In a word? Disappointing. There were so many moments in the story that had such potential. I could feel them looming and building through the pages, ho...moreIn a word? Disappointing. There were so many moments in the story that had such potential. I could feel them looming and building through the pages, hoping for that turn of phrase, that kiss, that second or two of beauty that would make the reading of this book worth my time. But these hopes were dashed, alas, by poor writing. I spent most of my time with this story feeling indifferent to the characters, or nearly so. Every critical moment between Ileni and Sorin was either rushed over or told to us in bare, immovable sentences that fell flat, because there was not a strong foundation of character depth for the words to fall upon. I felt most unconvinced at the author's attempts to drive certain feelings and emotions into my brain. Instead of putting her characters into better situations, where they might breathe and stretch and grow in front of us, the author merely drove the story on with an admirable--and entertaining and readable, too--intent, the result of which was a series of pivotal moments made thin and almost concealed completely in the all-masterful and powerful Plot the author so desperately worships. Or, to be plain, I should perhaps say only this: I wanted a character driven story and a romance that surged in my heart even as the words surged in the page, and instead was given a flat, thin, but albeit readable novel that should be shelved under Fantasy Lite; at only 300 pages or so and with little involving the politics and other intricacies of the world outside the Assassin's Caves, the book barely resembles other novels in the genre.(less)
The Best: 1. The Characters (Stiefvater's tortured bad-boy characters are Excellent [Coal from her Mercy Falls series, Ronan in this series]). 2. The Re...moreThe Best: 1. The Characters (Stiefvater's tortured bad-boy characters are Excellent [Coal from her Mercy Falls series, Ronan in this series]). 2. The Relationships (view spoiler)[(Loved the way Blue fell in with Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah, Blue and her mother/aunts/etc in that big old house, and especially Blue/Adam and Blue/Gansey). (hide spoiler)]
The Okay: 1. The Writing (As far as I know, this is the first of Stiefvater's books that is written in 3rd person, and I'm not sure how successful this rhetorical choice was. Several times, I felt I was in several character's heads at once and it was Annoying). 2. The Plot Drive (view spoiler)[(When one hears that the main character's reason for doing something very dangerous and eccentric, such as hunting for a long-lost king in the "mountains"* of Virginia with his friends, one of whom happens to be a spectral being, is JUST 'CAUSE I WANT TO, one becomes annoyed. Then again, when cet character explains his reason more fully, which happens to involve a My Girl-esque bee attack, one is not as upset. But still not peachy). (hide spoiler)]
The Worst: 1. The Unfulfilled Promise (view spoiler)[(One does not write a beginning like the first chapter/prologue? of The Raven Boys, promising that Blue will fall in love with Gansey OR kill him OR kiss him, which I guess means she will kill him, and then NOT ACTUALLY RESOLVE ANY OF THAT IN THE NEXT 400 PAGES. That was really, really mean and I am very Upset about the killer story hook promising something it couldn't deliver). (hide spoiler)] 2. THE UNFULFILLED EVERYTHING (view spoiler)[(It seems the only plot arc that was resolved in any way was Noah's death and burial. Everything else, the hunt for Glendower, Blue's relationship with Gansey/Adam, was just cut off after 400 pages). (hide spoiler)]
*[I live in Utah where actual mountains live, so I have permission to be annoying about hills being called "mountains" someplace else]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I loved this book. The world that Carson created was beautiful, but the real star of the book is Elisa! It was so refreshing to have a main character...moreI loved this book. The world that Carson created was beautiful, but the real star of the book is Elisa! It was so refreshing to have a main character that was overweight and didn't feel sorry for herself about that fact. She is realistic, religious, caustic, and heroic. I seriously love her!!(less)
This is me, bug-eyed, mind-blown, trying to do this book justice.
Once again, Melina Marchetta creates a tale of f...more!!!!!!!!
People! This book!
This is me, bug-eyed, mind-blown, trying to do this book justice.
Once again, Melina Marchetta creates a tale of fantasy and adventure and romance and hate and absolution and assassins and curses and she weaves a tale so thick with characters, who you love in all their self-loathing glory, that one wonders if Skuldenore isn't a real place that just hasn't been discovered yet.
The greatest strength of Froi of the Exiles lies in the individual, personal stories being told about each set of characters. While Froi and the half-mad Quintana are the focus of the novel, the other characters that we grew to love in Finnikin of the Rock also have their fair share of page-time: Finnikin, Isaboe, Trevanion, Beatriss, Lucian, Tesadora.
