Monday, December 29, 2014

Stolen Songbird Book Review

Rawr Reader,

Woah, it's been a while!
Like half a year while... 
I wanted to get back into writing my book reviews at the end of the spring, but during the summer and over the fall the only books I got to reading were for school-- and I like to keep this blog exclusively to books I read for fun. One, because reading for school can make me a little more biased toward liking or disliking a book, and two, because I never know if I'll write a book I need to write and I don't want to write something in my paper that's also said here. Not that it would be written the same-- I don't write like this in my papers. I'm having a conversation with you now-- I don't have conversations in my college papers, as should none of you once you start writing college papers. ^^

Anyhoo~ Aside from reading less than a sixth of the amount of books that I read last year, I've become very interested in learning Korean and while I only started studying in the past couple weeks, I did watch a lot of dramas and they can take up a lot of free time. ^^ 

Unfortunately, I was suffering under a prolonged and unexpectedly extended book slump-- starting near if not over ten books and dropping them all around the 100 page mark. So, I felt that reading a fantasy might help me get back into reading a lot again and thankfully I was able to finish this one. Three cheers, hip hip hurray~~

But enough about me in the past 6 months, let's get on with this review!
This is Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen, and the synopsis is provided by Goodreads:

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

Hmmm, this was so long ago I heard about this book I'm just going to say a person I follow on Goodreads. First off the cover was really pretty, but then it said something about trolls in the synopsis which I've never read about, so naturally, I became very interested.

(safe for those who haven't read this yet)
        Cécile has a bright future ahead because of her voice-- however it all comes to an end when she is kidnapped just before she makes her debut on the stage. She's kidnapped and taken to a hidden troll kingdom believed to be a an ancient myth. Awesome!
       She sees the trolls and like their name suggests, they're ugly. Uniquely enough, all deformed and misshaped in their own ways. All ugly, except the one she's supposed to be given to. Alright, losing some of its awesomeness.
      Cécile was a character that annoyed me by her clichés and her precarious and ambivalent and roller coaster of emotions. She felt one way and then a second later she felt the exact opposite. Mmhmm, she got on my nerves-- and maybe it was because I enjoyed the concept of trolls and magic that I forgave the author for it. 
    What probably gave me so much enjoyment reading this was because the concept was new and different. Maybe I'm just unaware of any other troll books, but I like having these creatures as the focus of the story instead as side monsters. 
     Hmm, the magic was interesting as Jensen described it, but I wish there was a little more to her descriptions or back story to the magic. She explained the magic once and that was it. It may not bother other people-- but I felt Cécile accepted it too easily. At this time, magic isn't as common in the world aside from witches which are a rare find. Actually, thinking back on it, Cécile accepted a lot of things way too easily. I won't go into specifics to not reveal any spoliers, but she accepted things easily not only in the beginning, but throughout the book. Mmhmm, yeah I thought it was weird and sort of stereotypical of female young adult protagonists.
      What stood out for me was as I was finishing the book, I began to notice how Jensen didn't seem to concentrate on a clear plot. Not that there lacks any-- however what Jensen outlines at the beginning that the reader would assume to be the focus of the story, transforms instead to a subplot. The story instead focuses on the relationship between Cécile and her troll prince husband, Tristan, as it grows and how they bond. 
       Tristan doesn't bare any remarkable or unique qualities that differs from the typical love interest, although I praise the lord that there is no love triangle here. I hope Jensen doesn't form one in the next book or even the last book, but no love triangles are definitely welcome in my book.
    Jensen's writing isn't unqiue, remarkable, or awe-inspiring, but I don't care as much about judging one's writing as I do judging how often they implement clichés. Dear lord they were everywhere. Alright, I exaggerate a little bit, there were just too many for my taste. But, as I said, as long as the writing isn't obviously awkward and the plot/characters/story is intriguing, the writing doesn't matter half as much. Writing is entirely subjective and I don't like when people get pretentious by saying that a writer's style is childish or lacks technique. Jensen wants to tell a story-- not become a revolutionary writer-- and that's okay. 
    Judging amongst other young adult books, I liked how trolls were the creatures of this story. Although I will say that if perhaps trolls were the trends instead of vampires or werewolves, I don't know if I would find anything specifically exceptional in Stolen Songbird. 
    However, if the plot intrigues you even if just a little bit, I say give it a read!
I give this book 4/5 stars.

“Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up ’cause they’re looking for ideas.” 
― Paula Poundstone

My Goodreads:

Next to Read:
The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Return of Rawr Reader?

Rawr Reader,

Last August I made the decision to take a "vacation" from my blog which might have led many of you who ardently follow my blog into thinking it turned into a retirement. 

Last fall I didn't make much of an effort to try and return to my blogging and I apologize, my only excuse being I was taking a foreign language and a high leveled literature class, along with 2 other classes which made reading on the side difficult. I thought spring would be the semester of my return, however taking 3 English classes (2 lit and 1 creative writing class) as well as taking the second class in my foreign language. This meant there was already a ton of reading for class as well as try to polish my foreign language which moved at a rate twice as fast as the first class in the fall. 

I'm sorry, this may seem as a ramble and I don't want to bore you, but I felt merely saying that I was really busy in the fall and twice as busy in the spring would be as dull and bland as unbuttered toasted bread. 

That is to say, it isn't that I never had the opportunity to read, I just used my free time not reading about Shakespeare or nonfiction essays or British authors or touching up on my foreign language class on something other than reading. As much of a bookaholic as I am, my mind can go on overload if I read too much and I didn't want to end up loathing the pasttime. (I've really become an addict of Korean dramas.)

