With Croak Grim Reapers have "entered" the YA world. Now, Grim Reapers are evidently not new, with movies anGo away, vampires; enter the Grim Reapers!
With Croak Grim Reapers have "entered" the YA world. Now, Grim Reapers are evidently not new, with movies and books and plenty of legends about them. However (and correct me if I am wrong) Grim Reapers have not entered the YA world before. I know of some books that touch on reapers but none that are entirely based around reapers. Frankly, I was almost surprised that there had never been a YA book (that I know of; I could be wrong) focusing entirely around these hunters; nowadays there seem to be plenty of books about panoramal creatures and hunters.
The beginning of this book may be a harder sell, and some readers may become disinterested in the book. Lex is a "punk" girl, punching and hurting and harming people and constantly getting warned, suspended, and expelled. Some readers have commented that they found Lex hard to relate to in her actions, but I related to her a bit and didn't dislike her. To me, she seemed to be a girl who didn't know how to understand her emotions and acts. The plot quickly moves away from the more realistic setting into Croak (hence the title) as Lex goes to live with her uncle Mort. Croak, is of course, a town populated entirely by Grim Reapers, and of course, Lex is a Grim Reaper herself, and of course, she is going to learn how to become one.
Some of the plot is based upon tropes: girl learns that she is (insert creature/thing here) must learn how to become (insert creature/thing here) and adjust to becoming (insert creature/thing here). But Croak puts a pretty fresh spin on these tropes, as Lex doesn't want to learn to be a Reaper. But she obliges and begins to learn. This was the other complaint I had with the plot: it was hard to understand the "rules". The Grim Reaper world has created a foundation of rules on which their society is based on, which are a bit complicated. The rules are explained quickly and I still was confused on some aspects (such as Killing and scything) by the end of the book.
However, I did enjoy the plot. Lex is very funny and how she goes about being a Reaper brings extra humor. She has plenty of wild misadventures, and the world of Croak is very funny as well (such as the afterlife populated by fighting famous figures). The world is filled with dark humor and the book knows what is appropriate humor and what is not. I also loved the climax, which is very heartbreaking and perfect for the story while building on towards the next book in the series.
As for the characters, Lex was a strong girl for me with insecurities and motivation. She seemed relatable and interesting, and changed over the course of the story from her "angsty" persona to a better girl. Cordy was another favorite of mine and I loved the sisters' relationship and how it influenced and motivated the plot. I liked Driggs but the romance he developed with Lex was completely unsurprising to me. Uncle Mort was also very funny and the rest of the Reapers were as well.
Gina Damico's writing was strong and interesting. She wrote third person well and I felt that I understood Lex's motivations and feelings very well. Her writing was perfect for the story in my opinion, strong and fresh.
I really enjoyed this book and I'm eager for the sequel, SCORCH, which comes out in the fall. A fun read.
So last year I read Die for Me , the first in this planned trilogy about renevants. I enjoyed the story but it had some flaws, and for a while I almoSo last year I read Die for Me , the first in this planned trilogy about renevants. I enjoyed the story but it had some flaws, and for a while I almost regretted buying the book. But I was interested in reading the next book, and when a friend of mine offered to send me her ARC, I gladly accepted. Now, after reading the second book, I've decided that I do like this series, if it has some flaws, and I don't regret buying book one anymore.
Until I Die was a sweet read, a bit predictable and unsurprising but still good.
