There was a connection lacking with this book. I just couldn’t get connected – to the characters, to Faeri...moreRead the full review @ Frazzled Book Nommer.
There was a connection lacking with this book. I just couldn’t get connected – to the characters, to Faerie, to the plot, to anything. Perhaps it was because there were too many characters to even develop a connection with one, or that this book, like the Outlaws, was similar to organized chaos. But in any case, that was the books downfall: lack of connection and description.
The characters were mostly inconsistent half of the time. A character would do or say something that would totally ruin my initial impression of them; they went out of character a lot. I think the only consistent character was Lucia, and only because she “looked as if she wanted to cry” all the time. The thing that bothered me, though, was that I couldn’t get connected to Persia as a character. I didn’t feel for her, and I didn’t even care about her romance to Nicholas. Her narrative just seemed like she was in the audience (or reader’s perspective), watching a play unfold before her. She threw in a couple of lines every so often, but she never really did anything substantial.
Going back to the romance, it was so lackluster. I felt like the romance was just tacked into the storyline just so Persia could have a romance. There was no build-up to it. Persia just states that she loves Nicholas, and Nicholas, despite showing no prior signs whatsoever to liking Persia, coincidentally starts loving her, too.
The plot was so stale. I had no idea what the plot even was for half of the book. At times, it seemed like they were running away from Major and the big baddies, and other times, it just seemed like a book focused on theater production. The idea of having Outlaws as a theater troupe was cool, and it would have been better if it had been executed better – we weren’t even given insight to the shows, or the emotions running through the characters while they put it on. I just saw a lazy plot, with nothing but shows and the eventual “show-down” to drive it forward.
I saw no point in the Outlaws going to Faerie, other than to progress the plot. The summary says that they were fleeing for their lives, but it didn’t feel that way at all. They weren’t in mortal danger – it didn’t even happen until about 150 pages in. It felt like their reason for going to Faerie was just not thought out at all, and that the author was groping for any reason to get them into Faerie. There are so many other options that the group of Outlaws could have utilized, or at least tried, before going to Faerie (which they claimed was a “last resort”).
Faerie bothered me. When I think of faeries, I think of magic. The Faerie depicted in this novel didn’t give me a magical vibe, at all. Also, there was a repetition of how dangerous Faerie was, but I didn’t feel the danger at all. I wasn’t scared for anyone, or their lives, and Penny Blubaugh gave us no reason to feel endangered in her world of Faerie. I just felt like everyone was holding hands and everything was sunshine and flowers. The scariest part of Faerie? A big troll who is supposed to be bloodthirsty, but really doesn’t do anything, and blood on the grass. Very dangerous. Also, I have never heard of faeries who would willingly have a democracy, but there it was. If I didn’t know about faeries beforehand, I would have been lost.
Nothing is truly explained in this book. Faeries are never explained, nor are their pink and red drinks (other than the darker the color, the more dangerous it is). There were barely any character descriptions. The only description I had for Lucia was her scarred hand. Floss has dandelion fluff yellow hair. Max is black. And that was it. The author kept using the word “dax” in conversation, which made me think it was a word specialized for the world she created, but it’s never explained. The use of “dax” in context kept changing, too, so I could never guess what it meant. Does someone know what “dax” means? I’d really love to know.
Lastly, the ending. Ugh. I could break down the ending into at least 4 more paragraphs, but I’ll just summarize it with this: I hated the ending; it was so choppy and... well, lazy. Not only was it abrupt, but we were also supposed to assume that these crazy dangerous forces, Feron and Major, would give up just like that. Yes, those dangerous forces that forced (truly, there was no force) the Outlaws to go into Faerie. Ugh.
Overall, there was nothing remarkable or memorable about this book whatsoever. It lacked making a connection with the reader, and there were no addictive qualities about it. To be honest, I only kept reading for two reasons: I was hoping it would get better and I had to read it because I signed up for the tour. There were no character descriptions, and no descriptions about Faerie whatsoever. The romance (if you can call it that) was so lackluster, and the characters were inconsistent. I think this book has a great starting point and that it could have been good, but it was just executed poorly.(less)
Cloaked’s premise is unique and laced with several different fairytales. There were some fairytales I reco...moreRead the full review @ Frazzled Book Nommer.
Cloaked’s premise is unique and laced with several different fairytales. There were some fairytales I recognized from my copy of Grimm’s, but there were also some that were new to me. I was interested at the beginning to see how Flinn would play out this modern fairytale. Then my interest dwindled because of Johnny. While I was reading this book, I felt like I was just coasting along. There was no addicting factor to it. I wasn’t that interested in finding out what happens, because I could pretty much guess at what happens (and in the end, I was right). The predictability was over-the-top. It doesn’t keep you guessing, and nothing is really a surprise. There was nothing to push me into finishing this book besides the fact that I had a deadline to read it for the ARC tour.
