There is no second book slump syndrome for Marissa Meyer and the Lunar Chronicles series. Wow. Like Cinder, Scarlet was the kind of book that makes...more4.5
There is no second book slump syndrome for Marissa Meyer and the Lunar Chronicles series. Wow. Like Cinder, Scarlet was the kind of book that makes you panic when the pages start dwindling because you don’t want the story to end. I cannot get enough of this story, these characters, and this world. 2014 is too long to wait for the next story!
In Scarlet, we’re introduced to Scarlet (shocking!) and Wolf. Scarlet is a very loosely retold version of Red Riding Hood–complete with red hoodie. What I love about both Lunar Chronicle books is that while being a retelling, these books are so much more. With Cinder’s story arc still continuing into this book, we get to see the world expand and grow in ways that are unique and exciting. So many THINGS HAPPEN!
Though we don’t get to spend as much time with Cinder this time around, we do get introduced to more characters and more, er, stuff. (Sorry. Vagueness needed to ensure no spoilers.) This is Scarlet and Wolf’s story and what a fun one it is. (No, really. It was a “grip the book in your fingers and fly through the words because that scene was so incredibly SWOONY” type story.) I loved the push and pull between Scarlet and Wolf. Their story is different from Cinder and Kai’s, but at the same time it involves a lot of the same elements. (No, I won’t say which.)
And I don’t think I can write this review without mentioning Captain Thorne. He just tickled me silly. Thorne also does a very good job of highlighting the subtle humor that is pervasive throughout the Lunar Chronicles. It’s good fun–the kind of humor that occasionally catches you off guard, but you find yourself cackling at. I want more of Thorne and his “heavy American accent” and I seriously hope he’ll make an appearance in future books. (And Scarlet and Wolf. I want more of them, too. I want ALL THE CHARACTERS.)(less)
Though The Scorpio Races was not my first introduction to Maggie Stiefvater, it is, perhaps, the first book of hers that I fully latched onto. Her sto...moreThough The Scorpio Races was not my first introduction to Maggie Stiefvater, it is, perhaps, the first book of hers that I fully latched onto. Her stories are lyrical and deeply intriguing, forcing you slow down and savor rather than rushing through—even though you must know what happens.
I am fascinated by this world where the Scorpio Races happen and capall uisce are feared monsters. Nothing is a given—not for Puck and not for Sean. The two of them are driven to enter into the Scorpio Races, each for their own reasons and each for desperately fighting for survival in a world set against them.
Thisby is not a place one can survive in. If you’re not lost to the bloodthirsty horses, you’re escaping to the mainland. Staying isn’t for the faint of heart; you must love the challenge of a world set against you as much as you love the island. But against all odds (literally, in Puck’s case), both Puck and Sean attempt to make a go at it, drawn to each other by their similarities.
The Scorpio Races leaves me oddly unsettled even now, after finishing. But it’s the kind of the unsettle that stays with you, bringing the story back in your memory again and again, enticing you with its lyrical quality and haunting world. I want more. (less)
Oooooh. This BOOK! For the record, I have not read Persuasion by Jane Austen, which–if I’m correct, and say so if I’m not–this book is a retelling of. I think that is important to note, because I suspect that my views may have been different if I had read it first. I don’t know how they would have been different–better or worse–but different, nonetheless. Anyway. I. LOVED. This. Book.
For Darkness Shows the Stars was one that instantly grabbed me, even though I had intended to read a different book that day–once I started, I couldn’t stop. When I went to bed before finishing it, I rolled around in bed, wondering what would happen. When I woke up in the morning, I was half-afraid to start again, because that’s how much this book pulled at my emotions (in a good way). This book just burrowed its way into my heart, and it was difficult to get it it out. If I had wanted to get it out, I mean. For the record, I didn’t.