However, Froi of the Exiles is not simply a re-hashed Finnikin. The new characters it introduces to us are many and unforgettable: Quintana, Lirah, Arjuro, Gargarin, Phaedra.
When distilled down to its basic essence, the plot of Froi is quite similar to Finnikin: There is a curse upon the land that only these characters can amend. There is a curse upon the land that both unites and divides a people.
There is a curse upon the land and there is one who has been chosen to end it.
If Finnikin was a demonstration of the power of place, Froi is a tale of absolution. The characters in Froi are an extremely tortured and neurotic bunch. They are constantly faced with the grim reality of facing down their grievous past, sometimes giving into despair, sometimes coming to terms with it, sometimes telling it to back the eff off.
Under a less talented author, the split narrative of Froi would frustrate, but here it works. The deeds of both Charynite and Lumateran characters are given a place here, but let's not forget the stars of the show: Froi and Quintana/The Reginita/The Princess.
Watching the story unfold through Froi's eyes is like sending your child off to preschool for the first time and hoping that he doesn't punch someone in the face--(unless they really really deserve it, then it is condoned and appreciated and cheered)--and finding out that everyone else in his class is neurotic in the deepest sense of the word and realizing that this was going to be a lot more complicated--(and, forgive me, entertaining)--than you ever imagined.
In short: Froi of the Exiles is a wholly original and personal fantasy that will have fans begging for the next book in series, Quintana of Charyn, set for a March 2013 release in the US.(less)
The Gathering Storm is a lush, rich and unique young adult paranormal with a memorable heroine!
Amidst Russia's debutante society, we follow Katerina through boarding school, royal parties, and a chilling paranormal plot. Katerina's voice is very unique; she is plucky and astute, immediately equating the galas she attends to meat markets, where royal girls like her are the prize pigs. It is difficult not to like her!
However, once Katerina becomes more involved in the world of necromancy, ghost demons, zombies, and even vampires, the plot almost loses itself in its own complexity. It was definitely difficult to follow the complicated plot along, especially when new players were continually being introduced.
Thankfully, The Gathering Storm was carried along nicely by Katerina's character, as well as other notables like George Alexandrovich, Prince Danilo, and even the evil Montenegran princesses. There were periods of time during this book where the plot was fairly slow, yet I was compelled to read on by the rich writing and Katerina's unique world.
Like all historical fiction, it will take some patience to get used to the world created, the names of every person mentioned, and the plot itself. However, in The Gathering Storm, the effort is definitely worth it!
This is a richly atmospheric start by a talented author that will appeal to fans of Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty series!(less)
Magic. Hope. The endless battle of good versus evil. A star-crossed love. A devastating secret.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an incredible novel. It manages to attack so many classic tropes with ingenuity. Powerful writing (in a 3rd person narrative that is so refreshing) brings its own magic to a story filled with ancient lore, hidden worlds, and creatures that challenge traditional notions of what it means to be human.
Karou is a girl with aquamarine hair whose only known family is a group of grotesque demons who trade human teeth for wishes. She is independent, smart, creative. However, she is missing something.
She is lonely.
Karou's journey to rid herself of acute loneliness is intense and the tension is palpable. In many YA novels, the author's desire to withhold a secret from the reader until a pivotal moment in the story is usually annoying and almost never done correctly.
However, Daughter of Smoke and Bone shows that to a talented author like Taylor, no trope or cliché is off-limits. In many ways, reading this novel is to experience the magic of magic and the thrill of other worlds and the truth of a great protagonist for the first time. In this way, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is not only an advocate of societal equality, strength of character, and inner beauty (among other things), but also of the magic and power of storytelling.
Readers with a critical eye and a low-tolerance for poor or lazy writing will be thrilled to find a smart, atmospheric YA series in Daughter of Smoke and Bone! However, readers who are more interested in a palpable, emotional romance and a thrilling story will also be satisfied with Karou's tale!(less)
When my sister first told me about Vampire Academy, I immediately checked the first book of the series out from the library. After reading about 10 pages, I decided that it wasn't my style, and abandoned it for something else in my towering stack of library books. The next time I picked it up, however, I read past the... interesting start to the novel and didn't stop until I was finished!
I read the entire series in less than a week. That's over 2,700 pages! Yeah, it was that good. Let's just say that I shouldn't have started reading Vampire Academy over the Thanksgiving break from school... I got NO homework done whatsoever!!
Because this is a massive series review, I'm going to break down my thoughts on all 6 books into the pros and cons!
What I Loved:
I loved the following characters: Rose, Dimitri (I heart him), Adrian, Christian, and Sydney. An honorable mention to Jill and Ambrose, as well!
