- It was dull as dirt - It was waaaaaaaay too long - I was so tired of the angst, no matter how justified it was - RoReasons why I didn't like this book:
- It was dull as dirt - It was waaaaaaaay too long - I was so tired of the angst, no matter how justified it was - Rowan is overrated. There, I said it. - I fell asleep listening to the audiobook over 15 times. 7 alone for the last 10%. - The chapters with the witches felt SO POINTLESS. (BTW, the king outlawed magic, but witches are okay? dafuq? Oh well, I don't care.) - I feel like each book follows the same plot: Celena trains. Celena fights with cute guy. Mysterious monster is killing people. Celena kills monster. Fin.
Well, this was terrible. I hated everything but the cover.
I’m proud of myself for finishing this The Queen of the Tearling even though it’s turned outWell, this was terrible. I hated everything but the cover.
I’m proud of myself for finishing this The Queen of the Tearling even though it’s turned out to be one of my most disappointing reads this year. HarperCollins was really pushing this title marking-wise, and while it’s not considered YA, they did offer it to quite a few YA bloggers for consideration for review. I had to be the special person to request it. I wish I hadn’t have done that.
The Queen of the Tearling tried to do a lot of things and that’s its biggest problem. You can’t have a high fantasy, historic society set in the future and NOT do any type of world building. You can’t have set rules up in your world only to break it because MAGIC. It’s not nice to tease the reader from the very beginning of SECRETS and have you supporting cast dangle it in from of us like a carrot for the entirety of the novel and NEVER TELL US by the end. Because that’s exactly what happened. It really made me question what the point of the novel was considering I learned nothing new about the plot or characters by the end.
I’m also surprised this was marketed as Adult to YA readers when it really is just a poorly plotted MG fantasy. For all this book had going for it — and it had a lot, including a movie deal with Emma Watson attached to star! — I expected so much more. I expected to be blown away, and maybe that was part of the problem, but really the level of SUCK contained in The Queen of the Tearling is baffling. I don’t recommend it at all....more
DNF. I thought for sure I would love this since a few of my friends highly recommended it to me, but I hated it. The main characters are terrible andDNF. I thought for sure I would love this since a few of my friends highly recommended it to me, but I hated it. The main characters are terrible and underdeveloped. Let me count the ways: Iolanthe is virtually a Mary Sue and can do no wrong. She is The One with the power to save them because of reasons and has the BEST of luck. *wink, wink* Prince Titus is a spoiled brat that wants everything his way. He even tries to manipulate Iolanthe several times to get her to do things by preying on her feelings. There’s also a romance that came out of nowhere, horrible world building (GAH, this is a fantasy novel, FFS!) and info-dumping all over the place. Also, I hated the narration. Maybe I should have not gone with the audio, but I tried the print too and it’s just a big old NOPE for me.
There is always a certain nervousness that comes with being the first critical review of a book. Not only are you instantlyActual rating: ZERO STARS.
There is always a certain nervousness that comes with being the first critical review of a book. Not only are you instantly the black sheep, but you may be worried how others will react. Now, combine that fear with the fact that your review may make a rather bold statement. Perhaps, it's something along the lines of accusing the book of being a direct rip off of one of the world's most beloved children's novels: Harry Potter.
But, yeah, I'm about to take it there.
I was recommended this book by a fellow "blogger" or so I thought at the time. No matter. I'm determined to let this book stand on its own merits, which are few and far between. I was told this book was an amazing new series. That it was original, exciting, funny, entertaining, etc. Adela Arthur and the Creator's Clock isn't any of those things.
Right from the beginning, before I was bitch slapped with glaring HP similarities, my eyes were accosted by poor use of the English language in the prologue. There were sentences repeated in an overall general condescending tone, choppy writing style that mostly consisted of very simple sentences and awkward sentence structure that was clearly attempting to be prestigious.
Never have I ever encountered so many cons within just the first 5 pages of a book. But here I was. I had accepted this book for review and when I get print copies, I feel this moral obligation to finish or at least give it the good college try. Yet, as I continued to read, the novel never improved.
With almost every character or plot deceive, there was a clear reference to either Chronicles of Narnia or Harry Potter, the latter stronger than the former. Shall we do a quick check list? (I attempted to draw a vinn diagram, but there were too many similarities and it wouldn't all fit in the middle.)
-MC is orphaned by the villain (the mother risks her life to save the MC) -MC grows up away from her "magical" world -MC finds out she belongs to a very powerful family -MC is the only one who can stop the villain -MC goes back to her world and studies at a boarding school castle that has 4 houses (each mirroring one of Hogwarts') -Everyone seems to be afraid of saying the villain's name except for the headmaster -There is a Hermione like character named Hector -There is a Malfoy like character who attempts to a form friendship with the MC because of her powerful family. MC refuses, embarrassing the Malfoy like character. -Villain has a special interest in coming for MC and attempts to enter into MC's mind -MC must take "mind defense" private lessons to keep villain out of her mind -MC joins the school's sports team (think Quidditch, but under water) -MC finds out her mother was a legend at the school's sport and everyone tells her, "It's in your blood!" -The school's dining hall is just as magical as Hogwarts', changing its decor magically -The school is run by elves -The villain mind controls a student to cause the MC problems at the school -At Christmas, the MC receives a mysterious gift that was her late father's accompanied with an anonymous note -One of the MC's school books screams. (I mean, c'mon. Really?!) -The villain has Deatheater like companions. They even travel in black, hooded robes. -Everyone seems to know the MC's name ("It's Adela Arthur!") -Birds deliver the mail -Adela and her posse end up in a forbidden forest, fighting an ogre, rescuing unicorns. *sigh*
(There are more smaller references, but I honestly can't be fucked to pour any more energy into this book to list them.)
