This was a high enjoyable, fast-paced, well-written, well thought out story with excellent characters and an interesting concept. It's structured wellThis was a high enjoyable, fast-paced, well-written, well thought out story with excellent characters and an interesting concept. It's structured well. And I love me some character interaction (though this one is missing some of that effortless witty banter I wished it had), and I'm drawn to groups of characters who do well to help each other out (as opposed to those books that have characters who are always moody and paranoid and trying throw each other under buses).
So, yes, I did enjoy reading Poison Study from the beginning until the very end.
However, I must say that a lot of things still fell kind of flat -- there was an undertone of intriguing scenarios, but the feeling I got from it was kind of monotonous. Or, well, I personally felt kind of "meh" while reading certain parts of the book. Things just kind of happened... and then we moved on. Also, it didn't help that a lot of the plot twists were fairly predictable -- there were too many hints that forced you to make connections and when the book itself made a reveal, it wasn't as exciting as it felt like it should have been.
Nonetheless, the story thrives on the characters and the world and the concept. To become a food taster for the highest ranking man in the country, with your life forfeit, prepared to die each and every day... It was an interesting idea.
Yelena is a great character: kickass, intelligent, resourceful, level-headed, talented... She's probably going to become superhuman in the next few books if she keeps getting stronger like a shounen manga character. Valek is already able and strong, so the pair of them together will create awesomely superhuman perfect babies... or they'll just be super elite as a couple working together to save the world.
I enjoyed the friendship between Yelena and the Power Twins, Janco and Ari. That was a sweet set-up, and I look forward to seeing more of that as well as more friendships developing in the rest of the series. As opposed to stories where everyone is always at each other's throats, trying to stab each other in the back or just being plain mean for the sake of being mean, or betraying friends in order to save their own asses... I think I much prefer seeing characters actually enjoy each others' company and helping each other survive in a bleak world.
I liked the developments in the story (even if they were predictable), and I enjoyed some of the brief (very, very brief) "Poison Training" sessions.
So, yeah... while the tone of the story felt a bit flat, it was still well-written and I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit....more
I'm not going to lie. I really, really resent this book right now.
And I've started this post four times because I can't seem to find the right words tI'm not going to lie. I really, really resent this book right now.
And I've started this post four times because I can't seem to find the right words to describe the struggle I felt while reading this book. It was boring and monotonous.
Sure, the writing was great and the details were plenty... but sometimes you CAN have too much detail. I'm sure I was drowning in detail to the point where I physically said aloud: "Why do I care?"
I like to see myself as fairly tolerant when it comes to books. I have a pretty average standard and can overlook certain aspects in exchange for other traits a book may display more favorably.
The world had potential: Seven Realms, wars going on, a rich back-history of conflict, a legendary warrior queen who saved the world, some snippets of human drama between opposing groups of people who hate... well, just because the hate has been expanding for generations. There is a lot of potential in this world.
But I'm not sure if I could find anything in The Demon King that was to my liking at all. I didn't like the characters (except maybe Prince Liam Tomlin, what little appearance he makes with his witty banters and nonsensical responses), there appeared to be very little direction in the story line, despite the fact that you knew exactly where the story was headed, and (I repeat) there was too much info dump.
To me, the entire book felt like a prologue of sorts -- as if this one book was the build-up and back story behind the true story that has yet to begin.
So I resent this book, but not for all the things mentioned above; I resent this book because of the fact that the actual story doesn't even really begin until the end. Things actually start to get intriguing in the last 20% stretch of The Demon King.
If I cared enough, maybe I could overlook the first 80% and be happy to continue the series. I'm not sure if I'm feeling as generous right now though.
March 29, 2013 I'm glancing at all the raving and the five stars and the first line of reviews that I don't want to read yet...
I NEED THIS BOOK NOW! CoMarch 29, 2013 I'm glancing at all the raving and the five stars and the first line of reviews that I don't want to read yet...
I NEED THIS BOOK NOW! Counting down until it's official release in June... Can I whimper?
