Shaun and Georgia Mason are adopted siblings and well-respected bloggers. Georgia's a newsie, meaning that she tells the truth without bias, only the facts. Shaun's an Irwin (as in Steve), which means he likes to poke zombies with sticks. Oh right, did I not mention the zombies? There are zombies. And they do want to eat your brains or any other part of you they can get a hold of. Anyway, back to Shaun and Georgia. They, along with their fictional/techno-genius friend Buffy get selected to follow along on Senator Ryman's presidential campaign, which is super amazing, because the government has never taken bloggers seriously before. They're thrilled, until mysterious and awful things start happening around them.
My description of Feed kind of sucks, but I can't really think of how to improve it. Suffice it to say that there are zombies, mayhem, politics and sarcasm. What more does one need? It really is harder sometimes to summarize a really good book, because they tend to be a little deeper, making it hard to put all of the awesomeness into a summary. Thankfully, I can mention all of that in my review.
Zombies are ridiculous. We all know this, even those of us who rather like to read about them. There's not really any scientific reason to believe zombies possible; personally, I would more readily believe in pretty much any paranormal creature before I would believe in zombies. Unicorns? Sure, my young self is delighted and says they exist! Vampires? Why not? People can be cannabalistic, besides Catholics already drink their saviors blood. Back to pseudo-seriousness, though, Feed has the best explanation of zombie-fication that I have seen thus far. Grant also does a good job of giving a description and then doing the authorial equivalent of shrugging her shoulders and telling the audience to suspend disbelief, but in a good way.
I absolutely loved Feed from the first page. Why? Georgia/George. She is fantastically snarky and grumpy and sarcastic. She's like me, only with worse eyes (mine suck, but at least I can go out on a sunny day). Not every other character feels fully dimensional, but they are all built out in a believable way, to the degree that George understands/cares about them. George is standoffish and only bothers to learn about certain people, so everyone wouldn't be distinct in her world.
The writing is pretty fantastic. I always know an author has talent when he/she can write distinct voices and you can tell who's who without necessarily needing to be told. Grant achieved this. The little snippets from the various characters' blogs so obviously correspond to one or the other, even before you reach the part telling the author's name.
The format was pretty great, too. The bulk of the story was told from George's perspective, with only well-integrated background. The quotes from blogs enabled Grant to put in some more back story, which might not have fit in the flow of a characters every day thoughts without making the novel feel forced.
One thing that really amazed me about Feed was that it wasn't a dystopia the way you would expect. You would generally think that the zombies were the problem, right? Not really. I mean, they are a concern, but society has figured out how to live with the problem. The United States really is much the same as it has ever been, which is why the fact that it's a dystopia is even more of a creepy reflection on our current lifestyle.
In some ways, the society in Feed is the one I would least be willing to live in of all of the dystopias I've read. Okay, only in one way. But still. What's my problem with this rather-better-than-most vision of the near future (2040)? Needles. These people get blood tests approximately 85,000 times every day, to ensure that they are not in the process of becoming zombies. As a person who refuses to get the flu shot every year because I'd rather take my chances, this is not a future I want to be a part of. Needles are the worst.
Oh, and, less seriously, you may have noticed in my less-than-inspired description that there's a character called Buffy. She's actually named Georgette, but she figured, hey, I'm short and blond and cute...what else would my name be? Loving the reference so hard. And I'm fairly certain that Joss Whedon would appreciate it and the book as well. (I could be wrong, but this is my guess.)
To conclude a final iteration of how much I enjoyed this book (which I totally need to add to my personal collection and NEED the sequel to) and a quote in honor of my friends Heather and Nori, both awesome bloggers: "No levels, no van. No van, no coffee. No coffee, no joy." Seriously, go read this one! ...more
*Just FYI: This review contains zero spoilers for any of the books in the series*
Remember that time I read a complete series in a week? Yeah, that to*Just FYI: This review contains zero spoilers for any of the books in the series*
Remember that time I read a complete series in a week? Yeah, that totally just happened right now! I started The Boyfriend List, the first Ruby Oliver book on December 9th and finished this one today, the 15th. Reading a complete series in a week can take some dedication, as well as some wiggle room in the review schedule. I would not have been able to complete this feat had the Ruby Oliver books not been so consistently hilarious, honest and enjoyable.
Lockhart keeps the Ruby Oliver series so consistent in tone and Ruby's narrative voice and how much fun they are to read. This, more than anything, impressed me so much. Keeping a series interesting and each installment just about equally as good as the last is a seriously difficult task for an author, but Lockhart succeeds with flying colors.
What I love most about this series as a whole is how honest it is to the high school experience. There's frank discussion of kissing and sex and friendship debacles, of the awkwardness of parties, and of things that don't matter one bit after high school, like how the bake sale went. Ruby acts one hundred percent like a teenager, a very smart one, of course, but she never feels like an adult trying to create a teenager. She has her own weird slang, which, in some books can be annoying, but with Ruby just comes off so naturally. Ruby grows a lot as a person throughout these four books, but remains ever her charmingly neurotic self.
The romance throughout the series is precisely what I love to see in YA. Yes, it's a primary focus, but, let's be honest, boyfriends and girlfriends or being in a state of noboyfriend are pretty monumental aspects of life in high school. However, Ruby also spends a lot of time being worried about her friends and consulting with them, and, in fact, I think her panic attacks were more about friendship stress than boys. Though Ruby does think she's in love a number of times, there's no feeling of instalove or any sort of assertion that this love will last for all of time. Even when she thinks she's in love, none of her relationships are perfect.
