Angelfall by Susan Ee has been on my radar for a few years now, but I avoided it because I haven't had a lot of luck with self-published novels. Honestly, I probably would have taken my time in getting around to reading it, despite the fact that I owned it on Kindle and Audible, if not for many reviewers that I trust raving about it in anticipation of its sequel, World After.
I'm so glad that I got off of my ass and read it.
Angelfall is one of those rare books that captures you so completely and makes it impossible to devote any sort of time or attention to work, children, bathing, sleeping, etc. Sadly, I'm not really exaggerating. From the moment that Penryn happened upon Raffe being dismembered by other angels, there was no getting away from it.
Angels really aren't my thing usually, but Angelfall makes them into badass warriors instead of the friendly Renaissance beings that we're more familiar with. I mean, even the Bible says that carry flaming swords and bring destruction in their wake. They are vicious, thus making Angelfall a very dark book. And awesome.
Equally badass is the main character, Penryn Young. No, she doesn't wield that famous flaming sword, but she can kick ass and take names. Her paranoid schizophrenic mother has made her take multiple forms of martial arts for five years because she was afraid that something would harm Penryn. (Apparently paranoid schizophrenics have a leg up on the competition in the apocalypse.) Back to Penryn - she's a girl that I really dig. She puts her family above everything, even her moral hesitations about beating up on an injured person for information. Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Anywho, she will kick your ass and take your name.
You guys, I also need to tell you about Caitlin Davies. She is the narrator for Angelfall, and she made the story explode from an overload of fabulousness. Susan Ee's writing is awesome on its own, but Davies really brought the characters to life. The voices of the various characters were diverse without sounding silly, and there's not much I love more than listening to a narrator and being able to tell which character is speaking without the "_____ said" nonsense.
It has taken me weeks to find the words to do justice to Angelfall, and they still aren't enough. This is a book that I will forever be a champion for, and it still won't be enough. I've already bought several copies for my friends and family as gifts, and I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy, too. You won't regret it.(less)
The Kiss of Deception is a YA epic fantasy by Mary E. Pearson with a strong heroine and a great journey story. Princess Arabella Celestine Idris Jezelia, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan (and main character of the book) chooses her own life as just "Lia" than the one planned out for her.
The Kiss of Deception reminds me of Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword more than any other book that I have ever read. Lia is like Harry Crewe in that she does not allow her situation to overwhelm her and does what is necessary for herself and her people. I rooted for her throughout the novel, even though I did not agree with some of her choices.
You know how I said this was an epic fantasy? Well, I mean business. The Kiss of Deception's finished copy is 544 pages long. However, the large size should not dissuade any reader because it can easily be read one chapter at a time. (They average about 10-15 pages each.) There are not many cliffhanger chapter endings or events that move too quickly, so reluctant readers who like fantasy television shows (no name-dropping, kids) will enjoy reading The Kiss of Deception at their leisure.
Before you start thinking that The Kiss of Deception won't draw you in, you're wrong. Just because you're not at the edge of your seat does NOT mean that you will lose interest.
The Kiss of Deception does have a bit of romance, but it's a very realistic, slow build. It's also clean. I suppose that I should tell you that, yes, there is a love triangle, but I think it's necessary for the story. (You won't hear me say that very often.) I'm neither "Team Kaden" or "Team Rafe" because both guys have their positive points, and they are well-constructed and sympathetic. I will be happy with whichever guy that Lia ends up with at the end of the series.
The world-building in The Kiss of Deception was epic. (Yes, I already used that word a few times, but it fits, okay?) There are three countries mentioned a great deal in the world of this book - Venda, Dalbreck, and Morrighan - and they're all described in a way that makes them seem very real. Anywho, these three countries exist in a post-apocalyptic world, though it's not really ever said outright whether it's our world or another. There are characters from each of the three, and the characters travel in two of them. I won't tell you which ones or why because Spoilers. (view spoiler)[Just kidding, I'm really not telling. (hide spoiler)]
The Kiss of Deception is a fantastic book that is probably my favorite so far this summer. In fact, you should head to your local library or bookstore to pick up a copy. I promise you'll thank me later.