June 21, 2013
There's nothing more intense than reading a book and feeling all your emotions rise and fall with the characters as the story progresses. I have little to say about Siege and Storm only because, much like the first book, I couldn't formulate words outside of these particular thoughts:
"I have no words because this was so awesome!" and "Now I have to wait another year for the last book!"
I'm going to admit that the reading of the second book took a little longer than intended for two reasons:
1) I didn't want to read everything in one sitting and be left with that stupid empty void you get after finishing a great story. So I allowed other distractions to keep me at a steady reading pace, but every time I picked up that book, I just wanted to keep going until I finished and that whole "One more chapter then I'll go to sleep" mantra was really just standard hopeful drivel for my book reading marathon binges when I'm in love with the story I managed to get my hands on.
2) I won't deny that I might have let the expectations and my own hype of this book overwhelm me. A certain part of me was severely afraid that things would go wrong and I would end up disappointed. But contrary to that unfounded fear, book number two of the Grisha trilogy truly held up to all the expectations I'd put in place for it.
I truly have no words.
Or well, maybe I DO have a few.
The one negative I found is really my own personal bias. I'm hard-pressed to pay attention to things related to politics and war and so there was a section of the book where the war strategies and political controversies left me a little blah. But that's not to say that I didn't enjoy them or that it wasn't written well, because everything still progressed smoothly and wonderfully. I'm just a little less drawn to those things. In contrast, I had enjoyed Alina's growth into her powers and her journey of self-revelation in the first book a lot more.
Aside from that, everything else about Siege and Storm was nothing short of wonderful awesomeness. "Awesome" being the best way I could ever describe any book since I can't think of a better word for how much I loved it short of tossing around a lot of:
OMG, THIS BOOK WAS SO, SO AWESOME!!!!!!
But I'm a rather monotonous and laid back person, so we'll leave it at that (loud CAPS and many exclamations points and all).
Lastly, something I never got to do was review the first book since I finished it so quickly I never had time to put my thoughts together outside of those same few words in bold faced CAPS and exclamation points (see above).
But the one thing I wanted to make mention, which applies to both the first and second book, is the world that Leigh Bardugo has created in the Grisha trilogy. There's nothing I love more than being able to pick out background bits and pieces and actually see a truly formulated world without even trying. If you kick the main characters out of place, that world still stands on its own with its on histories and lore and cultures. This, in itself is one of the most amazing things that a truly talented author is able to do. Too many times do you read through a lot of books only to find that the foundation is based so much on the immediate story and the main characters that if all of that were gone, the world would probably cease to exist. But with a well-developed world, you could throw anyone into it and still have a whole new and different story to tell. In fact, you could pick and choose from a lot of the side or background characters and see their entire story vividly.
This is one of the things that I love finding out the most with a lot of authors I've come to love.
That being said, along with the excellently created characters, the story progression, the writing, and the story itself, everything seems to be falling into place with the Grisha trilogy. I'm not even sure how I'm going to last the next year until the finale is released, because I'm already feeling jittery.
Finally, if I loved the characters from the first book, I most definitely loved them even more with all this new development. Because these aren't static characters and their very human, ever-changing lives that show through in each subtle shift of the stories trajectory touches me. From Grisha, to royalty, to the Darkling as well as all the newest introductions, the world came together so cohesively that I rarely questioned the purposes of anyone at all. I loved the addition of Tamar and Tolya and the idea of rogue Grisha. It gave insight to human nature's rebellious instincts.
Alina's continued struggle with her own personal demons as well as her hopes were satisfyingly bitter sweet. The loneliness she felt as well as the echo of her connection with the Darkling was wonderful. I love this girl for her strength, but at the same time, my heart hurts whenever she seizes the opportunity to be less than a saint. Her only hope is that she knows when her thoughts have gone dark and familiarly sinister, and yet at the same time, the humanly instincts of greed allow her to give into her less than noble intentions.