Told from Elliot’s perspective and interspersed with letters between Elliot and Kai as children, we come to realize the sacrifices that Elliot has been forced to make in the past four years. And I just flat out adored Elliot. She’s the star (heh) of this book, and she is strong, capable, and caring, which is exactly what I love in a female heroine. And Kai broke my heart. But I get why they had to make the choices they did, and my heart ached for both of them. And that, my friends, is the sign of a good book. I was so wrapped up in their world and struggle that I didn’t want to go anywhere else.
On the world, briefly: I was fascinated by the Luddite/Post/Reduced relationships, and though there is a tiny part of me that would have wanted more explanation, the world was only important in how it acted upon Elliot and Kai. It was, in some ways, just another character in the book. I also appreciate how, though there are religious undertones, there isn’t any preaching–it’s all done for the effect of Elliot and Kai’s relationship. The world in which Elliot and Kai grew up doesn’t want to allow their relationship, and it is clear that its very nature attempts to keep the two apart. But when I finished, I had two simultaneous thoughts. One, I wanted MOAR. And the other I will not share lest it be spoiler-ish. It’s not, really. And it’s kinda related to the first bit. But whatever.(less)
Wow. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is a book that works on multiple levels, from the gorgeous imagery to the mystery of who killed Amelia Anne to the startling honest look at small town life to Becca’s unraveling. This is not a happy story with a happy ending, but it is the type of book that pulls you in and deeper until you are too enthralled and engaged to break away. This is the kind of book that sticks with you after you finishing, sinking into your thoughts.
The book is told from two different perspectives: Becca, our main character, and Amelia Anne, the dead girl. The two stories seem absolutely different, but as the book goes on, we begin to see threads of their lives coming together until the point, at the very end, when you see how they finally tied together. This is truly a mystery and a contemporary book woven into one, with elements of each type of book integral to the overall experience.
I have a slight fascination with small towns, and Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone had a way of digging into that fascination. The language used to describe the small town and surrounding lands was rich and vibrant. The mystery is intriguing, and while I thought I had it all figured out by the end, I didn’t have all the pieces, lending to the idea that there is so much more that goes on beyond the surface than what we are about to see.
Fans of dark mysteries, who don’t mind the lack of a happy-go-lucky ending, might enjoy Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone. It is one of those books that will likely not appeal to everyone, but it had many of the elements that I love in a book: fantastical imagery, a murder mystery, small towns, self-discovery, and darkness.(less)
I have always — ALWAYS — been a fan of books set in the past. I don’t quite know what it is about historically set books that makes me love them so, but they are intriguing with their society rules and culture and dress. Though Grave Mercy is not true historical fiction in the sense that it follows actual history, it felt as though I was reading about actual people in the past. And, of course, the fact that there are paranormal elements (Ismae is a handmaiden of Death after all, and she has powers that no true human would have) also slot Grave Mercy into the historical fantasy genre rather than straight historical.
We only get a brief glimpse of Ismae’s life before the convent and her training at the convent. I think this may be my one big complaint because I think it would have set up Ismae’s character and her motives a little better. That, and I think learning about the assassin training the girls went through would be pretty darn cool. Ismae becomes a product of the convent, devoted and unquestioning. We believe in the convent, too, even if it is a little odd to be a handmaiden of Death. I do love that throughout the book, the convent slowly comes into question, and we are left wondering where the truth lies.
In some ways, Grave Mercy reminded me of Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder in the sense that this bordered on being an adult book. Even though the characters in Grave Mercy are young (Ismae couldn’t have been any more than 18, and the Duchess herself was in her early teens), historically, these “youngsters” were forced to take on more adult roles. To me, Grave Mercy felt true to the times and actually covered the kinds of situations actual people may have faced at court (well, except the whole handmaidens of Death thing). Grave Mercy was a very politically charged book, as many historical books that revolve around court are. The politically treachery that occurs adds suspense to the story, which left me flying through the pages as fast as I could. Whom do you trust?
While the historical aspects of Grave Mercy are well set, there is still a lot left to learn about the assassins of Death, the convent, and where the truth lies in how Death should be served. There are a lot of levels to this series if you bother to look at it deeper (though it’s enjoyable without looking more in depth, too) — the idea of blind unquestioning faith being one such theme explored. Though the main focus is on Ismae and Duval, the other characters in Grave Mercy are easy to fall in love with and cheer for. Or hate, as the case may be.
