For the record, I started to read this book three times before I got any further than the first chapter. I was never in the mood for High Fantasy this...more For the record, I started to read this book three times before I got any further than the first chapter. I was never in the mood for High Fantasy this year (until recently) and, as a result, this went unread until this week, when I actually finished it after starting it yet again. This week I received a copy of the sequel, Crown of Midnight, and I thought it was time to delve back into this world… or, at the very least, attempt it again.
Celaena Sardothien is an assassin. She is, in actuality, the most deadly assassin that has ever been known in Erilea. It is for this reason that she is approached by Chaol Westfall, the captain of the guard for the King of Adarlan. The King wants her to represent his son, crown Prince Dorian Havilliard, in a duel to the death against 23 other competitors – all of them trained in the deadliest of arts.
The prize? Her freedom; the most intoxicating of all treasures. Celaena accepts and is thrown, full force, into the fatal game of cat and mouse. When competitors start dying Celaena begins an investigation that unearths ancient secrets and threatens her future.
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. I found it to be a bit clunky, both with characterization and tone. There were times where I felt like I was reading middle grade fantasy. I kept forgetting how old the character was supposed to be. I never would have pegged her for 18 had the book not told me that initially. She seemed far too young.
Celaena begins as a prickly heroine. She is all lash and bite. She is a fighter. Now ensconced in the palace she doesn’t know what to do with herself. The one thing you can count on though is that she will survive. Or, at the very least, take out her opponent while she dies trying. At times I really adored her and other times I felt that she was slipping out of her own character. You want her to be the badass assassin but the scenes where she was going “soft” from palace life were really unflattering. It was like I was reading two completely different people. Perhaps it was the back and forth third person narrative, but it felt like I had a severe case of whiplash by the end of the book. I attribute this to some of the problems with her as well. It felt like I was reading other characters even when it was blatantly her.
There’s a few predictable plot points, most notable the dreaded love triangle between her and a few choice admirers. I think I am officially over said triangles in young adult, unless I am specifically reading romance. I just couldn’t summon up the interest to invest in this one, despite liking all of the players involved. It’s obvious who she will end up with, so this plot line is futile to the reader. I hope I’m not annoyed with it for the entire next book (which is usually when the main character goes ooey-gooey and wishy-washy over the love interests). Like I said, over it. Officially.
There was also a struggle reading the contest. For me these scenes of testing never gelled. I found myself far more interested in the building-up scenes between Celaena and Chaol, more so than the actual tests. There seemed to be less tension instead of more. Or perhaps it’s because I was completely uninterested in this plot point.
So what kept me reading? Oddest thing is, everything I have just described. There’s something compelling in all of this experience that I can’t quite put into words, despite many reservations about this book itself. I’m not sure if it suffers from bad editing or if Maas will improve the more she writes. There was a notable improvement of her writing in this book alone. I felt her growing better as the story went on, more confident, and with far less exclamation points to imply intensity. It makes me curious to read the sequel and see if my thoughts are correct.
So with that, and after all of that, I am off to read Crown of Midnight. Fingers crossed that it will prove a tighter read. As for Throne of Glass – 4 out of 5 stars.
It's been a while since I read a book I have liked this much... a book that makes the rest of the world go away. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows is an upcom...more It's been a while since I read a book I have liked this much... a book that makes the rest of the world go away. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows is an upcoming 2012 debut young adult book from Katherine Tegan books. It's like nothing I have read in some time. And. It's. Fabulous. Every bit of it. Period.
Ana lives in Range where people are reborn over and over again. With each rebirth memories are stored in the consciousness fostering a close knit community within the people. Ana is the first to be born a Newsoul, a person with no former lives and consciousness. Her newness sets her apart even with her mother, Li, who has raised her alone on the fringes of society. The two do not get along. Li is abusive and rough with Ana and Ana does not know enough to distinguish between nurturing and contempt.
When Ana turns 18 she leaves her mother and ventures out into the world hoping to find answers in the city of Heart. On the way she is attacked by Sylphs and rescued by a stranger, Sam. Sam tends to her wounds and treats her as no one ever has before - like a person and not a problem. When Ana was born into the world an old soul named Ciana died. Ana has replaced her, but to what purpose?
