Showing posts with label Fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fantasy. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

YA Wednesday - Princess of Thorns


Princess of ThornsPrincess of Thorns

By; Stacey Jay
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
With the kindom at the mercy of soul-stealing ogres, the next generation of Sleeping Beauty  is in for a fight that no amount of fairy blessings could prepare them for. 

Given fairy blessings from her mother, Princess Aurora has been given the tools needed to end the reign of her evil step mother. Given superior fighting abilities, mercy and bravery Ror has everything necessary. But all magic comes with a price and Ror was also cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as her brother, she goes out to save the kingdom, in the process finding the cursed Prince Niklaas who joins her in her quest to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago. 

My Thoughts:
Well, this was a sequel that I had never thought about. This takes what happens after "Happily Ever After" to a whole new meaning.  It also shows how not all blessings are blessings and even things which seem like curses can be to our benefit.

Princess Ror is impetuous, cunning and loyal to a fault. She loves her brother and would do anything to save him from the ogres who hold him captive. This requires raising an army, staging a revolt and killing the ogre queen all before the end of summer. She is a princess who sometimes is impossible to like. She pushes away others ideas, can't seem to see any other path than what is before her and will stop at nothing to achieve her goals.

In short she is a teenager -  a very driven teenager, I'll give you that but a teenager none the less. She knows what is best even if it hurts pretty much everyone around her in the process. And with this hubris, she is going to need her growing up moment and that is a painful, but almost beautiful thing to watch.

I love fairy-tales, always have, and I found this blend of a young woman who seemed to come out of Divergent''s 'dauntless' group an interesting fit. She actually did remind me of Tris, in how Ror tried to push out every spark of mercy she could to achieve her ends. (That was why I really didn't like Divergent. I didn't feel like there was any redemption for Tris...) But it was Ror's ending which redeemed her and which made the book a great read.

I liked the weaving narrators - of seeing the ogre's thoughts and motivations. Of seeing the sudden realization of Ror when it all comes coming to pieces around her and her determination to build back up.

If you like fairy-tales and remakes, or strong female leads (WITHOUT LOVE TRIANGLES!!! YAY!!!) then give this a shot. You will enjoy it.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

YA Wednesday - Royal Airs


15808431Royal Airs

By: Sharon Shinn
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 stars

Summary:
Josetta is a princess of one of the Five Families. But she is far from the throne, so she is free to spend her days working in the poorest sections of the city. 

Rafe Adova, an outcast since he was born, lives the life of a career gambler in those slums. He has no ambition other than cheating at the card tables—until the night he decides to help a girl named Corene, who looks like she's stumbled into the wrong bar. She, too, is a princess—sister to Josetta, who finds her with Rafe. He fascinates her. 

Josetta has never encountered anyone like him—someone seemingly devoid of elemental blessings. He is drawn to her, though he thinks they are unlikely to ever meet again—but their connection grows strong when she nurses him back to health after he is assaulted by foreign mercenaries.

And when they learn the reason he's being hunted, they know that the truth about his history could endanger not only their love but also their very lives...

My Thoughts:
I love Shinn, she is one of my favorite authors, so when I saw the second book of a series that I absolutely love I was so happy! This world is one of the favorites that I have read. (see Troubled Waters the first in the series) Along with wonderful world building, there are great characters. Josetta is the kind of woman who I would want to go to lunch with, and to see a young woman just trying her best to make the world better was a breath of fresh air.

And Rafe is a great male lead. It is great to see how the two of them help each other in thier whole comming-of-age journey. Rafe is resourceful, honorable, intelligent, but oh so directionless. I feel very much the same right now (directionless...I'm not sure how I measure on all of the other traits) and to see him fighting to find his own way felt real.

One of my favorite lines was about - when seeing something good and normal come into Josetta's life - her body guard tells her "You have led such an extraordinary life until now, it is nice to see something ordinary happening to you." The idea that love and family are the ordinary things in our lives was so sweet. 


The whole story was well woven, well written and I read it in one night. I can't wait for the next in the series to come out and I hope that she continues through all of the elements of her world.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

YA Wednesday - The Girl in the Steel Corset


The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)The Girl in the Steel Corset

By: Kady Cross
Genre: Steampunk, YA
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary:
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one... except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch...

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on even if it seems no one believes her.

