The audio version of this is absolutely stunning. Elizabeth Knoweldon's voice lends itself perfectly to the atmospheric and slightly sinister tone of...moreThe audio version of this is absolutely stunning. Elizabeth Knoweldon's voice lends itself perfectly to the atmospheric and slightly sinister tone of the story. And the lazy, amused purr she gave Ignifex's voice was incredibly sexy. (Basically I would like Ms. Knoweldon to follow me around and narrate my days forever.)
However, had I read instead of listened, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the story as much. It was definitely not what I'd call plot-driven, and seemed endlessly repetitious at times. It was an interesting (if predictable) story, but there were three separate instances I thought I'd come to the conlusion, only to have it continue in another arc.
Basically what I'm saying is if you pick this up and find yourself only mildly interested, get the audio. It's worth it. (less)
I can't remember ever ending a series and feeling this satisfied (except for the Lumatere Chronicles, obviously). I'm so happy and full I just want to...moreI can't remember ever ending a series and feeling this satisfied (except for the Lumatere Chronicles, obviously). I'm so happy and full I just want to hug the book to my chest and swoon about cake for a little bit.(less)
3.5ish. It was a fun read, but very predictable. I appreciated the originality, and loved the personality of the main characters--very snarky and genu...more3.5ish. It was a fun read, but very predictable. I appreciated the originality, and loved the personality of the main characters--very snarky and genuine.(less)
On the surface, Carnival of Souls appears to be the perfect book for me. Reading the summary, it was as though Me...moreReview posted at The Midnight Garden.
On the surface, Carnival of Souls appears to be the perfect book for me. Reading the summary, it was as though Melissa Marr had extracted all the best elements from books I’ve loved and combined them into one story that hit all my buttons: fantasy, supernatural elements, intrigue, and a fair bit of forbidden love.
Unfortunately, I found the combination of those factors worked better in theory than on the page.
Several different stories are told simultaneously--that of Mallory, the girl living in the human world with her adoptive witch-father, training every day to fight the daimons whom she’s told are after her, though she has no idea why. Kaleb, who is a lower-class daimon--a dog-like shapeshifter--living in the The City, the heart of the daimon world, and fighting in the life or death competition hosted by the Carnival of Souls for a chance to join the ruling class. Aya, a daimon of the elite class fighting in the competition in order to escape marriage and the subsequent breeding, which would reveal a terrible secret that would get her killed.
I apologize if that was hard to follow; even in summary it seems to be too much information for one story.
In addition to the three main characters, there are two secondary, several other tertiary, and even a couple quaternary (I had to look that up, haha) characters whose backstories are described in detail, for reasons not yet known.
I’ve read Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely previously, and loved it as much for Aislinn’s authentic and engaging voice as for the plot. I expected as much from Carnival of Souls, but unfortunately it felt more like character soup. Told in third person POV, there was no real differentiation between any of the characters’ voices that I could discern, and the end result was that I was unable to form much, if any, connection to the characters.
Consequently, Kaleb and Mallory’s romance was flat and awkward, leaning heavily on fate-driven insta-love, and lacking any natural progression through their very limited interactions. That on its own would have been annoying at worst, but coupled with a decision Kaleb makes toward the end of the book, let’s just say I’m not rooting for this couple in any way.
I am, however, interested in how Aya’s and Belias’ relationship plays out, which I found the most interesting of all the stories being told, and will probably be enough to keep me interested in the sequel.
In addition to the wealth of characters, the world building felt a bit overbearing. Told mostly in long paragraphs between dialogue, it read as info-dump rather than an organic reveal within the context of the story.
All in all, Carnival of Souls did not live up to my expectations, though I suppose in an ironic kind of way it did live up to its title--it is a carousel of characters and circumstances, one that left me feeling a little dizzy, and very ready to get off.
I keep to myself, but I find they are watching. I clench both my fists; I'll kill them in a beat. Your words pound my brain, Froi; if they dare try to touch me, a knife to the side and a slit ear to ear.