I tried really hard to get absorbed into this book – into the fairytale – but it just didn’t happen. I just wasn’t interested. The villain was so stupid. Not stupid in a bad way, but stupid in a this-is-so-not-believable way. Going as far to kidnap and turn a prince into a frog just so the princess will marry her son? I’m sorry, but that’s such a stupid reason to turn a prince into a frog . I’m all for the fantastical and magical element, but there needs to be a valid driving force for a villain to be... well... villainous. I seriously kept rolling my eyes whenever the villains would come back. I think my only favorite “sub-story” in the entire book was the sub-plot that was derived from “The Six Swans” (probably because it was my favorite fairytale as a kid).
Lastly, the main character, Johnny, downright pissed me off and made me want to bash myself in the head whenever he spoke or thought something. Since it was in 1st person, that happened a lot. He made me sympathize with him at first: he’s poor, works hard for his money, and has to support his mom. While that’s great and all, it also made me draw up the conclusion that he would be humble. He was sooo opposite of humble. He kept looking down on people, even ones that helped him. He didn’t even consider the princess when she told him the truth, just deeming her as crazy (but hot). The way he adamantly refuses to believe her at first was so annoying – a bit of resistance would have been believable, but he totally didn’t even give her the benefit of the doubt.
Also, Johnny makes some dumb decisions. And it wasn’t like it was in the making-dumb-decisions-at-first-but-progressing-as-the-story-goes-along-and-learning-from-them way. I don’t feel he grew as a character at all. The “love” he felt for Meg felt so forced and un-fairytale-like. He didn’t even give her a second glance for 95% of the book, but all of a sudden when another guy is in the picture, he’s suddenly in complete love with her. Um, okay I could believe that if he had prior feelings to her, but it just felt forced. Like he was treating Meg as a possession and only wanted her when he couldn't have her. I could not stand Johnny as a main character and it was hard to stomach reading in his perspective. He totally rubbed me the wrong way.
Overall, I suppose this book was okay, but it wasn’t horrible, either. The fantasy/fairytale-like element of the book was poorly done and it had no addicting factors whatsoever. I found myself at a loss while trying to write this review. It’s easy to talk about things I hate, or things I like. Cloaked had something I hated (Johnny), but barely anything I liked. So, for the first time since I started blogging, I was stumped when trying to write a review. Probably why it’s my shortest review yet. I also usually measure a book by its amount of memorable quotes, but Cloaked takes the cake for having the fewest least memorable quotes for a book I’ve read. I was disappointed by Cloaked a lot because a lot of people loved Flinn’s earlier work and swore up and down by her. I just didn’t see it in this book. Definitely a miss for me, but I’ll still try out her other books.(less)
Initially, it was very difficult for me to get into this book. I felt like I was being bombarded with new...moreRead the full review @ Frazzled Book Nommer.
Initially, it was very difficult for me to get into this book. I felt like I was being bombarded with new customs and everyday life, and it was very slow (despite its action-packed pacing). In fact, despite all the action that was in the beginning, the book didn’t really pick up for me until about ¼ of the way in. The beginning was pretty much getting introductions to the characters done, and weaving a plot to get them together. However, when all of the members of the “team” joined forces with one another, the book picked up the pace considerably. Once this happened, I was done – I was totally hooked.
I never anticipated how absorbed I would become into the novel due to the initial slowness of the book. But the world of the Kelanni was so intriguing. There’s unknown terrain and a lot of land to explore, as well as new creatures (like the Chandara and graylesh). There were so many customs and society norms to get accustomed too. The Kelanni themselves were an enigma we had to figure out – they are the “alien” race of the planet Kelanni, with animal-like tails and ears. (I kept picturing them as a scaled down version of Viera from Final Fantasy). They worship the 3 suns (yes, three suns!), Ail-Mazzorth, Ail-Gan, and Ail-Kar, and never see nighttime (or at least, the nighttime that we know of).
All of these customs are a bit overwhelming, actually, which happens to be one of the downfalls I found with this book. With any fantasy or science fiction novel, the authors need to ease their audience into the new world – explain things, hold their hand, etc. With this book, only a few things were explained (like the suns and their “religion”). I suppose that gave me a lot of leeway with my imagination, but I would have liked to have more things explained to me.
The characters were mostly enjoyable. I wasn’t able to connect with any of them, with the exception of Keris, but they were very fun to read about. Alondo was the “comedian” of the group, and I absolutely loved every time he spoke. Keris was a Keltar (one who is sworn an oath to the Prophet), but renounced her ways after an incident (vagueness is vague!). She had never been one to form close bonds to others, ever since she was a kid, and preferred to working alone than in a team. Lyall is haunted by his past and strives to actively change Kelanni for the greater good.
Shann is a young rebellious spirit that annoyed the crap out of me. I can appreciate her braveness and her spirit, but she had this unfounded vendetta against Keris that I saw was stemmed from jealousy and pettiness. Shann hated being treated like a child, but her actions and mistrust of Keris was the very epitome of childish. I can appreciate the doubt she had with Keris (since the group wasn’t sure of where Keris’s allegiance lay), but she doubted Keris too much. So much that it was unbelievable. And annoying. Time and time again, the “evidence” on Keris would be cleared, yet Shann remained doubtful. Ugh! Lastly, Boxx, the Chandara, is the last of the group, and my personal favorite. Chandara don’t have names or genders, but Boxx was called Boxx (“The Key”), and I always associated it as a him. He (in my mind, at least) was a cross between a centipede and a pillbug (roly poly) and had a different way of speaking that was adorable.