Now, sure there were some differences like the MC's blatant lack of self-preservation that would rival Bella Swan's. After a classmate dies from an attack from a creature from her home world, she discovers that she must go back and fight the villain that no one can seem to defeat. The same villain that appears to be eating her people for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Does it matter to her that she knows nothing of her power or her world? No! Does it matter that many people sacrificed their lives for her so that she never had to come back to have her "mighty power" taken by the villain? NO!
But what does Adela do when she finally gets to her world? She complains about the burden of all the responsibilities she now has. She misses the human world. Why did she ever journey to this evil place? OH WOE IS ME. MY LIFE SUCKS! To put it bluntly, Adela is a brat and whenever she whines hard enough about anything, another character comes around or a plot device shows up to solve her problems. To say this was frustrating is an understatement.
Since I was apparently reading a proof, I can't comment too much on the grammar used. However, there were many instances in the narrative when repeat phrases or sentences over again on the same page or improper use of inflection. If character is yelling at another one, why not use exclamation points? Why is the reader constantly told by the narrator how a sentence is to be interpreted? This kind of writing style didn't work for me and made me consider on more than one occasion to whip out my red pen.
The world building leaves much to be desired, though, this is partly because there is hardly any world building at all. The most the reader is told is a very general story on how the magical world was formed and how the villain came into power (think: Voldemort). After that, Adela and the reader find out more by little info-dumps from other characters that often didn't work well with the novel's swift pacing.
In conclusion: I personally could only find one small redeeming factor: the author's attempts to include a lot of equally strong female characters. However, the cons heavily out way that one small ray of light. I've never gone so far as to tell another reader to not read a book, but in this case, I really can't make a good argument for someone to waste their time reading a Harry Potter knock-off. If you're looking to relive the magical world in which J.K. Rowling worked incredibly hard on for years, my advice would be to blow the dust off of the Philosopher's Stone, journey back to Hogwarts and don't look back.
**Small note on the controversy surrounding this book and author** I'm not sure if I should be extremely creeped out that someone went to such great lengths to get me to read a book or incredibly flattered that someone valued my opinion so much that they took to stalking me with various account across various social media avenues.
P.S. Why is there a big fat grammatical error in the title (On the cover)? Yikes.
ARC was received from the author for an honest review.
I always go into a second book in a series with fears that it will have the dreaded "Second Book Syndrome". I worry that the characters will regress,I always go into a second book in a series with fears that it will have the dreaded "Second Book Syndrome". I worry that the characters will regress, the plot will stall and surmount to overall ridiculousness, and in the end, become boring and lathered in disappointment. So even though The Grisha series is a new favorite for me, I still had these concerns. You cannot even imagine my glee when I discovered Siege and Storm did NOT suffer from any of these things. On the contrary, it was even better than its predecessor. If you loved Shadow and Bone, be prepared to be blown away!
There are so many things I want mention and squeal about in this review, but OH THE SPOILERS. And anyway, Kat did such a great job with reviewing in code already. So I've decided to just write letters.
You're so evil, but I can't seem to conjure up any feelings of dislike for you. In fact, I missed you in Siege and Storm. For most of the novel, you were gone from me, only appearing in Alina's dreams. How fair is that? Don't you know how much I need your evil goodness to be present at all times? Seeing you torture the poor peasants of the Grisha world, warms my heart.
And, oh, Darkling, what new skills you have. Wait, does that sound dirty? Because it totally isn't. Then again, you did tell us all to, "Make me your villain." It's only fair if I, too, am allowed at least one inappropriate pun. But seriously, you've leveled up faster than a Super Saiyan in Siege and Storm. Kat says you learned to line dance, but I think it's more along the line of baking cookies. You showed those cookies who was boss!
But your ending concerns me. I guess the cookie batter turned out to be much more difficult that you expected. Maybe you should take a page from Paula Deen and add more evil butter. I'm not sure this has anything to do with book 3, Ruin and Rising, but I just like cookies, okay? And you. I like you too. So be sure to be extra evil next time and give those cookies a run for their money.
Please do us all a favor and stop being so insecure over your relationship with Alina. The girl's got a lot on her plate. She has the responsibility of saving all of Ravka, which is kinda a tad more important than you. I need for you to be more understanding and supportive. I liked you in Shadow and Bone, but I'm starting to think I'm outgrowing my mildly inappropriate swooning of you. Just yesterday, I found myself wondering if Leigh might actually kill you off in Ruin and Rising. If that happens, it's possible I might only mourn you for half a page. No, no, no! I take it back! Don't you dare die on me, Mal-Mal!
True love is tough love,
P.S. I still love you, Mal. <3
I think I speak for everyone when I say, please become a real person.
You are evil. Evil, evil, evil. So evil, your stories leave me speechless. Your humor sends me into fits of giggles and tickles my tender pieces. Your plots make me wish I can pack my bags and vacate to your mind if only for a day. Please don't ever stop being this awesome evil. And because Troy gifs have become our thing:
Also, that ending is causing me to hit the Kvas pretty hard tonight. Look what you've done to me.
Mal, Darkling, Sturmhond... I must collect them all.
An ARC was received for a review from the publisher. No monies or favors were exchanged for a positive review. Thanks, Macmillan!
