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review 2015-04-23 02:27
Brain candy
The Shattered Court: A Novel of the Four Arts - M.J. Scott

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

The Shattered Court is a book that would have totally escaped my notice where it not for Nick. I am so glad she mentioned it to me because otherwise I would not have found this wonderfulness. I will begin by saying that this isn’t the best thing I’ve ever read, far from it, but at the same time, it just works. It may not be incredibly original but it is so much fun to read and I do like that the author has made it her own story in many ways.

I am going to start off by talking about the main character, Sophie. She is such a good main character. She isn’t reckless yet she isn’t someone who will just take things at word. She questions things, before someone even has to point it out to her.She is a smart main character and it’s nice seeing that she takes the time to think through the consequences of some of her actions. Of course, she is not perfect but I also admire that she knows when to lay low and when to speak up.

This book comes with an interesting cast of secondary characters, including my personal favorite, Lord Sylvian. My real complaint comes in the form of Queen Eloisa. I actually really liked her at the start of the book and I HATE what was done to her character. I wish there were ways to make the book progress, and to make the plot develop without making her an enemy but alas, sometimes, that’s the way things are no matter how much I detest it. *sighs*

Then we have a certain Cameron. I admit, I was worried about him. He was sleeping with Queen Eloisa for crying out loud when the novel started. No, he was not in a committed relationship but it was a fling so I was worried how this would all come to play within the whole context of Sophie and Cameron's relationship and I guess it didn’t really. It’s one of the reasons why I am genuinely disappointed that Queen Eloisa turned into someone she was not at the beginning of the novel. I wonder what we will find out about her character that will at least help us better understand the sudden shift. Going back to the lovely Cameron,he managed to win me over right from the get-go but I was slightly disappointed in the rather easy shift of feelings (not that he had overly romantic feelings for Eloisa, it’s just that his focus shifted very easily). I am happy to report that he was a good mixture of sweet but also not sweet (if you know what I mean).

The romance between the two was something I enjoyed. There was insta-attraction happening but the way their relationship builds on that is beautiful. They build trust and when they are thrust into an awkward situation that forces them to acknowledge their feelings for one another (whoever says that forced marriages aren’t fun to read about), they go about doing that in a fantastic way. Cameron pays attention to Sophie's fears and assures her that he will be loyal to her no matter what. I admire that their relationship gets to a point where the drama is external rather than internal and what I also admire is that while they clearly have feelings for one another, there are no random declarations of love. Also sexy times. I was genuinely surprised when they made an appearance but hey, you take what you get. ;)

While I adored the fast pace nature of the plot, I will admit that I was rather disappointed that they weren’t going to be on the run for the entirety of the book. I am glad though that that wasn’t the case because otherwise we would have totally missed out on meeting characters like Lord Sylvian and we would have also missed seeing the politics within the court (although I wish there had been more of that too).

I think the world building aspect of the novel could have been more intricate but given that this is only book 1, I do like the details we have gotten. And I will not elaborate because, you know, you got to find these things out on your own. I will say there is magic involved.

This book sucked me in and left me anticipating for the sequel. It is a really fun read and I am looking forward to where our journey will take us in the future.

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review 2015-01-08 01:30
Childish and annoying
The Chosen Prince - Diane Stanley

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Now that some of my rage has cooled off, I can say with certainty that this is by far one of the most disappointing books I’ve read this year. When I first saw it on Edelweiss, I was so excited! Greek Myth combined with Fantasy sounded like a dream and I was excited to dive in. I was let down on so many accounts, it’s not even funny. Although I imagine that if anyone had been watching me while I was reading the book, they might disagree.

For starters, this book has almost no elements of fantasy. It reads like historical fiction that’s set in a time when people still believed in the greek gods. That was slightly disappointing but I loved greek myth enough to  let that one pass.

The POV this book was written in made it a lot harder for me to stick with the book. It’s written in 3rd person present tense which is just awkward. I kept on thinking it would change at some point but it didn’t and it just kept on throwing me off. At first, I felt like I wasn't being open enough to the idea of another POV and that it would become easier to read once I got used to it but I never did. I continued to look for things about this book that would make it stick out or would be even a shadow of what had been promised by the blurb.

The main character Alexos was actually pretty decent. I liked how he seemed to continue to push through in spite of all the misfortunes that befell him and while he was brave, smart, kind and giving, he also knew when he had to be a leader. Of course, sometimes I wish he would be a little bit more child-like considering he was just 13. Except when he wasn't. About half way through the book, there was a 7 year fast forward.

That really got me. What more was that the story wasn’t even being told from his POV anymore after that 7 year skip even though he was supposed to be the main character. A 20/21 year old main character for a middle grade book is a little awkward. What more was that this book some very predictable turns and there was a VERY AWKWARD romance thrown in that pissed me off so much. It’s not that the two characters weren’t compatible, it’s just that they don’t actually know each other. They meet and then BAM. Okay. I need to calm down a little because the romance still bothers me, as you can see quite clearly.

This book was lacking in the world building department as well. We are provided with the bare minimum which is basically some details on the gods that have any influence on the outcome of the story. We are thrown into a world with no other details which is why I said it read more like a historical book than fantasy. As someone who LOVES world building, I was heartbroken! Here we have such great potential yet it’s wasted. It’s barely brushed. I can only imagine the rich world that could have otherwise been created had the potential been utilized.

However, the worst thing about this book was the way in which the conflict was resolved. That broke my heart into pieces. It’s the kind of resolution you expect from picture books, not a novel. Not a novel where there is so much build up and the character goes through so much as a result of his ‘destiny’.  We have a build up for nothing because when it comes down to the actual resolution, nothing happens. It’s like when you light a firecracker that you expect to explode but all you get is a tiny crackle.

Throughout the first 60%, I kept making excuses for the book because I expected to get better, I wanted it to get better. I wanted it to blow my mind. I wanted it to be everything it had promised. The last 40% opened my eyes and by the last couple of pages I was craughing and really just wanted the book to end. So much disappointment is not good for the soul.

One might attribute the simplicity of the book to the fact that it’s middle grade. I am obviously not the intended audience but if I had read this book in middle school, I would have been heartbroken because it would have made me realize that not all books are great (I never really read a bad book as a kid… yes I am boasting. A little bit. COME ON. My bubble has already been burst.). Plus, as a kid (and almost adult))who loved adventures , it would have bothered me that something that promised to be a fabulous adventure wasn’t one.

My childish aspirations aside, it's clear that I wasn't the intended audience but I don’t know who this book is aimed towards. I suggest that if you’re thinking about reading this one yourself, you may want to skip it unless childish is exactly what you’re looking for after being fed up of everything else.

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