Despite my few misgivings with characters, inconsistencies, and lack of detail, this book was so entertaining after the beginning. The book is pitched as science fiction, and while it does retain a lot of sci-fi elements, I felt it had a more fantasy vibe to it.
Overall, this was a very well-done science-fiction and fantasy novel! The beginning is slow, but the pace began to pick up after all of the characters joined forces. There is tons of adventure and action packed into this book, as well as new creatures and lands. Kelanni was an interesting place to read about, and I found myself constantly wanting more! I was almost outraged at where Mark decided to cut the book off – I can’t wait to see what happens in book two!(less)
The Adventures of Annie Marmalade was a delightfully charming tale of a young girl, Annie, who lives in G...moreRead the full review @ Frazzled Book Nommer.
The Adventures of Annie Marmalade was a delightfully charming tale of a young girl, Annie, who lives in Goodhaven. She feels left out because her gift – the ability to make delicious desserts – isn’t as conventional in society as her peers’ are. But when tragedy befalls Goodhaven and the Ronji Crystal is stolen, Annie steps up in the face of adversity to save her beloved Goodhaven and rescue the Ronji Crystal.
My first thought about this book was that it was cute, remarkable, unique, and innovative.
For being a children’s book, The Adventures of Annie Marmalade was wonderfully descriptive. I was a bit surprised at how flawlessly Julian weaved a tale of fantasy that was easy to grasp and be immersed in. The pacing was great and filled with action packed scenes and tons of adventure. There were hidden depths and themes in the novel, despite how relatively short it was. I loved the theme in which even the least remarkable person could be a hero.
Annie’s gift, and the way she uses it, is completely unique. It was fun seeing what different ways Annie would get out of a situation – I would have never thought up some of the innovative things that Julian thought up for her! For example, she uses taffy lasso to use as a rope and turns water into caramel to slow down the hounds that were hunting them. She used gummy bears to get rid of some giants that caught them in a tricky situation and bubble gum as a balloon. One thing is for sure: this book will get your sweet tooth craving some dessert!
The characters were enjoyable to read about and believable. Annie was charming and oh-so-cute. I absolutely loved it when she would shimmy and shake to make ordinary objects into desserts. She had a different outlook to life – where others were afraid, Annie was fearless; where others were wound up, Annie was carefree. Her way of thinking was so unique and definitely stood out. There was also the Prince, who is a great military leader but doubts his abilities on facing problems by himself. He’s a bit of a scaredy-cat, but learns to be brave in the face of danger.
My only complaint/wish is that it were longer – I didn’t want to stop reading about Annie’s adventures!
Overall, The Adventures of Annie Marmalade was definitely an enjoyable tale that would be loved by the entire family. It’s full of action and it’s interesting to see what unique ways Annie will come up with to pull Prince Marion and herself out of danger. I would recommend to this to anyone, really – children, adults, fantasy-lovers. I can't wait to read this to my niece!(less)
Immersing ourselves in the world of the Seven Kingdoms was slightly confusing. There were so many kingdoms to remember, and it was a challenge remembe...moreImmersing ourselves in the world of the Seven Kingdoms was slightly confusing. There were so many kingdoms to remember, and it was a challenge remembering which king belonged to which kingdom. Even after reading the book, I only really know the kingdoms of Middlun, Lienid, and Monsea, as these three kingdoms were the primary focus of the storyline.
Kristin Cashore’s prose was elegant and she was able to weave a tale that I felt I was in. Her descriptions were perfect – exuding details to the very tiniest point. The pacing in this book was absolutely lovely – it was a very fast-paced novel. Time wasn’t a stranger in this book: we knew exactly how much time had passed during certain events, and it was easy to keep a timeline of what had transgressed during the main characters’ absences. The plot was fleshed out really well and it was easy to accept the concept of Graces.
The characters were written so in-depth; perfect, yet flawed at the same time. You could see the character development as time progressed. We got a lot of time to get to know the characters, down to their every nuance. Katsa is so strong-willed, yet very humble when it comes to the power she wields. She despises her Grace of killing and uses it as little as possible. She always does the right thing. Po was just a charming little doll. I loved him sooo much. <3 He was charming, witty, and a perfect match for Katsa. I sympathized with him so much at the end. Secondary characters, like Raffin and Bitterblue (how awesome is it that a princess has the name Bitterblue?), were easily loveable. Even characters, such as Bann, Skye, and even Giddon, were easy to like, despite the meager amount of “face time” they have.
The climax seemed a little... rushed, but I can see why it happened the way it did. The last pages after what happened in Lienid were... well, I have to admit they seemed unnecessary to the novel. Sure, we wanted closure and a lead up to the next novel, but I couldn’t help but think that it was just 50 pages of filler. But regardless, I'm really excited to see what happens in the next novel in the series (which I had the fortune to check out), Fire!
