I had been initially super excited about this novel but then my enthusiasm had flagged. Then it somehow revived and I managed to get my hands on a lib...moreI had been initially super excited about this novel but then my enthusiasm had flagged. Then it somehow revived and I managed to get my hands on a library copy and started reading it apprehensively. Because I had loved the first novel so very much, I was afraid that the second one would, as sequels somehow inevitably do, let me down. Fortunately for me, this was not the case. The novel’s protagonist is very religious and she worships a Christian god. However, as I said in a status update, it never feels like the author or even the character is preaching about her religion of choice – it is more about spirituality than religiousity. So rather than alienating the non-Christian reader, the characters and the world somehow accepts the differences of the readers without wanting to change them or having them accept that religion. Do I make sense? I hope I do.
Other than that, I really liked Hector. I had pegged him for the actual love interest in the first novel and I was happy to have my suspicions proved correct. I hadn’t been happy when Humberto was killed off in the first novel and I remember being rather vocal about it. I still don’t think he should have been killed off but eh, if it means that there’s room for Hector, so be it. Their love happened gradually and it was interesting to witness it happening.
Rosario is a pretty awesome character for a kid and the courtly intrigues kept me reading. I just didn’t understand why Elisa didn’t assert herself more where the Quorum and Ximena were concerned. Why couldn’t she speak up and tell them what she wanted and why she wanted what she did? Why didn’t she make her thoughts, opinions and desires clear and make them submit to her? She is the queen and she has the right to rule and there is no reason she should not be secure about that. It is not enough, I think, to be told that she is a weak queen when she doesn’t attempt to be stronger. And the whole quest turned out to be a bit anticlimactic because of the realization she makes at the end.
The ending also felt staged rather than organic but I didn’t care by then because I was so invested in the story and the fates of the characters. So yeah, the novel isn’t perfect. But it entertains and it is does so in a grand manner. The world is strong, the characters likable and I really can’t wait to see what happens in the final book of this trilogy. Strongly recommended.(less)
There are lots of books out there that deal with magic and madness and sometimes both of them together. What makes Larbalestier's book so different ar...moreThere are lots of books out there that deal with magic and madness and sometimes both of them together. What makes Larbalestier's book so different are her characters. When I first started reading the book and "met" Reason for the first time, I thought her as very young and very naive. In fact, there was this sense of detachment when I looked at the world through her eyes. While the older me knew that much of what her mother had told her about her grandmother might have been untrue, I could not help but be swayed from this belief by the strength of Reason's determination to believe in her mother. There's Tom, who is so unlike all the heroes I've come across that I might have read the book for him alone. He thinks in fashion - his magic is fashion. Jay-Tee, whose better nature leads her to help Reason even though doing so would get her nothing but grief. And the creepiest villain so far - Mr. Blake. This is the first book so you don't get much of a sense of the adults - Sarafina, Mere and Mr. Blake have been hued (deliberately) vaguely so the reader gets a sense of the person but not the person wholly. What I found most fascinating about this story is Reason herself. For instance, I am never quite sure how old she is. The sense I got initially was around twelve but she fibs that she's fifteen and somehow the subject of age is never broached again. She doesn't react in the typical ways - anger, fear - emotions for her are not solid colours but prismatic. JT thinks Reason is naive when she is anything but. She's like an onion that you can peel to find continuous layers of - discover something different about. And the story - the promised thrill of magic is blanketed by the sobering fact that using magic has dire consequences just as not using it does. In fact, the entire story presents a morally gray area, letting the reader decide how to feel about whom without guiding them. And I appreciate the liberty to do. With Magic or Madness, Justine Larbalestier presents readers with a tale that allows them to feel the extremes of heat and cold, to both fear and cheer for the protagonists. She allows the reader to experience characters that are imbued with details and a rich complexity that lingers long after the last page has been turned.(less)
I have a thing for strong female characters who defy all the odds to fight for survival and success. In Starcrossed, we meet Digger, a thief, who has to flee her city due to less than propitious circumstances. She finds herself smack dab in the middle of an odd gathering of people – two guys and two girls who are more than what they seem. What follows is an incredible journey not just across the land but also through time. The reader gets to follow Digger as she journeys from being a thief fighting for survival to a girl who knows her strength and what she wants to do with the abilities she has.