A year ago when I first heard about The Winner's Curse, it was during the Fierce Reads tour where I had an opportunity to interview a few MacKids authA year ago when I first heard about The Winner's Curse, it was during the Fierce Reads tour where I had an opportunity to interview a few MacKids authors, including Marie Rutkoski. It was a lot of fun and remains one of my favorite interviews I'd ever conducted. I really enjoyed The Shadow Society, Marie's YA debut novel, and loved her writing style, so I knew I'd be more than eager to check out any of her future works. I asked what she and the other authors where working on and she mentioned The Winner's Curse, which I mistakenly called in my mind "The Winter's Curse." When she explained the premise, I was instantly intrigued. Later, when Kat and I were offered the opportunity to be early readers, we were both honored and delighted but, admittedly, hesitant. A novel exploring a relationship between slave and master can only go one of two ways: really awful or amazingly well. And for us, there's always that fear of disliking a book written by an author you like personally.
Our fears were unnecessary.
I remember it being well after midnight when Kat texted me saying she had finished the book. In one sitting. The same day we received it. She immediately demanded that I finish so we could gush. Gush? That was all the incentive I needed to carve out a few hours of the next day for reading. Me, being the slow reader that I am, sat reading all day and into the night. When I finished, it was late, my house was quiet and I was alone on my couch. It was the perfect opportunity to have a good cry. Kat and I FaceTimed and chatted about our favorite parts, swooned over Arin, admired Kestrel's tenacity and wit, discussed the intricately woven theme of Bite and Sting, fangirled over Marie's prose and cried together over the heartbreaking ending because parting from this book and characters was such sweet sorrow.
We knew this book was special so we did what any self-professed book nerd would do when they read an amazing book: We leveled up to Book Pushers and, as Gillian from Writer of Wrongs would say, started flinging this book at any and all of our blogger friends' faces. Many of them have loved it just as much as we did and have reviewed it to the point where I'm not sure what else I could say about it. So here I am, a year later, after reading The Winner's Curse twice and listening to the audiobook. Anyone who's chatted with me over the years would know that I don't re-read books at all. I don't have the time or usually the inclination, but I made time for this one because it really did a number on the feels, yo.
I'm going to give you five reasons why you should read this book and even consider giving the audio a chance.
1. The narrator, Justine Eyre
One word, guys: BOSS. The accent that she did was fantastic. It really put me in the rich setting of the Valorian society. My reality faded away as I listened to her describe the clothing, the buildings and the people. She has this gritty quality to her voice, that perhaps may turn some off, but for me it was perfect. It held so much emotion, especially when she did the dialog for Arin. When he talked to Kestrel, I could feel his heart breaking, his sorrow, his regrets, his resolve wavering. And when she did Kestrel, I could feel her resolve, her uncertainty, her sadness, her wavering loyalty between Arin and her people.
I was really, really surprised with it because I'm picky when it comes to narrators. Everyone knows a narrator can make or break an audiobook, and for me, Justine Eyre enhanced a novel I already loved. In fact, I come out feeling like I loved the audio slightly more than the print.
2. Arin & Kestrel's relationship
This isn't your usual romance. Theirs is a complex love that doesn't blossom overnight -- yay, no instalove! -- but it also sneaks up on you in a way. You get a sense that they have grown fond or used to each other, but you don't know if or when it's ever going to manifest into something else until it does. The problem comes with the issue of slavery. While they have these feelings for each other, the question remains on if it's real if the other doesn't have the true freedom to choose. Can you really love your master? They both know that a relationship between them won't be true unless they are both equal. Unfortunately for them, neither of their societies don't see them as such.
What I really loved about the book was that even though at the heart of the story it's a romance, neither Arin or Kestrel allows their relationship to dominate their common sense. In the midst of their feelings, there's a war and it is a very real threat. Both have high stakes in this game of love and war: family members, friends, loyalty to one's country. It's complicated. It's not so easy for them to run away from their responsibilities to be with each other, and that's what makes their relationship so fascinating and complex. There's no right or wrong answer and, as a reader, it makes it more unpredictable.
3. The Setting
I love how The Winner's Curse feels both Fantasy and Historical at the same time. The women wear gowns equipped with daggers, are allowed to fight in the army and have influence. The society lives for lavish balls, duels, high social gatherings and gossip. They are in no way technologically advanced since they rely on lanterns and horse or boat travel. It's one of those books where I'm not exactly sure what genre it would fall under. Let's shelve it on the Awesome Shelf, shall we? Because that's essentially what it is and that's the only thing that matters to me.
If you've read other reviews that mention the world building a little lacking, it's true. However, this did not bother me and I think it's less apparent with the audio version. I got such a great feel for the culture, that didn't get a sense that I was missing anything. It seems to me, based on how The Winner's Curse ended, that that'll be elaborated more in books 2 and 3. So I'm not too worried in that respect. There's was enough going on without having the geographical locations of all cities thrown into the mix.
Kestrel isn't your usual heroine. She's not a Katniss or a Rose or even a Tris because she's not a fighter. That's not to say she is weak by any means, but she's different. She, instead, is one of the smartest heroines I've read about. What she lacks in fighting skills, she more than makes up with her mind. She is sharp and even her father, a high official in the army, notices her tactical mind. He urges her to enlist and use her talents to help her country. However, Kestrel doesn't have any interest in joining the army and is faced with marrying, another choice she dreads making.
One of my favorite scenes with Kestrel involves a duel that she wins not by strength, but with strategy. She's cunning and the type of character you'd want in a game of chess. Or if the zombie apocalypse came, Kestrel would be the one to come up with the plan to get to the safe house. She might not do you any good protection wise, but the plan would be solid.
