This was a quick, involving read, and part of me wanted to rate it higher because of that and the fact that Jess reminds me favorably of Veronica MarsThis was a quick, involving read, and part of me wanted to rate it higher because of that and the fact that Jess reminds me favorably of Veronica Mars, but the mystery was a bit too simplistic and predictable. But overall, I like the idea of a teenage English girl sleuth very much, and I'd recommend it to YA mystery readers.
Alexis Davenport is angry. Her mother has forced her to move to Grand Junction, Colorado, to live with her mother's sister, away from all herSynopsis
Alexis Davenport is angry. Her mother has forced her to move to Grand Junction, Colorado, to live with her mother's sister, away from all her friends and the life she knows. Even if it's because her father left them and took all their money, no one asked her opinion. Alex is expecting the worst, her first year of high school in a new school with no friends. On the way to their new home, Alexis sees another girl's face in the mirror, a girl from the past, and has no idea what to make of it. The siting happens again, and this time, when she touches the mirror, she ends up in this girl's body, trapped in the past, until she accomplishes what she's been sent to do.
Alexis has a special gift. Her consciousness leaves her body and enters the body of another person in the past. And each time, she has a mission, working against an evil presence that wants to change history in the worst of ways. And this is on top of dealing with the usual angst of teenage years, like the mean girls who have it in for her, and a crush on the "It Boy" at school who happens to be her lab partner. Alex's life is about to get a lot more interesting.
I had no idea what to expect of this book, but it turned out to be a very enthralling read. Alex is a character that will stimulate a mix of emotions in the reader. At times, I felt like her ungrateful behavior towards her mother and aunt was very hard to swallow--she seemed a little bratty. But it was clear that Alex had a lot of reason to be troubled, on top of just being a girl on the cusp of womanhood. I also felt deep sympathy for the intense bullying she had to deal with by a classmate who decided she has in it for Alex. West captures the tension, the awkwardness and the everyday terror of being an unpopular teenager who is finding their way through difficult social situations. This part was very well-written and realistic. Readers who have struggled with being bullied will find solace here, and it's also a good learning experience for those who managed to avoid bullying in their teen years. I like how the writing shows Alex's growth and her developing emotional maturity in these situations without being preachy. It was an interesting touch that Alex was such a huge history buff. I liked that she really enjoyed school and learning, and how this was a pivotal aspect to her personality.
The time traveling aspect was intriguing and exciting. Alex's gift is very special, and she has to learn to live with it and employ it to do the right thing and to stay safe. There are some thrilling scenes as Alex faces a nefarious person with similar abilities and a lot more experience, teamed with no scruples. History buffs will appreciate the various snapshots in history, and feel like they are walking in Alex's shoes as she works to preserve history but make the right decisions.
Dangerous Reflections is a good start to a series, and it ends in a way that will draw readers into continuing the series. Alex's growth as a person is realistic, and readers will sympathize with her and cheer her on as her experiences as a time travel empower her to have courage in her everyday battles. I recommend this book to young adult readers and readers of young adult fantasy fiction.
I loved this book. It was delightful, from beginning to end. I was searching for how to classify it, and in the afterward, Ms. Berry mentioned the terI loved this book. It was delightful, from beginning to end. I was searching for how to classify it, and in the afterward, Ms. Berry mentioned the term, British Farce. And that's what this is. I am all for Girl Power, and this book is very much about girl power and the bond between girls/women. Not only is this a sisterhood bonding story, it's also a bit like Oceans Eleven, one of those caper-type stories where you have a disparate group of individuals who are thrown together under a common bond. I'd call these girls the Scandalous Seven. You have Dear Roberta, Dull Martha, Pocked Louise, Dour Elinor, Stout Alice, Disgraceful Mary Jane and their de facto leader, Smooth Kitty. Each girl brings a different characteristic to the book, and I loved each and every one of them. I just wanted to give them all a hug (even Elinor, whose obsession was death was a little bit disturbing at times).
Such a dark subject, a double murder at a quiet ladies school. However, Berry handles it with a deft touch. Instead of spending too much time dwelling on the horror of the girls' predicament, the reader is focused on how these girls react to it and take measures to prevent their sisterhood from ending prematurely. I like the way they work together, and despite the typical occasional squabbles among young women, they look out for each other and validate each other.
I loved the humor. It was mostly subtle, but sometimes laugh out loud. It reminds me very much of British comedy with some British mystery thrown in.
There is a nice dose of romance, because, well they are young women, and romance is often a factor. However, the youngest, Pocked Louise, could give a fig for boys. She's our resident sleuth, and a very smart sleuth she is and she thinks boys are foul. The other ladies, all seem to find guys who prick their fancy. Even Smooth Kitty, who thinks she's got everything all figured out. It thought it was so funny how big a flirt Disgraceful Mary Jane was, and a very unrepentant one at that!
I have been quite stingy with five star ratings lately, but I can't talk myself out of giving one for this book. I am very thankful to Olga Godim for bringing "The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place" to my attention. It was scandalously good!...more
Quite honestly, I liked the idea of this collection more than I liked the stories. I did appreciate the humor and the fact that Velde did address theQuite honestly, I liked the idea of this collection more than I liked the stories. I did appreciate the humor and the fact that Velde did address the issues she'd always had with the Little Red Ridinghood story in its varied incarnations. I actually agree with her on many points. However, I think a few of the stories took a bit too much of a left turn. One even goes into a direction that makes the Woodsman into a foil who complicates the storylines of several other fairy tale protagonists. Clever touch, but I was annoyed with the man, honestly. I really liked the story from the viewpoint of Red's grandmother who makes friends with the wolf in an intriguing way. I have a soft spot for wolves, so I rather liked that the wolf wasn't necessarily the villain in most of the stories. The last story was a fun touch about Red's cloak being sentient. Overall, Red doesn't come off in a very flattering way. But I think that's kind of the point of things. Clearly Velde doesn't think the traditional fairy tale treats Red as the smartest or most interesting character anyway.