The book picks up again in Paris, France, where Kate and Vincent have continued their relationship. Due to Kate's issues with the "death" part (ie, when Vincent rescues someone from death he dies for a short amount of time) of Vincent's abilities, Vincent has decided to try not to die so they can have a stronger relationship. Charlotte and Charles, following a battle with the numa (renevant enemies) have left the home for protection and safety. The numa seem to be in hiding and all the renevants are on high alert. Jean Baptiste, to replace Charlotte and Charles and keep the renevants' safety intact, has sent in two new renevants: Violette and Arthur. Kate and Vincent continue their relationship in peaceful bliss but soon Kate realizes that Vincent's very immortality is in danger. Now, I found the plot to be pretty predictable. I guessed who the mystery person hurting Vincent was right away, Kate's reaction to said person, and the ending I spotted from a mile away. The ending is kind of a cop-out. (view spoiler)[ Vincent gets killed by Violette. (hide spoiler)]. It's really all set up for the sequel. The mystery isn't as strong as it was in the first novel, and this book at times falls prey to "second book syndrome". The ending is really set up to show how Kate is vulnerable, and how her life has changed. Until the ending, though, the book seemed very strong plotwise. Plum introduces new plotlines often but they were done well and made sense for the story. The story seemed accelerating for a good ending, but the ending messed up, frankly. The plotting was very tight and strong but everything fell apart at the end; otherwise the plotting was strong.
The characters, I think, remain my favorite part of this series. Kate is a strong heroine who's capable. She goes and hunts things out, tries to help her friends, and wants to be helpful. She doesn't moan and complain about woe is me, I can't be with my true luvvvvv... instead she tries to enjoy her relationship nonetheless. She was very strong. However, sometimes I thought Kate seemed almost too mature for her age. She had flaws but came off much older then she would probably act. I understand that the situations she was in -- her parents' death, being exposed to a *new world* would make her mature more quickly -- but sometimes she seemed so much more like an adult than a teenager. Vincent was a bit more of the brooding hot guy in this one. He has more secrets and refuses to answer Kate's questions. He intentionally hurts himself to try and protect her, and tries his best to not "die" for her sake. It was sweet, if a bit unlikely. Still, I did feel sad with what happens to him at the end. The other renevants are just great. My personal favorite is Charlotte, and Plum really develops her in this book, unrequited love and sadness abound. She handles it well, though, and she's a strong character. If Plum was ever to write some kind of spinoff, Charlotte would be a good lead for a spinoff. Ambrose and Jules and Gaspard and all the boys were awesome, very strong and protective as well as being hilarious. I liked how the author handled Charles, putting him in a situation with others who were having the same issues he was.
The writing...hmm. I'm more unsure on what to write here. Plum has very crisp writing. Her writing's to the point, crisp, clear, and fluid. It's easy to read. Sometimes the French she included was difficult to grasp, and as some phrases were never explained I became confused. The writing was easy to read, though. That's really all I can say -- it's an easy read due to the fluidity of the writing.
I'd recommend this more if you liked the first novel; a lot of the same issues people had with Die for Me cross over into the sequel. I found the ending to be unsatisfying and the mystery predictable, but I enjoyed reading the book nonethless. If you like romance books, books on mythology, or enjoyed the first novel in the trilogy this would be a good book for you.
This wasn't what I expected. The writing was beautiful, the characters were beautiful, but it was really just okay. I expected magical realisHonestly?
This wasn't what I expected. The writing was beautiful, the characters were beautiful, but it was really just okay. I expected magical realism and it ended up being something else, some strange mixture of romance and magic.
I've never DNF'd a book before. I read half of this book and realized it wasn't for me.
It might be for some, but this book....wasn't for me. ...more
I'm not a huge fantasy person. I love some fantasy books -- HP, Lord of the Rings, etc -- but I have a tendency to revert more towards contemporary fiI'm not a huge fantasy person. I love some fantasy books -- HP, Lord of the Rings, etc -- but I have a tendency to revert more towards contemporary fiction. But if I'm interested in a fantasy I will definitely read it. I found Seraphina on Netgalley and snatched it up.
In the kingdom of Goredd, humans and dragons are at odds with one another. Peace exists in the kingdom but hostilities remain. Dragons are able to live in the kingdom and work. Seraphina has reasons to distrust them all. She joins the court, since she is an unusually gifted musician, as a member of the royal family is killed -- in a fashion that suspects dragons. She partners up with Prince Lucian Kiggs, the captain of the Queen's Guard. They fight to find the answer as Seraphina struggles with the truth behind her unusual gift.
