be no other attraction between the two of them except that he has muscular shoulders, and she has violet eyes. And, he calls her pretty. (She's never considered herself to be pretty before, of course). And, then there's a love triangle. Which doesn't work for me, except for a few exceptions.
I also found the world building to be extremely confusing. It's unclear what time period the book takes place in. They have gas lamps, and Helen wears a corset. (The clothing was another really weird thing in the book. Helen takes real pride in designing some weird clothing with short skirts, but ends up wearing a full-length skirt to the final battle?) But, there is also talk of screens, and nobs and other gadgets that seem like they would take electricity. The background of their race and their enemies is also unclear and very confusing. The Dictata knows that the Keepers are being systematically assassinated, and yet they can't get their act together fast enough and allow 4 teenagers to fight a demon?
Anyway, this book left me with feelings very similar to those I had when I read Clockwork Angel. But, it definitely didn't work for me.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Younger readers will enjoy this fun, lighthearted story about a girl with big dreams and ambitions who suddenly finds out that everything she thought...moreYounger readers will enjoy this fun, lighthearted story about a girl with big dreams and ambitions who suddenly finds out that everything she thought she knew about herself and her past isn't true.
I had previously read and reviewed Julie Berry's debut novel The Amaranth Enchantment (link). While I found the story delightful, I think I needed just a little more to push me over the edge to loving it. I feel very much the same about this book.
Evie is a great heroine with strong ambitions and talents. I love a girl that is smart and knows what she wants. However, once we get into the story and add in a secondary character that is her familiar of sorts, I became a little disenchanted. Frankly, her relationship with her familiar fellow was a little weird. I understood that they are bound to each other and require each other for survival, but her introduction to him and the way he latched on was just a tad over the top. However, once they are introduced and the story continues, a lot of those feelings mellowed out and the little guy grew on me.
At about Chapter 24, or halfway through the book I started to really get engaged in the story. Plot was flowing, intrigue was beginning to take place, and I loved the addition of Rudolpho and Alfonso, the actors, to the story. Evie's friendship with Annalise reminded me a lot of the relationship between Ani and Selia in The Goose Girl (which I loved). Annalise definitely has the gift of people-speaking, and she was a very nicely developed character.
As I said before, while I really enjoyed this book, I wanted a lot more back-story and information about Evie's leviathan. If you've been reading my reviews for awhile, you probably know how much I love a well-built story world.
However, this book is a perfect pick for those that love middle-grade fantasy. Another bonus? It's a stand-alone novel, which means no waiting for sequels!(less)
I got the audiobook from my library's website. It was a daunting 10 hours long. But, two trips up to Idaho and a couple commutes t...moreRe-read in July 2012
I got the audiobook from my library's website. It was a daunting 10 hours long. But, two trips up to Idaho and a couple commutes to work did the trick.
The world building in this novel was phenomenal. I haven't read The Warrior Heir or its series yet, but if this is what all of Cinda Williams Chima's books are like, then I'm hopping on board. This was a complex environment with court intrigue, wars, political feuds, gangs, and a bit of native spirit.
Han was a fantastic protagonist in all his reformed bad boy charm. I don't like bad boys, but if they have reformed, I can get on board. Han had a rough life and it seems that no matter how hard he tried to stay out of trouble, it keeps finding him. I loved how incidents at the beginning of the story that were almost skipped over at the beginning became very important to the story.
Now, about Raisa. I loved her, hated her, and then loved her again. I could not understand her fascination for Micah. What a little snake (Micah, not Raisa). But, she has a good heart, which tells me that I may like her a little better in the sequel. She was spoiled and extremely naive, which is why I hated her. However, as time went on, she definitely grew. I suppose it is unfair to hold Raisa accountable for her actions at the beginning of the book since she really was sheltered by no fault of her own. She has conviction, and while many of her actions were selfish, she does acknowledge that later in the book and even makes penance!
My favorite characters in the book were Aman Burn, Corporal Burn, Willow, and of course Averil Demoneye. Some may find the sheer number of characters overwhelming, but maybe because I was listening to the audio version, the different voices made it a little easier to tell them apart.
Here is my one complaint about the book. Many of the major climactic events in the story had several pages/minutes of dialogue leading up to them. After about 2-3 minutes of dialogue I knew exactly what was going to happen. This wasn't a bad thing in itself, but it was a little lengthy. At one point I yelled at the audiobook, "Oh just get on with it already!" It, of course, did not respond. The book could have been a little more succinct and just gotten to the point a little faster.
The ending of this novel was PERFECT! I do not like cliffhangers. Catching Fire may be the only book I've ever actually thrown, and it was for this reason. The Demon King wrapped up beautifully. Many of the main conflicts in the story were resolved, but there is definitely more to the story. I am kind of reminded of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. At the end of that book, you knew there was more to the story. Voldemort was not defeated. It was only the first leg of a journey. This is how a good series should be.
I can't wait to read The Exiled Queen when it is released in September. Until then, I have many more Cinda Williams Chima books to keep me company.(less)
First off, there is one thing about me that you should know. I have terrible reading retention. I read so quickly that I often forget the finer detail...moreFirst off, there is one thing about me that you should know. I have terrible reading retention. I read so quickly that I often forget the finer details about stories. Hence why this blog exists. Mostly as a reminder to me of the books I have read and how I felt about them. With that said, I should tell you that I had seen this book around on different blogs and for some reason kept thinking it was a paranormal romance. It is not. And every time I read the synopsis I thought, wow, this looks like a really good book.
And it was.
I have a checklist of questions to ask yourself to determine whether or not MISTWOOD is a good read for you:
* Do you like fantasy? * Do you like strong female characters? * Do you like romance in a book to be quietly in the background; giving flavor to the story like pepper on a very juicy steak? * Do you like not knowing what's going to happen in a book until it hits you right at the very end? * Do you like slower moving plots that set you up for a whirlwind ending? * Do you like chocolate?
Okay, ignore the last question. But, if you answered yes to most of those questions, it is a pretty safe bet you are going to like Mistwood.
Believe me when I say that every character was interesting. I've mentioned before that sometimes characters will blend together for me and I can't keep people straight. That was not a problem in this book. I think part of it was that there were fewer characters to keep straight, and each character had a very defined voice. So many of the passages in this book were beautifully written, and the dialogue flowed very well.
The plot of this book wound around like a windy road up a mountainside. For most of the story I really could not figure out where it was going to end up. And right when I thought I had Isabel pegged, she did something completely unexepected. I was unable to pull out all the stops and give this a five-star rating because sometimes Isabel was just a bit too wooden and inaccessible for my taste.
I really enjoyed this debut novel by Leah Cypess. It was wonderfully written, and I am positive she has a wonderful writing future ahead of her. Also, I wanted to tell you how incredibly nice Leah is. She is probably the nicest person I've never met. Anytime I ask for anything on my blog, she sends me an email right away volunteering in some way or another. And after speaking with Angie the other day, she informs me that Leah is as nice in person as she seems through my computer.(less)