A delightfully charming adventure story that takes plenty of old tropes into fun new places, Leviathan is the sort of book that has me checking out thA delightfully charming adventure story that takes plenty of old tropes into fun new places, Leviathan is the sort of book that has me checking out the sequel ASAP. We have a girl dressing as a boy to run away with the military, a deposed prince in hiding, a pair of crusty old advisors, Alp crossings, and pugnacious Germans, all setting the scene for a steampunk take on the dawn of WWI. The rollicking adventure tale that ensues is plenty of fun, marred only by the abrupt ending and some really odd lingo choices....more
more actiony than the first, but also more angsty. i'm still in love with the setting and the magic, and our characters take a lot of dark tu3.5 stars
more actiony than the first, but also more angsty. i'm still in love with the setting and the magic, and our characters take a lot of dark turns here that may play out quite interestingly, but the overly tense-but-chaste love story between the two young people being pulled apart by circumstance is getting old....more
lyrical without being twee or fussily overdone, 'the witch's boy' is a children's book only because it's fairly short and it's a coming-of-age tale (ilyrical without being twee or fussily overdone, 'the witch's boy' is a children's book only because it's fairly short and it's a coming-of-age tale (i.e., if you love fairy tales but generally avoid books for younger readers, give this one a go). old, familiar stories twisted into an opposite perspective (the witch, here, is far from wicked) are sprinkled throughout the boy's life; it's every bit as charming as you'd think to hear "goldilocks" told by bears....more
though i generally prefer adult fiction, I know several friends who swear by childrens' and YA books because of their inherent "clarity". if you're wrthough i generally prefer adult fiction, I know several friends who swear by childrens' and YA books because of their inherent "clarity". if you're writing a story for a younger audience, so the argument goes, you first and foremost must tell a gripping tale; all the stylistic flourishes in the world don't mask the lack of one. in the right author's hands, that argument can be proven wonderfully true. much like last year's excellent Daughter of Smoke & Bone, 'Shadow and Bone' is a lot richer and more compelling than the admittedly generic-sounding cover blurb would have you believe.
everything about this book is utterly lovely. despite my avowed love of ebooks as my preferred text delivery method, this was a joy in dead tree: the frontispiece is a lushly drawn map, full of the imperial Russian images and pseudo-Russian place names that populate the text (like many fantasy books, the map is nice but not strictly necessary to the story, but it is an exceptionally well-done one). chapter headers and page footers are illuminated throughout: this is a completely charming old-school storybook. all the pretty in the world wouldn't make up for the lack of a fantastic story, though (see above assertion), and first-time author Bardugo delivers her part in spades. Alina has been brought up in a country long besieged by war and cut off from its necessary coastline by a monster-infested swath of man-eating darkness. between the starving peasant class and the indifferent royal family, the last defenders of the country are the loved/feared grisha, the magical practitioners of the realm. Alina starts out brought up as an orphaned peasant, joins the military on the cusp of her 20s, and eventually sees how the other half live - she's a wonderful window into this stratified society, and we only get to know what she does, making this a taut read.
16 year old ethan can't wait to get out of his one-horse south carolina backwater town, and he's counting the days until graduationa solid 3.5 stars.
16 year old ethan can't wait to get out of his one-horse south carolina backwater town, and he's counting the days until graduation will set him free. nothing ever changes here (even the prom queen is the same girl several years running) until mysterious lena moves into her crazy uncle's ramshackle plantation house, and sets everyone's tongues wagging.
given a small-town setting with a hidden something supernatural going on with these high school kids, comparisons to 'twilight' are inevitable. thankfully, the similarities end there, and if anything, the story is reversed: ethan is much more the bella of this relationship. Garcia & Stohl hit all the high notes of both southern gothic (shutters are painted "haint blue" to keep the ghosts out, gators splash into distant swamps, everyone speaks in dialect, and biscuits are made by hand) and YA UF. there is a romance in here, and while it's plenty angsty, it feels real to the teen experience and blissfully doesn't rely on standard tropes of mis- or non-communication for dramatic tension. it's a very fun story, marred only by the ending falling apart (but thankfully not being a cliffhanger).
every bit as ridiculously fun as the cover blurb promises, 'grave mercy' is the tale of a young woman convent-educated to be a skilled assas3.5 stars.