The narrator really kicks this up a notch. She makes the story fun with her different voices and intonations. I felt like she had fun reading this book. That's always a good thing.
Overall, this was a fun audiobook, but it isn't nearly my favorite when it comes to fairy tale retellings. However, if you are a fairy tale freak like me, you'd probably want to check it out....more
Anastasia Lockhart gets sent to stay with her grandparents after yet another incident of getting into trouble. Labeled as a bad girl, she is fSynopsis
Anastasia Lockhart gets sent to stay with her grandparents after yet another incident of getting into trouble. Labeled as a bad girl, she is frustrated with the fact that that is all she's seen as, not given a chance to forge a different path. As a result, she's cautiously optimistic about going to Cedar Falls, a small town in Ontario, Canada. Once she's arrived in Cedar Falls, she encounters Frost Stone, an incredibly good-looking outcast who seems as drawn to her as she is to him, despite her determination not to fall for the wrong guy again. Anastasia encounters her old friend Chloe Fairbanks and faces bullying from local queen bee, Kate McKinley, whose clique Chloe has joined. Once again, Anastasia finds herself being labeled the bad girl as Kate blackens her reputation, and things get more sinister when a series of animal attacks escalates public hysteria. Could the animal attacks be related to Frost, and can Anastasia find the strength to stand up for herself against bad gossip and bullying?
Frostbitten has lots of atmosphere, with its cold winter setting and the eerie yet seductive beauty of the Canadian wilderness. Anastasia is a sympathetic heroine, due to her history of bad mistakes and her struggle to stand strong against mean-spirited gossip and bullying. Frost is both gorgeous and sweet, with a nice dose of alluring mystery. What's problematic with this book is that it seems to tread into too familiar territory in young adult paranormal romance, the girl falling for the bad boy who may or may not be hiding paranormal origins. I would have liked the characters besides Anastasia to be better developed. I felt as though I was merely seeing Frost through Anastasia's eyes and he never solidified into a standalone character in his own right.
The struggles Anastasia faces in her new high school were poignant, especially as terrible, hurtful lies are being told and she's put into the role of outcast, despite her hopes to escape her past similar situations. I would have liked to see more development of the relationship between Anastasia and her grandparents, especially since it's so pivotal to the storyline.
The action and paranormal elements are well done, and I liked the folklore foundation for the story, although it feels fairly thin at this point. I feel that with better development and more fortification of the world-building, it could definitely carry this potential series well into subsequent books.
Overall, Frostbitten is a good young adult paranormal novel. The feelings between Anastasia and Frost seemed genuine, and I liked them as a couple. I would have liked more character development all around, except for Anastasia, and a stronger story. But I think readers who enjoy young adult paranormal romance will like this book.
Sherry Thomas has proven herself as an author who uses the written word with a palpable love and respect for its power. I haven't had much luck with YSherry Thomas has proven herself as an author who uses the written word with a palpable love and respect for its power. I haven't had much luck with Young Adult books lately (with a few exceptions). They don't delve as deep as I would like, and rely on conventions and mechanisms that I find irritating. With "The Burning Sky", Thomas has encouraged my long held belief that young adult books can be vibrant, intelligent, thought-provoking, engaging, and have the substance I long for in a book.
The world-building in this book is careful and thorough without being too dogmatic or dragging down the narrative pace. I appreciated the manner in which Thomas layers her storytelling so that it feels as though I can delve deeper into this world, if I so choose, without the foundations falling apart or revealing nothing but wooden planks or steel girders. Instead, I felt as though this story is barely scratching the surface. At the same time, she doesn't resort to the most hated of all YA devices, the cliffhanger. Yet, this is obviously a story that promises to continue into at least a few volumes, but she concludes it in a satisfying manner that allows the reader to choose to read the next book, instead of being blackmailed into continuing the series.
I also loved the characterization. Iolanthe is a heroine who feels real. She has strengths and weaknesses. She is sympathetic, without being perfect. "The chosen one" storyline can get a little stale, but it's well handled in Thomas' hands. I root for her to find her way in a crazy reality and to be herself, but also do what is right. Titus is about the most perfect prince I've read. Perfect in the best way. He's got an edge that I love. He's flawed but also incredibly appealing. His inner vulnerabilities have been camouflaged very carefully by an arrogant, bitingly sarcastic mien. I had to remind myself that he was jailbait, because I was seriously crushing on him. He's a man with a mission, and nothing will sway him from it, not even the threat of his future demise. Even though Iolanthe has a valid reason to dislike him, I can identify with her struggles not to fall in love with him. While Titus is using Iolanthe and he knows it, it's clear he wishes he could be with her free of the rigid burden that binds them together, but also drives a wedge between them. But he's willing to do the wrong thing for right reasons. I loved that about him. Watching these two fall in love was very satisfying in a way that I crave from a good romance novel. The great thing is the love story is a viable and intrinsic part of a smart, intelligent epic-style fantasy.
The fantasy elements stand up to close scrutiny. Readers who loved the Narnia and Harry Potter series, along with fans of Howl's Moving Castle will be very happy with this novel. The concept of a mage world that borders on the mundane, human world has always appealed to me. I often wished my closet hid a doorway to a fantasy world. I freely admit it. And there is also an alluring nod to fairy tales in that Prince Titus has a book that allows him and his new protege Iolanthe to train and hone their mage skills. While Titus acts as a mentor to Iolanthe, she doesn't sacrifice any strength or identity in the process. It's clear that Titus can't help but look up to Iolanthe as a gift who can bring restoration to his world, and he is willing to take incredible risks and sacrifices for her to achieve her potential.
