Archive | May, 2013

Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston

30 May

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Rating: Four out of Five Starts

This book… this book is… is…. stunning.

Or as I said when I was 50 pages in “Holy shiznat, friends. This book is breathtaking in it’s simplicity and intensity.”

Black Helicopters is probably the most captivating book I’ve read in a looong looong time. Now I’ve read decent books lately, but they are my typical genre YA fantasy/dystopia books. This book is neither and yet it will appeal to ANYONE who likes to read those. Keeping in mind that this is a dark book though!  I am really struggling trying to write a proper review because I cannot capture the essence of this short story because it’s so… different? It’s pure and raw and graphic and its sooo emotional but it has the least emotional pro-tag I’ve ever read. It’s gritty and mind-boggling and twisted because the “bad guy” is our hero in the story. The warped, off-kilter villains we always read about in the newspapers is Black Helicopter’s narrators. It’s an amazing book with a deep, dark, scary viewpoint.

I’m in utter and completely awe of this. So I will stick with my original review on Goodreads of this:

wha

slow

 

Do your self a solid and take a few hours to read this baby. It’s short and will change your mind about a lot of things.

 

 

To read a well articulated review of this, because I completely failed at it, visit The Midnight Garden’s website.

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Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

29 May

10874177

Book One in the Finishing School Series

Rating: Two out of Five Stars

This book has some really awesome qualities. And some really not so awesome qualities.

Pros:

1.) Concept – steam punk, dresses, finishing schools and assassins! What is there NOT to like about any of that?! And there is plenty of all of those yummy little things in this story.

2.) Pace – the tempo of the book is perfect for the theme; fast paced yet balanced. It has the right amount of dialogue and action scenes so it doesn’t bore you or exhaust you while reading.

3.) Um… I’ll try to think of a third…

Cons:

1.) Believability – I know I know, steampunk is a genre that you have to get into like fantasy. But my WSOD meter was way off the charts and the descriptions weren’t as developed as I wanted them to be. Pictures, as silly as that may sound, would be immensely helpful. (Scott Westerfeld did it in Leviathan!)

2.) Character Development – I wanted to strangle Sophronia most of the time. She’s a cocky, self absorbed little shit who needs to be walloped upside the head. She goes to a damn finishing school to get lady-ized and all she does is start to break more rules. WHY do the adult figures put up with it? It’s infuriating and turned me off from wanting to read the rest of the series. There’s a little thing called discipline that needs to be introduced to the book. If Sophronia would get caught, held accountable for her actions, and learned something from being punished, maybe I could empathize with her more. But instead she’s a bratty little wild child with no restraint. No thank you.

3.) Target readers/audience level – I will just go ahead and admit it: I have no idea who this book was written for. None. Zero. Zip. I know Gail Carriger has an adult series (which I have not read) and this was meant to be a YA book (but set in the same world). Hmmm… I think she got confused sometimes as to whom she was writing this for. The writing style is elevated: big words, gorgeous syntax, delicious flow. But the character is definitely a middle grade target (which is obvi from my rant above). Maybe she thought if she wrote the same way she did in her adult book but just made it a 14 year old character it would be ok? But I think if I was a 14 year old reading this, it might be a touch over my head. It definitely doesn’t have a specific target nor can it really cross into a Harry Potter like phenom of everyone-can-read-it book. It’s just awkwardly in the middle.

Alright, so I know my cons were a lot more con-ny then my pros were positive. I wanted to like this book, tried, cajoled, bribed my mind into wanting to adore this book. But I can’t. So I’ll leave my rating at a two and if I’m ever desperate for a book, maybe I’ll read the second in the series. Mer :/

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

24 May

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Book Two in the Fire and Thorns Series

Rating: Five out of Five Stars

I legitimately squealed when I finished this book. Like the high pitched annoying sounds 11 year old girls make when they see a baby penguin or something. It’s Just. That. Fabulous.

