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review 2016-11-13 02:47
A Fierce and Subtle Poison, by Samantha Mabry
A Fierce and Subtle Poison - Samantha Mabry

People have always told stories about the house at the end of Calle Sol. They say it belongs to a mad scientist whose wife cursed it. They say a green-skinned witch girl lives there. People throw wishes written on paper over the wall around the house, hoping that the witch will grant them. But no one ever goes there, so no one really knows what’s going on. In A Fierce and Subtle Poison, by Samantha Mabry, protagonist Lucas will get closer to figuring out the house’s mysteries than anyone...


Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

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review 2016-07-19 22:39
A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
A Fierce and Subtle Poison - Samantha Mabry

Lucas lives at least some of the time on the island of Puerto Rico, living in the wealthy powerful shadow of his property developer father. A father who is know to many islanders as “The Conquistador” for his business practices.


All his life on the island, he has heard legends of the cursed house and the cursed woman with in – but when he finally meets Isabel he learns her story is more complicated and more tragic than any of the stories he heard as a child.




In some ways, that it’s not exactly our genre per se. Sure there is something utterly unexplained about Isabel and her peculiar curse/biology is definitely unexplained and is hinted at being supernatural (and I doubt if there’s any physical way someone could be that instantly deadly) with its hinted/possibly backstory. But ultimately she could have had her skin replaced by cyanide, or electrified… the actuality of it doesn’t really matter. The story would not be appreciably changed if there was no actual potential supernatural reason and Isabel was simply ill with an actual disease – a potentially contagious one that is both killing her and isolating her. It wouldn’t appreciably change the story and really means that any speculative fiction elements to this book are pretty superfluous. Honestly that’s kind of off putting to me – it’s slightly vexing for the element I most look for in a book to be pretty much an off shoot.


I’m not saying that this makes it a bad book. Far from it – it’s an interesting conflict as Isabel seeks connection, fears for her life, is faced with some very terrible and difficult choices which are quite literally involve accepting clearly excusable evil or her own martyrdom. Though in some ways this does make me wish we followed her more than Lucas since she seems to have the more involved and important storyline. Especially since we also centre him and his grief with the disappearance of a girl he barely knew rather than her own family.



I’m also slightly bemused by the blurb – all about the cursed girl Isabel. Except for most of the book Isabel isn’t only not present in any real way, but she and her cursed house are just kind of footnotes . To say this book is about Isabel is almost like saying To Kill a Mockingbird is about Boo Radley. Ok, Isabel becomes much much much more involved in the book in the last third – but this isn’t her story. It’s how her life affects Lucas and Lucas’s story. And even then it’s not all that big an affect. The blurb bigs up an implied supernatural element that isn’t really there


It’s also nice that there’s some inclusion of and development of Taino legends and Puerto Rican culture and legends. I love the mix and exploration, the food, language and clearly different sides of the island. In fact there’s a lot of examination of Lucas and his clumsy navigation of him being in Puerto Rico. We see a lot of excellent challenge of Lucas‘s father’s contempt for the island its culture and its history, seeing only a resource to plunder for money. His whole depiction is an excellent take on White and Class privilege in a majority POC island. And even while Lucasis clearly aware of this and openly angry and at odds with his dad, his development (and his apt nickname of “conquistador”) also shows that he himself also benefits from white privilege. This is important – because his awareness of his privilege and that he’s spoiled and has considerable advantages doesn’t mean it’s no longer relevant nor does it mean he won’t still make mis-steps. It’s an excellent portrayal




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Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2016/06/a-fierce-and-subtle-poison-by-samantha.html
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review 2016-06-25 00:00
A Fierce and Subtle Poison
A Fierce and Subtle Poison - Samantha Ma... A Fierce and Subtle Poison - Samantha Mabry,Graham Hamilton This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

This audiobook didn't really work for me. I really wanted to like. I tried really hard to enjoy it...but it just was not for me. I was really excited about this book from the start since the summary sounds really good and that title. Too bad that it didn't live up to my expectations. I actually thought about just stopping this one a couple of times but I had to spend a couple of days in the car so I pushed myself to continue. I really should have went with my first instinct.

I had a hard time connecting with the story at any level. I went in think that this was be a really unique and interesting piece. A story set in Puerto Rico with a girl filled with poison had all of the makings of a book that would be really exciting. It held my attention for the first part of the story as everything was being set into place but as the story moved forward, I found that I was losing interest. The mystery of the story just didn't feel as exciting as it really should have.

I didn't care for any of the characters. Lucas was a rich boy who was more than a little spoiled. Things seemed to go his way no matter what. Isabel just seemed strange to me. I didn't feel bad for her even though she had lived an isolated life. I really just couldn't get myself to feel anything for any of the characters.

