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review 2016-08-25 11:53
Review: The Reader
The Reader - Traci Chee

I received a copy from Penguin First To Read.

 

This particular fantasy wasn’t on my immediate must have radar, I must admit. I knew of it, I was waiting for some reviews from blogs I followed before looking for closely at it. I took a chance at requesting when I saw it in Penguin’s First to Read list. It got off to a bit of a rocky start, I found it rather clunky and boring. Turns out by the end I absolutely loved this fantasy. I loved this fantasy so much I pre ordered a finished hard cover from the Book Depository.

 

I very nearly DNFed several times in the first 100 pages or so. The world building was interested enough. The bulk of the population of this world is illiterate, except a few chosen who belong to some sort of society that is very powerful (and possibly dangerous). History and stories and such are passed down through word of mouth. At first it almost seems like there’s no magic even, which is surprising in a YA fantasy. Turns out though magic does have a pretty big part to play by the end of the novel.

 

The novel starts by introducing the main character Sefia and her aunt leaving a busy town, the aunt has some sort of mysterious path and we learn right off she’s a brilliant thief. Shortly afterwards the aunt, Sefia’s only living family, is kidnapped by a group of masked people, men and women. Leaving Sefia alone with a strange object that she’s to protect at all costs. The object turns out to be a book. Sefia is left alone to reminisce about the deaths of her parents – both murdered – and how she escaped and came to her aunt. She has to figure out the purpose of the book and teach herself how to read it.

 

The world building was interesting enough, though I did find those first hundred pages very very slow. The story does jump in time to a year later after the kidnapping of Sefia’s aunt. I think it’s after that when most of the other characters are introduced.

 

Aside from Sefia, we are introduced a number of other different characters in different locations. The scene setting is quite visually striking and one thing I really loved about this fantasy was how the women were just as strong (in many occasions stronger) than the men. There was no shove the women to the background. The women in this novel pretty much kicked ass and were awesome.

 

After other characters are introduced – a young man with a gift for words is given the chance to join the society of Readers and become part of a mysterious Library to learn the words and the magic that comes with the knowledge of books. In training the guy’s magical abilities increase. He strikes up a friendship with a nameless Assassin in training. Which becomes one of the most incredibly moving, slow burning romances I’ve come across in a long time. This seems to have absolutely nothing to do with Sefia and her own book.

 

There’s another plot of a crew of pirates striking a deal to sail to the edge of the world, a mismatch of different characters with interesting histories. I was a little apprehensive when the pirate plot was introduced as the last few books I’ve read with this sort of thing I’ve not liked much at all. Turned out the story for these guys was one of my favourite parts of this book.

 

Sefia herself has become a Reader and is determined to rescue her aunt. In tracking her down, she comes across a group of mercenaries who seem to be abducting young boys and sending them off to some sort of fighting ring. Sefia inadvertently finds herself rescuing one of these boys she names Archer due to his proficieny with a bow and arrow. Archer appears to be unable to talk. I was worried when this happened that here comes the inevitable romance (it’s a YA fantasy after all). However, again I was quite pleased with how things progressed between Archer and Sefia, trust developed over time turning into friendship turning into more, the possibility of another incredibly slow burn romance.

 

While all of this is going on, the novel’s very unique take on magic begins to develop as the story progresses. It’s not obvious magic, flashy spells and such. Everything is more intricate, there’s magic in the young man’s studies, Sefia discovers a very powerful vision type magic when she kills someone for the first time, the Assassin has some pretty nifty and scary magic of her own. The more the novel progresses, the more the magic builds. Becoming pretty damn huge in Sefia’s part by the end.

 

Even though all the different characters were interesting enough and as neat as the storylines were, it’s like – where is all this going? It does all come together – but not in the way I would have ever guessed. The twist with the young scholar and the Assassin in training was pretty jaw droppingly awesome.

 

All in all by the end of this novel I was absolutely hooked and I cannot wait for the next book. I need it! Now!

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review 2016-07-20 11:30
Review: The Thousandth Floor
The Thousandth Floor - Katharine McGee

Review: The Thousandth Floor

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

There are some books you know you are going to love right from the first chapter. For me, this was one of those books. Rich people drama is a guilty pleasure of mine (even though I loathe reality TV). Though this is just what that book read like. I would love to see this book as a TV show. It’s one of those weird things where you don’t actually like most of the characters much but can’t stop watching things.

 

This book is basically Gossip Girl of the future. A host of pretty people drama who live on the upper tower floors, the Highliers, and the downTower people who they get involved with. A fairly large cast of delightfully diverse characters from both the upper tower and the down tower falls, all of whom wind up interacting with each other.

 

It starts off with a bang, some unknown girl falling from the top of the tower. And then the rest of the book flips back to the beginning to get to that point. Initially I thought it was fairly obvious once all the different characters were introduced, but as the novel went on and the plots and characters became deeper and twister, several times I found myself thinking, even when things were going smoothly, at some point this is all going to go hideously hideously wrong. I thought I had it all figured out a few times, but the end was completely surprising. Never saw it coming.

