This is another little gem from my childhood. It's about reincarnation, and takes the ideas from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and puts them in a childThis is another little gem from my childhood. It's about reincarnation, and takes the ideas from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and puts them in a child-friendly format replete with gorgeous illustrations.
I seem to remember there being a lot of mandalas...
Looking back, I have to say: my parents had incredibly good taste when it came to children's books....more
This is a debut work? Well, pop me in a pie crust and call me a pastry! Would that all first works were of the caliber of this one - I'd never give anThis is a debut work? Well, pop me in a pie crust and call me a pastry! Would that all first works were of the caliber of this one - I'd never give another one-star rating again!
This little piece of victoriana starts out with a woman named Sophie anticipating the return of her husband from the Amazon, where he has been collecting butterfly specimens. Lured out by the promise of a rare species of butterfly, with asymmetrical wings of black and gold, Thomas Edgar has spent months being ravaged by insects and living in squalor with his fellow naturalists in search of this magnificent prize. But when Sophie finally sees her husband again she is met with an unpleasant surprise - he is mute, shocked to senselessness, and barely seems aware of the world around him.
Now, Sophie must read her silent husband's journals and letters in order to find out what horrors transpired to make him stop speaking. The reader is introduced to Brazil in the turn of the century, with powerful rubber barons lording over the countryside, subjecting their workers to unspeakable brutalities. Thomas begins to doubt the kindness of his Patron, Jose Santos, who definitely has a cruel streak when it comes to practical jokes. But does that cruelty stoop to murder?
Meanwhile, the nefarious Captain Fale, who is in lust love with Thomas's wife, is conspiring to have Thomas sent to a mental institution. He worms his way into Sophie's father's acquaintance and drops malicious hints that Thomas is on the verge of a violent and imminent mental collapse. He hopes that Sophie's father will insist on a divorce, where he can swoop in and install her into his home, to give it that "feminine touch" he so desperately desires.
The Sound of the Butterflies is incredible. Not just for the plot, but for how informative it is. I learned so much about butterflies and naturalism and rubber barons from reading this novel - all of which I find extremely fascinating (civil rights and biology are some of my interests).
Also, I'm not sure if the author knew this or not (I'm guessing yes, because she seems very intelligent if her work is anything to go by), but the butterfly Thomas was so intent on pursuing really does exist. However, it's not a species on its own. The so-called Papilio sophia bears striking similarity to a rare form of mutation called bilateral gyandromorphism. The animal in question is born half-male and half-female, with the dissociation being apparent because of sexual dimorphism (the differences sex causes on physical appearance; e.g. males being more brightly colored and robust).
Here is a tiger swallowtail with the mutation:
If you're curious about this phenomenon, you should read the Wikipedia article Gyandromorphism was a three-page digression in my psychobiology lecture but I found it so fascinating I did some independent research on the subject. It's a pretty invasive mutation. I don't think it's coincidental that it mostly affects sea creatures and insects with the occasional bird. Mammals, with their complex limbic systems, would probably be killed by all those hormones.
Great book! It really made me think! (And that's more than I can say for a lot of the trash I read haha.)...more
Speechless is an incredibly emotional read. If you threw Saved!You can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!
Allow me to list my feels.
Speechless is an incredibly emotional read. If you threw Saved!, Speak, and Mean Girls in a blender, and served it up with a side-order of anti-bullying and LGBT acceptance, you'd come up with something realllllly close to Speechless.
Chelsea Knot is the school gossip. She's best friends with the most popular girl in school, Miss "It Girl", Kristen Courteau.
One day, at a party, Chelsea catches two boys fooling around at a party. Naturally, she tells all her friends expecting that they'll all think it's a total laff-riot and pat her on the back for finding out--
But they get angry--and mean. And then... somebody gets hurt.
Chelsea is devastated, and after giving her police report she decides to take a vow of silence in repentance for her actions. The impacts of this, and the people around her, really are amazing.
I love it when authors experiment with new ideas in YA. Thirteen Reasons Why, Going Bovine, Beauty Queens, The Fault in Our Stars, and Speak, all cover similarly revolutionary topics and concepts, and the fact that they were done well makes them sparkle all the more.
Speechless is a bit lighter in tone, but no less meaningful--and, in fact, quite a bit more fun!
Ahhhhhhh!!! This book was amazing!! It was like a cross between The Matrix, Titan AE, Star Trek, and The Fifth Element but not derivative at all. ALLAhhhhhhh!!! This book was amazing!! It was like a cross between The Matrix, Titan AE, Star Trek, and The Fifth Element but not derivative at all. ALL of the characters were completely amazing, complex, and so... so... so fragging real. OMG. OMGOMGOMGOMG.
This is one of those memoirs that really is stranger than fiction — and I loved it! When Ruth Reichl becomes a food critic (jealousy!) for The New YorThis is one of those memoirs that really is stranger than fiction — and I loved it! When Ruth Reichl becomes a food critic (jealousy!) for The New York Times mostly against her will, she has a dilemma: restaurant owners will do ANYTHING to get a good rating from a food critic. They will (a) put "plants" in the restaurant to rave about their food, (b) give some of their friends and family free lunches to bribe them to do the aforementioned, (c) pass out photographs to the restaurant staff and tell them to keep an eye out for known pseudonyms, (d) give critics better tables with better ingredients (even if the chef sucks, you'll find that raspberries literally triple in size when you're somebody in New York. It's crazy! Obviously, these things do not apply to your typical Joe Sixpack, who may spend a lot of time saving up for the ideal dining experience and when he does, there are places where he will inevitably be disappointed.
The only conclusion? Wear a disguise.
I loved the processes behind each single one of her disguises. Ruth dresses up in a colorful variety of cast members. There's Molly, the Midwestern house wife; Brenda, the chic redhead hippie; Chloe, the aging trophy wife; Emily, the matronly ice bitch from hell; and Miriam, her own mother. She invents a history for each character, infusing these with a plausibility that makes me suspect she got an A in psychology during her college days. But most interestingly, each costume changes the way people interact with her and her personality, by proxy. It is fascinating to watch!
The food descriptions are phenomenal, too. It's hard to really convey the texture and taste of food in prose because it's such a different type of sense. Not only do you have to have a rocking vocabulary, you also have to be able to project yourself into the mind of the common man: how can you possibly hope to describe the phenomenon of "dancing shrimp" or "kokum" to someone who has never tasted them? Reichl does this exceptionally well. A little too well. It's basically food porn and I hold her fully accountable for my having a rumbling, hungry tummy at the ungodly hour of 2am.
It's also a fantastic premise. I really enjoyed seeing the pretentious people of New York having it socked to 'em! She has examples of her reviews in the book and she is actually pretty nice; even the worst restaurants receive constructive criticisms (even if what they deserve is a scathing flame imbued with a healthy dose of cursing). Appearance really does matter: if there are any doubts in your mind about this, just look at the way she was treated dressed as Molly versus, say, Chloe or herself. Dress like a dowdy housewife in an upscale area and everyone seems determined to put your in your place... It made me wonder if any of these restaurants changed their behavior just in case some of their less well-dressed patrons were actually food critics in disguise.
I just bought her other book, Comfort Me With Apples, which talks about how she left her job as a chef to become a critic. Her last book was so enjoyable, and she was so likable a narrator, that I'm positive this new book will be just as much of a pleasure to read....more
The song "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads is probably the best way to describe this novel withouttl;dr review: Psycho killer, qu'est-ce que c'est?
The song "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads is probably the best way to describe this novel without spoiling anything. It's about a man who's dissociated from the world and himself, who has the ability to lie and hurt without taking blame, who has the capacity for evil but hasn't fulfilled his potential yet. But he is also human, which makes him much more frightening than one of the stereotypical laughing villains. Ferdinand Clegg is très Norman Bates with all his hangups about women and sex and family and being proper. The movies are even similar in the sense that Terrence Stamp and Anthony Perkins were both a bit *too* good-looking and clean-cut to portray the roles they were cast in (and yet, this made the movies that much creepier, because why should the psycho ones always look like Anthony Hopkins?).
I didn't like his character from the beginning. He stalks Miranda for a long time before deciding to drug her with chloroform and kidnap her. He has put her on a pedestal--every other woman is a whore or a phoney except for her; he thinks that she'll be able to understand him, even love him, if he forces her into a position where she has no choice but to get to know him. He never for a moment thinks that this could be his undoing; that if Miranda peels back the layers to what lies beneath, she'll discover the part of him that sometimes fantasizes about "making her kneel and cry." Every page with his story on it was so...oily. I could picture his voice in my head, how he would look, and if they had made a remake of it in the late 80s/early 90s, Crispin Glover would have been perfect for the role. But they didn't. Alas.