She's also fiercely determined. Kestrel knew her limitations, but still, she didn't let that stop her from her goal. She would find unique ways around her problems that didn't require brute strength or violence.
5. The Pier Scene
The first half of the novel may read slow to some, but then you hit the climax and everything from then on is pretty fast paced. It's where Arin and Kestrel's feelings for one another truly shine through despite the problems that arise. The tables turn and Kestrel finally understands Arin better, and because of what Arin went through for years, he doesn't want the same for her. And the feels, the feels, the feels!
The Pier Scene, and even the one before when Arin sings to Kestrel, was easily my favorite scene in the book. I don't even think there is much dialogue at that part, but wow. When Arin looks at Kestrel with that longing and she him with want, but resolve. It really emphasized how complex things were for them and it was so hard for me to read. I wanted one thing, but NHFHDJDBJFBFLFKDMGVDJBHJJVH!!!!!
Man, spoilers, I tell ya. I can say no more! But by the end it was like my soul was hurting from the emotional turmoil. Marie, why did you make me feel these things?
It's no secret I loved this book, guys. I'm not sure what else to say but: THIS BOOK, READ IT.
This book had everything I wanted. It's much too early to put a review up, but trust me, YOU WANT THIS.
It had some of this:
With a little of this:
And romance between two of the best characters that made me go:
And then my feels all went and 'sploded all over the place and made me feel something like this:
And with that ending just smothered in perfection, I'm not ashamed to admit some of this happened after I realized I'd have to wait until 2015 for the sequel:
Basically, I'll be re-reading this book soon and that's pretty much the highest praise I can give it.
Disclaimers: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review. I also received the audiobook for review. However, I ended up purchasing the audiobook with my hard-earned cash money, so there's that. No monies or favors were exchanged for my review and high praise. I loved it all by my lonesome.
On the back of my ARC it reads: "It's Graceling meets Eon in this action-packed fantasy adventure by debut author Actual rating is around 1.5 stars
On the back of my ARC it reads: "It's Graceling meets Eon in this action-packed fantasy adventure by debut author Ellen Oh." In all honesty, I think that statement does a huge disservice to all three novels. And because of that one little sentence, I went into Prophecy expecting something epic with rich descriptions, epic fight scenes and a main character worth rooting for. Unfortunately, I found none of that. I tried to love Prophecy. Truly, I did, but it just never worked out and I'm really sad it didn't because I love Ellen to bits.
Prophecy and I had a very rocky time together that could mirror a relationship from a Taylor Swift song. The saddest part of it all is that I know I could have enjoyed this novel a lot more if it weren't for three very important factors.
Cookie cut-out, cardboard characters. That's the best way to describe every last character in Prophecy. Sure, the bare bones was there. We have Kira, the main character, who is a strong, warrior girl. Her sworn duty is to protect her younger cousin and Crowned Prince, Taejo, from any and all harm. She is also hated by everyone in the land, despite the fact that her job is also to protect those very people from demon attacks. In fact, the people call her The Demon Slayer, which is kind of funny considering we are told the people are kept in ignorance of the existence of demons. So why do the people call her that? No clue. It really never made much sense, and really, that's the least of Prophecy's problems. All of this is TOLD to the reader in the first two chapters. What does Kira like to do? Fight demons. Does she have any long-term aspirations? Protect the Prince forever and ever. Is that nobel? Sure. But how is it really any different from Bella's obsession with Edward? I'm not sure it is.
The other characters are no better. We are given a brief introduction to Kira's mom and we are TOLD how kind she is. We are TOLD her dad is a great general. And Taejo. Taejo is the most infuriating character out of the bunch and only serves as a damsel in distress to give Kira something to do since her life long goal only includes taking a bullet for him. In the beginning, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but as the novel wore on, I began to wonder if he possessed any sort of training at all or courage or bravery or balls. Apparently, none of those things. And don't get me wrong. I love a strong female character that saves herself and friends, but not at the expense of the others looking useless or helpless.
The rest of the characters did show promise, but they were never fleshed out and served more as sidekicks than anything else. For example, the love interest, Jaewon, I did like. He seemed to have a good story behind him. Troubled past filled with pain and a chance for redemption. Unfortunately, it was never really tapped into. Though, perhaps Oh is saving that for the subsequent novels along with the romance that was never fully formed, but instead thrown in at a blasé sort of way. Because of that, I felt the little line where he says he'd "always do whatever she asked" was a little much. Why would he? What sort of connection did he develop with Kira with their brief interactions in between fight scenes? However, I will say that I did appreciate the romance not being in the forefront.
Show. Don't Tell:
Immediately, from the first chapter I had a sneaky suspicion that this would be an issue. Readers are told entirely too much about the characters instead of getting to know them for themselves. With every character we are introduced to, the reader is told what kind of person he or she is. There is no surprise with thinking one character is good, but later turning to the dark side. It made Prophecy incredibly predictable and with flat characters, the element of surprise could have saved this novel. I'm supposed to like Taejo because he is young and the prince and is good. But I don't. I'm supposed to like their uncle, King of the neighboring Kingdom of Guru. Then Kira decides she doesn't trust him because slight ruthless nature, but it doesn't matter because I never liked him anyway. I'm supposed to like Kira because she is the main character who has poor self-esteem and must find her way in a kingdom that doesn't appreciate her. But I don't. See the problem here? I'm not shown enough about the characters to actually develop any feelings toward them one way or another.