I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys humorous books that honestly tackle what it's like to be a teenager. Ruby has a very strong voice, which will not work for everyone, but these books are utterly delightful and it's worth finding out if you will get as much entertainment from them as I have....more
You guys, I am so excited that Lynn put some manhwa on my to-read list for Sadie Hawkins' Sunday. I love reading manga and manhwa, but I do not do itYou guys, I am so excited that Lynn put some manhwa on my to-read list for Sadie Hawkins' Sunday. I love reading manga and manhwa, but I do not do it enough, because I mostly live from review copy to review copy. Also, this is totally a story I probably would have skipped left to my own devices, both because I'm not a fan of the cover art and because it sounds so depressing, and I'm still getting used to the idea I love depressing stories. Thanks, Lynn, for getting me to read something out of the usual, especially since I loved it!
Manhwa, for those who do not know, is the Korean equivalent of manga. Both manga and manhwa have a reputation for being melodramatic and crazy, which is perhaps rightly earned. I expected Our Happy Hours to fall into that category, but it is surprisingly melodrama-free. The subject is treated with the appropriate gravity, but nothing needless is added to up the emotional ante unnecessarily. The plot's not drawn out or over-complicated.
Juri tries to commit suicide for the third time. A former pianist, she now refuses to play and hates her mother, once a famous pianist. All Juri wants is to die, out of this life with untrustworthy people and nothing to live for. Her Aunt, the only good person in her life, is a nun, who works with death row inmates, trying to bring a bit of joy into their dreary lives while they went for the sentence to be carried out. She asks Juri to come speak with one of the inmates.
Unsurprisingly, Juri does not want to do so, but, given that she can do that or spend time in a mental institution, she agrees. Speaking with Yuu, a convicted murderer doomed to die, she opens up and is able to overcome her own mental blocks. She finds beauty in the world and connection. Though they come from completely opposite backgrounds (her: wealthy; him: a poor orphan, who had to prostitute himself), they have a lot in common and bond slowly. Their story is touching and tragic. Oh, the feels that I did not expect!
The writing, or at least the translation, was much stronger than usual, perhaps due to the fact that this is an adaptation of a novel. The art works quite well with the story, very shadowy. The conclusion does run a bit to the cheesy side, but everything else was perfect. Dark, emotional, and full of feels. ...more
Moers has put together an entirely original hilarious fantasy novel. The main character, Bluebear, describes his life and its odd, exciting events. PaMoers has put together an entirely original hilarious fantasy novel. The main character, Bluebear, describes his life and its odd, exciting events. Parts of the book are laugh out loud funny, especially when Bluebear has interactions with the encyclopedia in his head. There are a few sections that drag, like the chapter set in Atlantis, which gets far too listy. Nonetheless, this book is a great read with awesome illustrations. I recommend it highly, especially for people who appreciate the humor of Hitchhiker’s Guide....more
At its core, A Long, Long Sleep is a reimagined version of Sleeping Beauty. This is most apparent in the opening scenes and then occasionally referencAt its core, A Long, Long Sleep is a reimagined version of Sleeping Beauty. This is most apparent in the opening scenes and then occasionally referenced. The fairy tale elements are what drew me to the story, but this is way different than most revised fairy tales, which generally keep to the story but flesh out characters and plots. Sheehan has taken an old, familiar story and created an amazing science fiction world and made the heroine someone new and different than just a girl trapped in a castle.
Rosalinda made a really great main character. Usually, I would dislike a heroine like her, at least in the first parts of the book, because she is, essentially, helpless and is physically weak. She is also filled with self-loathing and serious feelings of inadequacy. She is painfully shy and awkward, unable to make friends. Still, there are reasons for this and they are so clearly put forward that I did not expect her to be any other way; instead, I just rooted for her to overcome her problems. To some extent, she does, but at the end of the novel, she still has a ways to go, which is awesome too because that's how real life works. Those kinds of deep-rooted insecurities are really hard to get over, just like her weakness from so long spent in stasis will take a couple of years to go away completely. What I love about Rosalinda is that she is so real and that, when push comes to shove, she will do whatever she can to save herself and those around her, even though she doesn't think she's smart or worthy.
The worldbuilding here was so awesome. I really hope Sheehan writes some more books set here, like one written during the Dark Times maybe? As my dear readers may know, I am obsessed with dystopias and that book would totally be a dystopia. That makes me wonder if this one could be to; certainly, the community they live in, all owned by one corporation, could qualify as a completely terrifying future, not to mention the creation of people like Otto and the horrible treatment his kind received. Also, I have to say how much I love Otto.