What really made the story was Miranda's narrative, and the way being captive transformed her. At first she is angry, then despairing. She makes several attempts to escape. She comes across as being one of those upper-middle class girls that tries to be worldly but just comes off as pretentious and naive, which is exactly the kind of woman Ferdinand despises, ironically. She even has an "affair" with a man twice her age, though he breaks it off for reasons that are never quite defined (though we are led to expect it's because he feels guilt and thinks she is too good for him). She constantly insults her captor, making petty jabs at his poor taste in art, his stupidity, his lack of worldliness, his hypocrisy. Nothing she says ever really makes a real dent; they come from completely different words, she speaks, but he only hears the sound of her pretty voice.
In a sense, this complete focus on her beauty is almost as creepy as murder because he doesn't appear to care about her at all as a person. She is an object that he enjoys possessing at any cost; he enjoys thinking about men "going green" with envy at the thought of having a beautiful captive to do whatever they want to with. In the beginning, you're supposed to think that he really might care about her, because of the way he buys her presents and listens to her complaints, but gradually you come to realize that this is not the case. There are three crucial instances that I feel illustrate this transformation: (view spoiler)[1) When he promises to release her but then changes his mind, insisting that she marry him, and when that fails, insisting that she stay another month (if he truly loved her, as Miranda realized with G.P., he would have let her go), 2) When, after a failed attempt to have sex, he decides to withhold baths and other "privileges" unless she poses naked for him to take pictures (punishing her for both humiliating him and for daring to defy his idealization of her as the ideal woman), and 3) When she is deathly ill and yet he refuses to take her to a doctor, worrying that even when she is delusional and has a fever of 102-degrees F, that she could be faking it "pulling tricks," or that someone will take her away from him (which his foreshadowed earlier by him "testing" her earlier claim to be sick by saying "oh well, too bad" and then leaving her in the cellar, only to have her glare at him in disgust). (hide spoiler)]
This book didn't end the way I wanted it to, or thought it was going to, and that left me feeling bitterly disappointed and also cheated. Not because it was bad, but because there was no moral recompense. Clegg doesn't learn from his mistakes at ALL, he doesn't become a better person, and he learns no lesson from his lack of humanity; in fact, at the end, there is even reason to believe that he enjoyed the power it gave him, and would be willing to do it again. Hence the ambiguous title. Is Clegg a human who collects caterpillars and butterflies? Or is he a caterpillar on the verge of becoming inhuman and collecting humans? Very chilling.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
i...i'm sorry. i need a moment. in fact, better make that two moments.
WOW. only 19 pages and yet i was completely blown away. cinder has beeASDFHGJKL;
i...i'm sorry. i need a moment. in fact, better make that two moments.
WOW. only 19 pages and yet i was completely blown away. cinder has been popping up on my friends' book lists left and right, and the amount of hype this book has generated since its release is INSANE.
and completely warranted.
cinder is a cyborg. one of her hands and one of her legs are robotic due to a tragic accident that killed her parents and wounded her gravely during a time that she was almost too young to remember. in order to make the robotic limbs compatible with her body, the scientists and programmers had to do some other tweaking as well and the result is that cinder is left halfway between android and human.
she can feel emotions...but she can't cry.
cinder is adopted into a family in JAPAN(!) *sorry, it's a fangirl thing* by a kind-hearted but absent-minded and eccentric man named garan to live with his wife and two daughters. peony, the youngest of the two stepsisters, is a major sweetheart who takes to cinder almost immediately. she's so bubbly and innocent--i want her to be my best friend.
pearl, the older of the stepsisters, and adri, garan's wife, are less than pleased. pearl because she resents having to make sacrifices for a new arrival when her family is already poor, and adri for the same reasons, but tinged with the savageness of a mother grizzly's protective 'out-of-my-children's-way-bitch-or-die!' instincts.
the setting. the descriptions. the writing. the character development. oh, god--this prequel might have been free but it's made me desperate to get my hands on a copy of this book a.s.a.p. i'm sure ms. meyer (the good one! not the evil one who wrote twilight) is quite pleased with herself for thinking up such a devious scheme.
I WANT THIS BOOK. I NEED THIS BOOK. I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK.
Before Reading: I won this via the first reads giveaway! I'm so happy I won this, becauseYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!
Before Reading: I won this via the first reads giveaway! I'm so happy I won this, because my mother absolutely LOVES Swedish/Finnish mysteries but they are hard to find in the U.S. The last one I got for her was also from GR and called "The Viper," which was pretty good. Once I read and reviewed it as per the contest agreement, I gave it to her--and she loved it too! I can't wait to tell her I won another! She shall be the envy of her friends. :)
After Reading: I am so, so sick of Swedish mysteries proclaiming to be exactly like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I've already read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If I wanted to read something exactly like it, I'd read the book a second time.