Girl of Fire and Thorns took me awhile to get into but once I was in, I was swallowed up by the beauty of Carson’s writing. I am a sucker for good world building and this baby gave me everything I wanted. To me a high fantasy book should have a world that is it’s own character. You need to know it, feel it, love it or hate it just like any other character in a story. You want to be able to relate to it and visualize it in your mind. I could actually see a map in my head of everywhere the characters went in the novel. From the water fall to the underground city it was vivid and clear and glorious. *whimsical sigh*

Not only am I once again impressed with Carson’s writing ability, but I am also ecstatic that this is a functioning, well thought-out, crucial-to-the-story installment. So many times author’s second book in a trilogy or sequel seems forced or convoluted because they are trying to build suspense and foreshadow everything that will happen in the next/last book. They forget that the readers still want to be transported to another world and see the characters grow. But Crown of Embers has it’s own flavor, story, personality that makes it just as engaging and engrossing as book one. It feels like a natural extension of the plot but it layers on so much more feeling and passion and emotional connections you just sink more and more into the story the longer the book progresses.

It’s a beautiful story with a unique, not cookie-cuter YA female pro-tag that will have you riding the wave of fantasy hard. When the book ends it takes you a second to come back to life in the real world because the story just feels so… real.

And this line.. soo romantic. Reminds me of my book boyfriend Mr. Darcy. Jane Austen would be so proud:

“I love you the way a drowning man loves air. And it would destroy me to have you just a little.”

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So official!

20 May

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Pretty excited about this…

15 May

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Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

7 May

10429092

Book One in the Fire and Thorns Series

Rating: Four out of Five Stars

Oh my little lovely book. You’re just a gem of wonderful aren’t you? Yes, yes you are.

After reading a lot of the reviews of this one, it’s pretty hit or miss with folks. People either love it or hate it. And while the beginning was a bit slow, the personal growth that Elisa experiences is infatuating. Who’d a thunk that being kidnapped would end up with the fat little princess being a warrior queen? A MAGICAL WARRIOR QUEEN! GET SOME!

Ok, but for real. This book was good. The writing and the tone Carson uses is lyrical without being overwhelmingly flowery. I like when author’s really take the time to describe the scene and paint the picture in your head. But sometimes it can get to be so much that I get bored and I forget the dialogue that was happening before we walked into whatever area we are in. This book manages the balance well. It brings you into the world without smothering you with it. And the characters were really well done. They have personalities and quirks and aren’t the cookie cutter YA makeups.

Now I have to be honest here and say I struggled a bit at the beginning of this book. Typically YA princesses are young, thin and pretty. It’s super rare to find a chubby pro-tag in a high fantasy young adult book. So it took me some time to understand the character’s way of thinking about food and herself because quite honestly I couldn’t relate, I didn’t understand. But this different point of view is one of the reasons I really like this book and encourage girls to read it. That typical Barbie doll heroine that thinks she’s ugly because she’s self depreciating won’t be found here. This is a real young girl’s struggle with her weight. And no, the whole book is NOT about how big or skinny she is but it’s a theme that is always underlying the major pieces of this plot and it’s beautiful. It’s a unique perspective that I haven’t read in fantasy before and could really resonate with readers.

Elisa’s weight struggle isn’t the only reason why I like her. Although the fact she takes pride her in mental beauty more than her physical beauty is intriguing. I really enjoyed reading Elisa because she’s, well for lack of a better word, human. And she’s brilliant. She’s the type of person that grows wings when the fire starts. Her realistic adaptability and her desire to be good, do good, make good, is breathtaking to read. Elisa doesn’t go from dowdy second born to sorceress queen in one chapter, its a complete journey, confusing, full of rejection and hurt, and full of her passion to over come. Which she does, but not without sacrifice. And although she encounters a lot of pain, she’s resilient in the fact that she does not break. Elisa is the epitome of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. She’s inspiring.

BTWs – this series has some really good novellas. I encourage you to read them!

Wine and Women Wednesday – 7 Deadly Sins

1 May

14-hands

On the Menu: 14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blend

Description: I am a big fan of blends. They are definitely my go-tos when I am strolling around the wine aisles. This 14 Hands blend is one of my favorites. It’s smooth, rich and luxurious. It’s the type of wine you pour yourself a glass of when you want to ooze tranquility and satisfaction, the type of wine you drink in a lavender bubble bath with candles (that’s what I did). And of course, the perfect wine to drink while reading a book late into the night. It’s full flavor but not overpowering and a good “stand alone” wine.