First I would like to commend Rachel Hartman. Fantasy is a hard genre to write, and she successfully pulled off a fascinating story. Also, amazing concept: dragons and humans? YES. She is definitely an author to look forward in the future.
One of the things I found most interesting about the novel was its swift changing of cliches. Seraphina has a magical gift of music. This concept is used in plenty of fantasy novels: characters have all kinds of musical gifts and powers. Seraphina's gifts easily could have become predictable. Lucian Kiggs is the captain of the Queen's Guard. I've seen that in high fantasy as well -- an instance that comes to mind quickly is Trevanion from Finnikin of the Rock . But she deftly changed the cliches into fascinating characters, and people you genuinely care about. I cared about Seraphina and her plight, about the dragons and the humans and Kiggs and the amazing secondary characters.
The plot is the one thing where I quibbled and removed a star. The book takes a while to get into if you don't read or enjoy a lot of high fantasy. It takes a bit of time to get used to the story, to understand the characters and the situation of both the dragons and people of Goredd. But after a while you get engrossed into the world of the characters and want to spend time there. The amount of time it takes for you to get into the story differs from reader to reader, of course, and for one reader they may get into the story almost instantly while others take much longer. I personally removed a star because of the fact it took me about six or seven chapters to get engrossed into the story.
Tangent aside, the plot is riveting and fascinating. Come on, dragons=amazing. I certainly haven't seen many dragon/people books in YA recently. I wanted to know more on every single page. I know this statement is vague but I didn't want to spoil anything in such a twisty, exciting plot.
Another crucial aspect of fantasy is world building. I, as a reader, have to understand and know the world. I need details. What do the buildings look like? How do people act? What are their religions, hobbies, etc? A friend of mine wrote this fantastic post on world building: http://cherrytreenotes.blogspot.com/2... World building is something people mention and comment often on fantasy reviews, and one of the most common complaints I've found in my perusal of Goodreads and other reading-related sites is that the world building was too thin or not enough in a certain novel or story. Hartman did not skimp on the world building in her story. She told us Goredd's history, its religion, its people, their stories, their world in a book. Authors sometimes wait to develop world building or write too much world building in info dumps. Hartman did neither: she told us the story of her world and its past, present, and future while also leaving questions behind for the planned sequel (release date: sometime in 2013).
I really enjoyed Seraphina and most of my qualms were more about the fact that I don't often read fantasy. If you enjoy and read fantasy you will definitly enjoy this book. Hartman is a strong author to be watching in the future and when 2013 rolls around I will pick up a copy of the sequel. If you're interested in reading the book now you can request a copy on Netgalley. A great fantasy read.
I've been getting more into historical fiction lately. Not to say that I'm some kind of all-knowing fiction guru or anything like that, but I think I'I've been getting more into historical fiction lately. Not to say that I'm some kind of all-knowing fiction guru or anything like that, but I think I've started to understand and like the genre better. A Great and Terrible Beauty came very highly recommended. So I did what I do best -- I went to the library and checked out the entire trilogy.
While I had my issues, this book was a very good historical fiction story.
The story revolves around sixteen-year-old Gemma Doyle. She lives in India with her family. One day while her mother and Genna walk, a strange figure appears in the streets, murdering her mother and causing Gemma to flee. After her mother's death, Gemma's family sends her to the Spence School for young ladies. She makes a few friendships with Ann, Pippa, and Felicity. She soon discovers that she has the power to see into the realms, the same realms that her mother traveled into. She and her friends begin to explore the realms and learn about the two organizations controlling them --- the Order and the Rakshana.
I'll start first with the characters. Gemma starts out acting like a brat, essentially. She begs to go to London, talks back to everyone she meets, and hates her mother. While these are normal teenage behaviors -- and behaviors I've done myself -- it makes her kind of annoying and less endearing in the beginning. I thought that her change when she moved to the school was almost too suddden. She hated her mother, and then when she arrived at Spence Gemma suddenly started feeling bad for her mother and missed her. I understand that Gemma loved her mother, but it seemed like she could have had a bigger emotional change and realized how she felt for her mother maybe later in the novel. The change was sudden, almost instantly in the first few chapters after the mother dies. Still, she was a strong character -- a feisty, smart girl that was willing to defy her society's comformity.
