This review originally appeared on my blog, Leeanna.me.
PANTOMIME is one of those books that is really difficult to describe without giving away theThis review originally appeared on my blog, Leeanna.me.
PANTOMIME is one of those books that is really difficult to describe without giving away the entire story. In my humble opinion, the summary for it is pretty misleading, since it makes you think there are two characters, and that those two characters are probably going to fall in love, as is the usual progression in young adult books. In reality, that’s pretty far from the truth.
I hope I’m not spoiling anything, but I think it’s obvious from the beginning. So I’m gonna go ahead and say it: Iphigenia, or Gene, and Micah, the two characters mentioned in the summary, ARE THE SAME PERSON. The book is split into narratives from Gene and Micah, the two stories eventually coming together to reveal that big fact.
Gene’s story revolves around that of a young woman in Elladan society, complicated by the fact that Gene has no interest in being a proper young woman and coming out at a debutante ball. Gene would rather climb trees or play with her brother and his friends, both pursuits frowned upon by her proper mother. The same mother who very much wants to marry her off before Gene’s secret is discovered. Through Gene’s eyes, we get a picture of the world, helped along by quotes or excerpts from various treatises, histories, or doctor’s notes at the beginning of each chapter.
Micah’s story picks up when he starts at the circus, at R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic as an apprentice trapeze artist. Homeless and desperate, he flings himself off the trapeze -- with NO training -- as a way to impress the circus’s owner, Bil. The gambit works, but Gene has to build his way up in the circus, both with menial labor and forming relationships with the other circus employees. It’s a tough, isolated world -- he suffers plenty of pranks, some harmful -- but in the end, Gene earns his place in the circus family. But he’s hiding a gigantic secret, one that could land him in the freakshow … as a real freak, not a fake one.
The secret they’re both hiding, and that makes them the same person? Gene/Micah is intersexed. Now here comes a problem -- how do I refer to Gene/Micah? I’m going to go with ‘he,’ since Gene feels most comfortable as a boy, even though he was raised as a girl. He has both female and male parts, something he has hidden all of life, both as Gene and Micah.
Okay, with all that out of the way, let’s talk about the book. For a long portion, probably 3/4, of PANTOMIME, I had no clue what was going to happen. I didn’t know what the overarching plot was. Yes, Gene and Micah were both keeping secrets in their respective narratives, but I didn’t know where the book was heading or how it would end. However, for the longest time, I didn’t care. The author created such an interesting world that I was lost in it, and lost in the magic of the circus and its crazy mix of personalities. And I’m not someone that thinks circuses are all that cool. The good writing and descriptions also led to me losing myself in the book.
PANTOMIME is more a coming of age story, and Micah has more struggles than most teenagers in that regard, trying to figure out who he is. When he’s attracted to Aenea, a fellow aerialist, he doesn’t know if he likes her as a girl, or as a boy. He also doesn’t know what that means for himself and for others. In the circus, there are a few homosexual couples, and a few performers that like both genders, and they didn’t face teasing or discrimination for their ways. It just … is.
PANTOMIME takes place in a fantasy world. Normally I would want more details about a world, so I could picture it, but the details come slowly, and don’t fill in all the gaps. I think there were a couple of civilizations before the current rule of humans, including the magical Alder and Chimaera. Remnants of those groups linger, mostly in Vestige artifacts and mysterious, blue Penglass domes. As odd as it may sound, I never had any trouble believing in the magical world the author created, maybe because of the way it was revealed and just accepted by the characters.
As the story neared its end, I got the feeling the information dropped here and there would be more important in the next book. Also important is the Kedi figurine -- a carving with breasts and male parts -- that Gene finds early in his journey. In the land of Byssia, Kedi were worshipped as gods, which leaves some intriguing possibilities about what will happen in Micah’s journey.
The ending of PANTOMIME did leave me a tad disappointed. After hundreds of pages of buildup and scene setting, the climax took a chapter or two, and the book ended on a cliffhanger. Before reading the last pages, I honestly didn’t know PANTOMIME was the first in the Micah Grey series.
I might be somewhat biased towards PANTOMIME simply because of its attempts to do something different, in a well-done and respectful way. I adored Gene/Micah. He’s probably one of my favorite main characters this year, because of the issues he deals with, as well as how he deals with them. Everyone, at some point in their life, has felt different from the others around them. It’s a universal thing, so I think everyone can identify with Micah’s struggles to find where he fits.
The book is enchanting, and one that feels like set up for an epic conclusion. Lastly, I want to say I really like the cover for this one. In my opinion, the person on the cover could be male or female -- androgynous -- and that mask symbolizes the secrets Gene/Micah hides.