- 5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book for reviewing purposes from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
You may want to step over there while I gush about this book, but don't run away. I know what you may...moreReview originally posted on Bibliophilia, Please.
You may want to step over there while I gush about this book, but don't run away. I know what you may be thinking - it's the fourth book in a series. I haven't read the others either, but the instances where that was a minute issue were very rare. The Forever Knight did fine being read alone because Lukien, the main character, is having a new adventure that has almost nothing to do with the previous books in the series. Also, who doesn't love a good epic quest?
Let me tell you a little bit of something about Lukien. He is the classic hero that could be pulled out of any myth, story, or legend. He is practically immortal, damn near invincible, and up to his ears in good ol' hubris. Most of the time, I know these guys have it coming and just wait for it to happen. However, Lukien is something special. I have not become attached to such a hard character in fantasy since Roland Deschain. (Okay, he's not as hard as Roland.) What made him special is that he did not try to push everyone away. Even at the beginning of the novel, John Marco made it abundantly clear that Lukien was a man who was still very capable of love. I saw early on how much various other characters meant to him: Gilwyn, White Eye, and especially Cricket. His relationship with his Akari, Malator, was a little more complicated, but it usually showed Lukien in a positive light.
This book crawled into my head and under my skin because of the fantastic quest that Lukien undertakes in order to help Cricket go to Akyre - one of the Bitter Kingdoms that is in the middle of war - to find her lost memories. Malator warns him against doing this, but Lukien wants to both help Cricket and get out of Jabor to fight some battles and do some good. While on this journey, they find themselves caught up in the middle of an insane king who wants to be emperor, his Legion of the Lost, a damned wealthy spice merchant, and a monster who may or may not be tied up in all of it. I could not put the book down until I was able to see how it all played out. It was a little sad at times, but as an experienced epic fantasy reader, it wasn't anything that I didn't see coming.
The Forever Knight was a wonderful fantasy novel that I thoroughly enjoyed being sucked into. Lukien and his quest was a great adventure to read, and I will definitely be going back to read the first books in the series. I think anyone who enjoys fantasy, mythology, or just a good story will like The Forever Knight, too.
- 4.5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the book from the author via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
My review of The One should be a surprising and rare thing for you to see - one that is posted on the day of its release because I just finished reading it THAT DAY. No, I wasn't up at midnight reading my Kindle edition (because I forgot to set my alarm and was crazy tired). I did put everything else on hold because OHMYGODWHOISITGOINGTOBEINEEDTOKNOWRIGHTNOWANDSTUFF!!!!!
If you're read the series, then you probably get it. It's like crack cocaine laced through cotton candy - delicious and addictive. But I probably shouldn't be using drug references like that with YA books. Shame on you, Kayla. I've just been really invested. Like, so invested that I didn't even review The Elite because I was so irritated with what Cass was doing to my sweet man,... *stops self* Okay, I'll confess and say this book is probably one of five that I've been dying to get my hands on this year.
If you haven't read the series, now is your opportunity to walk away. Here thar be spoilers:
Okay, I am so hardcore Team Maxon that I wouldn't be embarrassed to wear the shirt to the grocery store and get weird looks from people. I'm sorry, if I'm going to read a fantasy romance, I was Prince Charming, not the grouchy cleaning dude. No, I never forgave Aspen for the way he treated America in The Selection. I also did not appreciate Cass trying to make him look good and Maxon look bad in The Elite. That nonsense pissed me off royally. Tehe.
Let's talk about The One itself, shall we? (If you haven't read The Elite, you should probably move along.) The story picks up after America has decided that she will fight for Maxon, no matter what. Of course, America wouldn't be America if she didn't yo-yo back and forth between being ready to settle down with Maxon and wanting to wash her hands of him. I actually found it least irritating in this book, and I didn't mind her interactions with Aspen as much because he wasn't constantly trying to profess his love. (Thank Bob.)
There is a lot of character growth for not just America, but also for Maxon, Celeste, and Aspen. Surprised? So was I. But I'm going to leave that bit there. I'd hate to spoil anything.
And there are twists.
