As soon as I heard the title of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, I knew right away that it would be going on my to-...moreAs soon as I heard the title of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, I knew right away that it would be going on my to-buy list. Plus, this awesome book trailer came along.
So, I pre-ordered a copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland and it hung around my shelves for a few months. I wound up sharing the book trailer with some of my friends at school, and we decided to read Valente’s novel as a selection for our book club. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making charmed and awed me, and is slated to join the canon of children’s literature.
At first, I struggled to get into The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, because it initially felt too much like Valente was trying to write the next Alice In Wonderland. However, once I got further in, I discovered where Valente’s true strength as an author lies: in world building. I loved reading about all of the places and creatures that Valente created.
September is a great main character. She’s adventurous and confident, but I never felt that either of these traits were so strong that they were unbelievable. Plus, September’s story is enjoyable. It’s well-paced and Valente ties the threads of her plot and world together nicely at the end.
At the end of the day, The Girl Who Circumnavigated In A Ship Of Her Own Making surpassed my expectations. I would happily pass this book onto any reader I know. I highly suggest curling up with this book and a mug of hot tea as soon as you can get your hands on a copy.(less)
When I read The Name of the Wind in 2011, it became an instant favorite. I picked up The Wise Man’s Fear expecting to be just as blown away, and while...moreWhen I read The Name of the Wind in 2011, it became an instant favorite. I picked up The Wise Man’s Fear expecting to be just as blown away, and while I was thrilled to see that Rothfuss’ prose was still gorgeous, the plots of Rothfuss’s books are two different. While I missed hearing about Kvothe’s childhood, The Wise Man’s Fear is a sequel that shows how Rothfuss has grown as a storyteller and shows different and fascinating sides of his world.
Although some people deplore Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver with the fire of a thousand suns, I personally was blown away by it and therefore plan to rea...more Although some people deplore Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver with the fire of a thousand suns, I personally was blown away by it and therefore plan to read everything she ever writes, even if it may not sound like my type of book. Once The Scorpio Races won the Printz (after receiving rave reviews from ample bloggers I trust), I had to pick it up. With its gorgeously written atmosphere and compelling tension, Stiefvater’s latest release immediately found a place on my all time favorites list.
I just wasn’t sure about the idea of killer water horses that Stiefvater refers to as capaill usice, but they were some of the most terrifying mythical creatures I’ve ever read about. In an author’s note Stiefvater mentions how many attempts it took her to write a story about water horses that she was happy with, and I’m glad she kept at it, because this story is so well done. The novel also has a slight ethical component, and reading about how certain characters treated the capaill usice left me shuddering and on the verge of tears in some places.
The plot of this novel isn’t terribly complex in that the characters essentially wind up in a catch twenty-two. However, both Puck and Sean are deeply passionate, headstrong people, and there was no way I could resist caring about them or their stories. If anyone was wondering whether or not Stiefvater does characterization well, The Scorpio Races will indubitably answer your question.
As much as I’ve ranted and raved, I haven’t addressed the best part of this book (although, really, I think the whole part of this book is the best part): the atmosphere. You will taste the salt of sea air and smell the sweetness of the November cakes the second you open this book. If the island Stiefvater wrote about were real, I would be there right now. Guess I will have to settle for testing out her November cakes recipe in my own kitchen.
Most of my comments are probably things you’ve heard elsewhere. I can live with that. Regardless, you need to know that The Scorpio Races is Stiefvater’s best novel by a long shot and showcases what a fantastic writer she is in every possible way. (less)
When I hear either the word “faeries” or the word “Victorian London,” my ears perk up. Upon seeing all three of these words in the same summary, I pre...more When I hear either the word “faeries” or the word “Victorian London,” my ears perk up. Upon seeing all three of these words in the same summary, I pretty much went “OMGWTFBBQ!” Suffice it to say, I jumped on the chance to help promote Hamilton’s debut. While there were parts of The Faerie Ring that were a bit cheesy, it was filled with original ideas and has left me hoping for more.
For those of you who may are who are trying to imagine how the summary of this book plays out, imagine Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens but with faeries and slightly different orphans. Since I read Oliver Twist for a class my senior year of college and watched several adaptations of it, including Oliver!, I really appreciated the major nod towards Dickens. Hamilton did an exceptional job of incorporating the fey without compromising her historical setting. I loved the actual plot of this story.