The three friends -- Pippa, Ann, and Felicity -- I will group together. Plenty of other reviews have mentioned the fact that the girls' friendship is kind of flimsy and their entire relationship is essentially built on the fact that they know each other's secrets. This is, however, a pretty common teenage friendship. That's not to say that all teenage friendships are flimsy and driven by secrets. Bray just as easily could have made the girls have an extremely strong friendship. But she chose another path and that path worked well for the story. It was an interesting look at the nuances of teenage friendship. Bray could have fallen into the pitfall of having all the "best friends" be so similar they seemed like copies of each other. But she cleverly removed that pitfall by giving them all distinct personalities. The only qualm I really had was what happened to Pippa at the end. That was predictable and I assume that she will be returning, as she is mentioned in the jacket copy of the third book (nice, publishers). Otherwise interesting.
Kartik...I'm not quite sure how I feel about him. He was a nice love interest and an improvement over many love interests today. Still, I felt kind of distanced from him and wasn't sure about his relationship with Gemma. I'm sure the relationship is explored more throughout the trilogy, but the end result left me feeling a bit confused. Still, he was a nice guy and gave Bray an interesting perspective on the Rakshana.
As for the plot, I've seen the use of realms before. Bray made the plot very original and interesting, and her world building was superb. The story was very unpredictable and fascinating. I left feeling a bit uncertain about the Rakshana and the Order, however. Not many questions were answered on the two groups. I understand that the ideas are developed in the sequels, but a bit of information beyond the basics revealing more about the group would have been interesting.
A very interesting historical fiction. If you like historical fiction this is a great read. Very interesting book and recommended.
Three stars -- I really enjoyed it with some reservations. I...more
In some advertisements you see and hear that it is “____ for people who don’t like _____”. For instance, when Stephenie Meyer’s The Host first came ouIn some advertisements you see and hear that it is “____ for people who don’t like _____”. For instance, when Stephenie Meyer’s The Host first came out, Little, Brown, her publisher, chose to promote the novel as “science fiction for people who don’t like science fiction.”
I’d say that Silver Phoenix could also be described this way, as “fantasy for people who don’t like fantasy”. It’s built upon genre tropes but starts to triumph and become more of an engaging fantasy, providing enough details for fantasy lovers and enough explanations for those who tend to shy away from the genre.
Ai Ling is going on a quest. After she is almost forced to marry an old man after her father disappears, she decides to go on a quest to save her father and get away from the arranged marriage. She meets up with Chen Yong, who is also on a quest, and his brother Li Rong. Ai Ling soon discovers that she can enter people’s souls, using a necklace that her father gifted her. They must find her father and save the kingdom from an evil dictator.
The crux of the plot is built on a formulaic plot. The first few chapters seemed to almost be a hodgepodge of fantasy cliches: arranged marriage, missing father, quest, secret power. I found the first few chapters fairly boring and mundane, but the plot seemed to pick up once Ai Ling neared found Chen Yong and they started to journey together.
One thing that I disliked about the plot was how sometimes things seemed too quick. Ai Ling would reach somewhere, have to fight a battle, and then they would move on. These chapters would seem to move so fast that I barely understood what was going on without rereading. I understood that Pon wanted to have an action-packed plot, but at times the plot seemed too fast.
Also, the main death of the story — a crucial point — seemed barely dwelled upon. This death greatly impacted the story, and the death and funeral were taken care of in a couple of chapters. The remaining characters would also remark upon the death at times, but as they had grown to spend so much time with this character (and the readers had, too) it seemed like they would spend more time dwelling upon the death.
