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Posts Tagged ‘book review’

  1. Crown of Embers is a Worthy Sequel

    February 13, 2013 by Kiersi

    The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson

    The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson

    This series gets: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson – I need to just get something off my chest before we start this review: Rae Carson knows how to write. When she sits down at her keyboard, do birds start singing? Do little deer come out of the woods and press their shiny black noses to her window? Do squirrels knit her a new dress every morning out of moss and bramble?

    Anyway, my point is that The Crown of Embers is a very worthy follow-up to Girl of Fire and Thorns (I am shocked and a little horrified to not have reviewed it, but if you have not read it, simply be content to know it is amazing and that you should definitely read it). Elisa, our overweight princess from the previous novel, has trimmed down some through her adventures across the desert and, due to circumstances, is now queen of the realm. Not only that, but she’s developing some… feelings, for a particular captain of the guard. (more…)

  2. The Curse Workers Trilogy, by Holly Black

    January 24, 2013 by Kiersi

    Curse Workers (White Cat, Red Glove, Black Heart) by Holly Black

    This series gets: ♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    The Curse Workers, a trilogy by Holly Black – A preface note: I listened to all of these on audiobook, so any name misspellings are purely Holly’s fault for giving all of her characters homonyms for names (Cassel = Castle, Barron = Baron). For the longest time I was actually spelling “Cassel” as “Castle” in my head, and let me tell you, that is way more awesome.

    Anyhow, I loved Curse Workers. The idea is brilliant. Cassel Sharpe lives in an alternate Earth, where one in every one thousand people has a special ability–these “workers,” as they’re called, can place a curse with no more than the touch of a bare hand. Workers come in all kinds, from small-time luck workers (good or bad luck), to emotion or memory workers, to death workers who can kill just by removing a glove. (Like magic in most books, there are repercussions to “working,” called “blowback,” which is always related in some way to the type of curse-working. Oh, yeah. This is definitely my favorite alternate universe ever.)  (more…)

  3. What Happens Next Stirs Things Up

    January 14, 2013 by Kiersi

    Cover of What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

    What Happens Next, by Colleen Clayton

    This book gets: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton – It’s really hard to write good contemporary YA–and it’s even harder for me to like it. I mean this in the kindest possible way. Especially when addressing the big issues like rape and eating disorders, it’s easy for authors to preach. It’s easy for their characters, as a result, to sound flat or forced; but Clayton effortlessly dodges the trap.

    Cassidy “Sid” Murphy is a straight-A cheerleader–until she meets a handsome stranger on a school ski trip. That night, Dax Windsor invites her inside, and afterwards, she can remember nothing; but she knows Dax has taken something from her. Something she can never get back. (more…)

  4. Days of Blood & Starlight is just a “middle”

    December 24, 2012 by Kiersi

    Days of Blood & Starlight, by Laini Taylor

    This book gets: ♥♥♥ out of 5

    Days of Blood & Starlight, by Laini Taylor – I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like it so, so much–mostly due to the love affair I had with its precursor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone (tapped by Universal Studios for a motion picture). And that is, perhaps, part of my problem with it. High expectations. Unrealistically high expectations.

    In a lot of ways, I did like Days of Blood & Starlight. As ever, Taylor’s writing is (at least in prose) totally flawless–gorgeous, in fact. Unfortunately, this book suffered from, well… middleness. The whole novel feels like the soggy middle section of a much larger book. It reminds me of The Two Towers in Lord of the Rings, doing a lot of the necessary world-building, lore-weaving, or whatever that is, at the expense of plot and character.

    The story follows many different story strands that, for the first half of the book, only run parallel to each other and rarely cross. Karou spends a lot of time locked in a room, building bodies for Thiago, and surmising and ruminating and generally mulling over her dreary situation. It makes you long for the ray of sunshine timelines–cough, Zuzana, cough–and even for the snippets of war and bloodshed that sneak in.


  5. The Prescribed Burn: On Growing Up Girl

    October 17, 2012 by Kiersi

    The Prescribed Burn - book cover

    The Prescribed Burn, by Laryssa Wirstiuk

    This book gets: ♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    The Prescribed Burn, by Laryssa Wirstiuk – This collection of short stories revolves around the life of Veda, a second-generation Ukrainian girl growing up in Jersey, learning why girls diet, why boys are irresistible, and how art ties it all together.

