In short: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is an exceptionally brilliant story with emotionally powerful narration.
I knew I was going to need to reaIn short: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is an exceptionally brilliant story with emotionally powerful narration.
I knew I was going to need to read Code Name Verity when the positive reviews came pouring in, one after the other. Historical fiction isn't a genre that I usually read and enjoy and indeed, when I first started Code Name Verity, I had a bit of a hard time getting into the story. It was a bit disorienting following the narration in letter format as Verity switches between what is happening in the current and what has happened in the past in quick succession. There is also a ton of piloting details that, while really adding to the feeling of historical accuracy, were not always the most interesting to read about. But I continued on, knowing that people had gushed about the power and emotion of the story.
And I'm glad I did continue: because what I read in part two of Code Name Verity, this time told from Kittyhawk's point of view, was like a reward. It was like I had been moving through a long, dark tunnel in part one - appreciating Elizabeth Wein's beautiful narration and depiction of the friendship between Verity and Kittyhawk, but still struggling a bit with the point and direction of the story - and then BAM, there was light and suddenly everything made sense and it was like a puzzle snapping into place. The entire time in part one clues were being left and I was completely oblivious to it. It made me instantly want to return and read part one again to pick up on everything that I missed. What seemed like a frenetic and at times, irrelevant, part one suddenly became clear and evident and it was BRILLIANT.
Part two also opened up a whole new can of emotions: part one seemed more like your standard WWII novel - at least at the time that I was reading it - complete with a ton of intricate and interesting historical details (it is very evident that Elizabeth Wein has done her research well), whereas part two seemed more personable and emotional. And when I say emotional, I mean absolutely HEARTBREAKING at times. How can it not be when in such a short time you come to care so deeply for these two girls? These two girls who, while differing in personality, were both brave and admirable characters who forged a wonderful friendship. Elizabeth Wein will have you buzzing with happiness at times with the way their friendship is depicted and will break your heart in others with her strong and emotional writing.
I am happy I went outside my comfort zone to read Code Name Verity because I was rewarded handsomely with a powerful story that really had an impact; a story that left me astounded at its brilliance as all the clues in part one fell into place in part two. I highly recommend Code Name Verity to all readers, even non-historical fiction fans. Be patient with part one if it seems disorienting and unimportant because you will be rewarded if you stick to it....more
In short: The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey supplies yet another terrifying monster, but most importantly, provides the reader with thoughtful and deveIn short: The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey supplies yet another terrifying monster, but most importantly, provides the reader with thoughtful and developed characterization.
Will Henry and the Monstrumologist are back and this time the monster they are hunting is the Typhoeus magnificum, the father of all monsters. Infection caused by the magnificum results in zombie-like humans, whose skin rots and grows protruberances, and whose appetite becomes insatiable, often leading the individual to consume their own bodies if no human meal is in reach. It is a terrifying and disgusting monster - and I would expect no less from Rick Yancey, who in the past has brought us the likes of the Anthropophagus and the Wendigo.
As well done as the horror aspect and the monsters are in The Monstrumologist Series, the real life aspect and the characters are truly what makes these books, which I fear is not something I've sufficiently gotten across in my previous reviews for this series. After all, if all these books entailed were monsters and gore, they really wouldn't have very much substance at all and I would have no interest in reading them. As it is, the character development in The Isle of Blood was the best part of the novel, with both Will Henry and the Monstrumologist evolving significantly, yet naturally.
One thing that I love about this series are the cameos of real life historical figures. Jack the Ripper and Bram Stoker have significant roles in The Monstrumologist and The Curse of the Wendigo, respectively. In The Isle of Blood, Jack the Ripper is back in all his horrible and cruel glory. Arthur Conan Doyle also takes part in the story during a critical scene. It's super fun to see the many ways Rick Yancey comes up with to somehow integrate these cameos into the story.
Though I did have some minor problems with the pacing, The Isle of Blood is a magnificent addition to the Monstrumologist Series. I know I mention it every time I write a review for this series, but they really are some of the best written books I've ever read. The imagery created with Rick Yancey's words is achingly beautiful. Add to that the fact that the writing just seems to get even better - more poetic - with each book, if that is even possible. I'm already looking forward to the newly announced fourth book in the series!...more
In short: The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey does not hold back the horror and gore in this superb and gag-inducing sequel in the terrifying seriIn short: The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey does not hold back the horror and gore in this superb and gag-inducing sequel in the terrifying series.