Tiki is a pretty awesome main character. She has the bravery to keep pick pocketing in the harsh streets of London but the compassion to care for her family. My only problem with Tiki is that from time to time she seemed earnest in a way that bordered on cheesy. However, I loved reading about Tiki’s family dynamic in this story. There’s also a bit of romance in this story, and although it was sweet, it moved more quickly than what I typically care for.
Hamilton’s debut novel is unlike anything else I’ve read this year. She left a few loose ends, and which I hope means that readers will get to see more books in this world. I think The Faerie Ring is perfect for any YA reader who likes their historical fiction with a a little something extra. (less)
It seems that some novels have a hard time deciding what genre they fall under. A hybrid of historical fiction with a touch of fantasy, the first few...moreIt seems that some novels have a hard time deciding what genre they fall under. A hybrid of historical fiction with a touch of fantasy, the first few pages of Dark Mirror had me thinking I would fall head over heels for this book. Unfortunately, by the time I finished, I was left feeling that the story had too many elements that didn’t fit with one another.
As I said, this novel is a mixture of historical fiction and fantasy, and while I wasn’t fanatical about the writing at first, I was quick to forgive because of the premise. Yet eventually a third sub-genre came into play, and it felt like this novel was trying so hard to be complex that it wound up being too unfocused. I believe this is the first in a series, and if I’m correct, I’ll be curious to see what aspects of the story Putney pursues most heavily. I will say that I really liked the way the magic was written--I loved how the characters could connect and combine their powers.
Dark Mirror also fell short for me in terms of characters. Tory always seemed to be optimistic and her personality was a little sugary sweet. She would say things like, “A cup of tea will fix everything!” or “I don’t like my roommate, but I’m going to be nice so I can be the better person!” I don’t dislike these traits, but they always strike me as being very characteristic of younger and more immature characters (maybe that is an unfair assessment, but that is a post for another day). However, when put in a romantic situation, she would say things like, “I can’t imagine life without him!” This also a character trait that I don’t mind, but it felt excessively mature compared to her in other contexts.
My hope is that as the series go on, Tory will mature more and we’ll see why Putney is trying to tie so many different elements together. I’d love to see more continuity with characters and plotlines. I think this novel will appeal to lovers of fantasy and historical fiction, so if you like those genres give this book a chance. (less)
Chime is not a book that every reader is going to love. I spent the first 150 pages trying to decide whether or not I even liked Billingsley’s novel,...moreChime is not a book that every reader is going to love. I spent the first 150 pages trying to decide whether or not I even liked Billingsley’s novel, but kept reading because I’d heard it was good and my book club was reading it. While it took me a while to adjust to Briony’s novel, Chime turned out to be a well-plotted and lyrically written novel.
The world of Chime is an intoxicating mix of enchanting and dangerous. Billingsley’s setting had an ambiance that was both historical and magical. I was never able to guess exactly what was going to happen, which was a major plus.
Briony is one of the quirkiest characters in young adult literature. She has quite a bit of internal dialogue, and it took me a while to adjust to that. I’ve since picked up the audiobook of Chime and while I’m not done yet, the story flows much more smoothly when it’s read out loud. It’s probably because the narrator is amazing and does Briony perfectly.
Finishing Chime was like polishing off a rich chocolate dessert. The writing made this story delicious, and the ending left me feeling content. I didn’t want more or less--I was happy with Chime as it stands. This is the perfect novel for readers who like their magic blended with quirkiness and poetic language.(less)
I confess, I was dubious going into Blood and Flowers. While I thought the premise sounded intriguing, the title felt a little overdramatic. I still d...more I confess, I was dubious going into Blood and Flowers. While I thought the premise sounded intriguing, the title felt a little overdramatic. I still don’t think the title is the perfect fit for this story, and I certainly had issues with the novel, but I enjoyed getting caught up in Blubaugh’s world.
Blubaugh has created a place where the mortal world and Faerie exist side by side, albeit at odds. The world building was nicely explained and an original concept. While no particular passages of prose stuck out to me as being particularly mindblowing, all of the description tied together made me want to see an Outlaws show, or visit a shop where I could buy thread to make books. Occasionally there would be lists in the middle of this story, produced by Persia, the main character and narrator, and while I thought this was a fun idea, it sometimes made the story choppier.