I liked the novel, if that isn’t apparent by now. The characters are all strongly hewn and developed. Each character, no matter how slight his or her role in the book is, is given proper attention and is developed enough that the reader can see him/her clearly. The plot is paced quite effectively and there are no leaps of logic that confound or irritate. The language is sometimes a bit discordant but it’s not a major issue and as the story continues and becomes more compelling, the discordance fades from notice.
I loved Digger’s character. She’s contrary, prickle and unpredictable and her interactions with the other characters are always lively. The figure in the basement is also intriguing and I don’t really know what the relationship between him and Digger are. Is it just a platonic one as the age difference and some of his words seem to suggest? Or is it something more as their actions and reactions to each other would have us believe? I would prefer the latter though it seems like a forlorn hope if what I have read about the sequel is true.
Anyway, I really don’t have much to say about this except that I liked it. And if you liked Eon/Eona, you will surely like this one too. It has good writing, good characters and a wonderful story. I can’t wait to read the second book in the trilogy.(less)
I read a lot of the genre so I am fairly cognizant of what I like and what works from the perspective of a reader. Now it might be that I started this...moreI read a lot of the genre so I am fairly cognizant of what I like and what works from the perspective of a reader. Now it might be that I started this immediately after finishing a Karen Chance novel but I found myself unable to continue this story till the end. I don't want to be totally mean because this is her first book and the writing itself isn't horrible. What totally annoyed me were her characters.
Sabina is supposed to be some hot shot vampire assassin; she has powers which set her apart from the others, even in her own vampire community and yet - this really annoyed me - she was brought down (to the point of almost being raped) by a couple of thugs thus initiating damsel in distress phase which of course required that mage fellow to come and rescue her. Come on now. What is up with that? What does it say about your assassin that she needs someone to rescue her - and wait, this just takes the cake. She's an assassin right, she's very used to her weapons and yet, she FORGETS to pick up her gun? Hello? Does that make sense to you?
The Demon/Cat whatever. Katie MacAlister's already done it, honey. You might have read it? Her Dragon series? (And she's funnier...so you might want to rethink the entire thing.) I don't understand how the demon and Sabina are on such friendly/snarky terms all of a sudden. I need detail, a gradual progression of their relationship; something that will render it believable.
This is the first time I've had such a strong dislike to a fictional character. Let me rephrase, a fictional character who I am supposed to like. There's nothing about her that I like. But it is not to say that the series itself doesn't have promise. The author just needs to...I don't know, rethink her main character. Give her some depth. Because right now, I'd much rather read (and reread) Kim Harrison, Karen Chance amongst others than ever try Jaye Wells again.
I'm just glad my bookstore accepts returns. (less)
I long deliberated about whether to review this or not. Sometimes you read something that resonates with you to such a degree, with such intensity tha...moreI long deliberated about whether to review this or not. Sometimes you read something that resonates with you to such a degree, with such intensity that it feels as though you could never do it justice by reviewing it. That it just may be impossible to articulate the reasons why you loved this book and why other people should definitely try it out. But since I like doing impossible things, I am going to try. Just be warned though: No matter how lavishly I praise this book, it deserves a lot more.
It is a novel's prose that attracts me. The plot and the characterization, while important in their own rights, become secondary when I decide how much I like a novel. To date, there have been only two other novels that I have loved simply for the gorgeousness of their prose. They are The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty. Chime finds itself a niche on my shelf of awesome.
Chime creates an unearthly world, a land dominated by marshes and superstitious people. The effect is surreal as though the reader has submerged herself in a world that is determined to surprise her by its strangeness and enthrall her with its beauty. The protagonist, Briony, is by far one of the strangest, and all the more compelling for it, narrator I have had the fortune to come across. She is an unreliable narrator and her narration is less of a storytelling and more as though the readers were the blank pages of her journal on which she is scribbling her experiences, thoughts and emotions. She is intricately detailed and her individuality is delineated even despite the fact that she has a twin sister.
"I felt as though I were a music box in want of winding. Yes, as though I were a music box and the tune were my life, playing more and more slowly with every passing day. Finally, not even I could recognize it. The notes were stretched too far apart. They were no longer notes, they were plinks. I wound down to a plink."
