Kim has played the part of a thieving boy for most of her life, hiding her gender being the safer alternative to revealing herself as a girl in the da...moreKim has played the part of a thieving boy for most of her life, hiding her gender being the safer alternative to revealing herself as a girl in the dark underbelly of Regency London. But she knows this career path will soon come to an end, as at seventeen she is quickly outgrowing her disguise. When a job leads her into Mairelon the magician’s wagon, she finds real magic and an opportunity to become someone new.
Following Mairelon as he flees from the city, she quickly finds herself lost in a plot of stolen magic artifacts and aristocratic intrigues. Soon she’ll have to give up the freedom of being a boy forever and try to figure out who she really is, so that she can become Mairelon’s student and enter London Society as a real magician. But being a girl brings new problems, marriage proposals, and a definite notion that nothing fun also falls under the heading of being Proper.
I’m reviewing these two books together, because odds are the easiest copy of the books to find is the combined version. Really, I think they work much better together, as the first ends with an incomplete feeling (all right, fine, that’s code for no real romance). In addition, I liked the second book, Magician’s Ward, much better, but I think you need to start with the first book, Mairelon the Magician.
In essence, reading these books is pretty much just like reading Sorcery and Cecelia, except with different characters and plot. The feeling and world are the same, and while I can’t find anything that says the books all take place in the same world, they easily could. In fact, how magic is treated in the worlds, history, etc., all seems to be pretty much the same, except in Sorcery and Cecelia magicians create focuses, which is at least never mentioned in the Mairelon books. What all this means is if you haven’t read these yet and love Sorcery and Cecelia, these might need to be next on your to-be-read list.
The amazing thing about Jessica Day George's dragon books (Dragon Slippers, Dragon Flight, Dragon Spear) is that neither of the sequel books *needed*...moreThe amazing thing about Jessica Day George's dragon books (Dragon Slippers, Dragon Flight, Dragon Spear) is that neither of the sequel books *needed* to be written, yet were delightfully wonderful additions to the previous books. Yet again, Dragon Spear wasn't *needed,* but I couldn't put it down from the second I got it. Once agian Creel's world comes alive as she fights to keep humans and dragons safe.
I love the politic undertones in these books, and how much court intrigue has made its way into a book that is really billed as a kid's book. And in this book, we got to see dragon politics! Always fascinating, and I think Jessica did a great job of working out a new society.
My biggest complaint about this book is the same complaint I've had about the other two. The cover art was badly choosen. It looks like it's aimed at a younger audience than those who actually enjoy it, and this time they got the wrong dragon on the cover by the eggs. And that just bugs me.
Awaiting execution for murder, Yelena is given the choice of dying tomorrow or a life
After committing murder, Yelena is given the choice of death by e...moreAwaiting execution for murder, Yelena is given the choice of dying tomorrow or a life
After committing murder, Yelena is given the choice of death by execution or a life of constant risk as the Commander's food taster.
Yelena decides to choose the risky life, because at least she'll be alive, but she quickly finds there is little chance for escape as she must daily receive the antidote to a slow acting poison that the Commander's spy master (and her food tasting teacher) gave her as her first lesson. Without the antidote, she'll die painfully in a few days.
Now Yelena must deal with the ghost of the man she killed, battle foreign magicians, gain control of her illegal magic, not fall in love with the enemy, and stay alive to keep fighting the next day.
This was my first all nighter book of the new year. I'd been putting off Poison Study despite hearing wonderful things, intending to read it once all three books were out, because there's nothing I hate more than having to wait after a cliff hanger. And I was right to wait, as each book ends with Yelena starting her next adventure. Even now, the third book is out, but it seems difficult to find (I think they are rereleasing it in a new paperback edition, since the other two books just came out as such), and I had to order a copy on Amazon. Thus, to fill the few days until I get the third one (yes, I had to get it on 2 day, instead of waiting till free shipping got around to getting it to me), by writing this review.
