I actually enjoyed this short story more than I enjoyed the novel Cinder (to which this short story is a prequel). I understood the cyborg qualities oI actually enjoyed this short story more than I enjoyed the novel Cinder (to which this short story is a prequel). I understood the cyborg qualities of Cinder, the background of her family situation, and Cinder herself better in this short story. I would recommend that people give this short story a read before they delve into Cinder because you'll only be that much more prepared for what the novel offers if you do....more
What makes a five-star read? For some people, a five-star book might mean "near-perfection" in storytelling, characterization, plot, prose, pacing, thWhat makes a five-star read? For some people, a five-star book might mean "near-perfection" in storytelling, characterization, plot, prose, pacing, theme, and enjoyment. For me, however, a five-star read usually must have all of the following: a certain degree of uniqueness to the story's execution, great characters whom I come to love, a high level of enjoyability, and (most important of all) a story that grips me from beginning to end. If a book can grant me all of those things, then said book and I will undoubtedly have a wonderful reading courtship.
Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel was one such book.
Just a few hours ago, I honestly didn't expect Dust Girl to garner a five-star rating from me. My misgivings were many since fairy-centric books have become a bit of a tired trend in the past few years. How many times can we read about secret fey heritages, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts warring as only light and darkness can, and creatures of fairy tales and legends who are often just as horrific and monstrous as magical and mysterious? Added into the mix were an "American Fairies" spin and a setting of 1930's Kansas, two things that could have been downfalls if not executed properly. In a lesser writer's hands, Dust Girl might have been a disaster, a book full of good ideas that never met their full potential...but Sarah Zettel is definitely not a "lesser writer" since her book soared and broke through the barrier of my expectations.
In dust-ridden Slow Run, Kansas, day-to-day life is a struggle for Callie LeRoux. The dusty air clogs up her lungs and makes breathing nearly impossible at times; her "mad" mother refuses to leave the dying town all because of a long-ago promise that seems unlikely to be fulfilled; and her lack of a father is a detriment as well as a mark of scorn and judgment in society. As more and more people leave Slow Run, desperation clings to Callie. Will both she and her mother die in this abandoned town? But the dust is stirring with a changing wind to come...
Almost all the qualms I held about Dust Girl were thrown away as soon as I began reading. Callie's voice is sympathetic and realistic, tugging at the right heartstrings and making you care about this girl whose struggles are burdens upon her shoulders. The feel of the setting and time period is believable and vibrant as if Zettel had used a time machine to go back in time and take notes on just the right things to make her story's world grounded but not overbearing. Even before I reached the author's note at the end, I knew that a lot of time, care, and research had gone into making the historical aspects to this tale as true and honest as possible.
That's actually what I appreciated most about this story: its truth and honesty. Even with creatures and magic and otherworldliness present in the plot, the story is very grounded in portraying humanity and the struggles many people face while living in "normalcy." Though there are shades of optimism and idealism to the story, many of the characters have faced very real hardships such as poverty, abuse, hunger, ridicule, and judgment. I think it's a trend of our modern materialistic society that many historical fiction novels tend to follow middle- or upper-class people while forgetting or downplaying the great majority who often struggled to survive.
As for the fairies in this story, they are very much a presence (and even a threat) in this first installment, but I think this novel has only just grazed the surface of Zettel's American fairy mythology. Already the mythology feels familiar yet unique, with both light and dark factions of fairies as well as animal-spirit guides and creatures hiding in human skins. I definitely look forward to how the mythology will expand over the series and what the revelations will mean for Callie and her continuing adventures.
Though I know that I may end up being in the minority with my love for this book, I really hope that readers will give Dust Girl a try since it is so much more than a historical fiction novel or another spin on fairy lore. It's a journey, an account of a girl trying to survive and managing against all odds to bear the rough winds that life sends her way, and to me that's definitely the kind of story worth reading.
Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley....more
"Fireflies" is the kind of short story that reminds me how certain dystopian works, no matter their length, really can resonate and make you ponder th"Fireflies" is the kind of short story that reminds me how certain dystopian works, no matter their length, really can resonate and make you ponder the present world around you. Could Kate's world exist? The possibility is there, and that's the frightening part that should always been present at the back of your mind whenever you read a dystopian tale.
Read it, contemplate, and hope that your own future will never reach such a point....more
Angels. The world seems to be obsessed with them, given all the art and fiction we devote to their names. Some people see angels as their muses, creatAngels. The world seems to be obsessed with them, given all the art and fiction we devote to their names. Some people see angels as their muses, creatures to worship, guardians who protect the meek and oppressed, or even just avenging warriors who wage a great war of good and evil which we humans cannot see. But what is truth when it comes to these creatures? Is there any truth in the jumble of tales that surround them?
A Flight of Angels begins with a seemingly ominous occurrence: an angel suddenly falls from the sky and lands within a forest. Nearby fey creatures, curious yet wary, gather around the fallen, unconscious form and talk amongst themselves to decide what to do with this creature who may prove to be a threat once he awakens. The only things they know of angels come from mortal rumors and tales, so each creature shares their knowledge through stories in the hope that one might help to shed light on who this angel is and why he fell. But, as is true with any story, truth and lie are intermixed...so much so that it is often difficult to tell which is which.
The five stories, written by creative minds like Holly Black (author of The Modern Faerie Tales series) and Bill Willingham (creator/writer of Fables), shed different lights upon many aspects of angelic and Biblical mythos: the story of Adam and Eve, angel duties within the framework of the human world, the angel of death, guardian angels, and even the fall of Lucifer. All of the stories are intriguing and fascinating in their own ways, but not all of them bear the same level of "narrative punch." The revisioning of Adam and Eve's story, called "Original Sin," is one of the stronger tales of the bunch, though the ending tale, called "Shining Host," also bears quite an impact that leads to the outside story's startling, yet oddly fitting, climax.
Rebecca Guay's art for the entire graphic novel is very beautiful with a unique art style for each of the five stories. However, there are instances where the fluid art is disrupted by things such as facial photo manipulations that never quite seem to fit. Such instances seemed so odd and unnecessary to me, especially given that Guay's realistic style of art seemed fine enough on its own without such obvious measures. Other than that little nit-pick of mine, I really enjoyed the art and found myself drawn into each story less because of the narrative or prose (though there were some very nice instances of pretty words and thoughts) and more because of the art's allure.
For anyone who enjoys stories about angels or even just interesting takes on lore and myths, I would definitely recommend A Flight of Angels since it holds a lot of imagination within its one hundred and twenty pages. Don't let the graphic novel format turn you away because you might just miss out on something special, meaningful, and even a little bit sorrowful....more
Fantasy is my favorite genre, but oftentimes I find that fantasy tales are often too simplistic or too pretentious for my liking.Fantasy authors haveFantasy is my favorite genre, but oftentimes I find that fantasy tales are often too simplistic or too pretentious for my liking. Fantasy authors have the burdensome task of creating worlds and cultures that feel real and somewhat familiar but nonetheless offer a sense of danger, wonder, and excitement that few of us experience in our day-to-day lives. In the end, many fantasy novels don't sustain that balance of normalcy and humanity interwoven with the threads of fantasy...but Seraphina remarkably did.
Seraphina is a tale of dragons and intrigues, music and emotions, humanity and prejudices. Forty years prior, the age of knights battling dragons ended with a peace treaty between the queen of Goredd and the king of dragons. Now, dragons shift into human skins and live among humans...but the animosity between the two kinds is far from forgotten. Seraphina Dombegh copes with this world and keeps to her music even as she tries her best not to be noticed, for the dragons aren't the only ones with secrets to keep...
