Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Life Next Door Book Review

Rawr Reader,

   I'm almost done with my summer classes woohoo! This is a very light read, and perfect for summer I thought. By the time I finish the book I may be done with classes but for now, I still have a week left. Who knows maybe I'll finish before? This is My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. The synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time."

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

  I can't remember where I first learned about this book. Huh. That's weird.

(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, will contain some spoilers)
   I believe I had more problems with this than I thought I was going to. I mean, it is a nice summery read but the cons outweighed the pros. So let's begin.
   I felt all the main characters were archetypes of their kind: the jock, the druggie, the quiet main girl, the best friend who has it rough-- the only thing I felt that stood out about this book was that the Garrett family was huge. Otherwise what made this story stand out among all the other YA chick lit you see on the bookshelves? Not much.
   One of my main issues with this book was that it was too colloquial. The grammar bugged the hell out of me, beginning multiple sentences with conjunctions where a simple punctuation mark like a comma would have easily fixed the problem. The reason it bothers me so much was that it ruined the flow of the story, I needed to reread simple sentences and that just made me feel stupid since this book isn't difficult to read at all.
    Another problem that probably was what made me dislike the story from the beginning was that I absolutely hated the main character Samantha. Samantha and her mom. Samantha and her mom and Clay. I wanted to shut the book and never open it again I hated how blind the mom was and how weak Sam was. I could rant for twenty minues about how much I hate Sam and her mom, but I have better things to do. Though I don't know why I'm surprised, I shouldn't have expected much from a rich girl who's got it easy-- in literature they're all the same and if you disagree, I beg you to give me an example where you don't see it in a chick lit.
    And while I did like Jase's character, he was a little too perfect. The "extremely gorgeous," (that's always the number one thing with protagonist guys in YA lit because being just plain normal looking is forbidden!), a football player~ jocks will always choose the unconfident girl,  amazing with kids, defensive over his girl when the girl doesn't defend him, shall I continue? Oh and my favorite, she watched him as he had watched her and being neighbors for ten years, naturally none of them ever crossed paths. I mean, c'mon, how could they be  neighbors in a small town for ten years and hardly know who was who?? And he and Sam argued once if I'm correct-- right before she broke up with him, and it wasn't even an argument! It was Sam trying to console Jase and he asking for space, so she left. He never did wrong in this story and I say that's a big no-no. No person is perfect in real life, so why the hell am I reading about people who are?
    If you know what a deus ex machina is, then you know how much I hate them from the beginning and how I hated it in this book. There wasn't really a conflict at all in this book. Perhaps maybe if the mom was more adamant and in opposition against Jase I would have understood but the only confrontation Sam and her mom have doesn't really impress since the mom sorts of drops it afterward. The conflict is about where the climax should have taken place-- about 100 pages from the end. And that doesn't even make sense since conflict isn't a moment in a plot line, it's what pushes the characters along and so most of the book is just what happened to her. And believe me, you can have conflict in romance-- perfect example: Pride & Prejudice. I'll just leave that there.
   One thing I don't like when reading is the author flat out telling me how to feel. Or flat out what the character is feeling. If I'm reading a scene, based off of what happens I can usually deduce how a character may be feeling (if the author has successfully characterized them well). That is to say I don't mind an author letting me in a character's head-- but not in every scene. I argue I only want to know if the scene is important, suspenseful, or a step in developing the character. Otherwise it seems unimportant and useless.
   I don't want to rant this entire book so I'll say some things I liked about the book, one being the Garretts. I don't know if it's purely the fact that there are so many of them and they were characterized better than Sam, but whenever we were over at their house, I felt I enjoyed the story more. Though I was a little surprised a lot of this book wasn't spent developing with the dynamics of the Garrett family and intertwining too much of her life "not next door." For example, a lot about Nan and Tim and her job at the B&N and her swimming early at some pool. Now don't get me wrong I liked that this was part of her life and not solely about Jace-- but more time could have been spent not talking about stuff that doesn't pertain to Sam's personal life and her relationship with Jase. Woops, turns out I complained after all.
  Something else I liked about this story was the development of Tim. It turned out he was the one to be the better friend than Nan-- who has been best friends with Sam for TWELVE years. The reason  Nan broke it off with Sam was because she caught her cheating. I mean calm down! Argue about the morality of it, but if you've been through so much together (which I can't imagine how you cannot over a twelve year friendship), it shouldn't call quits to whatever you have. I guess I'm just not a fan of girl choosing romance over friendship-- especially a friendship that has been in your life for more than half your lifetime vs. a possibly summer fling romance. And if Sam can let go of that friendship so easily-- what does that say about her character, I mean if she really cared? 
   Not. Very. Much!
   That is to say I'm probably just very critical after reading other novels for school that aren't geared toward teens and based more off of reality. Or maybe I just shouldn't be reading these types of books because I may just rank them all bad. Though I did enjoy Anna and the French Kiss. It was probably because it was set in another country and the conflict was actually realistic. 
   In honesty I probably shouldn't be reading chick lit in the first place-- but I'm such a sucker for cheesy romances. Ironic since I can never seem to find one I like... Oh well! Back to my fantasy/sci-fi/mystery/thriller/adult genres it is!