All the characters in the novel, no matter what their importance to the greater plot, are etched out and given worth. From the little boy that Briony considers a friend to the unfortunate man murdered in the marsh, they are all superbly characterized.
The plot comes to life slowly. The story does not flow from point A to B, oh no, it blooms like flowers in a field. First you may notice a patch of daisies on one side and then later on dandelions in the center. And then at the end, suddenly, you have a field full of flowers and it is much like an epiphany you weren't certain you were going to have. It's a beautiful thing.
This book contains one of the most delicious kissing scenes ever. I adore the love interest. I can't say much more than that. Honestly. Read it for the kiss scene alone.
And finally, let me talk about the prose. Billingsley plays unabashedly with language here. She creates words, she repeats them and it is a testament to her boldness that her experimenting pays off.
"If you say a word, it leaps out and becomes the truth. I love you. I believe it. I believe I am loveable. How can something as fragile as a word build a whole world?"|
"Eldric turned away from the mirror, holding out his hand. In the cup of his hand lay his fidget of paper clips. But the fidget had blossomed into a crown. An allover-filigree crown, with a twisty spire marking the front.
I stared at it for some moments. "It's for you," said Eldric. "If you want it."
"I'm seventeen," I said. "I haven't played at princess for years."
"Does that matter ?" Eldric set it on my head. It was almost weightless, a true crown for the steam age.
In a proper story, antagonistic sparks would fly between Eldric and me, sparks that would sweeten the inevitable kiss on page 324. But life doesn't work that way. I didn't hate Eldric, which, for me, is about as good as things get." |
"Father’s silence is not merely the absence of sound. It’s a creature with a life of its own. It chokes you. It pinches you small as a grain of rice. It twists in your gut like a worm.
Silence clawed at my throat. It left a taste of burnt matches."
These are just of the delectable gems in this novel. So, if I haven't convinced you let, let those words do the job. Give it a chance. Even if you don't go in for eccentric protagonists, read this book. I guarantee you won't regret it.(less)
A C. Gaughen’s reimagining of Robin Hood’s tale is a electric, compelling and absolutely brilliant. I’m sure the story started off from a “What if…” q...moreA C. Gaughen’s reimagining of Robin Hood’s tale is a electric, compelling and absolutely brilliant. I’m sure the story started off from a “What if…” question…what if Scarlet was a girl? What would have been her story? How did she become who she was? And how exactly does it complicate her relationship with the merry men?
Scarlet is a very strong tale that manages to insert humour into a dire situation – more relatable, perhaps, with the Occupy movements, the recession and the poverty that seems to be creeping up on us in contemporary society. Solidly written and minutely imagined, Scarlet tells a story of a girl pushed to extremes, a girl who is a survivor in all the ways that count and a girl who knows how to be brave even when her very pores are quivering with fear.
The pacing of the novel is just right and the characterizations are done just so. The world building is exact and what can I say people, the novel is sure to be a success with the Robin Hood aficionados and those who like historical novels. There is a lot of heart in this novel and it really is impressive for a debut novel to be this strong in both the execution and the premise.
The only thing I didn’t like was the love triangle. (Can we really not get away from it?) I felt that it was rather unnecessary in the grand scheme of things but perhaps the next book will prove me wrong. If you read any debut novel this year (actually, you must read Fracture and Cinder too, I insist), you should read this one (and the other two, too) because you will be losing out if you don’t. Find a corner you won’t be disturbed or intruded upon, get comfortable and lose yourself in the green forest that hides more than just animals. (less)
Ostensibly and really, unless you think about it, Just Ella is a re-telling of the Cinderella. However, as one of my fellow seminar participants point...moreOstensibly and really, unless you think about it, Just Ella is a re-telling of the Cinderella. However, as one of my fellow seminar participants pointed out, when a tale has done away with everything that has to do with fairies and all other things that make up a fairy tale (for reference purposes, consult Propp's Fairy Tale morphology) does it still remain a fairy tale? Or has it somehow transcended mediums to become just a tale. Just Ella.
We read this after we read Ella Enchanted so there were comparisons between the two.
This is not really a review but more of a discussion so please bear with me.