Graceling is a fantastic fantasy novel, full of twists and turns, ‘magic’, and adventure. The pacing was outstanding and I never once got bored. It’s a long book, but the pages breezed by and before I knew it, I was done. A definite recommend for other fantasy lovers, and for anyone who might be interested in trying out the fantasy genre. :)(less)
Aurelie is a short fairytale novel about four childhood friends – three children and one dragon (or drac). I think the...moreReviewed at Frazzled Book Nommer
Aurelie is a short fairytale novel about four childhood friends – three children and one dragon (or drac). I think the premise of the novel was pretty good; it was the execution of it that lacked. A lot.
Nothing is really explained in this novel. We know there are Fae, but we aren’t explained what each one is. The only explanation is a very mini one for drac’s. It was difficult distinguishing what each country was. Names of places, people, and faeries are thrown at us without any real meaning. The children are sworn to secrecy about their ability to see Fae, and that it’d be disastrous if anyone knew about it. But what was so disastrous, besides becoming blind?
Descriptions were non-existent – we didn’t know what the Fae looked like, what the main characters looked like, what the countryside (besides Skoe) looked like. It was just a jumbled mess of non-description.
The characters were very one dimensional – they just lacked all around. We know that Netta is shy, Garin is brave, Aurelie is proud, and Loic is mischievous. But that’s it. I hated how everything was forgiven so easily – and that it took place off screen. If these friends didn’t speak for 2 years, why were they all happy and dandy after a few sentences of speaking? And why were they separated? I understand why they refused to see Loic, and why Netta didn’t want to see Aurelie and Garin, but why did the latter two not speak to each other?
Time isn’t distinct in this novel. One moment, we were reading about Aurelie in her room and the next paragraph, she was suddenly somewhere else, with no word whatsoever as to how she got there. One minute she’s in the dining room of the guesthouse, the next she’s at the docks with no explanation that she’s moving.
This novel had every potential of being good, but it was too choppy and fragmented and lacked too many things. I did like the story though, once I looked past the fact that it was a story only half there.(less)
I loved this last installment to the Heralds of Valdemar series. That’s pretty much all I have to say – it’s a tie for my favorite book out of all thr...moreI loved this last installment to the Heralds of Valdemar series. That’s pretty much all I have to say – it’s a tie for my favorite book out of all three (the tie being with the first).
I think Mercedes Lackey read my previous reviews, because the pacing went up by a considerable amount. There were only a few places in the text where the plot lagged, and even when it did, I could see why it was written that way. Elspeth grew a lot this novel, I think, despite the meager amount that was written about her. You’d have thought she’d learned with the whole Hulda incident to not trust anyone wholeheartedly unless you were absolutely sure of them, but apparently she needed a second slap in the face before she learned her lesson. She came a long way from Arrows of the Queen, and I loved seeing the entire process from the Brat to Elspeth-in-the-third-book.
About a fourth into the novel, the plot really picks up. Talia and Kris set out to Hardorn, and you get this feeling of foreboding from the very get-go. The trip there is actually interesting (I felt myself skip a bit of the in-between towns in the second book), and it didn’t take pages upon pages. Talia ends up getting captured – a seemingly hopeless situation – and we almost lose our main character. I love (albeit a very... twisted love) the way Lackey portrayed Talia’s captivity. As a writer, I would not want to write the vile things Talia endured, but Lackey did just that – not in a way that I’d want to throw the book into a wall, but rather in a way that made me sympathize with Talia and want to hold her until her hurt went away.
The way she was rescued was... beyond awesome. I can’t even tell you all how much I was jumping up and down (yes, even after my 10th re-read!). The war... wasn’t that great, compared to other wars depicted through fantasy that I’ve read. It was just so-so; nothing totally epic. I have to admit that I loved how a side character that barely had any face time got the “glory” (and I loved him since book 1, anyway!).
One thing about this book, though... is honestly... prepare some tissues or something. When I went through my first read of this third book, I sobbed my eyes out (I was 10, leave me alone D: ). This time around I didn’t sob, but I did get teary-eyed. No matter how many times I read this series/novel, the one thing that will never change is how I feel about... what made me cry. I felt like I lost a part of me (okay that may be over-dramatization). It was hard not to feel that way, when Lackey does such an amazing job of developing her characters that you feel like they’re your very personal friends.
The wedding at the end was nice and simple (or so it seemed, compared to the lavish decorations Elspeth and the others came up with initially). I was so happy Talia and Dirk finally got together in the end, and I loved the way it led up to its inevitability: hope, confusion, misunderstandings, sickness, capture, reuniting, confessing, and absolute love. Kris’ gift at the end was what made the novel so awesome, and made me write a more hyped review. If you want someone to blame, blame him! :P I... loved that he didn’t back out on his promise.
Lastly, the musical CD that accompanies this book is aptly named and coincides with the book wonderfully -- "Lovers, Lore, and Loss". (less)
This was one of the messiest fantasy novels I had read in... well, ever. The events are explained in such a confusing...moreReviewed at Frazzled Book Nommer.
