Song of the Sparrow is based on Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott, an Arthurian poem about Elaine of Ascolat. I've nevOriginally posted here.
Song of the Sparrow is based on Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott, an Arthurian poem about Elaine of Ascolat. I've never read a novel in verse before and I thought it would be a good idea to start with this one because I like the premise. I don't read a lot of Arthurian tales either although I remember reading Le Morte d'Arthur for English back in high school and I love Elizabeth E. Wein's books. When I saw an inexpensive used copy from Julie's Sari-Sari Store, I bought it right away. Thanks to Celina for the heads up on where I could find a copy.
I was swept away by the beautiful writing in Song of the Sparrow. Maybe it's because of the verse format but it felt like I was reading a fairy tale instead of a historical fiction book. I was easily immersed in the story and I knew right from the start that Elaine and I would get along just fine. Elaine is a girl stuck in a world full of men and she can be described as "one of the boys". Her father brought her to Arthur's camp when her mother died and she's been there ever since. Her father and her two brothers fight alongside the knights of Arthur and she has great respect for all of them. As the only lady in their camp, Elaine's sewing and healing skills are in great demand. She doesn't mind because she's friends with most of the men in their camp and she enjoys the freedom that her lifestyle allows. What I loved about Elaine's character in this retelling is that she manages to show her strength without picking up a sword or fighting in a battle like other fantasy heroines (not that I don't love them). Elaine's infatuation with Lancelot is an integral part of the story because that's what she's famous for but I liked how the author provided a background for it - how Lancelot was always there whenever Elaine was lonely as a child and how he comes to the rescue the few times that Elaine needs help. It isn't a tragic kind of love, which was how it was portrayed by other writers.
I don't read much poetry so I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to relate to this one but surprise, surprise, the pages just flew by. To get a feel of the writing, check out the excerpt available in Lisa Ann Sandell's website. The story provided not just a clear picture of Elaine but of other well-known characters like Gwynivere, Lancelot, Tristan and Arthur. I loved seeing how Elaine interacted with all of them, even Gwynivere who is everything Elaine isn't - beautiful, ladylike, cold and cruel. I made an excellent decision when I chose Song of the Sparrow as my first novel in verse because now I'm curious about books written in a similar format. I wonder if other novels in verse are as lovely as this one. I highly recommend this to fans of Arthurian tales, retellings or novels in verse. Or maybe I should just say, read this if you want to fall in love with an exquisite retelling about Elaine of Ascolat, the Lady of Shalott....more
Six Impossible Things is a loose Cinderella retelling, written from a guy's perspective. I don't think I read enough male POV bOriginally posted here.
Six Impossible Things is a loose Cinderella retelling, written from a guy's perspective. I don't think I read enough male POV books and I enjoy reading retellings. As if that isn't enough to convince me to read this, Aussie book bloggers have been raving about this book in their reviews. Dan feels like his life has fallen apart when his parents split because his gay dad suddenly decides to come out of the closet and admit that the family business is also bankrupt. Dan even wants to say "Guys, please, one life-changing shock at a time." out loud because of all the changes in his life. The only positive thing is he now lives next door to the unattainable one, Estelle. He even transfers to her school. Dan is determined to change his image at his new school, he doesn't want to be known as geeky and smart anymore and he wants to hang out with the cool crowd. Things don't go exactly as he planned.
This is such a quirky and fun novel to read, the writing is beautiful and the characters are so distinct. Dan is utterly charming in an offbeat and nerdy way. He's smart, sensitive and tries to be as honest and good as he can be. Yay for good guys! It was interesting being inside Dan's head because like I said, I don't get to read enough books with male protagonists narrating the story. He's also an introspective type so he's more quiet than outgoing. I loved that the book showed his weaknesses like fainting whenever he sees or imagines something gross like raw eggs. Instead of being unfavorable, those vulnerabilities actually added to his charm. Even though things don't work out the way he wanted them to, he did gain a couple of friends along the way and they're all unique and original, even Howard the dog. The book isn't all about the romance even if Dan has a major crush on Estelle. This delightful book is about growing up and changing as you learn how to cope and adapt with the problems that life throws your way. I've heard that this book already has a US publisher but there's no set date on when it's going to be published. If you can order a book from Australia or have someone buy it for you then I highly recommend that you get this one. It's a great contemporary YA debut and I can't wait to read more of Fiona Wood's work. I just have to worry about how I'll get it when the time comes....more
This book deserves all the hype that it's been getting in the blogosphere. I love how there are so many awesome debut novels thOriginally posted here.
This book deserves all the hype that it's been getting in the blogosphere. I love how there are so many awesome debut novels this year! I hope 2011 has a lineup that's just as good. It was so easy to relate to Anna and how she's bummed that she has to spend her senior year in Paris. Yes, Paris is amazing but who wants to transfer for the last year of high school? It's the last chance that you get to spend with your high school buddies. I love how believable everything was in this novel. How Anna was shy and reserved at the start because she doesn't even know how to speak French. It's so funny how she lived in fear of ordering the wrong kind of food so all she ate during her first week were fruits and bread. I loved seeing Paris through Anna's eyes. Totally jealous of all the good food that she was able to try out - the sandwiches, the pastries, crepes and even the coffee! Ahhh, I'm suddenly craving for macarons from Bizu. Sigh, I would dearly love to go to Paris in the future.