Speaking of characters, they were what I loved most about this story. I think they all could have stood alone, but I loved reading about their family-like dynamic. Meanwhile, I felt that the romances in the story stuck an excellent balance between being sweet and overdone.
As many good things as I have to say about this novel, the pacing felt really off to me. It seemed like we didn’t really get to the primary conflict of this story until about the last 75 pages. Furthermore, everything that happened in the last chapter felt incredibly rushed, and read like the author cut corners in an attempt to finish her manuscript. I would have preferred that section a lot more if it had been two or three chapters with a bit more meat. I read an ARC of this book, though, so maybe it’s different in the final version.
Complaints aside, Blood and Flowers was a unique read. While Blubaugh did a nice job of tying up her plotlines, she also left a couple of lingering questions at the end, as well as room for a sequel. I loved the Outlaws so much that if she wrote another story about them, I would definitely pick it up. While I don’t think this novel is for everyone, I think fans of fey will find this book to be quick and entertaining.(less)
I cannot think of a single other YA book that deal strictly with pegasi, so I have to applaud McKinley for the original premise of this novel. McKinle...moreI cannot think of a single other YA book that deal strictly with pegasi, so I have to applaud McKinley for the original premise of this novel. McKinley seems to be a pretty well acclaimed YA fantasy author, and I’ve only read one of her other books, so when my favorite tour site listed Pegasus I jumped at the chance to read it.
The pacing of this story just felt off. McKinely devoted a lot of time to world building, and to an extent that was really interesting. However, this novel is 400 pages and I felt like the plot didn’t really take off until about the last 100 pages.
A few other glitches made this story tricky to focus on. For example, a lot of the names were ridiculously difficult to pronounce, and if I can’t say a name aloud I tend to get distracted from the story, which is probably a flaw of mine as reader. I also felt as though McKinley would provide description in anticipation of something happening but barely touch on the actual event, and this kind of detached me from the story as a reader. McKinley didn't show me what happened, she just told me.
I wanted to like Pegasus, but couldn’t quite get past McKinley’s writing. Her world building held some serious appeal, and I have Spindle’s End on my shelf anyway, so I’ll be sure to give her another shot.(less)
I read parts of The False Princess with fear in my heart. During the first 100 pages, it felt like I had a problem with a lot of different aspects of...moreI read parts of The False Princess with fear in my heart. During the first 100 pages, it felt like I had a problem with a lot of different aspects of this book. Thankfully, this debut quickly turned around turned out to be a great fantasy read.
I think this book could have easily used about another 50 pages. The novel kicks off with Sinda finding out that she is the false princess and her leaving the palace, and the political intrigue drew me in right away. The first 100 pages flew by, but to be honest, a slower pacing would have felt more natural to me. A lot of the plot points seemed rushed, and I could imagine O’Neal at her computer thinking, “Let’s get this over so I can get to the good stuff.” A good writer will give you the exposition you need, but a great writer will do so in an engaging and expertly plotted fashion. In this respect, I found that O’Neal was only a good writer. However, after those first 100 pages this problem seemed to dissipate.
I also found that O’Neal was only a good writer in terms of the romance. It was sweet, but some of the lines the characters spouted seemed over the top and cliched at times. I still enjoyed it overall, though, it just had its iffy moments. I felt the same way about Sinda and her narration. Sinda starts off as a stubborn character, which initially frustrated. By the end of the novel I liked her a bit better, but she won’t stand out as beloved female protagonist.
My favorite part of this novel? Most definitely the magic. I enjoyed O’Neal’s descriptions of it, the magic itself and the entire world that encompassed it all. Well played. I also really liked Keirnan, because he was witty and sweet. I would mention another character I loved, but we’d be approaching spoiler territory.
I wanted to fall in love with The False Princess, and that didn’t quite happen. However, I definitely had fun reading it and getting to know O’Neal’s quirky but lovable characters. Lovers of magic and fantasy should definitely get a hold of this book.(less)
The Shadow Hunt is a book which I feel fairly conflicted about. There were some things about the novel that I really enjoyed, and I’m actually wonderi...moreThe Shadow Hunt is a book which I feel fairly conflicted about. There were some things about the novel that I really enjoyed, and I’m actually wondering if there’s going to be a sequel to it, because I felt that the author left enough room for one by the end of the story. I liked this book, but had some problems with it along the way.