Which leads me to now. My final exam and paper of the spring semester is tomorrow and then I'm home free! I'll be off for 6 weeks which hopefully turns into 6 weeks of a Flip-A-Page Palooza! I've started 6 books already and will hopefully finish them quickly and start reading some others I've neglected since the start of the new year. 

I want to read a lot, but I also want to start focusing on my writing again as I only have about a year and a half of college left and my goal is to go straight into publishing once I graduate. So if by some reason the end of my 6 week summer vacation ends and I only have a few book reviews to please your starved Nicole-book-review minds, I apologize beforehand. 

I love it when you guys comment on my reviews or just say a simple hi. I love how we all come from different parts of the world and still have the fated chance to meet here. So thank you from the east to the west. 

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

P.S. Here are some of the books that I've started and plan to write reviews, but still a tentative list:
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
The Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Entwined by Heather Dixon
Horns by Joe Hill

Friday, February 28, 2014

Cruel Beauty Book Review

Rawr Reader,

I needed to do at least one book review this month since I've been neglecting this blog for so long. I've been in a reading slump more or less, and it doesn't help I'm taking three English classes and a foreign language class, so any free time reading a book for fun isn't annoying but sometimes overwhelming. I have read several books though since my last review, of which this is the only one I wanted to do a review for. So without further ado, this is Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge and the excerpt is provided by Goodreads:

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

   One of the young adult book run sites that discuss new young adult books coming out next year, and this one stuck out immediately because of the cover and then the synopsis.

(safe for those who haven't read this yet)
   I waited so long for this book and thankfully it didn't disappoint. While I wouldn't call the characters complex by any means, I did find each of them interesting in their own way and always interested to know what would happen next.
  What probably drew me into the story the most was the myths and world-building. The language used made this YA unique to other YA books who I feel rely too much on cliche and a certain structure. 
   The main character Nyx was more interesting to me in the beginning, as was Ignifex, but as the story continued I felt they were being taken to the typical YA conclusion and it made the story lose some points for me. On that note, I felt the ending was a little off. I felt one of the main plot points was revealed then but at that time I was clueless and I felt that nothing in the story led me to even guess at to what that plot point may be.
   I read this about a month or so ago and I can't remember much, but it's a YA that I would rank as one of the best written, dialogue/world-building wise. And the cover is one of my favorite book covers, possibly the top.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

"There are too many books I haven't read, too many places I haven;t seen, too many memories I haven't kept long enough."
-Irwin Shaw

My Goodreads:

Next To Read:

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

City of Thieves Book Review

Rawr Reader,

First review of 2014! Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be as review heavy as the previous year, but I'm very capricious with these sorts of things. This is City of Thieves by David Benioff and the excerpt is provided by Goodreads:

During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.

I was in Books-A-Million and they had this in the bargain section. I can't say no to a good bargain!

(safe for those who haven't read this book yet)
  There's a magical quality in reading and when you find yourself really loving characters for their flaws. Or maybe it was Benioff's writing that I found myself just being completely soaken into this story. Yes, many of the events are a little unrealistic as to what would have happened in WWII Russia, but I think if the author was trying to create a realistic story, then it would have fallen short in its humor and entertainment, let alone the message or character development.
   Going off of the humor, this story was one of the funniest books I've ever read; and that has to be thanks to Kolya. Handsome, charismatic and loquacious but it was his personality that really appealed to me and what soon edged off on Lev. Sure Lev was the complete opposite of him, but I think their friendship/bromance, however you'd like to see it, was what Lev needed to survive the war. Simple, kind words and faith present in a time where the person was surrounded by anything but was the sliver of humanity that Lev wouldn't have been able to discover on his own.
   Each chapter is short and you find yourself just being so engrossed in the story that this book really flies by. And I think it was the quest part but it reminded me a lot of The Hobbit which I had just finished rereading a week ago. Also something that really stuck out to me was that ever line seemed to original and creative, from the dialogue to the world-building.
   I don't have much to say but if you enjoy World War II stories, or Russian culture, or adventures/quests, let alone fantastic characterization and thrills with laughter and danger, you should really consider picking this book up. I think I love it more because I stumbled upon it randomly. ^^

I give this book 5/5 stars.

Author's Quote:
"In spite of all his irritating qualities, I couldn't help liking a man who despised a fictional character with such passion."

"It made me happy that poems are referred to in the present tense even when the poet is in the past tense."
-Lev Beniov, David Benioff, City of Thieves

Next To Read:
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

River Song's Spoilers:
(unsafe for those who haven't read this book yet, so don't read this section)
   My favorite part was Kolya telling Lev the The Courtyard Hound story. It was short, tragic, lovely and I only wish it was something he had been able to publish. And after that I realized what a beautiful title that is. It has a nice ring to it, don't you think? Or is me just so in love with Kolya that I'm a little biased? Hmm, I guess we'll never know. ^^
   Ever since the beginning we knew that we were going to meet Lev's wife in the story and I'm sure I wasn't the only one guessing who it would be from the beginning. I doubted it would be Vera, I would be very surprised if he returned to her after what she did, so every time they met a woman I kept thinking, hmmm, is it her? I guess it was meant to be with the fiery red-headed Vika being the one.
    Okay, I just want to mention the rooster Darling. I laughed much longer than I should have. Also when Kolya got shot in the ass and his exchanges with Lev afterward. Seriously, if you didn't think they had a bromance (which Vika can also support several times), at that point you had to have been thinking it too if you weren't before.
    Kolya's death was something I predicted from the beginning. Almost every story I've been reading has death of the main characters so when I read a book where a main character doesn't die, I'm very surprised. And this is a war story, someone needed to die, even if several of the events were a little too unrealistic (but of which I didn't mind at all). However, his final line really struck me, because at the heart of the man, he was just as afraid as anyone in war and his facade of uninhibited honesty with life and their experiences together. 

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel