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review 2016-03-31 22:31
At the Edge of Empire
The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Volume One: At the Edge of Empire - Daniel Kraus

This is the type of book where it's either your cup of tea, or it isn't. I personally enjoyed this book very much, from the writing, to the characters, I thought it was really interesting.

The main complaint with this book is that it dragged on and didn't go anywhere, and I can understand why. The purpose of this story is to tell the life of Zebulon Finch, as narrated by Zebulon himself. It takes you from his childhood, to when he ran away from home, to him becoming a gangster and so on.

I enjoyed the writing of the novel, as well as the pace. With the exception of Zebulon getting extremely horny every once in a while at the sight of an attractive girl, there wasn't any purple prose, there was enough to paint a picture and keep things interesting. Zebulon's narration of his life was witty and honest, he didn't sugarcoat anything, even if it meant showing him in a bad light.

Every person that Zebulon meets serves a purpose in shaping in his character, and all of these people come back to him throughout his life and change it again. Every character in the story is different, has different personalities and stands out, I was actually able to remember them throughout the story. Sometimes these characters turned out to be exactly how you thought they would be, and sometimes they were a surprise and turned out to be someone completely different.

I liked the fact that the story actually acknowledges that Zebulon breaks every law of science and actually makes an attempt to discover as to how Zebulon is still functioning even though he is dead. The story doesn't ignore the fact that Zebulon's body is decaying because he is dead, how the sun and hot lights affect him, how he looks compared to everyone else.

Not every character that is introduced in the story is meant to be liked, in fact, most of them are terrible people, and yet, I didn't find myself hating them the same way that I have a burning hatred for two dimensional characters in other novels. You could understand them, for example, the Barker, he was a terrible man, but it was hard to hate him. He was struggling to survive, just like everyone else was, he did what he had to in order to survive. Zebulon himself isn't a very likeable person to begin with, and yet throughout the story, I didn't find myself necessarily liking him, but I could understand him as well as why he did the things that he did. He tried to right his wrongs throughout the novel, he tried to become a better person despite the fact that he failed continually. Every character in this book changed in some way, whether it was for the better or for the worse, they changed, and personally, I felt the character arcs were perfect.

The situations that Zebulon found himself in were especially interesting, so interesting that I had to plan time to read this book because once I started I couldn't stop reading. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I would recommend giving it a shot just to see if you're interested.

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review 2014-06-29 20:46
Hammer of Witches
Hammer of Witches - Shana Mlawski

So when I picked up this book, I hadn't read the summary or knew anything at all about it, I just really liked the cover.

The story follows a boy named Baltasar who finds out that he's a Storyteller and that he's being hunted by a secret organization. He hears of a prophecy that speaks about this dangerous force that's moving West from Spain and so Baltasar thinks that it's Amir al-Katib, his father. He sets off with his friend Jinniyah, who's half genie half human, on the voyage that the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria are set on in order to track down his father and to get away from the secret organization. Meanwhile, Amir thinks that Baltasar is the great and powerful force that's going to destroy the world so he's trying to kill Baltasar (except he doesn't know that it's Baltasar that he's trying to hurt).

And it's just a huge mess.

Now when the story started out, I thought that Baltasar was a kid because of the fact that he had his uncle tell him stories every single night before he went to sleep and the general way that he was written and acted. You can imagine how very shocked I was to find out that he was in fact a teenager. I think a lot of that had to do with the writing style.

The writing was very simple and straight-forward, which is great, but it was also choppy at times, especially at the beginning, and it didn't always flow very well. Because of the choppiness of the writing, it was always nagging at me in the back of my mind so I was always aware of the short sentences which pushed me out of the story instead of pulling me in. At times I felt like I wasn't as connected to the characters and the story as much as I would have liked so I didn't enjoy some parts of the story nearly as much as other parts.

By the middle of the novel, I felt like the author had really settled into the voice of Baltasar and it flowed a lot better. At the beginning of the story it felt like she was thinking too much about what to say and how her character should act and the descriptions. At some point it just switched and it didn't feel like she had to think about how to write the story because the author had really connected with Baltasar and she knew exactly how he worked and thought and such.

I loved the idea of Storytellers and how you could use the stories that you'd been told of or read about to create these fantastic creatures and settings. I loved how we got to explore that as the story went on and watch Baltasar gain more experience and learn more stories and tricks, even if they did backfire on him sometimes.

I loved the characters and everything that they went through and without even realising it, I'd gotten attached to these characters and their problems, I worried about them and what they went through and it felt real to me. I haven't connected to a story like this a long time so props to the author for that.

My favourite had to be Catalina because she didn't take any shit from anyone and made sure that all of the men aboard the ship knew not to mess with her and to treat her with respect. I loved the relationship that she had with Baltasar as well. She put down boundaries with Baltasar and told him what she was comfortable with and what she wasn't and he had to either take it or leave it. I loved the amount of respect that Baltasar had for Cataline, he respected her boundaries and her opinions, most of the time he didn't push her or make her feel uncomfortable, and when he was in the wrong, he acknowledged the fact that he had overstepped a line and apologised to Catalina for it.

I was satisfied with the ending, but at the same time I wasn't. The entire point of the story was that Baltasar tracked his father down and explained to him that he wasn't trying to destroy the world and to stop Amir from destroying the world himself because they thought that the prophecy was about them. And they do straighten out all of the misunderstandings and stuff but . . . what about the prophecy?

It's all nice that father and son finally get to meet and straighten things out but there's still this dark force that's going to destroy the world out there. The characters talk about how the evil force could be Admiral Colon because he and his ships did sail west from Spain, and they did take natives with them as slaves, and then it's just kind of left there. It's great that everything else is fixed and right but there's still this prophecy and it's never really solved and it doesn't come to pass and now it's just bothering me.

I need the prophecy bit to be solved in order for me to get closure from this story and now it's just eating away at me.

But, I enjoyed reading the story and I would definitely spend money on buying a copy of it from the book store.

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review 2014-05-30 19:24
Ignite Me
Ignite Me - Tahereh Mafi

Honestly, the only reason that this book has four stars is because Juliette finally stopped being afraid of herself and just letting people walk all over her. And that was great, it really was. Her whining went on for two god damn books, it was about time that she finally stood up for herself.

Characters:
Juliette -I actually enjoyed Juliette this time around. She wasn't annoying and she wasn't crying and sniffling and talking about her stupid feelings. She was actually doing something about her situation and trying to save her own life and making an effort to make a difference. She wasn't afraid to stand up to Adam and she pushed herself to learn how to fight and defend herself.

Juliette was actually pretty kick ass, I was so happy to see her come out of her shell. The other great thing was that she finally came to the realization that she was not actually in love with Adam like she had thought, it had just been lust since he was the only one that had shown her kindness in a really long time.

But then she admitted that she loved Warner so I guess not much has changed.

Juliette finally comes to the realization that she could've broken out of that prison that she'd been living in in book one a very long time ago if only she hadn't been afraid of who she was and what she was capable of. Warner starts dropping bombs and shows that he's really not a bad guy.

It was nice watching Juliette learn to control her own power and become stronger.

Warner -Daaaaaamn, talk about a good character. This guy went from being this horrible villain to someone that was admittedly very apathetic a lot of the time, but he was a good person. Everything that we learned about Warner in the other two books was completely false, which is understandable considering that we only ever saw things from Juliette's point of view.

One of the great things about Warner was the way that he treated Juliette. The man was practically salivating at the mouth whenever she was around but he treated her with respect and that was really great to see. He didn't push her or pressure her into doing things that she didn't want to do or going farther than she felt comfortable with, he didn't insult her or use her feelings against her. Warner was actually really understanding and kind, a lot more than Adam was, I can say that with confidence.

The other great thing about Warner was that even though he was in love with Juliette and would do anything for her, he recognized that it wasn't healthy for him to get into a relationship with her that went beyond friendship because he knew that it would seriously hurt him. I don't see that a lot in YA novels.

Adam -Adam was a giant douchebag, no one needs Adam, Adam can just go away and eat some gelatin. Honestly, the amount of abuse that he kept hurling at Juliette was appalling. For someone who claimed that he really cared about her, he sure had a stupid way of showing it.

He really doesn't take rejection very well. And then he was being rude to Warner while taking refuge in his god damn home, like, I know you hate the guy but ungrateful much.

Kenji -Kenji was awesome, he was so funny and he kept the banter going and kept everyone at ease. He provided the entertainment that everyone needed in order to not become too serious.

Writing:
The lack of metaphors in this was a blessing. I thought it was going to be page upon page of metaphors and Juliette's alarming medical problems but it really wasn't. Everything was cut down to a few pages in the book and that was it.

I was disappointed with the ending. There was all of this build up to this absolutely huge fight that was going to happen . . . and then it just really didn't. I thought Juliette was going to kick some serious ass or something what with all of her training but instead it was just her running through walls, doors, and jumping through ceilings. It felt really anticlimactic.

And then when Juliette gets back to Sector 45 or whatever, she talks about all of the dead bodies and the blood and how relieved she was that everyone was safe, it had absolutely no impact on me. It didn't cause any kind of feeling in me to rise up because everything was just so short and I felt disconnected from the story. I felt like it was just 30 or so pages of nothing. I mean, come on, the Battle of Hogwarts was only one day long and it was like 300 pages long (I could be exaggerating but I think that's how long it was).

And the fights with Adam were just really repetitive. It was the same argument over and over and over again. The story could've been a hell of a lot shorter if she'd cut the shouting matches with Adam to just two of them. Juliette got tired of it and I got tired of it. I got the hint the first time, Adam is a huge douche who feels like he's been betrayed (which is understandable) but I mean, I got the idea. Five more arguments aren't going to ingrain that into me anymore than the first time.

But, you know, in general, I enjoyed the story.

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