Captured me from page one, it did. The first little bit I read at the JoBeth in Cincinnati haunted me until I broke down and bought it online. Finishe...moreCaptured me from page one, it did. The first little bit I read at the JoBeth in Cincinnati haunted me until I broke down and bought it online. Finished it within two days. If I had a hat, I'd tip it to Ruta Sepetys.(less)
I was hesitant to pick this one up since dystopians aren't usually my thing, but I was interested in the dynamic between a bounty hunter and his prey, and how the summary seemed to promise something different, something that would have me falling head over heels for the dystopian genre. Having read it, I'm so glad my spidey senses tingled. With its engaging writing style, depth-defying world and lovable characters, Midnight City is a distinctive addition to the young adult dystopian genre, and a new favorite of mine.
Midnight City was immediately engaging. Mitchell has a masterful command of plot structure, evidenced by the way he starts with external threats that bind the characters together, and then building to a threat that affects them all. And they were threats that mattered to the characters, that affected them directly. Every chapter had a conflict that made sense; nothing felt haphazardly thrown together. This kind of cohesion, in addition to breathtaking action scenes, kept me glued to the pages from start to finish.
The book came alive like a movie in my head. I could envision, with near perfect clarity, how these characters moved, thought, and interacted. What's more, every bond they formed made sense. The progression of their relationships weren't botched by a rush to get them to where the author wanted them. I could fully understand their goals, how they were shaped by their personalities, and how they would come to align. I cheered for them 100%.
My enjoyment of the story was only heightened by Mitchell's edgy writing style. Though a little rusty in some areas, it complimented the story perfectly. I liked how it sporadically alternated between points of view from chapter to chapter, giving the story a depth that otherwise would've been missed.
That was one of the best parts: the depth of the world. I liked how Mitchell built in the history naturally, without having to resort to dedicating a chapter to explaining how the world got to the way it was. I loved the detail that went into the Assembly, and into how the world had changed, without bogging down the story or making it too incomprehensible. It was easy to understand, and to admire.
Midnight City was an incredible dystopian, one that I would love to return to again. I'm so excited for the sequel!(less)
The Dead Girls' Dance wasn't a huge step up from Glass Houses in my opinion of it. The characters were good, but not exceptional; the world was expanded well enough; and, luckily, it wasn't a rehashing of the first. It was still very superficial and "bubble gum" like, but what made this installment distinctive for me was how the stakes were high. (No pun intended.) But I'm still not finding it "oh my goodness" amazing.
Like the first book, Dead Girls' Dance lacked a sense of depth. It left me wondering, "Why should I find this important?" I did feel more of a connection with the characters, though, because I'd already read a book about them, but while their quips were hilarious, their dynamics weren't thrilling me. That was my issue with most of the story: I was left utterly un-thrilled.
Claire was my central issue in Glass Houses. Here, she was fine. Still a complete flake, but not wholly useless, either. Although, I certainly raised my eyebrows over her desire to still head to class when she knows full well that leaving the house will get her killed. With Claire, I was always thinking, "If you're going to get threatened, kidnapped and potentially sucked dry by a bunch of creepy vamps, it might as well be for a better reason than wanting to go to class."
I thought the plot for Dead Girls' Dance was much better than Glass Houses. It had a bit more cohesiveness; I understood the stakes better. What I didn't understand was why the title was "The Dead Girls' Dance" when the dance didn't mean a whole lot in terms of how it impacted the story. Besides that, it was exciting and interesting and packed a few twists.
What I loved most, hands down, was the humor. Kudos for books that make me laugh. Glass Houses was excellent in the humor department, and The Dead Girls' Dance continued that excellence nicely. So if I got anything out of it, it was a great laugh.