And some tears. Yes, I cried during this book. There were parts in the middle, I choked up when... Ha! I'm not telling you. Let's just say I sniffled through the last 70 or so pages. I may or may not have sobbed out loud while reading the epilogue. *wipes tear*
Was it a satisfactory ending? *sigh* I suppose it was. There really wasn't any other way it could have ended, truth be told. There were some surprises and one that I didn't really like because it was only to get an emotional response. (It didn't work for me because I just gave it the side eye.
Overall, The One was a really great addition to the series, and I don't really have anything bad to say about it other than some parts were rushed. (But that may have just been me rushing to get to the end.) I recommend this series to patrons all the time, and The One is not anything that I would feel bad about putting in anyone's hand. Maybe I should start finishing series more often...
I read this book over the holidays, and it's fitting. I knew that I had to be the Grinch because my heart grew two sizes the day I finished reading Destiny, Rewritten. It felt as if it would burst right out of my chest because I was felt with such overwhelming happiness and love for the characters, who are some of my all-time literary favorites. There is not one person in the book that I did not want to scoop up and squeeze into a bear hug.
Destiny, Rewritten taught me something that I have been overlooking about myself - I LOVE stories that make references to other stories or pieces of pop culture. I found myself giggling several times throughout the book because of arguments that Emily Elizabeth Davis and Wavey St. Clair, her best friend, would have about female roles in Star Wars, Little House on the Prairie, or even paper towel commercials. This was a perfect little running joke (it has to be a joke because it was so hilarious!) to go along with Emily while she searched to find her lost book, unknown father, and herself. Emily's letters to Danielle Steele and love of romance novels' happy endings are also so brilliantly woven into the story. There are also tree-huggers, used bookstores, a cashier from Goodwill who is all things awesome, and more minor characters who kept me beaming.
My absolute favorite part of the book, however, was that each child in the story was encouraged to be their very best at whatever they did. The children were supportive of each other, and not one of the adults ever treated any of them as anything less than the intelligent, nerdy, brilliant balls of potential they were. Yes, there are bullies and adults telling kids, "There's no way you can do that!" in the real world, but there are so many people who are the polar opposite of that, and I think the book is a lovely homage to them. Cecily Ann likes to give science reports in poem form, but no one really gives her a hard time. Montie is an eight year old little boy who is counting the days until he can join the army, but nothing is said to dissuade his dreams or soldier-in-training behavior. Connor Kelly, Emily's crush, even had an entire conversation with her in haiku during English class. I seriously want to live in their neighborhood and be friends with all of them.
This is far and away one of the best books that I read in 2012. Yes, it is contemporary (which I usually avoid), but Destiny, Rewritten is full of the magic of innocence and childhood. It reminds us that it's okay to be yourself, it's okay to chase your dreams, and sometimes your happy ending is where you least expect it.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a digital ARC of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
I have no idea why, but one day I decided that I absolutely must read The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. I don’t exactly recall reading the synopsis or paying much attention to the hype, but one day I couldn’t stand it anymore and preordered the audiobook. I downloaded it the morning it was available, but since I was listening to an audiobook for review, I had to wait to read it. It was brutal because all I could think about was the book that I had found myself obsessing over.
Once I FINALLY began reading, I was immediately drawn into the world in The Bone Season. I was afraid my longing would work against the book (my expectations being so high and all), but it was all that I hoped for. Paige Mahoney was an interesting and tough heroine who would not back down, and the world-building was awesome in every sense of the word, both literal and slang. I want to go ahead and let it be known that I disagree completely with many comparisons made about the book and some other popular novels because too many publishers and reviewers try to compare a writer who is capable of genius world-building with Rowling and anything gritty with The Hunger Games. I mean, maybe the scale of the series may be comparable to the others, but there really isn’t much in the way of other similarities. Samantha Shannon and The Bone Season are forces to be reckoned with on their own.
The world-building and the sheer size of this imaginative, alternate England is what made the book for me. In 1857, there was some sort of event that supposedly created clairvoyance. Paige Mahoney and the people she works with under the radar are all clairvoyants who must keep their talents hidden. To be clairvoyant – called Unnatural – is against the law in Scion London, and bad things will happen. I’m not an expert on paranormal and astrology, so I learned a lot in this novel. (I can’t tell you where what Shannon created and what is a commonly held belief regarding these things meets.) The other races and mythology are woven together very well, and I swear to Bob there will be spoilers if I gush too hard. Just exploring SciLo was a treat in itself and something I hope I get more of in the next books in the series. Sheol I and the æther were also well-done and fascinating.