I give this book 2/5 stars. I didn't like this book, grammar or story/character/plot wise, however there were parts I did find redeemable about this book. Ergo, not 1 star material.

"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed."
-C.G. Jung

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
1984 by George Orwell

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

Seraphina Book Review

Rawr Reader,

    I've delayed reading this book for too long! This is Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, the synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

   I've seen this many times for the past year or so, and finally got it because I needed to read a book with dragons! Last time I read one heavily encompassed with dragons was Eragon.

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
   I read most of the book in one day, but I started it weeks ago so I had a slow start from the get go. I'm telling you this because this story seemed to go very slow for me in the beginning. And by beginning I mean about the first 200 pages. It started to get interesting around the half way point.
   But despite the slow start, I found the world building to be the element that stood out the most to me. While I would argue it took me a while to get a grasp of the world, unlike in Eon, in which I found the world building to be incredibly, incredibly well done, the culture within the first 100-200 pages took me a very long time to understand it. There are so many saints and I can't tell who is important or what. And then there are made up names (though there is a glossary in the back) like Mootya, Porphyry, pygegyria, saarantras, and many more that take a while to comprehend (saarantras was probably the easiest to learn and understand). I was torn about complaining about it, but it was what made this world in this story so unique and beautiful and I can't not appreciate it. I would definitely live in this world-- I argue I would live in almost every world that has dragons.
   The relationships in this story are sometimes a little too much for me. One that sticks out most to me was Seraphina and Kiggs. While I argue that in Cinder I didn't really see it much as a romance than more sci-fi, this book isn't more romance than fantasy however I felt that Kiggs showed up way too much. I imagine this city that they live in is huge-- and Kiggs being the Captain of the Queen's Guard shouldn't really be out and about as much as he is shown to be than with the Queen herself, so I found that a little too much for me. A relationship I say that was one of my favorites was between Seraphina and Fruit Bat, or Seraphina and Orma. 
   Okay, characters. I quite honestly liked all of the characters, the good and the bad. They weren't cliché good or bad and were characterized as well as they could have been written since this story has a butt load of characters. My favorites have to be Orma, Lars, Fruit Bat, and Glisselda. The people I would rank right below them would be Seraphina, Kiggs, Viridius, and basically all the other characters. I can't find one I didn't find likeable in some fashion. 
    I really enjoyed the concept of dragons in this story. They have the ability to transform into human form and value knowledge in much the same esteem as treasure. They find being a teacher is the most highly ranked title you can receive, higher than a parent or family member-- since dragons don't have emotions unless they're in their human form. However even though dragons and men have had peace for 40 years, men still distance themselves from them and treat them with repugnance. I just love seeing dragons in fantasy, whether looked down on and frightened like in Seraphina, or revered and worshiped as in Eon, or thought lost and feared as in Eragon or A Game of Thrones, or just feared like in The Hobbit. Yeah, I didn't really think about it but I have read a couple dragon books. And I expect to read many more in the future! Hehe.
   I loved Hartman's writing style overall while I did find some of the dialogue to be a little confusing and jolting-- I had to reread some sentences to understand what the sentences meant in context, and sometimes I still didn't understand it. It was refreshingly nice to read from a writer that has a voice on the page. I'm 50 percent sure if I read another book by Hartman I could tell it was her. Such a lovely storyteller and I can't wait to read the sequel!   