Also, because there was mostly telling the fight scenes were shorter and less descriptive than what I would have liked, making them just as eventful as if they were all frolicking through a meadow. This caused the pacing to feel very off at times. One paragraph they are fighting, then the next it's suddenly over and they're walking to an inn.
And even with the other negatives, I could have enjoyed it more if the writing style meshed better with me. This is the biggest problem with it being compared to Eon and Graceling. It's like a little kid trying to put daddy's pants on. He looks awfully cute in it, but just isn't ready to wear those digs. This is where I really think Prophecy would have been better marketed to the Middle Grade audience instead. There is just way too much hand-holding and explaining terms that are better left inferred to my liking. Prophecy does a lot of what Stormdancer did, where it used foreign terms (in this case Korean) that readers my not be familiar with. If there was more showing, the reader could have easily used context clues to guess the meaning. It just felt like there was a lot of "talking down" to the reader and it completely turned me off to the story. This lead to a very basic plot with predictable twists, causing the heroine to appear very slow on the uptake. And that in turn caused me moments of great frustration similar to when Eona couldn't figure out how to call her dragon for majority of a 531 page novel. *headdesk* (Oh, hey, look! There's the comparison.) Sad to say, veteran high fantasy and critical readers will not be impressed by this.
Still, while Prophecy did hold significant faults for me, I do appreciate the amount of research Oh obviously invested into the novel. She had a clear outline of her world building and it showed. And there were a few lines that made me chuckle. I just wish there had been a little more time to develop everything. Truthfully, Prophecy isn't a bad novel and if my daughter was around age 10, it'd be a book I would buy her. For anyone else, I highly recommend anyone considering it to seek out a sample chapter first. But as for me? It's not really my thing. Maybe the series will get better in the next book. Maybe all my concerns are cleared up. But Prophecy and I are like a pair of incompatible, bickering lovers. Fine on our own, just not so great together. And we're probably "never ever, ever getting back together."
An ARC was provided by the publisher for an honest review.
Once again I find myself at a loss for words and I do believe I'm suffering from Marchetta Fever. If you've read any book by her, you may know the sym Once again I find myself at a loss for words and I do believe I'm suffering from Marchetta Fever. If you've read any book by her, you may know the symptoms yourself: First it's the euphoria that sets in right after you complete the book. Then, you find yourself thinking about the book long after you finish. You have the inability to form a single, coherent thought to review the book. And in the final stages, your palms go sweaty with the need for the next book. There is a reason why Marchetta is considered a master storyteller and if that wasn't evident enough for me in Finnikin of the Rock, then it's now blatantly obvious.
Froi of the Exiles takes place a few years after Finnikin of the Rock's conclusion and is told from Froi's point of view. At first, I was leery of that fact because I really disliked Froi in Finnikin due to the rape attempt on Isaboe. How do you redeem a character that was once viewed as a monster? I didn't know if it were possible to pull it off or pull it off well, but I was wrong. Froi has come a long way since Finnikin and I think the other character's views on Froi really played a big part in my ability to connect with him. For example, we learn in the beginning that he's made a bond with Isaboe to never take another woman by force. Yet, he goes further and says he never will take a woman because he doesn't trust himself. With each chapter, I saw Froi battling his inner demons. But what's even more interesting is that, for me, Froi's redemption came through Quintana's characterization. Because, for Froi, Quintana is the product of what his actions could have created and at the same time falling in love with this very broken girl. I could go on and on about that dynamic, but I'll suffice to say that the character growth in Froi of the Exiles is phenomenal.
The plotting was nothing short of sheer brilliance. I've said this before, but the only other author that I find comparable to this level of plotting is J.K. Rowling. While I did find the pacing slower than Finnikin, there were so many twists and revelations that kept me on the edge of my seat. We learn more about Froi's past and I'm still blown how it all came together. There is simply no way to predict anything in this novel. And sometimes I feel like with being an avid reader, you get to the point where you start recognizing certain plot trends and twists. So by the time something is being revealed, it doesn't really shock you. But not with Marchetta. Her plot was woven so thick, I had to take it in piece by piece.
By the end of the novel, I felt the same as I did with Finnikin. I felt like I had gone on such an intense emotional journey because so many events had taken place and I needed time to process everything. I loved everything about this book and though, right after finishing I hungered for Quintana of Charyn, I knew I simply couldn't read The Lumatere Chronicles back to back. I'll need to take a mini break before I dive into the conclusion that is sure to turn me into a swirling vortex of emotions. And that, in my humble opinion, is the true mark of a fantastic series.
ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley. (I'm just really late in getting to it.)
This marks the second book I've read of the Breathless Reads collection from PenguinTeen and so far, I have not been disappointed. And now, I'm making This marks the second book I've read of the Breathless Reads collection from PenguinTeen and so far, I have not been disappointed. And now, I'm making it my personal mission to check out the others in the collection. With Origin I had edge-of-my-seat suspense, but with Falling Kingdoms I had conspiracies, action, war... blood. :D
Falling Kingdoms follows the story of four young people from different kingdoms whose destinies become intertwined during the strain of peace between the lands. We have Cleo, a princess of Auranos; Jonas, a peasant from Paelsia; and Lucia & Magnus from Limeros. At first I was a little overwhelmed with remembering who was who, because besides the main characters, there are also quite a few important secondary characters to keep track of. Thankfully, the plot picks up rather quickly and kept me interested long enough to focus. Since Falling Kingdoms essentially has four storylines built into one and is very character driven, it's probably easier to review by analyzing the book by each character.