Snyder does a wonderful job of blending characters and plot with world building and magic creation, so I can clearly picture the world and society, yet never felt like I was lectured to. So many magic heavy books need to spend pages explaining the world to the character, and while there were a few spots where Yelena had to learn what the reader and she didn't know, the spots flowed so smoothly between the story, I barely noticed.
If I had one complaint, it's that I felt like Snyder didn't really describe the characters. We heard some distinguishing traits, hair color or eye color, but not much to really tell me what they looked like. In fact, I thought that one of the main characters (Valek) was old when he first showed up, like in his 50s, cause all the descriptions she gave matched more the wise old man than young (30s) handsome love interest. And part of that could be that I don't always pick up subtle descriptions, but the character's narration voice just made it hard for me to be sure what things looked like, unless it was something she really spent a lot of time describing, because most of the time it was just a trait or two.
**spoiler alert** I had to stop this book halfway through. Why? Because I feel like it broke a basic agreement with the reader. When I'm reading a fir...more**spoiler alert** I had to stop this book halfway through. Why? Because I feel like it broke a basic agreement with the reader. When I'm reading a first person narrative, I trust that I'm seeing the world through the character's eyes. In this case, part way through, we find out that the author has pretty heavily been editing the character's words to keep us from seeing that...(start spoilers)... she's a vampire. Now, it seemed that the character wasn't editing her own words, because being a vampire is just a way of life for her. She doesn't really care. But the author is editing her words, limiting what we see, to trick the reader into thinking she's not a vampire. I'd say it was definitely intentional, not just badly written, that the author wanted to surprise the reader with a shocking revelation.
Now, from the beginning, I knew the main character was going to become a vampire. It's obvious, it follows the conventions of the genre, etc. But I thought she was going to discover it, not that she'd known all along. No, part way through she kisses a boy and then drinks his blood, and then she's like "Huh, mom and dad always told me drinking human blood was different than cow blood." That angered me. This could have been an interesting book about a girl who knows she's a vampire, one of the few children born to vampires. But instead the author thought she needed to trick us and hid this from us at the beginning. I just couldn't read it past that point. I tried, but my anger was too strong to get through many more pages. I would have enjoyed a book about a girl trying to figure out where she exists in the world of vampires, who's in love with a human boy. That could have been fascinating. Or if the author had moved out of first person and into third where she could reasonably hide the fact that the main girl is a vampire from us, I could have accepted that. But the way it played out? Nope, does not work for me. I was willing to overlook some of the stereotypical elements, the things that didn't quite make sense (Huh, so we're suddenly inviting humans to go to school at a vampire academy? Okay.....), because I was still enjoying the ride and enjoying like I do most high school dramas.
But no. Then she broke my trust and what I consider the rules. And I just can't pick up this book again.
Anyone else read it? I'd love to know what you thought.(less)
Maximum Ride was created to save the world. Now she just needs to figure out how the voice in her head thinks she's going to do this. With the rest of...moreMaximum Ride was created to save the world. Now she just needs to figure out how the voice in her head thinks she's going to do this. With the rest of her flock of Avian-Human hybrids, Max moves from taking down evil corporations to stopping global warming ('cause penguins are cute and hurricanes are bad!). Now, if only Patterson could be bothered to finish one plot thread before moving on to six more. If this hadn't been a Maximum Ride book, I would have never finished it, and most likely never even bought it. My general love for Max and the flock is the only thing that got me through all the pages of propaganda about global warming. There were lectures. Multiple page long lectures about global warming. Now, there has always been a definite undertone of eco-warrior, clean up pollution, corporations are bad, etc. in the books. But that took a sideline to the action and characters. In this book, I really felt that Patterson just wanted to talk about global warming and decided to use Max to get his point across. -Supposedly, this is the last book, but if it isn't, I will be hard pressed to pick up a new title. Whatever your feelings on global warming are, I hate being lectured to in fiction and feeling like someone is dumping their propaganda down my throat. Barely anything even happened in the book, they were too busy talking about global warming. I'm all for empowering kids to make a difference in the world, but I also want them to think about multiple sides of an