The romance is just as realistic as the rest of the story. Stephanie Perkins did a great job of portraying how complicated relationships are, especially during your teenage years. The tension, the drama, the uncertainty of it all! Imagine having to spend everyday with the guy you're infatuated with, who's gorgeous, smart and funny. There are times when he gives hints that he may like you as more than a friend but you're never sure because he doesn't have any plans of breaking up with his long-time girlfriend. I admire Anna for being able to maintain a friendship with St. Clair in spite of their growing attraction. And not just any friendship at that, they even become the best of friends eventually. Anna and St. Clair's friendship developed because they're really comfortable with each other even if they have moments of awkwardness. Also, St. Clair isn't portrayed as a perfect guy. He's short, he doesn't know how to drive and he's scared of heights (which is actually endearing). Both Anna and St. Clair make mistakes along the way but you still end up rooting for them.
It was so much fun reading Anna and the French Kiss and I highly recommend the experience to anyone who enjoys YA contemporary romance, specifically fans of Simone Elkeles and Jennifer Echols. It's bound to make you smile and yes, swoon at times.♥ I can see people falling in love with this one. Can't wait to read Stephanie Perkins' other books. She has two companion novels to this one and the first will be released fall of 2011. ...more
William was a pretty interesting secondary character back in On the Edge so I think it's great that he got to have his own storyOriginall posted here.
William was a pretty interesting secondary character back in On the Edge so I think it's great that he got to have his own story. At 447 pages, this one is a lot meatier that its predecessor. The first one focused more on the romance while this one is a little darker and a bit grittier. The worldbuilding is just as creative and I like how we're presented with a different area of the Edge - the Mire. Clans fight in feuds to determine supremacy in a grim and swampy land where they have to eke out their living. Here's an excerpt early on:
"That had to be the craziest thing he'd heard. At some point they must've looked around and said, "Hey, what do we have a shitload of?" "Mud! It's cold and wet. I know, let's burn it!" "Well, it ain't good for nothing else." What the hell? He supposed if fish could have legs, then mud could burn. Spider or no Spider, if their cats started flying, he would be out of here like a rocket."
As you can see, there's plenty of wit and humor in the book. I love how William and Cerise banter and how they enjoy teasing each other. William spent most of his life as a soldier. Because of his nature as a changeling, he was trained from his early years to become a lethal fighting machine. As a result, he has to constantly keep himself in check. Also, he's been lonely most of his life because he doesn't have a family. Lo and behold, he meets Cerise and becomes tied up in her family's business. The Mars are a pretty crazy bunch of people. As evidenced by the cover, Cerise is an excellent swordswoman. She fuses her magic with her sword so she has a unique fighting ability. She's also smart and funny, definitely my kind of female protagonist! I had a lot of fun reading this book and even though it was pretty thick, the pages just flew by. As expected, there's nonstop action and adventure for the two main characters. The story is layered with intrigue as William pursues his quest against the creepy spymaster of a rival nation. Spider is a pretty scary villain not just because he's evil but because he believes he's doing the best that he could to serve his country.
Another awesome urban fantasy novel from Ilona Andrews - espionage set in an interesting swampy landscape with broken but lovable main characters and distinct secondary characters in the form of the Mars - highly recommended to all fans of the genre. According to the authors' blog, the next Edge book will be about Kaldar. I'm really looking forward to that because I loved Kaldar's character in Bayou Moon. Most of you know I'm a fan of reprobates and thieves. :) ...more
Based on the summary above, you'd think that this is just a contemporary YA novel with a love story. While the romance is a hugOriginally posted here.
Based on the summary above, you'd think that this is just a contemporary YA novel with a love story. While the romance is a huge aspect of the novel, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart contains much more. This is a story about a teenage girl finding herself. She believes she's in love with a bad boy when in fact, she's more in love with the idea of falling in love. I could totally relate to Ruby even though she's known as The Quiet Girl and I've never been the shy type. In fact, I'm the opposite because I'm outgoing and really talkative. But Ruby's experiences in this book are universal. I also enjoyed reading about the secondary characters. Ruby's relationship with her librarian mother is pretty interesting and I like her closeness to her offbeat brother. The Casserole Queens, the book club for old people that Ruby's mother handles, also has a fascinating set of members. Each geriatric person has a unique personality and they're all so quirky. From time to time, they also spout out some sort of wisdom, probably the kind that comes with old age. The road trip orchestrated by the Casserole Queens is one of the highlights of the book. Old people rock!
There are so many good lines in this book, I wanted to pause every time I found one so I could mark it. Good thing Goodreads has a feature where you can add your favorite quotes in a book. Here's one of my favorites:
"A man's identity is complete through action, a woman's, when she has a man. Through him. We fall off our high heels into the narrow crevasse of what it means to be female. Let me tell you. You fall in love and you think you're finding yourself. But too often you're looking inside him for you, and that's a fact. There's only one place you can find yourself." She patted her chest.
This quote goes out to all my single girl friends out there! I know I keep saying this about well-written YA books that I discover nowadays but I really wish I could have read this when I was a teenager. It's a beautiful book that tackles a topic that probably every teenager has experienced - how you try to change yourself because of other people. I know I went through that phase. This doesn't mean that the book doesn't have its share of humor because it does. Ruby is pretty funny and I found myself chuckling in certain scenes of the book. Plus like I mentioned earlier, the book has a great set of characters. I even liked the guy who owns the whale van even though he had such a small role in the book! I highly recommend this one and I hope more people get to read it. This is the first Deb Caletti book that I've read but if her other books are as good as this, then I'm excited to read the rest of them....more
Another excellent installment in what has become one of my favorite series: the Sevenwaters books by Juliet Marillier. I'm so hapOrinally posted here.