My Thoughts:
This book, has a great story, a fun plot, characters who I adore - it's steampunk, which is my favorite thing ever right now, but it did not in anyway live up to the standards set by Gail Carriger (and one more). The writing, or better said editing, didn't help the story reach it's full potential. I loved Finley, and how different sci-fi stories such as Jekyll and Hyde, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Frankenstein were all woven into the narrative. I am not a love triangle fan, but this one was ok, I am excited to see how Finley will resolve this in the future. 

My main problems are best summarized in how when asking for forgiveness a character just looks and says "We good?" WHAT? This isn't taking place in downtown LA or in modern society for that matter. If you are trying to convince me that this is in London, stop with the slang and let the characters speak how they are supposed to. It irked me to no end to see this pop up through out the novel. Also if I figure things out about 250 pages before the characters it's a problem. 

It had potential to be amazingly wonderful, but because of poor editing it fell flat. Though, I will be reading the sequel because I love the characters that much

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

YA Wednesday - A Matter of Magic


A Matter of Magic (Mairelon, #1-2)A Matter of Magic

By: Patricia C. Wrede

Genre: Historical Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
When a stranger offers her a small fortune to break into a traveling magician’s wagon, Kim doesn’t hesitate. Having grown up a waif in the dirty streets of London, Kim isn’t above a bit of breaking-and-entering. A hard life and lean times have schooled her in one lesson: steal from them before they steal from you. But when the magician catches her in the act, Kim thinks she’s done for. Until he suggests she become his apprentice; then the real trouble begins.

Kim soon finds herself entangled with murderers, thieves, and cloak-and-dagger politics, all while trying to learn how to become both a proper lady and a magician in her own right.

My Thoughts:
Everyone has probably figured out by now that I have a thing for magical novels...they are kinda sorta basically my favorite - if they are well put together and these ones are.

First off, this is two books published together - kind of like my one of my favorite fantasy novels Crown Duel and it was great to not have to wait to read the next one but just follow the story. I loved the characters - Kim had everything I loved in a heroine - mainly she was her own character, romance really wasn't something on her agenda and she was sharp as a knife. I was kind of reminded of the book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for a slightly younger audience. And Mairelon - the magician who finds Kim - is wonderfully exasperating and needing to go off on adventures. He doesn't care about what society thinks and I loved seeing his reactions to all of the chaos which surrounded him. 

I finished the book last night - having stayed up far later than I intended - and was left wanting to search for the next installment of the series...sadly I don't know if there is one, though goodness knows it would be a marvelous thing. If you want Regency England with Magic, this is the perfect book for you. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fantasy Friday - Stolen Songbird


Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)Stolen Songbird

By: Danielle L. Jensen

Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars 

Summary:
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

My Thoughts
I needed a full 24 hours after reading this book before I could pick up another one. I needed a cathartic relief because I was enthralled by Trollus and wanted to be there. I wanted to live in this world, I wanted this to happen to me. And when I think about it all I want to do is to read it all over again. It is a mix between two of my favorite fantasy novels Crown Duel and The Hollow Kingdom (review to come shortly) and I loved every moment of it. I can say that it is perhaps the best modern fantasy that I have yet read. Jensen's world building was wonderfully done and she did it all without getting bogged down into the details as she introduced us into this new world. I could gush for a really long time...

I love Cecile. She is smart, strong and a wonderful heroine. She can be funny, and while thrown into a world roiling with dangerous politics she can hold her own. And Tristan...I love him. I just want them to communicate more. But, well communication is everyone's problem and it furthered the plot well. I loved the other Troll characters - the twins Vincent and Victoria and Merc, the first troll you meat. I love their distinct and fully formed personalities. I love the politics and the secrets and the schemings. 

Even the villains are well thought out nd developed so that they have decent motivations and we as the readers can know them. One thing that I wish I could have seen more of was (Spoiler highlight to see) the use of the bonding magic. In the world when two trolls are bonded they can feel what the other is feeling, and so Cecile and Tristan can feel each others emotions - including things like pain and hunger - I just wish that she had used more of this wonderfully amazing idea. (Spoiler done)

The biggest drawback is that the next one doesn't come out until June 2nd...I will be counting the days.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

YA Wednesday - Troubled Waters

Troubled WatersTroubled Waters
By: Sharon Shinn
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king's fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river. 

It's there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood-and the secrets of the royal family-she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.


