Category Archives: 5 stars

REVIEW: The Enchanter Heir

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Stars: 5/5

Format: Kindle ebook via NetGalley

Read: June 25, 2013

I was super excited when I was given an advanced copy of this book for review. I am a huge fan of Cinda Williams Chima and have read the entirety of the Heir series as well as the Grey Wolf Queen series. I have always been enthralled by her character and world building and I was not disappointed in this next installment.

Since I have always been partial to the brooding-yet-layered characters, it was no surprise to me that I liked Jonah immediately. Emma, however, I was skeptical of. The book’s description paints her as a “wild child” who runs the streets of Memphis like some modern day “Beasts of the Southern Wild” character. Unfortunately, I instantly dismissed her as unimportant when she’s introduced solely based on that description. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book description was way off the mark when it came to Emma. Chima writes her as a free spirit, but never conforming to any stereotypes. It was almost as if I was meeting a real person who was not just created as is but has evolved through a lifetime of pain and happiness. In my opinion, she is probably one of the most real characters Chima has ever written.

I did like Jonah, but felt the book, with what it was, didn’t give a whole lot of answers. All of the other Heir books can be read as standalone installments, so I was mildly surprised that this book ended in a cliffhanger. This is probably where my slight frustration of reading the entirety of the book and then being given, essentially, the “TO BE CONTINUED…” screen came from. However, although major answers weren’t given, enough character back-stories unfolded peripherally that I was drawn along just as quickly and my interest never waned. But since most all of the secrets revolved around Jonah, I was a bit more conflicted with him than I was with Emma, who was just who she seemed to be.

Overall, I will be buying this book when it comes out. I just wished I had known beforehand that it would require a sequel and when the sequel will be coming out, because I don’t do well when you drop me into a high paced story and then abruptly cutting me off.

I received a free ebook copy from NetGalley. I am not receiving any recompense besides the free text.

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Review: THE CHARLATAN’S BOY

Stars: 5/5

 Format: Paperback

 Read: May 16, 2012

I was provided this book in exchange for a review and am not being paid to share my wit and wisdom, etc.

So I was super excited about this book. Mostly because the title brings to mind so many interesting scenarios. None of my imagined plots ever came to fruitation, of course, but the book is just as good as I wanted it to be. Prior reviews have labeled the “voice” spot on as a spoof of Mark Twain’s HUCKLEBERRY FINN in language and description. The author draws on his Georgia roots with folk sayings and accent-spelled spelled words which pleases me to no end because I am also from Georgia and the folks around here seem to be captured in this book’s spirit.

Grady grew up knowing he wasn’t what Floyd told him he was. An orphan and described in delightfully picturesque words as ugly, Grady tells his story in a series of short chapters that are captivating and a day or a few months can elapse between. This kept the story fast paced while still keeping the beautiful simplicity of Grady’s personality and perspective on life. Grady’s world is a world similar to our own, but almost paralleled to the Georgia swamps all the way up to the Appalachian Mountains. This makes for an easy transition from my world to Grady’s, a fact that the author did so seamlessly that I didn’t notice why I loved the book so much until I really thought on it.

This book has been deemed “Christian” although it does not have any religious qualities to it. This is simply because it’s a good “clean” book; it does not have curse words, bad themes (other than lying and being a charlatan), and has Grady struggling with being truthful to who he is and pleasing Floyd his parental figure. It will be a book that I will keep to read to my children when they are in elementary school. Touching on the same feeling as THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, THE CHARLATAN’S BOY is a definite treasure I stumbled upon accidentally and I am so pleased that I did!

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Review: SOULBOUND

  Stars: 5/5

 Format: Hardback

 Read: May 16, 2012

Release Date: July 2012

I got this copy free in exchange for a review from Library Thing.

This book was in a lot of ways what I expected and also not what I expected. I expected it to be gritty, action-packed, and for there to be a love triangle. Kaya starts out dangerously close to being a damsel in distress but shies away from it by barely a hair’s breadth. The book starts out weak, but don’t give up hope until she’s at the Academy for a little bit before you pass judgement. Between tough-as-nails Maddox, Kaya’s babysitter/guardian, and Trayton, you really see that Kaya isn’t just some pushover heroine.