Incarnate has it all - a tremendous premise, good pacing, and full blooded characterization. I absolutely loved the world building in this. It's a very hard book to describe because it's a very new concept that Meadows has created. Still, the themes running through the book will undoubtedly resonate with the reader; themes of isolation, identity, and self doubt. Also that of struggling with a person's past, a loved ones baggage. This beautiful story unfolds in undulating narrative waves that threaten to overwhelm the reader with it's beauty. I quickly fell in love while reading this.
Ana is an exceptional heroine. I fell into place with her as the narrator very quickly... and I ridiculously, ardently, stupidly adore Sam. Many of the side characters are just as interesting too but the story between these two is, by far, the most tender. It sounds as if it is all romance and, believe me, there is a large focus on that... but I'm avoiding laying out a ton of spoilers. Suffice it to say this book is glorious.
5 out of 5 glowing stars. I can't wait for the next book.
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God, that cover's pretty. Brodi Ashton's young adult book, Everneath, is a different kind of Mythology story. Instead of focusing on a character this one targets a place - the Underworld or, in this case, the Everneath. This is the place where the Persephone and Orpheus myths run rampant. This is the place where Ashton has woven a new mythos.
Nikki Beckett has recently returned from the Everneath. She has been gone for a century, which in reality only translates to a few months of real time. Her absence has devastated her Father and brother and, worse than anything, her boyfriend Jack... who doesn't know where she has been. Nikki has been part of the feed where her energy has been utilized by the Everliving. The Everliving are Immortals who have figured out the secret to longevity - feeding off of bleak emotions.
Nikki wants to align the shattered pieces of her life but she only has six months to do so. The problem is she is constantly being haunted by the reason that landed her in the Everneath - Cole. Cole has designs on Nikki and part of her knows that there is no way to escape him.
The mythos behind Ashton's debut book is really cool. I quite fancied the idea she came up with to center this story on. It's a really different, really fresh take on the "falling into hell" notion. I had a few minutes where I did not connect with some of the characters personally. However, the story carried me through. I really loved what Ashton did with creating this world. It reminds me slightly of The Matrix. However, it's very YA. And I think it's going to sell a lot of books. I really want to see where the second book goes.
The Gathering Storm is a Young Adult debut novel by Robin Bridges. I tried to read it in 2011, made it 100 pages, and gave up. At the time I chalked u...more The Gathering Storm is a Young Adult debut novel by Robin Bridges. I tried to read it in 2011, made it 100 pages, and gave up. At the time I chalked up my disinterest to mood, that I would like the book at another time. I told myself I would try again when I was more in the proper mood. This year I instituted a personal challenge by which I attempt books that I once gave up on... the ones I thought might be worth it.
Tonight I gave up on this book a second time... and 50 pages away from the ending. It's just not worth it anymore.
Katerina (Katiya) has an unusual ability that she discovered as a child - she can bring the dead back to life. When she enters St. Petersberg society she knows that this ability could cost her reputation and her family's social status. Despite her attempt to hide her powers they are noticed by a few people in her expansive social circle. Most notable are two very different and powerful men, Danilo and George. Both could ruin her if they spread her secret around. Both endanger her potential future. Katiya is ambitious and wants to become a doctor. She wants to cure disease and save lives. Her powers jeopardize everything she wants from life... particularly when both men find different ways to threaten her.
Overall, I liked Katiya. There was something about her that kept me reading. I liked her wit and I liked her spunk. Those were the good parts of this book - Katiya being Katiya. In many different situations Katiya found a way to maintain her own point of view and be herself despite the odds being stacked against her; most notably one memorable time under compulsion.
The bad parts were numerous, but it took me over 300 pages to be able to articulate them. One thing that is really noticeable is how much unnecessary information Bridges floods into the text. This hides the fact that not much is actually occurring in the story. It's dense and dulls what little sense of action there is for the reader. I found myself reading one out of every five pages and wondering where the plot was. I certainly don't feel like I missed much even though I didn't absorb everything. This is a heavily character driven novel filled with one dimensional nobodies. The only character that is halfway fleshed out decently is Katiya. The remaining people just distract the reader from not noticing that there really is nothing happening. It's all smoke and mirrors. The plot, which is described so interestingly on the back of the cover, is all implied. The book could have been told in 100 pages. That's probably, realistically, all the reader needs to go on. That was certainly the case with me.