I just ate this book up. I loved it right from the start. It was one of those books where I just did not want to stop reading. Last night, I almost stayed up until I could finish it, but then thought better of it, knowing that I'm an adult who has to get up and go to work. (Lame!) Now, having finished it, I just want more. Anna Sheehan needs to write more books for me to enjoy. This is an excellent example of YA fiction....more
The description of this book, at least as I wrote it, does not remotely do the book credit. Largely because the story is not the real point. I mean, iThe description of this book, at least as I wrote it, does not remotely do the book credit. Largely because the story is not the real point. I mean, it is and it isn't. More than being about a plot it's about what it's like being a woman, about the spaces between love and marriage, about feminism, and about literature and language. The writing is completely gorgeous, sucking me in from the first pages, even though the opening scenes chronicle the affair, a thing in which I have little interest. To me, there is no excuse for cheating and I do not believe Maria's romanticized idea of it (and not just because I know what happens later); the treatment of the affair in early pages reminds me of Chretien de Troyes, and how in that time folks believed that true love had to be extramarital.
Rather than speaking to what I loved and didn't (what little there was of that) as I usually do, I really want to include some of my favorite quotes and let the author speak for herself.
"'You can't be loved whatever you do. You have to be someone good, to be loved. People can't just love you for existing.' 'Hmm. Well, maybe. You don't believe in unconditional love?' 'Yes, I do, but it's for babies. You have to be worthy of love.'" (221).
"That's it, the last gesture of a long friendship lived over distance and time, without frequent meetings, between two languages; a friendship built over books, plays, poems, the written word." (252).
"What is it she needs, at this point in her life? To touch another life, to have it touch hers. To create, to understand. To give back. To be part of a whole." (286)
Brackenbury obviously wholeheartedly loves and appreciates literature, which makes her such a joy to read. I now want to check out George Sand and to read a biography of her life, as she sounds fascinating. ...more
ara Crewe is a child gifted with a remarkable imagination, intelligence and a doting father. When her father dies, her intelligence is useful certainlara Crewe is a child gifted with a remarkable imagination, intelligence and a doting father. When her father dies, her intelligence is useful certainly, but it is her imagination that really pulls her through the tough times. She wonders in the beginning of the book whether she is actually nice or not, because she has never experienced a hardship. I really loved that when hardship came, she struggled to maintain her princess demeanor. She got angry and wanted to respond spitefully to ill treatment, but made the conscious decision to rise above. This makes Sara feel like a real girl, not like some absurd Pollyanna.
I am always happy to find another book lover, and such is Sara Crewe. One of the most trying moments of the book for her in her battle to keep her temper is when her reading is interrupted: "Never did she find anything so difficult as to keep herself from losing her temper when she was suddenly disturbed while absorbed in a book. People who are fond of books know the feeling of irritation which sweeps over them at such a moment." Delightful.
There was one element of the story that is a bit...odd...from a modern perspective. That is that the Indian servant, Ram Dass, watches Sara while she is inside and even comes into the room while she is sleeping. His intentions are entirely noble and he is doing good. Still...it's hard not to be at least a wee bit creeped out by that these days.
Although a children's book, this classic loses nothing when read by an older audience. I highly recommend this to anyone who believes in magic! Also, if you haven't seen it, definitely check out the 1995 film version, because it manages to capture the magic of the book and even improve upon the story (in my opinion)!...more
Thus far, I have been hugely skeptical of Libba Bray. I read A Great and Terrible Beauty and found it neither great nor terrible; mostly, I thought itThus far, I have been hugely skeptical of Libba Bray. I read A Great and Terrible Beauty and found it neither great nor terrible; mostly, I thought it was boring. After that let down, I had little desire to read more of her stuff, despite the crazy buzz about Going Bovine (and the pressure of my friend Nori). Allow me to happily renounce any bad thing I have said about Libba Bray in the past! This book was off the hook awesome and I am now very glad that I gave into the impulse to purchase A Great and Terrible Beauty (from Goodwill), since I hope to find things I missed before.
Why is this book so great? Well, how about I give you a little (or long) list.
It's a dystopia. Beauty Queens stranded on an island...who doesn't want to see that? Also, how did the Corporation not think of that? The mocking of pretty much every aspect of pop culture, most especially of reality television. The Corporation. You may wonder why I would love an evil corporation that's trying to take over the world and doing all sorts of awful things. That's because the commercials remind me of Veridian Dynamics, so I spent the whole book imagining that it was The Corporation. Oh references, intended or not. Girl power. For an example, check out Tiara's speech on page 335. Love for the LGBT community. Everyone didn't pair off in the end. I get so sick of that, sweet as it is. In real life, everyone doesn't find their true love at 16. Every page is abso-friggin'-lutely hysterical. I dare you to read this book and not laugh out loud at least once.
So yeah, I definitely need to read the rest of Libba Bray's stuff and to procure a copy of this book for my very own, since I read one from the library. Also, I just realized that Libba Bray's name uses only letters from the word library. Coinkydink? I wonder...
Oh, and just for funsies, here is my one criticism of the book: on page 361, Adina says something (singsongs it, actually). Unfortunately, she's not actually in that scene yet. Wah wah. Editor fail. She enters on page 363. ...more
Having heard entirely varying accounts of this collaborative novel, I approached it with both hope and trepidation. I worried that the format of the eHaving heard entirely varying accounts of this collaborative novel, I approached it with both hope and trepidation. I worried that the format of the even numbered chapters (without capitalization, ala texting or instant messaging) would irritate me to the point that I could not get through the book. Thankfully, both Will Graysons, from whose perspectives the reader sees, are intelligent and use decent grammar. The lack of capitalization becomes easy enough to ignore, especially for people of the instant communication generation. Format aside, this book was absolutely fabulous, much like Tiny Cooper. The characters are flawed and can actually be imagined to be real high school students. The story and writing has a bit of magic; perhaps it is simply the magic of truth or acceptance, but it is a magic. Heterosexual and homosexual love are both celebrated in this fabulous teen novel that has been a long time in coming. I highly recommend this!...more
Before picking this book up, I had heard of Charles de Lint, but had never gotten around to giving any of his books a try yet. Well, I will now. I lovBefore picking this book up, I had heard of Charles de Lint, but had never gotten around to giving any of his books a try yet. Well, I will now. I loved this book from the first couple of pages and it never lost my interest. The story is original, the characters likable and the plot well-paced. Charles de Lint, if this book is representative, is a master storyteller and I cannot wait to read more of his books. I may have just found a new favorite!