Rose was a great main character. She was a combination of just the right amounts of sass, snark, toughness, loyalty and dedication. I enjoyed watching her kick major butt, suffer through heartbreak, and grow into a fully-realized individual.
Rose and Dimitri.... hello?! One of the best romances I've ever read, and not just in the paranormal genre. I was smitten with them in Vampire Academy (#1) and Frostbite (#2), waiting for the sexual tension to finally amount to something. In Shadowkiss (#3), I got what I wanted, only to be heartbroken. Blood Promise (#4) took me on an incredible journey (probably my favorite book of the series, FYI). And just when we thought it was over, Spirit Bound (#5) completely through me for a loop! Then, the conclusion of their story, Last Sacrifice (#6), was perfect for everyone... well, expect for he-who-must-not-be-named. Not Voldemort, of course, but I don't want to give it away.
What I Didn't Love:
Lissa. I'm sorry, but she was annoying. Until the end of the series, when she finally got some guts, I was cringing during the points where we had to deal with her. I appreciated her friendship with Rose, but I just didn't feel very much depth to her character... and this was a 6 book series.
The other love interests. I know that Rose is a flirt and likes to have her fun, but I didn't appreciate the fact that she continually dragged on relationships with other guys when she was hopelessly in love with Dimitri. Obviously, she thought that her and Dimitri would never, ever, happen, and was just trying to get on with her life. But I think that Richelle Mead could have done a better job at making the other love interests actual competition for Dimitri.
The repetitiveness. Every novel in the Vampire Academy series starts out with a recap of the previous novel's events. If I had a nickel for every time that Mead explained to the reader what the Moroi and Strigoi and Dhampirs were, I would have too many nickels. This was extremely annoying for those reading each book in the series back-to-back, and I had to skip over several pages at a time.
Overall, Vampire Academy is one of my favorite paranormal series of all time! If you haven't read these yet, I seriously urge you to do so. Fans of paranormal romance and vampire stories will love them!!(less)
For fans of Maggie Stiefvater's paranormal trilogy, The Wolves of Mercy Falls, The Scorpio Races offers a new go...moreOriginally Posted at Redhead Heroines!
For fans of Maggie Stiefvater's paranormal trilogy, The Wolves of Mercy Falls, The Scorpio Races offers a new gorgeous setting, enigmatic and unforgettable characters, higher stakes, and a perilous paranormal element.
For those that are not fans of her previous work, or that are simply unfamiliar with her, be prepared for a suspenseful, fantastic, lyrical and romantic thrill ride in The Scorpio Races!
I am a big fan of YA novels that go outside the realm of predictable, cliché, and "regular," especially when those authors tell their stories with lyricism. This is why I am a huge Maggie Stiefvater fan.
The Scorpio Races drew me in immediately with it's dual-narrative, told intermittently by Puck (Kate) and Sean (I almost said Sam--HA). Although I don't think that comparing this stand-alone historical/fantasy venture with Stiefvater's bestselling paranormal series is the best way to review this novel, it seems that most readers who come across this book will be familiar with her other work and will therefore be wondering how this novel compares.
In all honesty, a direct comparison is unfair, because each work is very different in terms of scope, theme, and extraneous elements, such as paranormal shape-shifting vs. fantasy fairy-lore.
However, the modes of operation present in Stiefvater's Shiver trilogy that make the series so wonderful in my eyes are also present in The Scorpio Races. For instance, Stiefvater's lyrical writing is still the delivery system for her ideas and still resonates with readers that are bored with straight-forward prose. Stiefvater's characters are also very well constructed, in that they are not shells of people or caricatures of characters (nice, huh?)
Rather, I can still picture the main characters, and several well-sketched minor characters, clearly in my mind even after reading several novels in between The Scorpio Races and now. With a normal novel, this added fictional database would wipe away less carefully crafted characters, but this is thankfully not the case with Stiefvater's work!
Another main difference between The Scorpio Races and Shiver, Linger, and Forever is that the romance element is not as overtly present. This is not to say that there is not romance, because there is. But, I feel that Stiefvater did a great job of using this plot line to complicate and progress the more important plot: that of the Scorpio Races themselves.
This dissection of the novel may not be the best way to review it, so I will give a few thoughts about the general experience of reading The Scorpio Races as well.
Firstly, this novel is a fantasy, first and foremost, that takes place on an island called Thisby that is plagued by a race of magical creatures called the capaille uisce (copple ishka - or ooshka). These creatures, in short, are incredibly powerful and dangerous flesh-eating water horses that live in the sea. When not surrounded by ocean, these horses are the most powerful and fast of their kind, far surpassing the abilities of regular "ponies" like Puck's mare Dove.
