The Iron King

The Iron King (Iron Fey, #1)The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Somewhere between 2 and 3 stars.
It took me forever to get into this book. I started it months ago, put it aside, picked it up again, put it aside again, all the while reading raving reviews about how much people loved it and how great the whole saga was... To be honest that was the main reason I kept on stubbornly picking it up. I couldn't fathom what was so special about it.
Two days ago, for a lack of something "easy" to read, I picked it up again and this time I finished it. It's pretty good, even though I am still not crazy about it. Certainly the action and the plot, which are a bit slow at the beginning, pick up nicely in the second half of the book and it becomes pretty adventurous.
The descriptions are pretty visual, scenes came alive before my eyes and I am sure it would make a nice movie. In fact, I had a couple of disturbing deja-vu which catapulted me straight back to 1986 and to the movie Labyrinth, the one with David Bowie. The scene with the pack rats? Totally the same - not counting the obvious parallel of the kidnapping of the little brother.
I don't particularly care for Meghan but I like the two male characters, Ash and Puck, even though, once again, I am getting a bit weary of the love triangle and of the star-crossed lovers. The romance between Meghan and Ash was a bit... how to say, not well developed I think. It kind of happened all of a sudden, without much growth of feeling from the characters.
Thumbs up for the "steampunkish" element though, I really liked it.
I think I am going to read the other two published installments, it should get interesting from here and I am expecting some character development, especially Meghan's, hoping she'll get more likable and complex.

View all my reviews

Switched (Trylle Trilogy #1)

Switched (Trylle Trilogy, #1)Switched by Amanda Hocking
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, this was interesting.
I've read and heard some much about Amanda Hocking lately - even an article on a major Italian newspaper - that i finally decided to give it a try.
I'd like to start by saying that this is my second attempt at a self published author and the first one didn't go well. The other book I read was ALMOST HUMAN ~ The First Trilogy ~ 3-in-1 Edition and the main problem with it was the editing. The book was probably 150 pages longer than necessary and there was so much internal monologue of the characters that i skipped and skipped and skipped.

With Switched the fundamental problem is basically the same: editing. This book is better than the one i mentioned above but it still needs a professional hand working through it. It certainly does not need to be cut. On the contrary. It jumped from action to action to action without much character reflection at all. Wendy goes from finding Finn creepy to falling in love with him without maturing the feeling inside her at all. BAM! I've fallen for him.
The dialogue is horrific at times, there are long parts where the characters are just bickering and repeating things over and over.

The second part of the book was definitely better than the first. The writing flowed better, even the dialogue got better and I almost never "furrowed my brow" like the characters so many times did. I was kind of shocked at the end when the escape scene is described in, like, 20 lines. It felt like Hocking was tired of writing or had finished her word count for the day and decided to cut it short.

Plotwise once again i can't really say this book was anything new or original. I appreciated the Troll theme - that is new - but the rest is pretty much standard in YA lit now. Finn, especially, reminded me of a mix of Patch from Hush, Hush (the stalking) and Sonny from Wondrous Strange.
Wendy I didn't like AT ALL. What a pain in the ass she is. She kind of sounds like a badass at the beginning and then she turns in this whiny, please Finn save me thing. Tove and Rhys I liked, especially Tove, an interesting character with a lot of potential. Matt is a totally underdeveloped character and i'm guessing we'll see more of him in the next installment.

All in all, I can say this book was OK. Considering it is self published it is even good. But I also think that Hocking needs to mature as a writer, get published and acquire some new ideas. I will be looking for her work in a few years time.

View all my reviews

This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress #5)

This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress, #5)This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Saved by the bell. Or rather, saved by the ending.
To say that I wasn't exactly thrilled with how this book was turning out is an understatement. I thought it was flat up until 50 pages from the end when, thankfully, the action picked up and I actually liked what happened.
WHERE IS BONES IN THIS BOOK? This is probably the main reason why i am disappointed. In this installment he is completely secondary, just the shoulder where whiny Cat cries on. Mh... I loved his snark and his quick answers but we see really few of those here.
Unfortunately this makes the book less than memorable and i am starting to think this series needs closure if Frost cannot come up with new interesting ideas or a way to make Cat and Bones's relationship interesting again because he whole story is getting a bit old.
Didn't I read somewhere that there are going to be 7 books altogether in this series? I'd hate to see my favorite characters ever in PR go downhill out of boredom..
I think my feelings are the same after i read Dead in the Family and those of you who also read it, know what i mean.