Mal's conflicting desire to have purpose in his life, to remain by Alina's side, or to just give up his own hopes altogether really wrings the heart even more. If I thought he was just the lovelorn soldier pining after his first love with no other purpose from the first book, he really changed things around with a snarky yet charming personality in spite of his personal conflicts -- this boy has won my heart (but in his defense, he had very admittedly less scene-time in the first book than he did this time around). Even with little movement, he manages to tell you everything that's going on in his mind and makes your heart hurt for him at the same time, yet in some roller coaster instances, you continue to love him for who he is.
And the addition of Sturmhond was just icing on the cake. As much as I loathe his bipolarism, his many masks and personas, I loved his charm, his wit, his resourcefulness, and yes, even his calculating schemes. This guy was pure awesomeness!
However, I WILL not have him overshadowing Mal any longer! The boy may be a brooding ass, but I've grown to love him, oh so much! *sigh*
As Alina had put it to Mal, "Do you practice being wonderful?" Because I'm sure his charming loveliness CANNOT be anything less than an art.
Anyway, as always, what started off as a few words have become a longer post than intended. When will I ever learn that once I start charging into a review post, there is no way for me to keep it less than 1000 words?
And now, I'm off to that horrendously LOOOOONG wait. In the meantime, at least I know there will be plenty of other "OMG I NEED THAT NEXT BOOK NOW!!!!" options awaiting me within the next few months.
On a last note:
Mal:"I just pictured the Darkling being cornered by a sweaty duchess trying to have her way with him." Yes, Mal! This is why I love you so much! Witty, charming, and scandalous.
And on another end note, this is why I've decided that I love Leigh Bardugo equally as much:
Nikolai laughed. "Next time, bring a flask. Every time he changes his mind, take a sip."
I groaned. "I'd be passed out on the floor before the hour was up."
A drinking game! In the book itself! Legendary!...more
Highly enjoyable and a page-turner I hadn't been expecting, but had been hopeful for nonetheless. Sometimes there's a lot going on that is ha3.5 Stars
Highly enjoyable and a page-turner I hadn't been expecting, but had been hopeful for nonetheless. Sometimes there's a lot going on that is hard to keep up with, but overall, the adventure, the conflicts, and Elisa's growth is excellent. It's great to read a YA where romance is not the forefront conflict of our heroine when a war is on the brink--she certainly has her priorities in proper line. And it was wonderful watching her grow from feeling like a useless, ignorant princess into a real hero who has suffered the consequences of war and death.
Also, a heroine who loves food A LOT. Surely, a woman after my own heart!
The politics are scarce (not really a complaint) and things seem to fall into place too easily. Overall, still a great read and I'm looking forward to the next book.
I may or may not just summarize my thoughts of the entire series after I finish, but for now, these are my brief thoughts....more
I really wanted to love this book mainly because I love Juliet Marillier's writing style--her use of creative detail and lyrical narration ha3.5 Stars
I really wanted to love this book mainly because I love Juliet Marillier's writing style--her use of creative detail and lyrical narration has a sort of beauty to it. Like magic. And the one thing I can honestly say about Shadowfell that I did love, a hundred percent, was the writing and the world building. The characters I'm slightly lukewarm about, the story was well-thought, and the concept was good.
But the progression was quite slow and it took some time before I understood the direction of the story line.
Nonetheless, Shadowfell is a very well-written high fantasy with a wonderfully created world that I intend to continue diving into.
Alban is a dark place ruled by an evil king. Those with special canny abilities such as Neryn are either killed or taken to do His Majesty's bidding. The intermingling of the uncanny creatures--fey beings--and humans is against the law. And a Culling takes place regularly to seek out and destroy all who possess special gifted abilities, all who have any relation with the uncanny folk, and even those who may have come in contact with or own items created by the fey beings.
Neryn has been on the run since her family was destroyed, her grandmother and brother perishing at the hands of King Keldec's own elite army of Enforcers. But she possesses a magical ability that, if found out, could either mean the further destruction of Alban at Keldec's hands, or a possible future of freedom for Alban's common folk.
With the death of her father, Neryn now travels to the secret place of Shadowfell, a place of rebels where there are people of whom she can have a possible future; a place where no one will be frightened of her abilities nor look upon her in anger or disgust nor turn her into the Enforcers. Along her adventure, she begins to realize the extent and significance of her abilities as she meets and befriends the fey beings called the Good Folk as well as other uncanny creatures who might aid her in her travels.