As for the characters, there are a lot because The Bone Season is a fairly long book. We have the Seven Seals that the series will be supposedly featuring, but they didn’t get as much time on the pages as I expected. Paige, of course, was a badass Voyant that was stronger than everyone imagined. There are other Voyants and amaurotics (non-clairvoyant humans) with her in the penal colony, Sheol I, ran by the Rephaim, but only Liss really stood out to me. I guess it was because I came to a lot of conclusions about her, that all ended up being VERY wrong. Oh, the Rephaim! Well... I don't want to say too much about them because it was interesting to find out about them in the book. (I'm being difficult, aren't I?) Anywho, I will say that Warden is my new book boyfriend. He is such a complex character, and he's very tall. I like tall men.
Since I did listen to the audiobook, I suppose I should tell you about the best parts about. Alana Kerr, the narrator, had a beautiful voice and did a great job with the large cast of characters. I loved to hear her speak as Paige because her very slight Irish accent was so lovely. I didn't realize it until well into the book how much the audiobook helped me through all of the Victorian phrases and obscure names. I've read reviews where many people have had trouble getting past these things, and I barely noticed them. I loved listening to Kerr's performance of The Bone Season, and I hope that she will be doing the other books as well.
The Bone Season is definitely a book well worth the hype, and one that I will be rereading before the next book in the series releases. Both author Samantha Shannon and voice actress Alana Kerr are now on my auto-buy list. I recommend this to anyone who likes alternate history, the paranormal, and colossal world-building. Though this is an adult novel, I think it is fine for older young adults. Again, if you've made it this far in the review - JUST READ THE DAMN BOOK ALREADY!(less)
Okay, YA writers, the line has been drawn in the sand. If you're going to write about aliens, Scan by Walter Jury and Sarah Fine is what you're going to need to aspire to. Holy shit, is this book a wild ride! I literally stayed up all night reading it because it wouldn't let me go. Seriously. There's no stepping away from it, so be sure you don't have to feed your kids or anything. (Put food on the bottom shelves of the refrigerator or scatter cereal on the floor if so. Whichever.)
Scan gives us a little bit of character development in the beginning. Teens will think Tate's dad is an overbearing prick. Adults, we'll know that Tate is a petulant brat who is getting a little too big for his britches. No matter, he'll have to grow up pretty fast because the ride starts early in the book. (You better go use the bathroom before he takes the scanner to school unless you don't mind taking a book with you.) Of course, Tate is going to do exactly what Dad really doesn't want him to do. Then Hell breaks loose. Oh, by the way, the bad guys are mixed in with everyone else, they don't know they're bad, and maybe they aren't bad after all. Are you confused yet? Good, so is Tate.
On the back of my ARC (advance reader copy), it says:
MACGYVER MEETS WAR OF THE WORLDS IN THIS EXHILARATING ADVENTURE
That pretty much sums it up. Tate can do All The Things because his dad was seemingly über-paranoid and had Tate on an intense training schedule since forever. Unfortunately, those things aren't the hugest help in the world when you don't know where the heck you should go. It sucks when you don't have that wise, elderly character with all the answers ready to show the way, doesn't it?
You obviously have nothing better to do if you're reading my review. Got a few extra dollars? Go buy Scan, and stop reading the damn review. You'll thank me later. Now excuse me while I see who I need to schmooze to get my hands on the sequel.
- 4.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book for reviewing purposes through JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
When Let's Hear It For Almigal arrived in the mail from JKS Communications, my five year old daughter immediately snatched it up and ran to her bedroom to look at the book. Since I received the book for reviewing purposes, I had to negotiate with Bug (my daughter) in order to have a turn with the book. The end result - I got a turn to read the book, but I had to read it aloud to her. Being as it is a children's book, I think reading it in this manner was best for the review.