Ismae’s story was one that sucked me in almost right away. I was instantly captivated by this world. And I thought it only got better (especially with the introduction of Duval, but then, I do love a good romantic interest in my books, especially since it was slow and sweet yet made my heart race all the same). I am sad that Ismae’s story is basically over with this book (i.e., the next book does not focus on her) because I loved her and her relationship with Duval, but I am looking forward to exploring this world a little more, as well as getting to know Sybella more. Her character pops up occasionally in Grave Mercy — in key parts, that is — and it will be fascinating to find out where the convent sent her, and what is happening with her.(less)
It took me a little while to settle into The Edumacation of Jay Baker, but it had nothing to do with the story, and everything to do with the fact I was reading an ARC. I caught a grammar error on the first page, and it took a bit before I got over myself. Once I did get invested in the story, I devoured the book in an evening. There is a valuable story nestled in between the constant barrage of pop-culture references and other snarky banter. In her review, Jess called Jay the male version of Juno. I can definitely see that, though for me the awkwardness shifted a little bit too much between charming awkward and awkward awkward. While it didn’t necessarily work all the time for me, it fits Jay’s character.
If you read the synopsis, you know that it mentioned something that I have professed my profound dislike for: love triangles. But! But but but. You will perhaps be surprised to find that I really had no issues with this love triangle. If anything, it was a realistic love story with some overlapping love interests and confusion. I can deal with that. It wasn’t over dramatized and there was more to the story than the love interests. In fact, a lot of the whole love interest/triangle deal led to the importance of Jay learning to be himself, and that was good.
One of the best aspects of The Edumacation of Jay Baker is the cast of characters. Jay is fun, but his mortal enemy (Mike), his sister (Abby), his love interests (Cameo and Caroline), Ms. Lamert, and his parents make this book what it is. Being a big sister myself, I identified with Abby, and thought she was well-portrayed. Big sisters represent! Jay’s run ins with Mike are hilarious and the resolution to that story arc was both surprising and satisfying. Ms. Lambert also shined through — when you can’t count on your divorcing parents to be there for you, everyone needs a teacher like her — and provided a strong adult figure in the story.
In the end, The Edumacation of Jay Baker is a story about a boy who learns to deal with the craziness that life can bring. It is contemporary, but not realistic in the sense that actual teenagers (and parents, and teachers) would speak and act the way they do in the book. Contemporary comedy is a more accurate term perhaps, and there is also truth in comedy. And I always love a story where the main character learns how to be himself. Or herself. Stories like that are incredibly important. I wished I had had more stories like that when I was a teenager.
The Edumacation of Jay Baker is a quick read that will make you laugh at all of the antics, and feel for Jay through all of his downs.(less)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of those kinds of reviews that I am reluctant to write for fear of dredging up everything that I experienced while reading. This is not an easy to book to read, not because it’s poorly written (it’s not; it is beautifully written), but because it picks out your emotions, drawing them out into a line, and then wrenches and twists each of them in turn. You know this emotionally wrenching experience will happen; reading the book is like being chased with an impending sense of doom, but you must know what happens. You are never quite given enough information until suddenly you know too much and there is no turning back from what you learned.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is painful. But there is beauty in pain. There is no solace in this book; it will gut your heart and stomp on it. We need books like these to remind us that not all love stories are fairy tales. Daughter of Smoke and Bone so carefully manipulates your emotions, but they are not your emotions, they are the character’s emotions. You are Akiva. You are Karou. You don’t want to push forward, but you know there is no other option. If you want a happy book, this is not your book. If you want a book that toys with your emotions, something that will make you experience a wide breadth and depth of emotions, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is your book.