In the vein of novels from Gail Carson Levine, Megan Whalen Turner, and Tamora Pierce, the kind of fantasy represented here sings of both our world and another world quite different from our own. Religion here acts as either a comfort or simply tradition to the people who receive patron saints at their christening ceremonies; analytical minds respect studies and knowledge but have much to learn as far as the study of the heart goes; and bigotry leaks into actions due to lack of understanding and an overabundance of fear. Goredd is a well-realized fantasy world comprised of many flaws from our own societies yet many of the same fascinations as well; it's not hard to fall into the imagining that perhaps this place exists in another space and time.
Strong and believable world-building aside, the novel's finest strength lies in its namesake heroine, who ties the themes and emotions running throughout the novel all together within her own existence and journey. Seraphina is by no means perfect or "too good for her own good": she has flaws and makes (sometimes mortifying) mistakes. But she isn't the kind of character who remains stagnant or oblivious to her own shortcomings. Rather, she learns from them and grows because of her experiences. If anything, more heroines should be like Seraphina, whose growth over the course of the novel is anything but superficial.
Last but not least, the story is honestly enjoyable. It's not the kind of fantasy where you feel like a mere observer but rather an unseen companion to all the goings-on within Goredd. There are moments ripe for smiles and laughs, for surprise and gasps, for melancholy expressions and contemplation...and all of it is done in a straightforward yet thoughtful narrative that can't help but play with your heartstrings. Seraphina was all that for me and more, and I hope other readers will find treasures of thought within its pages just as I did.
I must offer fair warning, however: the ending is bittersweet in its own way...but mostly for the fact that, with Seraphina's release date of spring 2012, the wait for the sequel will be long indeed.
Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley....more
Angelfall. It's pretty amazing how one self-published novel could spread like wildfire through the Goodreads community in only a matter of days...andAngelfall. It's pretty amazing how one self-published novel could spread like wildfire through the Goodreads community in only a matter of days...and for the right reasons and not excuses for snark-ridden reviews. There's been a lot of gushing about this book (and some thoughtful criticism as well), so I can't say I'll add anything new to the conversation or word of mouth about this book. But I promised a review, so here it is.
To be honest, reading Angelfall left me in a daze, and I rated it in my dazed state, ready to join the gushing factions and say, "Yes, yes, yes, you need to read it NOW! DO IT NOW, I SAY, OR I'LL SEND THE ANGELS AFTER YOU!" Five stars seemed so appropriate a rating since (a) I really, really enjoyed it and (b) it handled the premise of ambiguous angels in an apocalyptic setting so very, very well. But I didn't rush to write an uber-positive review as I normally do with five-star reads. I let it sit and mulled over my thoughts.
There's no doubt in my mind that Angelfall is very readable and enjoyable, and with it comes a great commercial appeal akin to what made novels like The Hunger Games and even Twilight so popular with legions of YA readers. Angelfall takes something we think we know -- the concept of angels -- and adds new layers and dimensions to them for fictional purposes. I mean, has anyone recently had the guts to write agnostic angels in fiction? Or non-fallen angels not wholly intent on following divine will and purpose? It's mind-boggling simply because no YA author has yet tackled such ideas. Susan Ee has bragging rights for this and may she sue the hell out of any author, self-published or traditionally published, who tries to jump on the bandwagon by "borrowing" her ideas, so of course we YA readers are a little awed by it all.
But. But, at the end of the day, Angelfall is a novel full of so much potential that isn't always wielded to best effect. I'm not saying this novel would have fared better through traditional means (on the contrary, I think it would have gone through edits and rewrites that would have left it without much of the charm and ingenuity it contains in self-published format), but I think that Ee has yet to expand her novel's world and characters to all their potential. This isn't a criticism so much as this thought: "Since she started her story this well, I hope she will keep improving with each novel she writes." There are some authors whom I can be assured of such a thing, but Ee is still new to me and I'm distrustful by nature. I can only hope that the Penryn & the End of Days series will be one that continues to soar and does not eventually crash into the pit of "good series gone bad." Luckily, Angelfall leaves me with enough optimism to say that my pessimistic imagining will likely not occur.