I didn’t expect, however, for the book to be both action-filled and dragging. Training in secret with a hot off-limits Unskilled is about as risque as the book goes in terms of not conforming to society and working to ensure Kaya’s Barron parents’ safety. In between these forays, there’s a bunch of sitting in class and Kaya holding her anger about the discrimination of Healers versus Barrons which was so close to being a turn off. I was left knowing that Kaya was a bit of a hothead when it came to her beliefs, but not the why. Yes, she did grow up around Unskilled with two Barrons for parents (unheard of and illegal; usually a pair is a Healer and a Barron) so I understand that aspect of her life but for her to buck against anything and everything about the Skilled for such a strong but flimsy reason didn’t really do it for me. I found myself fussing at her in my mind whenever she mouthed off because I didn’t really feel for her cause.

The book is written fairly well, with good solid bases for the characters and some light humor and rebellion. However, I just wasn’t sure I followed where some of the leaps of logic the characters decided upon came from. It wasn’t a deterrent, and I certainly liked the book very well so it is most likely me being a little more critical than normal, but I just wanted a little more.

Enough to keep it on my shelf and eagerly await the next installment (called Soulbroken in case you were interested) and lend it to some friends for sure. A good adventure that sidesteps the worn ideas of “healing with a touch” be it magical or not. There is no easy solution, and this book delves into that caveat.

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Review: THE FALSE PRINCE

   Stars: 5/5

 Format: Hardback

 Read: April 10, 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. From the first sentence, I fell in love with Sage. It’s unusual to have a strong male lead that has spunk in young adult literature, and Sage is definitely it. I was immediately drawn to him like a magnet and he held me captivated the entire story. He is strong, cunning, stubborn, and honorable to a fault (all on his own terms, of course).

The entire book was enjoyable to read in every aspect I could have hoped for. There are plenty of books that I like well enough, mostly for a certain background character or for superior writing. To be honest, sometimes it’s a struggle to continue reading, as opposed to voraciously devouring it and willingly sacrificing sleepless nights as you are craving more. Unfortunately, I valued my grades more than sating my curiosity, so I did not stay up nights, but did find myself reading more than one chapter whilst waiting for, say, my computer to load and looking up forty-five minutes later to find that I had no memory of what I had meant to do.

Nielsen incorporated everything I love about medieval times: no useless technology complicating a good story, chivalry, and the will to survive. I suppose not all of those are exclusive to the medieval period, but that is of little concern. The plot didn’t drag too much, mostly due to Sage and his incorrigible personality, and there was such a stark realness to every character that captivated me (though not too real as to remind me of the world I am currently occupying by no choice of my own). I was, however, a bit baffled with the plot twist. I’m sure other readers caught on quicker than I did, but it slapped me in the face and knocked me for a bit before I could follow the story again. This wasn’t a huge detraction and I might just have horrible reading comprehension skills, but I didn’t see it coming.

After that point, the story felt ever so slightly forced. That might be because, as I already mentioned, I am apparently not the most observant reader in the world, but I felt like Nielsen ran out of things to say in the allotted pages that wouldn’t leave a huge cliff hanger. Possibly my mind was still reeling, but I felt the transition could have been a little smoother.

Overall, if you liked GRACELING or FIRE by Kristin Cashore, I highly suggest you read this book. There aren’t huge similarities other than superficial plot comparisons and characters that are, well, characters, but I got the same vibe from that series as I do from THE FALSE PRINCE. I cannot wait for the next one!

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Review: THE HELP

 Stars: 5/5

  Format: Used Hardcover

  Read: February 23, 2012

This book was a beautiful blend of narrative and introspection. Having grown up in the south in the ’90s, I found that a lot hasn’t changed much between the ’60s and now. Stockett did a fantastic job portraying little southern nuances that might not make much sense to the rest of the United States. There is still female cruelness and hierarchy and it delighted me to read Skeeter’s thoughts on the whole matter. It did have the Scarlet O’Hara pining and whining but included what I like to call the southern woman stubbornness of knowing who you are and not caring if that isn’t accepted.

Though this book is primarily about racial segregation, it’s also about family and loyalty and love and heartbreak and friendship and growing up and deciding things for yourself. Skeeter is naive and purposefully blind to the way the Help has always been treated and it’s a beautiful thing to see her evolve and defy Hilly, her ‘best friend’ since childhood. Her adoration of the woman who raised her and her indifference to her own biological mother was so very indicative that you don’t have to be related to someone to be family and the people you are related to aren’t necessarily your family.

The voices were so lyrical and painfully real. Their story was heavy but filled with lightness where ever they could find it. I especially loved Aibileen and Mae Mobley because they are the perfect example of loving a child because of their differences and not despite of them. Minny’s dedication to Celia even though she distrusted white women was just so honest.

