I am not much of a Middle Grade reader. You could say that I sort of skipped a step in my reaThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
I am not much of a Middle Grade reader. You could say that I sort of skipped a step in my reading repertoire while growing up, jumping directly from children’s books like Magic Tree House to YA like The Hunger Games. Maybe I should go back and fill in that gaping MG hole now, because The Star Shard exceeded expectations.
I was waiting for simplicity and frankly, not much depth. This is a MG faerie fantasy after all. Plus, I admit that my opinion of MG is not terribly high (very hypocritical, I know, since I haven’t read a lot of MG). I was, however, not prepared to be bombarded by the deliciousness that is this slightly rustic high fantasy world and a 12-year-old heroine that displays a lot more common sense than the average hormonal-driven and air-headed YA protagonist.
Our darling main character Cybril is a slave on the Thunder Rake. Sold into this giant wheeled city at an early age, Cybril survives, as per Master Rombol’s orders, by singing for crowds during market days. There are snippets of lyrics spread throughout The Star Shard and even complete sheet music for two of the songs. Is that not the coolest supplementary material you’ve ever seen? And then of course, we have Loric, the faerie lad with the silver eyes and enigmatic smile -- as much as young boys’ smiles can be enigmatic, I suppose. Cybril and Loric develop an awkward fascination with each other that later fleshes out into an adorable friendship and maybe even a relationship-to-be.
With a plot fraught with twists and turns, skeleton keys and potion-induced beauty, The Star Shard reads like a clear well of water. It’s refreshing and free of angst or love triangles. Just pure adventure. And two little children desperately sprinting together toward their shared finish line, hand-in-hand.
The dragon slayer designation obviously belongs to Emma Jones, what with her top combat examThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
The dragon slayer designation obviously belongs to Emma Jones, what with her top combat exam scores and famous dragon-slaying mother’s legacy. No one can dispute that fact until Curtis Green, the relative newbie at Burtonwood Academy, snatches the coveted title right out from under her nose. Assigned as a fairy slayer instead and humiliated with the job of chasing these little winged critters around shopping malls, Emma is quick to jump to action when a large dragon-like creature is seen attacking a school bus, bypassing the school’s meticulously placed and calibrated wards in the process. Well, no one can actually see this gargantuan and evil-looking creature besides Emma and her archenemy Curtis. As she sets out to eliminate this threat, Emma unearths secrets about her deceased mother and the history of the elemental creatures’ descent into her mostly blissfully oblivious world.
Now this is the type of YA paranormal story that actually delivers in both pacing and originality. The world-building occurs right alongside the story, which just keeps rolling along after Emma discovers the elusive attacker almost no one else can see. As a stand-alone novel, the author did a remarkable job in wrapping up the conclusion by answering questions and simultaneously leaving a few threads untied. The writing style is not overly sophisticated, and while this doesn’t subtract from the overall flow of the novel per se, it left something to be desired.
Onto the characters: both the main and side ones are multi-faceted and actually have personalities -- from horoscope and techie-geek Loni to betting and pet cockroach-obsessed Trevor. Emma and Curtis’s interactions are cute in a slightly gushy way, whereas Loni and Trevor have a seriously hilarious rapport going on. These four are adorable. Simply adorable.
Fairy Bad Day is a unique combination of boarding school life and paranormal creature-slaying teens told in a snarky narrative that makes the novel quite a joy to read. I will be looking into other books by Amanda Ashby.
Various predicaments have presented themselves to Zara since the death of her stepfatherThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Various predicaments have presented themselves to Zara since the death of her stepfather and the unwilling move to Bedford, Maine that followed. There is, of course, the whole pixie situation, but now Nick, her boyfriend and warrior werewolf, is gone, too. Zara, heartbroken and determined, allows the pixie king Astley to transform her into a pixie herself as a last resort to aid in the quest to retrieve Nick. The problem is: the only leads they have are the words of a disdainful Valkyrie and the existence of a mythical place -- Valhalla, said to be the ruling place of the Norse god, Odin. As Zara and the crew continue to search for more clues, evil pixies led by the newly appearing king, Frank, are kidnapping boys left and right. Zara, now the Queen of King Astley, also faces entirely new problems as her relationship with Astley and the trust of her friends are brought into jeopardy by these recent turn of events. However, Zara is nothing if not stubborn, and she will not rest until Nick is safely returned to Bedford.
As I read each of the Need books one after the other, the growth of the author was especially evident. Descriptions of the background and setup of each place, which were lacking in the first two books of this series, are found embedded throughout Entice, creating an even more realistic world for the reader. I adore the steadily increasing plot complications, too. A series that started out with a relatively simple concept -- eliminate the evil pixies and their violent ways -- has successfully morphed into an intense story involving mythical places and the existence of benevolence in an initially evil species.
Young adult books nowadays all seem to contain the classic love triangle scenario, and this book is not an exception. There does seem to be an almost two-dimensional quality to Zara and Nick’s relationship, though. Why are they even in love? I suppose there was a time limit on the development of their relationship since Nick was whisked away to Valhalla so soon after the series started. On the other hand, the author did a great job with Zara and Astley, whose relationship is multi-faceted and angst-filled enough to keep me interested. It also seems obvious who Zara will choose at the end, if one were to observe the popular trend followed by other YA novels. But who knows? Maybe Carrie Jones will spring out a surprise for us at the end of the series.