All I can say as I end this review is that I recommend Angelfall for all the things it does well and that I am ecstatically looking forward to owning my own paperback copy of the novel sometime soon. I'll be crossing my fingers and hoping that the majority of you will enjoy it....more
Imagine a world where humans are near extinction, mutant bat creatures stalk the skies like birds of prey, and centaurs rule as nobility within theirImagine a world where humans are near extinction, mutant bat creatures stalk the skies like birds of prey, and centaurs rule as nobility within their own mountain fortress. That sounds like such a great fictional world, doesn't it? Wouldn't you want to read about such a strange yet dangerous place?
Well, I definitely did -- but once I started reading Daughter of the Centaurs my enthusiasm quickly dimmed to lukewarm feelings and then, finally, to a sense of disillusionment and confusion.
The author, Kate Klimo, tried to capture the charm and adventure that are to be found in novels by fantasy authors such as Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones, Gail Carson Levine, and Shannon Hale -- but even with an original idea the novel fell flat in many areas.
One of the hard sells of the novel is that this book is not meant to be straight fantasy...but rather dystopian in the sense that this world ruled by centaurs and other creatures is meant to take place really, really far into the future (yes, OUR world's future). While that's an interesting idea in and of itself, my curious mind wants to know how. Klimo never explains the origins of her world and how these sentient creatures came to be. Are they the result of evolution? Genetic abnormalities? Magic gone wild? The questions always loomed in the back of my mind as I was reading, yet never once did I get an answer, satisfactory or not.
Another sticking point to me was that the centaurs...well, to put it bluntly, they were lame. Though I could understand more civilized centaurs (as opposed to my more traditional view of tribal, warrior-like creatures), I still expected them to be majestic in some ways. Instead, they are shallow and irksome beings who are served by cat-like servants called Twani (who actually reminded me of the house-elves from Harry Potter), and there is little depth to be found in the centaur characters (many of whom are nobles). Then, when we actually do meet a more traditional (and, might I add, much more likable) centaur, the novel is almost three-fourths done! Injustice, I say!
The society of the centaurs was...frivolous at best and cartoonish at worst. Though I was expecting some intrigues possibly a la Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief series, there was none of that to be found here. Instead, we are treated to some vague signs of tension between the Highlanders (the noble centaurs) and the Flatlanders (the common centaurs), but it never builds to anything especially exciting or noteworthy.
The one semi-good point of the novel was the heroine, Malora, who reminded me of a mixture of Katniss from Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games and Daine from Tamora Pierce's The Immortals quartet -- but some of the likenesses to those heroines were often only skin-deep, making Malora seem more a caricature of the "wilderness girl" and less of a real character.
The writing itself had its good and bad moments. Pacing and exposition were not always consistent; those flaws make the story a bit of a rocky reading experience instead of a smooth one. Sometimes the novel also had an identity crisis in that it never quite seemed certain whether it was meant to be aimed towards middle-grade readers or young adults, and that could prove to be a problem for this novel to reach the audience that may be most receptive to it.
Though having the benefits of a fresh idea and an intriguing set-up, Daughter of the Centaurs honestly was a disappointment to me, but other readers may feel differently and find charm where I found annoyance. If you're interested, then by all means give it a try. Perhaps it will be a fresh yet nostalgic kind of fantasy story for your reading pleasure.
Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley....more
Not many books can turn me into a puddle of mush after only 40,000 words -- but this one(Actual Rating: 3.5 stars)
First thought post-reading:Awwwwww.
Not many books can turn me into a puddle of mush after only 40,000 words -- but this one managed it. So Over You is just one of those books that managed to dig its claws into my sensitive side and wring the smiles and sighs from me again and again.