So begins a new adventure with Will Henry, assistant monstrumologist, and his master and certified monstrumologist, Dr. Warthrop. Last time, in The Monstrumologist, the monster of the story was a well studied and known humanoid beast. This time, in The Curse of the Wendigo, the monster is the Wendigo, a vampire-like beast that is just a silly myth, not worthy of actual study because it doesn't exist, so says the doctor. Vampires aren't real and to believe they exist would be making a mockery of the monstrumologist profession. Or so the doctor thinks.
Though the Wendigo isn't exactly like a vampire as we know it, it is a similar monster. Though I have been impressed in the past by authors of the myriad vampire novels out there and their ability to create distinct vampire lore to distinguish themselves, now after having read The Curse of the Wendigo, they pale in originality. Rick Yancey has written the most creative vampire-esque novel I've ever read with The Curse of the Wendigo.
Also, if possible, Yancey has created a monster even more terrifying than the one he wrote in The Monstrumologist! Imagine a beast that pulls out his prey's eyeballs and feasts on its heart. One with a perverse sense of humour that rips off one prey's face and places it over top of another, and scoops out the bowels of another to write messages on the wall. I really love that Rick Yancey just goes for it, you know? He really doesn't hold back and present a watered down monster for fear of turning away readers. He brings on the gore, blood, and feces in gag-inducing amounts. I can appreciate that. Even if lots of the scenes made me want to throw up my lunch.
I'm not sure I would like this particular brand of horror if it were set in a modern setting. But the gothic Victorian backdrop makes a perfect and creepy setting for a plot that is so horrific. And the setting is so perfectly described too. The Monstrumologist takes place entirely in New England but in The Curse of the Wendigo, we get to see two more 19th century locations: the untamed and desolate wilderness of Canada, and New York City as it was at the end of the 1800s. I'm not a huge historical fiction fan, but did I ever find these settings fascinating to read! Isn't learning about history fun when you're learning it by way of a well written fiction novel?
The same things I loved about The Monstrumologist, the well developed characters and the exquisite writing, are also present in The Curse of the Wendigo. However, I didn't like The Curse of the Wendigo quite as much as its predecessor because of some pacing problems. Other than that, it is a strong and compelling addition to a terrifying and brilliant series. Not sure if this series is for you? I'd recommend trying out the first book The Monstrumologist. Don't worry, it can be read as a standalone as each book chronicles a different set of adventures for Will Henry....more
In short: Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor is SO wonderful and I think you should read it.
There are few side characters that I love more than Zuzana and Mik from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. So when I heard there was a novella that told the story of how Zuzana won Mik's heart, I was IN. Never mind the fact that I very rarely find enjoyment in such heavily romance-driven stories - this IS Laini Taylor we're talking about after all and girl can WRITE! I would read pretty much anything she wrote. That, and I needed something to tide me over until Dreams of Gods and Monsters comes out (only 5 more days now!!).
Can I just take a moment to fangirl over Laini Taylor? You don't mind, do you? Because I love her SO much and I just want the world to know!! And I want everyone who hasn't experienced her writing yet to get on board the Laini-train, pronto! She has an absolutely wicked imagination and an unbelievable way with words. And in her expert prose, Zuzana and Mik come to life with distinct voices and come together with memorable scenes. I am also a massive fan of Laini Taylor's humour and wit and I think Night of Cake and Puppets demonstrates her talent in this area most excellently.
Zuzana and Mik brought the lightness in Days of Blood and Starlight, so just imagine a 90 page novella of heartwarming cuteness and clever hilarity and that's what you get with Night of Cake and Puppets. This novella definitely ranks among my favourites of all time and brought me SO MUCH joy as I was reading it. Night of Cake and Puppets is SO wonderful and I think you should read it....more
In short: I loved Delirium by Lauren Oliver so much I'm afraid the regulators are going to find me and hand me in to be cured.
Oh, wow, did I love thisIn short: I loved Delirium by Lauren Oliver so much I'm afraid the regulators are going to find me and hand me in to be cured.
Oh, wow, did I love this book. Lauren Oliver has created a superb and horrifying dystopian world in Delirium. Lena is a shy, "in-between" seventeen year old girl who always does as she's told and never lies. She's afraid of everyone and everything ("I'm right to be scared," she says). She looks forward to receiving the cure to amor deliria nervosa on her eighteenth birthday. She believes she will be reborn, healed, and perfect with the cure. She views her mother, who was unable to be cured, as "freakish."