7deadlysins1

Photo Credit: Fancy Free and Footloose

Female heroines can be constructed to project a plethora of ideals. Some authors create their characters to be a strong, feisty women and some choose the more young, idealistic girl version. Regardless of how exactly they turn out, all of them have a unique  identity that allows us, as readers, to connect or not connect with them. And, as we can all fully attest to in our real lives, an identity always has characters flaws that we either play well with or completely despise. What are the worst flaws? The Seven Deadly Sins. In today’s Wine and Women Wednesday, we are going to look at seven very different female protagonists in young adult books to see how their character epitomizes one of the seven deadly sins and how they do or do not overcome it.

sloth

Nikki – Everneath

It  is a well known fact that I did not enjoy reading about Nikki. She was weak and lazy and completely infuriating. Sloth is described as “a failure to do things one should”.  And it is very apparent that Nikki does not ever step up and take responsibility or control of her situation. She is pure “pity me” through out the entirety of the book.

Saving Grace: In book two, Everbound (which I admit I have not read) she supposedly goes after Jack with Cole by entering into the Underworld. Nikki actually gets off her ass and does something. Way to find a back bone, kiddo!

gluttony

Elisa – Girl of Fire and Thorns

I adored this book. But the beginning took a lot of getting used to because for once the main protag was….well… fat. She was a chubby little whale of a girl that used food to feed her feelings. Her over-indulgence of food made up for the fact that she didn’t like herself. As a princess, and a later the King’s secret wife, she spent more time in the kitchen eating and then DOING anything for her suffering country.

Saving Grace: Unlike Nikki from Everneath, Elisa’s saving grace happens not from her own free will, but by force. Elisa is kidnapped and made to eat like an average person. With smaller proportions, the required physical activity, and the terror that comes with being kidnapped, Elisa finds her true self and strong will that was buried underneath her gluttony for so long.

Envy

Penelope HayesThe Luxe Series

This one is pretty obvious. Penelope is as jealous as a jealous girl can get. She is constantly cutting people down in order to get her way, always discontent with what she has. Her desire to be Henry’s wife and the most beautiful girl in New York makes her ugly, cruel, and mean.

Saving Grace: Well, to be quite honesty, she doesn’t have one. But she gets what deserves in the end, a husband that doesn’t love her and an awful reputation.

Wrath

Evie – Poison Princess

Evie starts out as being a naive rich girl with hidden super natural powers. She is slowly torn apart by the events she witnesses and comes to a breaking point at the end of the book. She let’s her rage consume her and unleashes all her wrath on a man that has murdered and tortured girls for years. (Well deserved if I do say so.)

Saving Grace: Evie is, before she becomes a crazy bia, a caring and naturally charming person. She isn’t TRYING to become a hate-fueled person, it just happens. Because we get to know her so well before wrath consumes her, its stands to reason that the sweet girl still resides in her somewhere.

lust

Fire – Fire

Oh this girl. This girl is feisty. While Monsters are doomed to be the most enticing attractive creatures in their world, Fire is the only human Monster left. And she’s a female to boot!  She doesn’t wield her power as much as she could, but she does manipulate Archer into doing her will.  She never settles down with him though or let’s him get too attached. She only wants poor Archer for her desires, physically and emotionally. And it eventually gets him killed.

Saving Grace: Besides with Archer, Fire only uses her power to save lives. She saves hundreds of men when she reveals her hair and draws attackers away so they can escape. All in all, she’s not such a bad gal.

Pride

Deuce – Razorland Series

This was hard for me to decide on just one character, as a LOT of YA ladies have quite the ego. But eventually, I had to settle on Deuce. She has grown up in a culture where being a Hunter is the epitome of success. When she becomes a Hunter,  her potential is fully realized. But her glory doesn’t last long when she is cast out. Deuce is constantly battling the fact, especially in Outpost, that she may not be the best. She always thinks she must be the one to go first, be the hero, save the fallen. And while she is pretty amazing, her pride gets in the way of seeing reality sometimes.

Saving Grace: Alright, Deuce IS a badass. She is an incredible fighter and her bravery is astounding. And for the most part, Deuce tries to use these skills to help people and not to hurt.

greed

Celeana – Throne of Glass

One of my favorite YA characters out there, Celeana could easily be slotted as pride, greed, envy or wrath. But greed seems to fit her well, especially after reading the novellas that go along with this series. Celeana is constantly bribed and showered with gifts. She aches for more clothes, more books, more more more all the time.  She revels in the fact that she lives in a castle and has everything at her disposal.

Saving Grace: Celeana was willing to give it all up for love. She would have thrown it all away to move with Sam. And giving up everything for love is always a saving grace.

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