I have to say that I am kind of on the fence regarding the narration. Graham Hamilton will not be making my favorite narrators list for this performance but I don't think that his narration took away from the story. I would have liked to hear a bit more emotion in his voice as he read the story but I thought he did a decent job. I would be willing to listen to this narrator on another work in the future.

I am not going to be recommending this book to others. The characters and plot just really fell flat for me. It was a really imaginative idea that just didn't seem to work out in the end.

I received a review copy of this book from Recorded Books via LibraryThing Early Reviewers program for the purpose of providing an honest review.

Initial Thoughts
I am not really sure what I thought about this one. It started out strong but kind of fizzled out by the end. I thought it was really a bit strange. I did really enjoy the narrator even if the story wasn't really for me.
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url 2016-04-28 02:46
Spring Book Haul 2016

Even though I'm moving in a couple of months, I seem to have a penchant for buying books. I mean, my bookshelf is teeming with books that I still haven't read and WHAT DO I DO? I BUY EVEN MORE BOOKS. Ugh, I dread when I'll have to lug these sluggers with me to the Post Office for shipping. BUT ANYWAY LET'S BE CHEERFUL. LET'S LOOK AT THE AWESOMENESS I BOUGHT AND HAVE READ!

The Books That I've Read:

1. The Winner's Kiss - Marie Rutkoski

I LOVE the Winner's trilogy. The Winner's Crime was on my Best Books of 2015 list, The Winner's Curse was onmy Best Books of 2014 list. I nominated The Winner's Crime in the Epic Reads Book Shimmy Awards and probably have mentioned these books at multiple points, in multiple posts in this blog (5 Fantasy Authors I Fangirl Over,Preview of 2015 Books, Review: The Winner's Curse, TBR: Releases to Watch Out For, Review: The Winner's Crime, My Reading Profile, & more). It should thus come as no surprise to you that I pre-ordered The Winner's Kiss and spent the 29th reading that book. Also spent the weekend and week before trying to sneak peeks at the book through Amazon excerpt, which is an obsessive habit I have when I reaaaaaally want to read a book (until I shake and distract myself by doing something else).


Ahem, anyways. This book surprised me in a lot of ways, all of them good. I also understand why they changed the covers -- the girl in the ball gown no longer fits the horrific scenes of war. If the first book set the grounds for the differences between the two countries and the romance, establishing our link with Arin and Kestrel; and if the second book delved deeper into strategy, games, political intrigue, alliances and quiet rebellion amid heartbreaking loss; then the third book was about all of that coming to head. War. Violence. The consequences of the politics between these three major countries. The differences in beliefs and how they've shaped our characters' attitudes and hopes but how there's still common ground to be had. The power of love and stories, forgiveness and new life amid an onslaught of death. As always, lots of character development, beautiful writing, romance, political intrigue, strategy, intriguing world-building, and more. Yes to these books.

The second book reminded me a little of Bitterblue (by Kristin Cashore). This book reminded me a little of the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner and the His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers. Right now, I can't think of a good comp title for the first book, but I think that if you like any of the aforementioned books, you should definitely try The Winner's trilogy.

2. Summers at Castle Auburn - Sharon Shinn

Sharon Shinn is mentioned by a lot of fantasy authors, it seems. So I wanted to try one of her books, and Summers at Castle Auburn is the one that was recommended. If you read my Learning from Books as a Reader (Changing Reader Tastes) post, you know that I'm not a huge fan of books that begin with the main character as a child. Summers at Castle Auburn does that. But it also does something which I am a HUGE fan of -- twining the romance in with the main plot very heavily, and also making the main character's coming-of-age twined in with her realization that her initial crush sucks and that the real romantic interest is the one she loves. If you watched my booktube video, you saw how many dogeared pages there was. That's because when the romance is that way, I bookmark basically every page there's even the slightest encounter between the main character and the romantic interest. It makes no sense, but I love it, and I read Summers at Castle Auburn the day before I was presenting a poster at a research conference, and clearly I should've gotten sleep. Instead I read. And had a book hangover. *Sigh*

3. Serpentine - Cindy Pon

I read Serpentine a while ago. I reviewed Serpentine, nominated Serpentine in the Epic Reads Book Shimmy Awards, and included Serpentine in my Best Books of 2015 list as well as my Cinderella Book tag. I ordered Serpentine when I pre-ordered The Winner's Kiss, so the book didn't arrive until just now, but I'm happy to finally have my own shiny copy... and y'all should read the book too! Highly recommended from me (just check out any of those links!).