The action and fantastic scenes are beautifully described. I felt like I could see them on a big movie screen. The use of legendary creatures made me shriek in joy in a very ladylike fashion inside. I didn't care about being a princess, but I sure did love the Pegasus, unicorns and dragons. I would like to see this series as movies, well done, of course.
I can't say enough good things about this novel. I'm ashamed I put off reading it for so long. But it's one of those great accidents that I read this when I needed to. While I admire Thomas as a historical romance novelist, I hope she continues writing fantasy, Young Adult or otherwise, since that is my second love.
This was a rather dark story about humans who willfully exterminate legendary creatures, evil or otherwise. I enjoyed the change of heart that the youThis was a rather dark story about humans who willfully exterminate legendary creatures, evil or otherwise. I enjoyed the change of heart that the young Slayer developed through an unlikely friendship with a young female Sphinx. I would like to continue this series.
A good 'what if' book about the period when 18-yr-old William Shakespeare comes to London to begin his career as an actor/playwright, and the incredibA good 'what if' book about the period when 18-yr-old William Shakespeare comes to London to begin his career as an actor/playwright, and the incredible young woman who could have been his muse.
Fifteen-year-old Veena Solomon lives in Bahrain with her parents and brother, a transplanted Indian in an Arab country, although she attends CSynopsis
Fifteen-year-old Veena Solomon lives in Bahrain with her parents and brother, a transplanted Indian in an Arab country, although she attends Catholic school. Her family moved there to seek a better life than the one available in India. Her mother is Catholic by faith and worrier by profession (although she also works as a teacher in Veena's school). Veena is trying to figure out what she believes herself, especially when her fervent prayers to grow breasts and for gorgeous Rashid to fall in love with her go unanswered. When her teacher selects her to be Juliet in the Romeo and Juliet production, opposite her beloved Rashid, Veena needs an edge to set her above the other girls. Being Indian is very low on the totem pole in status-oriented Bahrain, where European/Whites are first, Arabs second, and brown-skinned Indians, Pakistanis, and Sri Lankans are on the bottom. Veena is also small and flat-chested. She's suffering from an identity crisis, wondering what's so great about being Indian when all the Arab boys make fun of her accent and she isn't blond or big-breasted like one of her popular classmates. Veena learns that being herself is the best thing of all, even if playing Juliet will get her close to the boy of her dreams.
Bras, Boys and Blunders: Juliet and Romeo in Bahrain was an incredibly fun, engaging read. I loved the view into the life of a young Indian teen and how being Indian is something she has to learn to embrace. I appreciated this multicultural view in young adult fiction that doesn't seem as prevalent as I would like. I don't know much about growing up in an Arab country, especially as a person of a different nationality like Veena, and this book gave me a view into that life through Veena's eyes.
The great thing about this book is that while Veena's experiences are distinctive from the average American life, they really aren't that different when it comes down to it. Any person who survived teenage-hood knows how Veena feels. The awkwardness of fitting in and feeling like you never measure up. For female readers, we can also identify with the inherent struggles of the mother-daughter relationship, when our mothers have different goals than what we have in life, and they force us into molds that we don't fit. How we feel we can never measure up to their standards, and they don't really seem to understand where we are coming from.
Veena was a sweet girl. She inspires loyalty and a comradeship in this reader, as I read her about struggling through those everyday moments of young life that seem like major crises, however you live to fight another day. While Veena is Indian, she is surrounded by people of various cultures, and this can cause conflicts, as issues of religion and cultural morals dictate the choices that Veena has, even if they don't fit into her own belief system, which she is in the process figuring out. The secondary characters such as Kyle, an American boy who seems determined to be the Baddest White Boy in School, and who seems to have quite a crush on Veena, although she's oblivious, add a lot to this story. They provide insight and show that while we might feel we are lacking, others actually might envy and respect us for who we are.
The humor was fantastic. I was laughing out loud through most of this book, although Samson also gives the reader a lot to think about along with those hilarious moments. Samson's light, but vivacious narrative makes me want to read more young adult books like this, where the story is just about growing up, with no major plot devices necessary to prop up a story. Coming of age is very ripe subject because of so many everyday experiences a young person goes through that are full of inherent pathos and humor.
I am really glad I had the opportunity to read this book, and I hope to read more of Vidya Samson's writing. She is a talented writer who gave me a story I enjoyed, from beginning to end.
This short novel packs a punch. I appreciate the skill that the author employs in taking faerie and Greek mythology and building a unique story of herThis short novel packs a punch. I appreciate the skill that the author employs in taking faerie and Greek mythology and building a unique story of her own. Young adult heroine, but the story avoids all the YA conventions.
I'm really glad I signed up to review this for Bitten by Books. It was very good. I love shifter romance and I like that this is on the clean side. EvI'm really glad I signed up to review this for Bitten by Books. It was very good. I love shifter romance and I like that this is on the clean side. Even without love scenes, I felt the bond between Kess and Cormac and this was really intense. The shifting aspect was very well done. I look forward to reading the rest of this series.
Let me be transparent in advising readers to think twice about experiencing this book as an audiobook. I'm not sure it works that well. It could be meLet me be transparent in advising readers to think twice about experiencing this book as an audiobook. I'm not sure it works that well. It could be me. I am a very visual person when it comes to higher level concepts, especially mechanistic disciplines, such as geometry, architecture, and engineering. The geometrical descriptions were hard to visualize and my mind started to wander at the beginning of each chapter when Sanderson uses the metafiction device of reading from a textbook of rithmatics. Honestly, that was the major reason I didn't rate this book highly. Secondly, I didn't care for the narrator. His voice was too bland, almost monotone or robotic. I feel that if you are going to narrate a book, you need to give it a vitality, and this book lacked that.