Shadowfell had a slow start, then got exciting, then became a little monotonous again, and then finally ended on a well-thought out, inspiring, yet not quite exciting note. With Neryn traveling by herself for a good portion of the book and coming across several mysterious, magical events, as well as performing different acts to establish her virtues, I had hoped that the traveling adventure would have been a little more interesting. But from the moment she starts her journey alone, each event seemed to go by on a flat note with each happening occurring in a too convenient fashion to get Neryn where she needs to be, both physically and literally.
It's a very long-winded high fantasy of adventure and lots and lots of traveling... which to be honest, was one of the things that I had always found boring about some high fantasies (The Hobbit being a prime example of great world building, but a long, monotonous story set up that followed a lot of monotonous traveling by the single protagonist of the book.) Of course, without the first half of set up, we wouldn't be able to move forward to where the story needs to be to pick up it's continuing adventure.
So it's conflicting to me whether or not I liked it.
The characters didn't really do much for me, though they definitely had a lot of potential and a lot of significance within the story line. The entire experience just seemed to go by in such a blur that I felt a little less than piqued to be excited.
Although I did find the friendship between Neryn and Flint rather sweet despite the fact that 80% of the book found them keeping secrets from each other and Neryn not even trusting Flint. Is it strange that by the time the conclusion rolled around, I actually found Flint a bit swoony even though he doesn't really have too much book time and doesn't stand out all that well?
Stranger things have happened, I suppose.
Overall Thoughts: Enjoyable, but not as exciting or intriguing as I'd hoped. Beautiful writing and wonderfully created world with well-crafted back history, and decent enough characters to follow....more
This book definitely lives up to my expectations of it. I probably loved this book more than I had expected to and even more so than I logically wouldThis book definitely lives up to my expectations of it. I probably loved this book more than I had expected to and even more so than I logically would have. But the fact is, sometimes you just love a book for no other reason aside from the fact that you love it.
Following Suzume through her intense journey can be trying at moments and quite overwhelming. Sometimes you wish you could shake the poor girl out of her self-sacrificial suffering and sometimes you can't help but to just feel. You watch as Suzume loses her most beloved family members at the beginning of the story and then goes on "not quite living" with her mother and new step-father, both of whom are content to move on with their lives while poor Suzume continues the suffer a survivor's guilt of turmoil, being unable to express her feelings as she wishes. And even as the days just continue to drag on for Suzume, more and more events continue to occur, causing this story to seem as if it both drags on and rushes by at an alarming pace (if that even makes sense). You watch as she becomes the lowly drudge named Rin and then continue to watch in wonder as she becomes the mystical, mysterious, and enticing Yue.
Suzume is certainly a very different kind of YA heroine, and could almost be her own antagonist if she allowed herself to fall off that deep end. From the moment she loses her family, watching her father and her beloved cousin slaughtered before her and then witnessing her mother moving on with her life, she stops being a happy-go-lucky, innocent girl. In fact, she readily becomes quite angry and vengeful and a lot of her actions can be quite questionable on lots of moral levels.
There are a lot of layers to this girl that got peeled back slowly as she continued to develop along her stories.
The writing is solid and excellent, the imagery is vivid and beautiful, and the magical elements are incorporated so naturally that I never once questioned Suzume's use of it nor her ease of use of this shadow-weaving. The skill of shadow-weaving is an interesting magic that I'm intrigued to explore if the author chooses to include it in another novel.
The romance was cute in some ways, but also angsty in others, and fortunately it is more than simply a romantic fairy tale that propels this story forward. The main conflict seems to be an inner struggle of Suzume's warring emotions and what she believes to be true of her life.
In truth, I'm sure this book will take quite a bit of patience to get through because it seems to meander quite a bit, even if it never really strays from the main story line.
Kano Akira is wonderful and I loved her friendship with Suzume--or Yue, if we stick with the third identity that our heroine takes up. Otieno is swoon-worthy, though I feel like he was downplayed more than I appreciated. Terayama and Suzume's mother deserve each other and I hope they get what other fate they will soon deserve.