The next book in the series, SHADOWPLAY, is one I’m looking forward to. I can’t wait to return to the magical world the author created, as well as read more of Gene/Micah’s story.
This review originally appeared on my blog, Leeanna.me.
CIRCLE OF SHADOWS is a rich meal of a book, full of historical details, unique characters, anThis review originally appeared on my blog, Leeanna.me.
CIRCLE OF SHADOWS is a rich meal of a book, full of historical details, unique characters, and an intriguing mystery.
I was initially attracted to the book because of the main character, Harriet Westerman. I was quite curious as to how a woman in the late 1700s could be a detective. But to my surprise, I liked every single character in the book, good and bad, even the minor ones. The author has a real talent for fleshing out characters. I cared about all of them in some way, from Harriet to the daughter of the ballet dancer. I wanted to know more about everyone, too, and I think the author did a good job of integrating interesting and relevant backstories into the plot. Harriet, though, was probably my favorite. I adored her dry humor and quick mind.
And the plot! I admit, I don’t usually read mysteries. They just aren’t my favorite. But I liked CIRCLE OF SHADOWS so much I want to read the rest of the Crowther and Westerman series. The author wove a compelling story, bringing in everything from forensics to lost family members to secret societies to court politics. I think there’s something for everyone here -- there are even automatons, which I so did not expect to see. I had no idea how the murder mystery would tie up, and I admit to being quite surprised by the ending. It was a fantastical mystery for sure, but one that I believed because of the way the author wrote it.
I read CIRCLE OF SHADOWS over a few weeks. Usually I speed through books, but the writing style -- heavy on detail and scene setting, and almost formal -- made me slow down. This was a plus for me, because it was refreshing to spend longer than a day or two reading a book. I do advise taking an hour or so to get into the book when you begin it, so you can get a good footing with the characters and start of the big mystery.
Although CIRCLE OF SHADOWS is book four in a series, you don’t have to have read the other books to understand this one. That was one of the other big pluses for me, because who likes to try and recall details from books they read years ago? Not me! The author does a very nice job of filling you in on what you need to know, if you’re new to Harriet and Crowther and their world. But if you aren’t, you won’t be bogged down by information dumps. There’s a good balance.
I would have liked a dramatis personae to help me keep track of the large cast of characters. I sometimes had to flip back to remember who someone was, but that’s a small quibble.
I’d recommend this book if you like mysteries, because its superbly done. I really liked that the author didn’t “write down,” but expected the reader to solve things right along with Harriet and the rest of the characters. It’s always cool when you remember a detail you initially thought was insignificant, and then later see that it’s a big clue if you paid attention! I’d also recommend CIRCLE OF SHADOWS if you like historical fiction, because although Maulberg wasn’t a real duchy, the author drew inspiration and information from real German states during the appropriate time period.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
After liking THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE (4 star review) so much last year, I was a little scared to start THE PIRATE’S WISH. Would it be full of the same awesomeness and kick butt characters that I liked from the first book?
Once I got over that fear, I couldn’t stop reading. I had the same magical feeling of “I’m not putting this book until I finish it” that I had with THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE. Whew!
THE PIRATE’S WISH starts off with Ananna and Naji still stranded on the island, like they were at the end of THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE. There’s not a lot of recap of what happened in book one, and honestly, I had forgotten a fair amount of the plot, but the author recaps as necessary. So there aren’t pages and pages of information dumps -- you get reminded of what you need to know, when you need to be reminded.
THE PIRATE’S WISH is just as unique as its predecessor. The first part of the book features a MANTICORE! I cannot remember seeing a manticore in adult or young adult fantasy in quite a while. And Ongraygeeomryn, the manticore, is a hoot. I was cracking up every time she spoke or tried to help Ananna out, with hilarious results included. The manticore also thought Naji would make a tasty treat, once his curse was removed, and basically thought all men were delicious meals on legs.
Ananna, Naji, and the manticore are rescued from the island by Marjani. Other than Ananna and the manticore, Marjani was one of my favorite characters in THE PIRATE’S WISH. Why? She’s a gay pirate who wants to have her own ship (yeah, tell those pirate dudes what to do!), and two, she gives Ananna some great advice on men and pleasure. AKA, Ananna doesn’t really need Naji at all to feel good, not unless she really loves him and really wants him.
Ananna is the same gusty pirate wench I loved in THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE. She’s still wary of her feelings for Naji, and I liked that she just didn’t spill them out. Even though she knew she could accomplish one of his impossible tasks, she kept her feelings a secret for a while. Best of all, she doesn’t let her feelings for Naji change who SHE is as a person. For example, even though he tries to warn her from making deals with the manticore, Ananna makes plenty of them. And while she feels guilty that the curse hurts Naji whenever she does something dangerous, she doesn’t want to give up her life and freedom.