I give this book 4/5 stars. I took a star away because it took me a long time to really get into the story, but once I was hooked I loved everything about this story.

Author's Quote:
"Your lies didn't stop me loving you; your truth hasn't stopped me either."
-Lucian Kiggs, Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   My favorite part is near the end, just after Orma and Imlann duel when Seraphina is torn between going to see if Abdo is alive and Lars is telling her to go and find him-- whether in Heaven or not. It's page 413 in my hardback edition. I think that moment out of everything that happened in the book showed how Seraphina developed as a character. 
   Unlike in the novel The Diviners, Hartman was able to introduce other characters with rare abilities like our protagonist and actually have them worth something important to the story. Meaning-- they actually acted in something in the book to change the course of the ending. I don't want to rant about The Diviners  on two posts so I'll just leave it at that. But yes, even thought this is a different book with a different author, when I was reading more and more about Lars and Abdo and the others, I was afraid they were going to turn out unimportant. Hallelujah that didn't happen. In fact they were some of my favorite characters as I said in my review above.
   Nearing the end, I was afraid the mystery behind Josef was going to be left unanswered. I know she tells us why Lars wouldn't say who he was (something about he was from a disgraced family name or something like that from another part of the country), but coming to the end I was really worried.
   I had problems with Kiggs and Seraphina's relationship. Kiggs always seemed to appear out of nowhere, it was getting near the end of stalking. But I guess others would use the more operative word "coincidence." Either way, I felt the romantic sense of the story was the most lacky and disappointing part of the story. Though I was sad for Seraphina in the end since Kiggs chose to stay with Glisselda until they figured out what to do, I was glad that was how it ended. He isn't the kind of guy to just drop everything for love, he holds honor and a person's word with high respect and keeps it. That showed everything about his character then. I mean, clearly from reading through the book he cared about Seraphina, so it wasn't like he was using her. In fact, he did what he did because he didn't want to use Glisselda who was an innocent party in that scenario.
   Actually, I want to talk about why Glisselda was one of my favorite characters. When she first enters the story, people assume what she's going to end up being, a spoiled brat who does what she's told and only wants things her way. That's exactly how I expected her to be, but she fooled me and that's due to brilliance of twists that I love. Actually that surprised me more than Imlann turning out to be Lady Corongi-- though I was very surprised. Her character reminded me of Tyrion Lannister from A Game of Thrones who I figured would be the antagonist but turned out to be one of the protagonists. Always surprise the reader (in the good way) and that is what will make a story and its characters live forever.
   I am really excited for the sequel. I said this in my review, but I just am really excited!

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Near Witch Book Review

Rawr Reader,

   As Victoria Schwab being one of my favorite authors, and simply not being able to wait for The Unbound, the second book in The Archived series, or Vicious, an adult book that deals with villain protagonists which sounds pretty badass right there, I knew I needed to read another one of her books. I plan on rereading The Archived again soon but I wanted another book of hers on my shelf, thank you very much! I got this in the mail a couple of hours ago and decided to start on it pronto, since it's a short book anyways so why not? The Near Witch is her debut novel, and the synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. 

But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi's need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

    I read The Archived several months ago and looked up any other books out by her and this was one of them!

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
   I don't have much to say, my mind is completely exhausted from so much reading and schoolwork, so sorry this isn't going to be a long review.
   While the title gives the reader the thought the book will be focused mainly on a witch, it's true. It does. I just wanted to grab your attention.
   After reading, I find myself not disappointed necessarily in the book, but just that I wasn't impressed much by the overall story. It turned out to be really slow and what could I expect when this is a town that has no connection to the real world, though it's time in the world is never cleared up. I assumed it was some fairy tale village but then they mentioned guns and that really threw me off. Especially since the town seems to only be cottages and trees, never mentioning a lake or metal mine-- so I'm not really sure where they get the guns from. 
  But aside from that I just didn't like the story around the witch. I wasn't so much impressed since we were following a normal girl called Lexi. That's probably why I didn't get much farther with reading the Harry Potter series after the first one (though I'd guess it's because I've seen the movies countless times). I guess of the supernatural creatures and beings, witches never live up to the hype and I haven't found an author to change my mind. Personal preference of course.
  However the author's style in describing actions or scenes in this book are so refreshing and magical I enjoyed how it was written far more than the story. And while I probably wouldn't read it again, I'm still excited for Victoria Schwab's upcoming books: Vicious and The Unbound!