The Writing of Let's Hear It For Almigal is great for children who are still being read to. (Some of the words are a little too big, and the book itself is a bit too long, in my opinion, for beginning or intermediate readers.) However, the "read to me" age will really enjoy the book. Wendy Kupfer introduces Almigal, a little girl with hearing loss who wears hearing aids in a way that children can easily relate to her. She is shown to be a completely normal little girl well before any mention of her disability is made. Almigal's struggles and mishaps are portrayed in a light and funny way that doesn't make anyone feel sorry for her. I think children will identify with Almigal's ability to get in trouble and the triumphs she makes throughout the book. 5/5 Stars
I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was the Illustrations* that drew Bug to the book. Tammie Lyon illustrates the Eloise series, and the pictures for Let's Hear It For Almigal are no less engaging. There is one picture in particular that Bug really liked, which showed how say "I love you" in sign language. The book is bright, colorful, and perfect for keeping the attention of an easily distracted child. 5/5 Stars
Since my Attention Span is not really an issue, I'm going to base this part on Bug's reaction to the book. She is a very active child who is constantly looking for something to do or trouble to start. However, as soon as I opened the pages of the picture book, she was enraptured. Bug did not move from my side until I finished reading the story. Once we were through with the book, she immediately returned to her regularly programmed shenanigans. 5/5 Stars
The Pacing of the story was fairly typical for a children's book. Being as I'm not exactly sure how a children's book should be paced, I'm going to skip rating this portion.
The Extra Magic of Let's Hear It For Almigal for me was that my daughter was not asking me why Almigal was different. Usually, if Bug sees someone with a hearing aid, a cane, or who just looks different, she is interrogating me as to why that person is that way. With Almigal, she only saw another happy little girl who had lots of friends, cute puppies, and did not always do what she was supposed to. 5/5 Stars
This is easily my favorite children's book that I have read in 2012, and I think it will be a fantastic book for all children - especially little girls. I think it has just enough information to make children more aware of hearing loss in other individuals their own age, but not so much that it bores or scares them. Let's Hear It For Almigal will be a great addition to any library, be it public, classroom, or home.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for free through JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.(less)
The Raven Boys is the latest novel from popular young adult novelist, Maggie Stiefvater. It tells the story of Blue Sargent, who lives with her mother in a household of psychics, and four boys who attend Aglionby Academy - Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah. Blue has always been told that her true love would die if she ever kissed him, but she did not know that the first ghost she would ever see belonged to someone who hasn't died.
Even though I've never been a fan of Maggie Stiefvater, there is no denying the beautiful style of her Writing - especially in The Raven Boys. We're given a lovely blend of mysteries, ghosts, leylines, Welsh mythology, brotherhood, and just a touch of romance. The storytelling and writing is smooth, though luscious, and will appeal to both teen and crossover adult audiences. I can also see it appealing just as much to male teens with the novel centering more on mystery and mythology than the romantic aspect of things.
The story focused primarily on Blue, the psychic's daughter; Gansey, the saucy rich boy obsessed with finding lost things; Ronan, the broken bad boy with more issues than National Geographic; Adam, the poor local scholarship student; and Noah, who seems just a bit off. Additionally, there was a multitude of minor characters that were just as fascinating and given nearly as much depth as the protagonists. Maura Sargent's psychic roommates, Persephone in particular, were the aunts and cousins that I never knew I wanted. I'm trying to avoid saying too much because I'm afraid to spoil even the tiniest thing. That being said, the characters and the writing is the very best part of the book. 5/5 Stars
Once I started reading, I was immediately drawn into the fictional town of Henrietta, Virginia by Stiefvater's World-Weaving. The location was beautifully described, though far too eerie to be anywhere I'd like to visit, and I could see every setting of this novel clearly in my mind's eye. The graveyards, churches, leylines, and everything were presented in such a way to make perfect sense to me. The way Stiefvater tied the Glendower myth into the story was genius. There was enough history and mythology to make me a very happy girl, but not too much to turn off less voracious readers. The world of The Raven Boys is one that most people can enjoy. 5/5 Stars
