I loved Swords: An Artist's Devotion, a 2008 debut offering by Ben Boos, and am delighted to see him return with this new volume. Boos, a former graphI loved Swords: An Artist's Devotion, a 2008 debut offering by Ben Boos, and am delighted to see him return with this new volume. Boos, a former graphic designer for video games such as Diablo II, brings his artistic skill and love of ornate detail to this follow-up, a highly illustrated "guide" to the land of New Perigord. Medievalist settings draw on fantasy tropes such as walled cities, arboreal dwellings and heavily armored adventurers. Full color digital illustrations alternate to pleasing effect with line drawings set against a faux-parchment background.
Boos owes a heavy debt to Tolkien, particularly in his treatment of dwarves, elves, goblins and dragons. The book is written in a style halfway between travel guide and history book, outlining the classes, races, and monsters of New Perigord. There are several requisite maps, of course, including a double fold-out spread of the entire realm, which stretches from mountain ranges to the coast, encompassing human cities, elven woods, minotaur lands, a necropolis, ruins and deserts. In many ways, Fantasy: An Artist's Realm, seems so much like a Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying handbook, all it lacks are stats tables and a few gameplay rules. An enterprising game master could certainly draw inspiration from this book to create a campaign.
I'll definitely be putting this book in the hands of reluctant readers who will find the non-linear encyclopedic text and highly visual nature of the work appealing and worth poring over....more
Set sometime in the (distant?) future, the U.S. has been replaced by a new nation-state called Panem. Once a year, the totalitarian government demandsSet sometime in the (distant?) future, the U.S. has been replaced by a new nation-state called Panem. Once a year, the totalitarian government demands a "tribute" of two youths from each of the twelve districts. They are sent to compete in the Hunger Games, a gladiatorial battle for resources designed to both entertain and intimidate the citizens.
Katniss lives a hard-scrabble existence in the coal-mining district. She's an expert hunter who illegally poaches with her male friend Gale in the woods just outside their village. After the emotionally trying loss of her father and her mother's complete withdrawal, she is nearly solely responsible for the care of her younger sister Prim. When Prim is selected as the sacrifice, Katniss instantly volunteers to take her place. She and Peeta, the village baker's son, are sent to the Capitol. Katniss feels awful, as she considers Peeta a friend, but quickly forces herself to be pragmatic, hoping that someone else will kill Peeta first so that she doesn't have to.
After receiving makeovers, and enjoying opulence in the Capitol for the first time in their lives, Peeta makes the startling revelation (on-air, no less) that he's always harbored feelings for Katniss. All too soon, they are forced into battle. While most of the contestants pick each other off quickly in a battle for supplies, Peeta and Katniss form an uneasy alliance. Katniss quickly assumes Peeta's declaration of love for her is a shrewd gambit on his part, in a desperate gamble to assure a winning spot for both of them. She quickly decides to "play along" for the cameras never dreaming that his feelings are genuine. If she does survive, how long will she have to keep up the ruse? And how will she explain this to her not-quite boyfriend Gale back home?
I had several moments reading this where I had trouble suspending my disbelief long enough to really believe in this world. Or perhaps I am too much of an optimist... Somehow I can't picture people actually enjoying watching kids battle each other to the death on a reality tv show. But, then again, I can't believe that people enjoy going to see Body Worlds either. Ultimately, I absolutely really enjoyed this book. I couldn't put it down. It's a great blend of action, suspense and dystopia with just a touch of romance.