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

Author's Quote:
“Magda looks at me as if I've gone mad. Or I've grown up. It's kind of the same thing.” 

― Victoria Schwab, The Near Witch

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   I wish we learned more about Cole. I mean what more is there to say other than he burned down his village, but we never learn what his real name is (which I thought it'd be revealed by the end) or what his age is (I assumed it was around 16 since that's how old Lexi was).
   It never really explained how Cole found Near in the first place, only that the two witches, Magda and Dreska took in a stranger. I'm assuming the reason he was able to enter Near was because he was a witch.  ----Yeah so I just saw the novella about his life so I'll get to reading it soon. ^^

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Monster Calls Book Review

Rawr Reader,

  I bought this book because the title sounded interesting, and then I looked it up on my good pal Goodreads and read the synopsis and then that caught my interest even more. And then I saw the book cover and fell in love. I think I was meant to read this book. I don't know why but I like to read about the dark and gothic and estranged in stories, so I didn't waste a minute. A Monster Calls is written by Patrick Ness, who was inspired by an idea by Siobhan Dowd (which is a name that I love), and illustrated by Jim Kay. The synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

   A couple of weeks ago I saw the booktuber Ohcakey do a video where she discussed her top favorite books in 2013, and yes this was one of them.

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
   I haven't read a book so quite simply written. I want to say this would be for middle-schoolers, since it isn't a long book and it even has pictures (which I will talk about later), but there were sometimes that there'd be like a cuss word so I don't know, for in between middle school and young adult. Conor is 13 so he's in that awkward middle stage.
   Alright, such a fantastic relief to have a main character that isn't a girl. I read a lot of YA so I'm usually living in a girl's shoes which can be overdone since they all ultimately are the same girl, but I digress my point. Conor is a sweet-hearted boy who has a rough life, and so his disposition is rougher than it seems in school and at home. With his mother sick with an unknown illness which the reader assumes is cancer and with having to deal with bullies at school, Conor just wants to get through each day in peace, preferably without having the nightmare. 
    The story begins with Conor awaken at 12:07pm afraid of facing the monster from his nightmare, but when he sees that the monster outside his window isn't what he expects, he finds himself going on a journey that will change his life forever. The monster will tell Conor three tales and by the end, Conor will have to tell the monster the truth.
    While I thought this story was going to be different (I thought the monster was going to be some helpless fictional creature that Conor would learn to befriend-- yeah, not at all), however I am not disappointed with how it worked out. It follows Conor through the nights when he meets the monster and through his life at the hospital with his mom, or at school with bullies and an old friend, or even from visits from his grandmother and father.
    What I really enjoyed while reading was the simplicity of the story. There were I want to say ten characters overall in this book and it was so easy to know one from the other. Obviously there were some more important than others, such as Conor and his mother, but I found myself loving how characterized they all were. Conor has twisted knots with almost everyone in this book, and for some reason I enjoyed that about him. He was conflicted internally and it surpassed to his daily life. He wasn't some mayhoo who suffered in silence, he was just himself, not taking advantage of any pity from anyone. 
   I loved how the ending wrapped up the lesson Conor was learning throughout the book. 
   Okay, and the images throughout the book are so powerful and mesmerizing. I felt like I was walking in a dream. That is to say, I'm not always so dark and morbid sounding, I like color-- but there's something to say when an artist can evoke an emotion with a black and white picture from the viewer. I wonder if Jim Kay, the artist of the images in the book, used charcoal or oils or what to create the images. Or did he just use a computer? I don't know, but whatever they are, if they're sold in large print I would get around to buying a piece. If you're curious as to what some of the images look like, take a look at the book trailer on youtube:
   This is a simple read that someone who is used to reading bulky sized books (like me) can read easily in two to three hours (since a good quarter to a third of the book are images, plus the pages aren't filled with words). I'm so happy I read this book and will probably be rereading it again soon. A simple tale can sometimes be more powerful than a brick-sized book with a dozen plot twists and a town of characters. 