I struggled to like Cleo and most of the characters involved in her story arc. Much of the time I generally found her to be incredibly frustrating and immature. She's also spoiled, stubborn and selfish. But she does have a good amount of character growth by the end of the novel. The sad part is that it comes at a really high price for her. I also disliked most of her storyline. The entirety of the events in Falling Kingdoms begins with her friend Aron (also known as the most infuriating character ever) murdering a Paelsian peasant after trying to cheat the family out of money for wine. Dude just claims his life as if he owned the place. Then somewhere along the way there is a bit of insta-love between her and another character that I REALLY didn't care for. In fact, I thought that whole love story was poorly executed given the novel's fast pace. Even given those dislikes, I feel like I will enjoy her character much more in book two.
Jonas is the brother of the murdered peasant and through his thirst for vengeance, a revolution begins. He helps rally his people and forms and alliance with the King of Limeros to siege Auranos. I enjoyed his story arc much more than Cleo's because he is clearly the under dog of the four. But I do feel he received the least amount of page time than the other main characters. However, based on the ending, it looks like he will play a much larger role in the next book.
Lucia and Magnus:
Ah, those two. Let's just call them Luke and Leia for now, minus actually being blood relatives. Or better yet Clary and Jace from The Mortal Instruments series. Okay, so this was the storyline that really drove this novel since the prologue is about Lucia's past. Their arc had the most plot twists and turns along with shocking revelations. Or perhaps, not so shocking if you have read similar character situations. Magnus hides his feelings from Lucia and with their story I sat on the edge of my seat just waiting for when the secret was bound to come out. All the while, war on Auranos approaches. What's interesting is that even though it's clear (at least, right now) Limeros is the bad guy, they don't seem to be bad characters. But considering how they had large roles in the conquering of Auranos, it'll be interesting to see how their characters, especially Magnus, redeems their selves.
I really think Rhodes applied the right amount of anticipation throughout the novel. I never felt bored and at times I stayed up late into the night reading. And while each main character did seem to incite moments of great frustration, I liked them because they are all so flawed and do a lot of growing. It's one thing to be plagued with an annoying character for the duration of the novel, but to see genuine progress really makes the difference. These characters are young and virtually "play things of the gods" used as pawns for bigger purposes unbeknownst to them. Rhodes pushes her characters to make really difficult decisions, causing them to step up to the plate and face their fates or destinies. I have to commend her for taking their individual arcs and weaving them together so flawlessly as if it were always ment to be that way.
The biggest thing that felt off to me was the pacing. Time passes very swiftly from one PoV change to the next and the reader is just told how much time has passed in the beginning of the chapter. This didn't work too much for me because I didn't necessarily feel or see the change myself. This led to small incidents of confusion like with the above insta-love I mentioned.
Though despite my small issues, that are just that, small, I really enjoyed Falling Kingdoms. So much so that I found myself thinking about the story long after I finished. It looks like the next book is shaping up to be even better than it's processor and I can't wait! If you are still on the fence, you could try checking out a sample of the first few chapters on the Breathless Reads Facebook page. But I really think those few, short chapters doesn't even come close to doing the book justice.
The first thing that came to my mind after finishing Stormdancer was the very eloquent: WHOA! The second more composed chain of thought was something The first thing that came to my mind after finishing Stormdancer was the very eloquent: WHOA! The second more composed chain of thought was something along the lines of: Why yes, that *was* just as badass as its cover suggested. Stormdancer had it all for me. Richly crafted world building, carefully placed humor, realistic characters, unpredictable storyline... I mean, I could go on and on here! This book was freakin' awesome! I went into Stormdancer expecting to fall in love with it because it has such an awesome premise. Which is saying something because I'm not a huge fan of Steampunk. *Cue the mock horror and shock* But you know what? I loved this book. Prepare yourselves, friends... for a glowing review.
Right off the bat the reader is immersed into Shima's culture with no hand holding from Kristoff whatsoever. The beginning is intelligently planned and doesn't insult the reader with countless explanations of terms, locations and titles. That's what a glossary is for. Thankfully, Stormdancer has one, which I found myself visiting often at first. However, those visits tapered off as I became more familiar with the story. It's almost like watching your favorite anime with subtitles. In the beginning you're doing a lot of reading, but halfway through you find yourself catching on, getting lost in the story, following along easier without the need of your training wheels. Good stuff, people. Good stuff.
The plot rocked my socks. It all revolves around a flower called "blood lotus" that fuels their machinery and the population's drug addiction to it. The Shogun believes he is destined to be a legendary Stormdancer, riding the back of a Thunder Tiger, leading his army to victory against an enemy he plans to enslave for further production of the plant that's choking the life from his country. Throw in Samurai with clockwork armory, a telepathic griffin and chainsaw katanas and you, my friend, have got yourself a damn good time.
The characterizations are phenomenal. I absolutely loved Yukiko. She's incredibly smart, fierce and independent. And her voice felt very real to me as a female. The best part of Stormdancer hands down was Buruu the griffin. HILARIOUS! When he and Yukiko first meet up he affectionately refers to her as "insect" and "monkey." Did I mention this dude speaks in ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME? (He sounds like Zordon from the Power Rangers in my head. But with attitude.) I found myself laughing every time they interacted. His development was also an interesting one because he starts off with a simpler mind, thinking short choppy violent thoughts, with no understanding of sarcasm, only blood. But as the novel progresses you can see his sentence structure improving and his thoughts becoming more humane (darn!). It was all a very smooth transition until I couldn't see the final Buruu any other way.