On the positive end, I can see why Sanderson is a lauded author, and I can certainly see why he is qualified to teach writing. I think that his craft is evident. The characterization is sound, and instead of settling for thinly veiled archetype, he endows characters with added depth. You know the ones that feel very familiar like the boy who grows up to be the hero, the spunky female sidekick, the mentor, and the dark lord? Thus he gives each one a distinctive life that works very well to make this more than just the typical coming of age fantasy novel. Additionally, the idea of this story is intriguing. A look at wizardry and coming of age school story becomes something different when the concept is built around a magical art of endowing chalk figure-drawing with life.
His view of the United States as an archipelago was interesting. He doesn't describe why it's that way. It just is. The story has a steampunk-light feel. Enough to give the vibe, but it doesn't take over or define the story. Instead, the focus is on the school and the low-level magic at work.
I liked Joel a lot as the main character. He is the kind of hero you end up rooting for. He's normal and the underdog, and you want him to buck the system. Sanderson does something pretty clever here, in that the hero doesn't get his dreams come true. Instead, he's going to have to work for what he wants. That felt more realistic, and also strayed away from the expected archetypes of fantasy where the lead is the one who has the unexpected greatest power of all time. Melody is a fun character. She won me over with her love of unicorns and pegasi. Her feelings of being a failure and feeling forced into a mold she doesn't fit resonated with me. Yeah, she felt like someone I know, maybe myself, and I could feel her youthful angst to a nearly uncomfortable level. It was such a cute touch how her abilities end up being strengths that were taken for granted. I also loved Professor Fitch. His nervousness was rather endearing, and I do have a fondness for nerdy professors.
The chalkings were fairly unnerving and the accompanying villainous element was quite effectively sinister. I wasn't sure if I liked it at first, but as I listened, I was drawn into this world and it became very real. The end has a very good twist, well, I should say two piled on each other. Sanderson surely got me!
I feel bad because I am likely underrating this book. But I have to say that the choice of medium was a big factor in affecting my reading experience, so I have go with what I know for now. I will probably continue this series because it was an interesting read. I think I'll go with the print version of the next book.
How much can a person survive before their humanity is destroyed?
Cassie is a young woman who will learn exactly what makes her human and what would caHow much can a person survive before their humanity is destroyed?
Cassie is a young woman who will learn exactly what makes her human and what would cause her to lose the intrinsic element to her nature. She goes from being a normal teenager who has nothing more to worry about than whether her epic crush on Ben Parrish will be returned, to losing nearly everything, and living in a earth decimated by an alien invasion that is nothing like the ones showcased in movies and books thus far.
The aliens want the earth, and view humans as pests, much like we view cockroaches. Their solution, to kill off the majority with cataclysms and world-wide pestilence, and let hysteria and suspicion do the rest of the work.
What happens when humans can't trust each other and start viewing each other as the enemy? It's not much longer before humanity becomes extinct.
Cassie learns the hard way that she is safer alone, trusting no one, but she made a vow to her brother, and she will do anything to keep that vow. When her life is saved by Evan Walker, every hard lesson she learned to stay alive in the earth devastated by the alien invasion will be tested. Can she trust, when trust has led to betrayal?
This is a bleak and heartbreaking read. I listened to the audio, and I would highly recommend this medium because it makes the story that much more personal. The narrators, Phoebe Stohl and Brandon Espinoza allow us to view the story through their eyes, and feel their pain. Their voices portray the passion and pain, the angst and longing, and the violated innocence of young people who are in a horrible situation that they cannot escape.
While this is okay for the older end of the young adult audience, I don't feel that subject matter is appropriate to kids younger than 14. The atmosphere is dark and desperate, and people die in this book. Lots of them, and many in horrible ways. Not only that, but people are forced to kill others to survive or as part of the consequences of the invasion. But don't misconstrue me to be saying this is full of gratuitous violence. Many who have read Yancey's Monstrumologist series know that Yancey is not afraid of gore, but he doesn't take that tactic in this book. Instead, his tone is frighteningly realistic. Don't think that just because the majority of the characters are children, that he will take it easy on them. You'd be lying to yourself.
As a reader, I was sucked into this world, and I asked myself how I would adapt or deal with the circumstances that our characters faced. I am amazed at the resilience of the young. That Cassie could stay strong in heart and her mind whole after seeing what she's seen and being forced to make decisions she never would have faced before. That Ben could find the strength to keep living under his burden of guilt for surviving when his family and many others didn't. That they both could deal with the massive betrayals they suffered.
While clearly science fiction, the use of technology is minimal, but it feels credible. Enough that the presence of the alien invaders is undeniable. But not so much to blunt the realism of the novel.
The tension is neck-breaking, sustained until the last words of the book. I honestly had to take my time listening to this. It's so bleak and depressing at times, it doesn't make for 'fun' reading. But at the same time, I can say this was a fantastic and moving book. I think this book shows what can be achieved in young adult literature. Showing teenagers and young people in a scenario where as much is demanded of the reader as is of the characters. Not lightening the subject matter just to get a YA rating, or fantasizing or sensationalizing the story either to get more readers. From the beginning, I was engaged in this novel, and even when things got harrowing and I feared for what would happened next, I couldn't turn off the CD player and refuse to finish the book. I had to know what Cassie would do next, how she would handle the next situation. If she would find her brother and save him.