There’s a ton more good stuff in THE PIRATE’S WISH. One more thing I’ll mention is the lush, amazingly creative underworld kingdom that comes about in the neatest way. I could have spent a dozen chapters there. The worldbuilding is well done in the book. You get just enough detail so you can imagine the setting and characters; the author is a master at describing a person or place completely in a sentence or two. I really like Cassandra Rose Clarke’s writing style.
All of the good stuff aside (and there is a LOT of it!), there was one thing that made me rate THE PIRATE’S WISH a 4 star book instead of 5 stars. The relationship between Ananna and Naji wasn’t something I felt in the first book, and in book two, though I got behind it, I still wanted to hear Naji’s thoughts and learn WHY he returned Ananna’s feelings. The two become magically bonded after a sea battle, which would have allowed Ananna, at least, to express Naji’s thoughts on the relationship. I also wanted to know more about Naji and the mysterious Order he belongs to.
The ending probably won’t satisfy everyone, but personally, I adored it. Although I am sad to have reached the end of Ananna and Naji’s story, the ending is true to both of them, and I wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.
If you haven’t read this duology, now is the time to pick it up.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
To start out, this won’t be much of a review. I lovedASUNDER. No surprise there. INCARNATE, book oThis review first appeared on my blog, Leeanna.me
To start out, this won’t be much of a review. I lovedASUNDER. No surprise there. INCARNATE, book one of the Newsoul Trilogy, was one of my favorite books of 2012. Right now, I’d do about anything to get my hands on book three. I’ll ferret sit, Jodi, if you let me read the manuscript!
I reread INCARNATE before reading ASUNDER, and I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed on my first read through: the author puts some thought into age differences. Can a relationship work when there are five thousand years between the two people? I was happy to see this, and also happy that the theme continued in ASUNDER. It reminds me of vampire novels -- there’s usually at least a hundred years difference between the vampire and girl, yet the girl rarely thinks about that difference. Ana and Sam do think about it, and it brings up some valid questions about if such a relationship can succeed.
I really like Ana and Sam as a couple. If you’ve read any of my reviews, you’ll know that romance isn’t my favorite thing, but Sam is just so damn sweet and protective of Ana. In INCARNATE, I thought the romance came on a little early, but the author further develops their relationship in ASUNDER. I was definitely cheering for them by the end of the book, and they needed cheering. Some sad things happen between them.
I have never been an audiophile. I only listen to music when I’m driving or working out. However, I know music is important for many people, and I finally understood why because of ASUNDER. Music is incredibly important to both Ana and Sam. Music allows Ana to speak in a way that the citizens of Heart can understand, and also lets her leave a lasting legacy. Music is also something they turn to when emotionally distraught.
There are some great questions in ASUNDER, some that I doubt teens usually think about, such as “What happens after I die?” and “What does my life mean?” I know I didn’t, at least not when I was younger. Ana thinks about these questions because she is the only non-reincarnated soul (at the start, anyway). It’s pretty hard to be the only one who hasn’t already lived five thousand years.
The worldbuilding also continues in ASUNDER, with the blend of fantasy and high-tech that I liked from INCARNATE. The sylph are a very interesting creation of Jodi’s, and I liked how she slowly revealed more about them and their background in ASUNDER. Sadly, there are no dragons in this book, and though I missed them (sadface), the sylph and more on Janan made up for their absence.
By the way, ASUNDER doesn’t feel like a middle book. The story moves along rapidly, with lots of big events, and I loved that I had no clue what was going to happen at the end. And the ending left me wanting the last book of the trilogy RIGHT NOW, like I said at the start of this review.
Lastly, ASUNDER is a beautiful book. I HAVE to say how much I love the cover. All too often with YA, the pretty cover doesn’t correlate to the book, but that isn’t the case with the Newsoul Trilogy. Those roses you see around Ana’s eyes? They show up in the book, and they’re an important part of ASUNDER, just like the butterfly motif was in INCARNATE. I can’t wait to see what’s on deck for the last book of the trilogy.
I liked: ♥ The uniqueness of the story. Prior to Incarnate, I hadn’t read any reincarnation stories. ♥ Ana. I thought her being a newsoul in a world ofI liked: ♥ The uniqueness of the story. Prior to Incarnate, I hadn’t read any reincarnation stories. ♥ Ana. I thought her being a newsoul in a world of old souls was a lot like a teenager around adults. Adults have that world weary feeling of having done everything before, but to teens, it’s all new. I really felt for her, living in a world where everyone else had known each other for 5,000 years. ♥ There’s an intriguing mix of fantasy and modern day elements. For example, the people of Heart have cars, but instead of driving there from the mountains, they walk for a week, with a pack pony. There are dragons and laser pistols. I liked the blending of old and new. ♥ I don’t want to let this book go back to the library. I almost never buy hardcovers, because I don’t have the room for them, but I want to so I can have Incarnate on my shelf. I know I’m going to want to reread it when Asunder comes out in January of 2013. Which is too long to wait, by the way.