I give this book 4/5 stars. I highly recommend!

Author's Quote:
"You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do."
-The Monster, Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
    I loved the monster character. He seemed like someone who I would get a kick being sarcastic around. For example in the Wildness of Stories chapter, when Conor was being sarcastic and the monster was so confused. That was the moment I really began to connect with Conor's character, and just enjoy the monster's reaction to it. I also liked how he told the stories, making it sound like one thing but meaning something out of the story something entirely different. The good queen who was a bad witch, the greedy Apothecary who healed, etc. And while I didn't necessarily predict how it would all turn out, I had some guess by the fourth tale. Yes I'm slow.
    Which leads me to the chapter with the fourth tale, I absolutely loved how it was written. I mean I loved it all, but specifically that chapter. I could imagine if this book turned into a movie, how the cameraman who zoom around between the monster and Conor, when Conor would make after Harry while the monster would be talking in Conor's ear at the same time. Maybe it was the music I was listening to at the time that made that scene seem so epic. Nevertheless, I loved it so much. I think I made me point.
   And I'm not typically a fan of books that deal with terminally ill characters, especially ones that are directly or relatively close to the main character if their not sick themselves. So when I read that part in the beginning, I was a little put down and expecting not to enjoy this book as much. But by the end I saw why it was necessary and how centrally plotted her sickness would be to help Conor grow-- which is why I read books! I changed along with him and wasn't just part of some small time of his life which some authors think that's why readers read. I don't want to end on a rant, but yes, I loved how everything in this book turned back to Conor and his revelation to the truth. How his thoughts don't define who he is, or what he does. 
    And the images are stunning. I already said that in my review, but I felt like reiterating. Because. They. Are.

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

The Diviners Book Review

Rawr Reader,

    Hello there. This is The Diviners by Libba Bray. The synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

   I passed by this book so many times at the bookstore, but when I read it was set in the 1920s, I had to get it. Especially after reading Sirens by Janet Fox and loving it, I immediately wanted to return to the era! :)

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
    Okay, I'm going to try and be fair with this book, I wanted to like it. The Roaring Twenties. Manhattan. Dreams, lights, parties, mystery, suspense. I needed to love this book. But alas, here I am about to rant. And cry. Why did it have to turn out this way?
   I'd first like to start off with the characters. It takes several chapters, I'd say nearing 100 pages in to establish that we're not following Evie, the main protagonist in this book. So I sat back and consented, that's okay right? Some books like to be third POV omniscient. I beg to differ, Bray loves to jump from one character's mind to another-- back and forth-- IN THE SAME CHAPTER. I almost tore my hair out. If you want to go into another character's mind-- at least separate it in chapters so at least I know who's mind I was in. And maybe that wouldn't even be half a problem if these characters were a little bit characterized. Externally they may look different (though I argue that I didn't even get a good sense of what even Evie looked like until the end!)-- the academic reticent uncle Will, the fame seeking party-goer Evie, the reserved clandestine Jericho, the troublesome pick-pocketer Sam, the seemingly flimsy Theta, the humble submissive Mabel, I could go on since there are a butt load of main characters but none really truly developed. Bray goes into each back story (though it does take her a long time to unravel them so most of the book you're walking in the dark).
   She established the setting and the time, but what about my characters? What do they look like, what are their ages (though I will say she for the most part did give the ages of Evie, Sam and Jericho), do they have scars, any bad habits? For me to truly understand someone, you have to know them. You can't just push a reader into a story thinking they're in the author's head knowing what everyone looks like and how exactly their reacting (though for the most part she did that well, a mix of action and dialogue).
   But I think something she did very well was keep the characters in time, meaning their language. When I read over the dialogue I believed that I was in the 1920s with them. Their expressions and idioms, while I don't know since I wasn't alive then, seemed believable of a time once upon one.
   I will commend Bray on writing suspense and horror. There were a handful of times I had shivers because of the scenes that she described. The first chapter begins it, with the revelation and resurrection so to speak of the villain (sprung from a board game, symbolism perhaps?). 
   But there were too many chapters that I saw the plot going no where. If not to develop the story, then I'd hope they would develop the characters but it was what we already knew of the characters and we weren't learning anything. So for the most part, I found this book a slow read. I may have read it fast, but that was me anxious to be done with the story since I wasn't taking a liking to it from the first 100 pages.
   And certain details of the ending were predictable! But overall, jeez I was hoping that maybe it'll rap up the story lines but nope-- the publishing people probably wanted to make a series out of it so I'll be expecting a sequel in a year or so. And no, I won't be reading it.  
I give this book 2/5 stars.