So what fills the remaining 300 pages? Dances. And parties. And balls. And teas. And people. And people. And more people. It's rather Austen-like in that regard (and I'm so not an Austen fan). Oh, and the occasional poisoning. Or ailment. Or some plot point involving duress so that Katiya can flex her medical know-how. The Court Intrigue in this book was the only thing that really interested me. However, after the initial introduction to the (numerous) characters in the story I promptly forgot who most of them were. So the intricate threads that were being woven were lost on me. I couldn't keep anyone straight. And, in a novel rife with Court Intrigue, you need to keep everyone straight.
And the paranormal/supernatural element that I was so looking forward to? Watered down. And uninteresting after the initial premise was set up. It felt like mesh draping on cardboard, see through and insubstantial. And more smoke and mirrors. I sort of feel tricked by this book. It's so many things I should like and yet so poorly presented. And yet I liked the main character. I just wish that she were in a different book.
It reminds me of Libba Bray's historic books (she now has two series that I wasn't a fan of). They both have the same heavy handedness to the writing. If you are a fan of those books this might be up your alley. If not, veer away! There are so many other books to read.
Once in a while you discover a book that really stands out; a book that excites and restores faith in the book market and in writers' creativity as a...more
Once in a while you discover a book that really stands out; a book that excites and restores faith in the book market and in writers' creativity as a whole... Cinder, a 2012 debut novel by Marissa Meyer, is such a book. I am so excited to write this review for the book... and, be forewarned, I will be gushing at length.
Cinder is a cyborg living on Earth in the future. She was taken in by a man as an orphan while she was living in Europe. The kindly man died soon after of a plague that is spreading throughout the world leaving Cinder at the disposal of Adri, a cruel and calculating woman. Now, years later, Cinder is employed as a mechanic in a shop in the market and reminded constantly of her place. One day the prince, Kai, enters her shop with a request, and a broken android. This event sets into motion a story that is fresh and creative... and familiar all at the same time.
There's a reason that Fairy Tales keep appealing to generations of readers. The themes utilized in these stories are just as meaningful, poignant, and evocative as they were centuries ago; as they will be centuries from now. We continue to be charmed by these stories because they are much of the foundation of what we read today, what writers work around. Meyer has done something very smart in taking this beloved story and setting it in the future... she's subtly implying that these elements of storytelling will live on to captivate future readers. This simple decision of time period and setting underscores this notion beautifully.
I love how jaded and real Meyer's Cinderella is. Cinder is an ideal heroine for young women to be reading in this age of drippy female leads. Cinder is all strength, and quick wit, and spunk, and sardonic mouth, and action. She is the kind of character who gets business done and takes names later. I absolutely adored this character and I loved how Meyer maneuvered her story within the story. Her idea is so inventive she should patent it... future impending war, a Lunar Queen, a plague, political scheming... and a classic myth...awesome. Perfect. I read the entire book with a smile on my face and now my cheeks are aching with delight.
The ball scene... the ball... wow... go Marissa Meyer!
I know there are more planned in this series - I suspect a trilogy, since everything is a trilogy these days. She ended this book on a very pronounced cliffhanger that I am angry at (because I have to wait for the next book). I cannot wait to see what Meyer does with a sequel. She has hinted at other fairy tale characters within this world and I hope she figures out ways to incorporate their tales into this idea. I want to see how these allusions pan out... And gods I hope they leave in the line about the dominatrix queen throwing a tantrum (please don't cut that out! please don't cut that out! please don't cut that out!).
This has shot up to one of my favourite books of 2011. 10 out of 5 stars... I positively, ridiculously love this book!
I first attempted to read Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi in 2011. I had acquired an advanced copy and picked it out of the pile at random. I wasn’t feeling the book then so I put it down, vowing to return to it. It took three years and numerous recommendations but I finally read it to completion… and I loved it. Every word. It’s fantastic.