This was one of the messiest fantasy novels I had read in... well, ever. The events are explained in such a confusing matter – I had to re-read a couple of them twice or three times to fully understand what transpired. I couldn’t even begin to fathom the whirlwind of jumbled words and thoughts at the beginning of the novel, but if you can get past the disjointed writing at the beginning, there is promise at the end. But even at the end I had a lot of clueless moments, so that isn’t saying much.
A lot of things in the book just didn’t make sense at all. It almost seemed like Bracken focused so much on making her major storylines flow and connect that she totally neglected the smaller, “insignificant” details. For example, North slipped out that a wizard poisoned the king. But Sydelle totally glazes over that fact. Instead, she asks about it 100 pages later. Another is when Sydelle cut her hair at the end. No one mentioned it, not even North. Her hair was a considerable length – there couldn’t have been no one to at least comment on it.
It was hard getting absorbed into Brightly Woven’s world. With fantasy, you have to have a knack with easing the reader into the world – I never got that with this novel. There was a lot of “transporting” – one moment they’re talking in the main room, the next they’re in Sydelle’s room, alone. Not enough was explained to us, and descriptions were almost non-existent.
The plot and pacing were okay, but I had figured out many of the plot twists before they were really revealed.
Sydelle, the main character, downright annoyed the living daylights out of me in the beginning. She was so obnoxious and whiny the entire first half of the book. I mean, come ON. She willingly went with North. She had the choice to go back. Actually, no I take back my first statement. She annoyed me all through the novel. She was just so dang stupid. She kept giving North attitude about him, when it was really her that was the problem. Half of the time, she’d get herself into situations where she refuses North’s help, but ends up needing it anyway because she fails. I despised her when she felt “betrayed” by North towards the end.
I really enjoyed North, though, although his character seemed off at times. He had no set personality until the end, really. I also loved Owain (and his ridiculous love for his horse, Vesta, haha). He made suffering through Sydelle’s whining bearable. The Queens character didn’t seem set, either. There was one moment when I was reading something the queen was saying and was like... “That so does not sound like the queen we met a chapter or two back...”
The romance was okay. I loved how it progressed, and there were a couple of times I found myself giggling. But it wasn’t something praise-worthy, though. Just so-so (I blame Sydelle).
I had really high hopes for this novel, being a fantasy lover through and through. It was just too jumbled and disjointed for me to really, truly love it. If it hadn’t been so messy, I might have liked it more. Overall, it was a good read, but definitely not stunning.(less)
Out of all the novels in this trilogy, this has to be my least favorite. But I still enjoyed it, and the series, a lot, so my saying that it’s my leas...moreOut of all the novels in this trilogy, this has to be my least favorite. But I still enjoyed it, and the series, a lot, so my saying that it’s my least favorite isn’t something bad, really.
In this installment of the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, Talia is sent out on her 18 month intership and the entire book revolves around the duties a Herald is likely to perform on circuit. To be honest, it was a refreshing change of scenery from the Collegium – there were only so many situations Talia could find herself in, and a lot of them were starting to repeat. So when I say the change of scenery is a nice change, I mean it.
Right off the bat, a new friendship is unveiled. Kris and Talia are bound to become closer, as he is her “mentor”, of sorts. It doesn’t help, however, when he asks (very bluntly!) Talia about the rumors spreading in Court about her. This dampers the mood immediately, and Talia is suddenly cast into self-doubt and a depression that eats away her soul. In fact, after the first 50 pages, the entire novel was basically Talia being suicidal/depressed, angry, and weak. Am I being harsh in saying she’s weak? Hell no. If I were her, I would have tried my best to reverse the predicament she was in. All she did was reflect on it and allow the doubt to eat away at her. I wanted to reach into the book’s pages and slap her silly. I mean, I’m glad that she had something she wasn’t sure of/skilled at, since a lot of things just came easily to her in the first book, but it was getting me depressed while I was reading about it.
Back to Kris and Talia... I love that they both love someone so much they don’t want to hurt that person, and sacrifice their own feelings (however insignificant) because of that. I love Kris; I’ll admit. He’s funny, arrogant, gallant (at times), and understanding/patient (well, after he reevaluates his perceptions of others). He screamed different, very much like Skif did in the first novel [pertaining to how all the characters sounded the same]. Near the end of the novel, the Midsummer’s Eve scene with him had to be one of my favorites. It was such a nice, loving, thoughtful scene, and I have to admit that I got misty eyed. So sweet!
I have to admit that I hated the lack of action. By action, I merely mean that half of what we read is just them riding, and Talia being emo in the corner (okay, not the corner). There were only about... four scenes that deviated from the monotonous circuit up north, not including the snow-in that occurred. Two of those scenes were stuck in the back of the book, as if Mercedes Lackey just thrust them in without careful planning at all. I also disliked the lack of time (what can I say, I’m a stickler for time!) sequence. One moment, we’d finish up a scene and in the line break, we’re months ahead. Sometimes it was hard to distinguish when a time jump would happen, and I’d have to re-read again to check what month I was reading about.
Upon this re-read, I found some things I had missed in previous reads, which got me really excited. Knowing how the third book goes, I was able to foreshadow a few events (two in particular stuck out; the Weatherwitch and the flowers), so I was happy I was able to pick those events up that I hadn’t in earlier reads.(less)
I should start out by mentioning that I’ve been enamored by the Heralds of Valdemar Series since I was 10. I’ve loved these books so much that I re-re...moreI should start out by mentioning that I’ve been enamored by the Heralds of Valdemar Series since I was 10. I’ve loved these books so much that I re-read them every summer, without fail!
This time around was just as enjoyable as every other time I’ve read my very worn-out copy. The country of Valdemar is unique compared to other worlds I’ve been introduced to in fantasy. Each area has a set of customs and a general persona surrounding it; the Holderkin folk are more reserved, and frown upon unseemly behavior, while the fisherfolk in Lake Evendim are more rowdy.
The main character, Talia, originally hailed from the Holderkin folk. Due to this, she’s a very reclusive, shy, and fearful creature being thrust into a world of Heralds. Heralds are those who are chosen by Companions (can be likened to a horse) and form an intense bond with them. What I loved most about Talia is that she isn’t your average “Mary-Sue” character: she’s been described as not pretty and has her fair share of flaws to balance her strengths. There were a lot of times where she was average at best, and was humble enough to recede “winning” to her other classmates. Throughout the entire novel, you could visibly (well, okay, not visibly, but you get what I mean!) see her transform from this tiny, mouse-like thirteen-year-old into a reasonably sure, confident woman of sixteen years who knew where her place was.
I was always a bit put-off with where Talia started at: the Hold. The idea of a woman’s inferiority was like a slap in the face, since I’m very much for equality between genders. I know it probably didn’t reflect Lackey’s personal beliefs, but I had to shake my head in disgust every time I read the beginning of the book and see how broken Talia had become because of the males’ superiority complexes in the Hold. She lost so much spirit that we heard of her fear of men on a recurring basis. It lifted a bit towards the end, but I felt for Talia on such a profound level. Poor thing.
There were four major storylines in this novel: Talia’s encounter with the Heraldic world and being accustomed to the Collegium, her misfortunes with the Blues, reforming “The Brat” into “Elspeth”, and lastly, honing her abilities of her gift. There was a noticeable shift between them – you’d be reading about the Blues, then all of a sudden we’re thrust into Talia’s new roles with The Brat – yet it was discreet enough to not realize we were venturing into another “plot” in the book until later.
Interactions with characters were... pleasant, for lack of a better word. Being a Herald entitles the fact that you can’t be evil or else your Companion would repudiate you, so everyone was pretty friendly with each other. However, I felt that a lot of the characters personalities meshed together. I could never distinguish between Teren’s or Kyril’s “voices”, and almost everyone spoke similarly. I suppose I shouldn’t be nit-picky about that, because Heralds are inherently personality “readers”, but it put me off a little bit. The only characters that stood out, really, were Skif and Elspeth.
My favorite characters HAD to be Jadusand Skif. I loved the emotional stability they gave to Talia. It was hard not to like Skif: he was a trouble-maker that knew how to put a smile on my face. With Jadus, though, I mostly sympathized for him. If I were in Talia’s position, I know I would have quickly befriended him, as well. There’s something about elderly folk that just screams at my heart-strings, and Jadus certainly needed a friend in his lonely days.
I loved the plot, especially the bondings with Companions. It was slightly reminiscent of Impressing a dragon in The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. I’ve always been fascinated in having a bond with another being that transcended all boundaries, and the Companions were no different! The pacing of the novel wasn’t too shabby, although I did get a little sidetracked after the Elspeth arc (but that was due to personal issues). Tragedies and fast-paced events littered the pages of Arrows of the Queen, but I liked it that way. In a world of fantasy, I expect to be thrown every which way without getting a full impact until after it’s over, so I like a “busy” plotline.(less)
As much as I hate comparing books to other books, I had to with this one. The beginning of Need was so reminiscent of...moreReviewed @ Frazzled Book Nommer.
As much as I hate comparing books to other books, I had to with this one. The beginning of Need was so reminiscent of Twilight, it wasn’t even funny. New girl in a small town, it’s cold – she hates the cold, she falls down on the first day of school as she’s walking to her new ride, the hospital near the end. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt myself going back through time when I first read Twilight. Hell, some of the lines even sounded the same.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this book, and let me tell you – even without a clue about what’s going on at the beginning, this book delivers.
So, not knowing what was going on, I accepted the pixie “sub-plot” pretty easily. Werewolves? Okay. Were-tigers? Uhh... I’ll let that slide. No vampires? That’s where I draw the line. You have an entire army of these other mythical creatures, and no vampires? That’s just odd. But yes, despite the seemingly normal title, Need IS paranormal with lots of shiny creatures.