every bit as ridiculously fun as the cover blurb promises, 'grave mercy' is the tale of a young woman convent-educated to be a skilled assassin for the crown of Brittany. our heroine is young and naïve, told nly what she needs to know, but smart enough to figure some things out on her own. most characters get to be nuanced instead of b&w stock, rare for a YA novel. it's plenty silly (especially when the heroine gets bored of dresses and impatient with politics, and longingly wishes for someone to need stabbing), but delightfully so, and imminently readable. ...more
it is perhaps possible that I don't actually enjoy China Miéville. don't get me wrong, here, I admire the hell out of what that man does with words anit is perhaps possible that I don't actually enjoy China Miéville. don't get me wrong, here, I admire the hell out of what that man does with words and what comes out of his uniquely skewed brain. I adore that there are female characters that are just that: actual characters, with foibles and good qualities and bad qualities, people, not placeholders. and NOBODY build worlds like this man (which may be a good thing, because if everyone did this, it would be evidence that we are all on major drugs).
but his main characters? meh. this is the 3rd book of his where I just don't have any connection with who the story is ostensibly about. side characters are far more interesting than bland, shy Sham ap Shoorap, half-ass indiffeerence at everything he does being his main trait. this is a bizarrely quirky coming of age(ish) adventure yarn, that i found myself plowing through only for the weird scenery. ...more
one of the oddest repeating themes in the current trend of YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic lit is for the heroine to be an ordinary teenager, wanderingone of the oddest repeating themes in the current trend of YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic lit is for the heroine to be an ordinary teenager, wandering through this brave new world of awful with only a vague sense of "huh." horrors pass before her eyes with barely a shrugged shoulder, because "that's the way it's always been," making her inevitable participation in rebellion later in the book that much more inexplicable.
so mad bonus points to Griffin for writing a tale where most all of the characters have been actually impacted by the world being destroyed. Araby Worth, an inventor's daughter, has lived with a population-slaughtering plague since earliest childhood. she's lost both family and way of life, and she's rather shell-shocked, drugging herself into oblivion and wishing for something to change. the apocalypse here is real and visceral and immediate, not some distant "before times" memory, with touches of actual horror instead of gratuitous gore. there are occasional brilliant tiny "what if?" moments ("we'd been wearing masks for so long that i read a smile by looking at someone's eyes") that add wonderful depth to this slim story. if all that weren't enough, Griffin should be teaching a master class in how to do the de rigueur angsty love triangle properly: both male characters are interesting, well-developed, and differ by a lot more than just the color of their hair.
so why only 3 stars? the end, my dears, is a trainwreck. after clipping along as a solid 4-star read throughout, the last 10% or so just thoroughly derails. (view spoiler)[we're subjected to several chapters of aimless running for our lives, in which Araby's innate passivity (the world acts on her far more often than she charts her own course) finally crosses over into annoying. both boys feel the need to display their "rightness" so that we're left with back-to-back moments of true love with the other guy. and worst of all, the book ends so abruptly that if i'd been reading it as an e-book, i would have assumed the file was incomplete. the story would have been nicely self-contained, yet i can only assume it's being stretched out into a sequel/series. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
like so many YA books, 'glass houses' is all about a special snowflake finding her place in the world. claire is bookishly nerdy to such an e2.5 stars
like so many YA books, 'glass houses' is all about a special snowflake finding her place in the world. claire is bookishly nerdy to such an extreme that she's tested out of HS and into college at 16, but her overprotective parents won't let her go to any far-off ivy league school. thusly stuck in the closest U that's not a junior college, she resignedly tries to give it a go at texas prairie university, but the freshman hazing here has a more than usually brutal edge to it. turns out (just like the subtitle tells you) that the entire town of morganville, tx is rife with vampires, and you're either in a "protected" agreement with them, or you're just a snack.
claire has more than a couple TSTL moments, but at least some are forgivable for her being so shelteredly naïve (prime example: uh, how about just skipping town??). on the sliding scale from sparkly to demonic, the vampires are much closer to the latter, so bonus points for people that like their bloodsuckers to be actual fiends. the story careens around confusedly as claire slowly figures out what's going on in this town, a situation that's ever so much more realistic than a shotgun-quick actioner, but can be a snooze as you wish they would just get ON with it all. hidden vampire politics and mystic magics become apparent by the very end, hinting at something much more interesting going on by book 2....more
an engaging, likeable heroine and an alpha male who's thankfully not a blockhead make for a pretty snappy read. there's more danger and battl3.5 stars
an engaging, likeable heroine and an alpha male who's thankfully not a blockhead make for a pretty snappy read. there's more danger and battle and blood than in your standard PNR, but more than a few of the standard tropes, too (e.g., lots of secret-keeping, a dash of "chosen one" angst). one of the better freebie/indie books I've read. ...more