High school senior Layney Logan is not happy. Her beloved newspaper, the Follower, has been moved to online-only format after budget cuts at her school downgraded the school newspaper to a journalism club. She shares editor duty with Jimmy Foster, a boy she loves to hate and whom she calls Satan or Lucifer on a regular basis. Then, to make matters worse, her latest assignment is to date twelve boys in six weeks, all for the sake of a fundraiser calendar for the newspaper's budget. What's a girl to do?
The best thing I can say about So Over You is that it's fun. The banter between Layney and Jimmy is really giggle-worthy at times, and they definitely do have a chemistry between them even though they glare at each other much more than they stare longingly at one another. The dates Layney shares with the twelve "calendar boys" are also fun -- even though a part of me thought there was a bit lost potential with the date portions of the book.
The worst thing I can say, however, is that this book doesn't manage to be deep enough. However much the last arc of the story tried to prove that the story really did have deep roots and messages, this book mostly acts like a fun romp about two high school kids who pretend not to like each other but really can't keep their hands off each other once they start going. Thus, when the final arc of the story comes into play, it's a bit jarring -- so much so that you want to stop and go reread all the thousands of words beforehand just so that you can read the story with a new eye for the information you were just given. Yes, it fit in the story, but with it went my dream that this book would be adapted into a rom-com (or, even better, a Japanese shoujo manga)! Joking aside, the story could have used a bit more flesh to its bones to truly make it a noteworthy "you need to read it"-type book.
As it is, So Over You was a nice detour from my usual reads, and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a break from heavier books with wordier prose and harsher realities. It's nice to have a vacation once in a while even with reading habits, right?...more
Wildefire by Karsten Knight is a strange beast of a novel. Nearly 400 pages, it's a bit of an intimidating novel – especiall(Actual Rating: 3.5 stars)
Wildefire by Karsten Knight is a strange beast of a novel. Nearly 400 pages, it's a bit of an intimidating novel – especially if you had been reading many iffy opinions about it as I had. Too much senseless violence. Unsympathetic heroine. Creepy love interest. So many one-star reviews had been coming into my Goodreads feed that, after a while, I had simply deleted the book from my shelves despite my having had the book listed to-read since August 2010.
But something happened a few days ago. I had one of those panic-stricken moments when I wanted to read a book but nothing was sticking with me. Then my eyes turned to my neglected e-galley of Wildefire that I had yet to delete off my e-reader. Curiosity, however morbid, eventually won out – and I started reading.
I'm not going to deny it: all of those negative elements listed above are present and accounted for in this novel. But you know what? Strangely, by book's end, all of those things somehow make sense in the scheme of this story (and that's a lot more than I can usually say for paranormal YA).
Wildefire is a mad mix of X-Men and Neil Gaiman's American Gods. The story revolves around gods and goddesses, all from different cultures (meaning that there's not just a focus on Greek myth deities or Norse myth deities, but a mixture – very fun), being reincarnated into mortal forms over and over again. But for what purpose are they being reincarnated? And why are five of them suddenly being drawn together in a school in the middle of nowhere? There are answers, but they definitely don't come easily. . .
I'll be honest: knowing that the heroine and her sister were reincarnated goddesses, I didn't have as much trouble swallowing the initial violence as I thought I would. Sure, the reasons for it – Ashline basically “taking revenge” on the girl who “stole” Ash's boyfriend – are rather irksome (especially since it would have been more ironic and even a bit funny if Ash had been wailing on the boy with her fists instead), but I get why Knight chose to write it that way. How many times in Greek mythology did Hera go all “hell hath no fury against a woman scorned” on the mortal women who had caught Zeus's eye? In all those cases, Hera should have been taking her anger and divine retribution out on Zeus, her husband, but did she? Uh, no. She went after the women. ALL. THE. TIME.
Anyway. . .the violence didn't bug me because I knew beforehand that I was dealing with goddesses who didn't have mortal-sized tempers. However, I can't say that any of the violence helped to warm me to Ashline as a heroine. Yes, she has a sister, Eve, who is somehow even more likely to embrace her psychotic side than Ash is – but is that in and of itself enough to make me sympathize with a girl who beat up another teenage girl just for sucking face with a boy the heroine didn't even care much about in the first place? Not really.