My thoughts:
I have read Shinn before (see this other review) and I love her. I love how she is able to build worlds that are believable and wonderful all because they have a hint of magic in them. In the books I have read her magic is more simple than what can be found in things like Harry Potter and other such fantastical things. Instead she deals in a quieter magic - though in this book it's a little louder than in her Safe-Keepers Series. 

I loved Zoe. She struck me as someone who was calm and for the most part in control of her emotions. She didn't sweat the small stuff and yet wasn't passive. She had say in how her story went and expressed it. I loved how she was a mix of the traits which Shinn had made up in this new world. As a coru she is calm like water but also has the spark of sweela which is that of fire. 

I also love that romance isn't what Shinn focuses on. Marriage isn't Zoe's goal, because frankly she is too busy doing other things to worry about that. One thing that I really did love about her is that she lost her temper occasionally. If she hadn't I don't think that I would have been able to like her at all.

I will admit I squealed a little bit while reading, and had those wonderful moments of revelations where I think I know how it's going to end and who the bad guy is and then it turns out to be someone totally different. I loved it. I will probably go out and buy it when I have money. (Or get it as a gift for my birthday or Christmas...hopefully)

If you love light fantasy this is the book (and quite possibly author) for you!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Fantasy Friday - Stardust

StardustStardust
by Neil Gaiman
Genre - Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria--even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie--where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.


My Thoughts:
This was a story which I read a long time after being introduced to the movie of the same title. I loved the movie and I love the British writing style so I was expecting this to be hit out of the park.


I wasn't disappointed.


There just seems to be a different writing style in Britain. It is filled with quips and quibbles and so many sarcastic remarks and wonderful one liners that I usually end up snickering throughout the entire novel. Now, since we have established that I am an Anglophile, let me tell you what I liked about the book in general.


I liked the ending in this book better. It differed drastically mainly because books don't have to have huge battle scenes in order to feel climatic. (That is as much of a spoiler as I will give you) I also liked the star so much (in both book and movie) here she was grumpy she was whiny and she was human. I liked how it this was a fairy tale only for adults. (And by the way, it IS for adults. Not for a younger audience unless you cut out about a page or so in the beginning.) 


This was great, a quick read to help me wind down during midterms. 


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

YA Wednesday - Amulet of Samarkand

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus, #1)Amulet of Samarkand
by: Jonathan Stroud
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars


Summary:
After being humiliated by a magician, apprentice Nathaniel vows to wreak his revenge. To help him do this he summons Bartimaeus, a djinni to steal the precious Amulet of Samarkand. But this turns out to be more dangerous than Nathaniel planned on and he is whipped into a world of magic, espionage and rebellion.


Told from the point of view of both master and servant this is a wonderful book from Jonathan Stroud.


Oh my goodness! This book was simply amazing. I am very glad I got to finish off my year by reading something so wonderfully done. Part of me is beginning to think that British novelists are really the best ones out there. They certainly seem to beat Americans on almost every literary front (except the short story, we rock at writing those).


I didn't think I would find anything on the same plane as Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel anytime soon but this blew me away. Bartimaeus is one of the most entertaining characters I have ever read and one whom I would be very happy to meet someday (as long as you know, he didn't hurt me or anything.) Also I love the new world which has been created by Stroud - the magic, the demons, this new government. I am so excited to read the next books in the series, I will probably just hunt them down tomorrow.

So details as to why I loved it:
I love books that are done with a first person narrative, as long as the author knows what they are doing. Well Bartimaeus tells his parts of the story, with wonderful footnotes at the bottom and I love footnotes at the bottom! The plot itself was wonderfully managed leaving us with enough knowledge to feel satisfied but wanting to read quickly so we could see what happens next.



I must say though that Bartimaeus really is the best part of the book, he deals with a messenger imp so nicely and is so creative in his revenges, and part of me feels that he is more powerful than he has let on to us, the readers.


I am excited to see how he will continue his story.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Misc. Monday - Dragonhaven