Another excellent installment in what has become one of my favorite series: the Sevenwaters books by Juliet Marillier. I'm so happy that Ms. Marillier decided to write more books in this series! Like I said, I had a pretty lukewarm reaction to Child of the Prophecy but that's okay because I knew that I could look forward to more adventures in the Sevenwaters world with this one and Seer of Sevenwaters, due out later this year. This one is different from the rest because it occurs only a couple of years after Child of the Prophecy, unlike the other Sevenwaters books which occur one generation after the one before it.
As always, the main character of this book is a daughter of Sevenwaters, Clodagh. What I like about Clodagh is she doesn't have special powers like the other Sevenwaters heroines. She's not the healer nor the seer in her generation. At the start of the book, it is even emphasized that Clodagh's main skills lie in managing the household and she'll become a nice little wife some day. However, Clodagh shows an exceptional capacity to love, which I think comes from her upbringing. The Sevenwaters clan is a close-knit one and the children of this remarkable family all exhibit their warmth and inner strength each in their own way. I love that even though Clodagh was terrified to journey to the Otherworld, she knows she must do it to get her brother back.
I know that the main characters in the Sevenwaters books are females but since all of them have their respective romantic interests, I thought I'd take a moment to praise Ms. Marillier's heroes because they are just as amazing as their female counterparts. Red, Bran, Cathal. Very strong men and convinced of what they want in life until they meet our heroines and they become conflicted because they know that nothing will ever be the same. *sigh* I love these men! I love that they're all so different too. In Cathal's case, he was rude and arrogant because he wanted to push Clodagh away. He believed that she'll be in danger if she comes near him but at the same time, he's drawn to her like a moth to a flame.
As always, beautiful writing in a lush and vivid world that's a blend of historical fiction and fantasy involving the fey. However, the Lady of the Forest and her flame-haired lord, those who personally watched over generations of the Sevenwaters family have moved on and a different breed took their place in the forest. Mac Dara and his kind are the fey that are common in the books that I've seen around - they're tricksters and do not understand human emotions such as love so they're bound to be cruel. These characters present a different kind of problem from the previous books because the prophecy has already been fulfilled. I like that there's something unique in this book to keep things lively. I keep saying this but if you guys haven't realized, I highly recommend this series and I look forward to more of Ms. Marillier's work. :)...more
So I've pretty much declared my love for the Kate Daniels seriesmultiple times. It's the kind of love that makes me curious about the rest of husband-and-wife writing team Ilona Andrews' books. I’ve had a copy of On the Edge for a while but I don’t know why I put off reading it. Maybe I thought I needed some time away from awesomeness? In any case, it was raining hard this past weekend so the weather was perfect for curling up indoors with a good book and I decided to read this one.
I don’t know why I’m still amazed at the incredible worldbuilding prowess of Ilona and Gordon but I am. I knew that this book is set in a different world but I had no idea that I’d love it just as much as the Kate Daniels world. In this book, there are three worlds: the Weird, the Edge and the Broken. The Broken is pretty much the regular world that we live in, where there’s no magic. The Weird is where magic is in full force while the Edge exists between the two. The people who live on the Edge don’t have much because they lack the best of both worlds. They have magic but not powerful enough as the people in the Weird. They can stay in the Broken for a while but never for long because they feel the strain of not having magic.
Rose lives on the Edge with her two adorable younger brothers and her grandmother. It’s easy to like Rose because she’s a tough girl, doing her best to make ends meet and to provide for her brothers. She’s also pretty funny with her constant eye-rolling and “Why me?” lines. I like her brothers as well – Georgie, the ten-year-old necromancer and Jack, the eight-year-old shape shifter (lynx). They know that Rose has a hard time keeping an eye on them but they can’t help but get into trouble because of the nature of their magical abilities. Enter Declan, Earl Camarine, who declares that he wants Rose for himself and is willing to go through three challenges in order to get her. But there’s more to this arrogant aristocrat that meets the eye and Rose gets to know him better as they work side by side to combat an evil that has suddenly made an appearance in the Edge.
I guess it’s not surprising when I say that I loved this one. It was pretty easy to get sucked into the world, there are awesome, kick*ss characters in it and a lot of humor. Another aspect about the story that I liked is that Rose and Declan’s story wraps up pretty nicely in this one package and the next book in the series Bayou Moon has different main characters. This is a different approach from the Kate Daniels series, where the story is stretched to (at least) seven books. I recommend this to fans of Ilona Andrews or other urban fantasy fans out there. Although a lot of people say that this one is more paranormal romance than urban fantasy. Regardless of the genre, it’s still a highly enjoyable read. I can’t wait for the sequel and to read about William, Declan’s shape shifter partner in special ops. ...more
So all of you book blogger friends who said that this one is just as good as the first one, I definitely agree. This book occurs one generation after Daughter of the Forest and focuses on Sorcha and Red's youngest daughter, Liadan. Liadan is very much her mother's daughter but at the same time, she has qualities that make her uniquely herself. Like Sorcha, Liadan is a gifted healer and she loves Sevenwaters with all of her heart. She'd be content to stay in Sevenwaters for the rest of her life, even if it means she won't get married and have a family of her own. Similar to her Uncle Finbar, she has the gift of Sight: there are times when she could she the past and possible events in the future.