Those in my cave, they grab and they drag me. They want me to bathe, but they'll soon know the truth. And the fear in their faces speaks loud of their awe, and I capture the crying and tell them what's true.
...and the women, they stare with fear in their hope, but it's a hope drenched in tears, and it smothers me whole.
Every time I set out to review something by Melina Marchetta, I end up staring at a blank screen wondering just what I could say that could possibly do what I've read justice.
Quintana of Charyn is my fifth Marchetta book, but it hasn't gotten any easier. I am, as usual, left speechless in awe.
I could talk about the scope of the world building in the Lumatere Chronicles; how Marchetta has created a full-fledged country--or continent, maybe--with 11 different regions, and countless provinces within them. And within those, their own separate societies, languages, traditions, and lore.
Or maybe I should focus on the characters. I should tell you about the way they reach off the page and wrap their fists around your heart. They way they crawl under your skin and build a home inside you, so you swear they must be real people you've known forever. So you burn, and ache, and grieve for them. So you love them, even when they're wrong. Maybe especially when they're wrong. Because their flaws make them feel all the more real.
The sheer depth Marchetta is able to bring every last one of her characters is astounding--especially when you consider just how many characters there are in this series. And not one is superfluous.
Froi's characterization in particular is nothing short of masterful. From "filthy little feef", to farmer, to assassin, to lover, to a beautifully flawed man, capable of loving with a ferocity that is as ruthless as it is endearing. His emotional growth is evident on every page, but never conspicuous.
And then there's Quintana, who I have loved from the first shadow puppet. So broken, so strong. Her character only grows more interesting, more complex. More lovable. Just as insane, but imbued with an undeniable humanity. With the same fierce love as Froi, the same courage that grows from self-doubt, but with a grace that is all her own.
One of the things I love the most about this series is how all the characters continue to grow through all three books. Finnikin and Isaboe, Lucian and Phaedra, Trevanion and Beatriss (and, and, and...) are not simply relegated to background characters. They continue to grow, to change, to have an integral part of the story. The relationships between them all deepen, stretch, conform to fit the shape of the new people they become.
The message of family, and friendship, and love--for your country, for your home, for your people, for yourself--endures in Quintana. It is a gripping, haunting, sexy conclusion that fulfilled and exceeded every one of my expectations.
So, no. I don't really know what to tell you, only that I hope you read these books--or any book at all by Melina Marchetta, who writes the most emotionally powerful stories I've ever read.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher.(less)
Title: Scarlet Author: Marissa Meyer Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Release Date: February 5th, 2013 by Feiwel &...moreARC GIVEAWAY on The Midnight Garden blog!
Title: Scarlet Author: Marissa Meyer Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Release Date: February 5th, 2013 by Feiwel & Friends Age Group: Young Adult Source: ARC provided by the publisher
I read the first in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder, just last week, and was enamored with Marissa Meyer’s imaginative and wholly original take on the Cinderella fairy tale (seriously, who gets sci-fi/fantasy with cyborgs and aliens and magic powers from that? SOMEONE AWESOME, obviously), and very much enjoyed the depth and humor she infused into the characters. But, there was still something missing for me. Some indefinable piece that could bump it up from, “wow, this is really great” to, “TELL ME MORE. IMMEDIATELY.”
I’m pleased to tell you, my friends, Scarlet is that missing piece . With its higher stakes, intense action, and one hell of a big, (so hot it might be) bad (for your heart) Wolf, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.
The sequel picks up right where Cinder left off, but from Scarlet’s point of view. She, as you might have imagined, is a red-headed, red-hoodie-wearing French girl, who is desperately searching for her Grand-mére, Michelle Benoit, who disappeared without a trace two weeks before. She meets Wolf, a curiously shy street fighter, and finds he may know what happened to her grandmother. Though she suspects him, she has no other leads, and no choice but to agree to his offer of help.