One of the small consolations to having such a backlog of books to read is that I don't have to wait for the sequel. Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, was released at the beginning of this month. My next challenge: avoiding spoilers until I can get it into my hands!...more
I raced through this companion novella to the incredibly popular Twilight series. This was a very enjoyable, fun read. What I liked about it best, wasI raced through this companion novella to the incredibly popular Twilight series. This was a very enjoyable, fun read. What I liked about it best, was that it returned (or so it initially appears) to a more traditional take on vampires. Bree Tanner, a down-on-her-luck juvenile delinquent, has no idea what's in store for her when a friendly stranger offers her a meal. Before she realizes what is going on, she finds herself turned into a vampire. Told that she must remain out of sunlight, she believes all of the traditional mythology. Crazed by a powerful bloodlust unique to newly made vamps, and possessed of a fierce will to survive amongst the combative and dangerous nest of fellow newborns, it never occurs to Bree to test out any of the information she's been given. She ekes out an existence by keeping herself in the shadow of "Freaky Fred," a fellow newborn whose special talent is the ability to create a repellent aura around himself.
Deeply distrustful of their leader Riley's story that they will be safe during daylight hours due to a rare celestial alignment but not knowing where else to turn, Bree reluctantly joins the newborn army for their ill-fated march to Forks, WA.
In theme and content, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner reminded me very much of a lighter, faster-paced version of M.T. Anderson's dystopian vampire novel, Thirsty. If only Bree had put two-and-two together a little faster. If only she'd been slightly less incapacitated by her thirst for blood. If only her sire, or another vampire had taken her under their wing. A wily survivor, she had so much potential, particularly if the Cullens had been allowed to adopt her into their vegetarian clan. If only.
The book races at breakneck speed to its inevitable conclusion. With deftly-handled parallel storylines, this short novel packs much more dramatic punch than the rest of the series (particularly the turgid Breaking Dawn) and will be considered essential reading by many Twilight fans, yet is easily accessible even to those unfamilar with the series....more
I can't believe I haven't written a review for this book yet. It's one of those books that is so... wow, terrific,First line: "I can be so, so quiet."
I can't believe I haven't written a review for this book yet. It's one of those books that is so... wow, terrific, over-the-top wonderful. I don't feel like anything I can say will do it justice! It's one of those rare books that I'm not afraid of overhyping, because it's better than any description I can summon.
And I know others have said it before, but it's true, so I'll join in the chorus, and say that this book was poetic, lyrical, magical and completely amazing.
Obviously, readers should go back and read the first two of The Wolves of Mercy Falls books if they haven't yet. Shiver and Linger establish memorable characters and magical, yet somehow believable scenarios for an active werewolf population in Minnesota. I loved that the werewolves are not controlled by the moon - rather, their shapechanging abilities hinge on the temperature. The finale of the trilogy hinges on the relationships between rock-steady Grace and Sam, and the more electric and unstable Isabel and Cole. Mad werewolf Shelby stirs up trouble by randomly attacking people and Isabel's blustering father forces the issue when he organizes a chopper hunt to shoot down the wolves outside Mercy Falls.
Grace and Sam have a really strong connection, and even if I was a little surprised at how much Sam was ready and willing to marry Grace right away, I did appreciate that Grace finally confronts her parents for essentially abandoning her to raise herself. They forbid her to see Sam, and predictably, once she's eighteen, she pretty much moves out. The story wraps up most major plot points, but what I wouldn't give for another chapter or two to hash out a few of the finer details!
Normally, I'd recommend a slew of other werewolf books (and there are plenty out there, believe me) but this time around, I'd say what makes this book really distinctive is the beautiful language, so I'll recommend some equally lyrical paranormal/fantasy/horror YA titles instead.
Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan The Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor...more
I loved this book, which turns the traditional story of a simple girl who discovers that she's secretly a princess on it's head. Nalia, princess of thI loved this book, which turns the traditional story of a simple girl who discovers that she's secretly a princess on it's head. Nalia, princess of the kingdom of Thorvaldor, finds her life turned upside down when just after her 16th birthday she is summoned before the King and Queen who deliver the shocking news that she is not their daughter. Because of a frightening prophecy that the princess would be killed before her 16th birthday, the monarchs decided to swap their daughter for a decoy, raising the real princess in obscurity and safety. With the help of wizard advisors to the court, they have been casting spells on Nalia her whole life, unbeknownst to her, to strengthen the disguise. Hastily removed from the only life she's ever known, Nalia, now called by her birth name of Sinda, is forced to rely on the mercy of her only living relative, a distant aunt, who is none too pleased at the intrusion in her life.