Yancey made me care about these people. He made me rage that children had to make these kinds of decisions, but at the same time, he didn't give me a convenient villain, not in the easy way that can happen in fiction. Instead, I was continually forced to reevaluate the situation and my hypotheses, along with the characters. There were times, I just gave up on making a guess on what was going to happen and I just kept listening and decided to let the chips fall where they may.
You wonder what an author feels when he puts his characters through the depredations seen in this book. Does it hurt like he's hacking off a limb? Does he smile gleefully at the computer screen? Or does he feel the grim determination of a surgeon who is cutting into their patient to save its life? This is a question that books like this make me ask. In a strange way, I feel more connected to the writer of a book like this, because I can imagine that the creative process was a demanding one. The they sweated and shed their own blood to write a book just for me to read.
I recommend this book fully to readers who are prepared to face the bleak, upsetting content of this novel. To walk in the shoes of these young people who have to face the end of the world head on, and can't close the book and read something else when it gets too painful for them....more
Can I be honest? I feel... a bit manipulated. I am going through a horrible reading slump right now, so I know that I am a lot less tolerant than I woCan I be honest? I feel... a bit manipulated. I am going through a horrible reading slump right now, so I know that I am a lot less tolerant than I would have been prior to this dry spell. So my review of this book might be a bit harsher. I feel that despite my rather harsh criticism, I am being fair and respectful, which are crucial to me as a reviewer.
I loved the first book, The Name of the Star, and I gave it five stars. I actually thought it was quite brilliant. In comparison, my feelings are not complimentary for this second book.
I am on the edge of giving up YA books because of reasons that this book sort of ties into. So forgive the segueway. I'll get back to my review in a little bit:
1) I am so sick of love triangles (this one doesn't quite have an in your face one. It's more of an obtuse triangle if anything).
2) Oh the high school drama! I am just sick of the whole high school setting, to be honest. This book isn't so bad in that sense.
3)So, so, so heartily sick of cliffhangers. Now this is where I felt manipulated. That ending was just wrong with this book. Not well done, and contrived. I think it ended this way so she could have a springboard for the next book. I'm not Maureen Johnson and so I don't get to tell her to write her books. But that was just pain unnecessary. If I could issue a plea to YA authors, stop the madness with this terrible, meaningless cliffhangers. You can write a series without them. If the publishers are behind this conspiracy, tell them no!
Okay, back to the book.
So I mentioned above how I was not feeling the ending. I was actually quite mad when I finished this book. I am doing a Bible Study and we talked about anger today, so I was glad I got that lesson prior to finishing this book. I was able to process my anger and determine the reasons for it. I felt manipulated and abused. I felt frustrated. I think that processing the anger has made me better able to review this book, but my reasons for feeling anger still stand.
The storyline itself was okay. However, it lacked the pizazz and the strength of the last book. It was meandering and rather dull in comparison. The word ennui is perfect for this feeling I had when I read this book. Although I can understand Rory being in a fog after the trauma she suffered, the feeling of malaise seemed to affect the whole narrative, and I didn't feel a sense of purpose or momentum as I read this novel. That was highly disappointing and contrasts very negatively with the first book, which has such a powerful, chilling atmosphere of menace that I found wonderfully effective . I had a feeling that this new character and her connection with Rory was going to lead to disaster, and I was right about that. But I'm not sure I really care, you know?
What I liked just as much as the first book was the atmosphere, the presence of London as a character in this novel. It makes me want to jump on a plane and go to England right now. In fact, London was more distinctive than the actual main character, which is a shame, because I love Rory. In this book, Johnson seems to be going through the motions in her characterization of Rory. She is blunted and hard to connect to her as a main character in this novel. My absolute Achilles' heel as a reader is that I can be so drawn into a story that I feel utter empathy for a character, if the writer is able to bring this character to life for me. With Rory, that connection established in The Name of the Star felt so attenuated, it hurt this read for me. Also, with such vibrant characters as Boo and Callum, they felt almost like the Shades of London they concern themselves with. Other important secondary characters, the same. And Stephen, well, he's one of my favorite characters, and even he didn't feel as real to me in this book, although I still love him.
Maureen Johnson established herself as a very admirable suspense writer with the first book in this series and "The Law of Suspects", a short story I had the pleasure of reading as my introduction to her. I feel she was off her game with this book. That ability to catch a reader and lead them down a dark, twisted path wasn't as evident in this book. My biggest reaction is that she was going through the motions. As a result, this reader is dismayed and disappointed.
Will I read the next book? With that ending, I have to do so. But my expectations are very low at this point.
Please up your game with the next book, Ms. Johnson. I need to know that you can finish what you started in this series successfully.
Stormdancer has such a distinctive feel that impacted me as a reader. The mix of rich Japanese-like culture and folklore with a dystopian twist. The mStormdancer has such a distinctive feel that impacted me as a reader. The mix of rich Japanese-like culture and folklore with a dystopian twist. The main character is a brave but troubled young woman who earns my loyalty and encourages me to stand up for what I personally believe in.
But the one thing that really won me over was the connection between Yukiko and the arashitora, who she names Buruu. I’ve been an animal person since I was a wee lassie, and the bond between humans and animals is very important in my life. To see the love and trust that grows between Yukiko and Buruu, and their devotion almost brought tears to my eyes, because I am a true sap about stuff like that. Buruu is a majestic and beautiful creature, although fiercely lethal and untamable, as a legendary creature should be. I loved that although Buruu doesn’t tame down or change in his essential nature, he grows as the bond with Yukiko develops. They teach each other things important for their journey.
