This was a great addition to Meyer's Lunar Chronicles. Iko is a hilarious and fun character and its nice to see this new series set around her. Fans oThis was a great addition to Meyer's Lunar Chronicles. Iko is a hilarious and fun character and its nice to see this new series set around her. Fans of Meyer will also be pleased by the return of favourite characters in the book series and pleased with the new direction of the series. ...more
To be perfectly frank, I didn't have high expectations when I cracked open A Crown of Wishes. I did not enjoy The Star-Touched Queen due to its similaTo be perfectly frank, I didn't have high expectations when I cracked open A Crown of Wishes. I did not enjoy The Star-Touched Queen due to its similarity to other books that I have read; however, the premise was promising. And, I did enjoy the lush atmosphere of Star-Touched Queen. I enjoyed A Crown of Wishes so much more than the first book, I think in large part, due to the fact that is seemed much more original than the first book. Or at least, the author was able to put a unique spin on a familiar story that appealed to me. The sense of humour was also much more evident here, and I really enjoyed that.
Gauri is the princess of Bharata and when she unsuccessfully tries to roust her brother from power she is imprisoned by a neighbouring kingdom. Vikram is the puppet prince of that neigbouring kingdom and he longs to have some real power when he is finally crowned emperor. So, one magical invitation later, both Gauri and Vikram will have their chance to win their wishes in a otherworldly tournament. That is, if they can get along long enough to accomplish their tasks.
The concept behind the novel is simple, but the author carries off the plot with style. The descriptions of the magical realm that Gauri and Vikram are beautiful and I absolutely loved the funny bantering between the main characters. The fact that both characters grow up throughout the tournament is also a huge plus. If you enjoyed the lyrical style of the first book, A Crown of Wishes is sure to impress. And while I personally found the lyricism to be over the top (just as I did when reading Wintersong), there are many readers who enjoy this style of writing. A really nice addition to the YA fantasy genre.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. ...more
Sweet is a weirdly awesome horror tale. It's both funny and unrealistic, and the author owns that campy tonOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Sweet is a weirdly awesome horror tale. It's both funny and unrealistic, and the author owns that campy tone, making for an all around enjoyable read.
Over the course of six days a celebrity-filled cruise will embark on a televised experiment. Passengers on the cruise ship have been invited to try Solu, a new dietary supplement that results in dramatic weight loss. With Solu you can eat whatever you want and still lose those persistent pounds. Naturally, this drug is not quite what it claims to be, and soon the addicted passengers are ready to do anything for their next fix. Among these passengers we have two very different teens, Laurel and Tom, both of whom do not take Solu. Laurel was convinced to go on the cruise because her best friend, Viv, wanted her to join in. While Laurel is a little overweight she's content with herself and isn't unhappy when seasickness forces her to miss out on Solu, especially when she starts to see the side affects. Tom is a former child actor turned famous TV host. Tom is capturing the journey of Solu for those back home. Due to a supportive personal trainer, Tom would rather continue on with his own fitness and eating regime that try Solu. So, now we have two teens that are in the fight of their lives while they battle the zombie-like passengers who are addicted to losing weight!
Okay, yes, the premise to this book is ridiculous, but the author carries it off with such aplomb that I couldn't stop reading. There are so many moments when the author pokes fun at pop culture, those who devour it, and those who live in it. Those nudge-nudge moments are fantastic and I think once you start picking up on those, Sweet becomes a much more serious read than you would initially think. Sweet is less about a horrific cruise and terrible nutritional supplements, and more a commentary on how people see themselves and how pop culture influences that perspective. So there is a serious side to Sweet, but mainly I liked it because it was funny and ironic and had a cute romance. So sue me, I'm not always up for serious deep thinking when reading.
The romance in Sweet is predictably between Laurel and Tom. Their relationship is surprisingly adorable and filled with moments of seriousness as they meditate on appearance and fame amidst the killing rampages. Laurel is bowled over by Tom's handsomeness, but is less impressed with his need to play to the camera. Tom, for his part, is enamored of Laurel's honesty and his persistent awkward courtship is adorable. Considering the ironic ridiculousness of the rest of the book, I was expecting the same of the romance, and I'm happy to say that this wasn't the case. The romance was sweet and lovely and offered a more serious element to the otherwise campy tale.