issue, I want them to question and read scientific studies for themselves, not listen to a pop culture icon tell them how "it is." I mean, how many of us lived through the "Just say no" drug campaigns of the 90s, not to mention the "This is your brain, this is your brain on drugs" scare tactics. At least now they have commercials that go "I got high. Nothing happened. Nothing at all. I just sat on my couch all day like an idiot. You know what? I don't want to get high anymore, so that something can actually happen in my life." Stuff like that tells it more how it is. Sure, Max questions slightly if it's "really bad if the world gets a few degrees warmer," but they stick to the scare tactics and over dramatization that has been popular in global warming ever since An Inconvenient Truth. Complete with ending the book with "worst hurricane ever recorded" (which huh, the bad guys seemed to know was coming, so maybe it wasn't all natural? Never explored this in the book of course). This book offended me. I feel like Patterson thinks that I have no right to decide for myself what's really happening or not in global warming and that I'm so stupid that I need to be scared into doing what he has decided is the right thing. And what gets me even more is that nobody says a word about this book being such a propaganda tool, but if I wrote a book about a group of kids spreading a counter message, that maybe global warming is part of a natural cycle and that there are more issues involved than just human innovation and existence, then you can bet a million groups would be descending on me like I was trying to poison their children's minds by telling them Santa Claus isn't real. The hundred pages or so that weren't devoted to saying "global warming=BAD" were enjoyable though. More Max and Fang romantic confusion and tension--I feel like Patterson has that relationship pretty well fleshed out, though I'd like to see some closure or at least some more forward movement. Their relationship really hasn't evolved much from the last book. And at the beginning of this book, they have the funeral for Ari, and I feel so sorry for that kid. Rereading the series before I read this book, my heart just broke for him. He's easily the most tragic character in the series. Still, I only felt like maybe a fourth of the book was about the characters, a fourth on action, and a half on, well, see above. There are so many interactions and relationships that still need to be fleshed out in the books. Max and Jeb especially have a complex relationship that I'd like to see keep evolving. I rather doubt this really is the last book. Patterson left too much open, we still know nothing about the voice, and there's a lot about Max and the flock that keeps getting hinted at, then abandoned. I cringe to think of another book though, as disappointing as this one was to me overall. Maybe he'll fast forward a bit, let Max grow up some. I'd really like to see Max be a little older, because I think her character interactions are at a standstill until she matures a bit more, then her relationships with Jeb and Fang, as well as the rest of the flock, will be able to expand. (Edit - Yep, there is a fifth book listed on amazon. Yay -_-. Maybe this one will have character development. Or maybe they've decided to cool off the world by beating their wings really fast.) Okay, and seriously, if you call one more bad guy "the director" then, you know what, James Patterson? I'm gonna hit you over the head with a thesaurus. I'm beginning to feel like he doesn't actually read his own writing once he's finished. Not only are there three bad guys called the director (oh, sorry, one is the Uber-Director), but in one book one person was indicated to be "The Director," and the next book it's someone else. He repeats *a lot* of the same kinds of things, has inconsistent chronology (exactly how long does it take to fly somewhere? Huh? Seems to vary by book), never mentioned Nudge was black in the first book (at least not that I could find, I'm thinking he didn't decide that till book two…), and leaves me wondering how even a windbreaker can cover up their wings enough that they don't look like hunchbacks. And, yeah, the wings thing. I really want to see the movie/manga, because I cannot picture how it's supposed to work. Their wing tips should at least fall over their butt. Fourteen feet of actual bone, feather, and muscle only becomes so compact. And they mention cutting slits in jackets, but what about their shirts? And it doesn't seem like they would be able to just snap their wings out of those slits as easily as they always do. Especially while wearing backpacks and such. But okay, enough over-thinking these books. I think the more the author lectures to me about science and real world stuff, the more I question how unlikely his books are to be able to happen in the real world. Something else I thought of a few days after finishing the book--okay, biggest hurricane in recorded history happens. That's really, really bad, right? Yet, that hurricane is the only reason Max and the flock get away from the Uber-Director. Huh. Global warming bad. But without it, Max and the flock were in big trouble. Bit of a problem with your message there, huh, Patterson? Once again, I don't think he's rereading what he writes.