But most of these copycat thrillers are pale imitations of TGwtDT. Stilted translations, racist remarks, and excessive descriptions of food and furniture seem to have become the hallmark for AWESOME SWEDISH MYSTERIES.
Thank God Grebe and Traff didn't get that memo. ;)
Some Kind of Peace has nothing in common with TGwtDT at all, except for the fact that it comes from, and takes place in, Sweden. It is narrated in the first person (a first for me- no pun intended), and the MC is a woman. Not only a woman, but a woman psychologist. Obviously, these authors read my mind from halfway across the world and wrote this book just for me.
If Gillian Flynn was Swedish, and was a bit more depressed by the constant darkness of the far north, I can easily imagine her writing something like this. The troubled MC, haunted by her past as she wades through the new horrors of the future, was very much like Flynn's desolate take on mystery noir fiction. The psychology angle was really well done, and when I read that one of the sisters who wrote this (it's a sister author duo!) was a psychologist herself, I was like YAYZ.
Siri Bergman is a likable, in spite of her flaws. I wanted her to succeed with her patients, and I wanted her to figure out who the sicko was doing all the sick things to her. I loved how she had difficulties with her relationship with Markus because she was still hung-up on her dead husband, Stefan. I liked Aina's character, and that she was promiscuous but never slut-shamed. I especially liked Vijay, her old psychology mentor and friend. He was a cool character.
Overall, this was a refreshing breath of cool air in a genre that is overrun with douchebag gumshoes, slut-shaming, misogyny, and squick. Not that there is anything wrong with squick, but it is nice to see something different.
Thanks, Goodreads! And thanks, Simon & Schuster!
(So when are you guys planning on translating book #2? :D)
Is a good man really so hard to find? Must I use a time-machine to go back to the Regency Period in order to find a real gentleman?
(Although if said time-machine was accompanied by Matt Smith, then to hell with the Regency Period.)
I really enjoyed The Secret Diaries. I mean, at first I was disappointed that it wasn't actually written in diary format, but it's such a cute story that I just couldn't resist its charms.
A little bit of fluff goes a long way, and this book is chock-full.
Miranda Cheever first met Nigel Bevelstoke, Lord Turner when she was ten and he was nineteen, because she was friends with his younger sister, Olivia. After getting teased by some of the other little girls at Olivia's party, Turner cheers her up by telling her that he thinks she's pretty and advising her to keep a journal.
Ten years later, Miranda has grown somewhat into her ordinary looks and Turner is a broken man. He has had his heart broken by his cold-hearted wife and can't bring himself to start looking for another after her death, let alone mourn her.
Also, Olivia has taken it into her mind that Miranda is destined to be with her twin brother, Winston. Olivia is hilarious. I hope she's the subject of the next Bevelstoke series because she totally reminded me of Jane Austen's Emma. You know, the lovable air-headed blonde who's annoying but cute?
Lottie is so Olivia, it isn't even funny.
Miranda is still attracted to Turner and tries, mostly unsuccessfully, to gain his affections. Sexual tension ensues, and after several rather hnnnng-worthy encounters, Miranda ends up preggers.
I liked this a lot. Mostly because of Turner. Oh, God. Turner.
He broke my heart.
If I have one criticism about this book, it's how horridly Miranda treated Turner just for being too traumatized to tell her that he loved her. Really, she was astonishingly heartless. Actions speak louder than words--that maxim has been around since the dawn of time, and with good reason.
Plenty of men say I love you and don't mean it, so really, it's good he waited until he did.
Here is a piece of cake, Ms. Quinn, for doing a satisfactory job.
And there's more where that came from, if you know what I mean.
I'm always a little leery about reading indie books, which is ironic because I happen toYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!
I'm always a little leery about reading indie books, which is ironic because I happen to be the author of some. But with all the drama going on lately, it just seems to be too much trouble with too little pay-off unless the author in question has developed a good reputation.
I received my copy of And All the Stars from netgalley for review. A lot of my friends had been gushing over it, and seeing all those good reviews popping up in my newsfeed made me curious. Since it was free, and the author seemed like a friendly, classy, professional individual, I figured, hey, why not?
I'm so glad I gave this a try.
Some books have good plots. Some books have good characters. Some books have good writing. And All the Stars has the whole trifecta. Taking place in Australia, And All the Stars is narrated by a girl named Madeleine, who just so happens to be outside as the world is engulfed in dust, and mysterious, shimmering spires rise out of the very earth. The dust unleashes some sort of contagion that causes people to get dry-mouthed, exhausted. Their skin turns either blue or green. They get muscle weakness, become cripplingly hungry, and then--some of them die.
