DNF at about 50% (I seriously tried) I almost never stop reading books midway (with the exception of Stephenie Meyer's Life and Death Twilight re-tellDNF at about 50% (I seriously tried) I almost never stop reading books midway (with the exception of Stephenie Meyer's Life and Death Twilight re-telling, but I just could not continue this torture.
My initial thought upon beginning this book: why on earth is this considered a young adult novel? It's juvenile fiction at best. So deeply childish that I was annoyed that I'd even come across it.
The concept was cool - that's why I decided to read it. A book about mermaids? Weird. Interesting. I'm down. I should I have known at the beginning that I didn't like it; there's an overload of stock characters: the butler, maids, catty ladies in waiting, superficial/girly best friend, mean-girl nemesis, etc. But I continued to read because I wanted to give the book a fair chance.
It was so bad. Shortly into the book Serafina (you know, the mermaid princess the book is about) has her official betrothal ceremony to mer prince Mahdi, who turns out to be a total douche (though I am pretty sure this ends up being a misunderstanding) when all of a sudden her kingdom of Miromara falls under attack. (view spoiler)[Her parents are assassinated and - surprise - she must now take the throne. (hide spoiler)] Not the worst plot in the world, but nothing special either.
The reason I couldn't keep reading was the character development. There isn't any. The characters are all so flat and predictable. The cliches are so rampant it's like the author copied and pasted from other works and just tweaked the settings to be bubbly and nautical. Serafina is so stupid and always figures out what's going on a second too late. I just want to slap her - grow a brain!
And why do the merls talk like valley girls? Specifically Neela. It's like the author was trying to appeal to a younger demographic but failed miserably. Even valley girls don't talk like valley girls amidst a life-or-death situation. "Why haven't they attacked us. They totally outnumber us." or "We are so gone." It's like reading a book about a bunch of dumb teenage girls. The only difference is they're mermaids.
Also, why are there different races of mermaids? They are mermaids...can't they just be a species in and of themselves? We have to be so politically correct that mermaids have to have diverse racial representation? I don't care what they look like - they're mermaids for crying out loud.
I'm done. If you're eleven years old and don't read much this series would be fine. Anyone else, steer clear.
I really enjoyed the concept and plot of the book. Hamilton's high fantasy world is unique and captivating.I was a bit generous with my star rating.
I really enjoyed the concept and plot of the book. Hamilton's high fantasy world is unique and captivating. I liked Amani and I thought the backstories of the the sultan princes and Djinnis were fun to read and well-thoughtout. The first two-thirds of the book was paced well and did not feel too rushed or slow to me. I was enjoying learning about Amani's world little by little.
Then comes the last third of the book. Too much happened too fast. (view spoiler)[One day Amani is staying with the rebel prince and his rebellion, the next she finds she's Djinni and is trying to figure out what her power is. It just wasn't developed well. You would think there would be a more prevalent transition period from human to magical creature. (hide spoiler)] I don't understand why the majority of the book is Amani and Jin traveling through the desert with little-to-no combative build-up and then all of a sudden, BAM! (view spoiler)[Battle scenes. (hide spoiler)]
What I disliked the most was the lack of character development. Amani and Jin honestly have no chemistry. She likes him before they've even spoken, and when they do speak it isn't clever and witty. It isn't cute and tension-filled. I wish there was more. I wish, as the reader, I could read their exchanges and feel why they are drawn to one another. I didn't feel that. (view spoiler)[Similarly, Amani is almost immediately protective and bonded with Noorsham once she discovers they're siblings. Why? They met once for ten minutes. I understand it's her half-brother, but seriously? Noorsham is with the other side, I find it hard to buy the girl who would leave Tamid bleeding in the street would do anything to save a brother she doesn't even know. Before the battle scene at the end of the book Amani thinks: "Jin shoved the compass into his pocket. I had a sudden surge of resentment from nowhere. That he got to keep his brother alive while I was aiming a gun at mind." Puh-lease. Give me a break. Had me rolling my eyes. You wouldn't even know this "brother" from a random Gallan soldier if he didn't have the crazy blue eyes. (hide spoiler)]
I know it seems like I'm complaining more than praising, but that's just because I really liked the book most of the way through. I just think it could have been really great with better character development and a slower pace to the plot. I will still read the next books, quite happily I might add.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Shadowlark was arguably not as good as Skylark. This book carried on a lot of the same themes including the OrIf I could, I would give this book a 3.5
Shadowlark was arguably not as good as Skylark. This book carried on a lot of the same themes including the Oren/Lark will-they-won't-they, the search for an explanation regarding Basil, and of course dodging anything and everything that's out to capture Lark for her mysterious abilities.