DragonhavenDragonhaven
By: Robin McKinley
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 2 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Jake Mendoza lives at the Makepeace Institute of Integrated Dragon Studies in Smokehill National Park. Smokehill is home to about two hundred of the few remaining draco australiensis, which is extinct in the wild. Keeping a preserve for dragons is controversial: detractors say dragons are extremely dangerous and unjustifiably expensive to keep and should be destroyed. Environmentalists and friends say there are no records of them eating humans and they are a unique example of specialist evolution and must be protected. But they are up to eighty feet long and breathe fire.
On his first overnight solo trek, Jake finds a dragon dying next to the human she killed. Jake realizes this news could destroy Smokehill— even though the dead man is clearly a poacher who had attacked the dragon first, that fact will be lost in the outcry against dragons.
But then Jake is struck by something more urgent —he sees that the dragon has just given birth, and one of the babies is still alive. 
I was so disappointed. McKinley is a total hit or miss author. I like some I hate some. This was one I thought  I was going to like....sadly I was mistaken.
The writing style was simply too confusing to decipher. Parentheses all over the place, tangents mid-sentence, overall confusing language. Was she trying to do stream of consciousness? I can't tell, if she was she failed. I am really disappointed too because I have liked a couple other of McKinley's works - Beauty might be one of my favorite books of all time. I really thought that authors were supposed to grow and mature as they continued to work. Sadly that is not the case with this novel. And the premise was SOOO cool too, it's been done (think Jane Yolen or Anne McCaffery) but still it would have been cool with this new twist of modern day.
Also I didn't like her obvious politics, it could be because I am more right wing in my thinking but it just galled me to no-end how evil the corporations are and how the government is against everybody. I understand the problems of most things getting funding, but don't mention it every other sentence please.

Pass on this it will only leave you frustrated.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday

Veiled Rose
by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Summary From Goodreads:


Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely.
Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Leo, a lonely lad, befriends Rose Red, and together they begin hunting for the Mountain Monster which, rumor says, stalks these lands.
But the hunt which began as a game holds greater risk than Leo supposes. Rose Red can scarcely guess at the consequences should he insist on continuing his search. Dare she trust him with her secret? Or tell him what dwells at the top of the mountain in the cave only she can find?
Above all, when Leo asks Rose Red to leave the mountain and follow him to the low country, dare she agree and risk the wrath of a Monster that is all too real?

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishing for giving me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Because I was given this, I didn't have the chance to read the first book in the series. And while I wish that I had some more background information on some of the characters, this novel works well as a stand alone. the characters a believable and dynamic. Rose Red in particular is a very solid character with a likable personality and really carries the thing through. She provides the depth to what would otherwise be your very basic boy-meets-girl-and-then-problems-ensue plot.There is that romantic element within the story but rather than making a straight forward teen romantic plot the author chooses instead to explore the complexities of relationships and in a way that add depth to the whole. 

As expected from Bethany House there are religious undertones. It's rather like the cautionary tales of the Brothers Grimm. The point of the story isn't completely obvious and yet you are aware that it's there.

The humor of the story was wonderful with a few moments where I giggled out loud and if you are at all a fan of young adult fantasy I would recommend this book for you.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

YA Wednesday Crown Duel


Crown Duel
by: Sherwood Smith


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:


Over their father’s deathbed, young Meliara Astiar and her brother Branaric promise to lead their people against the evil King. The impoverished count and countess discover that even when the cause is right, leading a war is much tougher than it appears. When Meliara falls into the hands of the elegant Marquis of Shevraeth, the enemy commander, she knows she has to either escape or die. After a desperate chase across country, she discovers that she and Bran are not alone—but the alliance is offered by the person she hates the most. Once the king is gone, she faces a new type of battlefield: not muddy fields and sharpened steel, but marble palaces. The weapons now are fashion, manners, and the subtle and secret language of fans. Finally, there is the toughest challenge of all, courtship. For how do you defend yourself when the one who draws your eye, and your heart, is your worst enemy?


 


These two books were joined together to form one novel in their latest publication so that is how I am going to review them. 

I must say that this book is among the top of my re-reads. I am not entirely sure how many times I read it in jr. high and high school it is one that I loved that much. Mel has all that I like in a character, she is brave, intelligent, and yet she has flaws. She cares about things going on around her but recognizes her limitations and does what she can to correct them. The first part of the novel is completely action packed – as is customary with revolutions. The second part has a different kind of action. There is a lot of intrigue around the court a new monarchy is being established. Different actions but equally entertaining.

And then there is our hero commonly known as Sheveraeth, he is what I believe Mr. Darcy would be if he were young, in the middle of a revolution and starring in a fantasy novel. **spoiler**It is because of him, and the letter writing between him and Mel that I love writing and receiving letters. (if this doesn’t seem like a spoiler SHAME on you for reading the spoiler before the book because if you had read the book you would understand why this is a spoiler.) **spoiler done**

Even if you have passed young adulthood, if you like a good adventure with believable characters this would be an excellent choice.