Again, this story wasn't easy to read. Liadan goes through a lot and she fights for her happiness and the safety of her loved ones every step of the way. This book is set in the same highly imaginative and wonderful world that Juliet Marillier created. There's more Celtic mythology in this than the first book but so deftly written that it almost seems like historical fiction instead of fantasy. Lush and lyrical, Juliet Marillier's writing will grab you and will not let go even after you finish reading. Stories are an important aspect of the lives in Sevenwaters and I love the little stories told in this novel. Liadan's Uncle Conor said that one story resonates in different ways to every listener and I think the same goes with novels. We can all read the same novel but what we take from that story can be vastly different.
Anyway, I loved Son of the Shadows as expected. Both Liadan and Bran are wonderful characters. In order to be together, they had to fight even harder than Sorcha and Red. Liadan is strong and I love how she fought for what she wanted even if it went against the wishes of the Fair Folk. She made her own path and this may have consequences but I have a feeling she'll be able to bear the burden. I have a favorite line in this book and I just have to post it here because it's not that very spoilery anyway:
I wish - I wish I could dry these tears, I wish I could make this better for you. But I don't know how.
*sigh* If you've read the book, you'd understand why this is such a lovable line. If you haven't read it, I suggest that you give it a try. I think it can be read on its own but Daughter of the Forest is just as good so why not read it as well? :) I'm planning to read Child of the Prophecy next and I hope to see glimpses of Liadan and Bran in that one. Also, I just noticed that all of the Sevenwaters books involve females. Awesome!...more
Kate's adventures continue in this latest installment in the wonderful series created by husband and wife tandem Ilona Andrews.Originally posted here.
Kate's adventures continue in this latest installment in the wonderful series created by husband and wife tandem Ilona Andrews. I already mentioned that Magic Strikes clinched the deal to make this series my favorite in the urban fantasy genre. Because of this, I had high expectations when I started to read Magic Bleeds. No worries though because it went beyond what I expected. It's pretty hard to go into details about the book without giving away spoilers. I can just say that Kate was her usual snarky and kick*ss self. She had to make some pretty though choices in this one. With her background (and we learn so much more about her family history), she comes with a lot of baggage and she can't make decisions based on just what she wants. I love where the authors decided to take the story, it really was time for Kate to make these big decisions. I'm also glad that there's a LOT of Curran in this one. ♥
Instead of giving away the story, I'd rather talk about how wonderful this book was. I had to catch up on lost sleep because of Magic Strikes so I decided to bring Magic Bleeds along on our company outing to the beach. I then proceeded to read during every available moment: under the sun while everyone else was swimming and on a shaded balcony overlooking the beach after lunch while everyone else was taking a nap. I wanted to read as much of the book as fast as I can yet at the same time, I wanted to savor every scene. As with the rest of the Kate Daniels books, there were several scenes in this book that made me smile and chuckle quietly to myself. There were scenes that me sigh and think "Aww how sweet!" and there were scenes that made me fear for Kate and her friends' safety. Magic Bleeds had everything - jampacked action, solid worldbuilding supported by the setting's history, lots of humor and a love-hate relationship between two fantastic individuals. Isn't this enough to convince you to read this series? :)
The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge comes highly recommended by Megan Whalen Turner and you can see her talk about the bookOriginally posted here.
The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge comes highly recommended by Megan Whalen Turner and you can see her talk about the book here.
At 576 pages, this is a pretty hefty volume so I couldn't lug it around with me. I decided to start reading it last weekend because it was a long weekend. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish it. I spent my days at work, constantly thinking of the time when I could go back home and continue reading this story set in a lush, tropical island called Gullstruck. I know Gullstruck is a fictional island but it sort of reminds me of the Philippines because of the coastal setting and the presence of indigenous, brown-skinned people (the Lace) who are largely mistrusted by Towners and colonists. People who have magic in Gullstruck are the Lost, beings who are able to send out their senses out to the world. Their senses fly out of their bodies to watch over the island and carry messages back forth between the towns and villages. Twelve-year-old Hathin was born to take care of her older Lost sister, Arilou. Lost children aren't fully in control of their body because their senses aren't firmly rooted in their physical selves. Hathin is my kind of girl - smart and resourceful, she constantly struggles to handle the unexpected circumstances thrown her way. At the start of the book, she's used to being in the sidelines because people don't notice her and she feels like her sole purpose in life is to take care of her sister.
One word to describe this book? Brilliant. Even before I started reading the book, I knew it was going to be good because it was recommended by MWT. It's a very absorbing read that will suck you in and wouldn't let you go until you finish the story. This is the kind of book that should be better known, I'm kind of surprised that it isn't that popular. I think it would appeal to a lot of people because being classified between middle grade and young adult fiction, the book is pretty easy to read. Everything about The Lost Conspiracy is wonderful - from the worldbuilding to the storytelling and characterization. It has a varied set of believable characters and all of them are fully realized to the extent that you'll root for the heroes and you'll even understand the motives of the villains. You will never get bored with the fast-paced plot, which twists and turns so much that you can never predict what will happen next. Just when you think you've figured things out, Frances Hardinge throws you for a loop. Not that surprising since the word "conspiracy" is right there in the title. I don't think I can write a review that will do this book justice so let me end this post by saying that I'd love for all of you to read this book, especially epic fantasy fans out there looking to sink their teeth into something really good....more
I'm trying to avoid spoilers so let me just say that this sequel picks up where The Demon's Lexicon left off. The story is stilOriginally posted here.