I enjoyed Lark's journey from city to city. The different atmospheres, characters, and overall organization of different districts and clusters of civilization were really interesting to read. Unlike Skylark where Lark is basically camping out and traveling most of the book, there is much more plot and character development happening in Shadowlark. I really liked getting to know so many new personalities all with varying backgrounds and skills.
As a side note, I wasn't thrilled with the romance aspect of the book. While I appreciate that Spooner didn't make it the main focus, I wasn't pleased by how timid and repulsed Lark behaves around Oren at times. We all know they like each other. We all know they will end up together. We can see it from a mile away. It just seems the author only has Lark feign distaste to create a build-up, and I don't think that adds positively to the story. Oren saves Lark multiple times, she shouldn't and wouldn't be so freaked out by him.
Towards the end of this book Lark begins to refer to her desire for magic as the beast or black creature inside her. She even goes far enough to refer to is as her inner shadow. This was just confusing. She isn't a shadow person and yet she is likening her desire for magic to the shadow people's desire for flesh? She doesn't have such a blood-thirsty need for magic in Skylark so I really don't think it made sense in this book. Hopefully what she is and why she is this way will be explained in depth in Lark Ascending.
To put it candidly, I was at times marginally annoyed with these books but I enjoyed many of the characters and the series' overall originality. Will certainly be reading the final installment.
As one of my first pleasure reads of 2015 (grad school has been kicking my butt) I was pleasantly surprised with Skylark. Whether my satisfaction wasAs one of my first pleasure reads of 2015 (grad school has been kicking my butt) I was pleasantly surprised with Skylark. Whether my satisfaction was because this particular YA trilogy supersedes the many jumbles of dystopian/steampunk literature available or was directly related to my longing for literary escape in general we'll never know, my friends.
I'm usually more harsh with my reviews especially for books falling under the YA fiction genre, but I only have a few minor points of disgruntlement.
First, what I liked about the book. I think Ainsley is an overall like-able character. Often I find my YA heroines hollow-headed and aggravating (I.e. Bella Swan and any and all protagonists in all Carrie Jones's novels) but I liked Ainsley's spunk and determination. I love that she and her community are initially unaware of the corruption in her post-apocalyptic town rather than the series beginning with an already-urgent need to escape.
Perhaps my favorite feature of this series is the magic involved. I don't think I've read a dystopian novel that has included this element of fantasy (not to say they aren't out there). I loved the pixies, the different "hums" of magic, and I'm excited to learn more about the various magical strengths and powers that exist in this world.
What I didn't like was how hard the author tried to set up a love triangle. These are overused time and time again, seemingly more so in the YA realm. Why must the protagonist ALWAYS be torn between two guys? In our YA fantasy leaders such as Twilight and Hunger Games (I am not comparing overall quality of either series to this one) the love triangles actually made sense. The characters were developed and the romances were based on character exchange and circumstance. (view spoiler)[In Skylark Ainsley sees Kris a handful of times at The Institute and thinks he's attractive - suddenly she's in love with him? I can remember one or two conversations. That's all. Once she escapes and starts spending time with Oren she begins to not-so-subtly fall for him as well. But every time Ainsley thinks a romantic thought about Oren, the author trails a romantic thought about Kris closely behind. I just found it irritatingly obvious what she was doing. I'm partial to Oren since he's more of a developed character than Kris but I think that's what the author wants. Also along this topic, what was with Ainsley's random freak-outs? Oren would save her life and she would scream at him or he would try to hug her and she'd flip. That seemed juvenile and I think it was the author's attempt to build sensual tension between them. But I just thought it was dumb. (hide spoiler)]
All in all I liked the book and will be starting book two shortly!