Our main character, Zara, is dealing with loss, a new romance, potential stalker, and phobia on top of phobia. She’s depressed, hollow, and stubborn. I think she was meant to be portrayed as a strong character, but she’s really just a stupid one. She goes to danger and ends up with concussions, broken limbs, etc. I mean cmon... There is only so much physical harm the body can take. Have some self-preservation. If she had waited for half of the bad scenarios she got caught in, I’m sure there’d be more favorable outcomes. I loved Issie – she’s hyper, eccentric, and loves bunnies. Who wouldn’t like her?! She was a nice, bubbly contrast to Zara. I also liked the fact that there was a parental figure in Zara’s life – that almost always seems to be missing in YA novels. Betty was so badass for a grandmother, and it seemed like she bended over backwards for Zara.
The novel didn’t drag too much, if at all. A lot of the story revolved on moving forward, and action from here to there. Something was always happening. And goodness, PLOT TWIST GALORE. I was only able to predict one plot twist, and that was only because it was super obvious. I’m usually up to par with some plot twists, but goodness, I did not see at least 2 of them coming AT ALL. My mouth hung open – it takes a lot to do that, so kudos to Need for catching me off guard so badly.
I love that the title Need incorporates into the story, in a way I wouldn’t have expected it to – I thought it was more of a need for... romance, or saving, or some sort. You’ll see what I mean. But it was super cool. =)
Need was a pretty good book – I’d recommend this to any YA lovers out there. The pacing was good, the characters were enjoyable, and the plot was semi-unique. The inclusion of phobias made this a rather fun and quirky read – much like our main character. Zara’s and Nick’s romance was sweet, and I actually enjoyed seeing how it progressed. This actually would have been a great standalone book, but I realized it’s a series, so I’m rather curious as to how the story will expand.(less)
The best thing about Tyger Tyger was the mythology that was drawn throughout the entire story. The fantasy...moreRead the full review @ Frazzled Book Nommer.
The best thing about Tyger Tyger was the mythology that was drawn throughout the entire story. The fantasy-geek inside me went crazy with love for this books mythology. I absolutely mean it when I was say it was beyond riveting. There were goblins—which were essentially faeries—and shape-shifters and aingeals, and a plethora of other fascinating beings. This story drew out a lot of Celtic mythology—in fact, it was centered throughout the entire novel—and I felt myself becoming more interested in the mythology than Teagan’s quest. I especially loved that Finn was based on a real Fionn MacCumhail. I found myself wanting to hear more about the goblins and their ways of life.
I loved Teagan as a main character, because she reminded me of myself sometimes. Kersten outwardly states that Teagan doesn’t talk much—she’s more quiet and interested in her smarts, rather than anything else. So when I found out she doesn’t have many lines in the novel, it didn’t bother me; however, if it hadn’t of been stated, that would have been the first thing I complained about. Sometimes, it felt as though Aiden was there just to give Teagan voice. Aiden was very charming for a six year old, and very brave—I would have been terrified if I were facing goblins at age six. He’s inquisitive and actively tries not to be a burden. He was hardly ever annoying, and that’s a huge plus for me, especially since he was such a young age. Finn was also a great character, but I wish we had gotten to see more character development from him. When he came into the story, he was very mysterious and had that Irish bad-boy thing going on for him, but then he was suddenly this caring guy who spilled out his inner-most secrets whenever Teagan asked. If it were me, I would not be sharing lifelong secrets without at least some resistance. I did, however, love how dedicated he was to Teagan and how he followed her into perilous circumstances.
The romance between Teagan and Finn definitely took a back seat in this book. I almost didn’t think there would be one. I also didn’t like the way it started out: Finn immediately said that he was interested in Teagan, and he had barely met with her for an hour. But even though it had a quick start, their “romance” dragged out, because both Teagan and Finn refused to act upon or acknowledge their feelings. If there is one thing I’d like improved in the next novel, it’d be a step up with the romance.
The pacing was great – it starts off a bit slow, but it picks up near the end. I couldn’t get through the pages fast enough. There was action around almost every corner. The plot was unique and I loved the twist Kersten takes with the goblins. There were a couple of small grievances I had, such as the ease the group had to get out of Mag Mell at the end (they spent a long time just reaching Fear Doirich, the villain, and what seemed like a few minutes just getting out), and the way they took Fear Doirich down—was ducktape really all that was needed to stop, or at least hold down, that much of a powerful goblin? It seemed as if these were just easy ways out. They didn’t ruin the book for me, of course, but they were minor complaints.
Overall, Tyger Tyger is an awesome book that’s rich in mythology with a couple of great characters and well-placed humor for comic relief. I think it was a great debut novel for Kersten, and I can’t wait to see where she goes with the sequel. If you love fantasy or mythology, I’d highly recommend this book.(less)
I want to start off by talking about the ending. “Because it ends at the beginning”. No, really. It all en...moreRead the full review @ Frazzled Book Nommer.
I want to start off by talking about the ending. “Because it ends at the beginning”. No, really. It all ends at the beginning. I have never been so impressed in such a long time with an ending than I have with The Iron Queen’s ending. It had all the elements that make a good ending: sacrifice, selflessness, and a sense of peace and acceptance. Everything was over. All the loose ends were being tied. To be honest, I didn’t even need the epilogue to be happy with the ending Julie gives us: I was happy right there at Meghan’s decision. Not because I’m mean or cruel, but because everything made sense – it all came together. But the epilogue just made me so much happier, because it consolidates everything (to a point) that happened in the first two books. It’s a happy ending, but at the same time, it’s not a happy ending. And I loved it.