The culture was illustrated in a lovely way and the characters were excellently created.
This short review doesn't really hit on anything useful to other readers, I'm sure. In a simple word, I truly just loved this book despite some random quibbles that I will willingly ignore, because, in the end, I loved it just because....more
I’m going to get straight to the point with this one.
I loved everything about this book except for the ending and some random moments of flat drag, veI’m going to get straight to the point with this one.
I loved everything about this book except for the ending and some random moments of flat drag, very fleetingly dispersed throughout the story. There were some chapters that seemed out of place and some chapters that could have used some sprucing up -- but these were fairly few.
Now, the ending… I’m not sure how I really feel about the ending. In a way, it was satisfying and conclusive. On the other hand, it also feels a bit lacking. Mainly it was the last 20% of lead-in into the ending that had me a little disappointed: 1) I started getting impatient because the rest of the story felt like it was dragging on towards that coveted ending I was seeking; 2) I knew that, despite the dragging monotony, these moments were significant to the rest of the story and thus I needed to hang on, hoping to be rewarded with an uber, awesome destination.
And yet, I’m still conflicted as to whether or not I was satisfied with the ending. I don’t know if this strange feeling of empty disappointment is due to the book and its beautiful world coming to an end, or because there are still some things I felt the book hadn’t addressed yet. Or was it that there were some aspects of the story I would have liked to have changed? I don’t know.
Despite that, Vessel is an extremely well-written book with beautifully created characters and an amazingly vast, magical world. Typically, it takes a lot of terminology and world-building to come to a point where you can see the world through your own eyes, know that it is still much larger than what it encompassed in the present story, and NOT be overwhelmed by its presence. In fact, I think part of my emptiness is knowing that there isn’t another story set in this world -- with its whimsical tales and legends, its lovely cultures and peoples, and the knowledge that there is still so much more to discover -- because Vessel is one of those rare stand-alone stories in YA fiction. In this case, I don’t think I would mind seeing another story written in the setting of Liyana’s desert people world or taking place in the Crescent Kingdom.
I love that the characters take the time to share stories of their peoples with one another -- a tradition ingrained in their cultures, I believe -- even though everyone already seems to know all the creation stories. But with these, the history of the world is built with fairly strong pillars to stand on, creating a vivid and detailed backdrop for the story as it takes place.
It sure beats reading a textbook style information dump to tell you how the cultures and the peoples came to be.
I really don’t have much else to say about this book outside of heaping praises on how well the characters were created. And sometimes I run out of words unless I keep repeating myself.
Liyana is strong, resourceful, and typical heroine creation (with a slight touch of strange sense of humor) who is destined to save the world. Was there ever any doubt that she would be different than the other vessels used to house the gods and goddesses? In her case, I found the turn of events at each bend predictable and all of her developments unsurprising. Of course, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy following her character through each event and each obstacle.
This was an adventure I was very glad to be a part of. (Oooh, adventures! Gotta love ‘em! I always love a good adventure!)
As each member of our ragtag hero group got together, the adventure just continued to become more and more exciting. Fennik was the ever present, stubborn warrior boy; Pia was the dreamy princess with her otherworldly ideals; Raan… was crass, rude, blunt, honest… she was something else. And despite being wary about their inclusion into the party, I ended up loving each and every one of them despite their flaws.
Korbyn is a character I can’t wrap my head around. Maybe I’m not supposed to really understand him since he is a god after all. I liked him for the omnipotent character he represented in this haphazard group of adventurers because he was the lead and he was the one who knew what was going on. He was the one with the magic and the knowledge. He was the one to defer to when shit hits the fan. Never once did I even suspect that he was a reluctant hero and was really just as clueless as the vessels he lead to the end destination.