Otherwise, however, the plot was rich and interesting. The descriptions of food were very intriguing and it made me grateful that I ate lunch while reading this novel. The historical aspects were also done well, without info-dumping of any kind, and added an extra layer to the novel. The book, like I said, would be a good read for both fantasy and non-fantasy lovers, and I can see it having wide appeal. (I also found it funny, that in the “Afterwords” section of the paperback edition, Pon remarks that many readers have sent her angry letters saying that they got extremely hungry while reading the novel.)
The characters I honestly never felt a real attachment towards.I think it was because the novel was more focused on the action aspects then characterization, Ai Ling was a good character, with a goal — save her father — and an interesting personality, but I felt detached from her. I felt like we didn’t learn much about Chen Yong either, and he ws more an archetype — boy searching for his family — than a character. Likewise Li Rong’s jokes were funny, but several people pointed out to me that it seems inappropriate for the time period and that he probably wouldn’t be cracking such crude jokes in, erm, ancient China (or Japan, I’m not sure).
Pon’s writing was strong but it seemed unnecessary to use third person. The only person we ever get inside the head of is Ai Ling, and I think the plot might have been better in a first-person POV.
Above all, though, Silver Phoenix was a good read and i may have to track down the sequel.
This is how you write epic fantasy. Writers, if you want to know how to write amazing fantasy, please read this novel. Marchetta skilfully breaks downThis is how you write epic fantasy. Writers, if you want to know how to write amazing fantasy, please read this novel. Marchetta skilfully breaks down fantasy cliches and puts them into an amazing, fast-paced and adventurous novel that while hefty, doesn't feel hefty at all.
Lumatere has been destroyed for the past ten years, since the five days of the unspeakable. During those five days, the royal family was massacred; the religious Forest Dwellers killed; Finnikin's father was sent to prison and his lover died after giving birth to a stillborn baby. Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, travel the country assisting the exiles and recording all of the data (who died, who lives, sickness, hunger, etc) in their Book of Lumatere . (I keep spelling Lumatere wrong.) Finnikin is sleeping one night when a voice whispers in his ear the name of the dead prince, Bahalzar, and he knows he must go to the cloister of Lagrami. There he meets Evanjalin, a novice, who "walks the sleep" and claims to know where Bahalzar is living.
Okay, let's start with Evanjalin. She is my new favorite YA heroine. Writers, if you want to write kickass girls, read this book. Marchetta transformed the cliche of a badass girl by giving Evanjalin real feelings . Sometimes you read books with supposedly badass girls, like the amazing number of dystopian novels being released. These books usually have badass girls, but a lot of times they are trying too hard to be badass or don't end up being badass at all. Marchetta transformed Evanjalin into a real person by giving her flaws, feelings, and sympathy towards other characters. I seriously adore her. (view spoiler)[ Though she is way more of an Evanjalin than an Isaboe in my head. (hide spoiler)]
The rest of the characters were just as developed with flaws and emotions and feelings. Trevanion truly loved Lady Beatriss, and I'm interested to see how that plays out over the next book as supposedly the plot line is resolved. Finnikin really loved Evanjalin/I; Froi really started to redeem himself; and essentially every character was fantastic.
The plot was where I was a bit concerned. Recovering a kingdom isn't exactly new ground in fantasy. While the description sounded interesting, I was worried that the Bahaltzar storyline would be predictable. But it wasn't. Marchetta cleverly took tropes -- the missing prince, the wise healer, the brave soldier, the thief, the badass -- and turned them into real people, real settings, and a real story. Nothing was predictable. If you reread the story you find all the hints, the clues; everything is set up and foreshadowed.
Marchetta's writing....can I just put every word in the dictionary next to "beautiful" here? Joking aside, it was as beautiful as always, rich and fluid. (There are too many commas in this paragraph moving on).
The one major issue some might have is the heftiness of this book. I'm unsure of the climax (view spoiler)[ either when they reveal Bahalzar is dead or the battle itself (hide spoiler)] but my two ideas happen in the middle of the story, but all the scenes count and they are all very, very interesting.
If you like Marchetta, read this book. If you like fantasy, read it. Nah. Everybody read it.
I AM TOTALLY TEAM EVANJALIN. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more