What's that you say? You find it impossible that I can find no fault with Stormdancer? Well, that's not entirely true. But keep in mind this is coming from someone who doesn't read a lot of High Fantasy or Steampunk. Basically, ignore me. Lol. If there was one thing that bothered me, it was the beginning. It felt a little slow for me with the myriads of description after description. When my best friend asked me in the beginning what I thought of Stormdancer I told her it was kinda like when Rowling went nuts on describing the Weasley house. And her reply was, "Yes! I love tons of descriptions." And that's when I realized I was obviously the weirdo in this case. For once. Don't worry, I'll be back to being the "kool" one soon enough.
So why did I give it 5 stars? Why not 4? Truthfully, for about half the book I thought, "Okay, 4 stars for sure." But then Buruu and Yukiko brought the THUNDA with that fight screen against the Oni... and I was like whoa, dude! Oh, and when the minor character, Michi, started going into splits, cutting dudes to shreds!! OMG, it was like a serious Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon badass scene on steroids. And then with the plot twists! *takes deep breath* Sorry, I-I-I couldn't contain the fangirling. But it was awesome!
And that ending?! Wow. So much win and I never saw it coming! And damn you Kristoff for making me shed a tear! Who knew my cold, dead heart was capable of such emotions? But you know what they say, "The lotus must bloom." Heh. I am very thankful that salt wasn't poured into the wound with a cliffhanger, but I feel like a desperate lotus addict looking for book two to magically appear on my bookshelf. *weeps* It's not there! So I'll just be over here rocking back and forth waiting for my bookish fix.
ARC was provided by the publisher. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. Doubt me not, friends. These are my honest thoughts. Kristoff happened to write a book and I happened to love it.
First, a cavet: This review willWhew. So much WIN I can hardly stand it!
Girls rule and boys drool!
Oh my sweet... just gimme the next book now!
First, a cavet: This review will probably be the most unhelpful review you might ever read because nothing I say will do the book justice. I'll just use this space to ramble and hopefully it makes some sort of coherency.
I remember the first time I heard about Melina Marchetta and her special fragrance of awesome she regularly emits whenever she publishes a novel. I had seen reviews of On the Jellice Road, Saving Francesca, and The Piper's Son popping up left and right in my GoodReads feed all proclaiming that this woman was the cat's meow. But still I resisted the urge to hop on the Marchetta bandwagon for whatever reason. I was the Grinch sitting comfortably on my hill watching all the citizens of Whoville fangirl.
Yup, that's me. Especially when writing a 1 star review.
Finally, my co-blogger, Kat Kennedy, shook me fiercely and demanded I get off my ass and head to my local library. Naturally, I did exactly as she said because when the Boss Lady gets bitchy, you don't ask questions. Unless, of course, you don't happen to favor your head. *shrug* Your choice. Always your choice.
So, I stared at the book when I got home and silently told myself, "This better be good or I'm going to troll the shit outta Kennedy's review." It wasn't a threat, it was a promise.
At about 15% into the book, I completely forgot about my vow to make her previous trolls look like cute bunnies.
At about 25% in, even though I checked the book out from the library, I purchased the Kindle edition for my iPad so I could read late into the night while my household slept.
At about 35% in, anyone who attempted to talk with me while I was glued to the book was met with silence or a growl. My husband made the snide remark that the iPad would be permanently affixed to my forehead if I remained in "that ridiculous reading position."
This is actually a real photo taken by my husband for mockery at a later date. Don’t worry. Vengeance will be mine!
At about 40% in, while at the bookstore, I raged because they didn't have Finnikin in stock. What the hell was their problem anyway?!
Somewhere between 50-100%, my husband began to worry I would run away to Australia and proclaim my love to Melina Merchetta. I won't pretend the thought didn't cross my mind.
Its been quite a long time since I added a book to my "All Time Favorites" shelf and out of all the books that reside there none ever truly came close to competing with my number one favorite: Harry Potter. Until now. Oh my god, this book was amazing!
Melina Merchetta, you humble me. This is one of the best books I have ever read. The rich world building. The realistic characters. The heartbreaking romance. You created a world I never wanted to leave.
Authors please take note. THIS is how you create a believable world, societies, and cultures. THIS is how you write a strong female character. THIS is how you show the unfair treatment of women in a society, having a heroine rise above, and yet your book still proudly waves its feminist flag. THIS is how you create memorable minor characters. THIS is how you write from a male point-of-view without him sounding like a wannabe. THIS is how you write an epic book.
Badass, Marchetta. Badass.
A piece of advice from the hard-to-please, Grinch of Book-land: Read this book. It is amazing, fantastic, brilliant and everything in between. When US readers get their hands on Froi of the Exiles, and later this year Quintana of the Charyn for those lucky Aussies, I'm sure GoodReads will resemble nothing short of gnats flying into the bright, blue light. And I will be proudly be one of them.
*clears throat* Now if you'll excuse me, I have a plane to catch.
So, yes this review was probably not helpful, but I hear there is a giveaway for a signed copy of Froi of the Exiles up on Cuddlebuggery! ...more
I usually don't pick up many high fantasy novels. For example, I hate Lord of the Ri Actual rating: 4.5 stars
Oh yes, Rachel Hartman. YES!