Sweet is a strange YA novel, but a really fun one. If you like irony and a campy tone, Sweet is a must read....more
I picked up Ms. Marvel on the recommendation from a friend. I'd also heard a fair bit of buzz about the serOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
I picked up Ms. Marvel on the recommendation from a friend. I'd also heard a fair bit of buzz about the series due to it's diverse main character and relatable storyline.
Kamala Khan is your average Muslim teenager living in New Jersey. She's struggling to find her identity and dealing with family and friend stuff. But then, Kamala gets superpowers!
After a mysterious fog cloaks the city, Kamala finds that she can transform into Captain Marvel, but the shift into the blonde and booted superheroine is not exactly what Kamala imagined it would be. Kamala thought she would be just like everyone else, but of course, it doesn't work that way. Most of volume one is about Kamala discovering that who she is okay and it's also okay not to have all the answers right now. The whole identity issue is a huge part of volume one and it sends a powerful message to readers. Kamala is struggling with her family's expectations and how they conflict with her own ideas and quite frankly this is a universal experience during those oh-so-fun teen years. On top of the fabulous "accept yourself as you are" message, volume one also sets up the big bad: The Inventor. When Kamala's friend Bruno's brother gets into some dangerous stuff, it's Kamala to the rescue! Those superhero powers aren't that easy to master, so the big rescue doesn't exactly go according to plan. Kamala doesn't foil The Inventor in her first outing or her last, the ending leaves readers with the message that The Inventor is still out there and he's coming for Kamala.
Ms. Marvel is the start of what promises to be a engaging and fun comic series. Kamala is a funny and relatable character and the writing is smart and sassy. I haven't read many graphic novels, but I'm convinced that Ms. Marvel is one of the best....more
Forest of Ruin picks up where Empire of Night left off: the empire is on the verge of war, Moria and AshynOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Forest of Ruin picks up where Empire of Night left off: the empire is on the verge of war, Moria and Ashyn are separated and those that they care about are in imminent danger. Having LOVED Empire of Night, I anxiously awaited getting my hands on the final book of the Age of Legends trilogy. Did Forest of Ruin live up to my expectations? Well…no, no, it did not.
As soon as I cracked open Forest of Ruin it seemed that something was different. The tone seemed off and everything I liked about the second book seemed to not work for this time around. What I loved about Empire of Night was the author’s use of multiple perspectives. Both Ashyn and Moira get equal page time and readers are immersed into the twin’s perspectives and their very different personalities. I really appreciated this narrative style in the first two books, but I didn’t find either sister that interesting this time around. For me, the problem lays in the fact that Ashyn and Moira didn’t really seem to change that much in the final book. Ashyn continued to be reserved yet quietly strong, and Moira continues to be brash and impulsive. There was very little progression in either girl’s character development that reading their separate narrative felt like a re-hashing of Empire of Night.
Another disappointment for me was the depiction of the Ashyn and Moira’s relationship. These sisters are purportedly close despite their differences. However, for the majority of Forest of Ruin Ashyn and Moira were separated and when they do come together there is very little evidence of their bond. Rather, readers are told that they have a bond but readers never really see that bond in action, just several moments where the sisters get together for “girl talk”. Personally, I was hoping for a more complex relationship between the sisters. Instead, readers are treated to each sister’s focus on their respective romance.
I’m not usually a reader to complain about the romance plot, but again I felt the romance, like the character development, was rather lackluster in Forest of Ruin. The budding romance between Moira and Tyrus and Ashyn and Ronan was fantastically depicted in Empire of Night, yet when it came to book three, the charm of those romances seemed to fade. Again, the same romantic difficulties that were apparent in Empires of Night were once again explored and little new ground was covered, simply a resolution was put forth by the end.
Due to repetitive nature of the final book in the trilogy, I felt that Forest of Ruin was kind of an unnecessary conclusion. Yes, the greater conflict involving Alvar Kitsune needed to be addressed, but when it came to the lives of the characters themselves, little new ground was broken making for a somewhat tedious read....more
Flamecaster is the first book by the much-hyped Chima that I've read. I've wanted to read Chima's Seven ReaOriginally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
Flamecaster is the first book by the much-hyped Chima that I've read. I've wanted to read Chima's Seven Realms series for a long time, but alas, time, there is never enough. Instead, I decided to jump right into Chima's new series, which I understand is connected to the Seven Realms series. Having not read the other series, I think I can safely say that Flamecaster can be read as a standalone series.