The Raven Boys is another book that I feel I must throw the Pacing and Attention Span together for reviewing purposes. While the story dragged a bit in some areas, it was constantly on my mind - even as I did other things. I gave myself a full week to read it because I wanted to savor it. Things unfolded quickly enough in the novel, but I like to simmer when it comes to books with twists and numerous pockets of information. The drag at the start of the novel may be off-putting to some, but it is well worth it in the end. 4/5 Stars
Would you want to choke me if I told you that the Extra Magic of The Raven Boys is the magic? Yes? Well, there wasn't really magic, per se, in the novel, but it was definitely an outstanding ghost story. I have not read many young adult novels that weaved psychics and ghosts together in a way that wasn't trying to scare your pants off, and it was nice. The Raven Boys consists of good, old-fashioned storytelling of a world and characters that drew me and kept me hook (even at the few slow parts) until the very end. Also, I appreciate the lack of a nail-biting cliffhanger. (But do not for a moment assume there was none.) One final thing that I would like to mention is that I have been writing and rewriting this review - finally scrapping the entire thing I was working on - because I don't feel I can say enough to do this book justice. This is far and away my favorite fall read to date. 5/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of a Southern Book Bloggers tour in exchange for an honest review. The advance copy was provided to the tour by the publisher, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
If you're an international reader, I know how you feel. Well, a little bit anyways. You know how there are these really fantastic books in the US that come out, and it's impossible for you to get your hands on them? This was a book like that for me. Earth Girl has been out in the UK since last year, but it doesn't release in the States until March! (That's forever for someone who expects a healthy dose of instant gratification in all the things.) Yes, I know I could get it from Fishpond (which is my saving grace sometimes), but honestly, it can be expensive. (This is why I have never bought my own copy of Burn Bright.) So here I am, knowing a book is out in the world, but I'm unable to get my grubby little hands on it.
It's not a good feeling.
In a way, that very thing also reminded me of the main character in Earth Girl, Jarra. There is this whole universe out there, she knows it, and it's out of her reach. Jarra was not the type to mope silently about her crappy luck. She was a firecracker and one of the best teen characters that I've read. She's impulsive, aggressive, and angry to the point that I wanted to throttle her, but she was also very sympathetic. What if it was humanly possible to travel anywhere in the universe, and you were a part of that minuscule percentage of people who couldn't survive off-planet? Hell, most of the parents of these children just dropped them off on Earth and went on with their lives. It had to be hard, and Jarra was pissed and messed up over the way her cards were dealt to her. She wanted to follow her dreams in such a way that she could prove to those without her disability that she is just as good as any other human in existence, and I don't think she could've ever been happy without trying to do it.
She is clearly not the girl on the US hardback cover.
Basically, this book is about Jarra being a lying, confrontational teen who feels confined by her situation trying to find herself by proving her worth to people who would probably never have looked down on her because she was as prejudiced and discriminatory as she expected them to be. Wait, isn't that almost every teenager ever? Yes? Okay, now imagine the situation a few centuries in the future, and you have Earth Girl.
Yes, there is a lot more to the story than Jarra (along with some excellent world-building!), but she was really the driving force behind the novel. I want to try to avoid as many spoilers as possible when it comes to her, though there's nothing that would necessarily ruin the book. Let's just leave it at this - Earth Girl is truly unique and worth reading. Trust me.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance reading copy of the book for reviewing purposes from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
You know that feeling you get sometimes when you start a book, that it will be impossible to put down? My friends, Poison was just that. The world-building was rich, the characters were lovable, and the writing was perfect for readers of all ages.
Kyra was one of the Master Trio of Potioners, and a highly respected citizen of the Kingdom of Mohr. Princess Ariana, the heir to the throne, is her best friend and the reason that she is on the run. Apparently it is frowned upon to try to murder a princess, even if she's your best friend. The story begins three months after the attempted assasination with Kyra starving and desperate. She is willing to do whatever it takes to kill Ariana because she thinks that she will save the kingdom by doing so. She's also one of those characters that wants to protect everyone she loves, and while doing that, closes everyone out. Yes, Kyra is a person guilty of the whole "I'm doing it to keep you safe" silliness. She also believes in doing what she thinks is the right thing, even at a personal cost. Kyra does end up growing a lot in Poison.