Pretty good, but it started out pretty slow - I had it for quite a while before I really got into reading it. But its been a few years now, and I'd li...morePretty good, but it started out pretty slow - I had it for quite a while before I really got into reading it. But its been a few years now, and I'd like to reread it. Felt like Lackey really could have done more with the set-up that this kingdom was based on Greece.
It was one of those books that was okay, but not memorable, except that I remember it making star wars references that I didn't agree with. Definitly...moreIt was one of those books that was okay, but not memorable, except that I remember it making star wars references that I didn't agree with. Definitly never felt the need to read it again. It was also one of those books where I felt like the actual ending past by in a flash. But its been probably at least 3-5 years since I read it.(less)
Scarlet Moon is as much a fairy tale as its inspiration is, though expanded and with an attempt to give the characters more depth. The story goes as t...moreScarlet Moon is as much a fairy tale as its inspiration is, though expanded and with an attempt to give the characters more depth. The story goes as the reader predicts, but the magic is in the way the story is told. Viguié has a beautiful way with words, and the story is enchanting every step of the way.
At only one hundred fifty seven pages, the book is pretty short, though I don’t think the tale could have supported much more expansion. The ending was predictable and a little disappointing, magic fixing everything, but at the same time, it fit with the rest of the story. Viguié also did not incorporate history and new twists as much as some of the other books in the “Once Upon A Time” series do.
This was a very enjoyable ebook for those of us who love Sherwood Smith’s writing, her romance and politics, and who have read Crown Duel so many time...moreThis was a very enjoyable ebook for those of us who love Sherwood Smith’s writing, her romance and politics, and who have read Crown Duel so many times we own a second copy. It’s hard for me to say what someone who isn’t familiar with her work would think, except that I worry this book might confuse them in parts and wouldn’t keep their interest long enough to get to all the great parts. Because I’ve loved her other books, I slogged through my format problems with it being an ebook, but with another author I doubt I would have had the patience.
My problems with this book almost all went back to format. See, this is an ebook, and it’s the first one I’ve read. Now, the price isn’t too bad at least–$6.50 for an ebook isn’t outrageous. But I’m just too much of a print book kind of person. I was tempted to simply print out the pages, but I hate spending paper like that. So I put it on my new little PDA that I won in a raffle and took three to four months to read a story that as a book would have taken me two days. Because I did enjoy the book. But I doubt I’ll reread it until it’s in print. For one thing, because with my PDA, what’s one page on the computer is three screens on my tiny screen. That alone makes the book far longer to read and made me set it down in the middle of a page quite often.
My second problem with the book was that it was very clear that there was a lot of extra information. I can’t help but think that if this had gone through one of the New York publishers, quite a bit would have been cut. Which is both good and bad. Good for the brand new reader for whom this is their first journey into Sherwood’s world, bad for the long time reader who wants to know more. Overall, the information was sometimes a little much but mostly just fine for me. When it did annoy me, it was probably as much because of the format I was reading in as the actual amount of information. Remember, one screen is only a third of a page, but my eye wants to think of it as a page. Sherwood writes most of her books in the same world, and name dropped a lot of countries from Crown Duel, though there was no real connection. So readers who enjoy Crown Duel would get what was being mentioned, but a new reader would just be lost and a bit irritated. I’ve read that book four times, and I still didn’t get all the references.
Now, I also had a few thoughts on the plot. It never really comes to a conclusion, except for the conclusion of the romances. The bad guy got no comeuppance; in fact soon before the end of the book he made more threats against the main character that were never carried out. I felt like we needed another good fifty pages, some kind of conclusion to the plot with the bad guy. And if a traditional publisher had taken this on, I can pretty much guarantee it would have had one. Still, I didn’t feel unsatisfied at the actual end of the book–it’s only as I think critically to write a review that the lack of ending bothers me. My other small issue with the plot was the vague uses of magic. Now in Crown Duel magic has a role. Here, Flian just occasionally is able to see faces in water or fire, but the magic never serves a purpose. That was one thing I felt a little let down about. I would have liked to see those bits of magic go on to have a more clear meaning. Instead, it’s kind of just a set up to the magic in Crown Duel.