I'm a bit on the fence about whether or not I'm going to continue with the series. I've been told they get better with time, but after two books that were only "meh," I'm a bit skeptical about putting a lot of time and effort into the series. Still, I'm interested, and that counts for something.(less)
Kendare Blake single handedly turned my intrigue and curiosity towards the ghostly side of creepiness. Where normally I stay far, far away from anything with the mere suggestion of skin-crawling terror, Kendare Blake's work, first with Anna Dressed in Blood and now Girl of Nightmares, has brought me a new appreciation of things that go bump in the night. I think in any other case, I would cast a questioning glance at the author's mental stability after seeing the product of their work, but with this book -- with its refreshingly three dimensional characters, exciting plot and great narrative -- I'm willing to make an exception.
The one thing that worries me with sequels of any kind, whether it's a part of a long, drawn out series or just a duology, is a rehashing of the first book. With each new book, I expect a deeper and thorough progression of the characters and a plot that explores the world instead of sticking to the same set of possibilities. Girl of Nightmares really impressed me with the way the world, and the characters, expanded.
The characters had to be my favorite thing about this book. I cheered for and admired them in Anna Dressed in Blood and that admiration only grew with Girl of Nightmares. I think specifically of Carmel: I loved seeing her gain dimension and progress as a character. Normally, side characters are shoved ruthlessly aside to make room for all of the main character's drama, but Carmel was a solid presence. In fact, all of the characters were nuanced. They lacked the picky, petty, cookie cutter melodrama that tends to sand down the finer grains of a character. In this respect, they all had a strong sense of realism, so it made it nearly impossible for me not to sympathize with them as they went to hell and back (literally).
The "there" that she's referring to is the Tower of London, the castle-like fortress that sits on the north bank of the Thames. It's touristy and historical, the site of numerous tortures and executions, from Lady Jane Grey to Guy Fawkes. Looking at it as we cross the Tower Bridge, I wonder how many screams have bounced off the stone walls. I wonder how much blood the ground remembers. They used to put severed heads up on pikes and display them on the bridge until they fell into the river. I glance down at the brown water. Somewhere underneath, old bones might be fighting their way out of the silt.
Cas's narrative made it so easy to slide into the story. Full of great zingers and one liners, I love Cas's blatant insolence and dry humor. This style of Anna Dressed in Blood carried over brilliantly to Girl of Nightmares. With clear, concise imagery, Kendare Blake's writing style really brings out the creepiness in clear cut descriptions. The effect is uber chilling. It's incredibly easy to picture the action like a movie, which only heightens the suspense and drama.
Not that the plot needed the extra help. Constant action, always something interesting happening. I loved how it was perpetually moving forward. There were no boring or useless fillers; everything had a purpose, impact. The stakes kept building and building, pushing the characters, forcing them to make choices, to question themselves, to make sacrifices. The climax... Ah, climaxes that make me want to cry are always memorable. The bittersweet ones are the worst, aren't they?
Girl of Nightmares was an epic book. I loved every page. I must have it for my shelves.(less)
I don't like vampire books. Just a little quirk of mine. So the one and only reason I picked Drink, Slay, Love up was because it was written by Sarah Beth Durst, who blew me away with her unbelievably wonderful fantasy novel, Vessel. People told me, "Oh, you liked that? You'd totally love Drink, Slay, Love." And I just thought, "It's...a...vampire book." But I did pick it up. Thank God.
I love books that make me laugh. What surprised me here was the way humor was used. Drink, Slay, Love was not some light, fluffy spoof. So while it was a lot of fun, the humor was more along the dry and sarcastic side rather than ridiculous and unbelievable. (But okay, I'll admit the unicorn thing did push a limit or two.) I didn't expect something deep and rich with complicated feelings, nuanced characters and a plot that actually challenged the characters instead of being conveniently inconvenient. But that's exactly what I got.
Another expectation busted? Pearl's awesomeness. Huzzah for awesome vampire main characters. I thought she would be irritating and shallow, but she never even gave my nerves a mean glance. Not even for a second. That rocked. I loved how her transition from soulless predator to vulnerable teenager was portrayed as a slow evolution that was believable and sincere. I backed Pearl up 100%. I wanted her to live (so to speak), to find her happiness, and succeed at her mission. Having so much sympathy with the main character let me sit back and enjoy the story.