View all my reviews

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1)

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been undecided between 4 or 5 stars for the past 15 minutes because this is really an excellent book.

I think for this book i need to categorize my thoughs a bit and start with the things i liked:
- the originality of the plot - finally, finally something new. This is a post apocalyptic dystopian novel but i really enjoyed lots of ideas that were original to me: the idea of Noise (also coming from animals), the idea of the colonization of a new planet (is this pre or post Avatar?)

- the language - the story is told in the first person, from Todd's POV, and i really liked the purposefully misspelled writing style and the conversational tone. It never once got too stream of consciousness, never got boring, never got twisted. Very effective in descriptions, vivid, accurate in conveying emotions and fast-pacedness of the plot.

- the characters - I have to say that the best character of the whole book is Manchee and i am not joking. The talking dog is just downright hilarious and is really the hero of the whole story. Todd is my second favorite and even though i was a bit annoyed at his blushing for certain situations with Viola (I mean, with all the violence and gore of this book, he blushes because she sees him in underwear? Pleeeease) i like him 'cause he's not your typical hero, most of the time he doesn't know what he's doing and he messes up a lot. All in all, characters well rounded, even Viola.

The only thing that probably didn't completely sit well with me and is probably the reason why i took away a star is that this book is just plain PAINFUL. Really, i have never in literature encountered two characters more unlucky than Todd and Viola. Anything that can go bad during the story actually happens. Aaron is like a zombie that pops up everywhere and so is Prentiss Jr. Maybe a bit TOO much. There is such a series of unfortunate events that really give the reader close to no hope (many a times i caught myself saying out loud: WHAT?! Not AGAIN?!) and make this book a bit too much on the desperate tone. I mean, you gotta give readers a spark of hope, right, otherwise we're just going to stab ourselves and be done with it, right?

Most definitely will read second installment.
Also i'd be a bit careful in categorizing this book as YA. Very gory and violent.

View all my reviews

White Cat (Curse Workers Series)

White Cat (Curse Workers, Book 1)White Cat by Holly Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. I am so impressed by this book. It is not what I expected. I haven't read the Spiderwick Chronicles but I have read Tithe, Valiant and Ironside and I enjoyed them. But not as much as this one. This is another of those rare books that stand out in the ocean of mediocrity that is YA urban fantasy right now.

First, the plot of this book is original. The story is set in a parallel universe just like ours but the world is populated by curse workers, that is people who can do magic through their touch. Cassel comes from a family of workers where he is the only one who doesn't have this ability. The plot is pretty complicated, it twists and turns and there are quite a few jaw droppers but i can tell you it's greatly developed, smooth and comes together nicely at the end.

Second, Holly Black can definitely write. She is not over descriptive, in fact we get acquainted with the world Cassel lives in by bits and pieces told through different strategies, one at a time,  but everything flows perfectly and at the end you don't have a doubt about what happened or why. Great dialogue, too. I just like her style I guess. She is very different from what is out there right now and that to me is a big, huge plus.

Third, characters. Black is not the kind of YA writers who give us brooding, romantic, hunky protagonists who fall in love with the pretty heroine and then live happily together after. Or maybe at the end she does but there's always a bitter ingredient added to the story. Her characters act real and are not perfect at all. They're even mean at times. Cassel is one of these. He's not the good guy but he's not the bad guy either, he just tries to survive whatever happens to him and make the most out of what he's given.

Red Glove is coming out soon and i am certainly going to read it even though there is really no cliffhanger at the end. Or maybe there is. But it could also finish there. Can't decide. Well, just read it.

View all my reviews

Across the Universe

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)Across the Universe by Beth Revis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is an interesting mix of a lot of genres: science-fiction, dystopian and also a detective story, so to speak.
I really liked it. The concept is original - at least to me - and even though it belongs to YA lit, it's pretty disturbing at times.

The story is told in alternating points of view. We have Amy, a girl from Earth who signed up to be cryogenically frozen to be sent, together with her parents, on a ship called Godspeed, supposed to travel for 300 years to another planer to colonize it. On the other side we have Elder, a boy born on the ship who is supposed to be the next leader of the people populating the ship. Amy gets mysteriously unfrozen before time and finds herself in a weird society of descendants of people from Earth where someone is killing the "frozen" people.