"The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism."
-Wole Soyinka
My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness  
Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
Illustrated by Jim Kay

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   Oh my gosh, Bray has a horrible way of describing her characters. Memphis being one of the main ones. I didn't know he was black until 100 or so pages in. I mean, if she wasn't going to say it outright, at least give me some hint by other people's reactions. Because how he acted doesn't let me believe that that how he'd be treated in 1926 Manhattan... Or how about his brother, I could not place a finger on his age and it bugged me the entire book. 
   I want to devote an entire rant to Evie-- I so deeply deeply despised her character. I thought-- well she's shallow and selfish and skin-deep minded now, maybe she'll change by the end. Jokes on me-- because whether she truly didn't change at the end or Bray only set it up that way so that a next book would be already set up so she could "develop" in that one. A couple of examples that just made me hate Evie more at the end: when she exposed herself as a Diviner just to stay in NYC, when she made out with Jericho even though her best friend has practically loved him for years. I mean, I don't think I'd be happy with her with anyone so this point just may be moot. But yes, didn't like her character.
   Some people who's story weren't cleanly explained or wrapped up in the end: Sam with his missing mother (though the end he just got a name as to where to find her-- my argument is why should I care? he was barely present in the stories but only to flirt with Evie or steal from her) and Henry who was looking for someone (apparently he's a Diviner too?). Lillian and Addie, what was their purpose? They lived in the Bennington with Evie and Mabel but they didn't do anything in this book.
   The Diviners (as to my understanding):
  • Evie: when holding an object of said person, she can look into their past and discover whatever secrets may be seen
  • Memphis: hands of healing, but his skill was lost the same day of his mother's death
  • Jericho: super strength -- JUST KIDDING. He isn't a Diviner but part man part robot! Is this a joke? Really? The technology wasn't advanced in the 1920s, I mean they hardly had cars!
  • Henry: could enter a person's dreams
  • Theta: crap I can't remember if she had a gift or not.
  • Blind Bill Johnson: he can generate lightning bolts and shock people (as which he did to Isaiah)
  • Sam: illusions, he can evade a person's sight by simply stating "you can't see me" -- which I chuckle at whilst reading
      By the time I kept reading about these people and their skills, I found it harder and harder to believe that no one in the entire world hadn't been discovered yet. Especially in NYC where the strange is normal. Like I'm sure they would have had some of these "Diviners" would have exposed themselves and claimed it was the black arts or such.
    And then there's the other characters who I had trouble putting my finger on. Will Fitzgerald (Evie's uncle) who knows more than he's telling about the Diviners. And Sister Walker who knew of Isaiah's and possibly Memphis's talents yet did nothing about it but continued to test them. She didn't even try to recruit them to some Diviners camp or such. The chapter with Mary White confused me so much, at first I thought it was about the daughter but then no it was about before she met John Hobbes. 