As much as I loved Kyra (which is a lot), there was still enough of my heart to spread around to other characters. Fred was a good-natured, handsome young man that Kyra met on the run. From him she learned how important it was to be responsible to the people who care about her and to not close herself off from them. Rosie was a Katzenheim pig (which is a punchline for a joke in Mohr), who came to Kyra from Arlo, the King of Criminals. Rosie was the key to finding the hidden away Princess Ariana and - let's just face it - adorable. I almost want a pet pig myself now. (Almost.) As for Princess Ariana, she is not a typical princess, and I probably would be friends with her myself. She won me over wtih the underwear that she made "Kitty" (her nickname for Kyra) for her birthday. Ariana knows that "Kitty" takes herself too seriously and can't resist tweaking her nose a little from time to time. Trust me when I say the book is worth reading for how that plays out alone. It's still awesome on other levels, but that... *snickers*
The world-building in Poison is sound, but fairly typical of humorous fantasy adventures. There is almost always going to be the serious character who gets zinged by his/her funnier companions. Blunders, trouble, and other silliness will happen, and it will be a lot of fun. (It did in Poison, and it was.) Where the book surprised me though was with some of the twists. I did not see what I thought of as the main one coming (you can email if you want to know which one I'm talking about) because it never occurred to me to be expecting one. This is a trick that most authors' use only results in me being pissed at their shenanigans, but Zinn was successful in pleasing me and making my jaw drop a little. (It is a rare thing to surprise me in a book.) There was no sleight of hand or trickery - just really good writing.
The pacing of Poison is fast. The book grabbed me and did not let go until I finished. Or vice versa. I kept wanting more and more out of the story and had loads of questions - why did Kyra try to kill Ariana? who was Kyra engaged to? Why was that pig so damn cute? With each answer, I wanted to know even more. I could not step away from this novel until I was done. I'm already considering a reread because I made my journey with Kyra much too quickly.
Poison is a fantastic YA debut that I think will be around for many years to come. The book is a great crossover for middle grade, as well as adult readers. It is a funny, smart, and fast-paced novel that I plan on putting into everyone's hands. I recommend that you go find yourself a copy of this book immediately.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own. (less)
The Lost Girl is the debut novel of Sangu Mandanna. It is a young adult, speculative fiction novel th...moreReview originally posted on Bibliophila, Please.
The Lost Girl is the debut novel of Sangu Mandanna. It is a young adult, speculative fiction novel that explores grief and the lengths that families are willing to go to never have to say goodbye. The main character is an "echo" named Eva who has been created for the sole purpose of stepping into her "other's", Amarra's, life if anything should happen to her.
Before I start hitting the main points that I look at when writing a review, I feel it is important for me to let you know that I experienced a loss in my family at the time I read the book and reviewed it (in addition to two other family deaths in the past two months). A major theme of this novel is grief and loss, so it had a profound affect on me as a reader. The manner in which Ms. Mandanna captured the feelings of each character was gut-wrenching.
I have said many times that there is little that I love more than a smart novel, and the Writing of The Lost Girl is very, very smart. It has a beautiful style that is all its own, while paying homage to classic stories such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - which was discussed in the novel itself - to Pinocchio. The similarities that it has to Frankenstein is that Eva is created by Weavers - "mad doctors", if you will - to replace Amarra in case she would die before her time. She is to be Amarra's perfect clone in every possible way, and for this she is considered to be a monster. Though legal in some parts of the world, she still has to be hidden away by her guardians from Hunters and the members of society who believe her to be an abomination. I saw so much of Pinocchio in The Lost Girl because all Eva truly wanted was to be a real girl and a person in her own right, and it was heartbreaking. One quote in the ARC (that I was idiotic enough to not write down the page number for) made me cry. Sean, the youngest guardian, told Eva at one point:
There's nothing wrong with being an echo. You step in when another dies. That's pretty glorious, don't you think? You're an angel among mortals. Echos are asked to sacrifice everything to make another family, other people, happy. To give them hope. You are hope.