Madeleine is one of the lucky ones. She doesn't die, but her body is covered in midnight studded with stars. Amid the chaos of post-apocalyptic Australia, Madeleine finds and bonds with several other survivors: Noi, Nash, Gavin, Fish, Pan, and Emily. Friendships and romance develop, and it starts to seem like they might be able to pull through and make the best of a bad situation--
Until the true purpose of the contagion, and the spires, is revealed, and they realize that the entire world is caught in the chokehold of an ancient and deadly struggle for power and rebirth.
My God. The world-building and tension were so much. I loved the world and the characters, to the point where I didn't want to leave. The beginning was a little slow, and a little rocky, but by page fifty or so everything was smoothly ironed out and I had no trouble being immersed.
Also, I feel it's also nothing short of amazing that Höst managed to include such a diverse cast of characters, covering multiple ethnicities, gender identifications, sexualities, and temperament, without having any of that seem preachy or forced. There's even an androgynous boy!
And yes, I cried. And All the Stars tugs at the heartstrings, and really makes you think about what it means to live, truly live, and the things in life that make living worth fighting for.
When I was fifteen, I got lost in a hedge-maze at Cawdor Castle. I climbed through a gap and found myself in a labyrinth of twisting and turning passa
When I was fifteen, I got lost in a hedge-maze at Cawdor Castle. I climbed through a gap and found myself in a labyrinth of twisting and turning passages. Every time I thought I was getting close to the exit, I hit another green wall. My family was getting ready to leave. So I climbed through another gap. Suddenly, I found myself in the heart of the maze, completely walled in on all sides. "How the hell did you get in there?" my dad said, much to the amusement of the other tourists. I had to scramble through the shrubbery to escape. You know all those faerie tales about staying on the path? They're there for a reason.
Reading this book was a little like that, except, you know, instead of being comprised of hedge, it's comprised of words and plot twists. At first I thought I knew where the story was going. Then I didn't. Then I was completely confused. Then I was suspicious that the author didn't know where she was going either, that she was scrambling around through the roots of the hedge trying to find a quick exit only to lose herself deeper and deeper within the maze. Then I got to the end and realized that I shouldn't have doubted the amazingness of Warman - of course she knew where she was going. The signs were there, all along. I will never doubt again.
Alice and Rachel are a rare form of identical twins: they shared the same amniotic sac and placenta in utero. They also have a special connection that goes beyond the one shared by most twins: they can tell when something bad is going to happen to the other, and when one twin suffers an injury, the other mirrors her response. Alice is the trouble-maker, the one that everyone is expecting to go crazy or get herself killed or both. Rachel is the sweet, reliable, logical one. The one everyone - even her sister - loves.
But sometimes they switch.
And when one of the twins goes missing, everything that they have is threatened - particularly when bruises and lesions begin to appear on her body. She knows her twin sister is in trouble. But who would kidnap her and why? And what if they accidentally kidnapped the wrong twin?
This book has the distinction of being the first ARC I've received that got a 5-star rating! I'm a really stingy rater, so this says a lot, and believe me you, Jessica Warman deserves every single one of those stars. I was actually really excited to win this book because I read her other book, Between, recently (after I'd applied for Beautiful Lies), and I'd had no idea that they were by the same author. But then I got the email telling me my application was successful - AND LO AND BEHOLD. THIS BOOK WAS BY THE AUTHOR THAT I HAD JUST READ AND LOVED. REJOICEMENT! EXCITEMENT! WHEE!
As you can tell, I was really excited.
I can't really tell you much about this book because there are just SO MANY twists, and they all start pretty early on in the story. My shelves should give you a hint as to what this story's about, though. It's very dark, and disturbing, but Warman writes so beautifully, you kind of love her anyway.
(Even if she does scare you senseless.)
4.5 to 5 stars!
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. This in no way biased or shaped my reading or opinion of the book. ...more
When I first saw the title, I thought this was going to be another book about the fae. ImYou can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!
When I first saw the title, I thought this was going to be another book about the fae. Imagine my surprise when I start reading and find out it's a brilliant dystopian novel set in Brazil.
I know, Brazil.
I wanted to read it based on that fact alone. Well, that and the gorgeous cover. It sparkles! How often do you see a beautiful character with a gorgeous, realistically proportioned woman who isn't white? This was a first for me. Let's take a moment to squeal over that cover. Eeeeeeeeeeeee.
Okay. I'm done.