It does look like this book will be available in paperback this December, so my personal recommendation would be to just wait until then, unless you enjoy ebooks. Fans of Crown Duel check it out.
Not only was this a good example of a movie novelization that actually adds something to the story, but I'd recomend it heavily for writers. The use o...moreNot only was this a good example of a movie novelization that actually adds something to the story, but I'd recomend it heavily for writers. The use of language and first person is very well done, with each new first person feeling like a completely new person.
In TV dialouge there is the challenge to make sure the line sounds like the way only that character would say it, and in novels that challenge needs to exist in the first person voice especially. I hate reading a book that attempts to switch between multiple narrators, yet each narrator reads nearly the same as the last.(less)
Someone wants crown princess Aurelia dead. And it’s up to her childhood friend, Robert, to figure out who’s trying to kill her while trying not to fal...moreSomeone wants crown princess Aurelia dead. And it’s up to her childhood friend, Robert, to figure out who’s trying to kill her while trying not to fall in love with her.
As Aurelia learns of the attempts on her life, she realizes she must do whatever she can to take her life into her own hands and save herself.
This was one of those charming books I picked up on a whim during a very long weekend, hoping to have a few hours of escape, and it did not disappoint. What drew me to the book, besides just the cover, was the list of “Other Books You May Enjoy” in the first few pages, which listed a number of titles that I love and some I shall have to check out now. The book certainly wasn’t the best I’d ever read, but it was an enjoyable romantic fantasy intrigue book, with a main character who is head strong and saves herself. In fact, I really feel like the ending sets up for another book, that Aurelia’s journey has just begun.
Now, this isn’t the kind of book you should think too hard about. The plot is relatively simple for all that it is a political intrigue book, and in that regard it’s rather the middle grade version of something like Crown Duel. But it read so quickly and I felt enough for the characters that the holes never bothered me. They might bother other people though, so you have fair warning that this was a “OMG, finals killed me” sort of read. If you enjoy Sharon Shinn or some of Eva Ibbotson’s titles, you’ll probably like this.
After reading this, I’m left wondering if the ending was a well-done twist or predictable. The book is set-up early on as “evil stepmother is trying to kill her!!!!” or it could possibly be a rival king. Now, being the astute reader that I am, I just kept thinking that this was far too obvious. So I started thinking about who was being set-up as the absolute least likely villain (of course, with the exception of the love interest, because it’s obviously not one of those kinds of books), and it turned out to be that person. So, was that predictable or not? I’m undecided. In general the ending was a bit of a let down anyway, and I rather hope the book has a sequel, because Aurelia’s story really wasn’t over on the last page.
Apparently I have a love for girls kicking ass lately. Katsa is a great, realistic heroine that has the power to kill, but the complexity to fear her...moreApparently I have a love for girls kicking ass lately. Katsa is a great, realistic heroine that has the power to kill, but the complexity to fear her own power. The premise of Katsa having the power to kill and her feeling like she is a wild child (which she is to some degree) could have come off as horrid and unbelievable in another author’s words, but I found this story to be utterly believable and Katsa to be a sympathetic and understandable character.
My only complaint is that I wanted some back story for the main villain. He seems to have mysteriously appeared in the kingdom some time ago, done evil things, then is eventually killed by our heroes. But that’s pretty much all the back story or motivation we really get. The author seems to fall back on the "he’s a bad man" explanation, even as she’s making the point that Katsa can be a good person even though others have used her for killing. So much effort is made to show that Katsa is not defined by her Grace, yet that seems to be what the villain boils down to.
I can’t say this book exactly wowed me, but I couldn’t wait to keep reading every night when I went to bed, and I was enticed the whole way through. It was a solidly good book, but as I said above about the villain, it seemed like it lacked a level of complexity I would have liked - though I can’t pinpoint what exactly I felt was missing.