4. The Wrath and the Dawn - Renee Ahdieh

Like with Serpentine, The Wrath and the Dawn I had already read. I just wanted to own a copy. Persian culture is slightly different from Middle Eastern culture, I think, but as someone with Middle Eastern heritage, I can say that Renee Ahdieh capture the essence of Arab culture pretty well.

The Books That I Have Yet to Read:

5. A Fierce and Subtle Poison - Samantha Mabry

A Fierce and Subtle Poison was on my 2016 YA Debuts I Want to Read list. As I mentioned in my Best Books of 2015 list, I want to read more Young Adult Magical Realism novels-- so much so that I made a list of my current YA Magical Realism recommendations. When I was in the Strand, I read the first couple of chapters of A Fierce and Subtle Poison and really loved both the writing and the setting of Puerto Rico (though I think that I still needed to attach the main character). The book has been blurbed by both Nova Ren Suma and Laura Ruby, and I love their books too, so I'm looking forward to finishing this one later!

6. Feed - M.T. Anderson

Ameriie at Books Beauty Ameriie recommended Feed to me a while ago, particularly the audiobook. But my library doesn't have the audiobook, and when I saw that Feed was at the Strand for only a few dollars and that Feed was "out of print," I bought it anyways. When I'm in a more science fiction mood, I'll read this one. I'm pretty sure it's considered a classic of YA literature too.

7. The Riddle-Master trilogy - Patricia A. McKillip

The Riddle-Master trilogy has one of my favorite opening chapters ever. If you read my Learning from Books as a Reader (Changing Reader Tastes) post, you know that I was pretty entranced with this book. The first chapter introduces us to the main character, who is a land-owner. Traders are coming, so he tells his brother and sister to go about their duties. There are also childhood friends and others who are in the crowd when they find out about the traders. So, you get a clear sense of the immediate duties and setting for the MC's family and life (as well as a sense of the personalities of each of these side characters as they interact with each other). Then, you learn that the MC's parents disappeared a while ago, and that the siblings have all grieved in their own way, and his way was to go off on an adventure, solve a riddle, and a win a crown from a ghost. This backstory is revealed in a convincing way -- whereby we see his family recognizing that he's acting weird, and they confront him, and so we see what normal family dynamics are like, as well as when one of them is acting strangely. We get a sense of the main character's personality through his interactions with his family, his daily duties, and his backstory, and we get a sense of what the central conflict will be, since winning this crown clearly has consequences and implications that the main characters doesn't know yet. It's awesome. I felt like my brain got bigger reading that beginning, and so I immediately bought the entire trilogy. Can't wait to read the books!

SO, those were the books I bought this past spring. What are you planning on reading soon? What have you bought recently? Have you read any of these books? Let's discuss!
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review 2016-02-22 11:37
Review: A Fierce and Subtle Poison
A Fierce and Subtle Poison - Samantha Mabry

I received a copy from Netgalley.

I honestly don't quite know what to make of this one. On the one hand, there were lots of things about it I loved - the writing was brilliant, vivid and evocative. The plot was compelling, the mystery was aspect gave an incredible edge to the novel, and the setting and mythology were fantastic. My biggest problem with it was that I just hated the main character, Lucas.

Lucas is the son of a very rich developer dad who's quite happy to tear down beautiful old buildings to make room for new modern hotels. The dad is your typical rich businessman - money focused and doesn't give a crap about the locals. Even when the girl's start going missing and its clear Lucas knows one of them - quite well - the dad is completely indifferent. Where Lucas does make an effort to make friends with some of the local kids, dates the local girls without little thought, immerses himself in the strange mythology he hears about a local legend involving a house on a corner full of strange plants and a witch who lives there who may or may not grant wishes and a mad scientist that once lived there.

But Lucas is also the butt of everyone's anger, when he and his friends get in trouble, he's the one who takes the fall, the police only seem to arrest him. It sounded like, at least to me, a lot of rich white boy problems. Which were more eye roll inducing than anything.

Girls start disappearing, and there's a connection to the strange house and legends surrounding the house. The old ladies of the neighbourhood have plenty of stories to tell to anyone who will listen, warnings about curses, gods and such. Lucas gets quite tangled in trying to solve the mystery and finds himself meeting a strange girl who lives in the house - Isabel. But nothing is what it seems.

There's quite a dark overall tone to the novel, more girls start disappearing and things get more and more twisted, Isabel's world inside the house is strange and she herself has some pretty dark secrets. It's quite twisty turny and the plot is totally unpredictable. The brilliance of the story telling make the novel hard to put down and it was like, I have to know what's going to happen, in spite of the fact I didn't really like any of the characters.

Definitely an author I would read again.

Thank you to Netgalley and Algonquin Young Readers for approving my request to view the title.

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