Bollywood-does-Steampunk is the perfect description for this book. From the description, I had certain expectations for the setting, the technology, tBollywood-does-Steampunk is the perfect description for this book. From the description, I had certain expectations for the setting, the technology, the heroine, the hero, the romance... and this book delivered on every front. Although I struggled a little bit at the beginning while Aniri was still in spoiled-princess mode, once she leaves for the barbarian north the book really hits its stride. I finished the whole thing in one evening because I just couldn't put it down....more
Blade Singer tells the story of Manny Boreaux, who picks up a strange book in a bookstore and is transported to another realm--and another body. RecenBlade Singer tells the story of Manny Boreaux, who picks up a strange book in a bookstore and is transported to another realm--and another body. Recently orphaned when his parents died in a car crash, Manny has been struggling in school and in life, but his previous problems seem small when compared to the ones he faces in this new, magical realm--like finding his way home, escaping the clutches of a notorious gang, and, of course, saving the kingdom.
An enjoyable romp through a vividly-imagined fantasy setting, Blade Singer has very little to criticize. Perhaps the only thing that really bothered me was the interaction between Manny and the goblin pickpocket who's body he finds himself trapped in. The mechanics of their relationship are never really explained and seem bizarrely one-sided. Other than that, however, I really have nothing bad to say about this book. It's a fun read and I would definitely recommend it....more
When I saw Jonathan Stroud had a new book out, I added it to my to-read list without even bothering to read the description. In fact, I had no idea whWhen I saw Jonathan Stroud had a new book out, I added it to my to-read list without even bothering to read the description. In fact, I had no idea what the book was about until after I ran to my library and checked out a copy.
Since you're reading this review, I assume you're not like me and have read the summary, too. In The Screaming Staircase, Stroud has created an absolutely believable, detail-filled world in which the British Isles are beset by a "Problem." Like the excellent storyteller he is, Stroud never bogs down the reader with exposition, but reveals the nature and results of the Problem slowly and naturally. He deftly weaves together two seemingly disparate plot lines, and gives the reader lifelike and believable characters who clearly have a lot of adventures (and development) ahead of them.
As and adult reading a YA book, several things jump out at me. First of all, The Screaming Staircase is a ghost story, of sorts, and has a lot of horror elements. The matter-of-fact way in which the hauntings are handled keeps it from being truly frightening, and I don't think this book is inappropriate or too intense for kids. However, I think it would be extremely difficult to create a movie adaptation that would not be too frightening for younger readers, which says something about it (though I'm not quite sure what; maybe just that it's really good).
Secondly, there is absolutely no romance, of which I approve heartily. There's some indication that Lucy and Lockwood might start something in later books, but for now, at least, Stroud chose not to clutter up a happy and successful friendship with unnecessary romance.
All in all, this is a fantastic YA/children's book that's a great read for adults, too. I would recommend it to pretty much anyone....more
An enjoyable romp through a magic-filled Regency England, following the adventures of Kim, a street thief who makes the mistake of trying to steal froAn enjoyable romp through a magic-filled Regency England, following the adventures of Kim, a street thief who makes the mistake of trying to steal from a magician. Definitely aimed for a younger, female audience, but that shouldn't deter older, non-female readers who are looking for something light. Overall, this reminds me a little of a fluffier Crown Duel; if you liked Magic, you'd probably like Duel....more
I was at first unsure how I would like this book. Throughout Crown Duel I (quite naturally) had a crush on Shevraeth, but what I loved most about theI was at first unsure how I would like this book. Throughout Crown Duel I (quite naturally) had a crush on Shevraeth, but what I loved most about the books was the interaction between Shevraeth and Meliara. When I picked up A Stranger to Command, I wasn't sure that Shevraeth would be able to carry a book on his own, without Mel to help him.
Well, he can. Basically A Stranger to Command is just a typical kid-goes-off-to-boarding-school-and-has-adventures story, with a lot of heavy-handed lecturing on morals thrown in. It has no discernible climax, and by all rights should be a really boring book, yet somehow it winds up being really good: I stayed up all night to finish it.
A Stranger to Command is set in Smith's vivid, original, and well-constructed world of Sartorias-deles. Although it is a prequel to Crown Duel, it can easily be read on its own--though I would not recommend doing so. Reference is made to the events of the Inda series, and it intersects closely with another story-arc focusing on Senrid (the exact chronology/reading order is complex and fuzzy, but you can check the author's website for details). Again, this book can be read alone without any confusion.
This book is far from problem free. Despite being published long after Crown Duel, which is very polished and professional, A Stranger to Command consistently makes two beginner's mistakes: fragmented sentences and changing POV in the middle of a scene. Smith also occasionally throws in pronunciation tips in parenthesis behind names, another unprofessional touch. Despite these faults, and despite the story having no more plot than absolutely necessary, A Stranger to Command is an enjoyable and deeply satisfying book....more
When I first picked up this book, I almost put it down again. It read more like a bad fanfic than anything else: rushed prose, hurried characterizatioWhen I first picked up this book, I almost put it down again. It read more like a bad fanfic than anything else: rushed prose, hurried characterizations, and no sense of place. But I decided to give it a chance and kept reading long enough to meet Lend, and Lend was interesting enough that I kept reading long enough to get to the good stuff. I recommend that you do the same.