The plot is pretty fascinating. Aside from the fact that i like dystopian fiction, this book was cleverly developed. The situation of the ship and of its history is gradually revealed during the book, as do Amy's and Elder's personal histories as they get more and more disturbing with each page. I hadn't actually expected the dystopian element in this book, i knew it was sci-fi, that it had romance and some murders involved. But the society created aboard Godspeed resembles a bit the one of "The Giver" by Lois Lawry but even more claustrophobically so, because there is actually nowhere to go. In fact, that was probably the most disturbing part of the book. The thought of these people being born on the ship and destined to die there without ever setting foot anywhere was pretty appalling to me.

The reason why it didn't get 5 stars is because i found pretty irritating the lack of information about what was going on on Earth at the time when the ship was launched. What were the reasons for the building? Who built it? What were the criteria for people to go? Was it an international joint venture or only American? What was happening on Earth at the time?
I am hoping that more will be revealed in the next installment. Because there is a next installment and i am super curious to see where it's going to head, considering the fact that they're so far away from landing and they can't go back. What is the possible conclusion of such a story?

View all my reviews

Afterlife (Evernight Series)

Afterlife (Evernight, #4)Afterlife by Claudia Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So this is the end of the Evernight series. Satisfying, this is my main thought at the moment.
This is a series that never made crave for the next book to come out a soon as possible, it never kept me up at night glancing at the clock and swearing for how late it was, unable to put the book down, but I liked it well enough and now that it has come to the end I'm not crying, i'm ready to let go of the characters but still satisfied.
The story is pretty well developed, structured to keep the reader interested at all times. The writing is good, smooth and unpretentious.
As for the plot, I obviously thought there would be a happy ending but I couldn't guess HOW till the very end of the book. I have to say that Gray stretches the credibility of the plot within the realm of fantasy pretty far, meaning that most characters get their cakes and eat it too Lucas gets to die, become a vampire, keeps his girlfriend as a ghost and then, since he's meditating suicide because he hates it as a vampire, by some miracle, he resurrects from death... ehm, okcoming out with jaw droppers that are barely believable and that you had no hint of whatsoever along the whole story, but ok, this is fantasy so i will accept it. The ending left me a bit, dunno, indifferent, not really warm and fuzzy as i would have expected. It is a bit bittersweet because even though we know that all's well we also know that it can't last forever. It is a HAPPILY AFTER rather than an HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
But we do know that there is a spin off series that Gray is concocting for us so that leaves a bit of hope for good things to come. After all, we have to know what happens with Balthazar and his sudden interest in the stables (really, that made me laugh pretty hard, Ms. Gray) and I think that not everything is resolved with our dear villain Charity. Balthazar is probably the real hero in the whole series, and I am kind of distressed that Bianca didn't see that actually he was the one worth pining for - but Lucas and Bianca are so Bella and Edward in this case that you just have to let them be.
I think i will check out the new book when it comes out 'cause Gray up to now has been consistent with her writing and has never let me down.

View all my reviews

Darkest Mercy

Darkest Mercy (Wicked Lovely, #5)Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I've delayed my review of Darkest Mercy for two days because I'm not sure what I want to write.
First, that i am disappointed -this is, by far, the worst in the Wicked Lovely series. And it is really a pity because, being the final installment, it kind of spoils my general impression on the series. I loved Wicked Lovely and even Ink Exchange, which was my least favorite, is better than this.
The plot is confusing to put it mildly, and there is really no action throughout all the book, save for the epic X-Men-like battle at the end.
Characters I loved, Ash, Keenan, Donia, Seth, Niall, in this book are just going around Huntsdale visiting each other and having pointless conversations, so much so that at times I couldn't even understand the reason in the economy of the plot of said conversations.

Keenan and Donia - I wanted to strangle them both. Their continuous indecisiveness got on my nerves - i could understand the problems behind their being together but their constant changes of mind were really too much, especially from Keenan. I could not feel his torment for not being able to be with Donia and it seemed to me that, if Ash had let him in her bed, he would have been more than happy about it. BUT she refuses him and, after 4 books, he finally decides he needs to be with the one he really loves and dumps Ash and the Summer Court. And Donia? Who loved him for ages, got cheated, deceived, exploited, what does she do when he goes begging to her, the dog? FORGIVES HIM! No questions asked. Not even one doubt. This is SO not how a woman should be treated or how she should react in such a situation. Bad, bad example.
Ash and Seth have somehow slightly better roles but again, Seth, big disappointment. At the end, when there is finally some action, he sits out. Like really, he is sitting in a cage reading his newspaper and smoking a ciggie. The balance to Darkness, my ass.
The only character i did probably like in this book is Far Dorcha, the Death-fey, even though i was laughing when I pictured ethereal sister Ankou hauling corpses on a van, going about the battlefield, whistling to herself.

So, Marr gave us a - rather bloody - happy ending for everybody - except poor Gabriel who went into a pointless battle, got killed and forgotten in 10 pages. Reading this book gave me closure, of which I am happy but I am VERY disappointed by the execution and the plot. I'd never have thought I'd be tempted ti skip pages on a Melissa Marr's book.

View all my reviews

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

North America, late 20th century. What were once known as the United States of America have been taken over by a religion-based totalitarian regime, easily reminiscent of Iran, where the status of women has been reduced to that of cattle, whose property, rights, education, identity have been negated.

Offred is a handmaid, a woman whose sole purpose in life is that of producing an ever increasing luxury among the population: children.

Considering that this book was published in 1985, before many of the things it describes actually happened-and happen they did, think about the ever increasing use of digital money, for example — it is eerily prophetic and unsettling. And amazing. Brutal, compelling, thought-provoking, horrific, creepy and totally credible even. I don't have enough adjectives to describe it. Truth be told, it is more actual now than ever, with the recent catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan days away and the whole of the Islamic world in turmoil.

Atwood's writing style is also unsettling, it goes with the book. Monotone, as Offred's life is, it is also beautifully evocative, brutal, perfectly conveys the hopelessness of this woman and her situation. We are mercifully left with hope at the end, as there should be, because things CAN change.

The only doubt I have, the only question I would ask the author is: in an increasingly globalized world, why is there no international community reaction to the regime? Why is the population so passive, is there no resistance?

A must-read, preferably not as a summer read.

View all my reviews

Garden Spells

Garden SpellsGarden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a delightful book.
This is a book about family, about magic, about women and love. It is also a book about an apple tree who throws its fruits just to be spiteful.
I didn't really know what to expect from Sarah Addison Allen when I ordered this book but I have to say I love Garden Spells.  Her writing style is fresh, her way of telling about relationships, love and family with a touch of magic kept me turning page after page just to be in company of this book, if you get what I mean. I think her books evoke sounds, scents of freshly baked cakes, grass and flowers.
Certainly a light read, this book will take you away from your daily routine, transport you to North Carolina and laugh and cry with Sidney and Claire for a few hours. I will be looking for more of this author's books, i like the feelings i am left with after i finish the last page.

View all my reviews

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am quite unsure between 2 or 3 stars so i'll settle for something in between.

I had several problems with this book.
First of all, and it has been mentioned endlessly by most people who reviewed this book before me, the writing style. Not only the epistolary form doesn't work very well in this instance - it does feel forced and tiresome at times, just by keeping track of who's writing what to whom - but the same letters, by so many different characters, are too similar in style to one another too be believable. There is a certain effort - a few grammatical mistakes, slight differences in style - to differentiate, but these differences are not nearly enough to justify letters which are supposed to be written by people coming from such different strata of society and with such different education - or complete lack thereof.

Second, the plot is a bit stretched. The main idea was good - i enjoyed reading about the Occupation, it is a period in history i don't know very well and certainly not from a British point of view - but there were many things so unlikely to happen in real life that it spoiled the good idea. I am not talking about Elizabeth McKenna, whose story is the fulcrum around which all the other character's stories gravitate and is the teary element of the situation - but i am talking about the unlikely relationship between Juliet and Dawsey, one a writer, the other a carpenter(?), who practically never talked to one another and all of sudden decide they are madly in love and get married about the even more so unlikely relationship between Juliet and Kit who is an abnormally wise little kid and who suddenly decides she loves Juliet better than all other guardians she has had up to then, up to the point that Juliet decides to adopt her and live happily ever after in Guernsey married to her dear Dawsey . These are two of the subplots that felt a little forced to me, especially the former, who developed and came to a conclusion in the space of the last 4 pages of the book, through a retelling of Isola.

So all in all, I thought the book was ok but I cannot share the raving reviews it got and i think it could have been planned and executed definitely better.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...