While Sinda is devastated at losing her best friend, Kiernan, and the comforts of court, she isn't as hurt on one might expect by her adoptive parents rejection of her, which made sense, as they are busy with affairs of state and have mostly left her upbringing to tutors and nannies. She even reasons that it's understandable that they would give her so little to live on after leaving the royal palace, since they may fear she would attempt some kind of revenge after their poor treatment of her.
Living with her aunt Varil proves to be a disaster right from the start. When her aunt asks her what sort of useful skills she has, Sinda replies that she can speak several languages, knows the history of Thorvald and it's neighboring kingdoms going centuries back, is familiar with courtly dancing and fine embroidery, and her aunt rolls her eyes in disgust that the girl can't even handle simple cooking and cleaning. Sinda's simplest dresses brought from court are considered too fine for everyday wear in the hardscrabble peasant village she finds herself in. For me, the story really gets going when Sinda discovers that as the dampening effects of the wizard's spells on her die off, she has a wild, untamed magic of her own, something that she must quickly learn to control, lest she endanger others with her runaway magic. It was satisfying, if a bit unbelievable, when she confronts her aunt, who offers an apology and explanation for her gruff behavior, before parting company.
Returning to the city, Sinda hopes to gain admission to the wizard's college, and is shocked when she learns that places at the school are reserved for the wealthy upperclasses only, despite the dangers of having magically gifted peasantry around. Eventually, Sinda secures employment as a scribe with unconventional female wizard, Philantha, who agrees to tutor her on the sly. The final third of the book races to a breakneck conclusion, as Sinda and Kiernan uncover a vast conspiracy involving the prophets, the wizards and the royal family. Sinda's hurt pride is apparent as she attempts to redeem herself and prove that she has more value than just as a decoy. Her rude introduction to how the other half lives is something which may open the royal family's eyes to many social injustices in the land.
The ending of this book was a little convoluted, but Sinda is eventually able to wade through all the court politics to a satisfying conclusion. I only felt sorry that the ending does not obviously seem to invite the possibility for a sequel! The False Princess has got to be one of the best fantasy novels I've read in a while, full of magic, intrigue, and just the barest hint of romance. I highly recommend it....more
Penelope Grey leads a pretty regulated life at her family's mansion in the city, with a private tutor, maid and chef to take care of her every need. BPenelope Grey leads a pretty regulated life at her family's mansion in the city, with a private tutor, maid and chef to take care of her every need. Bored, she decides to make a wish in an old well, for an everything change - a total life transformation. Shortly thereafter, her father quits his steady job in order to become a writer, something that leads to the financial ruin of the family, and an eventual move to an old great-aunt's house in the country which they've inherited in the small town of Thrush Junction.
Snyder really has a way of getting inside a kid's head, and understanding how they think, revealed in little details. For example, when Penny meets one of her new neighbors, a boy next door, she notes that he is wearing a striped shirt. She follows that observation by wondering why it is, exactly, that boys seem to wear stripes so often. Great question! This book reminded me of The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron; Penny even ends up trapped in a hole, briefly, relying on her friends to get her out of the jam, much the way Lucky does, except Penny Dreadful is much lighter and funnier in tone. No scrotums or dead parents in this novel. Penny's parents do seem pretty whimsical, almost to the point of absurdity, but the story has a certain quirky internal logic that never wavers.
Penny often falls prey to magical thinking, and the reader never really knows for sure... was the well she makes a wish on magical or not? Her reasoning is that her father quitting his job may have been her fault. So, she makes a second wish to "fix everything" deciding that if it works, the well is magical, and she's done her best, if it doesn't work, then the first wish coming true was only a coincidence and therefore not her fault. Like most readers, I'm betting on the well not being magical, but I love the fact that it's so open-ended.