I'm trying to avoid spoilers so let me just say that this sequel picks up where The Demon's Lexicon left off. The story is still about Nick, Alan, Mae and Jamie. With the surprise at the end of The Demon's Lexicon, I wasn't sure where the story would go this time. I was kept guessing at every turn. There were a lot of unexpected events here so I gave up trying to guess what was going to happen and just went along with the story. The characters are more fully developed in this book. The story is told from Mae's point of view, different from the first one, where Nick was the narrator. More magic, more intrigue, more of the complex set of characters, great dialogue. ...more
It's official. The Kate Daniels series is now my favorite urban fantasy series. Magic Strikes sealed the deal. I LOVED this booOriginally posted here.
It's official. The Kate Daniels series is now my favorite urban fantasy series. Magic Strikes sealed the deal. I LOVED this book! Want proof? I was out the whole day yesterday so I didn't get to read. I got home late at night and I only wanted to read a couple of chapters before sleeping. I ended up finishing the whole book, I just couldn't put it down. I'm functioning on two hours of sleep right now and I can't say I regret reading last night (or early this morning if you want to be technical about it). I still can't stop thinking about the book. This is such a great book! There were a lot of scenes that I had to re-read over and over again because they had me laughing out loud. I also love the character development, how Kate changed from being an isolated person to having a few people close to her heart. It's amazing how much Kate is willing to sacrifice for these people. She has her reasons for trying to keep everyone at arm's length but when she starts to care, she's fully committed. She's such an awesome character.
Just like the first two books, the worldbuilding in this one is brilliant. I love how the story can delve into different mythologies with Magic Strikes concentrating on Hindu folklore. There's also a touch of Roman influence embodied in the Midnight Games, where gladiators form teams and fight to the death. It's a bloodthirsty practice and the characters' fighting skills are put to the test.
On one hand, I'm happy that I found out about this series when four books have already been released because I get to read the books one right after the other. On the other hand, I feel like I want to let the story of Magic Strikes settle first before I dive into Magic Bleeds. But since I already have a copy of Magic Bleeds, I'm going to read it as soon as I can. All of the reviews that I've seen are positive so I have high hopes for that one. I hope it's just as good, if not better than, Magic Strikes. Do you guys know when the next book will come out? :)
I know I always try to have spoiler-free reviews so minor spoiler warning here. If you haven't read any of the books, please don't read this paragraph. Kate and Curran! ♥ The scenes between the two of them in this book... AHHHH. They are simply wonderful. I love both of them. I really want things to work out for them and I'm scared that something bad will happen and it'll be a long journey before they can ever be together. You know the feeling when you're invested in certain characters, you feel like you know them as real people? That's how I feel about these two. I will be devastated if either one of them gets hurt....more
First things first, look at that cover. Isn't it gorgeous? I love how it captures the essence of the book - a girl in a field lOriginally posted here.
First things first, look at that cover. Isn't it gorgeous? I love how it captures the essence of the book - a girl in a field looking up at a pegasus soaring through the sky. Even though they're far apart, you can see that there's an invisible thread connecting the girl and the pegasus. The good news is that the inside is just as beautiful as the cover. I'm sure several blogger friends will agree when I say that there's nothing like reading a Robin McKinley novel. She had me at "Because she was a princess she had a pegasus." which was the first line of the book. I don't think I've ever read a book about pegasi before and they're fascinating creatures. I loved how intricate the worldbuilding was - it included a detailed history of the pegasi and how they started an alliance with the humans who came to their land. Ever since then, each human with royal blood has been bound to a pegasus to strengthen the alliance. It hasn't been successful though because of the language barrier. If I could, I'd want to visit that world because I'd love to have my own pegasus. I'm a fan of fantasy novels with court settings when they're done well and this world had that. There was complexity in the intrigue of court politics but it never became overwhelming. The writing is everything that I find delightful in a McKinley novel - lyrical, lovely and has an overall fairy tale feel to it.
"The story I tell over and over and over and over is Beauty and the Beast. It all comes from there. There are variations on the theme – and it’s inside out or upside down sometimes – but the communication gap between one living being and another is pretty much the ground line. And usually the gap-bridger is love."
Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale but I never recognized that recurring theme in all of Robin's books. It's much more evident in Pegasus because of Sylvi and Ebon's platonic relationship (although I kept thinking of Sarah Rees Brennan's insinuations that they have something more while I was reading). It's a good thing that I knew going in that this was just the first half of the story and that the book ends on a major cliffhanger so I wasn't put off when I reached that part. Of course, I WANT to read the rest of the story right now but I'm willing to wait until 2012 because it hasn't been written yet. I feel like the whole book is mostly about buildup - the relationship of the pegasi and the humans, the history of the kingdom, its present situation and the rising problems. It will all lead to something and I have a feeling that much more will happen in the second half of the story. As such, I think Pegasus can be described as a quiet sort of novel and that kind of thing might not be for everyone. In terms of pacing and writing style, Pegasus reminded me of Chalice but it also has echoes of The Blue Sword in it in the sense that two races/species are brought together (aside from that, there's a sword that made me think of Gonturan and a legendary ancestor similar to Aerin). If you're the type who doesn't like cliffhanger endings then I recommend that you wait for the second half but if you're a huge McKinley fan like me, then I know you'd still read this even knowing that's it's just the first half of the story. If you've never read a McKinley before (and why not?!), I suggest that you start with either Beauty or The Blue Sword....more
I have been waiting for this book for some time. The release date was last April 27 but I was only able to obtain a copy from Powerbooks early this week. I've seen Mistwood recommended for fans of Megan Whalen Turner, Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce. Since I'm a fan of all three authors, I was really excited to read this. Here's what MWT said about Mistwood:
"Cypess's spare but evocative language built a world that stayed with me long after I finished her story." - Megan Whalen Turner, author of New York Times bestseller A Conspiracy of Kings
Doesn't that make you want to read the book more? I'm always curious about books likened to MWT's work and any book that MWT recommends.