I didn’t like: — The romance. It came too soon for me, but Sam is a sweet guy. I can see why Ana fell for him. Hower, the romance wasn’t enough to detract from what I loved about the book. — The Tower confused me. I didn’t quite understand the scene with Meuric there, but I’m assuming more explanation for that will come in Asunder.
Favorite thing: Everything about this book is beautiful. It’s a very well designed package, from the story to the writing to the cover to the chapter illustrations. There is a striking butterfly drawing at the start of each chapter. I really like the author’s writing style -- the descriptions are lush without being purple prose. If I started quoting favorite lines, I’d have ten pages before I knew it. The writing is my absolute favorite part. I hope I can emulate some of Jodi’s style in my own writing.
Second favorite thing: Okay, I loved the cover. I’ll admit it. I choose books with my eyes first, zooming in on covers that I really like. It’s so unusual, and even better -- it fits the story. I’ve said it over and over, but I could stare at this cover forever.
review originally written July 7, 2012. Book reread April 16, 2013
Stars, I loved this book. I couldn’t put Cinder down until I finished it, and now I’m anxiously awaiting the next three books in the series.
Cinder isStars, I loved this book. I couldn’t put Cinder down until I finished it, and now I’m anxiously awaiting the next three books in the series.
Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella, complete with androids, cyborgs, space travel, an evil queen, a good prince, and a deathly plague. There are no love triangles, vampires, werewolves, or any of that sort of thing.
Cinder is a refreshing protagonist. She works as a mechanic, and has a reputation as being one of the best. It’s the reason Kai, the prince of New Beijing, comes to her to have his android fixed. I liked that there was a reason for them to meet, and that it wasn’t a chance encounter that started off their relationship. I also liked that Cinder wasn’t in love with Kai right away.
A few parts of the story were predictable, but overall, I enjoyed how the author fit everything together. Another plus is that the book doesn’t end on a total cliffhanger. There are plenty of questions to be resolved in the series, but at least we get a few answers at the end of Cinder.
The worldbuilding is pretty cool, as well. The humans that live on the Moon, the Lunars, have evolved differently than the humans on Earth. The Lunars have a magical power, a glamour, that allows them to manipulate minds.
Cinder herself is a cyborg, with over 30% of her body made of metal parts. Being a cyborg makes her a second class citizen, the ward of her legal guardian. It’s a twist on the Cinderella story, because Cinder’s stepmother has a reason — albeit misguided — to dislike her.
There’s a lot to like in Cinder, and a lot to keep your attention. I can’t wait until it comes out in paperback. I also can’t wait for the next book, Scarlet!
This review originally appeared on my blog, Leeanna.me.
The second book in the Lunar Chronicles, SCARLET picks up where CINDER left off, continuingThis review originally appeared on my blog, Leeanna.me.
The second book in the Lunar Chronicles, SCARLET picks up where CINDER left off, continuing Cinder’s story while bringing in a new character, Scarlet. The fairy tale influence for SCARLET is Little Red Riding Hood, but I promise you’ve never seen it done this way.
Marissa Meyer is a superb storyteller. I’ve read CINDER and SCARLET multiple times since each book’s release, and I often mention the Lunar Chronicles as one of my favorite series. The books are such a great combination of fantasy, adventure, creative worldbuilding, brilliant characters, and fairy tale retelling.
At first I was worried to start SCARLET, because I loved Cinder so much and I wanted every book to be all about her, and no one else. But I fell in love with Scarlet too, with her impulsiveness and how she was so determined to rescue her grandmother. Wolf was like a whipped puppy, and while I’m normally meh on male characters, I couldn’t help but like him. I like pretty much every character in this series, because they all have personalities. They’re all real. I’m a character-driven reader, so I couldn’t get enough.
After escaping prison, Cinder and a fellow convict go to France in search of information about her past. At the same time, Scarlet is trying to find her kidnapped grandmother. I’m making this sound so much more boring than it really is -- SCARLET is full of action and adventure, near misses and escapes. What I really want to say about the different plots is that Cinder and Scarlet’s stories mesh seamlessly. Although I had originally wanted the series to be all Cinder, now I can’t imagine it without Scarlet, and Wolf, and Captain Thorne… and I’m sure I’ll keep saying that with every new book and new characters.