The only thing that I disliked about this book was some unevenness in the point of view, which may have been sorted out in the finalized copy of the book. Most of the story is told in third person and follows various characters. Occasionally though, a section will be given the heading "Jay" and will be told from Jay's perspective. While this is clear, it does feel a bit like cheating. Either do the whole book from Jay's perspective or do it all in third person. This might not have bothered me had it felt like there was any reason for these four or so sections to be from his point of view; I really do not think that these windows to his thoughts added anything that could not have been done with the third person narration.
Jay has a major task to accomplish and a bad guy to take down, which is typical for a fantasy novel, but that is not the real focus of the novel. The Painted Boy is first and foremost a Bildungsroman, a coming of age story for Jay. The focus is placed on his inner development and not on the external struggle. Do not think that this means the book lacks plot or excitement because of this.
My own skills lack to sum up this novel in the way that it deserves. This is one of the most beautifully written books I have read in a while. The stoMy own skills lack to sum up this novel in the way that it deserves. This is one of the most beautifully written books I have read in a while. The story was lovely in its simplicity, every description dripping with meaning without being overly sentimental or pedantic. The whole way through I marveled at the language. Despite its length, the book moved at a swift pace. The plot was not one of action, but still I hardly wanted to put the book down. This is masterful writing.
The portrayal of Nina's past in Soviet Russia was fantastic. I have studied the Soviet Union quite a bit, particularly through the writings of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Kalotay did a good job portraying the way Soviet citizens likely felt about their lives. She shows the reverence for Stalin, even in the worst times. Never once does Nina see him as anything but a savior; the problems come from others and he does not know. Shocking though that may be, anything else would probably have been inaccurate. The faith that she had in the country and the small things that lead her to question that are done well. Kalotay confronts rough issues with subtlety, with no overarching need to make her point clear by bashing you over the head with it.
I recommend this one extremely highly (in case that wasn't clear from the above). Do yourself a favor and read this. ...more
Whoa! Talk about a hook! The Book of Blood and Shadowstarts off with a bang. From that first sentence, I definitely knew something creepy was going onWhoa! Talk about a hook! The Book of Blood and Shadowstarts off with a bang. From that first sentence, I definitely knew something creepy was going on and that I needed to know more about it. Let me tell you right now: the hook was not a trap. Every bit of this book is so good. Two five star reads in a row = I'm getting spoiled!
Robin Wasserman has managed to write an original YA story, by which I mean one that's not remotely like the standard YA book. Nora, for example, is not your standard YA heroine. She's not absurdly clutzy, but she is incredibly intelligent, as in a genius at Latin. Nor is Nora particularly attractive; she's kind of average looking. Her hair is mousy brown, her nose too large for her face and she doesn't wear makeup almost ever. In short, she looks like a lot of girls, rather than some super shiny-haired YA cover girl. This makes her so much easier to relate to.
Then there's her storybook love. Well, he's not your usual guy fare either. The perfect-ish guy is her best friend, Chris, who's dating her other best friend. Her boyfriend is Max, who she thought was creepy for quite a while after first meeting at him. Apparently, he stares a lot, perhaps to a Maureen Johnson-esque degree. Max wears glasses and is totally socially awkward, very much not your usual YA hero.
Actually, this book has a lot more in common with novels like The Rule of Four. Both focus on academic research of an old text about which very little is known. Where Caldwell and Thomason's book is solely historical fiction though, Wasserman has added a paranormal element. In some books, paranormal is overdone and melodramatic. Here it creates the perfect creepy, gothic atmosphere. For most of the book, you don't even know what the paranormal is; you just sense its presence lurking just off screen, creating serious suspense.
As Nora's story progresses, so does her research into the letters of Elizabeth, which could possibly provide insight into The Book her group is researching for Hoff (crotchety professor in search of glory). Although the individual letters are fairly short, I found myself getting just as sucked into Elizabeth's tale as into Nora's. In some historical fiction with this setup, the 'historical documents' are the weak point. Wasserman deftly avoids that trap with the grace of the dancing hippo from Fantasia.
The book is dark, unrelenting, soul-breakingly, fabulously, perfectly dark. Everything in Nora's life has pretty much already fallen apart, leaving her bruised, even before the book has begun. Well, things are just getting started for poor Nora. Her world gets shaken on its foundations. Robin Wasserman definitely goes on the list of awesome YA authors not afraid to do terrible things to their heroines/heroes. I love this, because, well, have you met life?