Isabel is the Shifter, a creature of legend bound to protect the kings of Samorna but when Prince Rokan came to the Mistwood to summon her, Isabel doesn't remember anything. She doesn't remember her centuries of being the Shifter or why she left the palace so suddenly, she only remembers living in the Mistwood. It is said that whenever the Shifter comes back to the Mistwood, she forgets her court life but gains back her memories when she needs them again. As Isabel slowly adjusts to the palace and everyone in it, some of her memories come back to her and she learns how to live around people she knows she can't trust. Here's one of my favorite scenes early in the book. This happened when Isabel was still new to the palace and Princess Clarisse came to visit her for no apparent reason:
She came, Isabel thought with a flash of clarity, to see me. To decide what she thought of me, and what she could get out of me.
It had been an attack, of sorts, and people did fight who lived in castles like these. Not with fists and feet and claws, but with words and whispers and influence. Isabel couldn't remember having been here before, but she knew. It was a fight, or rather a game, with many players and many rules and many strategies.
She smiled suddenly, feeling her blood pump through her veins. She didn't know how, and she didn't know why, but she was suddenly sure it was a game she knew how to play.
With that passage alone, you already have an idea of why this book is recommended for MWT fans. There's a lot of political and court intrigue involved in this book. The reader is always kept guessing, with no idea what's going to happen next or what the characters are thinking. Every person is suspicious of everyone else because they all know that they all have their court masks in place. You never know if someone's plotting against someone else. This reminds me more strongly of Sherwood Smith's work rather than MWT. The Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce comparisons come from having a strong female protagonist, capable of fighting her own battles with words or with physical strength.
I enjoyed reading Mistwood and I second the recommendation for the three authors already mentioned and Sherwood Smith fans might also be curious about this one. I know that whenever I like a book, I always mention the characters but I can't help it. Any book that has a well-written, character-driven plot packed with intrigue and set in a beautiful, magical world will always get to me. I liked Isabel and how she adapts to a life that she can't remember anything about. At the start of the book, she's lost and confused but she gains her strength as she uncovers more truths about herself, the kingdom and the major players in court. Other notable characters are Prince Rokan, the reluctant king-to-be who cares too much about everything and Princess Clarisse, beautiful and seemingly cold-hearted with no concrete allegiance to anyone.
When I got a copy of Mistwood, I put the book that I was reading on hold so I can go ahead and read this one. Now that I've finished, I don't want to go back to that other book because I want to keep myself immsersed in Mistwood's world. I'm definitely going to watch out for Leah Cypess' future releases....more
I read both Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore when they first came out. That was a few years ago, back when I didn't haveOriginally posted here.
I read both Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore when they first came out. That was a few years ago, back when I didn't have a book blog. I recently reread them for a discussion with my online book club YAckers. I loved rereading both and realized that I have never written a review for Fire. It’s a good thing I refreshed my memory by rereading it recently because that gave me the perfect opportunity to talk about one of my absolute favorite epic fantasy novels.
Fire is such an achingly beautiful novel. It is wonderfully written with engaging characters, set in a dazzlingly colorful world. Fire is a human monster, an amazingly beautiful person who can read minds and manipulate people through her powers – either with just the way she looks or by compelling them to say or do things. Having seen what her cruel father Cansrel was able to do with his own monstrous powers, Fire is very cautious with hers. She has no intention of manipulating people and doesn’t even want to be involved in court politics. But the kingdom is on the brink of civil war and Fire has a role to play in all of this.
I loved Fire’s character. It was a pleasure to see her stretch as she opens herself up to possibilities. It’s understandable that she’s afraid of what she’s capable of but she has such a good heart that she doesn’t really have to worry about it. Aside from Fire, there are also plenty of fully fleshed out secondary characters to love in this novel. Can I just take a moment to say how much I love Brigan? Remarkable character and brilliant in so many different ways. I loved how Kristin Cashore portrayed the relationships in this book – they’re very messy and complicated but work so well in the context of the story. I liked seeing the dynamics of different types of relationships – romantic, platonic and within families – in the story. There’s a lot of love in there but also has some sadness and violence mixed in. Here's a snippet that illustrates this:
“She had thought she'd already reached her capacity for pain and had no room inside her for more. But she remembered having told Archer once that you could not measure love on a scale of degrees, and now she understood that it was the same with pain. Pain might escalate upwards, and, just when you'd thought you'd reached your limit, begin to spread sideways, and spill out, and touch other people, and mix with their pain. And grow larger, but somehow less oppressive. She had thought herself trapped in a place outside the ordinary feeling lives of other people; she had not noticed how many other people were trapped in that place with her.”
Fire just has everything that I look for in my epic fantasy reads. Great characters, solid worldbuilding, a slow burn romance that I can root for and complex relationships that feel realistic. I cannot recommend it enough. It makes me happy that Fire stood up to a reread and I loved it just as much as when I was first introduced to it. In fact, I had to wait a couple of days for the story to fade from my mind before I could move on to another book. After rereading both Graceling and Fire, I am now craving for a new Kristin Cashore novel. I will be eagerly waiting for news about what she will publish next....more
I've been craving for some YA romance lately, you know the type of book with just the right amount of kilig factor (how does kilig translate to EnglisI've been craving for some YA romance lately, you know the type of book with just the right amount of kilig factor (how does kilig translate to English? Swoon factor?) and I got it with this book. I was really excited when I found it in Fully Booked because I've seen a lot of good reviews about it. I didn't even mind that at P440 for a paperback, it was a little more expensive than what I usually buy. Plus I got it on sale for 20% off.