Flamecaster follows the adventures and revenge plots of four people. There's Ash, a young prince who's family has been targeted by a rival king. Like Ash, Jenna's friends have been murdered by the same king, and now she is being hunted down by the king because of the mage mark on the back of her neck. Lila is playing multiple sides, but it's anyone's guess who's side she's really on. And perhaps the most mysterious of all, Destin Karn, son of the powerful general that serves the dastardly king seems to have his own operation running that is contrary to his king. Each of these characters have their own motivations, but what ties them all together is their hatred for the current king of Arden.
The revenge inspired plot of Flamecaster had me intrigued from page one, as did the introduction to four different characters who all get their own point of view in the novel (yay for complexity of storytelling!). However, I must confess to not absolutely loving Flamecaster. For some reason it took me forever to get into the book; the start of the book was slow in setting up each of the characters and their reasons for doing what they're doing. I impatiently waited for the four character's narratives to come together and personally, I wasn't overwhelmed when this did happen. There was a lot of build up to the second half of the book and I had to work to finish the book. The characters were compelling, but I found the plot to be slow moving despite the exquisite writing of the author.
The last third of the book is where the momentum really picked up, but ironically this was where I felt the plot started to get rushed. Everything happened so quickly at the end. I blinked and Ash was in love with the captive Jenna, and Lila's true purpose was revealed. It all just happened so quickly, and I wasn't expecting that considering the length of time I had to put in in the first part of the book.
To sum up, I struggled with Flamecaster. It was a hard book to be immersed in, which isn't exactly a constructive piece of book reviewing because that is a pretty personal reaction to reading a book. It's hard to review a book where intellectually I can see the merits of the writing and crafting of the world, yet that indescribable "something" was missing for me. I know there are many readers out there who loved this book, I was not one of them, and I think that's okay....more
So, I've finally jumped on The Winner's Curse bandwagon, only committing to read the first book in the tril Originally reviewed at The Book Adventures.
So, I've finally jumped on The Winner's Curse bandwagon, only committing to read the first book in the trilogy now that I have both the second and third on hand (cliffhangers, I'm no friend of yours). For the most part, I think Winner's Curse lives up to the hype that it has received. The writing is gorgeous, and that alone will have me picking up the second book.
For those that have been living in a cave and haven't heard of this trilogy, let me summarize. Kestrel is a general's daughter, and it was her father that conquered the Herrani on behalf of his emperor. Now, ten years after the war, Kestrel is living in the city of the fallen and the Herrani serve the Valorian as slaves. When Kestrel purchases a young man at an auction, she sets off a chain of events that leads to revolution. Unbeknownst to Kestrel, the slave that she has bought is no ordinary blacksmith. Instead, Arin is acting as a spy for the Herrani rebellion. However, Arin's information gathering mission is complicated as he gets to know Kestrel. Does Kestrel deserve to suffer for a war that she had no part in?
The questions that the author poses are complicated and she does not do them a disservice by offering simplistic answers. Neither Kestrel or Arin are "good" or "bad". Both have been shaped by their histories and experiences. Kestrel feels trapped by the expectations of her father who only gives her two choice: enlist or marry. It's not that Kestrel wouldn't be able to serve in the army, it's the personal cost to herself that makes her reluctant:
Kestrel's cool calculation appalled her. This was part of what had made her resist the military: the fact that she could make decisions like this, that she did have a mind for strategy, that people could so easily become pieces in a game she was determined to win (p. 239).
In a way, I found that the first part of the book, where Kestrel's lack of true agency (despite not being a slave) is explored, to be the slowest part of the book. The depiction of Kestrel as a woman trapped by her station did slow the pacing; however, as Kestrel begins to shape her own destiny, the plot truly becomes engaging.
Unlike Kestrel, Arin is not free, yet in contrast to Kestrel's paralysis, Arin acts and makes decisions from the start. Arin is a slave and he may have to serve his masters, but that does not mean that he is not working independently from them. The contrast between Arin and Kestrel; their difference in status and agency is an interesting one, which speaks to the underlying complexity of the novel.
The Winner's Curse presents an engaging world and explores the concepts of colonization, freedom, and agency. The first book sets the stage for a strong trilogy, creating a tension between its two main characters as well as the larger world in which they inhabit. Yes, romance is a big part of the tension between Kestrel and Arin; however, the fact that they are on opposite sides a conflict have very real complications for any kind of relationship between them. How the author is going to play with this relationship will be interesting and probably heartbreaking, but the style and the fact that the author doesn't shy away from reality will have me back for more....more