Puck is the nickname of smart and hot-tempered redhead Kate Connelly, who enters the Scorpio Races against all odds in order to overcome a desperate situation. Sean Kendrick is the four-time winner of the Scorpio Races and the only person that is able to somehow speak with, control, and connect with the capaille uisce, like Corr, the blood-red stallion that has helped him win.
At the center of The Scorpio Races is the danger of the races themselves, as the contestants ride these flesh-eating monsters at the base of Thisby's cliffs. The horses at once longing to pull their rider's down into the ocean with them and to rip into the flesh of the humans on their backs, spectators that get too close, other capaille uisce that ride alongside them.
Other plot devices and elements in The Scorpio Races include Puck's struggle in an all-male society, financial and economical hardship, differences in societal classes, connection to animals and animal cruelty, and the duties associated with protecting those you love.
Fire is described as a companion book to Cashore's Graceling. It's a prequel to the first novel in Cashore's Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, which is to be completed with the publication of Bitterblue in September of 2011.
But in reality, Fire is its own force. It does not rely on the popularity of Graceling. It does not rely on the beautiful cover or the premise of the story. Fire is the story of one of the most wonderful protagonists I have ever read about: Fire, the monster-girl, the person who, against the odds, fought persecution and prejudice to find her place in a world where she is the last of her kind. A place where people want to do terrible things to her.
I absolutely love this book. As I wrote about on my writing blog here, this book totally captured me. It inspired to me to do something better with my own writing. This is because Cashore is an extremely talented writer. Her voice is her own and her characters are nearly three dimensional.
The story and plot in Fire was stronger to me than Graceling, but what was extraordinary in both of Cashore's works is her sense of character. The characters are real. They progress throughout the book. They develop into stronger people throughout the story, something that I find missing from a great many Young Adult novels.
Please read this! If you loved Graceling, you will love this more. And if you love romance, you will love Fire.(less)
While Nightshade was a thrilling paranormal book that I couldn't put down for the life of me, there was somethi...moreOriginally posted at Redhead Heroines!
While Nightshade was a thrilling paranormal book that I couldn't put down for the life of me, there was something about the novel that hindered my ability to enjoy it.
For instance, it is no surprise to learn that there is a love triangle in this book, so I don't think that skimming over this is going to spoil the book for those who haven't read it yet! I liked the individual relationships if Calla/Shay and Calla/Ren. However, what I did not enjoy was how easily Calla switched between the two boys without a second thought about being loyal to one or the other. Sure, she feels compelled by different forces, both external and internal, to be with both of these guys, but why doesn't she try to sort out her feelings before she kisses both boys freely, without the other even knowing about it?! That was bothersome.
Other than this one major complaint, I enjoyed the rest of the book immensely! I think that world that Cremer created was new and interesting, as well as the mystery aspect. At first I felt confused, as the reader is simply thrown into the thick of things without an explanation of the world, but I soon grew accustomed to it and thought that it was a great way to get the story moving quickly.
All in all, this is a great paranormal read for fans of Vampire Academy and The Mortal Instruments series!(less)
Creagh's characters are well-crafted and lovable. Well, at least the nice ones are. In fact, I was surprised tha...moreNevermore surprised me. In a good way.
Creagh's characters are well-crafted and lovable. Well, at least the nice ones are. In fact, I was surprised that I liked Isobel so much. Creagh really did a great job at dispelling the nasty, ditsy, backstabbing-biotch reputation that cheerleaders have in media.
I also really like Varen. He was not only dark and mysterious, which is to be expected from most YA lit these days, but intelligent, creative, surprising and troubled.
Another great character was Isobel's new-found friend Gwen. She is completely hilarious and I totally dug her hippy-vibe. Creagh's first few sentences describing Gwen immediately brought an image of Leelee Sobieski as Drew Barrymore's geeky friend in "Never Been Kissed."
And here's one of the biggest things that I think made Nevermore succeed where most other YA lit has failed: Isobel is a good protagonist; the reader is allowed to see Isobel grow, change and react to conflicting ideals and emotions in her life. She confronts the strange, the difficult and the heartbreaking and she changes as a result of it.
This may not seem like a big deal, but believe me--it is. Just drop me an email and I'll send you a few examples of books whose protagonists remain static and cardboard... it's not pretty.
Now that I've got all the wonderful things about this book off my chest, I'd like to mention something that just didn't work for me.