Wow! One of the bests YA books I've read in a long, long time. I'm a sucker for high fantasy to begin with, but when it's done right, I swoon. RarelyWow! One of the bests YA books I've read in a long, long time. I'm a sucker for high fantasy to begin with, but when it's done right, I swoon. Rarely do I give a book five stars (I would really have given 4.5 if it had been possible) but I really think this book deserved it.
Shadow and Bone is a high fantasy novel (as I said) complete with mystical creatures, powers, and a light fairytale feel. The book follows Alina, a orphan raised by a wealthy duke, who has a secret gift even unbeknownst to her. Upon discovering her gift she is challenged with learning to wield it and navigate its impact on her once-simple life.
What really got me was the plot's unparalleled originality and believability. Everyone and their sister is trying to "redo" or "recreate" the YA fairytale novel and not surprisingly, it is very difficult to do well. Sure, there were moments here and there that I caught myself amid an eye roll at the very few and seldom cheesy moments. It's a fairytale for crying out loud, you're not going to buy into everything. However, Bardugo comes very close to convincing me that Little Palace might have been real place at point in time or is maybe even alive and bustling in a parallel universe somewhere. (Let me have my dreams.)
One teeny, tiny complaint. I didn't much care for the Darkling's character. (view spoiler)[Though he did have me fooled just like everyone else, lemme tell ya. That was a good plot twist. I just found his thirst for evil, sinister thing a bit cliche. Can we just have a villain who wants what he wants without all the "muahaha"? I would have liked if he'd just stuck to his agenda and not bunny-trailed to being extra evil for the sake of it. But maybe that's just me.
If you like books like Seraphina, Graceling, and overall being entranced by fun, mystical worlds, this book is a must-read. So impressed with it and excited to read the second in the series. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I was unexpectedly impressed by this book. (Would have giving 3.5) As an avid YA reader, I was initially annoyed by many cliche plot elements such asI was unexpectedly impressed by this book. (Would have giving 3.5) As an avid YA reader, I was initially annoyed by many cliche plot elements such as the disconnected single parent, the siblings that don't understand their differences, and sadly even the nature of the serial killer was a bit cliche. I mean seriously, you must know that using a sinister line like "Won't you come out and play?" is overwhelmingly overdone. However, that being said, I did enjoy this book. It felt like a very long prologue to the actual series; things moved very slow and as I was sincerely interested in the serial killer, but I also know that main characters rarely die so I wasn't very worried about Rory's welfare. I was more interested in the oddities in Juniper Landing and what was going on behind the scenes.
I was very surprised by the ending. Not that I'm impossible to stump, but I've read a lot of YA books and am seldom caught off guard. Kudos to Kate Brian for not leaving too-obvious cookie crumbs throughout the plot that ultimately give everything away and make the reader feel like a dummy. She did a great job of keeping the ending a surprise. Since the second book just came out a few weeks ago, I plan to pick it up soon and see how this whole thing plays out....more
I found this novel pretty entertaining at parts. Recently I've been in the mood for historical romance, and when I came across this in my local librarI found this novel pretty entertaining at parts. Recently I've been in the mood for historical romance, and when I came across this in my local library's ebook collection I thought, why not? It took me about a week to read as I had a lot of other things going on, but the book moved slowly enough that I was able to put it down without any gotta-see-what-happens anxiety.
I was a bit put-off at the beginning of the book because of how cliche it began. Nineteenth century female with passion stubbornly refuses to marry against the wishes of her family. Of course I knew that meant the book would end with her, in fact, marrying.
I did like the main characters Emily and Marcus. I thought they each had very distinct personalities that fit together nicely. As is expected in romance novels they take to each other quite quickly and without much substantial reason. As for Emily and Marcus' aunts, they were not very well-rounded characters at all. I had to keep reminding myself which aunt was which because essentially they read like the same person: frolickey, frivolous, and intrusive. I did think they added a lot of fun to the story, though.