In undergrad, I was a theology minor, despite having been an agnostic all of my life, leaning much closer to the atheist side of things than the religious. The reason for my study of theology is that, simply put, I find belief fascinating, both on a global and individual scale. Certainly, it's interesting as a historian to look at how the religions themselves developed from a single person or group to a massive organized thing. Even more so, though, I love hearing the stories of individuals, of how they came to subscribe to their particular faith (or lack thereof). The theology in this book is wonderful, and, if you have any interest in that, I highly recommend this. Again, I think Wasserman was very daring to write this, and I applaud her for it. My favorite quote was one that pretty much sums up my opinions on the idea of God.
The story of The Book of Blood and Shadow is also incredibly intricate. I have so much respect for Robin Wasserman for having pulled off a book of this scope. She did so much research, both into Prague's history, into ancient languages, and into secret codes. To sum up this review into just a few words: Robin Wasserman is BRILLIANT, and so is her book. It's out now, so what the heck are you waiting for? GO GET IT!
This was my first foray into Robin Wasserman's books, although I have checked out Skinned from the library at least three times and then not had time to read it, but it will by no means be my last. In fact, I'm pretty sure Skinned is getting bumped up the TBR list....more
The Tea Rose spans a decade and two continents. It is first and foremost a love story, but don't let that fool you. As they say, "the course of true lThe Tea Rose spans a decade and two continents. It is first and foremost a love story, but don't let that fool you. As they say, "the course of true love never did run smooth." Joe and Fiona have been best friends all their lives, having grown up on the same street. They've been in love from the time they had such thoughts, and they both have huge ambitions to run a shop and have all the money they could ever need.
This is a story of poverty, of unions, of economics, of business. Fiona's family with three strong men to earn money in their various jobs can barely get by. They aren't able to save any money. Fiona works too, but women make a pittance compared to men, even though they spend just as much time at work. The employers refuse to pay more than a few pennies to their workers. Everyone has an air of desperation about them, except for the few folks who have all the money because they've squeezed the poor folks dry.
This is a horror story. In case East London doesn't sound terrifying enough, you will not be disappointed. Jack the Ripper's there too. And the cops can't find anything to figure out who he is or how to stop him. At least, he's only killing prostitutes, but who knows when that will change. Besides, how comforting is that when everyone you know is just a missed day of work or two away from that level of desperation?
This is a story of tragedy. Donnelly will get you excited and hopeful, and then stomp on your heart, light it on fire and then drown it. Even in the depths of despair when it seems the characters (and thus you, bound up in their fate) will never make it, she manages to kindle inspiration and hope. Completely beautiful.
The spark that makes all the parts of this novel come together lies in the characters, particularly Fiona. These are people who will stop at nothing to get what they want. Nothing can prevent Fiona from becoming a success; she will overcome any hardship thrown at her. She is undoubtedly one of the strongest heroines in literature. I may not always agree with her choices, as she is much more forgiving than I could ever be, but I always admire her spunk and intelligence and drive.
Donnelly made me cry. She made me angry, frustrated, terrified. She made me smile and left me feeling somewhat hopeful. You have to love a book that can run you through the gamut of human of emotions. This book is amazingly well-written and complex. This is historical fiction at its finest....more
Guys! This book was SO perfect for me. Like, seriously, how did I not read this sooner, because it is made of awesomeness. BeliOriginally posted here.
Guys! This book was SO perfect for me. Like, seriously, how did I not read this sooner, because it is made of awesomeness. Believe that I don't say this lightly: Throne of Glass is like The Hunger Games meets Grave Mercy. As with both of those delightful books, Throne of Glass features a powerful heroine, lots of action and some delightful, non-instalove romance.
The opening of Throne of Glass finds Celaena in the salt mines, where, after having been captured, she has been sentenced to work until she dies. Lucky for her, she now has another option: she can serve as the Crown Prince's contestant in a competition to decide the new King's Champion, aka personal assassin. An eighteen year old girl might seem an odd entrant, but Celeana Sardothien is actually the most feared assassin in the country.
I expected to have some trouble believing in Celeana as such an epically intense assassin, especially since she had quite the reputation by the time she was 17. However, Maas totally sold it. At every turn, Celaena strategizes possible escapes and considers the various ways that she could murder or maim the people around her. Her thoughts are bloody and focused. She has been raised to be an assassin since childhood, and she does it well.
Trust does not come particularly easily to Celaena, but she is still capable of humor and caring. In fact, if I had any issue with the book at all, it was that she seemed almost too quick to re-humanize after what happened in the salt mines. However, I want to believe that she could bounce back like that; it's part of why she is so strong. Celaena has power mentally and physically, and, despite being a trained assassin, she's a genuinely nice person, rarely mean out of spite.
The other characters are just as vibrant, if a bit black or white. I really appreciated Celaena's friendship with Nehemiah. What made it so delightful was that they seemed to bond over real things, not their situation or boys. Instead, they found common ground in both being powerful women forced into lives that don't especially suit them. Also, they both hate Lady Kaltain, who fills the classic money-grubbing, evil bitch role perfectly.
Then we have the boys. Yes, Throne of Glass has a love triangle. Weep not, though, because this is a tolerable one. Interestingly, from what I've heard, the story didn't have one initially, which is curious. However, it's here now and I deem it acceptable. I really like both guys, even though there's only one I would allow to guard my heart. Ahem. Crown Prince Dorian is sweet and passionate, definitely a bit of hopeless romantic, who's undoubtedly going to have to choose between the crown and his heart. Chaol is gruff and obnoxious at first, but entirely loyal and wonderful on further acquaintance. He's also definitely the kind of guy to encourage strength in a woman, rather than trying to protect her.
