Friday, November 2, 2012

Mini Reviews: 11 - 2 - 12

I keep telling myself to review as I go, but sometimes books just pile up! What can I say? I read too quickly. :D
 My Rating: *****

How is it possible Rick Riordan keeps getting better??? This is my favorite book by him so far. Which means a lot, because I've certainly given him a lot of love on this blog in the past. The story was richer and deeper, the characters more intense, conflicted, and lovable. And the humor? Off the charts hilarious. I've been waiting for this book for a long time. To finally get all these characters interacting together has been completely worth the wait. It's like how all the superhero movies have been fun (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, etc...), but The Avengers trumps them all. :D

And Annabeth? She gets all the gold stars here. She's always been a favorite, but hearing parts of the story from her perspective was incredible. I'm not being very specific here, but it's hard to add details when you're so deep into a series without giving away any spoilers. Just trust me. Absolutely brilliant.

But ARRRRGHHHH!!!!!!!!! What a cliff-hanger!!!! GAHHH!!!!

Is it too early to pre-order The House of Hades?


Goodreads summary:
In a desert world of sandstorms and sand-wolves, a teen girl must defy the gods to save her tribe in this mystical, atmospheric tale from the author of Drink, Slay, Love. Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.

My Rating: ****

I really enjoyed Vessel. It's the kind of book I wish I could write. (This is also the first book I've ever read by Sarah Beth Durst, but you can bet I'll be checking out more from her). I loved the world she's created here. So rich and atmospheric and full of magic and mythology and history. Sarah Beth Durst has described her desert land (with its people and their wealth of stories) with gorgeous writing.

And I really enjoyed Liyana as a character. Practical almost to a fault, it was kind of refreshing to have such a cool-headed heroine. Most of the heroines I read are high emotion, high drama types, and I loved Liyana's ability to chill, assess a situation, and get right to work solving the problem.

I felt a little like I was left wanting in a couple places. The romance was a little meh for me. I didn't love the way it ended and on top of that Liyana's practicality made it hard for me to feel like her heart was involved. Then there's Korbyn. I'm a huge fan of trickster gods, but I thought Korbyn was a bit of a disappointing one. I was waiting for him to turn trickster and be all unexpected, but he never did. 

Still, I loved every moment I spent reading this and was completely engrossed in the story (and especially the setting). Lovely writing!

Recommended for: Fans of fantasy and mythology. It reminded me a bit of Rick Riordan's Egyptian series (with gods and mortals working together in the same body), and while I'm on that vein, also kind of like The Host (it's difficult when the person possessing you is in love with the same person you're falling in love with...).


From Goodreads:
Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

My Rating: ***

I recently got into NetGalley, which is a great source for professional readers (which I happen to be as a book blogger :D - don't I sound all hoity-toity calling myself a professional reader?) where I can request a digital copy of books to read for review from various publishers. When I first got on to NetGalley I was like a kid in a candy store. I can read books before they're published! Wahoo! So I requested several and was shocked when I actually got approved for most of them! This is the first review I've done of a NetGalley book and I want to say thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for letting me read The Lost Prince early. It is now released (as of the 23rd, I believe) so you can buy this book or request it from the library if you're interested!

I chose The Lost Prince because it sounded great and not because I'm a fan of Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series. Not that I don't like her other books... I just haven't read them yet. I was a little worried about that when I requested The Lost Prince, but decided to just go for it anyway, since The Lost Prince is the beginning of a whole new series in the same world. So, from experience, let me just tell you that if you haven't read the other Iron Fey books, you can start here and not feel too lost or left out of the loop. Sure there were times when it felt like Julie Kagawa was going, "Look! It's your favorite character here for a cameo!" but it didn't happen too often and the story stayed Ethan's.

I really liked Ethan. He made a great tormented hero. He acted like a complete jerk, but since I was inside his head I knew he was actually just afraid of the fey and terrified of getting close to people who might end up dead because of his tendency to be attacked by monsters.

I've always been a fan of faery stories and this one did some great things with fey mythology. I liked the whole magic system and the difference between the iron fey and regular fey. The villains were perfectly terrifying too.

My complaints? The romance developed too quickly and there was a soap-opera-y twist to it at the end too. And overall, while I liked it, it was easy to put down and I found myself constantly peeking ahead to see if I could get to something more interesting. The pacing felt a little slow. But when it finally picked up I liked where it went.

Recommended for: Fans of Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series.

From Goodreads:
"Long live the King" hailed "Entertainment Weekly" upon the publication of Stephen King's "On Writing." Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 -- and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, "On Writing" will empower and entertain everyone who reads it -- fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

My Rating: ****

Not my usual read, but I've been wanting to do NaNoWriMo this year and I thought a book on writing might be just the kickstart I need. And it was. After reading it I've been feeling much more motivated to squeeze a few hundred words in a day. This book is totally inspiring.

And Stephen King's writing advice is excellent. As I read I kept wanting to take notes and highlight favorite sections and sentences. I resisted since it was a library book, but I may just need to buy a copy for myself.

Although... I'm not sure I'd want to read the whole thing again. The section on his life was interesting, but I can see why he became a horror novelist. He had kind of a twisted childhood. And the language in this book is pretty foul. He didn't use the "F" word as casually as J.K. Rowling did in Casual Vacancy, but it was plenty enough times for me (and really, Casual Vacancy isn't a very good measure because a book could have twenty "F" words per page and still not be as bad as Casual Vacancy).

But, like I said, the section on writing is genius. I immediately pulled out a recent transcript and turned into a serial killer, hacking and slashing at adverbs and dialogue tags and passages with passive voice.

Hmmm.... Maybe reading a book by Stephen King has been a bad influence on me. :D Too violent a metaphor?

And I'm pretty sure I never want to read any of Stephen King's novels. Just the brief blurbs and bits and descriptions of his inspiration were enough to give me nightmares. No thanks.

Highly recommended for: Anyone wanting some writing inspiration!

Done for the day! I think I should stop calling these mini-reviews. :D Sorry for being long-winded!

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