Penny, an avid reader herself, is always hoping for an adventure, much like the things she reads about. I was tickled to see an homage to so many children's books in Penny Dreadful. Penny's mention of a book of "unfortunate events" that she's reading, where "a baby was about to bite someone," made me laugh out loud. She also mentions children's lit favorites such as The Penderwicks, The Secret Garden, Ramona, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and Ballet Shoes. Heartwarmingly, Penny wonders if another of her new neighbors, a girl about her age, Luella, will be the Betsy to her Tacy. This collection of classics is fine company to keep, and the sweetness of the story makes this book suitable for third through fifth grade readers....more
Honestly, I thought the peppy enthusiasm of the book really carried things and made this a super fun read. It's not nearly as exhausting as White fearHonestly, I thought the peppy enthusiasm of the book really carried things and made this a super fun read. It's not nearly as exhausting as White fears. Much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 16 year-old Evie is a petite girly, blonde who happens to be great at taking out supernatural creatures such as werewolves and vampires with her pink sparkly gun, "Tasey" while delivering quick-witted, snappy dialogue. Working for The International Paranormal Containment Agency keeps her pretty busy, and she longs to do normal things, like hang-out at the mall, go shopping, go to school. As the story picks up, you start to see how lonely Evie really is and the pressures put on her by her supervisors who are always ready to "bag and tag" the next creature. I wondered how Evie would manage to have a best friend who was a mermaid - it turns out Alisha's lagoon had become so polluted that Alisha, or Lish for short, jumps at the chance to work for IPCA, in a self-contained water bubble command center. Mermaids have eidetic memories and don't need to sleep, making her the perfect employee to run their switchboard. Neat! She speaks with a voice translator that bleeps out any swear words.
In the meantime, possessive and scarily dangerous Reth, a faery, is always popping in and out, threatening to kidnap Evie. Things get really interesting when Evie meets a new type of paranormal - a shapeshifter who calls himself Lend. Against the orders of her superiors, Evie runs off with Lend to discover that IPCA and her own abilities to see past supernatural glamors isn't what she's always been told.
I liked the whole tone and feel of the book - alternating silliness with incredible danger, a great sense of suspense in all of the fight scenes, the slow and gradual dropping of hints, the prophecy and Evie's visions of the disturbing fiery Vivian were really well handled. The sequel, Supernaturally, was just released. I'll recommend these books for any YA readers who like paranormal, but are getting tired of all the dystopians out there....more
Across the Universe offers a uniquely wonderful blend of hard science-fiction and mystery with a bit of romance. 17-year-old Amy is faced with the decAcross the Universe offers a uniquely wonderful blend of hard science-fiction and mystery with a bit of romance. 17-year-old Amy is faced with the decision of a lifetime, when her scientist parents eagerly accept positions on the colony ship Godspeed, heading to another planet. The plan is that they will remain cryogenically frozen for the 300 year long journey while the crew of the generation ship navigates them there.
The story starts off on an ominous note as Amy is undergoing the scary and uncomfortable freezing process being run by a couple of bored lab technicians. She overhears them admit there have been budget problems on the project, and the colonists will actually spend a year in cold storage, waiting for the ship to be ready. As Amy waits to go to sleep she comes to the horrifying realization that she remains conscious, yet immobile.
The chapters alternate between Amy, intially caught in nightmares and trapped in her own mind, and Elder, who, well over 200 years after the ship has set course, is in training by his mentor, known only as Eldest, to take over the ship one day. Their paths cross when Amy is awoken, 50 years too early. Other frozen colonists are being murdered, one by one, and Elder and Amy set out to discover who is behind it.
The passage of 250 years has created a completely new society on-board the ship. A few generations of intermarriage have erased any racial or cultural boundaries. Eldest rules the ship with an iron fist. Most of the crew readily comply with Eldest's every command with simple-minded devotion. Those who don't are committed to a mental ward. Procreation is only allowed within a "season" so that the different generations all age uniformly.