Aria is from Reverie, an enclosed city in the middle of the Death Shop. The Death Shop is a wasteland where few survive and the aether, a series of lightning storms, is ever-present. Aria’s life has been one of frivolous virtual existences thanks to the Realms and her Smarteye, both devices allowing her to frolic away the time locked in Reverie. In the Realms Aria can experience anything and anything place in the blink of an eye, and one day an experience there causes her exile from Reverie.
Betrayed and dishonoured Aria is banished to the Death Shop because of an outsider named Peregrine (called Perry for short). Perry invaded Reverie and caused great damage to Soren, Consul Hess’s son, as well as a breach in Reverie’s walls. Aria’s involvement with his invasion is the reason for her punishment and she is not happy to see him on the outside. However, if she wants to survive life under the never sky she has to trust the savage outsider.
Under the Never Sky is a riotous debut; a quick-paced joyride. Part adventure novel and part science fiction this book has something for every reader. The plot is tidy and the character interactions rich. It has the right mix of sharp action and complex dynamics.
Aria is a great character; rounded and determined though she is completely out of her depth. Aria has been genetically engineered to have the gift of song but it’s her hidden talents that surprise everyone. Perry is important in his tribe. His brother, Vale, is the Blood Lord of the Tides. Though Vale was first in line, Perry thinks he should be the Blood Lord . Perry is also a Scire, marked by two bands on his arm to set him apart. He can see in the dark of night. He can also smell emotions giving him and advantage over prey and people alike. As the story goes on the two find themselves drawing on their mutual abilities to survive the aether.
I loved this book. It made me happy from the word go. I cannot remember such an original set of characters or circumstances. I loved this world. I loved the characters and the situations. Altogether these things made for an experience that will root itself in my consciousness for some time to come.
Tempest by Julie Cross is poised to set the Young Adult world on fire. To date this debut has already sold rights in several countries, had the film r...more
Tempest by Julie Cross is poised to set the Young Adult world on fire. To date this debut has already sold rights in several countries, had the film rights bought by Summit Entertainment, and has a giant first print run announced. Macmillan is clearly considering this to be their lead YA title for the next season.
I enjoyed the book, but there is a caveat I must attach before this review goes any further - time travel books and I do not get along. No matter what I have tried, no matter how many I read there is always a disconnect I cannot get over, an inability to believe the material presented before me, and a general confusion that clouds my brain during the read. A friend of mine has a similar thing that happens to him with the Transformers movies. His disconnect is this - giant robots can not be physically supported by the mechanics that run their systems. Their servos aren't good enough, or something to that effect. Short story is his brain turns off taking one seriously... unless they use one word to explain the giant robots ability to move.... magic. If it's "magic" that makes the robots move, he's on board. Same thing here, different set of scientific circumstances. My brain has a hard time wrapping itself around the logistics behind such a concept... especially if it is over explained or, in tandem, under clarified. However, if it's "magic" doing the deed, I can wash the concept. Because this is a concept my brain can readily accept in books.
So, all that predication and we come to the core of this review - what did I think of this book? Well, Julie Cross certainly earns points for creativity in constructing her narrative, which is basically a multi-dimensional time travel romance where Jackson Meyer, our intrepid hero, must woo his girlfriend (who he left dying in the first time period) over several new sets of time. Sounds good right? It is, that part of it. But, once again, my brain disconnected and I felt so bogged down with the idea of dimensional travel that I just slogged through a lot of this. I connected so much in the between bits, the sweet and tender moments between Jackson and Holly... I loved that Cross sets up a believable, realistic romance between these two. Holly and Jackson are strong characters - they laugh, they fight, they love, they have sex... they do everything that normal people do (that is missing from a lot of YA novels these days). The fact that they have this relationship pre-established and then Jackson has to rout his way through this again (and again) with Holly, make her love him, get over any guilt he has about being with one vs the other, etc etc... well, it just makes for a damned interesting story that really tugs at the old human condition heart strings.