Meanwhile, Cinder is breaking her way out of prison in New Beijing, with a new companion in tow--the cocky “Captain” Thorne, who has a stolen ship hidden on the outskirts of the city. Narrowly escaping capture, they fly to France in search of Michelle Benoit and the answers Cinder hopes she will be able to provide about her past.
What follows is a fast-paced, gritty, and surprisingly violent climax that doesn’t let up until the very last page. I felt almost out of breath while reading, cringing and tensing as though I was experiencing every scene right along with the characters.
The dynamics between the characters are great. Cinder and Thorne’s snarking back and forth was hilarious, but the real star for me was the slow, simmering build between Scarlet and Wolf. Marissa Meyer knows how to write some swoony UST (unresolved sexual tension), and I was all a-flutter over Wolf from the very first page. He’s quiet and sweet, but with an edge of just barely restrained violence that I have to say, really worked for me.
(And it didn’t hurt that this:
is what I pictured while reading. Right? I know.)
Like Cinder, the main flaw I found in Scarlet was predictability, but in this the pacing was so well done I found it didn’t matter if I knew what was coming, the way in which I arrived was exciting enough to keep me on the edge of my seat.
It ends with no real cliffhanger (just a seriously swoony scene), but with a sense of urgency that will keep me counting the days until Cress, the third book in the series, is out in 2014.(less)
Days of Blood and Starlight may well have been my most anticipated release this year. I was captivated...moreThis review also posted at The Midnight Garden.
Days of Blood and Starlight may well have been my most anticipated release this year. I was captivated by the lush and layered world Laini Taylor built in its predecessor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and rendered absolutely in love with both Karou and Akiva. The thrill of the tension in their discovery of one another, the sweet ache of their romance as it unfolded, and the crush of sorrow for them both at the end stayed with me the many months I waited for the release of its sequel.
So, to say I had high hopes is an understatement. I couldn’t wait to dive back into Karou and Akiva’s world, and see just how they would mend the rift between them--BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO MEND IT, RIGHT?--and save their world together.
What I got was nothing close to what I expected, but everything the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone needed to be.
“You know how, at the end of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet wakes up in the crypt and Romeo’s already dead? He thought she was dead so he killed himself right next to her?”
[...] “Well, imagine if she woke up and he was still alive, but...” She swallowed, waiting out a tremor in her voice. “But he had killed her whole family. And burned her city. And killed and enslaved her people.”
That’s the gist of where we begin in the sequel. Karou travels through the portal with Razgut, to find Loramendi completely razed, with nothing left of her people but a thick layer of ash on the ground. Devastated, and ashamed by her weakness in falling for Akiva, and inadvertently causing the genocide of her people, Karou finds a small group of chimaera soldiers and joins them in their plan to overthrow the seraphim.
For Akiva’s part, he returns to Eretz heartbroken and guilt-ridden, unable to stomach the increasing violence and ignorance of his seraphim brethren. With his brother Hazael, and sister Liraz, they begin to devise a plan to put an end to the war between seraphim and chimaera.
Laini Taylor’s world building is nothing short of astounding. In this, we are given a detailed look into two different cultures, their infrastructure and their history--all delivered in a way that is flawless, seamless, and without leaving you feeling as though you’ve just been given a fictional history lesson.
But where Taylor really shines in this follow up is in her characters. Where so many others fail to create secondary characters that feel as real as the protagonists, she has a way of creating people that dig under your skin. You connect with them in an instant without really knowing why, until their purpose is revealed. There is no one who is not fully engaged, three dimensional, and capable of drawing an emotion from the reader.
Days of Blood and Starlight is a gritty and violent follow up, lacking any of the romance and off-beat vibrance of its counterpart--and it’s all the better for it. This story is now so much more than an epic romance. It is the story of an endless war, the penance of pain, and the price of peace.
“Mercy, she had discovered, made mad alchemy; a drop of it could dilute a lake of hate.”
It ends, as Daughter of Smoke and Bone did, with a bittersweet kind of hope. And leaves me in the same place I was this time last year--absolutely entranced, and counting the days until the next book is released.