But there's a stubborn part to Lena that keeps nagging at her; a part that tells the examiners that her favourite colour is grey (instead of the more accepted blue or green). Then she meets Alex, a fun-loving older boy, and a sequence of events unfolds that leads to her disobeying and lying to her aunt for the first time. She finds that even the smallest disobedience thrills her. She is able to find courage within herself that she never knew she had. Lena's character development was excellent. I really enjoyed being able to see her grow as the novel progressed. I look forward to getting to know her even better in the sequel.
This was my first experience with Oliver's writing and I can't say enough good things about it. The writing flowed so nicely; I read without pause or distraction. The imagery used was powerful. I definitely plan on checking out Oliver's debut novel, Before I Fall. Each chapter was prefaced with a quote from a piece of literature from the dystopian society. These were essentially propaganda, brainwashing the readers into believing that love is a disease that needs to be cured. They set the tone perfectly for the novel, showcasing a creepy and appalling world.
My only complaint is that cliffhanger ending! And now we have to wait until 2012 for the sequel, Pandemonium. I will definitely be buying this book when it comes out on February 1st and I highly recommend that you do, too!...more
In short: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris is an intense mystery thriller with a fascinating sci fi twist and a countdown to the End of the World.
UnraveIn short: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris is an intense mystery thriller with a fascinating sci fi twist and a countdown to the End of the World.
Unraveling took me by surprise. I went into it not really knowing what to expect, maybe just a nice read with a good mystery. But what I got exceeded all my expectations in every single way. Unraveling is a superb and intense mystery thriller with a super cool sci fi twist. I became so involved in the plot and characters while reading that I found it near impossible to put Unraveling down. Despite being relatively lengthy, short chapters and a plot involving a countdown clock to the End of the World ensure a fast paced read.
Unraveling's protagonist, Janelle Tenner, is what really made this book for me. It may partly be a factor of really hating the protagonist in the last book I read and thus in comparison, Janelle seems extra awesome, but I'd like to also think that I loved her for being completely independent, smart and nerdy, and snarky. She never once relied on someone else to get things done - she was a go-getter. When faced with the mystery of how she was brought back to life, why people are turning up dead with their bones liquefied from a nuclear-like blast, and how the End of the World Countdown can be stopped, she makes it her business to find out. Yikes - if it were me, I'd probably hide in a corner and hope for the best.
I also adored Janelle's love interest, Ben, and all their scenes together. And you know that if I'm mentioning the love and relationship aspect of a book in a review, then I must've really loved it because I am not one to gush over that kind of thing in my reviews. Ben has all of the intrigue and mysteriousness of the "Bad-Boy Type" without any of the dickish-ness, which was awesome. Together, Ben and Janelle make quite the cute couple. There were many a moment - most notably, Janelle's ideal proposal scene - that made me swoon.
My one quibble is one that I have with lots of YA mystery novels - namely, that the characters feel the need to play teen detective and save the world instead of turning to a professional for help. I loved Janelle, really I did, but the girl needs to learn that when the End of the World is looming over your head, it's maybe time to turn to the FBI or a Physicist and not worry about if they'll think you're crazy - ASAP.
Unraveling is author Elizabeth Norris' debut novel and I cannot wait to read more from her in the future. I am especially looking forward to seeing more of Janelle and Ben and maybe a certain other mystery that was mentioned briefly in Unraveling and will hopefully be solved in a sequel! Unraveling will be released April 24, 2012. I highly recommend it....more
In short: The Assassin's Blade shows that Sarah J. Maas excels as a storyteller, even in novella format.
Now THIS is how novellas should be done. Too often when I read series novellas, the characters are underdeveloped, the story is superfluous, and I'm left thinking, "What is the point?"; I could easily read the series and skip the novellas and it would make absolutely no difference because the novellas are inessential and unimportant. But THESE Throne of Glass prequel novellas!! They are not only relevant and significant to the overall series story, but they are also each as strong and entertaining as an actual full-length novel.
I don't know how Sarah J. Maas does it, but somehow she is able to give the reader a feel for what Celaena is all about within the first few pages of the first novella, The Assassin and the Pirate Lord. Those who were turned off by Celaena's cockiness and inactivity in Throne of Glass should definitely give these novellas a read as Celaena demonstrates another side of herself as a gutsy and tenacious heroine with a heart of gold. And then there's Sam. Following Throne of Glass, I was firmly Team Chaol, but even I was swayed and swooned by Sam and his hate-turned-love relationship with Celaena.