I was thinking the plot might be a little on the sketchy side. I mean, there's a unicorn. But only a few things warranted an eyebrow raise. The stakes were well defined (no pun intended) so I understood from the get go what Pearl stood to lose if she pushed the boundaries of her world. There was constant motion and conflict, always something to move the story forward, and the plot twists challenged the characters, didn't let them slide by with only a few scrapes.
All of this was accented with a great sense of humor and underlined with a sweet romance. I liked how the humor was more sarcastic and snarky than goofy and unbelievable. And the romance. Ah, amour. I think that I saw the signs of a Durst trademark. In Vessel, the romance built up naturally and here, too, in Drink, Slay, Love, the romance did not take center stage but instead was something else the main character had to work through. I really liked how this wasn't a romance, but more of a coming-of-age story.
Sarah Beth Durst has finally given me the opportunity to say that there is only one vampire book I like, instead of declaring I dislike them in general. Drink, Slay, Love was a fun tale of vampirism, action and a dash of romance, all laced with a snarky humor that had me giggling from start to finish. A great read.(less)
I've always been a huge fan of Patricia Briggs, ever since I picked up the first Mercy Thompson novel (Moon Called) at my good friend, Smash @ Smash Attack Reads, request. This short story in the On the Prowl anthology is the prerequisite story to the Alpha & Omega series. I've already read and fell in love with the Alpha & Omega series, so starting in on a short story where that series began was a sure win for my affection.
If you've never read anything by Patricia Briggs, taking a look at this short story would be a good test drive to see whether you, dear reader, would enjoy pursuing her work. For patrons of the Alpha & Omega series, this short story really set up the series nicely. Though the events were alluded to in the first book, Cry Wolf, it was merely given as background information to provide a foundation for the story.
The one thing I absolutely love about Patricia Briggs' writing is how she can pack so much character into a few paragraphs. There's an immediate sense of both Anna and Charles's characters as the POV switches between them and this skill, though very helpful for writing an appealing short story, carries over into her full length novels as well.
Even though I've read the entire Alpha & Omega series, reading this short story makes me want to read it all over again. (Which, as a matter of fact, I'll be doing since I read them before but never reviewed them.) Patricia Briggs created a well-balanced, well-rounded story with nothing forced or sloppily done.
So, dear reader, try this out for a test ride and see how far you can get without completely falling in love with the story.(less)
I had all kinds of wild expectations for The Assassin's Curse: there had to be romance, but not of the sneak-in-through-the-window-and-watch-you-sleep variety; the main character had to be kickass but not untouchable and immovable; the world had to be fully realized and epic; and, the plot had to be exciting and fresh. For a woman with such a sugar-topped name as "Cassandra Rose Clarke," she sure knows how to write a story to surpass all expectations.
The world of The Assassin's Curse makes me want to toss my computer aside and head for a pirate ship. While Clarke's writing style wasn't fantastic, it fit the story. So as I read, I could easily imagine the chatter of the day market, the rush of a hot desert wind, and the crash of waves against a ship on the open sea. I loved the design of the assassins with their desert masks, of how their tattoos and eyes glow like Avatar arrows. But, I feel like Clarke's only scratching the surface in this first installment, like she's just laying the foundation and secretly chuckling, "You ain't seen nothing yet."
Which reminds me of Ananna's character, a girl of many layers. The absolute refusal of an arranged marriage has been around since Romeo & Juliet, but would Romeo's father have sent an assassin after Juliet for marrying his son? Would Juliet have fought back, accidentally saved the assassin's life and end up bound to him? Didn't think so. Ananna's character was on a knife's edge: if she got too cocky, she would risk coming off as fake and irritating, but if she strayed too much to the soft side, she'd appear fluffy and superficial. Ananna was a girl who took a stand, called people's BS (even the dude she took a shining to), and backed up her arguments. I loved how her insecurities were not shrouded by bravado in her narration. She was strong, but not without empathy.