Luckily, The Summer Prince has more going for it than a lovely cover. For starters, it is set in the fictional city of Palmares Tres, Brazil. Long ago, men ran the city into the ground and the world was decimated by plagues. One of the kings decided to sacrifice himself at the hands of his queen. Why? Because he decided that the dictates of someone at their deathbed would be free from corruption. This was how he would choose a successor.
Now, the security of Palmares Tres is being threatened as traditionalists fight with rebels who want to go against the ban on new technology--and people who don't like the barbaric ritual of killing the Summer King each winter. Plus, the city is wearing down. Their technology is old, and with new advancements banned, there isn't much hope for things improving.
June is a waka, one of the young people in Brazil. Her best friend is named Gil, and the two of them love to dance and explore the wild Brazilian nightlife. On the day where the new Summer King is elected, both June and Gil fall hopelessly and irrevocably in love with the new elect, a beautiful boy from the slums named Enki who seems so much larger than life. Her attraction tears June up inside because he will be dead before the year is up.
But Enki, like her, is an artist, and through carefully-designed pranks that dance the line between art and warfare, her abilities to resist her attraction to the doomed king weaken.
I loved this story. Loved it. The writing was gorgeous, beautifully wrought, and vividly imagined. Reading this was like dreaming; I could picture the ghostly outlines of Palmares Tres in my head, cold steel shimmering under tropical heat, exotic flowers, tanks of moldering algae--
It's been a while since a book managed to wow me with its exquisite world-building, but The Summer Prince succeeded. In many ways, it reminded me of Joan D. Vinge's The Snow Queen, which was also a dystopia, and also involved ritualistic sacrifice based on the coming of the season.
I have to say that The Summer Prince tore me up inside. The ending wasn't fair. It wasn't fair. It was terrible, and unjust, and I cried like a baby because Alaya Johnson ripped out my heart. I was hoping the story wouldn't take that route. I kind of suspected it would, and deep down I wanted it to, because sometimes the harder route is the right one--the more powerful one. So in a way I'm happy that the author is willing to sacrifice a happy ending for a good ending. But I'm still sad.
The Summer Prince is a powerful novel, with fluid sexuality, interracial characters, gorgeous prose, an exotic sending, and a poignant reimagining of the boundaries of art. There's something for everyone in The Summer Prince; just don't be afraid to have your heart broken.
I LOVED Sita's character. She was strong, but not over-the-top. She knew how to use people to get what she wanted, but she also had emotions. She wasnI LOVED Sita's character. She was strong, but not over-the-top. She knew how to use people to get what she wanted, but she also had emotions. She wasn't a bad person, but her jaded outlook on life made it seem like that at times. I loved the parts of the story that delved into her history; her love-hate relationship with Yaksha, the tragedy of losing her husband and daughter; the fact that the past is constantly coming back to haunt her.
Most of all, though, I loved the raw emotion in this book. And I don't mean that in a gooey, sappy way. Sita has suffered through a lot. She makes relationships quickly, because she doesn't know when they'll end (a much better way of explaining the love-at-first sight thing than Twilight did). She doesn't like life sometimes, but she likes it enough that she tries to prevail even when everybody and their mother is out to kill her. It's so rare to find a heroine who is this callous and cold, but still likable. Underneath the self-preservation and cold intellect is a person that teenage girls (and older women, too) will be able to relate to, which is amazing. I could actually FEEL what it is like to be Sita.
The ties to Indian mythology were quite fascinating. Vampires trace their origin to one single vampire who was morn from a demon (Yaksha). In fact, his name, which was given to him by the main character, actually means "heart of the demon." Pike brings up a lot of interesting ideas about religion, love, and good/evil. I've only read his pulp YA horror novellas before, so this book was a breath of fresh air (especially since I've read tons of bad YA vamp books this week). I'm amazed by this man's talent! Could someone get him to do the werewolf myth next? Please?...more
WARNING!!!! THIS BOOK HAS A KICK-ASS FEMALE CHARACTER, AN AWESOME MAGIC SYSTEM, POLITICAL INTRIGUE, AND A SPICY DASH OF WELL-WRITTEN ROMANCE. PLEASE RWARNING!!!! THIS BOOK HAS A KICK-ASS FEMALE CHARACTER, AN AWESOME MAGIC SYSTEM, POLITICAL INTRIGUE, AND A SPICY DASH OF WELL-WRITTEN ROMANCE. PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING DISCLAIMERS BEFORE PROCEEDING.