    To be honest the only people I cared for were Theta and Henry. Risque and flirtatious and party-goes they may be, but they also were the most genuine of all the characters. They shared a commonality of devotion to each other, a sibling bond between strangers that was established the day they met. And while I'm happy that Theta didn't die in the end, I was a little disappointed that Bray would conveniently let one of the main characters live and let Daisy and "nobody" die. 
    The ending in a way, slapped me silly and laughed in my face. 
    I didn't understand this chapter, Evie just had to repeat some words and hold out her most precious possession so it could destroy the enemy. When it said that John Hobbes for the first time showed a sign of fear, I laughed out loud. Really? Saying some jo-shmo words was what frightened him. I mean, this is from a girl who indeed was foolish and stupid to take on the Beast-- a maniac killer who did his deeds by the "word of the Lord." I didn't even believe that some guy was the Beast. Ultimately it's this, a very passionate church who transcribed words out of their butt in the claim it was from the "word of the Lord," made up some ritual to which the Beast could be resurrected. Then randomly one day they decide it's this John Hobbes, and decades later-- after the fact he'd killed innocents and was hanged for it-- returned to life and had this unspeakable power that was as mysterious and universally powered like the Almighty God's power, who ultimately would take over the world and destroy it. *takes a breath* Yeah... This wasn't believable from the start. Black magic I'd believe-- but claiming it Christian works and then showing it off with magic (I mean what would you call Naughty John magically shutting doors, appearing out of nowhere, making fires aflame and then distinguished in seconds, the list goes on and on) just really confused me. If it's going to be religious arts, keep it in that context, if it's magic, keep it with the black spirit arts. Intertwining Christian and pagan "magic" to so speak isn't believable or logical even in this fantasy setting. Maybe if it was some mythical religion like in A Game of Thrones, I'd buy it more. 
    And I want to talk about Jericho. In another book, I believe I would have loved him as a character. He's the strong silent type, what can I say, they're my favorite. But in the end when it's revealed he's some sort of robot man (reminded me a little of Will Smith in I, Robot), it just ruined it for me. I'm supposed to believe that sort of technology existed in the 1920s.) Ha! And then the "love triangle" was more of a distraction because it didn't develop past flirtations. No one out right confronted it or defended it (probably looking out more for their image), and it was only what the reader read when in those awkward chapters the POV would switch from Evie to Jericho or to Sam. If it was going to be so poorly defended or developed-- then take it out. If the author is wishing to "develop" it in the next book, it's a pity that no platform was set up in this book. Unless you want to call Evie's unpredicted change of heart to Jericho near the end and her meaningless make out session at the very end a platform. Set up, fine, I'll give you that, but wobbly and unstable. Not a good platform at all.
    Overall-- so many stories from so many characters and to be frank, 80% of them seemed irrelevant. The book is titled The Diviners and yet what did the "The Diviners" do in the end? Nothing. One girl-- coincidentally she was a Diviner and was victorious over evil, but the other Diviners did jack squat. They didn't develop as characters and most of their scenes and back story seemed unnecessary. Yes, in a word, disappointed. I was so very disappointed in this book.

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Clash of Kings Book Review

Rawr Reader,

   I took way too long in finishing it, but in my defense my classes are intense, summer terms generally are. It's been a little over a month since I finished A Game of Thrones, so I think it's time that I start the next one. I've started and completed two other series and I feel like I've neglected my child too much. Ergo, A Clash of Kings. This will be my last summer read and I wanted to end on a good note since I know I'm going to love this book. George R.R. Martin, please don't let me down. The synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over and age of enforced peace are dead...victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. 

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

This is the second book in the Song of Ice and Fire series.

(safe for those who haven't read this book)
   What I particularly loved about this book has to be the fact that it began to intertwine elements of fantasy I think makes the genre. Which is magic! The supernatural. Monsters. Spirits! All that jazz. And as you know from the end of the first book-- dragons!
   After the emotional ride of the first book, I wasn't expecting anything less in this one. Death, betrayal, secrets, this book may be probably more emotional. While I read this over the course of about two weeks, I had to come back and forth on the stories, but still whenever something happened-- which is almost every chapter-- I'd be just as anxious as to find out how the conflict would be resolved. 
   However there were some things that bothered me, the pacing being one of them. While I still enjoyed every chapter, there were a bunch of times I would put the book aside because I didn't feel the story going anywhere. Well, that's the wrong phrase, I felt that I couldn't quite picture what was happening so I mindlessly read over words. These moments were particularly the battle scenes and those scenes in the north with Jon Snow. Another sad point, while I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters of Jon in A Game of Thrones, in this book I felt some of his chapters incredibly hard to get through. 
   And about the ending, it wasn't as climatic I felt as the first book because that ending was really shocking, this one was just a nice ending. It's a nice set-up for the next book.
   I feel a little rusty when writing reviews so I can't find much else to say. Or maybe I wrote down most of my feelings overall about the series I can't say much else without sounding redundant. Sorry! 
   But yes, great story. Many amazing moments in this book and while I wish I could start the next one immediately, I have other books to read. Maybe in a month or so! :)

I give this book 4.5/5 stars. I would've given it five stars however the pacing was a little bit inconstant.