I was glad that although they are the only two individuals approximately the same age on the ship, Elder and Amy don't instantly fall for each other. As another bonus: there's no love triangle! Elder has an unfounded jealousy of the friendly conversations his friend Harley has with Amy, but this is not a major plot point.
It seems that Amy has always been highly dependent on her parents; she's extremely unsure of herself, and has been thrust into a situation where she's essentially orphaned and has to come to terms with that. The fact that her parents freeze her and bring her aboard as "non-essential cargo" - wow, could anything in the world be more demoralizing than that? I found it interesting that a colony ship would find her utterly useless. As a young woman, in great health (she loves to run) with skills in photography, Amy seems observant and smart, picking up on things that Elder misses. Surely, any new space colony would welcome her contributions?
I loved the reversible cover. Both covers are equally arresting. I'm surprised that more attention hasn't been paid to the racefail of the cover. I liked Elder better with ethnic features, and it's truer to the story!
The final couple of chapters of this novel were, in a word, awesome. The stunning revelations of the last few pages will have you wanting to turn directly back to the first page for a re-read so you can pick up all the amazing clues you probably missed. This was a terrific book that totally lived up to the hype....more
This book was amazing! Spoiler alert... it's rather impossible to discuss Red Glove without revealing some major plot points from the first book, so iThis book was amazing! Spoiler alert... it's rather impossible to discuss Red Glove without revealing some major plot points from the first book, so if you haven't read White Cat yet, I strongly advise readers to start there first.
(view spoiler)[17 year-old Cassel Sharpe struggles in his new role as a curseworker - a loosely organized crime family of people with paranormal abilities over others, activated by touch. Cassel has one of the rarest and most powerful abilities: transformation. After years of having his memories manipulated by his brother, Cassel no longer has any idea who to trust. Worse yet, his well-meaning but irresponsible mother has compulsed his longtime crush Lila into irrationally falling in love with him. Cassel is, at heart, a really good person. And that's why he finds his family's life of crime so very difficult. He knows he couldn't live with himself if he gives in to what Lila "claims" she wants from him. He has a fine offer of employment with one of the largest crime bosses where a life of luxury and ease, fast cars, beautiful women and fear-tinged admiration from his fellow criminals awaits him. But embracing such a lifestyle means that he'll be helping murderers escape justice. Cooperating with the Feds would seem to be an easy choice, except for the fact that they have a scarcely disguised contempt for him (as they do for all magical folk) and want him to rat out his own family. Plans are secretly being formed by the Feds to force the entire population to take a test, proving whether they are "cursed" or not and I enjoyed reading about a counter-movement rally where protesters shock people by taking off their gloves - which in this world is about as verboten as going around fully nude.
A fast moving plot with more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at makes for a thrilling read. Cassel's trying to play the part of double-agent, loyal to none but himself, but it's a dangerous line to walk. Does he have the fortitude to carry out his elaborate deception on all sides? Will he get all the information (some of it locked in his own memory-addled brain) he needs in time?
I loved Cassel's boarding school roommate's description of him... as a tiger who thought he was a housecat, someone who implicitly gives off an aura of sleek dangerousness without even realizing it. And Cassel's meeting with Lila's crime boss father was also fantastic, as Mr. Zacharov explains to him that it's one thing to dream of winning the lottery and being a millionaire, and it's quite another to actually suddenly actually be a billionaire. It's so much money, it's so much power, most people have no idea what to do with it, which is exactly the situation that Cassel finds himself in after tapping into his shapechanging abilities.
It crossed my mind, when Cassel turned himself into a cat to get out of a tricky situation, I feared that he'd be trapped as a cat until another curseworker could change him back. There's some kind of internal logic to how his power works so that wasn't the case.