Though Eva is the heroine of the novel, the supporting characters are just as rich and riveting as she is. Mina Ma is the woman who raised Eva in England and taught her everything she needed to know about India. Erik is her tutor who could be so much higher in the Loom than he is. She is tested regularly by Ophelia, the daughter of one of the Weavers, to make sure she is everything that she is supposed to be. Her final guardian is Sean, who is in charge of her socialization - and not much older than her. He is a completely amazing guy, and a romantic interest that I could even see myself falling for. 5/5 Stars
The World-Weaving in this book really worked for me. It's set in a near/alternate future, and I completely understood why that future existed. Death and loss is such a major part of life, and it is completely understandable why the Loom was allowed to "make" the echoes. We try so hard to hold onto what we love, and the story perfectly captured this. The Lost Girl gave us a reality where people could put off the necessity of letting go, and as a member of a very large, close family who has been faced with so much loss lately, it is a reality that I almost want. Fortunately, Sangu Mandanna also gave us Eva to remind us that there is always another side to the coin. The book felt so real and resonated so strongly with me, that I would almost believe you if you told me that the story was happening in our world right now. 5/5 Stars
The Pace of the novel will probably be a little slow to some readers, but it was perfect for me. I did not want this book to end. I wanted to stay with Eva and fantasize (guiltily, mind you) about the possibility of having echoes waiting to replace anyone I love and may lose. I even had time to be haunted about the fact that if I leave this world before my daughter is grown, there is no replacement to come into her life. No, I don't believe having an echo is necessarily right, but the pace gave me ample time to think much on what the possibilities could be if they did. 5/5 Stars
I don't think any books have kept my Attention Span the way The Lost Girl has. I still think about this book weeks after having read it. It is etched into my mind, and Eva is more than an echo for Amarra - she is an echo in my own mind for my own loss. 5/5 Stars
The Extra Magic of this novel is how it lingers. It was not easy for me to read this book while facing these very recent deaths (as I've said too many times already), but the book reminded me of fact that our time here is so precious. It made me remember that some things are not worth the chance, not worth the cost, and not worth the heartbreak, no matter how much it hurts. However, taking control of your life and living it the way you choose is always worth that. 5/5 Stars
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received the book for reviewing purposes as a part of a DAC ARC Tour in exchange for an honest review. The book was provided to the tour by the publisher, which has had no effect on the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.(less)
Starters by Lissa Price is her debut novel that is set in a post-apocalyptic future of the United Sta...moreReview originally posted at Bibliophilia, Please
Starters by Lissa Price is her debut novel that is set in a post-apocalyptic future of the United States. Everyone between the ages of 20 and 60 had died in the Spore Wars three years prior to the events in this science fiction novel. It is the first in a projected two-part young adult series.
Callie Woodland is an unclaimed "Starter" who is responsible for her seven year old brother, Tyler. Their parents are dead, and they have no other family to claim them. As a result, they are forced to squat in abandoned buildings and live on the run, along with former neighborhood friend, Michael. In order to support her brother, she decides to rent her body out to "Enders" via secret company, Prime Destinations, since any other work is illegal for individuals under the age of 19. Callie sees this as a great deal, until something goes wrong in the process.
I found Starters to be a very imaginative and well-written example of the sci-fi genre. As a young adult book, it is one of the best I have encountered. The dystopian US was both realistic and frightening - frightening mostly because it was so realistic. The premise was very plausible, and the explanations used in the world-building were very strong. As with other YA dystopians, I did not found myself asking, "How could this happen?" The characters in Starterss were the meat and bones of the novel and played their parts well in the progression of the story. Callie was a sympathetic character, and I was rooting for her to be successful from the first sentence. The secondary characters win the prize for the book because they were all such beautiful shades of gray. I was guessing who the "bad guys" were and never had it correctly figured out.
The one problem that I had with Starters was the pacing. While most of the story flowed along nicely, there were several parts that felt a bit rushed. Some scenes had things fall into place too easily, and I would have liked to know more of the motives driving a few of the characters. Overall, however, the novel was a fantastic debut. The story sucked me in and held me until the very end. It is a brilliant addition to the young adult subset of the science fiction genre (or vice versa). I cannot wait for Enders and future projects from Lissa Price.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome.(less)