Entice is packed with action and is easily my favorite book out of the Need series so far. I will be looking forward to the next installment of the series.
Kylie’s life is breaking down around her: her parents consider divorce, her boyfriend dumps hThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Kylie’s life is breaking down around her: her parents consider divorce, her boyfriend dumps her and immediately starts going out with another girl, and a stalker has been introduced into her life. It isn’t until Kylie gets caught at a party -- with under-aged drinking and drugs galore -- that her life gets turned completely upside down. Her Ice Queen mom decides to send her to Shadow Falls Camp, a psychologist-recommended institution for troubled teens. And soon, Kylie discovers herself stranded in the midst of brainwave-reading paranormal creatures that couldn’t and shouldn’t exist. Confused but feeling an undeniably weird sense of belonging, Kylie begins to realize just how special she really is. Kylie’s stalker also starts to make sense -- a startling relief after all the anxiety. But then trouble invades the camp, and the paranormals are pointing fingers at each other. Beware, happy little campers, someone has an agenda of their own, and they are quite the determined bunch.
C.C. Hunter’s debut, Born at Midnight, was attention-grabbing and hard to put down. However, the plot started out incredibly slowly. It is slightly understandable, as the author has to first describe the characters and the setting of this new series. But the predicament, which should be central to every novel, was brief and felt like an after-thought. Imagine this: pages after pages of descriptions and little action, a few chapters devoted to the build-up of tension, the short resolution, and then the end of the novel, which ends up feeling like accidentally running smack into a brick wall and maybe losing a few teeth in the process.
And onto the apparently mandatory element of a YA PNR book: the love triangle. The one that exists in this book felt pretty much superfluous. There was no reason for its creation in the first place, and Kylie’s indecision and fluctuating feelings becomes a bore to read about after a while. Girl, it is not right to be lusting after three guys (her ex-boyfriend included) at once, especially if you alternate between thinking about kissing one boy to thinking about the hotness of another a second later.
Born at Midnight is a nice read, not entirely original, but interesting nonetheless. The second installment of the series, Awake at Dawn, will be released in October 2011.
Are you kidding me? What kind of ending is that? /seeths silently in a cornerThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
Are you kidding me? What kind of ending is that? /seeths silently in a corner/ This series just keeps getting more and more addicting, if that's even possible. Amazing characters and over-arching plot-line. Unputdownable in a stay-up-late-and-read-until-you-can-barely-keep-your-eyes-open sort of way. I'm very glad that the entire series had already finished publication before I started book 1. Waiting for the next book of anything is possibly the most agonizing feeling ever (I learned that the hard way through The Hunger Games trilogy). Going to have to read Dreamfever really soon.
It's a good thing I’d already downloaded Shadowfever before I started DThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
It's a good thing I’d already downloaded Shadowfever before I started Dreamfever, since I’m pretty sure I would have chucked my precious Kindle across the room and then proceeded to repeatedly bang my head against a hard surface otherwise. I was totally expecting the “big revelation” since book 3, though. BOOYA.
Admission: I’m addicted to Barrons. If the guy doesn’t show up every once in a while, I use the “search” option to try to find the next page he appears in... That is the extent of my addiction.
I am a sucker for HEA, and I have to admit, Ms. Moning is going to have to do a lot of plot twisting to get Shadowfever to end like that. The reviews for book 5 I’ve glanced over all seem pretty optimistic, though. So. Here. I. Go...
The past year has been beyond life-altering for Meghan Chase. Suddenly thrust into the worldThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
The past year has been beyond life-altering for Meghan Chase. Suddenly thrust into the world of Faerie and the rivalries between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, Meghan realizes her importance in this beautiful yet cruel world, a world that has silently existed alongside hers ever since she was born. To complicate matters further, the Seelie and Unseelie have become threatened by a new kind of Faerie—the Iron Fey, brought to life by the ever-increasing reliance humans have of technology. Meghan, with the aid of the Unseelie prince Ash and childhood friend, the Faerie Puck, has already defeated the first Iron King and successfully retrieved a stolen scepter in time to stop a Faerie war. Meghan thought she was never going back, especially since she and Ash had been banished from the Faerie world together—a punishment for their forbidden love. But the rise of a second Iron King changes all that, and Meghan finds herself once again in the complicated world of Faerie, on a quest to save the entire Faerie race.
This third installment of Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey series does not disappoint and continues the momentum of the two previous novels. There were barely any dull moments, and the trio is always on the move. I did find the apparent helplessness of Meghan a bit annoying at times—every time they meet an enemy, it was Ash and Puck protecting her while she screamed or fainted—but the girl did mature emotionally throughout the book. I adore the twist at the ending and applaud Meghan for her courage and sense of responsibility. This trilogy-turned-saga will end with The Iron Knight, told from Ash’s perspective. I simply cannot wait to get my hands on the next book and would recommend this series to fans of fantasy and faerie novels.
This is quite possible my favorite PNR series, although truthfully, that isnThis review may also be found on A Thousand Little Pages.
This is quite possible my favorite PNR series, although truthfully, that isn't saying much, since I haven't read that many... Blood Bound is action-packed from beginning to end, and the interactions between Mercy and Adam/Sam/Stefan are just too adorable. I think this series would make a great TV show, actually. Much more so than the Sookie series. Will read the rest of the Mercy series sometime in the near future!