The pacing was a bit slow for my tastes, as it was with the first two books as well. It would pick up, and I’d get excited that action is about to happen, flip a couple of pages, a couple more, and then the action starts. Don’t get me wrong – I loved the detail that went into this book, because there are a lot of things to be explained – but I kept getting distracted by other things and putting this book down a lot.
On to the characters... I just have to say thank goodness Meghan took a 180 from The Iron Daughter. I couldn’t stand her constant and unjust whining in that book. Strong Meghan, the one who takes things up on her own and wants to actively fight back – emotionally and physically – instead of remaining on the sidelines, was back and boy, was she stronger than ever. I loved all of the decisions she made in this book, and was so happy at the selfless sacrifice she makes at the end.
Ash was... Well, I’ve never been an Ash supporter, and this book didn’t really change my stance, either. I appreciated that there were more interactions between Meghan and Ash, because I never understood why Meghan liked him, other than the fact that he’s forbidden, mysterious, etc., since the two never got to know each other. I loved seeing other sides to Ash – the soft Ash, the one that cries when he feels like he’s losing his beloved, the one who will risk his own life to save hers.
And Puck. I love Puck. I am Team Puck 100%, no matter what Meghan decides. Most of my quotes consisted of lines Puck says; he’s too witty and charming for his own good! I was a bit sad that he’s pretty much getting the short end of the stick, but that doesn’t deter him. He still rushes to Meghan’s aid and still tags along with the group. In fact, I loved his decision to join Ash, his one-time-friend-but-ultimately-his-enemy, at the end. I think that, above anything else, speaks volumes of Puck’s character.
I’ve always thought the concept of Iron fey was ingenious, and this novel was no exception to that thought. Reading about the Iron realm was so exciting – it lives by its own set of rules, and I was constantly wondering what traps or things were set in store for our party when they headed into it. I personally loved the Gremlins (especially Razor). Can you say cute?! I love how Julie makes people we previously thought were antagonists and suddenly makes them into allies. I cannot wait to read more about the Iron realm!(less)
Whatever expectations I had about Hex Hall... well, they were wrong. Just wrong. For one, despite the title, they do...moreReviewed at Frazzled Book Nommer.
Whatever expectations I had about Hex Hall... well, they were wrong. Just wrong. For one, despite the title, they do not learn magic. Not in school, at least. Two, the book didn’t run like a school at all. Not really. It was mostly centered on Sophie and her teenage angst and hormones. Three, it wasn’t as action-packed or as scary as I would have expected, even with mysterious incidents popping up all over the place.
Normally, I get creeped out by any paranormal genre that has an edge of mystery and suspense to it. Take Vampire Academy – mysterious things happened in much the same way as Hex Hall, but it was a lot scarier. Heck, even Twilight scared me sometimes (yes, admitting that is painful). Hex Hall was not scary at all, even if there were several central groups out to get Sophie and a continuous string of murders/almost-murders that seemed to target her coven. The danger just didn’t seem that... real. There was no suspense. Even with the two plot twists at the end, I still wasn’t scared. That bothered me.
Speaking of the plot twists, I didn’t really see them coming! Well, okay, I saw 1 out of 3. I obviously knew Hawkins was throwing us a red herring, trying to line up events with Jenna to make it seem like she was guilty. I found out one of the bad guys once they had appeared. The second, involving The Eye (which is a group of hunters determined to kill any Prodigium)? Noot so much. Did not see that at all.
The characters were alright. Sophie was sarcastic most of the time and had no control over her temper whatsoever. Traditional teenage angst and hormones. Same ole, same ole. She wasn’t very smart, really. She kept getting caught up in the Trinity’s pranks, earning her cellar duty for a semester, and was basically mingling with the enemy. Both enemies. Jenna was such an awesome character, clad with faults and insecurities. She’s strong and brave for putting up with the rumors and murmurings that occurred behind her back. I felt so sympathetic for her when her story was revealed.
Archer was the stereotypical hunk that all the girls wanted to be with. I started out not liking him too much (I wanted Sophie to be with the groundskeeper, Cal), but after a while, he charmed me. Speaking of Cal, I loved him! I have no idea why, since he was in like... what, three scenes? I can’t shake this feeling that he will play a part in future novels. I felt like Hawkins was setting him up as an important character, possibly a love interest for Sophie or Sophie’s true betrothed.
My main gripe about this book was that some of the story was incongruent. One moment they’d be at a pond, the next Mrs. Casnoff was looking off past the lake. Nowhere in the book does it mention there’s a lake on the island. Another incident was when Sophie had the afternoon off, then Taylor had opened a door during Sophie’s phone call. Weren’t the students supposed to be in class? There were just a lot of things that didn’t add up.
I hated the cliffhanger!! =( Not hate in the bad way; hate in the I WANT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS RIGHT NAO RACHEL! kind of way. I’m definitely picking up Demonglass as soon as it publishes. I need to find out what happens!(less)