We had problems with Ella. One of the students pointed out that she doesn't really give the culture, the world a chance and instead rebels against every single thing. She doesn't have a dream of her own. She has no passion - except for the prince and that soon dies out. She is whiny, judgmental and...well, very much like a teenager. Which is all very good except that she is referred to as a woman instead of a fifteen year old as she truly is.
I realize that the book is written meant for teens and of course it will be scissored to suit the market but what is up with the prince? I understand that the author is probably trying to make a point but I believe, as a reader, that this point would have been more effectively made if he had not been portrayed as this psychopathic person who has no thoughts and no personality of his own. Even if he were portrayed as a villain or more interestingly as someone Ella ended up being friends with but had no passion for - I believe those scenarios had so much more potential than what we got.
Jedd. The Priest-To-Be who less Charming than Prince Charming. The guy encourages Ella to talk to the prince in the hopes of ingratiating himself in the prince's good books (and as his wallet) - he encourages Ella to sweet talk him in bed. I wonder if this is before or after he falls in love - no, this must be after because he does say that he falls in love at first sight. I would have much rather have Ella end up single and wiser than end up with Jed.
The book perpetuates the standards of beauty that, as a society, we should be wary of. Is that the message we want to send to our kids? Being thin is in and being fat makes you ugly? Unhealthy yes, but ugly? And someone else pointed out that Ella's unwillingness to accept her beauty encourages girls who should really take compliments with a confident smile to think that all compliments are lies and not really meant. I thought that was poorly done.
On the whole (because I'm getting tired) Just Ella took Cinderella and tried to tell it from a modern perspective, infusing the narrative with thoughts and ideas prevalent today. However, because it is such a cynical reinterpretation, instead of representing magic in a different way, all it does is rain on the parade. There are attempts - such as the obvious theme of "girl power" but these do fall short when in the end it is Jed who is doing something to end the war while Ella is away in some refugee camp waiting for him to come back to her.(less)
Disclaimer: I thought Clarity was quite a likable character in the first installment of this series/whatever it is. Whatever happened between the firs...moreDisclaimer: I thought Clarity was quite a likable character in the first installment of this series/whatever it is. Whatever happened between the first and second book, I am not sure but what I do know is that I no longer like Clarity as much as I did.
Maybe it’s the sophomore syndrome that causes authors to take characters who were perfectly awesome in the first book and turn them into really unlikable and annoyingly Mary Sue-ish characters in the second book. Maybe. I don’t know. What I do know is that Clarity now sits in the ranks of the heroines in books by Lili St. Crow (Defiance etc) and Jaclyn Dolamore (Under the something something). Forgive the flippancy but ohmygollygoodness. I liked the first novel in the series (I am calling it that) because at the heart of it, it was a mystery and I have a thing for mysteries.
Perception tries to be a mystery. No…well…not really. It doesn’t. It pretends it’s a mystery. It’s not. What it is is a soap opera with Clarity in the lead and several eligible, smoking hot boys orbiting her. There are four boys who have a thing for Clarity in this novel. One of them stalker so I guess he only counts half as much. One of them is her best friend’s brother who has not yet made his intentions and attentions explicit. One is Gabriel who is hot hot hot and did I mention, hot? The other is Justin who is hot as well but not as hot as Gabriel and has the distinction of being cheating on Clarity when they were going out together. Right. There is a mother with a loud personality and a tendency to read her daughter’s mind, privacy be damned. A brother who is kinda intriguing. A girl who becomes Clarity’s best friend but has shades of lesbian-ish feelings (which is just a decoy because really, she only loves Clarity for her friendship and not, as is insinuated at several instants, her body).
Into this cast, you throw in some missing people, a spirit and Clarity’s desire to play Veronica Mars and you get Perception. This still may have been half entertaining had Clarity not been so sanctimonious. Everyone wants to be her friend, now, see, and Clarity, well, she’s just so cool and all she doesn’t need friends. There are lots of mean girls in this one who want to steal either Justin or Gabriel, I’m not sure. There is Clarity who doesn’t try to be different but just is because she’s a special snowflake. Did I mention that someone is stalking her? Which is the whole mystery but is not really because you figure it out the exact moment the new character is introduced because why else would he be introduced?