The story gets a bit bogged down in details of an elaborate info-gathering caper towards the end of the book - these kind of "perfect crime" stories should work like clockwork... every person perfectly in place, every disguise used, every lie, simple but necessary. I felt it got a tad overly complicated towards the end, and even though Cassel is under incredible duress I was surprised at how many little (but ultimately very important) details he overlooks. It rachets up the tension, certainly, as his mission becomes more precarious with each error that he makes. So what will happen? Is Lila's love for Cassel real? Will he ever carve out a decent, semi-normal life for himself? Will he ever learn how to trust people again? Should he? I can't wait for the third book in this riveting series. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
13 year-old Zulaikha lives a hard life in rural Afghanistan. She has a cleft palate - a split lip that disfigures her face, making it difficult to eat13 year-old Zulaikha lives a hard life in rural Afghanistan. She has a cleft palate - a split lip that disfigures her face, making it difficult to eat or talk. Her beautiful sister Zeynab is her best friend and strongest ally. Her overwhelmed and grouchy pregnant stepmother prays for a son, and her much-adored father is scornful of his houseful of girls. By chance, Zulaikha runs into an American soldier who offers to pull in some favors and get her surgery, for free. Zulaikha is on an emotional roller-coaster as she copes with her sister's upcoming wedding as fourth wife to an uncaring older man, and her hopes and dreams are dashed when there's a problem with the helicopter flight that is supposed to take her to the doctor. Reedy does a great job of portraying the complexities of her father - a powerless yet very, very proud man, who wishes the best for Zulaikha, but can't or won't understand something as simple as a weather delay, taking it as a personal affront. This is a man that Zulaikha looks up to and adores, who is regarded as a liberal and kind man, but also doesn't hold back from brutally punching his pregnant wife in a fit of pique.
The inclusion of a few Dari language terms: inshallah meaning God willing and tashakor for thank you, lend an authentic foreign feel to the text without being overwhelming. Ironically, Zeynab's beauty does her no favors as her marriage quickly goes sour and her sister-wives burden her with all the household chores until she finally succumbs to a "kitchen accident" burned alive in kerosene. The story wraps things up quickly, with an unusual opportunity for Zulaikha to get an education. This is a sophisticated and sympathetic look at the problems and opportunities in modern-day Afghanistan. Reedy fairly presents the facts, and trusts the readers to draw their own conclusions. Highly recommended....more
I'm racing through these Temeraire books and thoroughly enjoying each one. Volume 4 of the epic series sees the dragon Temeraire and his human captainI'm racing through these Temeraire books and thoroughly enjoying each one. Volume 4 of the epic series sees the dragon Temeraire and his human captain Wil Laurence return to Britain from their travels in China.
The shocking news on their return is that nearly all of the dragons in England are sick, dead or dying. Meanwhile, Napoleon's armies are on the move, and eager to move into British territory. After spending weeks sick with fear, and dreading the illness, Temeraire and Laurence realize that the cure is in a foul smelling mushroom that he ate on the trip over to China.
The crew immediately goes on a mission to Africa to see if they can find more of the rare fungi, and this is where things get really interesting. The slave trade is in full-swing, and the dragons of Africa are beginning to fight back. Laurence ends up abducted by a group of Tswana tribesmen, who believe that dragons are reincarnated humans, and count themselves as close kin with many of the unfortunates kidnapped by slavers. The book begins to take on the feeling of anthropological fiction, as the details unfold of how various societies integrate dragons differently. The Africans have a marvelous cliff top dragon city - inaccessible except by air, but built by humans and dragons together.
Fierce little baby dragon Iskierka makes a brief appearance in this book. She's taken to raiding ships for treasure, to build up her dragon hoard of wealth. She parades her captain Granby around in bejeweled get-up, and I was reminded of nothing more than one of those poor dogs whose owner had outfitted them in a ridiculous little sweater.
Another of my favorite scenes is when Jane Roland presents Arkady, the leader of the group of feral dragons who've been convinced to join England's cause, with a "medal" for bravery - really just an engraved dinner plate, with a brass chain, making all the other dragons, including Temeraire terribly jealous.