I could totally get into the story. While the writing style could've been a little deeper, could've stood for a little more polish, it had a certain... je ne sais quoi. But what was important was that Clarke knew how to develop the story in a way that heightened the suspense while delving deeper into the characters. The stakes were laid out starkly, so that I understood perfectly why Ananna would quake with fear, or rise to face her attacker.
The Assassin's Curse is what I would shamelessly call "masterful." I was hooked from page one, and had such difficulty putting it down! And when I did manage to yank myself away from the page, the characters would follow me and stalk me while I went about my day. I love books that manage to do that, invade my world so thoroughly. And with the way Assassin's Curse ended, I'm on tenterhooks for the next book, which doesn't come out until June?! If it's one mark against Assassin's Curse, it's how much I fell in love with it and how much it makes me want the sequel, which I'm going to have to wait forever for!(less)
I'm a big fan of Rae Carson's debut, The Girl of Fire and Thorns. When I saw this one, I immediately rushed to buy it, even though I've never bought anything on my Kindle before. This historic buy was not disappointed. Rae Carson packs a lot of plot and character development into the equivalent of 54 printed pages. This time, we see Elisa through the eyes of her sister, Alodia as they encounter a problem in a remote part of their kingdom.
I was struck by the immediate sense of character. Within the first few pages, I felt well acquainted with Alodia, and because she is so self righteous, it was with a put-upon kind of amusement that I observed her character. She had so little faith in Elisa, it was disheartening, but I liked the transformation that goes down throughout the story.
And the story was a well-rounded one at that. Well-rounded, yet leaving a taste for more. The plot was exciting and coupled with Rae Carson's eloquent writing style, the shock factor of some of the twists actually made me gasp.
A reader doesn't have to have the history of The Girl of Fire and Thorns to get a grip on this novella. For those of you who have read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, this novella provides a great insight into Alodia's character, something that isn't really offered in the full-length book. It isn't exactly a refresher course of the book, however, since it takes place when Elisa is younger and her journey hasn't really started.
An amazing story; I don't regret the three bucks I spent on it.(less)
The last Artemis Fowl book. What a thrilling end! This book marks the very first to make me, Amelia Robinson, shed a tear. Part of me always worries about what kind of hell the author will put their characters through in the series finale, and with these crazy MG authors anything is possible. In Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian, I really enjoyed the maturation of the characters set off by Eoin Colfer's signature humor. Colfer pulls out all the stops to create a fast-paced, intriguing topper to his beloved Artemis Fowl series.
As is the case of book eight of any series, there's some preconceived ideas about how awesome the book is going to be -- and if a reader is eight books into a series, we're gonna assume the series is awesome. So there isn't much to add that hasn't already been said before. It's established that the Artemis Fowl series, which has been in my life since I was ten, is justifiably the definition of awesomeness. Moving on...
This final installation was sheer genius. Colfer opens with a bold and exciting conflict -- I mean, maybe that's a bit of an understatement when the "bold" conflict was the utter destruction of the known world. The stakes were upped like never before, creating a nail-biting ride. I liked that Colfer went into this kind of territory: most books, dystopians especially, take place after the world has been destroyed and been refitted into a semblance of order. The Last Guardian takes place during the destruction. I really appreciated Colfer's imagination.
I liked how there was a definite maturation of the characters. While Artemis Fowl has always been credited for speaking and acting a decade older than he should've been, emotionally there was a step up. There was a wealth of history to draw upon and the characters had (finally) truly accepted each other. I really enjoyed the camaraderie between them -- especially when it's accented with Colfer's signature humor.
The ending...was sheer brilliance. Sheer, utter brilliance. I have never seen a full circle executed so beautifully in the very last paragraph. And the climax made me cry! Me! Cry! Maybe I wasn't sobbing like a baby, but the words did go a little blurry and I had to wipe a tear away. But, of course, what would you expect from the last book in a series?! Ironically enough, the only other book that had me on the verge of tears was The Supernaturalist also by Eoin Colfer.
As sad as I was to see this beloved series come to an end, I really enjoyed it. It was funny, exciting, satisfying... If you haven't ever read the Artemis Fowl series, I'd highly suggest you try it out. It's middle grade, but it's short, enjoyable and terribly clever and imaginative.
My only regret, to those of you who have read the whole series: Seriously? Why was Minerva never brought back in? She was brilliant! (less)
I love books that surprise me! There's always a thrill that comes along with finding a book, initially thinking that it's gonna suck beyond all belief, and then finding out that "oh my gosh, can't even say enough because it's that amazing." While it was creepy as all get out, it was incredibly entertaining and thought-provoking. While some of the time it was, "Really? That could've been better," I really enjoyed this story.
Dystopian is not my immediately favorite genre. That's not to say I don't like dystopians (the Under the Never Sky series owns my heart), but when I first cracked the cover of Poison Princess, I hesitated. Well, actually, it was more like, "Dear God, this is going to suck," but then I started reading, and started getting into it and ended up devouring it in a day or two.
At first, Evie and I didn't agree on much. In fact, I couldn't fully get into her character for most of the book, but I still winced with sympathy when something didn't go her way. A lot of sucky things happened to her, and I liked how she handled them and kept going. I admired her wit and her quick thinking so I cheered for her a lot, although she did get irritating sometimes. I really, really liked her relationship with Jackson and how it was far -- like, other side of the universe -- from easy and how it wasn't instalove. Their dramatic romance was entertaining and endearing instead of irritating and nauseous. (And really, the Cajun French interspersed in Jackson's sentences? Mm. So fine.)
The plot, and the world Cole remade, was amazing and such a great concept. I got what the problems were and what kind of obstacles Evie would have to face to fix them. I loved the intervention of the Major Arcana cards and how their mysteries weren't ones easily solved -- the way that nothing was in-your-face and obvious made my interest stay intent on the pages.
The writing style, while fitting to the story, lacked some description and details that might've made the story a lot richer had they been in. But the writing style was honed with a rusty edge, and so gave the story a unique and interesting flavor that reeked of creepiness. The story in general was creepy, but it was a brand of creepy that I could get into, even if it wasn't something I would immediately warm up to.
Poison Princess was a fabulous story of the surprising kind. I'm in raptures for the sequel!(less)
When Vessel first caught my eye some months ago, I dismissed it. What a mistake. Sarah Beth Durst captured what I love most about fantasy with her impressive command of prose, instantly likable main character, and beautifully defined world. I had a hard time tearing myself away to do normal things, like I don't know, eat and sleep and other silly things like that. I was so firmly rooted in the story that my soul wept knowing that there wasn't a sequel. Vessel was just that amazing.
Tamora Pierce called it right when she blurbed, "Unique and breathtaking..." The beauty and simplicity of the opening line caught me right away:
On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family's tent to see the dawn.
Sarah Beth Durst carries the story along with a beautifully exotic, yet easy to understand writing style. It's straightforward and reminds me of Maria V. Snyder's style -- how the sentences are short, but not truncated. It complements the characters and plot well by enhancing the atmosphere rather than getting in the way.
Durst also shows a command of story. When Liyana is abandoned by her tribe, Durst is able to maintain interest even when Liyana isn't interacting with another character. I was expecting a slump, because it's typical to see a character's inner self displayed by how they react to others, but there was plenty of conflict, both internal and external. It was at that point that my interest in Vessel doubled. It only got better the deeper into the story I got. And not only story, but world. The world-building was incredible. Complex, yet easy to understand, the stakes were clearly defined and I felt, right along with the characters, the dread of what could happen if the worst occurred. I loved the extra details: the stories, the gods, the destinies. All these fun things that don't really happen outside of a fantasy novel.
Liyana was a stellar character. (In fact, all the characters were very defined, with character specific dialogue.) I loved Liyana from page one, and felt immense sympathy for her when her tribe left her -- which occurred within the first few chapters, generally too soon for me to form an attachment to a character. Also, I never grew irritated with her because it seemed that all of her actions were well-defined by a clear thought process alongside consistent and believable motivations. She was feisty and a quick thinker. Possibly one of my new favorite characters.
Out of everything that made this novel unique to me, the romance stuck out the most. When Sarah Beth Durst described, in an interview with Simon & Schuster, how the romance in her novel was very natural, I didn't quite believe her. Now, after having experienced Vessel for myself, I realize how right she was. It didn't feel superficial to me; there was no instant gratification. And overall, the romance was intensely bittersweet, but it built and progressed at a natural pace.
It's amazing to me that Durst could tie up an entire story within four hundred pages. It's strange to me to see a stand alone fantasy book, and it made me sad to let go of the story so quickly! While some of the action scenes could've been refined to show more depth and clarity, the plot progressed smoothly and built the stakes higher and higher until my fingers were clenched around the book in anticipation for the conclusion.
Vessel was an amazing story. I must have it for my shelves.(less)
When Legend first popped up on my radar, I was turned away by the amateur-style cover. I was intrigued, however, when the hype drove me to read a sample of it. I was impressed by how there was an immediate sense of character and that allowed the also-immediate conflict to take effect. Paired with Marie Lu's effortless writing style and propelled by a both heart-wrenching and thought-provoking plot, I never wanted the story to end.
Legend tells the story of two awesome main characters. June, with her Holmesian-like logic but warm heart; and Day, the guy we girls would all like to run into on the streets. I was pleased (and impressed) with how June, the government's prodigy, didn't come off as a cold-hearted anti-hero. She had a heart -- a big heart -- that wasn't impervious to breaks. The criminal Day reminded me a lot of Han from Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series, only Day doesn't have silver cuffs branded to his wrists. Mentally, I connected them because they're passionate, flirty, and street smart, and they always take care of their families.
The world of Legend was magnificently displayed. Lu doesn't fall into the trap of having to explain how everything worlds. By letting the world affect (or not affect) her characters in certain ways, she lets the world build seamlessly. It's this showing and not telling that is so effective in creating the swaths of color into the world around the characters. Sometimes it has a fantasy-like feel to it, and sometimes it feels more sci-fi or dystopian, giving it a well-rounded atmosphere.
What I was most impressed with from Legend was the way Lu built the story. I understood what was at stake, I knew the risks, and I felt each obstacle resonate within the characters. It was a story that built stakes like kindling for a fire -- they pushed the characters; they didn't come at a conveniently inconvenient time. At every turn, I would mutter, "What are they going to do now?" or "How are they going to get out of that?" The plot was tightly compacted: nothing was wasted, but there are threads to be continued in other books.
So while there were predictable places, it was the moments that took me by surprise that defined my liking for Legend. With it's fantasy/sci-fi like world and lovable characters, Legend should be a book to get on your shelf. I'm glad it's on mine.(less)
Gilt came onto my radar after I attended an author panel with the lovely founders of YA Muses. Katherine Longshore herself wasn't there due to a family emergency, but Talia Vance read the first chapter of Gilt and I started thinking, "I've gotta go read this book." Even though historical fiction novels are decidedly not my thing, Gilt was a fascinating and intriguing book with a great sense of time and setting, along with a well-built cast of characters that I'm sure will appeal to historical fiction junkies.
Just based on the synopsis, one can see where the overall plot is headed before even reading the first page. I knew going in that there was going to be a downfall, but Katherine Longshore seemingly took my definition of a "downfall" and racked it up to an extreme level. She did this by giving me, the reader, an emotional tie to the main character, Kitty. Kitty and Cat's relationship was expertly done, what with the way Kitty is brow-beaten into submission by Cat and how this, and Kitty's reaction, is believable because Kitty's options are clearly understood: meaning, Kitty takes constant abuse from Cat (beyond mean words, she also lies for her) because Kitty can't afford not to please Cat. Cat's favor gave her protection.
These little motivations and understandings gave the novel a complexity and depth that I appreciated as a reader. It made the climax so much harder to bear. However, the entire novel was on the brink of depressing with how there's a constant cloud of mistrust hanging over the plot. There was no reprieve, literally no one to trust. And, paired with Katherine Longshore's visceral writing style, it greatly affected me as I read.
I had a few moments during the story where it got so depressing, I wanted to stop reading. But I wanted to finish it. Despite the seemingly easily predictable ending, Katherine Longshore had thrown in some plot twists that made me doubt how predictable the ending might really be. Also, I'd grown attached to Kitty's character and wanted to know how she'd come out of it. My attachment to Kitty's character speaks to how well Katherine Longshore has a unique talent of character building. While I couldn't agree with Kitty's actions, I could go along with them because they made sense to me. I wasn't left thinking, "Why is she doing this?!"
I loved the world that Katherine Longshore built. As I understand it, it's mostly historically accurate, but even if it wasn't, I wouldn't mind. Longshore had built a world that was layered with its heights of grandeur and lows of poverty. She showed the cracks that are not often shown, both in the world itself and at court. Longshore convinced me that I don't ever want to be accidentally transported back to 1500s England.
Gilt was a fantastic story with an even greater main character, a well-detailed world, and a heart pumping plot.(less)
I was in a bit of a bind when I started Sapphire Blue. In the nine months since finishing the first book, Ruby Red, I had nearly forgotten what was going on. With only a slight memory of how the first book ended, I plunged back into Gwen's story of heinous extended family members, impossible boys, and mind-boggling time traveling excursions. Thanks to Kerstin Gier's carefully built in reminders of how the characters got to where they were, I was able to settle back into the world with minimal hardship, and fully ready to enjoy a good story.
Sapphire Blue was a good continuation from the first book: an awesome main character armed with her signature humor, an exciting plot, and exquisite writing style. It was all business as usual. Until you're forced into a fancy corset and sensible shoes to visit a possibly evil count who, upon your last meeting, tried to strangle you. Points to Gwen, the feisty main character, for not flaking. Much. I love her slightly self-deprecating humor, even though I wish she would stand up for herself when some of her family members start railing on her. Her narrative was fun and easy to understand.
The only thing I couldn't really understand was the plot. Time traveling makes my head hurt, which is why I generally steer clear of all the time traveling adventures. I couldn't really see a connection between most of the events. Something was decided and I was left thinking, "Why?" Because I was enjoying the narrative so much, I just went along with it. Though I came out of the other side with a question mark still hovering over my head.
If there's one thing Kerstin Gier does extremely well, though, it's dialogue. It seems to be her main mode for setting the tone of a character. Why bother with copious descriptions when a single line of speech could tell you just as much, if not more? Gier really brings characters to life and presents them in a dynamic way that give them a 3D effect. I loved the two main characters, Gwen and Gideon, as well as Gwen's best friend, Lesley, and her demon ghost friend, Xemerius. Peppered with such lovable characters, I could really settle into the story.
Behind dialogue, the world is absolutely amazing. It's a world with a defined set of rules and interlaced with details to make it pop off the page. It also reminds me why time travel doesn't appeal to me. (Really, it's all rather confusing and complicated, isn't it?) Throw on top all the British slang, and I feel as if the whole thing could be real. (As if I needed more reasons to want to go to England.)
Thus far, the Ruby Red trilogy has been an enticing read that continues to thrill. With the way Sapphire Blue left off on such a cliffhanger, I'm dying for the third and final book!(less)
My first impression after closing the cover on Days of Blood and Starlight was that for a lady with bubblegum pink hair, Laini Taylor seriously knows how to dish out some intense stuff. There was absolutely nothing remotely cheerful about this story, but if there was anything that kept me turning pages, it was how Laini Taylor had a way of putting things that makes it interesting to read.
I had a hard time engaging in the characters. In retrospect, I think it was because I'd unknowingly shut myself down from empathizing or forging any kind of connection with the characters. How could I not? The world, as Taylor crafts it so masterfully, was soaked with death, destruction, horror and gore. The story was so heavy that I just couldn't bring myself to invest in the characters. That's not to say I didn't like any of them, because while Karou and I won't be exchanging friendship bracelets anytime soon, I certainly didn't feel any animosity towards her.
After closing the book, I certainly felt an animosity towards the plot and how much effort I had to put into understanding it. The plot was so heavy -- the war stuff got depressing really fast -- and quite frankly, it was a bit confusing. Some moments felt like a memoir without the historical context and other times, the scenes were disjointed and I was left thinking, "How the heck did we get here?" Overall, however, the story worked. I got the shifts between characters and where the stakes stood, and really, when someone's getting assassinated, that's what counts.
The one thing that impressed me the most, though, besides Taylor's way with words, was her indisputable knowledge of this world. There were so many details -- so many random things thrown in for flavor -- that it's like Taylor herself was reincarnated from that world. Except for the massive influx of war and death and depressing devastation, I would almost go so far as to say that Taylor's way with world-building is very Rowling-esque. It was just so obvious to me that she was a true authority. She knew was she was talking about, and I can't help but foster a deep respect for all the time and effort she must've put into her work.
Days of Blood and Starlight was a real beast of a novel. Super intense and breath taking in its scope, it's not something I would ever find it in myself to read again, but I can't lie and say that I didn't enjoy reading every page of it.(less)
I have always loved dragon stories, and with one notable exception, I have never been disappointed. Rachel Hartman and her work with Seraphina has reminded me in no uncertain terms why I love dragons and dragon stories. She created a world so uniquely her own and wrote a story so full of detail and passion, I would've thought she were recounting something she herself had experienced. From start to finish, this story captured me; I loved every moment of it.
Passion, I think, is something that a lot of writers nowadays lack. Everyone seems to be writing books now, obscuring those few gems who write for the sake of writing and who, even if their stuff won't sell, will be writing because they have to. Rachel Hartman wrote with a passion that makes me infinitely grateful that I didn't pass it by because of the disastrous cover, and gave the story a chance to stand on its own. Seraphina's story connected with me on a personal level, but I think many audiences could see something of themselves in this tale, simply because everyone has something inside of them that they are ashamed of, and that they are afraid to show the world. The fear of rejection is a universal feeling. I loved the way Rachel Hartman captured that.
Seraphina was a fantastic narrator. She's the kind that shouts, "Here, here, look at me!" And then blocks your view when you try to look around her. Her voice was steadily entertaining in a self-deprecating, sarcastic way that made her endearing rather than irritating. Hartman highlighted emotions that are normally butchered or omitted entirely by most authors. For example, Seraphina's reaction to a compliment: while she might feel the compliment is true, her thought process is such that I don't feel she's being falsely modest with herself. Her vulnerability and shame, along with how she dealt with the ground shifting beneath her feet, made her a character that I instantly bonded with.
I also grew deeply rooted in Hartman's world. It's almost as if the descriptions could've only come from someone who had the knowledge of a world that was fully realized, things that I didn't understand and yet the character clearly did. Hartman set up a world that was uniquely her own, adding details to flavor (not bog down) the story in a style similar to that of Tamora Pierce, Christopher Paolini, and Cinda Williams Chima. So when I set the book aside, the world still sat in my head like a memory palace and characters still deigned to play around.
The plot was amazing, though I could see how a reader might think it slow and sometimes aimless. But the way Hartman just dove into it, I couldn't help but try and keep up. I was so engrossed in the story, my mind stopped thinking about, "Is this predictable?" or "Could this have been better?" The inner editor just shut off and I went along for the ride -- and loved every moment of it!
I recommend Seraphina to any fantasy lovers, but specifically to those who love dragon stories. May it take your breath away as it did mine.(less)