But, once again, I disconnected... because ultimately I do not follow time travel books well at all. That said, I loved this idea, and Cross's telling of this idea. The execution is solid for fans who do like time travel. But, for me, I was confused, and wanted to not be. And this altered much of my reading of this particular book. 4 out of 5 stars. I can't grade down just because of a disconnect within me. Cross's writing is compelling. She is going to garner a huge fan base with this book.
I broke my streak! I was on a kick for the last month for lighter books, as many of you know. A few days back I picked up Born Wicked, which is a 2012...more I broke my streak! I was on a kick for the last month for lighter books, as many of you know. A few days back I picked up Born Wicked, which is a 2012 debut novel by Jessica Spotswood. I would never call this book light, but it's very enjoyable in a "this is just right!" kind of way. Goldilocks be gone, I got my groove back!
Born Wicked is set just before 1900 in a small New England town called Chatham. There are three sisters in the Cahill family - Cate, Maura, and Tess. All three of them have been gifted with magical abilities passed down from their mother. Since their mother's death some years ago Cate, the eldest, has been keeping an eye on the girls, making sure their magic stays a secret. In the town (and the world in general) there is a religious organization, the Brotherhood, who purges the world of witches. The Brotherhood is an oppressive, patriarchal dominance who maintains a constant presence in Chatham. Cate knows if the Brotherhood catches wind of their powers they will send all three of the sisters to the asylums, or worse.
Born Wicked is a glorious book, lush and provocative. It's the kind of book I love to settle in with. I was in the mood for Southern Gothic and this almost fit the bill... except for that it's set in New England, in another century... so, I guess soft New England Gothic? Possibly? Maybe. Whatever. I enjoyed the atmosphere in this novel very much. There's a very interesting tone composed here that is, of course, reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials. However, the magic preformed within reminds one more of Harry Potter and Hogwarts, I think it's all of the Latin spell casting. The Brotherhood, and Sisterhood for that matter, are both terrifying. They succeed by preaching superstition and fear and serve as the perfect all powerful villains in this narrative.
Plus, there is a very tender love story at the core of this book. I won't tell you anything that would be construed as a spoiler, but I adored the love interest in this. The "first kiss" scene was quite toe curling.
I look very much to the second book in this series... which I have to wait for... for a good long while (I imagine it will be out spring 2013. Whinge!). I can't wait to see how this plays out, particularly after that cliffhanger. Wow. 5 out of 5 stars.
The arrival of Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris took me quite by surprise. It's another manuscript from the fine folks at Balzer + Bray at HarperCollins...more The arrival of Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris took me quite by surprise. It's another manuscript from the fine folks at Balzer + Bray at HarperCollins. There was a note inside that said it defined the word "unputdownable"... I really loathe that word, unputdownable. It's so made up. However, I saw it as a challenge from the editor who sent it and quickly dove in.
It's a very interesting book, though I wouldn't use that profane word for it. Unfortunately it has two of my turn offs in it (which is hardly the author's fault, but every reason I had to lay it down upon impact of said situations). Having both of these things in the same book made it very hard for me to continue.
That said, I finished the book. Because it's a damned interesting story and unlike anything I have read before. And I think a lot of YA aficionados out there are going to gobble it up. It's right up there for the fans of I am Number 4 and other thriller plot lines.
In Unraveling Janelle is the mother figure at her home to her younger brother, Jared. Her father works tirelessly with the FBI and her mother is Bi-polar and should be institutionalized. One day before her Junior year she is hit by a truck and killed, only to be brought back to life by loner boy, Ben Michaels. This begins an investigation into Ben, Janelle herself, and a few murders that are popping up. When Janelle died it was only the surface of the pond. She now must sink through myriad layers of intrigue in order to find out what is going on.
What Norris has written is a genre bending, science fiction, conspiracy theory thriller in an age where everything is paranormal and trite. Her book is unique in that she utilizes a lot of elements together in a way that seems easy and natural. I did enjoy quite a lot of this book, despite my earlier gripe. I know it's going to be the book that will find a permanent home on many readers' bookshelves. It's just not 100% my thing.
4 out of 5 stars. Good writing, and great characters.