I thought the world building was fascinating, although I definitely think we've only barely reached the surface. There's so much more going on here than has been described yet. I anticipate faeries and alternate universes, as well as more to be made of this glass castle. Still, I'm really liking the foundations that Maas has laid here. The world thus far is fairly typical fantasy, but well-written and with excellent action scenes.
Speaking of action, I haven't explained the comparison to The Hunger Games yet. Well, the competition between the various assassins, thieves and soldiers is very reminiscent of the arena. There are definitely differences, but the similarities are stark. The training room scenes definitely reminded me of the ones in THG, as well as the fact that there were 24 competitors. Oh yeah, and some grisly deaths!
If you love fantasy novels like I do, you will most definitely not want to miss out on Throne of Glass. It comes out on August 7, so go get yourself a copy ASAP!...more
Though Catherynne M. Valente's novels have been on my radar for a while now, I've honestly been a bit terrified to read them. They're so laud4.5 Stars
Though Catherynne M. Valente's novels have been on my radar for a while now, I've honestly been a bit terrified to read them. They're so lauded by readers I respect highly and I really feared that I would be the black sheep of dissidence. I'd heard they were strange and that doesn't always jive so well with my tastes, but, oh, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is just the right kind of strange.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland recalls many classic tales: Alice in Wonderland, the myth of Persephone, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to name a few. I make these comparisons not to suggest that Valente's tale lacks in originality in any way, but that she cleverly weaves a story full of allusions to those classic tales. Though I don't usually do this, I'm going to structure much of my review around these comparisons, since The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland has been reviewed by many people already, and I feel free to do my own weird thing with it.
The tone and the sheer madcap adventure-filled feel of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is one hundred percent Alice in Wonderland. Though there was little that specifically seemed directly out of Carroll's classic absurdist tale, his influence is visible on every page. The girl stumbles into a magical land and bounces from quest to quest, with the ultimate goal of unseating an evil female ruler, who destroyed the benevolent queen. Valente fully embraces the absurd, but, where Carroll's story lacks for me—characterization, Valente shines, but I'll talk about that more later.
The Persephone myth works as a frame story to September's adventures. There are clever references throughout, but the main purpose is to explain why September will eventually return. I love the way that Valente set up the very end. It's simply perfection, bringing the rest of the plotting full circle. Sometimes it feels like the weird novels are so spontaneous and surprising because the author didn't know what was going on either, but it's very apparent that Valente knew exactly what she was doing.
I have two points to make with reference to the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The most overt similarity is that one of the characters traveled to Fairyland by means of wardrobe, an obvious omage to Lewis' tale. However, there's another comparison to be made, a bit subtler. Like Lewis' classic, September travels to a magical world during wartime. Her father is off fighting in WWII and her mother works as an engineer. She feels lonely and doesn't understand what's going on very well. Valente turns September's adventures in Fairyland into a neat platform by which to make observations on the nature of war.
As I said, there's so much more to Valente's tale than those structural similarities, all of which I love a lot. Her characters are a delight, though I must admit this is one of those times where the supporting cast is much more dear to me than the MC. September is a delightful girl, it's true. She has a lot more strength and graciousness than the average heroine, and is much more empowered in her story than any of the ones in the three classic tales I mentioned previously, which is utterly fantastic. She just can't compete with her sidekicks, though.
Those who know me well will probably not be surprised to learn that my favorite character is A-Through-L, affectionately known as Ell, the wyverary. He's a wyvern, sort of like a dragon, but also the son of a library. He knows absolutely everything about anything found between the letters A through L, which is immensely helpful on a journey, and he's the most delightful companion a girl could want through Fairyland. I also love Gleam, a lantern over a century old and desperate for adventure, and Saturday, a creature similar to a genie who I'm really looking forward to getting to know better in the next installment.
Even the evil Marquess is a marvelously well-drawn character. Often villains take a back seat to the good guys, lacking complexities in books with otherwise sophisticated characterization. Valente, however, made her villain one of the most complex characters in the piece. She gives the Marquess a reason for the way she is, and makes her at least a little bit sympathetic.
On top of all of that, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. Her writing is a veritable feast of deliciously underused words. Though I do think this might be a tough read for children, it would be a perfect choice for parents to read aloud to their kids, though they may end up explaining quite a few terms. This is a story that will delight children, I think, but adults even more so, in a rather different way perhaps.
Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is absolutely marvelous, and I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone who delights in verbiage, characterization, fairy tales, or any of those stories I mentioned above. With this one book, Valente goes on my auto-read list....more
This book is fucking beautiful. I just cannot even with how amazing this book actuaFor more reviews, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.
This book is fucking beautiful. I just cannot even with how amazing this book actually is. If you loved The Sky Is Everywhere, I think that you’ll love I’ll Give You the Sun too. Nelson’s working through a lot of the same subject matter in this one: family, grief, sex. There’s that poetic feel to the writing that runs between both novels too. In I’ll Give You the Sun, I feel like Nelson’s just gotten more talented. I’ll Give You the Sun does rather feel like it’s shining to life beneath your fingers, giving you the sun in the world of Noah and Jude.