If you’ve seen the movie, that’s fine and dandy, but you have to read the book. The movie leaves out a couple of small but very key details that polish the entire story and make it bloom. There isn’t a perfect happily ever after, but this is the closest book of fiction I’ve ever read that’s come closest to that bittersweet feeling of living a hard life and moving past the bitterness and savoring the good. I do think that this will most likely become a classic because the ‘realness’ of it mirrors, to me, classics such as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and OF MICE AND MEN (though the Help has nothing in common aside from the presentation of the story). It is not a ‘feel good’ book nor is it a ‘not-feel good’ book. It makes you think and feel and in the end, I think that’s all that a good book should do.

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Review: SHATTERED SOULS

 Stars: 5/5

 Format: Hardback 

 Read: January 24, 2012

There are hardly words to describe how much I adore this book. I am just at a loss.

First, I’m fairly certain it’s a stand-alone, which actually works out very well. This is the way the story needed to be; it just feels so right. But just in case you were wondering, I have now dispelled that curiosity.

Second, I LOVE every single character in this book. Every one. I am not kidding. Is it a lyrical masterpiece that will go down in history as a “classic”? Probably not. But it’s real. The characters had depth (although I didn’t pay much attention to Zak, the original boyfriend person, so I suppose I could be wrong about him) and personality and REALNESS to them. Lenzi was a “typical” girl by being slightly “atypical” and aptly side-stepping stereotypes at the last minute instead of making large swerves around them. Something about that “oh I know who she’ll be… wait no. Oh but it could go this way…. oh. I guess not.” It was just a fascinating take on how to make a heroine.

And Alden. Oh Alden. He is the kind of boy that is perfect right where he is. I have no impulse to “re-imagine” him in a different setting with a different character, nor do I have any “crush” on him in the same regard that one would not desire a married man (metaphorically and all). He fit so seemlessly, so absolutely perfectly, but in a toned down “breath of cool air after you’ve endured a long winter” sort of way.

There were parental figures (that actually were present and normal), families, friends, and even the ghosts had personalities. Lindsey definitely did something right when she wrote this book. I am seriously SO in love. I devoured this book and can see myself re-reading it over and over again (whereas some of the books I loved I felt I had found all the mysteries in their pages reading them only once and they sit, untouched, on my bookshelf) with an insatiable appetite every time.

I will now read anything Mary Lindsey writes, no matter what it might be.

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Review: LEGEND

Stars: 5/5

Format: Hardback First Edition

Read: December 1, 2011

So I have been anticipating this book ever since I stumbled upon it earlier this year on goodreads. Fascinating synopsis (if a little vague) and dystopian. I’m all for it. But the real question was, would it stand up to the hype and the platform I had unconsciously placed it on during the many month wait for its release date? Let me tell you, it was on a very high platform. Somehow, Lu surpassed this insanely large and glittering platform.

This isn’t a life changing novel like, say, The Hunger Games or The Book Thief. Yet it is like a cool glass of semi-sweet lemonade on a hot Georgia day. Corny, but true. This book took every dystopian novel written between The Hunger Games and now and found the tiny path less traveled and blew through it. Somehow, Lu avoided the overused stereotypes that have developed within the past five years or so and crafted something beautiful and frank and real.

Although this book has a strong female lead, it also has an equal and opposite strong male lead, where neither overshadows the other. The characters equally balanced each other out, like they were a natural part of the world and not a fantastical story made from some ideas scribbled on a paper. It just felt effortless and right. I liked Day AND June equally for different reasons. This is a rarity, because I have never encountered a shared situation where I liked both of the main characters independently AND together. That I understood them, and didn’t root against either’s point of view. I was simply content to lose myself in the story.

I made myself savor this book (savoring, for me, is three days instead of one) because I knew I wouldn’t find another voice like Lu’s for a while and I wanted to bask in the glow of a beautifully crafted book. And by book, I mean the plot, characters, twists, world-building, you name it. Of course, I’m not saying it’s perfect and amazing and you’ll adore it no matter who you are. There will be critics I am sure, but what I am saying is that whatever flaws there were, were so small that I (being the picky reader I am) don’t remember anything bad about this book.

Marie Lu has found a die hard fan simply because of one book that I happened to anticipate, decide to pre-order without looking for prior reviews, gamble with my hard earned college student salary for a book that I had no guarantees on, and tear through it like a chocolate addict. Quite simply, I will buy whatever she writes from now on, no questions asked (and that is high praise from a college student).

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