There were a couple aspects to the story I didn't think were necessary. (view spoiler)[The first scene where we "overhear" Eva and Willard discussing the poison, I don't think the word "poison" really needs to be used. As a reader, I already knew well before that that something fishy was going on, I don't need the author to insult my intelligence by "making sure I get it." I highly doubt if two people were going to poison someone that they would openly use the word "poison" in a busy household. That's just careless and unrealistic. I also thought Eva dying during the climax scene was ABSOLUTELY ridiculous. It just made the story less credible. What kind of serious head injury did she inflict on herself that she was both consistently conscious and dead within minutes? Am I the only person that noticed how unaffected everyone was? The doctor just went over and calmly shook his head when he couldn't find a pulse? Seriously? This scene really bugged me. It's like Violette wanted the scene to be a little more climactic so she thought - lets kill someone!(hide spoiler)]
I didn't mind the writing. I found it easy to read and it flowed well. I read an ebook copy though, and I was rather annoyed at the vast amount of typos I had to stumble over throughout the book. I also got annoyed with overuse of the metaphor, "left on the shelf."
I didn't think the book ended as well as it could have. We spend the entire book hearing about Emily and Marcus' disagreements on marriage, but there is no resolution. (view spoiler)[Obviously at the end they just up and decide to marry. Emily spends so much time worrying that Marcus won't approve of her goals and aspirations, but then at the end of the book the topic is brought up casually like it was nothing. (hide spoiler)]
In the end, it was certainly entertaining and did provide some literary enjoyment over the last week. I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it, but if you're thinking about reading it I say - go ahead.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
In this memoir Phil Bryan takes you through his many misadventures in ministry beginning in the 80s (I was not around yet) and ending with his presentIn this memoir Phil Bryan takes you through his many misadventures in ministry beginning in the 80s (I was not around yet) and ending with his present day situation. As a P.K (pastor's kid) myself, I got a little extra enjoyment out of reading Exile in Jesusville than - I assume - most readers. Growing up in the church and then later being shuffled around from church to church to church by my own parents, who I can only guess were seeking the same thing as Phil - a perfect place, I was so entertained by the all-too-familiar church politics and "business" of ministry. Since I grew up in this environment as well, the Christian lingo Phil sprinkles throughout the book had me giggling and then subsequently frowning when it occurred to me that those who were fortunate enough to have grown up without gleaning the sugar-coated language used in most church environments had to have these phrases explained to them.
Though I disagree with some aspects of the book - namely some of the language, both sexist and vulgar, (I am sensitive, what can I say?) for the most part I heard many of my own thoughts reflected on the page. I can remember being frustrated with the business of church since I was a kid and as my frustration has accumulated on and off throughout the years, it was incredibly refreshing to hear someone voice these things aloud. Similarly, when Phil talks about "saving face" in Asian culture, I feel this often happens in the church world. As I read many of his thoughts and judgements on the churches corruption and thirst for "butts in the seats" I couldn't help but think - is he allowed to say this? I feel we are often afraid to judge or call the church out because we (like Phil) put our faith in the organization rather than Christ.
I read this entire book in one day, it was that captivating for me. Like Phil, I believe in value and necessity of the church body. But I detest when the church becomes the staple of faith and God the trusty sidekick. What an entertaining, eye-opening read!...more
In comparison to the first book, this one is awful. It lacks, well, everything. There is really no plot going on. When the book first picked up whereIn comparison to the first book, this one is awful. It lacks, well, everything. There is really no plot going on. When the book first picked up where Wither left off as Rhine and Gabriel escape, I was excited. Awesome, we get to see how they get out and where they end up! We get to see Rhine's joyful reunion with her brother and maybe they'll go back to the manor and break everybody out! But no, the book is just one awful circumstance after another. I get the whole humanity-is-suffering, there's-no-hope-for-us thing that's going on, but couldn't there be at least one happy moment?
It's not like I picked up this book hoping for sunshine and glitter, that's not what I was expecting. But I was expecting to want to root for the characters. After a while, Rhine made more stupid decisions than I was willing to put up with. So I stopped caring about what happened to her. At the end (I won't say what happens) I was angry! I wanted to slap her and ask, why are you giving in so easily??
So, to say I am disappointed is an understatement. I really thought I'd stumbled onto something great after finishing Wither but it looks like this won't be a series worth remembering....more