You know a book is fabulous when I love it despite an almost 100 page chapter. My attention span is not long. I’ll Give You the Sun wrapped me in its sway immediately. Both Noah and Jude have such unique points of view, and they both positively burst with life. Both perspectives held my interest fully. Noah’s POV follows the past events leading up to their mother’s death, the breaking of the family. Jude’s perspective follows the current timeline and depicts them finally dealing with everything that happened two years before. Like Jude’s art for so many years, the novel is the breaking and then the gluing back together into something more beautiful for its cracks.
I’ll Give You the Sun bursts with color, rather like the cover suggests. I’ll Give You the Sun is full of artists. Their mother was an art critic. Jude sculpts. Noah paints and sketches. Then there’s Guillermo Garcia, a master carver Jude goes to for an apprenticeship. I, for one, am almost entirely lacking in artistic talent. I tend not to even be all that interested in art. Yet somehow these perspectives really brought the art to life. Noah constantly paints in his head, coming up with portraits and self-portraits he wants to do. They’re interpretations of his emotions and I could see them so vividly, his artistic impulse shared with me. With Jude and Guillermo, you can feel the art trying to come out of the stone. One of my favorite things about reading is when a book can make me care about something I don’t and really truly make me feel like I intrinsically understand what it would be like to be someone different. What is it like to have an artistic impulse? THIS.
Much like The Sky Is Everywhere, the drama is high. I could see this being distancing for some readers. There are affairs and scandals and betrayals and misunderstandings. Rather like the writing, which could easily have felt purple and overblown, it all just feels so right and perfect. Jude and Noah have such strong personalities. They’re the sort of people to live large and live strange. They were never going to live quiet ordinary lives, so the drama really fits. If you told me about what happened, I would probably roll my eyes, but in context everything just works.
One of my obsessions is magical realism, and I’ll Give You the Sun has this in spades. Jude interacts with the ghost of her grandmother and is haunted by the ghost of her mother, who breaks her sculptures. Noah believes the ghost of his mother holds him up when he cliff dives. Jude’s perspective is riddled with family wisdom, little spells to ward off love or increase it and any number of other things. Obviously, you can believe that Jude’s just crazy, but I prefer to believe there’s a little magic in the world. Also, I love that Jude and her grandmother call God Clark Gable. OMFCG, it’s so much fun.
Both twins have romances. Personally, I prefer Noah’s, which should be a surprise to no one. For one thing, Jude and Oscar instalove all over one another. Yeah, I didn’t rate down for that. Again, it’s something that feels really right in context, but it’s still not a massive ship for me. Noah’s romance with Brian, however, is a slow burn and when they finally kiss it is fucking hot. Thank you, Jandy Nelson, for that really wonderful gay kiss scene, because YES.
I really don’t have that much more to say to try to describe this book to you and explain why I loved it so much. It’s something you really have to experience, to let wash over you like sunshine or waves. On paper, I don’t think it will ever sound as good as it actually is. I’ll Give You the Sun is a book that will either work for you, holding you in its sway and capturing your imagination, or that very much won’t. I really hope I don’t have to wait another four years for the next Jandy Nelson novel, but I will wait however long I must....more
Bilbo Baggins, a perfectly respectable hobbit who never went on any adventures, finds his life turned up upside down at the arrival of Gandalf the wizBilbo Baggins, a perfectly respectable hobbit who never went on any adventures, finds his life turned up upside down at the arrival of Gandalf the wizard. Bilbo ends up accompanying Gandalf and thirteen dwarves on a quest to recover treasure from a dragon. I tried several times, unsuccessfully, to read this book when I was younger, but loved pretty much every page this go round. This book differs a bit from The Lord of the Rings, primarily because Tolkien wrote it for children probably. The Hobbit has quite a bit of humor, beautiful language, even more songs and bursts with onomatopoeia. A beautiful, engaging read....more
Obviously, I've heard a lot about this, long before I opened it. The concept sounded fascinating and I enjoyed Delirium, so I was definitely super excObviously, I've heard a lot about this, long before I opened it. The concept sounded fascinating and I enjoyed Delirium, so I was definitely super excited to read this one. Anyway, the opening section totally caught my attention with the cleverness of the writing and the strength of the voice. Even though I could immediately tell that I would kind of hate the main character, I was hooked.
Seriously, I spent the first half of the book wanting to do nothing so much as punch Sam and her friends in their made-up faces. Ugh. It was awful. Basically, most of this book reminded me just how much I hated high school. I'm so glad I'm through with that part of my life, and I would not go through it again, even if I could take all the knowledge I have now with me. People are so cruel and all of the emphasis put on popularity, on being this cookie cutter person who dates the right people and goes to the right parties; it's all bullshit.
What's important to know, though, is that even during the many, many pages where I wanted to punch pretty much everyone in the face, I still really enjoyed reading Before I Fall. The writing is completely captivating. Lauren Oliver very much captures Sam's voice, and manages to let Sam's character grow at a very natural pace.
Obviously, this plot is like Groundhog Day mashed up with Mean Girls. Much like the former film manages not to be boring, even though he's living the same day over and over again, Oliver's book never dragged. Even thought the events that transpired as Sam lived the same date over and over again remained pretty consistent, the smallest changes made huge differences or no difference at all. I really loved the emphasis placed on how much and how little can change in just a single day. Really makes a girl think about carpe-ing that diem.