do not read this book if you: -hate strong, female protagonists, especially ella enchanted, poison study, or anything by tamora pierce -are bored by court intrigue -only want to read twiclone paranormal romances -don't want to try something new and different
otherwise, you need to get your ass down over to amazon or the nearest public library and get your little goodreads paws on a copy of this book, pronto.
this was my face upon finishing this book:
seriously. heavenly choirs were singing and everything. but then i saw how many ratings this book had, and i looked more like this: [image error]
ready for it? 187 ratings and fourteen reviews.
okay, sit back and relax, because i'm about to tell you how freaking awesome this book is.
tower has created a world that is all her own. it's a bit like feudal japan, in the sense that there are all these small little provinces (she calls them despots) that used to be ruled by an emperor before various civil wars broke out and they each became independent.
the religion and culture is no less fascinating. again, there's definitely a lot of asian inspiration going on here, especially since the emperor-like guy in this book is called the sun lord. however, it also combines distinctly confuscian principles with a pantheon of gods that are rather like those of the greeks or romans, and court etiquette like that of the tudors.
in other words, it's amazing. there's magic, too, but it's understated, which makes it much more realistic. i loved her conception of the underworld.
the main character is named lale. when the book starts, she's eleven years old, but she's a full-grown woman by the end. she's an orphan who lives in a poor village. the villagers resent her as an extra mouth to feed, and the family she lives with mistreats her because they feel she doesn't earn her keep. she ends up being driven away because of an innocent enough mistake and soon finds herself in the hands of a powerful despotanna named makina, who runs a school full of future assassins.
and she wants lale to join them.
the problem is... the despotanna isn't quite as beneficent as she would have you believe. she pretends butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, but there's little slips here and there, and i thought it was really creepy how she made all her students call her mother, because you know what that made me think of.
lale really is bad-ass. like, seriously. she'd give katniss a run for her money, and could probably out-poison yelena.
i like how tower didn't have her raped/sexually assaulted, give her any hang-ups about sex, or anything else that some fantasy authors are wont to do. she's curious about men but knows that they're not a priority for her (at least not at the moment). she also hasn't met anyone she's interested in, so she has that whole naive, "it'll never happen to me" attitude.
plus, she's confident! and feminine! and she has a positive self-image!
the part about the school was really interesting. i devoured that portion of the book greedily; my only complaint was that there wasn't MOAR. tower really captures the excitement and the importance of suddenly going from zero to (anti)hero. just look at this passage:
her blazing enthusiasm kindled mine, for she was right. we were going to be in the thick of it. my sisters and i would trouble the sleep of kings and despots, and of the great sun lord himself; because of us, armies would march and thrones would tremble. i practically bounced up and down on my stool at the prospect.
and if i worked everything just right, i reminded myself, i could probably become rich and famous into the bargain. my dreams were nothing if not expansive (146).
i love her writing. it's so eloquent and beautiful, like a delicate and extremely tasty pastry. and so in-your-face.
upon graduating from the assassin school, she finds herself sent to the kingdom of kurjain where she is supposed to insinuate herself into the sun lord's affections and become his mistress. their courtship was extremely fun to read about as i feel that, again, tower captured her emotions well. her growing affection for the sun lord, her guilt at betrayal, her fear of being caught, and her torn loyalties. because soon, lale finds herself in the middle of a war between two kingdoms. and if she doesn't make a choice, one or both sides will kill her.
here's a passage from when she realizes that she's in love with the man who she's supposed to kill:
and then everything happened just as i'd hoped it would, but in ways i'd never felt or imagined, and to my deepest astonishment and joy i forgot who i was and what i was, and gave myself to him utterly.
and as i did, and because i did, the tiny fissures that so subtly undermined my loyalty joined into a single, ruinous crack. but, like a flaw deep in the marble a sculptor intends for his masterpiece, it lay as yet hidden from my awareness; only when the chisel struck the marble's grain in just one way, and in no other, would the stone split into ruin and reveal the fatal imperfection, love, within (303-304).
i just have two criticisms (and they're purely selfish on my part):
1. rather than cramming the whole storyline into one book, the author should have broken this down into several books. i never say this, but i really wanted to explore the world in greater depth and the author actually left a lot of the world-building in the backseat so as not to clunk-up the well-paced (but far too quick) story-line. i wanted to learn more a lot about their school and their training, with maybe a mulan-esque montage of overcoming obstacles thrown in for lulz.
2. there is nothing else published under this author's name. what the heck! how could you do this to me? do you know how hard it is to find good fantasy authors who write amazing fantasy with amazing female characters and amazing love interests? how could you do this to meeeeeeee?