I usually don't pick up many high fantasy novels. For example, I hate Lord of the Rings. Don't flame me! It's just that it's not usually a genre I mesh well with. In fact, I think aside from Seraphina I have read a grand total of two high fantasy books this year: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn and Eona: The Last Dragoneye. Coincidentally, all three have dragons in them. Hmm...perhaps the universe is trying to tell me something there.
Dragons?! Yes, dragons. I know what you're probably thinking. So, let me help you.
Who's a good boy, Toothless? I could watch him chase that little light all day. But, no, not those kinds of dragons.
Burn, baby, burn. Now, that's more like it.
Sixteen-year-old Seraphina Dombegh lives in a world where dragons have the ability to transform their bodies into humans and walk amongst mankind. Previously, dragons and humans have warred against one another, but for forty years there has been strained peace thanks to a treaty. The time arrives for the peace treaty to once again be signed and a member of the royal family has been found murdered. What's even more interesting is that it appears to be the work of a dragon. With Treaty Day swiftly approaching, Seraphina finds herself in the midst of the investigation, assisting Prince Lucian Kiggs in discovering the murderer, all the while trying desperately to hide her own secret: being half dragon.
A few things I LOVED about Seraphina:
The World Building:
I really have to commend Hartman because this is a brilliant debut and I feel very fortunate to have read it months before the release. She has created a very believable society and I can just imagine all the research she put into this crafting the religion, clothing, races, philosophers, customs, ect. Initially, when I first started I felt a bit overwhelmed because of the names and culture. It's just that rich. But once I got into the story, I was just amazed at how well constructed the world building was.
I have to say, I was not once irritated at the main character, Seraphina (BTW: awesome name!). She is very headstrong and determined. When she first discovers a plot to disrupt the peace, she does not hesitate to get to the bottom of things even if that means doing things herself. This, of course, is her strength and her weakness. Having to hide her secret her whole life has left her unable to trust easily. This directly impacts her relationship with her partner in the investigation, Prince Lucian Kiggs. But as the novel wears on, we see a growth in Seraphina and her ability to trust and rely on her friends.
My favorite character has to be a toss-up between Princess Glisselda and Orma. For secondary characters, I felt they were very well developed throughout the novel. It's kind of ironic that they would come to be my favorites since in the beginning I didn't really care for either one. They possessed qualities (or at least I thought they did) that I found ugly (rudeness, apathetic, tactless, and uncaring). I suppose this is just another cool point for Hartman's writing style and character development for changing my mind completely before the novel's end.
The Plot and The Pacing:
Simply brilliant. The best way I can describe it would be to say it's like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and dragon lore fantasy. I found the novel's length to be perfect for the pacing, giving just the right amount of time for relationships to develop, the mystery to be solved, and ending realistically.
Very well done! I never saw the ending coming and was left completely satisfied with it. There are some series where the installments feel more like a part one or part two of a story, but then there are others like Seraphina that could stand alone just fine. While I know Seraphina's journey is not yet over, the immediate threat in the novel is resolved. I really appreciated that. This novel speaks for itself and doesn't need to rely on a cliffhanger to keep a reader interested in a sequel.
Seraphina is definitely a book you should look out for in 2012. I, for one, cannot wait for the sequel!
Disclaimer: An ARC was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes and while Rachel Hartman is a GoodReads friend of mine, these are my honest thoughts on the book.
Power. Glory. Honor. Reliability. Trust. Strength. Are these traits simply attributed to our gender? Does our gender determine who we are as people or Power. Glory. Honor. Reliability. Trust. Strength. Are these traits simply attributed to our gender? Does our gender determine who we are as people or who we can become as a person? For centuries women have struggled to pry themselves from underneath man's suppressive boot to claim their equality. For centuries being a woman was thought to mean you were weak, unable to defend yourself, better off in the kitchens.
This is the world 16 year-old Eon(a) lives in. She lives in an Asian culture were women can never hope to strive for the same position as a man: Dragoneye. Yet, that is exactly what she does. On the outside she is a 12 year-old boy named Eon, masquerading in a world she barely understands. not only is she working against her sexuality, but she also has a lame leg, a symbol of bad luck.
When I first started the novel, it started off slow for me. However, the world building was excellent. I can not help but to sit back and admire the amount of research Alison Goodman had done to describe Eona's world. From the descriptions of the clothing, buildings, and mannerisms, I could completely visualize everything. After I got to know Eona more, I started having a better appreciation for the book.
I really loved Eona and her determination to become a Dragoneye despite her limitations her culture had bestowed upon her. She believes that her femininity hinders her. As a result, she does her best to suppress it at every given opportunity by taking drugs to stop her menstrual cycle. She finds that she has been thrust into a world of politics with people depending heavily on her power. A power she has no idea how to manifest.
And that my GoodReader friends brings us to the bad parts. Oh, c'mon. You knew it was coming.
Eona, Eona, Eona...Why are you so slow? Why must you frustrate me so?
I had long figured out the secret behind how to call your dragon. Yet you were up the creek without a paddle or just a lost little kitten.
Find your brain while you're at it, m'kay?
However, all was not lost with Eona's slow uptake. Once people started finding out her secret, the book moved along way faster. And by the end of the novel, I felt myself very excited for the sequel.
Eona had tremendous growth in this book. She went from suppressing her womanhood to embracing it. This book had the feminist in me crying out and squealing like a wittle fan girl. It was awesome.
And for some strange reason Annie Oakley and Frank Butler sang to me the entire time I read this book.
Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything Better than you.
No, you can't. Yes, I can. No, you can't. Yes, I can. No, you can't. Yes, I can, Yes, I can!
I can't wait to see what Eona CAN do in the next book!