My very favorite part of the novel, other than the really awesome concept and the writing, is Kent. He is just the cutest, so nerdy and himself. Were he not so brave, he could pretend and be as popular as anyone, but instead he embraces his weirdness, and I just love that about him. I wish I'd had a guy like him in high school, but I also know that I would have been too afraid of venturing out of the mainstream that I totally wasn't in anyway to go for it. That's the message I want to leave this post with: life's too short to pass up an amazing, cute, nerdy guy...now I just have to find one (that's not fictional).
As for the ending, I'm not entirely sure what to make of it just now. Honestly, I'm not sure what happened entirely, but I definitely want to bawl my eyes out (figuratively, because literally would be really gross)....more
Take that, Seven Realms! I have defeated you! I’m shocked how quicklFor more reviews, gifs, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.
Take that, Seven Realms! I have defeated you! I’m shocked how quickly I managed to binge this series. I finished The Demon King on January 4, and I’m writing this review, having just finished The Crimson Crown on January 19. Binging series is really the best. I highly recommend it. Also, I highly recommend binging this particular series, since it’s all complete and such a good read. The Crimson Crown is one of the best series enders, bringing good and bad ends right where they were needed.
I’m going to start this out with some general, non-spoilery comments, and then I’m going to go inside the spoiler tags and talk about the nitty gritty details.
I’ve got this series spreadsheet in which I rate how good the ending of a series is. It’s not that complicated, just three levels: excellent, okay, and terribad. Very few earn a rating of excellent. To do that, I feel like the series ender needs to tie up most of the dangling threads, leave characters in an emotionally satisfying place, and match or exceed the proceeding books in quality. That’s hard to find.
Speaking of girls like that, Raisa’s such a boss. She always has been, but she’s continually impressive, both because of her heart and her practicality. Its these two qualities that make her such a wonderful queen. She loves her subjects, but she can also make tough calls when she has to do so. It helps too that Raisa doesn’t get a swelled head and will listen to wiser council when the situation calls for it. Though she’s also prepared to throw down and override everyone, because she’s the queen. Chima managed to very convincingly create a teen character who seems ready to rule a kingdom.
The plot is on point in The Crimson Crown. Like all the books but the first, I pretty much saw nothing coming ever, except for some very minor things. The big reveal at the end totally shocked me. In fact, in all of the chaos, I’d forgotten that point was still to be officially resolved. Though I’d never really considered that outcome, it fits really well and ties everything together in an important way.
My reservations in the series have been pretty consistent. The fact that Chima uses food words to describe diverse characters and that there could be more LGBT+ representation has consistently been a small disappointment. More upsetting, I think, is that I still don’t care about any of the romances outside of Han and Raisa. I really should, even without third person POVs that follow them, but I don’t. As a result, I don’t get feels of the epic level I did with the Lumatere Chronicles, to which I can’t help comparing this series.
Now to the spoilery things I want to talk about:
(view spoiler)[Part of me feels like I should be unhappy with the somewhat cheesy ending, but also I’m just not. I’m very glad that Han and Raisa get to be together, and even that Hanalea and Alger do in some limited fashion. I think the sweetness is tempered nicely by the deaths (BIRDDDDDDDD!) and by the threat of more war with Arden.
Speaking of deaths, I think that Bird’s death was tragic but perfect. She had been moving towards making a choice between Demonai/Nightwalker and what she felt was right throughout the whole series, and this ending fits. Gavan Bayar’s death was also beyond perfect. Fiona’s leaves me really sad, though it is fitting that it occurred at the hands of her father, essentially, since he didn’t deem the time it would take to save her worth possibly losing the armory. Still, I feel like Fiona perhaps deserved more of a shot at redemption. That’s life, though, I guess.
I’m also super grateful there are going to be more books in this realm, because there are things I want to know. Did Mellony manage to convince Micah that he should be with her? Does Micah manage to become a true good guy, despite his romantic disappointment? Even if it’s years down the line, it would be cool to see how they’re remembered by history, since the rewriting of history by the victors element was one of my favorite things in the entire series. (hide spoiler)]
Seven Realms didn’t immediately become a tippy top favorite series, but it was wonderful. No doubt it will be reread many a time down the road, and it might achieve favorite status then.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Yayyyyyy! I am SO glad that Debby forced me to read this book. Though I think it was on my to-read list anyway, I’m not certain I would ever have founYayyyyyy! I am SO glad that Debby forced me to read this book. Though I think it was on my to-read list anyway, I’m not certain I would ever have found the time to get to it, because there are an absurd number of books on my to-read shelf and I ALSO love rereading. I actually remember when this book was coming up, because I kept adding and removing it from my to-read shelf, because the reviews were ALL over the place, and I kept being convinced one way and then another, like a giant tug of war. The winner of that tug of war was Debby. *doffs hat to Debby*
Though I truly delighted in every page of Poison, I can see where it might not be everybody’s cup of cocoa. It’s all going to depend on your expectations and what you’re into. Thankfully, I went in with fairly low expectations and a feeling that the book would be flufftastic. It IS. There is NOTHING wrong with some well done fluff, and I had a big grin on my face the whole way through, so what is better than that?