This is the kind of book that you finish in one sitting, the kind of book that you'll stay up late at night reading because you want to know how it ends. Unputdownable so to speak. It's a classic story of bad girl meets good boy but with much more complicated characters. Meg is the only blue-haired girl in their small town and she can't wait to finish high school and go off to college, even if it's only in Birmingham, 20 minutes away. John is a high school graduate, who went to police academy and stayed in town to be a cop. They both have their own reasons for being who they are and doing the things that they do. It was just so much fun watching them unravel and discover each other's inner workings.
The story is told from Meg's point of view and some of the things that she says are so hilarious. She keeps saying "I am full of fear" whenever she's scared. And I really like this line that she said about her and John: "I guess we both understood that our relationship was built entirely on witty repartee, and neither of us thought we could be witty on four hours of shut-eye." Meg really is a great girl and even though she's done a lot of wild things, you couldn't help but understand why she was doing those when you find out her reasons. And Johnafter! Oooooh hunky Johnafter. I think it's safe to say that I've added another one to my list of literary crushes. It's so not true that nice guys finish last.
Isn't it obvious that I love this book? I recommend it for all YA fans out there!...more
This is a classic story of a love-hate relationship. Payton and J.D. work in the same law firm. They’ve always competed againstOriginally posted here.
This is a classic story of a love-hate relationship. Payton and J.D. work in the same law firm. They’ve always competed against each other but more so when they find out that only one of them can be partner. I have to say, I think J.D. is the Julie James hero that I like the least because of something that he did to Payton in the past (sorry for being vague, I don’t want to mention spoilers). As a whole, it was still a lot of fun to see both of them battle it out through arguments and pranks. There’s a lot of background information about lawyers in this one because both protagonists are in that profession and I believe Julie James was also a lawyer before. There’s not a lot in terms of action in this one but what makes it enjoyable is the dialogue between the two witty and intelligent protagonists....more
I love Crown Duel and it's in my list of favorites. Vidanric is aLooks like I forgot to cross-post my review of this. I wrote it in my blog last year:
I love Crown Duel and it's in my list of favorites. Vidanric is also in my list of fictional guy crushes. I loved that Sherwood wrote Crown Duel outtakes, which involved certain scenes told from the point of view of Vidanric (these are included in the e-book version, which can be purchased here). Vidanric was so aloof for the most of Crown Duel so it was refreshing to see his side of the story. A Stranger to Command gives us a more intimate look at how Vidanric became the person that he was in Crown Duel. For some reason, even though Crown Duel is popular, not a lot of people know that there's a prequel for it.
I put off reading this book for some time because one of the biggest highlights of Crown Duel for me was the love story between Mel and Vidanric. I didn't want to read about Vidanric without Mel in the picture. But being a Sherwood Smith fan, I gave in eventually and I don't regret doing so. Vidanric is sent to the foreign land of Marloven Hess to begin his military training and this is how he gains his formidable fighting skills. It's not easy for him to leave his family and the comforts of the life that he's known but it's necessary for his safety and for the future good of Remalna that he train himself in the art of war. Marlovens are experts at this, they have studied military command for centuries. They have a military school that takes in students as young as ten years old. Training begins early for these people. At fifteen, Vidanric is actually old for a beginner and he's a foreigner to boot. It's the first time that the school allowed a foreigner to enter. So aside from the difficulties of training and adjusting to a new environment, Vidanric has to deal with the hostilities of his classmates. He does it with the aplomb that we've come to expect of his character.
This is an excellent, character-driven story in the same wonderful world of Crown Duel. There's magic, political intrigue, romance and a whole lot of other challenges that make things interesting. I highly recommend this book to fans of Crown Duel, I know that there are many out there. It has the same lovely writing and is set in the same world albeit a different country. I also enjoyed seeing the references to the Inda series, which I read before this one....more
June 2014 comments: Reread this for YAckers and ended up staying late the other night to finish it even though I already knew what was going to happenJune 2014 comments: Reread this for YAckers and ended up staying late the other night to finish it even though I already knew what was going to happen. It's so comforting to reread an old favorite. I love Katsa and Po! And Leck is such a creepy villain.
Graceling was published back in 2008, a few years before I started the blog and I remember I got the recommendation for it from Sounis. I was so excited to read it but it wasn't initially available in local bookstores so I asked a friend to get a copy for me from the States and I'm glad she said yes. Graceling became one of my favorite discoveries that year. Gracelings are humans who have a highly specialized skilled called a Grace. Graces come in all forms - it can be as simple as being Graced as a cook to as unusual as Katsa's Grace of fighting. All Gracelings have mismatched eyes - Katsa has one green eye and one blue. That's the only way they know a child is a Graceling, through his or her eyes and they never know what the Grace is until it manifests itself in some way. Katsa discovers her Grace when she accidentally kills a man when she was just a young girl.