The world of the Shima Isles is a dark one. The place hovers on the brink of ecological disaster, and many crimes against humanity occur daily. The Shogun is clearly mad, and his power without limitation. On top of that is the Guild, which strives to make more of their poison lotus, despite its cost to their world and the people within it, and burns people who they view as heretics, probably all of which are innocent. In this kind of world, it’s hard to have hope, which is why Yukiko begins this story as a sullen and miserable young woman. She’s lost more than she can reconcile, feels the personal sting of betrayal daily, and it’s wounded her emotionally. What a good time for Buruu to come along, although their connection is not without anguish for them both. But in this world, personal sacrifice is necessary to right the terrible wrongs occurring. In the end, they are healing and comfort and safety to each other in a dark place. Together, they will not be defeated.
Stormdancer is a very good book. While it took time for me to get into the flow of terminology and world-building, I appreciate the author’s efforts to create such an immersive, fascinating world. The Japanese cultural elements appealed highly to me. Of course, I loved the strong young heroine, among many strong capable women who fight for their world just as the men do. The action scenes brought to mind some of my favorite martial arts/fantasy movies. I admit I am a serious fan of swordplay, and this book has some beautiful and bloody evidence of this martial art, along with others. I could see this is a gorgeous anime-style film, but I hope that it is made in live action, with its all Asian cast. I would definitely pay money to see this on the big screen.
While I agree that is definitely for young adults and for older readers who enjoy young adult fiction, I like that Kristoff doesn’t curtail his writing merely to fit in the current YA trend. The violence is quite descriptive and there is some sensual content (although fade to black). The storyline is quite dark, with the ecological sabotage for power and money, the cruelty and violence against so called enemies of the state, and the disregard for the welfare and needs of the citizenry. I think there are good lessons in here, although I don’t think Kristoff ever strays into PSA territory. It’s inherent and beautifully integral to this novel. Personally, I think this book is fine for readers 14 and older. However, I would recommend a parent reading it first. This one is very close to a five star rating, but since some scenes lacked clarity, I ended up giving it 4.5/5.0 stars. Despite that, I highly recommend it to dystopian, fantasy, and Asian folklore fans. ...more
I was excited to read Shadow and Bone because the story seemed to have some Russian elements, and I love just about anything Russian. While the story I was excited to read Shadow and Bone because the story seemed to have some Russian elements, and I love just about anything Russian. While the story does not take place in Russia, but in a fictional world, it does have prominent Russian cultural elements, which I enjoyed. The folklore seems to be a distinctive one envisioned by the author, and not recognizable as Russian in my inexpert opinion.
At first, it took a while for this book to engage my interest. I was a bit bored initially. I had to get a feel for the vernacular and the world, and not much seemed to be happening. I wasn’t sure I felt the connection between Alina and Mal. I understood they grew up together, but I didn’t understand why Alina was so fixated on him and Mal didn’t seem to feel the same way.
While I appreciated the world-building and the concept of the Grisha, I think that it needed more texture. I felt like the narrative scratched the surface and was rather vague. It also took a while to get invested in Alina’s character. I liked the concept of her power and how suppressing it had affected her body detrimentally. I loved seeing her gain a sense of confidence and for her self-esteem to grow. I appreciated The Darkling’s character. I was always waiting for him to show up. Sadly he was more developed in some ways than Mal was. I found the resolution with him predictable. I would have liked to see it go in a different direction. Maybe he didn’t have to live up to everyone’s bad opinions of him. As for Mal, even at the end, I can’t say I grew to like him that much. I wanted to like him because Alina loves him so much. I just didn’t. I liked Alina’s character, but I wanted to feel for her more and know her on a deeper level.
At first I was going to give this four stars, because I liked the Russian elements so much and it’s an interesting idea, but I realized the execution wasn’t quite as good, and I had to adjust my rating accordingly. I feel that the writing needed to do a better job of drawing me in and conveying intensity and I think the descriptions of the places, specifically the concept of the Fold, could have been more fleshed out. With this kind of idea and subject, this story really could have had more impact than it did. In the end, it was a diverting, interesting read, but it didn’t set me on fire or get to my heart like I would have liked. If my library gets the rest of the series, I will definitely check it out, because I’d like to follow Alina’s story.
"Steelheart" is a should read for fans of 'superhero' fiction. This is a different vantage point of superheroes though. In this world, they are the vi"Steelheart" is a should read for fans of 'superhero' fiction. This is a different vantage point of superheroes though. In this world, they are the villains. Called "Epics", they are humans who manifest powers after a comet called "Calamity" arrives. These guys are just plan mean, and above that, they are also murderous psychopaths if not sociopaths who believe that their abilities make them above the rules and also human ethics and right and wrong.
Sanderson is a great writer. He sucks the reader right into this story from the first page. David has a very personal reason to hate the Epics, and makes it his mission to bring down the Epic who murdered his father. You see first hand how terrible the Epics can be in action. If you're like me, you have to reorient yourself to understand that the Epics can't ever be the heroes of this story. But then, you also know to keep reading, because it's not as cut and dried as you think.
This whole story felt new and unique to me. Some elements are tried and true, but the execution is unique. I can see this making a great movie. The art direction for Newcago would be fantastic. Having been born in the shadow of this great Midwestern city, it was really compelling to see how Steelheart had distorted this city and remade it in his own image. Seeing the Epics in action as well. The way Sanderson writes, it does feel very vivid and lifelike in my mind.
I didn't give this more than four stars, because it still has that young adult superficiality that I regret when I read Young Adult books. I feel like the publishers must make the authors and editors trim down the books in some way, in this mistaken belief that younger readers can't handle a deeper read. Having read Mistborn by Sanderson, I know he is capable of going deep, and I would love to see more that in this series. The idea is great and the story itself is well done. I just want to feel like I'm reading a more finished/complex work. I refuse to believe that younger readers can't handle it. After all, this story does go to some dark places.