    I believe there is a particular kind of reader for every particular kind of book. The Prescribed Burn is a book about growing up–for grown-ups. It’s about realizing your friends are shaving their legs and no longer eating Pringles, and how that realization, at one point, changed your life. The storytelling style is thoughtful and long-winded, which really works for the type of collection this is. It’s a meditation on coming of age as a girl and coming to terms with your shortcomings. (more…)

  6. Shadow and Bone: A Complex Fairytale

    September 28, 2012 by Kiersi

    Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

    Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo

    This book gets: ♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo – Ravka is a country split in half by a dark slash called the Shadow Fold, where trespassers face total darkness and terrible, dangerous creatures. Alina Starkov is an orphan; after failing to display any mastery of magic during her Grisha exam, she is sent to serve in the Second Army and cross the Fold with her fellow orphan and best friend Mal. But when Alina displays an unusual power in the heat of the moment, the Darkling, the head of an order of magicians called Grisha, determines she is the fated Sun Summoner and whisks her away to Grisha headquarters to be trained (and pampered). The Sun Summoner is the only Grisha who can shed light on the Fold and save Ravka–but Alina cannot call upon or control her power. Without Mal, she feels alone and powerless, especially in the face of her growing attraction to the mysterious Darkling.

    There are so many things to like about Bardugo’s debut fantasy offering: the dark backdrop of the Shadow Fold, the strangely imperfect landscape, the Russian-themed people and place names (I have a super soft spot for fantasy books with unified linguistic conventions)–there’s so much depth to the world of Shadow and Bone that I wanted to slip into it like a second skin and live there for a while. (more…)

  7. “Robopocalypse” Is A Novelty Novel

    September 3, 2012 by Kiersi

    Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson

    This book gets: ♥♥♥ out of 5

    Before I get into this I want to explain my rating system. Five is perfect; exceptional. Four is good, recommendable. Three is mediocre (which has, strangely, developed a negative connotation, when it actually means “middle of the road” in terms of quality). Two is severely flawed, but I finished it. I only give ones to books that I either didn’t finish or wanted to stop reading before finishing but had some compelling reason not to toss in the towel.

    The thing that really frustrated me about Robopocalypse was that it started with the ending. I knew right from the beginning how this whole robot war was going to go down. It’s got this too-clever-for-its-own-good storytelling plot device, where the near-total destruction of humanity at the hands of an escaped AI is retold by the de facto soldier who helped defeat him. So, essentially, it’s a meta-meta-novel, adding to the Cloverfield premise that our soldier-narrator, Cormac Wallace, is recording a black box of historical data about the war left behind by the defeated AI. (more…)

  8. Just ignore the title. And cover art.

    June 20, 2012 by Kiersi

    BODACIOUS, by Sharon Ervin

    This book gets: ♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    As a rule, I’m normally not into romance novels. They’re shallow and formulaic. However, I discovered the (unfortunately titled) BODACIOUS through a fellow reviewer on Amazon, and the reviews were so good, I decided to drop the $3.99 and read it. Though this blog focuses on YA, I’ve decided to post my review of BODACIOUS and (hopefully) give this indie writer some traffic–it’s so rare to find a gem like this buried in the pile of self-published slush, I wanted to pass it on.

    Sara Loomis is kidnapped by hillbillies during a botched gas station robbery. When the matriarch of the inbred family finds out what they’ve done, she commands that Sara be “taken care of.” But stuttering Cappy can’t bring himself to do the deed, so he leaves Sara at the mercy of “Bo,” a mute, grizzled mountain man living in a one-room cabin on the fringes of society. Though Bo refuses to return Sara to civilization, he shelters, clothes, and feeds her–all without ever uttering a word. What follows is an expedition of discovery, of shedding old notions and prejudices, and finding something you never knew was lost. (more…)

  9. Human Sister: A Philosophical Masterpiece

    June 14, 2012 by Kiersi

    "Human Sister" cover art

    Human Sister by Jim Bainbridge

    This book gets: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    Human Sister, by Jim Bainbridge – I received an anonymous email a month back suggesting I pick up Jim Bainbridge’s Human Sister. Maybe it was providence, because I was just chewing on the idea that sci-fi could be the next big wave in young adult literature, and my mind was open and waiting for a book like this to come along.

    Let me just put it this way: Human Sister is challenging. It is challenging in its ideas, in its themes, and in its style. The payoff, however, is huge, and makes Bainbridge’s long discussions of neuroscience and warfare and ethics worthwhile. (more…)

  10. Insurgent is a Sequel Steeped in Blood

    May 19, 2012 by Kiersi

    "Insurgent" by Veronica Roth

    Insurgent by Veronica Roth

    This book gets: ♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    Insurgent, by Veronica Roth – The latest installment in Roth’s wildly popular Divergent series lives up to its “sequel” title with vigor: it starts exactly where Divergent left off, with the faction of Erudite having effectively declared war, and only a few of the Dauntless to stand in their way.

    But Jeanine’s attack on the Dauntless compound may have more levels of complexity than either Tris or Tobias ever expected. The faction leaders of Abnegation and Amity are hiding important information, and Tris’s pursuit of the truth may cost her everything.

    Insurgent is a tale of details and mysteries, and unfolds more like an adult action-thriller than a dystopian YA. It treads steadily in the footsteps of Catching Fire and Mockingjay (the second and third books in the Hunger Games trilogy), where a sharp-minded teenage girl puts together the pieces of the puzzle long before any of the adults get around to it, and as a result, she subverts them at every turn. (more…)