Katsa is the kind of YA fantasy heroine that I enjoy reading about. Strong female protagonists for the win! Katsa's physically strong, she could probably kill using just her pinky, but she's also an emotionally complex character. She reminds me of characters in books by Robin McKinley, Sherwood Smith and Tamora Pierce. If you're a fan of those three authors and you've never read this book then I highly suggest that you get a copy as soon as you can. Katsa's uncle, King Randa, takes advantage of her fighting skills by employing her as his own personal thug. At the start of the book, Katsa really believes that she's nothing more than a thug even though she hates doing her uncle's dirty work. She doesn't believe she's capable of building relationships so she keeps people at arm's length. As she learns more about herself and her Grace, Katsa also starts to trust other people. I was totally on board the romance as well, I didn't think it was instant love and I liked that they were friends first before they were romantically involved.
I remember that Graceling was pretty hyped the year that it came out. I had high expectations after all the trouble that I went through to get a copy and I wasn't disappointed. Graceling has everything that I look for in my YA fantasy reads: a unique world that I can get lost in, a court setting with political intrigue, characters who change and develop throughout the course of the book and relationships that take time to form. Writing this review has reminded me that I should read more epic fantasy, I think I've been reading more contemporary novels this year. Fire is also an amazing book but in a different way and I'm planning to write a review for that as well. I seriously cannot wait for Bitterblue to be published, I'm going to pre-order that as soon as there's a release date. ...more
I think Cinderella has the most number of retellings out there, probably because it's a very popular fairy tale. Ella Enchanted is set in a world fullI think Cinderella has the most number of retellings out there, probably because it's a very popular fairy tale. Ella Enchanted is set in a world full of magic, where fairies exist as well as ogres and gnomes. When Ella was barely an hour old, a fairy named Lucinda visited her mother and gave her the gift of obedience. Her mother and their cook knew that it wasn't a gift so much as a curse but Lucinda won't take back the gift. As Ella grows, they try to protect her from the effects of the gift. They forbid her to tell anyone about it so that other people won't be able to take advantage of her. Not even her father, who is constantly away on business, knows about the curse. Ella had a fairy godmother and her mother asked the fairy godmother to take away the curse, but the fairy godmother said that only Lucinda can do that. Although, she also said that it might be broken someday without Lucinda's help.
It's interesting how Ella adapted to the curse. Instead of being cowed, she tried to find ways to get around obeying orders: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally."
When Ella turns 15, her mother gets sick and passes away. This is when her adventures begin. Her father, who doesn't know what to do with her, sends her to finishing school. Later on, her father marries another noblewoman who has two awful daughters. The novel follows the original story in the sense that Ella doesn't get along with her step-mother or her step-sisters. The rest of the novel revolves around Ella's adventures as she tries to get rid of the curse. Along the way, she interacts with a lot of interesting people, including Prince Charmont, Char for short. For of course, a Cinderella story needs a prince, right? But Ella Enchanted is very much Ella's story as she comes to her own and realizes what she needs to do to break the curse.
Ella Enchanted is a Newbery Honor book that a lot of people obviously enjoyed. It's a fun, easy read for those who enjoy fairy tale retellings or fantasy novels. ...more
2011 Review for The Mark of Solomon duology: The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom, originally posteReread this for EWein Special Ops:
2011 Review for The Mark of Solomon duology: The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom, originally posted here.
I think we've safely established that I'm a book pusher and there's nothing I enjoy promoting more than under-the-radar books. I am constantly amazed that so many excellent books don't get the attention that they deserve. I reviewed The Sunbird by Elizabeth E. Wein last year, hoping that more people would read her books but I haven't been that successful because I haven't seen reviews of that book in the past year. Also, it makes me sad that The Sunbird is now out of print. So now I feel like I need to talk about The Mark of Solomon, the duology that comes after The Sunbird, because the blogosphere seriously needs to show more Elizabeth E. Wein love.
I've already dubbed Telemakos as Gen-in-Africa so that should serve as enough encouragement for all Megan Whalen Turner fans out there. I originally found out about these books from Sounis, back when I didn't have a blog and I got most of my recommendations from that community. If you have no idea what I'm talking about (shame on you!), Gen is the main character in the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner and he's all kinds of awesome. Telemakos is young but he's wise beyond his years. His upbringing as a half-British, half-Aksumite noble and his innate curiosity has landed him right smack in the middle of political intrigue involving several countries. I find it ironic that he has such a striking physical appearance - cinnamon-colored skin, bright blue eyes and pale hair - and yet he excels in subtlety. A line from page 11 reads: "Oh, the wealth of intrigue you heard when no one imagined you were listening."
Elizabeth E. Wein is not afraid of letting her characters suffer and even though I've known from the start that Telemakos is as brave as they come, my heart goes out to him whenever something terrible happens. *huggles Telemakos* He also kept surprising me with how intelligent his strategies were. Sorry for being vague but he kept being thrown into situations where he had to make the most out of his wits if he wanted to keep himself and everyone he cares for out of harm. Also, the secondary characters in these books? They're all so smart and complex and they keep readers guessing. You never know who's really trustworthy. Which also paves the way for complicated relationships between the characters. I love that you can feel the love and respect that the characters have for each other but their interactions are never simple.
The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom should be read together because the first book ends on a major cliffhanger. I heard that they're actually just one book that was split by the publisher, I have no idea why. The Sunbird is the first book about Telemakos and The Mark of Solomon duology continues with his journey. They're historical fiction books set in Aksum (ancient Ethiopia), Africa but there's a hint of Arthurian legend in them as well. Telemakos is actually the son of Medraut (Mordred) and the grandson of Artos (Arthur). So if you're a fan of historical fiction or Arthurian tales or you just want to read books with excellent worldbuilding, multi-faceted characters and plots riddled with conspiracies then you should pick these up as soon as you can. And spread the word about them when you're done reading.