I also enjoyed the scene where Temeraire is convinced to father an egg - since Britain is desperate to rebuild their ranks of dragons following the decimation of illness.
I feel like things are at a breaking point. Surely, most of the British citizens will learn that women have been secretly serving as dragonriders very soon.
The book ended on a real surprise note for me. (view spoiler)[I never would have suspected Temeraire and Laurence to turn traitor and give the cure to the French. I loved the line when Laurence says to Jane, after discovering they've deliberately poisoned the French dragons, "This isn't how you fight a war!" and she replies, "No, it's how you win one." Ouch! (hide spoiler)] I can't wait to read more.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
You ever feel like having a "do-over"? Just picking up, and creating a completely new identity -- a whole new life? The teen years are the perfect timYou ever feel like having a "do-over"? Just picking up, and creating a completely new identity -- a whole new life? The teen years are the perfect time for doing this. And that is exactly what 16 year-old Ava wants to do. She wants to transfer schools and reinvent herself. She's feeling smothered in her relationship with too-cool-for-school girlfriend Chloe. Ava's ultra-liberal college professor parents are excited to embrace her gothic punk-rock style and budding lesbianism. And weirdly, Ava's finding their complete and total support not quite what she was expecting. She was kind of hoping to rebel... and it seems like right now, the best way to be a rebel would be to wear pink, date boys and study hard at school.
The story takes place in Australia, but it didn't feel overwhelmingly "Aussie" at least, not to me. I wondered if some of the Australian slang could have been edited out for the American version?
Ava's attempt to star in the school play at her new school backfires, and she ends up working with the backstage crew. I loved all the characters who made up the backstage crew, or "Screws" as they dub themselves. They seem like a really warm and funny group of friends. Ava begins to develop feelings for fellow crew member Ethan... even though she hasn't exactly gotten around to officially breaking up with Chloe yet. Yikes!
My only quibble with the book is that (spoilers ahead!) because this is a story about Ava questioning her sexuality and discovering that she's bi, I felt like the story was a little heavy-handed in places. Does she still like Chloe, despite Chloe's overbearing and condescending manner? Yes - because she's definitely attracted to women and she and Chloe do have a shared history together. Does she like Ethan? Of course, because he is a total sweetie. She also is attracted to Alexis, one of the popular and very feminine girls at her new school. Why? Mainly, to remind readers that she isn't straight, I think. Ava ends up alone by the end of the book - which is not a bad thing in and of itself. But, I felt that too, was a bit forced - to "prove" to the readers that she wasn't gay (since she didn't go back to Chloe) and that she wasn't straight after all (which is what some readers might think if she had ended up with Ethan.)
I loved this book. It's rare to find a novel that covers bi and questioning teens so believably and so well....more
It's hard to know where to start on this review. All I can say is, that like many readers, I was swept away with the amazing world-building and intrigIt's hard to know where to start on this review. All I can say is, that like many readers, I was swept away with the amazing world-building and intrigue in this expansive and well-thought out fantasy.
This book was so suspenseful and mysterious. Here's Karou, this blue-haired teenage art student in Prague, who's secretly been raised by a family of teleporting magical chimera. How and why did they end up with a human child in their care? What on earth are they doing with all of the teeth that they ask her to acquire? Karou's childhood, growing up in New York and Hong Kong, and the jet-setting lifestyle that she leads, eventually landing in Prague, seemed exotic and amazing enough on its own. When you add in Issa, her half-snake, half-human surrogate mother, and Brimstone her half-ram, half-human stern father figure - it just takes everything to a new level.
The writing is incredibly lush and lyrical. It completely draws you in to the world. As details are slowly revealed, the love story is both beautiful and intense. I loved all the twists and turns to this story. There are a number of shocking revelations. I did not see the whole world behind the wardrobe door, so to speak. This book is everything one could hope for in an epic fantasy, so its popularity is not surprising. If you haven't picked up already, you definitely should!...more