Having been to Prague before, I was happily surprised by the depth and accuracy of the descriptions of Prague. It lends an added sense of validity to the story, making everything — even the parts not set in Prague — that much more real. In some ways, there are two different stories within Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Two stories that intertwine and fuse into one single and heartbreaking ending, but not in the way one might expect. The end is far from over. There is still hope.(less)
Where to start? I felt very disconnected from both Julian and Serena. I didn’t understand Julian. He was supposed to be a big bad demon, but he felt far too human. In fact, except for the last few pages, this entire novel could have been written without angels and demons and focused on another good versus evil duo, such as the law and criminals. I am not sure that it added much to the story, except at the very end, at which I was just ready to finish the book.
The narration felt distant, and there seemed to be a heavy reliance on telling rather than showing. With writing, adjectives are not necessarily your friends. I came across noun phrases like: “glorious penis,” “penetrating beauty,” and “impressive manhood.” They are all great adjectives, but it threw me off in my reading. What is penetrating beauty? I’m not really sure. Because penetrating beauty does not tell me much, other than turn on the dirty side of my brain and make me giggle. The word choice detracted from the story rather than added to it.
I might have rated Where Demons Fear to Tread higher if a particular sex scene hadn’t derailed my enjoyment. It was a turning point for me, and not necessarily a good one. I don’t like the use of the word cock in books, because it tends to be a vulgar word. So unless there is a situation that calls for vulgarity, I don’t want to see it. And I especially don’t want to see the word cock used 10 times within a span of five pages. Since I have an ARC, I thought perhaps this was an aspect that might have been changed after the official release date, but after asking someone who had a finished copy, it seems unlikely.
I really wanted to like Where Demons Fear to Tread but in the end, I just didn’t.(less)
I almost gave up on this book. Those who have read the book before and know of my dislike of love triangles will understand why. There is an appearance of a certain character that throws the balance of this book off about a third of the way through and I wanted to give up in despair. I’m glad I did not. Though I struggled with certain elements of the book, the struggle is necessary, just as Ash’s journey to find his soul was necessary.
I found Ash’s narration to be the perfect reflection of who he is and what he quest was on. Throughout the series, I liked Ash more than Meghan, and I enjoyed delving into Ash’s perspective. At times, however, especially toward the beginning of the book, I almost felt that Ash was too distant and aloof. But then, those feelings are needed to contrast with who Ash must become to possess a soul. We can literally track his change.
The Iron Knight tore me up. I was not even sure how to rate this final installment, but no matter my problems with the book, the ending more than makes up for the frustration and pain. In fact, everything that Ash is dragged through is necessary, as though everything must happen for a reason. It does, but it does not necessarily make sense at the time. That is simply how life works.
Seeing Ash and Puck together was fantastic. We got an inside look into their relationship, and it gave me an appreciation for their history and everything that they went through together. Puck was one of those secondary characters that tended to steal the show at time, not just in this book, but throughout the entire series. The Iron Fey series would not have been the same without Puck. And, of course, we can’t forget the special treat that is Grim, either. The Iron Knight was a necessary part of the Iron Fey journey; not only did it provide closure to Meghan and Ash’s relationship, it also gave us a chance to get inside the mind of Ash and really get to know him in a way that we had not had before.(less)
The vast majority of this plot belongs in the mystery or suspense genre. If it had stayed there, I would have been okay with it. But the ring that Lucy finds brings a paranormal element that feels out of place with the rest of the story, and this only served to make me more skeptical about the ring’s powers. This was a mystery set in reality — save for the ring. If there had existed other magical objects capable of power outside the normal human capacity, this aspect would have been easier to swallow.
The romance between Coop and Lucy was weak, fast, and seemed to happen when we were not watching. It was easy to see that it was happening, sure, but we were never able to experience it the way I would have liked in a romantic suspense novel. The character perspective shifts were also a little rough; a few times, the character had switched before I realized, and I was left wondering why that particular character was having those thoughts until I reread the passage. I know that Savich and Sherlock are important figures in this series, but I was not sold on their characters.
On a positive note, the mystery itself was entertaining and left me wondering what would happen next. The question here was less of “Who did it?” and more “When will he be caught?” which had me intrigued, and kept me turning the pages.(less)