I found the premise and setting of this book to be very original. I liked that Langrish made some of her characters and over arching themes Christian, because sometimes I feel that sometimes people tend to criticize religion without a lot of good reason or logic behind why they’re doing it, and are often doing so for the sake of being critical. A lot of the mythology behind the elves and how they and their surroundings came into being was exceptionally well thought out and woven into the story. There were, however, times throughout the story when I felt that the plot slowed a bit too much for my liking.
One of the things which I didn’t like so much at first was the human characters, particularly Wolf and Nest. As I was reading, I got a vibe from both of them which I felt said, “I want to be a strong-willed character, but will be glad to overreact and stalk off angrily if you upset me.” My problem wasn’t so much that this particular trait could get annoying, but that it didn’t feel very original to me. While I couldn’t quite put a finger on it, I felt like I’d read characters very similar to Wolf and Nest before. However, I felt that they grew much more original and complex towards the end of the novel. Of all of the characters, Elfgift may have been my favorite!
Even though I liked the ending for the most part, I did find myself questioning its feasibility. I’d ultimately really like to continue with these characters and the world Langrish has created, so I hope that a sequel is in the works.(less)
Winter’s Passage has done me a kindness in easing the wait between The Iron King and The Iron Daughter. I will be upfront and say that I have a minor...moreWinter’s Passage has done me a kindness in easing the wait between The Iron King and The Iron Daughter. I will be upfront and say that I have a minor complaint about this book: I wanted more! I confess that a few parts of the novella felt a tiny bit rushed to me, particularly the climax. Otherwise, I think Winter’s Passage did a great job of tying up a few loose threads from The Iron King while still presenting a bit of a cliffhanger as readers wait for The Iron Queen.
For such a short volume, Kagawa managed to really alter my impressions of some of the characters. While I always liked Meghan, I felt like she explained some of her decisions in a much more logical way. I was glad to see her express more of an understanding of the consequences of her actions. As for Ash, I really did not like him in this book, and for the time being I am no longer Team Ash. The fact that he was so stubborn bothered me a little before, I’ll admit, but it felt like a slap in the face here. I may consider rejoining his Team if he rectifies in The Iron Daughter, but I can definitely see the appeal of Team Puck (certain things about Puck annoy me as well, though I won’t get into that here). So for the time being I am *gasp* not on anyone’s team. At any rate, I think the fact that Kagawa can make me feel so vehemently about all of these characters in a 50 page novella is a testimony to her talent as an author.
Winter’s Passage has simultaneously satisfied one craving and increased another. Kagawa’s novella, though brief, is a powerful read. I look forward to getting my hands on The Iron Daughter!(less)
I went into StarCrossed with zero expectations. I hadn’t read many reviews of it, and wasn’t totally sure what it was about. I just signed up for an A...moreI went into StarCrossed with zero expectations. I hadn’t read many reviews of it, and wasn’t totally sure what it was about. I just signed up for an ARC tour because the premise sounded interesting. StarCrossed certainly satisfied me in that expect.
Maybe it’s just the type of books I read, but I don’t know of many YA books where the characters are thieves (I know of some with spies, though). In the first couple of chapters, before learning Digger’s backstory, it’s kind of hard to see where she might have qualities that make her traditionally good as a person, and instead she’s depicted as someone just trying to survive. I liked that honest representation, because I think (as sad as it is) that there are people out there who are like this (granted, I am an optimist and tend to believe there is more good than evil in the world). However, by the end of the novel I actually felt that Digger was a fairly loyal character.
I have to say that I really liked all of the other characters as well. Not only are they all interesting, but with all of the plot twists Bunce threw in I was constantly wondering who I could trust. I will say that this is a fantastic book for you to read if you want political intrigue with too much romance (and I say more power to Bunce for not having a huge romantic plot. Not every story needs it!). Occasionally it felt like the story got a little to slow, but it always picked up again fairly quickly.
StarCrossed has surprised me, because I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did! I’m still thinking about how much I enjoyed getting to know Digger and everyone else on this cast of characters. I understand there’s a sequel in the works, and I can’t wait to see where Bunce takes things next!(less)