 

Each chapter is from a different character’s point of view. There’s your Highliers - Avery who lives on the very top floor genetically engineered to be perfect and beautiful and appears to have everything she could ever want, expect the one boy she loves desperately but can never have. Avery’s adopted brother Atlas, who disappeared for a year and has just returned out of the blue. Avery’s best friend Leda, who’s hiding a summer stint in rehab due to a designer drug addiction. Leda’s struggling to get back to normal and hide her secret from her friends. Leda’s very dry cut snarky boarding on bitchy. With a secret fling with Atlas to hide and feelings to figure out on where that’s going. Along with Eris who finds out a major family scandal which throws her whole world into chaos. Though not without relationship drama of her own.  Along with party thrower Cord. And a few other background friend type characters.

 

From downTower there’s computer genius hacker Watt who’s actually a really nice guy but has some brilliant technology in the form of some sort of super computer chip which he’s had illegally grafted to his frontal lobe (or something along those lines), Rylin who’s solely responsible for her younger sister after the death of their mother, struggling to make ends meet.

 

This book gets big bonus points for character diversity, and an f/f relationship.

 

All the characters find themselves interacting at some point, and each one of them is considerably deeper than their first impressions give. Each one managed to surprise me by the end of the book by their actions or their emotions as their plots changed and grew. Brilliant character depth. The futuristic technology was equally fascinating, and the setting of Manhattan 100 years into the future is visual, striking and believable as well.

 

Great twist at the end too.

 

I loved this one. I need more. NOW!

 

Thank you Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, Children' for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2016-07-11 11:20
Review: A Frozen Heart
A Frozen Heart - Elizabeth Rudnick

 

A delightful novelization of Frozen told from alternating view points of Anna and Hans.

 

It's impossible to read this without the Frozen soundtrack running through your head (if of course like me you've seen it a million times, and can quote it word for word, know all the songs and all the music ques). A fast read and a fun one, after the first chapter I read this in a few hours.

 

I'm sort of surprised it was Hans's point of view and not Elsa's or even Kristoff's. I think the idea is to give some insight into Han's character. Which the author does a nice job of, detailing the misery of growing up with 12 older brothers and being the last in the royal line without much prospects, a horrible father, a weak and limpid mother. So Hans sees an opportunity to make something of himself by heading to Arendelle and seducing Elsa and overthrowing the throne and taking it for himself.

 

The author also does a brilliant job of capturing Anna’s loneliness and isolation, as well as her utter naivety when it comes to the open gates and falling madly in love with the first handsome guy who was nice to her. Many many times I have said to the cat whilst watching the movie worst instalove ever! Of course, through a novelisation it’s easier to understand why without wanting to shout at the girl. She’s been forced into isolation through no fault of her own, ignored by a sister she was once very close to, the loss of her parents…the gates are open for 24 hours only so she’s got to make something work if she wants to find a way to change her dreary existence.

 

As interesting as the details into Hans and Anna were, the story captures every part of the Frozen movie, all familiar scenes and all the familiar dialogue, but some of it falls rather flat and some things simply just don’t work as well as they do on the screen. Like Olaf and the trolls. Olaf is the comic relief in the movie with some surprisingly deep points to make (“some people are worth melting for”) but in a novelization his comic lines just don’t have the same impact. Same when Kristoff takes Anna to meet his troll family. It’s loud, flashy and fun. While mama troll has some nice things to say about what true love means, the whole troll wedding thing without the catchy music is just flat.

 

It doesn’t really do Elsa any justice either, until right at the end. Elsa is just a figure who’s there, there are no insights into her character at all. Her scenes and lines are all from Anna’s point of view. While I love that no matter what Anna is still saying that’s my sister and I love her no matter what, Elsa hardly has any impact other than her ice magic. Elsa’s ice powers get a pretty decent treatment, and there is certainly a big rush of emotion towards the end. I really would have liked there to have been a third viewpoint of scenes from Elsa’s POV.

 

For the most part, it was very good and entertaining.

 

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review 2016-06-16 21:57
Reread Thought: A Court of Thorns and Roses
A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas

Reread June 2016 in preparation for reading A Court of Mist and Fury.
Knocking it down a star. I actually liked the story a little more the second time round, but this time I wasn't quite as blown away by the writing and the world building or the Tamlin romance. (I'm leaning more towards Team Rhysand) I didn't love it and I still don't like Feyre much. Just don't. But I still want to know where the story is going, particularly because of some of the brilliant fan art I've seen.

 

You can see my first read review here

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review 2016-04-26 15:14
Review: Wolf by Wolf
Wolf By Wolf - Ryan Graudin

April 25 2016 - Started again yesterday and finished this evening.

Very good. 3.1/2 stars. Brutal and hard to read at times but excellently written, utterly gripping and finally got to the impossible to put down. Exciting and nail biting, full of tension and adrenaline. Yael was a great lead and I'm looking forward to finding out how this concludes after that brilliant twist at the end.

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