Sarah J. Maas excels as a storyteller, not only when it comes to tension-ridden romances, but also no-holds-barred action scenes and gut-wrenching heartbreak and feels. And the fact that she is able to accomplish all this in short novella format when you would normally have to turn to novels to get this much depth? Well, that's just genius. My only regrets are a) that I didn't read these prequel novellas before reading Throne of Glass, and b) that I haven't read Crown of Midnight yet (seriously, what am I waiting for?!)....more
In short: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas was an absolutely absorbing read with numerous elements that will keep the reader riveted to the story.
It sIn short: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas was an absolutely absorbing read with numerous elements that will keep the reader riveted to the story.
It seems as though there has been a great influx of books in the historical high fantasy genre these days - presumably due to the popularity of Game of Thrones - and I'm loving it. I love the historical setting with the political intrigue combined with the incongruously fanciful elements of a fantasy. Last year, my obsession was with dystopian novels - I devoured every one that came my way. Now I have a new obsession: historical fantasies with expertly combat-trained female protagonists and enthralling romances. Yes, I'm thinking of course of Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers, and now Throne of Glass can join that group too.
Thankfully though, Throne of Glass wasn't exactly like Grave Mercy, despite having a few significant similarities. It was distinguishable enough in plot and characters that I didn't dwell on any likenesses. It certainly helps that books with trained assassins are super fun to read. Celaena and Ismae were both tough, life-hardened girls, but Celaena was more girlish. At times, I found her to be annoyingly cocky and lacking in common sense, but for the most part, I liked her and admired her spirit and mettle.
There is a love triangle in Throne of Glass and I was prepared to be annoyed by it, as I usually am with love triangles, but surprisingly I found that not to be the case. I feel like the romance was well done and definitely a compelling part of the story. Though I am solidly Team Chaol in the choice between the handsome and arrogant Prince Dorian and the serious and level-headed captain of the guard, Chaol Westfall, I can appreciate that the love triangle was definitely one that will leave the reader with conflicting feelings in support of either love interest. The chemistry between both pairings felt tangible, truly enticing and effective.
Overall, I think the thing that stood out the most to me about Throne of Glass was just how darn compelling it was. It was a definite page-turner and I was never bored. There are so many elements that make Throne of Glass a truly alluring read. Besides the likeable protagonist and the powerful chemistry between love interests that I already mentioned, an entertaining competition, riveting action scenes, interesting court intrigue, an enchanting masked ball, and a curious mystery, all kept me absolutely absorbed in the story. I cannot wait to read more from the Throne of Glass universe, including the four prequels already available as ebooks....more
In short: Thanks to my blog commenters who shamed me into reading Shadow and Bone, I got to experience a real treat. This book has it ALL!
A few weeksIn short: Thanks to my blog commenters who shamed me into reading Shadow and Bone, I got to experience a real treat. This book has it ALL!
A few weeks ago when I posted my Top Ten Tuesday post, Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy... But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread, there was something of a public outcry from my commenters who couldn't believe I STILL had not read some of the most hyped about books from the past few years. Out of all the books I listed, the biggest outcry was for Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, which I bought shortly after it was released last year after a slew of rave reviews. Because I had been shamed by the commenters and because I apparently cave easily to peer pressure, I made Shadow and Bone my next read when I next had a break between review books.
So I guess I should start off this review by thanking everyone who made me read Shadow and Bone. YOU WERE RIGHT! I already knew going into it that this book was going to be my JAM, but I was still blown away by the story and not at all let down after all the hype surrounding it. THIS BOOK GUYS. It's been a while since I've enjoyed myself so much while reading a book. It had so many elements that I love, including (but not at all limited to): a wonderfully developed and beautifully picturesque world, a creative and fascinating magic system, a sort of boarding school setting, an awesomely relatable and fierce heroine, a slow building and fantastically swoony romance, and an enigmatic and complex villain. Shadow and Bone has it ALL!
I can't put into words how much I loved the world building in Shadow and Bone. I was just left mesmerized by it, much as I was with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It's been a while since I've had that experience of wanting completely to become apart of a fictitious world, but I found it was the case with Shadow and Bone. Except instead of "I want to be a witch and put on robes and go to Hogwarts!", it was, "I want to be a Grisha and put on a kefta and go to Os Alta!" I mean, okay, it probably wouldn't be the best time to be apart of this world amid all the death and destruction at the time the book takes place, but you get the idea.
So yes, thanks to my blog commenters, I got to experience a real treat with Shadow and Bone - one where I was held utterly captivated from beginning to end and one that had me wanting to sew my own kefta. You guys are the bestest. Maybe I should pick the next most popular reading choice from that post to read next since this was such a resounding success for me....more