You may have not noticed it but I was displeased by this book. A lot. As such I can’t recommend it to you. Read the first one and pretend it ends there. It’ll be good for you.(less)
I liked this a lot more than I had expected to. Honestly. I love the cover but it doesn’t really give anything away or rather, it’s not very reflectiv...moreI liked this a lot more than I had expected to. Honestly. I love the cover but it doesn’t really give anything away or rather, it’s not very reflective of what the book is all about. Not that it’s a big deal. Anyway, I like murder mysteries. And Clarity just showed me how much I like them. The mythology, that is, the source of their powers is not explored in any kind of detail in the novel but certain things some of the characters reveal lead me to believe that they are being saved for a later novel in the series. (I am quite excited about that.) I liked Clarity. I didn’t expect to but she displayed none of the characteristics that are so annoying in a lot of other heroines I could mention. The one thing that was a bit unrealistic was how irresistible she seemed to be to all the guys. As for the love interests (oh yes, the dreaded love triangle find its mark in this novel), they are both non-sparkly specimens of lurve. Which is to say, Justin has messed up and I’m not sure Clarity should ever forgive him. However, Gabriel seems to have major issues (jealousy and possessiveness being two of them) and I believe that if she must end up with someone, she should fall back to Justin. Or there’s Nate. He seems kinda interesting. Anyway, before I get too caught up in the love life of fictional characters, let me just say that Clarity is a fun and easy read. It’s entertaining, the pace is just right and the mystery is intriguing. Also, the ending has been left open for future novels which is quite awesome, in my opinion. It was a great debut.(less)
I’ve been sitting here for a bit trying to collect my thoughts enough that I can write the kind of coherent review this book deserves. There are so ma...moreI’ve been sitting here for a bit trying to collect my thoughts enough that I can write the kind of coherent review this book deserves. There are so many things I want to speak about and discuss but at the same time, I wonder if it wouldn’t be more appropriate to just ask you to please read this book. It might be the best one you read this year.
The novel has the same poignant flavor as Tabitha Suzuma’s Forbidden. The same sort of intricate family politics and themes of self-discovery and friendship but I am getting ahead of myself. Maybe the synopsis (or perhaps the title) tipped you off but the book deals with the way a family copes after one of its members is killed in the horrible terrorist attack in London when bombs went off in trash cans in the city.
The narrator of the story is a ten year old boy and if you think the complexity is compromised by the young age of the narrator and protagonist, please think again. The best thing about using such young mediums to tell a grown up story is that there are so many chances of saying the profoundest of things in the simplest of ways. You know the saying…”from the mouths of babes…?” Yeah. Jamie’s portrayal of his life, of his longing for his mother, of his inability to steer through the shark infested waters that is elementary school rife with bullies and biased teachers is so on the point that you cannot help but be drawn immediately into the story. His voice is fresh, wondering and perhaps, a little intentionally, cheeky. His observations are pertinent and at times may, again unintentionally, make you snort out with laughter. His relationships with his parents and his remaining sister are also shown in a beautiful manner.
I am Muslim and often times I have felt uncomfortable reading books that deal with Muslim terrorists simply because I feel that all Muslims are tarred with the same brush whether we deserve it or not. That is why I appreciate the exquisite way in which Pitcher handles the whole issue. I love how she doesn’t demonize or canonize any character. Even those you would happily cast in a black hue are given gray shades and juxtaposed in interesting ways that end up showing their humanity. Sunya and Jamie’s relationship is also one of the strong points in a book that really had nothing but strong points. And I loved the delicate way in which Pitcher made her point about racism and blind hatred.
There is also a cat in this novel and though it does not talk, it has as much presence (if not more) than a person. You have to admire authors who can make you react that way to an animal that is presented throughout the whole novel through someone else’s eyes.
The manner in which Jamie’s family deals with death, the journey to, if not absolution then, acceptance of circumstances. There is as much a warning in here as there is hope. The writing is beautiful and Pitcher again utilizes Jamie’s age to write the most beautiful descriptions in the simplest of ways. Here’s an example:
The leaves in the puddle look like dead goldfish. And all the green as turned brown and purple, as if the hills have got bruises. I like the world this way. Summer’s a bit too bright for me. A bit too happy. Flowers dancing and birds singing like nature’s having a big party. Autumn’s better. Everything’s a bit more droopy and you don’t feel left out of all the fun.
In conclusion, I reiterate: Read this book. You will not regret it. (You might cry though.)(less)