The element of the mysterious and paranormal in Nevermore was an interesting plot. However, when it came down to the climax of the novel and the reader is suddenly presented with a huge, involving and complex plot with this element, I found the pull of it strong enough. I was more worried about the personal element of the relationships, and I just wish that Creagh would have taken more time to develop that side of the story so that I could have flipped through those last pages as I did through the first 400.
Yup. This is a beast of a first novel. But I loved all 543 pages of it and I cannot wait for Nevermore #2 to come out.
Overall Grade: A - Would I read it again? Probably! Would I recommend it to others? Yes!(less)
The Replacement is a wonderfully refreshing and creepy paranormal novel! The main character, Mackie, is mostly a...moreOriginally posted at Redhead Heroines!
The Replacement is a wonderfully refreshing and creepy paranormal novel! The main character, Mackie, is mostly a normal teenage boy: he gets nervous when trying to talk to girls, struggles with whether or not to tell his best friends his darkest secrets, and tries his best to fit in with everyone else.
However, Mackie is anything but normal! He is deathly allergic to iron, blood, and cannot attend church services with his family. When Mackie starts being followed by some really really creepy people, people that seem to know that he is a replacement, he finds that he can no longer ignore the very thing that he and his family have been trying to cover up for his entire life. And as he continues to grow weaker and weaker, these strangers may be the only way for Mackie to avoid an early death.
I loved the characters in The Replacement! Brenna Yovanoff is a very talented writer with an ability to weave lyricism into this paranormal tale, à la Maggie Stiefvater. I loved Mackie and his relationship with his friends, his family, and Tate, of course. I also enjoyed the fact that The Replacement is far from your run of the mill paranormal romance, complete with predictable endings and falsely sappy romances, because there are some points during this read that I was creeped out and scared and I still wanted to keep reading.
I did find that Mackie's interactions with the House of Mayhem and its residents to be a bit stilted at times, where Mackie's behavior and questions were more to serve the plot than to continue on with his personal journey. But other than that, I will definitely be recommending this book to the morbid of heart, to those that don't mind a little bit of creepiness in their day, and those that want to read a lyrical young adult novel that's simply not like the rest!(less)
I'm not sure what to say about this book. I heard such a hype about it from fellow bloggers and friends on Goodreads, but I'm not sure I really grasp the appeal of it.
Something that sets The Iron King apart from other young adult fantasy books I've read recently is that it is largely an adventure tale. The romantic story-line in the book is far less prominent than the story of Meghan's quest. I found this to be equal parts refreshing and frustrating, because at many points in the narrative, the plot of the story was not strong enough in itself to keep me hanging on. I often became bored during the long gaps between personal interactions.
However, despite the somewhat lagging pace, I enjoyed the book and felt that Kagawa created a well-organized lush world that is easy to fall in love with. Having said that, there are several points in the narrative where Kagawa fails. For example, in the area of Meghan's character, I did like her, but I found her a bit cookie-cutter and bland at times. However, she does seem to grow with the story, which is definitely a plus!
Then there was a series of action scenes where I almost lost it. I think in the space of 5 pages Kagawa uses the verb "snarled" about 7 times. Instead of characters screaming or exclaiming something, they "snarled" it. This overuse of a memorable word was amateur and annoying.
At the end of The Iron King, the story is wrapped up nicely, but also ends on another note that makes you want to continue the story in the next novel. I will definitely pick up the next book, The Iron Daughter, because Kagawa's world and characters were enough to carry me through the weak points in the novel.
Overall Grade: B + Would I read it again? Sure. Would I recommend it to others? Yes! (less)
I had a hard time putting this book down to go to work, go to bed, pick up the phone... It was addicting from the get go and I loved being back in Sophie's head. She is funny, brave, and real.
The development of characters like Cal, Archer and Sophie's father in the novel were paramount to the book's success. However, while I loved these developments (especially Cal!) I feel like Sophie's friendship with Jenna was neglected a bit. But that's okay, because Jenna's also growing in her own way in the story, so it worked out alright in the end.
The paranormal elements in Demonglass did not disappoint. However, these too, were put on the back burner a bit in favor of Sophie's relationships with others. I'm not saying it was a terrible move on Hawkins' part, because I think it worked really well and helped Sophie become a strong protagonist, but I think that some readers will be saddened by the lack of the more magical elements in the novel.
All in all, the Hex Hall series is quickly becoming one of my favorites! I can't wait to finish up the series next year with the publication of the unnamed Hex Hall #3... especially since Ms. Hawkins left us on a terrible cliffhanger!(less)