Author's Quote:
"Where were the gods then? The gods don't care about men, no more than kings care about peasants."
Brienne, A Clash of Kings

"You've ended that. I will hurt you for this. I don't know how yet, but give me time. A day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you'll know the debt is paid."
-Tyrion, George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:
The Diviners by Libba Bray

River Song Spoiler's:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   Saddest death in this book? In my opinion, as all reviews generally tend to be, has to be Bran and Rickon. It was the saddest death until it was revealed that they weren't! If you're reading this and you haven't read this book, shame! Now I ruined it for you. But other than that, I argue the saddest death was Yoren of the Night's Watch. Renly and Stannis didn't really hold me with an respect so with them out of the picture, it'll help to concentrate the war between Robb and Joffrey. Which by the way-- how is he still on the throne?
  The Hound, aka Sandor Clegane, I really began to notice had a soft spot for Sansa probably near the beginning, though he saved her or at least pitied her plenty throughout. I really want to see how the Hound makes his appearance. And while I enjoyed the chapters with Sansa, I hope in the next book she puts up more of a fight, because as of late the submissive nature gets a little boring and predictable.
   Arya is great, I'd have to say other than Tyrion Lannister, she's my favorite character. I believe I said that in my last review but it still holds true in this book. She's a perfect example of a multi-dimensional character. She makes mistakes and she's eager to learn and make her house proud. And she's driven to get home. How could you not admire that?
   Tyrion Lannister has a incredibly tough life, and that ending-- with him awakening to discover he's bedridden by injuries, some of which take his already grotesque face to a higher level of disgrace, I'm curious to read how Tyrion fares in A Storm of Swords. Will he be able to return to Shae? How will his father treat him? Or even more importantly, what does Cersei plan to do with him now that her father's there? Especially after he poisoned her, we'll see if she discovers that.
   How Robb continues to win these battles really baffles me. And this is probably since we never hear the story from his perspective, but how? When reading through Catelyn's POV we learn how he's backed by other people like the Freys and others in the north, but I would just assume that the Lannisters would win since they're the rich ones. That's how stories usually go. The bad win all the battles while good wins the war at the end. Thank you George for not following that guideline.
    I'm a little disappointed in the Daenerys chapters. While all the magic and dragons and spirits mainly happened in her travels, I loved that, but she just seemed to be all talk and no action. She spoke big-- and who wouldn't with three dragons on her back-- I mean not only are they terrifying creatures but they're incredibly rare and precious, I'd probably lower my eyes to her as well. In the beginning of the series I admired her, but now I just see her as a kinder version of her brother Viseyrs. She goes to the wealthy, begging and speaking pleasantries to her advantage. Not only is she in her prime and beautiful, but she has three dragons that only she can tame, she doesn't seem at least a little manipulative? I mean, while I didn't want her to marry Xaro Xhoan Daxos, like what was she expecting him to do? Give her whatever she wanted for free?? Her queenhood is really getting to her head. Not only is she an ex-queen since her husband has died, but she claims to be the true ruler of Westeros-- a land far across the sea and expects these people on the other side of the sea to just openly help her. I mean, she hardly even has a following-- about 100 khalasar and three dragons and an old exiled knight. She's led a rough life I'll admit, but she should actually do something about her situation instead of moan and complain. She's only 14 anyhow.
    And Jon Snow. That ending seriously, I'm so excited to read his chapters in the next book now. He's rebellious again like he was in the first book. He's going to be undercover with these wildlings and try to discover what he can that will help the Night's Watch. So yes, very excited.

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel