Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha
Volume: 1
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Dystopia

Why I Read It: Somebody blogged about it a while ago, and I had seen it at the library before, so I figured I would give it a go.

A Quick Intro: Alina lives in a country that has been torn in two by the the Shadow Fold, which is full of flesh-eating monsters. In crossing the Fold, the ship she and the rest of her regiment are travelling on are attacked, and suddenly a power flairs out of her that she never realized she had before. She is then whisked away from the life she knows and her only friend, into a world of glamour, magic and intrigue. She struggles to come to grips with her new power, and the role she might play in saving or dooming the country.

What I Thought: It was in engaging read. It seemed very Russian style, similar to back when the tsar ruled, except with magic, and it was a fictional location. Alina was a heroine that was a part of the story, but who I didn't really connect with... She had a really hard life, so naturally she clung onto the only thing that was good in her world. For the first time, she feels needed, and wanted, its an enormous change. She's both strong and weak in a lot of ways, and, while I may not have approved of a lot of her decisions, I could see why she made most of them, and, though she was not my favourite character ever, I didn't dislike her.

Fun Fact: It's one about Russia. And tsars. They believe that they have found the last of the Romonov (Anastatia's) family's remains. For a long time it was debate, but they're pretty sure that all of the remains are present and accounted for now.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: Through the Ever Night

Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky, #2)Title: Through the Ever Night
Author: Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky
Volume: 2
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance, Fantasy

Why I Read It: It's the sequel to Under the Never Sky.

A Quick Intro: Aria is back on the Outside. Since she last saw Perry, he's begun to settle into the role of Blood Lord of the Tides, but her presence may unsettle that- she's pretty much shunned by the entire Tides, and leaving again might be the only way to help. And they aren't the only ones in trouble- the Aether storms are getting worse, threatening the existence of Outsiders and Dwellers alike.

What I Thought: I don't like the cover. Sorry, I know a lot of people love it, but I'm not fond of it- it isn't how I picture Peregrine, I guess. And I don't like the blurb.
It took me a while to get into this one. I didn't love the first one as much as other people did to begin with- I'm not much of a romance reader, as mentioned before. This one didn't pull me in for most of the book, and then rushed through the last part of the book to the end. Overall it wasn't really to my taste. I didn't much care for the desperate romance, and I didn't enjoy the characters very much. Somewhere along the line, I found I didn't care very much what happened to the characters.

Fun Fact: Degenerative Lobe Syndrome (what some of the Pod dwellers suffer from) is not completely unrealistic. The brain is constantly changing, evolving and trimming off parts that aren't used- all brain function requires energy, so the loss of unnecessary brain function would, in the short term, have benefits. However, if the parts of the brain linked to survival instinct are trimmed due to lack of necessity, and then are needed again, it would be much more difficult for a person without those instincts would be at a disadvantage. (Can you tell that I'm crazy about this stuff? I am. It was probably my favourite part of the story.)

If You Then You 3: Vessel

If you liked...
VesselVessel by Sarah Beth Durst

Then you might like...
Dragonfly by Julia Golding

This one has a similar travelling adventure. It has a wonderfully fairy-tale like quality, and is such an adventure story. Through both of the stories, the characters grow.

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

This is another journey... and along with the rest of the Books of Bayern also has very subtle magic to it. I read this one a while ago and remember enjoying it a lot. It is based loosely around a lesser known fable.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: Cinder

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Volume: 1
Genre: Science Fiction, Cyberpunk, Fairy Tale Re-telling, Fantasy

Why I Read It: The premise is very interesting and the cover is wonderful. I tried reading it earlier, but somehow got distracted by something shiny and didn't finish before it was due back to the library.

A Quick Intro: Cinder is a cyborg mechanic. In a society where cyborgs are considered second class citizens, she lives with her "stepmother" who is actually the wife of the man who adopted her- she doesn't know where she came from, before he found her, her memory is basically blank. She is a gifted mechanic, and the sole breadwinner of the family, who, with exception to her stepsister Peony and the house-droid Iko, never allow her to forget that 34% of her is not human. When Peony falls ill with a plague that cannot be cured, Cinder is blamed for causing it and her stepmother volunteers her as a test subject for possible cures. At the palace, where testing takes place, the King is dying of the same plague, and Prince Kai is in line to succeed him, in spite of being only Cinder's age.
While the world fights what seems to be a losing battle against the disease, the entire planet faces another threat. The powerful, inhuman Lunar people, descendants of lunar settlers, have set their sites on Earth. And Earth might not be able to fight.

What I Thought: This is the first Cinderella for whom I have really felt a much liking or sympathy for. (Unless you count Poppy from Princess of Glass, and she isn't really the Cinderella of that story- she just wears the slippers once- and she definitely doesn't want your sympathy). Cinder has no reason to expect kindness from anyone in the world, is basically bound, legally and financially to her stepmother, and in the story she does start attempting to get free. This is one of those books that it is difficult to say too much for fear of spoiling. The Lunar court a ruthless, and the Lunar are an interesting concept, though they seem to almost bridge into fantasy. And, again I fail to mention romance... I'm terrible at mentioning that sort of thing. It was there, in a subtle way- Cinder has a lot of mental blocks in that respect, since she basically considers herself to be unlovable because she is a cyborg. It wasn't, to me, the part that really held my attention. There is a lot to this book, and I really enjoyed reading the twist on Cinderella.

Fun Fact: Cinderella was actually an originally a Chinese story- the slippers weren't originally glass, that took a couple language barriers (Chinese to French to English via multiple retellings, I do believe). What is interesting with Cinder is it takes place in a futuristic China, so it's almost going back to it's roots.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: The Seven Realms Quartet

Quartet: The Seven Realms
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Genre: High/Epic Fantasy

Why I Read It: I was in need of a fantasy story, preferably a long one, so this fit the bill quite well.

A Quick Intro: The Fells have been ruled by the Grey Wolf queens since wizard magic almost destroyed the world. Raisa ana' Marianna is next in line for the throne and she's becoming more and more certain that she inheriting a kingdom which is falling apart. Han Alister is on the outside, living in the world Raisa is worried about. Though they haven't met yet, they both have a part to play in the events that are to unfold.

What I Thought: I am really bad at summaries. I'm really into fantasy this year. I read this four slightly frantic days (well, everything except the first hundred pages of the first book). I like to do that to myself sometimes. I enjoyed this quartet.The world is well formed, as are the characters that live in it. There's action, some romance, and, especially later, political turmoil (I may be the only person who enjoyed the last one, though). While sometimes the characters were frustrating, their flaws made them more human in a way that didn't seem forced. It was a long read, and sometimes I found my focus straying, but all things considered it wasn't all that often. And there were quests, which as I've mentioned, I adore.

Fun Fact: Without spoiling... hmm... in spite of her view that she will not be able to marry for love, Raisa actually is given a lot of choice in the matter. Historically, women were often married to form political alliances, without ever being asked to meet the person, let alone giving their consent. Though, in Raisa's case, her parents might be concerned that she will flee into the mountains and never be heard from again (rightly so, actually... see end of book 1). I'll try to come up with a better fun fact, but this will have to do for now.

If You Then You 2: Struck

Which I didn't actually... but if you did.

If you liked...
Struck (Struck, #1)Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Then you might like...
Witch and Wizard "Book One" - Free PreviewWitch and Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
I actually mentioned this in my review of Struck, but the story telling and plot style remind me very much of James Patterson's writing. Witch and Wizard is geared toward a similar concept- a sort of dystopic crossed with fantasy.

Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1) Poison Princess by Kresley Cole
If you liked the tarot card part of Struck, tarots also play a big role in Poison Princess. This is also set after an apocalyptic event, though this one is more magical in origin. This one actually hit my DNF pile.

Wow this has been a strange one. I've posted books that I actually didn't enjoy reading. It's also been enlightening for me as to what types of books I don't really favour.

Friday, February 8, 2013

If You Then You 1: Leviathan

I'm going to try to do this every Friday, more to organise my own thoughts than anything else. I'll pretty much connect what I've read with other books. So I'm going to give this a try.
If you liked...

Scott Westerfield's Leviathan Trilogy

Then you might also like...
Kenneth Oppel's Matt Cruse Trilogy