There are moments of complicated romantic polygonal happenings towards the end, but the romance in this book was pretty back-seat when compared with the rest of the story. I mean, true, the whole while Liyana is in instalove with Korbyn despite him already being in love with the goddess Bayla who will inhabit Liyana’s body after displacing Liyana’s soul; and this convoluted love story hangs around as the elephant in the room (or desert, take your pick) throughout the journey, but it doesn’t seem to take up much space. I don’t think that the romance aspect of the story was handled all that well towards the build up to the end, even if I think that I’m satisfied with the resolution of the love story when you think about things on a more logical sense; but it doesn’t really matter much in the long run.
Though I would have liked for the Emperor Jarlath to have had more of a presence as a person rather than just some Emperor (with a capital ‘E’) lurking in the shadows without a real identity aside from being the almost main antagonist. His appearance at random chapters already tells you everything you need to know about what our heroes need to do. But whether or as a main villain or a potential love interest, I feel like the Emperor wasn’t developed properly for me to feel the significance of his presence in Liyana’s life.
All-in-all, the book was very enjoyable; and I must admit, I haven’t felt this conflicted and I haven’t had this strange empty void after finishing a book in a long time now....more
I wasn't going to write a review for these Lumatere books (though I DID think about writing a review for the series overall), but the book took me soI wasn't going to write a review for these Lumatere books (though I DID think about writing a review for the series overall), but the book took me so long to read that I actually started formulating thoughts... of the non-positive persuasion. And that's usually not so great.
Did I say in an earlier post that I loved the characters from Finnikin of the Rock? Honestly, I don't know where that came from, but the more I read Froi of the Exiles the more I believed that I must have been bewitched or something. I think I'm more neutral on these characters than in love or in hate with them.
In fact, I don't really have too many complaints about Froi of the Exiles or Finnikin of the Rock save for the characters. The book was adventurous and fun; and I love adventures!
I liked the way the book was written and I liked the whole big curse theme with it's supernatural/mystical/magical elements and I liked the background of the world created for Lumatere. And some of the dialogue isn't so bad either, witty and thoughtful.
But the characters make life so miserable (and yes, I DO understand that life is miserable for everyone in the story with power struggles and wars and fighting and killing and death and curses, but still...) because I get the feeling that everyone is going out of their ways to prove just how much suffering they all went through and who suffered more than so-and-so... It's a world of people trying to one-up each other on their stories of misery.
I know that there was more going on than what I mentioned above, but this is what I ended up focusing on.
The only bright spots of happy in the entire series so far... well, there's Lady Beatriss's daughter Vestie. And then there are Trippideaux (how to pronounce name...) and Grijio, De Lancey's children, who are actually kind of fun for their brief presence.
So, in the kingdom of Lumatere, instead of everyone playing nice and trying to work together to bring their kingdom back into a flourishing world... everyone's just being all prickly and mean and angry at each other. I mean, I also take note of those behind-the-scenes moments that mention how people are working together to rebuild their kingdom... but then we emphasize on all the more hideous attitudes and behaviors from a group of people who feel like they've been wronged the most by this entire power struggle of the kingdoms.
And then in Charyn... well, THAT kingdom is kind of... arrogant and angry in its own way? I don't know how to describe it. I mean, do people really have nothing better to do than to condemn a young princess who has no control over her own life, has been targeted for death since she was a child, and just so happened to be the baby born when the big curse came into effect throughout the kingdom? I mean, she was JUST a baby when the curse happened and it's NOT like she was the one who cast said curse. And when she seems to be the only person with an answer to the resolution of the curse, everyone continues to treat her like an insane person as they ridicule her and verbally demean her routinely?
I don't see anyone else trying to figure out how to break the curse.
It's kind of sad. Everyone's so pissed off. Can't we all just get along? Am I too naive, maybe?
And so, entertaining as this book/adventure was, it's pretty telling when I begin to put off reading the book at times. But then when I DO pick it up and start reading it, I seem to fall right into the darn thing.
So... yeah... I'm not even sure what to think about this book (or the first one, cause the same sort of ish happened while I was reading Finnikin). I DID like this one a little bit better than Finnikin... if only by a slight margin.
And yes, I'm already beginning Quintana of Charyn... it's just my stubborn way of saying: "I looked forward to this series, and gosh darn, I'm going to finish it!"
And darn it, looks like this post turned into an actual review after all......more