One of the flaws that never quite resolves itself is that Ashline doesn't become a sympathetic heroine in this first installment. Personally, I came to look at her as the means through which this potentially awesome and epic story of gods and goddesses warring against each other could take place. The story just as easily could have been told from another viewpoint (fellow deity Raja or Ade in particular might have been intriguing) and I would have been satisfied just the same. Is that a flaw that I might have enjoyed the story even more from a different viewpoint? I don't know.
Characterization as a whole is a bit of an issue in this book. Though all the god characters have their own specific backgrounds and stories, we never truly get a feel for them. It doesn't help that Knight's particularly snarky style of dialogue somehow leaks into all of the characters. Not every person has a witty or snarky one-liner for everything! The similar voices made it a bit difficult to latch onto any of the characters, so I was a bit disappointed that I did not come away loving any of them.
The more I read of this novel, the more I had to wonder: why wasn't this written for the adult urban fantasy market? I easily could have seen the characters aged a few years and living in a large city – and the story would have fit well in UF since I'm sure it would have had a smoother reception than it has had/will likely have in the YA market. The high-school age characters were already acting like adults, so why not just move them up a few years and be out on their own when the 'god calling' strikes? There could have been potentially even more awesomeness and epicness down the route of UF.
However, whatever the flaws of this novel, I must say this: this book should be required reading for anyone who intends to write a mythology-influenced novel. This is how gods and goddesses should be written. A book about deities with supernatural powers to shift the earth or cause storms or what have you needs to take advantage of the “epicness” that walks hand in hand with mythology. Why do you think the myths were first created? Just to tell a story about some truth or explain away some aspect of nature? Yes, there was that component – but the ancients were also trying to entertain themselves with these stories. (That should be obvious enough with the number of “funny” myths to be found – such as the Norse myth where the thunder god Thor dresses up as the beautiful goddess Freya at the trickster god Loki's insistence.) And, undoubtedly, Wildefire entertains (and offers quite a few plot twists and turns along the way to keep you guessing).
For me, the good outweighed the bad with Wildefire, but I know that it won't be everyone's cup of tea. However, I will say that anyone who's even a little bit intrigued should read the first few pages and see if it works for you. You may just end up reading the whole thing and enjoying it just as I did....more
Stories often begin with 'Once upon a time,' or 'Once there was--' charming lines that imply a fairy tale. Our story starts with wolves in the woods,Stories often begin with 'Once upon a time,' or 'Once there was--' charming lines that imply a fairy tale. Our story starts with wolves in the woods, and--by degrees--gets worse.
This tale, as you can imagine, is not the charming sort.
I beg to differ about the "not the charming sort" wording: rather, Once Upon a Hallow's Eve: A Halloween Fairy Tale is very charming....more
My first thoughts after finishing Ward Against Death:Oh my goodness, I loved this book so much, but now I have to wait a wh(Actual Rating: 4.5 stars)
My first thoughts after finishing Ward Against Death:Oh my goodness, I loved this book so much, but now I have to wait a while for the sequel to meet these characters again. Darn it, I read this too fast!
Ward Against Death, debut novel from Melanie Card, is the kind of book that should make a first-time novelist proud. Great main characters, awesome world-building, gripping plot, suspense, action, humor. . .whatever could go wrong here? All of those elements, when mixed well in just the right doses, hold so much potential to make a story great. . .and Ward Against Death was pretty darn great in my eyes.
The cover isn't the best representative of this book. If I were to have passed this book in a bookstore, I would likely have turned my nose up at it because it looks like a paranormal romance trying to appeal to the YA crowd by having two younger people on the cover. . .but this book isn't paranormal or even romance -- at least not in the traditional or expected ways. No, this book. . .this book is wonderful, honest-to-goodness fantasy in a realm all its own.