The heroine is uncannily Buffy-esque--teenaged, girly, kick-ass and often immature. Along with the other main characters, she feels caricatured and shallow, in contrast to the supporting characters, who feel shallow and half-invisible. The world has the potential to be interesting, but the author never takes the time to develop it beyond backdrop scenery. This applies to the setting in general: even when a room is described in terms of size, contents, or color, I still didn't really know what it looks like. For the entire book, I felt as though I was blindfolded, being told what was happening but not where or even really how. This is symptomatic of the author's prose, which is amateurish in its pace: dialogue comes to fast, actions come too close on the heels of dialogue, and internal dialogue is mashed in between wherever it will fit.
This is in strong contrast to the pacing of the plot, which is probably the book's strongest point. Aside from a few spots, it is never rushed, and it definitely never lets you sag. The plot itself is interesting and engaging. However, I feel that the plot tied itself up neatly, leaving little room in my mind for a sequel; the author definitely left enough loose threads to build a good one, but I feel content stopping at book one. Even if I don't pick up the sequel, I would definitely recommend this book to fans of YA paranormal romance....more
Caribou is a young woman forced by her prophetic dreams to live on the fringes of her tribe. She falls in love with a man who is not a man at all, butCaribou is a young woman forced by her prophetic dreams to live on the fringes of her tribe. She falls in love with a man who is not a man at all, but a trangl--a daimon that can turn into a reindeer and a man. When he leaves to join the great reindeer herd she is heartbroken, but he returns in time to lead Caribou and her people to safety as their land is destroyed by fires and earthquakes.
Do not expect twists, turns, or complexities of any kind from this story. The plot is very simple, the first part largely taken up by Caribou's childhood, and the second part by her journey to her new home. Compared to the journeys undertaken by Aeriel is The Darkangel trilogy, which are peppered by strange characters and unusual setbacks, Caribou's journey is basically just one long sled ride, and most of the obstacles are geography-related. Although the pace is not slow, it is neither thrilling nor suspenseful.
Although a few other characters make brief appearances, Caribou and Reindeer are the only real players in this book. To get a feeling for Caribou, think of Alice from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland: mostly drifting through, but with occasional outbursts of purpose. Reindeer is harder to describe, but Pierce does a good job of describing his otherness. Their names are interesting: in this setting, "caribou" and "reindeer" are the tame and wild members of the same species, respectively. In the same way, Reindeer is truly undomesticated, not even being human for most of the book, while Caribou, being human, is domesticated by definition.
Like Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and Pierce's other book, The Darkangel Trilogy the story drifts along through a strange world, the third-person narration focusing more on observing what's happening rather than showing the ins and outs of the main character's mind.
If not for the element of romance, this extremely simple book might be better suited for older children rather than young adults. However, the straightforward plot, short story, and minimal number of characters do not make it childish; this is a book that can be enjoyed by all ages. Although not nearly as good as The Darkangel Trilogy, this is nonetheless a pleasant read....more
A beautiful, slightly surreal, haunting young adult fantasy that is perfect for adults as well. A close reading of the first book, The Darkangel, willA beautiful, slightly surreal, haunting young adult fantasy that is perfect for adults as well. A close reading of the first book, The Darkangel, will give you hints that this is really sci-fi disguised as fantasy, hints which are repeated more emphatically later on. The astute reader will also find hints of "The Arabian Nights" and "The Ugly Duckling" and maybe even "Beauty and the Beast" in The Darkangel as well, but although the story has that anything-can-happen feel found in fairy tales, it is a far cry from Disney. The trilogy probably most closely resembles The Neverending Story by Michael Ende....more
**spoiler alert** As a fan of the series who'd waited *so long* for this to come out, I latched onto a copy as soon as I could. Although I enjoyed it**spoiler alert** As a fan of the series who'd waited *so long* for this to come out, I latched onto a copy as soon as I could. Although I enjoyed it very much, I thought it was a little weak compared to the other books in the series. My largest problem was Roshaun's disappearance. The end of Wizards at War left me feeling that the next book would focus on Diarine's search for her lost boyf--sorry, friend. While we do see that Dairine is on Wellakh training as Roshaun's replacement, she doesn't appear to be looking for Roshaun at all. This struck me as odd, out of character, and very disappointing, but I hold out hope for the next book.
As the characters mature, so do their relationships. In WoM, Kit and Nita's relationship changes in important ways. I honestly didn't see that coming. I thought DD was leading us toward a Nita/Ronan relationship, but maybe she'll hook Ronan up with Carmela instead.
All in all, the plot felt thin in some places, like "butter spread over too much bread", as though DD was trying to stretch a much smaller amount of plot to fill the whole book. Still, this is not a bad book. It's not even a mediocre book. It's a good book that isn't quite as good as its predecessors. Here's hoping the next one will be better...more