I also wasn't that fond of the relationship between David and Megan. I felt like it was checking of the list for young adult books nowadays--obligatory young adult elements. Don't get me wrong, I really love romance. But romance has to feel real and integral to the story, and Megan and David's relationship wasn't deep enough to get to that point. Megan wasn't likable as a character (or as well developed), and I had trouble believing David would fall for her. Out of the members of the Reckoners, she was the least appealing character to me. I though the Professor, Abraham, Cody and Tia were all really cool. And of course, I liked David. I loved how he was a real geek, a compiler of facts about the Epics to an exhaustive degree. And he had developed the skills in himself to accomplish the goals he needed to have to get his revenge on Steelheart.
Despite the fact that this wasn't a perfect book, I still recommend it readers of superhero fiction. It takes the familiar concepts of the genre and makes you think about it hard. I could almost see Steelheart as a dark version of Superman, much like Plutonian from Irredeemable, Vol. 1 , and that's a very scary thought. I will definitely keep reading this series....more
Amber "Hawkeye" Rodriguez is a young research librarian who is asked to travel to the mysterious Southern lands on the human-colonized planet of JigsaAmber "Hawkeye" Rodriguez is a young research librarian who is asked to travel to the mysterious Southern lands on the human-colonized planet of Jigsaw with a group of the equally mysterious Neighbors, the original inhabitants of the planet. Their goal is to talk to the Spirits of Glory, and they ask Hawkeye along for her sharp eyes that see farther than anyone else. The curious Hawkeye has studied the Neighbors her entire life. She goes along because she wants to learn more about all three things: the Southern lands, the Spirits of Glory, and the Neighbors. Not to mention why the Southerners suddenly disappeared in the first place.
Spirits of Glory starts out with a huge question mark. Initially, I had no clue what was going on. The writing brought to mind the fantasist Catherynne M. Valente in which information is given that doesn't make sense until you keep reading. A lot of interesting ideas are presented to the reader and it takes further reading to see where Devenport is going. As the pieces came together, I gained a coherent idea of the story. I liked it before that point, and with its completion, the further insight I gained made me appreciate the story more, although there is plenty of mystery when this novella ends to leave me pondering the world of Jigsaw and its original inhabitants.
Hawkeye is a character that is very easy to feel for, with her humble but inquisitive nature, and good heart. I loved her assistance animals, Wolfy, a Retriever who has almost figured out how to speak English, and Brat, a cat with the ears and nose of a seasoned tracker. The bond between the two assistance animals and Hawkeye and the Neighbors, and Daisy, one of the mules that goes along on the journey made me smile. Animal lovers will appreciate these aspects of the novella.
Devenport imbues this short novel with plenty of tension as Hawkeye journeys into new places and faces dangers from those environs and their decidedly untrustworthy companions, humans who are called Scavengers. They show humans up poorly next to the considerate, composed miens of the Neighbors.
For a short story, I become very emotionally entangled as I read. It was interesting discovering the mysteries of Jigsaw, where time and space are not fixed, but highly mercurial. Although this is set on another planet, and concepts of science are prominent, there is a palpable vibe of the supernatural and otherworldly, with ghosts and arcane beings that the humans and Neighbors refer to as gods.
Since Hawkeye is only sixteen, this story works fairly well as a young adult themed work. However, Hawkeye has a sheltered aspect to her personality, and at the same time, has suffered a great deal for her age, making her a mature, balanced main character. She serves as a good role model to young female readers, which is why I would recommend this as a young adult novella. The content is suitable as far as violence and adult situations. However, there is a maturity to the thematic content that encourages any reader of any age to read and ponder the questions of humanity, existence, time, and the legacy that human and other beings leave behind, both good and bad. When I finished this novella, I was a satisfied reader. I would recommend Spirits of Glory to readers who like stories with a nice mix of science and fantasy/paranormal elements.
Kally Bright is a teenager living in the year of 2184, in Chigo (once Chicago, Illinois) , in a totalitarian society in which people are given very liKally Bright is a teenager living in the year of 2184, in Chigo (once Chicago, Illinois) , in a totalitarian society in which people are given very little choice in anything they do. The government (now called govment) has outlawed and regulated many aspects of living, and now dictates who and when people marry.
On her sixteenth birthday, Kally finds out that she must marry a man who has already been married. If she refuses, she will be given a lower-paying job, which will make her life more difficult and further limit her options, much like her mother. Kally has a hobby of fixing clocks, which is also illegal. When she starts fixing a clock for an elderly neighbor, she discovers a necklace hidden inside its case, with a pendant shaped like the globe of the former Earth, before all the mega-quakes changed the continents. She dons the necklace, and ends up traveling back to 18th century Scotland, where she saves the nearby laird’s young baby from a wolf, and ends up being temporarily adopted into the clan. An old lady she encounters tells her she is a time sneak and gives her a very important task to fulfill. Kally quickly learns to adjust to life in the 18th century, which has living in a restricted future beat by a margin, and makes close friends with the Laird Duncan’s older son, Ian. Just when she is about to accomplish her mission, she gets sent forward to her own time again. On her seventeenth birthday, Kally goes back to Scotland and encounters a sixteen-year-old Mac, the baby she once saved, and falls in love with him. Can Kally make promises of forever with Mac while her mother waits alone in the far future and when she doesn’t even understand how time sneaking works in the first place?
Sneaks takes the idea of time travel and gives us a young, appealing heroine to go along with for the ride. I enjoyed the view of 18th century Scotland, and reading about Kally adjusting to living there. She’s a fun, good-hearted girl that it’s easy to root for. Kally cares about others, even when it makes her life more difficult. The social dynamics of a teen living in a restrictive future society spoke to me. Most teens in the current day society take it for granted that they can choose their own spouse, can date whomever they desire, and pick any profession that holds their appeal; and more importantly, have access to good quality food and water and live in a clean environment. One would assume that a futuristic teen going back to pre-modern Scotland would be miserable and unhappy, but instead, Kally loves it. That was an interesting change when it comes to a time travel story.
Additionally, this story has an advantage merely for its novel theme in a genre that seems focused more on forbidden romance with bad boys of supernatural origins and the obligatory love triangle. I enjoyed the fact that B. Button took her young adult story in a different direction, and still this reader a satisfying romance to enjoy. As a person who loves books set in historical Scotland, I enjoyed those details. They felt authentic, without being tedious or like a pedantic history lesson. I have the feeling that a young female reader will appreciate the historical touches, including hunky young warriors in kilts.
As a novella, this story doesn’t have the intricate feel of a longer fiction novel. However, for what’s there, it’s a good, well-written story that involved me. The appeal of reading about a young woman as she finds out what she wants in life, and her potential as an individual is undeniable, with a deep identification factor for most women and girls. She has to balance the love for her mother with a newfound romantic love, knowing that each are important to her life, and she gets a chance to stretch her wings in a new world without the restrictions of her old, albeit future, one. I definitely enjoyed reading about Kally’s journey of love and self-discovery in Sneaks. I think this book would appeal to younger readers and older readers who enjoy young adult fiction.
This took a long time to finish because I was listening to this at night before bed and I would often fall asleep and have to rewind it the next nightThis took a long time to finish because I was listening to this at night before bed and I would often fall asleep and have to rewind it the next night! I finally finished it early this morning. While I didn't like this one quite as much as the first book or the last (I had to read book 3 a few months ago for review), it was still a good read, and I was drawn into the world of our intrepid young hero. I just love Rossamünd. He's like my honorary little boy. Just a sweet kid. When he hurt, I hurt, when he was lonely and uncertain, I wanted to hug and comfort him. I was proud of him when he triumphed. He has a lot more honor, bravery, love, and heart than a lot of grown men, and he is a very humane person, which counts for a whole lot in these books. He alone makes this book series worthwhile.
I wasn't as enamored of the lifestyle of a lamplighter. Perhaps a bit too regimented for me. I believe that Rossamünd is about ten or so, but he is treated like a grownup, like an army recruit in a dangerous job that didn't make a lot of sense to me. Mind-numbingly boring, and unnecessarily dangerous. Not a good mix at all. Basically folks risking their lives on the roads to keep the highways lighted, way out in the boondocks (because that's so important), for the glory of the Emperor of the Half-Continent. The grunts are hard-working folks, and some of their superiors as well. But as always, you run into useless bureaucrats like the Master of Clerks who appear to want folks to end up dead. I couldn't figure out if he was just clueless or deliberately evil. I am leaning towards the latter since he is in cahoots with one in this book who definitely is evil.
As always, Rossamünd struggles with the moral conflicts of killing monsters or stepping aside in this war, when innocent humans' lives are at stakes. He knows quite well that not all monsters are bad and not all humans are good. He has to make the choice to fight or not near the end when things come to a head. And he chooses rightly. But for his troubles, he has to deal with enemies that are high in the government's workings. Good to know he has a powerful person or two on his side like Europe.
I have to be honest that I spent a lot of this book looking for Europe when she wasn't around. It's because I love the relationship between her and Rossamünd. I think that she is the mother that he never had, and he is her child in all but birth. But beyond that is a mutual respect and an essential aspect to their relationship that challenges them both to be better in the ways that are unique to each as an individual.
Threnody, a young girl that also joins the Lamplighter corp is much as I would have imagined Europe as a girl. Very haughty, yet unsure, her social superiority much like armor against the hurts of the world and the fact that she can't ever live up to her highborn mother's expectations. It was not surprising that she and Europe didn't get along at all. No doubt due to a sort of jealousy for Rossamünd's attention that Threnody feels, and perhaps some projection on her by Europe for the young Europe that she sees in the girl. Threnody was a bit annoying for most of the book, but at the same time, she grew on me, because I could see how she connected to Rossamünd and depended on a relationship with him to be 'normal' and perhaps feel human. And that is a bit of irony in itself.
Cornish has a way with imbuing this work with characters of distinction, even if their roles are quite small at times. I loved seeing Masters Fransitart and Cramupalin again. And I liked some of the fellow lamplighters and authoritative figures that Rossamünd engages with. The bad guys are quite unlikeable, be it evil monsters or evil beaurocrat humans. But the good thing is no one is cardboard or lackluster.
As far as world-building, this book has a complexity that makes it a more difficult listen than read. However, it was distinct, creative, and interesting. This world of monsters against humans isn't all black and white, but very much in shades of gray, which works well when you have a lead figure like Rossamünd who doesn't fit especially perfect in either world.
Although I didn't enjoy this as much as book one or book three, it was still enjoyable. More than anything, this is due to an unforgettable and utterly endearing main character. My beloved Rossamünd stands out to me. What a sweet kid he is. Equally fascinating is our Lady Europa, The Branden Rose. A woman of power and authority who has a surprisingly tender heart when it comes to Rossamünd. I love her for that.
I am sad to see this series come to an end as far as my reading pleasure. I would love to see more of Rossamünd and Europe.
This won't work for every YA or even older reader, but I like that it is a bit off the beaten track and challenging in the subject matter. I feel that the writer put a lot of energy and effort into building this world, and his characters will linger long in my mind, even though I have finished this book. A sign of a good book indeed for this reader.