2.5. apparently s.d. tower is the nom de guerre for a canadian espionage writer who is "internationally published" according to my book's back cover. who are you? please, tell me! i want to read more of your books!!!!!!!!!!!!
but apart from those two-and-a-half minor flaws, this really is an excellent read and i'm shocked that this book has nowhere near the amount of critical acclaim it so deserves.
do yourself - and the author - a favor, and read this book.
richelle mead is one of those authors who seems to do no wrong in my book. i absolutely lyou can read more reviews at my blog, the armchair librarian.
richelle mead is one of those authors who seems to do no wrong in my book. i absolutely love her vampire academy series and even though a lot of other people hate it, her dark swan series, as well. this is why she has made it onto my exclusive "insta-buy-authors" shelf. if i see her name on a book, i grab it.
so naturally, when i saw that she had a dystopian sci-fi-fantasy novel on netgalley, i was all over that like a praetorian on ree.
it's difficult to describe gameboard of the gods without spoilers. let us say that it is about an exiled soldier and an exiled religion investigator, and takes place in a futuristic society ravaged by political and religious unrest and hereditary diseases.
(this, in and of itself, would be reason enough to buy the book.)
everyone is pretty racist in the future. there are "castes" for each nation, with schematics for what the archetype of that race should look like. mutts are called plebians and basically undesirable (even though, ironically, interracial people tend to be way more attractive). people are assigned numbers based on attractiveness. oh, yeah, and cults are the new sunday school.
i really liked justin's character. he's a womanizer, but he's also really smart and funny. i loved the ravens' snarky remarks. just when the story started getting too dark, they popped in to deliver the comic relief! mae was totally bad-ass. i liked her character a lot, too, and the mystery surrounding her was really well done. and man, their relationship was intense. (let's say there was a lot of crying and pillow punching and maybe an a capella rendition of "KISS DE GIRL.")
can i say how refreshing it was to see a woman able to have multiple sex partners without being called a slut?
what really made gameboard stand out, though, was the plot, the action (packed), the stellar world-building, the enthusiasm with which mead went about delivering the premise (you can totally tell she was having a blast with this), the beautiful writing, and the dimension of all characters - including the minor ones. i'll admit it. i'm jealous. i wish my writing was half this good. damn.
but now i've become greedy. even though i got to read this before anyone else, i am already clamoring for book two. i need it now. noooooooooow. because obviously, my needs trump those of the publisher and the author.
One of my good friends swears by R. Lee Smith, & kept pushing me to read her as well. Somehow I never really got around to it, so said friend ended up lending me to Scholomance to read on my Kindle. I was wary but intrigued—a school for demons, a sociopathic woman looking to get her best friend back? I shouldn't have questioned her judgment. This is, after all, the same woman who pushed me to read BLACK ICE.
THE SCHOLOMANCE is like a cross between THE HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT, and HARRY POTTER, except geared to adults...morbid adults, who don't mind a lot of gore and a lot of angry, gross, insectoid/reptilian demon sex. Because there is a lot of that in this book. Oh, boy.
(Ki)Mara Warner has always been different—as beautiful and as cold as ice, she has never cared about any person before except for her childhood friend, Connie Vitelli. Connie was fascinated by Mara's psychic abilities and it led to an obsession that took her to a magic school situated in Romania. After she left, nobody ever heard from her again...except for Mara, when she receives a letter from Connie that basically says, “I was wrong, please come get me.”
The demon school is only open on Halloween, and so Mara books a flight and finds herself in Romania. In order to get to the school, one must climb an impossibly high mountain, and it is actually encouraged for students to kill one another because they are, in essence, weeding out the weak from the strong.
I don't often find books that really have a great Machiavellian system, but SCHOLOMANCE does. I loved the complex interactions between all the demons. I loved how their morality completely transcended those of humans, and how they were not afraid or guilty to flaunt that in front of Mara just for funzies.
I loved the magic system, and the completely novel take on psychics. Mara's Panic Room, and the energy and health monitors and the Mindstorm were all incredibly inventive and so realistic.
And the gore and violence—it wasn't there just to shock (although I'm sure that was part of it); it contributes to, rather than takes away from, the story. Some of the passages made me wince and cringe, but I couldn't stop reading because I had to know what would happen next. Would Mara find Connie? Would she be murdered by her jealous classmates, or by the demons she was so intent on fucking with? Who would she choose in her bizarre little love triangle? Horuseps, or Kazuul?
God, this book...it was amazing, and beautiful, and dark, and I loved it, even though the damn thing had to be close to 1,000 pages. And the ending was surprisingly poignant....more