The story centers on Edward de'Ath, a.k.a. Ward, a bumbling twenty-year old necromancer with questionable powers. Don't let his scholarly appearance and naïveté fool you, though: he's actually been on the wrong side of the law quite a few times, to the point that he was even kicked out of the Physician's Academy. Though his main goal is to become a surgeon (an illegal profession in his world), he works a side-job of waking the dead for temporary periods -- and one such job is how he meets Celia, a nobleman's beautiful but dead daughter who claims she is in danger and must get out of her father's house. What's a poor necromancer to do?
Honestly, I loved Ward because of his struggles as a character. When we meet him in the story, he's such an unsure hero, a strange mixture of Ichabod Crane and Edmond Dantes blended with the characteristics of a scholar, a necromancer, and a physician. (Yes, he's that fun of a character. And he knows his stuff too!) Personally, I've always liked reading about characters who slowly grow into themselves and realize their potential and strength over a period of time. That kind of slow and steady growth makes their adventures and journeys so much more fulfilling. From this first novel, I can definitely say that Ward's adventures and journeys will be very fulfilling as he continues to grow and become as a character.
On the flip side, Celia was. . .well, to put it bluntly, badass. Expect her to be a damsel in distress? Expect her to be a whiner as she waits around for Ward to do all the work? Hah! No, believe me, she is definitely more akin to Buffy than Bella Swan! And what a relief that was to me! Prior to reading the novel, I fully expected to dislike Celia (since the blurb for the book doesn't really paint her in the best light), but she too grows throughout the novel. Yes, she has her flaws, but she doesn't stay stagnant and stubborn as many flawed characters often do.
The best thing I can say about these two as they grow into being a pair is that they bring out better in each other. Ward's strength solidifies after a bit of time under Celia's influence -- and Celia's cold hard-edged personality begins to soften and chip away into a different kind of power that shows care and compassion for another human being. The "romance" between them is much more a companionship born out of necessity, though chemistry and attraction weasel their ways into Ward and Celia's interactions. The back and forth banter between the two offers some of the best moments in the book -- so, yes, there is substance in this potential relationship.
This story's world in and of itself is a surprisingly rich and potentially fascinating creation. The world-building sometimes even showed a certain Tamora Pierce-esque flair due to the inclusion of a creator Goddess, a branched magic system, intrigues between humans and magic users, and even a certain level of prejudice coming from various areas (examples: nobles looking down on commoners, magic users looking down on necromancers, physicians looking down on surgeons, etc.). The various social norms for this world were even more on display since the hero and heroine themselves are rather "quirky" in their roles and their ideas of who they truly want to be. This world has so much potential, so I really hope that in future installments Card will really delve even more so into showing off her creation in all its shades and ambiguities.
As a storyteller, Card still has areas to hammer out in regards to her narrative -- repetitions in phrasing, drawn-out character ignorance, sudden solutions and lightbulb moments that teeter on the edge of deus ex machina -- but she presents such a very good package with this novel that it's so easy to overlook the flaws. The ending in and of itself felt a bit rushed (thus the reason why my five-star reading experience was knocked down to an official rating of four stars); I wish the last two chapters could have been expanded a bit for exposition's sake. What started out as a strong book ended not with the bang I had been expecting but rather a whisper. However, the story is a solid one that keeps you engrossed and intrigued, if only because of the characters and the questions of what their fates will be.
Needless to say, I am eagerly anticipating any and all sequels, so keep them coming, Ms. Card. I will be reading.
Now the question is, dear Goodreader, will you come along for at least the ride to be offered in this first installment, Ward Against Death? I very much hope you will consider it.
Note: I received an advanced copy from the publisher through NetGalley....more
Definitely not my usual reading material. Deceiving though the length and cover are, that title blares it all out loud and clear: this ain't a childreDefinitely not my usual reading material. Deceiving though the length and cover are, that title blares it all out loud and clear: this ain't a children's book.
I'm not a parent (and don't plan to be one), but I'm sure a lot of parents will be nodding along with this book if they read it. It really strikes a chord since a lot of kids just don't wanna go to sleep.
I was one of those bad kidlets who kept her mommy up at night by making up all kinds of excuses for why I couldn't go to sleep. (Kinda makes sense now since insomnia has a tendency to trail me at odd intervals.) This book brought back some of those memories -- of times when I snuck out of bed and stayed up late into the night to do God knows what (meaning none of it must have been important since I don't remember any of it). Shame that I didn't use all those spare hours to become a prodigy or something. I guess I was a procrastinator even back then. Who knows why I wanted to stay up; I would imagine it was for the forbidden quality to it. Hahaha, I'm not supposed to be doing this, but I'm getting away with it!-type of thing. It eventually got worse, to the point that bedtime became a word I heard only from other kids' mouths. Yes, I was a spoiled brat. I look back and loathe my kid self. I drove my mom insane, and I regret that. I wish I could have been the sleeping little angel, but instead I was the sleepless devil child. Ah, the follies of childhood.
Nostalgia aside, this is definitely a book that will get a few laughs out of any adult. It's snarky and honest -- so, parents, be merry while your kids are sneaking out of bed to get nighttime snacks or play with their Barbies/Legos/what have you. Look to this book and be reminded: at least you're not the only parent who has to deal with sleepless devil children....more
Sugar Moon by Sarah Diemer is one of those books that had every potential for me to fall in love with it. Magic! Witches! Magic markets! SupernaturalSugar Moon by Sarah Diemer is one of those books that had every potential for me to fall in love with it. Magic! Witches! Magic markets! Supernatural creatures! Good and evil! As it is, this novella was really rather wonderful -- but I couldn't help the feeling that it was an idea that could have used with some more flesh and exposition.
The story follows a Maja (a witch who believes in a Goddess whose only command is to love) named Elise who lives a lonely life, traveling in her bandyloo (akin to a gypsy caravan) and bringing magic to other people's lives even as her own life seems devoid of it. The Moon Market, a gathering held among the Maja, is one of her only opportunities to socialize, and her brother Tom urges her to find a companion, as it is unnatural for any grown Maja to be alone.
But Elise has more concerns than just finding love, as sightings of the Fevered -- mysterious creatures who lurk almost as shadows blotting out the landscape -- remind her of the terrible past she thought had been laid to rest.
I'll be the first to admit that Sugar Moon offered me a very fascinating world, but the story didn't seem to rely on its unique elements -- the Moon Market, the various social groups/divisions within this world, even the true danger of the Fevered -- as much as it could have. Instead, the story is very much an internal account, the narrative drawn tightly around Elise and her own experiences.
The story in this first installment focuses on Elise meeting her love interest, Via, and then being sent on a journey to help banish the Fevered once and for all. However much I enjoyed the world within this novel, I can't say I enjoyed the romance -- one that's built on a mystic bond rather than companionship over a period of time -- as much as I should have. Though the nature of such a relationship fit into the world of this story, I'm not romantic enough to say I can ever back "insta-love" (made famous by many YA paranormal books), which to me never seems as true as love built from time and experience. Of course, other readers will likely find charm in such a pair twined together by fate, so take this reviewer's gripe with a grain of salt.
As always, Sarah Diemer's writing is just lovely. Though her stories thrive on characters rather than plot, she has such a way of weaving words that the reading experience is wonderful even without action-centric moments or plot twists and revelations within the narrative. It's easy to imagine your way into this world Diemer has crafted, and that in and of itself is a hard feat for any writer to manage.
However much I wished it would have been longer and deeper, Sugar Moon is a very solid fantasy novella built on whimsical moments, pretty prose, and vibrant emotions. Here's hoping that the sequel, Marrow Moon, will be just as engaging while also fleshing out even more of this magical world....more