Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Iron Trial

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

Disclaimer: I read the advanced reader's copy (ARC) of this book; this book will be released on September 9, 2014. Undoubtedly, there will be minor changes between the version I read and the published version. I picked up the ARC at the 2014 ALA Conference.

If you've read a blog post where I've read a Holly Black, you know I'm a pretty big fan.

However, I don't think I've mentioned it, but I have avoided a lot of books written by Cassandra Clare. I've read a lot of different genres that involve different plots, etc; but the things I've heard about her books has been very off putting. I know her books have become quite popular and have even had a movie made, but I still don't want to commit.

Then I came across this book.

A mix of one of my favorite authors, and an author I go out of my way to avoid.

Let's do an amazon summary, "Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.


All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.


So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing.


Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.


The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .


From the remarkable imaginations of bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a heart-stopping, mind-blowing, pulse-pounding plunge into the magical unknown." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE...AND SOME RESERVATIONS

I need to clear the air.

There is magic in this world.

There is a school where the youngsters get carted off to learn magic.

Harry Potter. Can we get that out of the air right now? Any book that has a theme of magic and school inevitably is compared to Harry Potter. It's the problem of writing in a genre that has such a prominently famous series that the world has fallen in love with.

Inevitably, if you read this book, you will draw similarities between Harry Potter and The Iron Trial as they both have youngsters going to school to learn magic. LE GASP.

Anywho.

Callum's father has raised him to believe that magic is deadly, to never go to the Magisterium (school of magic), and to stay at home with him. Callum is more than happy to do so and goes into the iron trial hoping that he can flunk and stay home in a world he knows.

However, Callum sucks at failing. His father throws a fit as Callum is taken away to the Magisterium where he will start to train his magic. At the end of his first year, he can chose to have his magic sealed and to leave the school behind or continue on with his training.

There's also some mysterious unclear war going on that Callum isn't directly involved in yet. Basically, there are vaguely bad magic people in the world and they want to do bad things.

Callum as a narrator spends most of the first half of the book whining. He has a limp in his leg and is constantly worried/reminded of it every time he moves around or tries to hurry. This makes sense for many instances, but Callum also has a ton of social anxiety and misplaced blame on his leg for not fitting in well.

The side characters are under developed as Callum takes on a one man Scooby Doo gang sort of feel as he tries to solve mysteries without a real clue. So he has roommates and other people in his year at school that we see, but the friendship forged there feels false. As if the bonds had to happen to get the plot somewhere rather than where it should be going.

Also, the STRONGEST similarity I saw to Harry Potter was that Callum has two 'friends'; one super smart female, and one all-around likeable guy. There's also this girl who may have a crush on him but she's in the same year as him.

The magic in the world is kind of shrug worthy. There are some cool concepts introduced, but there was nothing that struck me as truly unique or wowed me. The magic of the world (so far as this is the first book in a series) seems to be a hodge podge of notions from other worlds but just with different words. Again, it is hard to do something unique with magic because a lot of it has been done before.

This is a SPOILER of a minor variety where Callum acquires a magic dog (in the not-spoiler spoiler sense) and whenever a character gains a pet, I just see it as a plot device. Especially when the narrator only talks about taking care of the dog rather than enjoying the dog's companionship. So there's that nuance that annoyed me.

Overall, I feel like I pushed through the book to finish it rather than really enjoyed it. There wasn't enough original value to the book and the writing wasn't on par to what I'm used to reading from Holly Black.

Just very shrug worthy.

Happy reading!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Storm Siren

Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Disclaimer: I read the advanced reader's copy (ARC) of this book; this book will be released on August 19, 2014. Undoubtedly, there will be minor changes between the version I read and the published version. I picked up the ARC at the 2014 ALA Conference.

...I have a confession. I definitely had a moment where the cover kept luring me in to reading the book. So I read the book. Then I kept trying to abandon the book, but the cover kept calling me back...like a siren. [/no shame]

ANYWAYS.

An amazon summary, ""There are few things more exciting to discover than a debut novel packed with powerful storytelling and beautiful language. STORM SIREN is one of those rarities. I'll read anything Mary Weber writes. More, please!" -Jay Asher, New York Times bestselling author of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY
 "I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don't want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you."

In a world at war, a slave girl's lethal curse could become one kingdom's weapon of salvation. If the curse - and the girl - can be controlled.


As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn't merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth - meaning, she shouldn't even exist.


Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.


Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she's being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons. 


But what if she doesn't want to be the weapon they've all been waiting for? 


Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


The main qualms I had with this book is that it tries to accomplish too much in too short of time, and the narrator. This was a very character driven book, but the narrator (Nym) was all over the place with how twisted her story was.

The book opens with Nym being a slave and sold at an auction. There's a big reveal when her hood is lifted and her hair is revealed to be white; signaling she's an elemental. Female elementals are allegedly impossible to exist plus there's a rule that all elementals are killed at birth because their powers are too crazy to control.

So Nym is seventeen, being sold for the fifteenth time, and can be provoked into unleashing her powers on fiends doing terrible things. Nym seems to loathe her powers as she can't control them and it's hinted that she's often sold again when she accidentally murders someone in her owner's keep.

...yet she hasn't escaped from being a slave even with all of her power...or been killed even though there would have been at least 14 instances of her elemental powers, especially if they have a very dedicated person out there killing elementals.... Perhaps she didn't want to escape because her parents are dead (she believes she killed them) but then she will remember how terrible every owner she's had has been. It's curious why she wouldn't seek to forge her own path considering the strong will of her character.

But moving away from those logical plot points, Nym is bought by a lady of the court. She's to be trained to control her powers and to use them to win the war. The lady of the court...is odd at best as she keeps a lot of deadly things around her castle; like carnivorous horses.

Nym meets her trainer and another boy who manipulates the earth. They have a long training sequence in the book where Nym not only trains to use her powers, but be passable in ball room type situations. Nym is constantly pulling a seesaw effect as she admires her trainer, yet hates her trainer for his twisted past, then she gets haunted by her own past, and then she admires her trainer some more, etc etc.

The book really had too much going on in. If the story had been spaced better with better developed secondary characters and a narrator who wasn't all over the place, it would have been a much more enjoyable read.

I was also very confused about the setting. I could never conjure a clear image of the country they were in. There was a segment of the book where they even go on a journey to a different city, and I know they went through some woods, but that's all I got. It seemed like a very 2D picture layout. I had no grasp on how big the country was either, and I had no grasp on how big the other countries were that are involved in the war.

The book holds a lot of promise, but it seems to be two books worth of content severely distilled and crammed into one book.

All of that being said, I did like the whimsical nature of magic in the story. I enjoyed how magic didn't have to make sense because it wasn't cleverly disguised as science. The magic was something more nature based and revolved around feeling/sensations. It was easier to accept what was presented because so much about magic is unknown in that world.

So, all in all, this book seemed like a nasty car crash, but for some reason I couldn't look away. Honestly, I'll probably read the second book even if it's the same situation; I just hope the book will be better fleshed out.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

75 Years of Batman


Today is the 75th anniversary of Batman.

When I was young, I was introduced to Batman by a treasure trove of comic books that my parents had collected and saved from their childhood. Comics books were my venue that threw me into the book world.

I watched Batman: The Animated Series on TV and collected it on DVD as soon as I was old enough.

I watched Justice League and Justice League Unlimited on TV and collected it on DVD as soon as possible.

As much as I love books, my love of Batman is probably greater.

Over the years, I'm continually inspired by the different portrayals of Batman.

One of my favorite depictions of Batman is from a Justice League Unlimited episode titled "Epilogue". It was about the origins of Terry McGinnis (Batman in Batman Beyond). Terry found out about Amanda Waller having a hand in his inception. But that's not the part of the episode that really tugs on my heart strings.

Amanda Waller recounted a time when a villain, Ace, was dying. Ace's telepathic abilities could wipe out the city, but Batman went in alone to her fortress. He found her on a swing set, sat on a swing, and comforted her as she died. No one could have saved Ace, but Batman did what he could. He showed compassion and stuck by his refusal to take a life.

Over the years, I've continued to follow the different depictions of Batman. I've read as many comic books as I can get my hands on (the No Man's Land series being a favorite as well as Hush). 

To you, dear blog reader, if you haven't had the chance to see anything about Batman, I encourage you to look at something in the mountain of his media legacy.

Happy Batman Day!

Friday, July 18, 2014

This Shattered World

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Disclaimer: I read the advanced reader's copy (ARC) of this book; this book will be released on December 23, 2014. Undoubtedly, there will be minor changes between the version I read and the published version. I picked up the ARC at the 2014 ALA Conference.

This is the second book in the series. I reviewed the first book, These Broken Stars, HERE.

In my review of These Broken Stars, I mentioned they were a lot of survival elements to the book and it really seemed to struggle to get through anything. In the sequel, the book is changed up a bit to have two new narrators; Lee and Flynn who are on the planet Avon. It was a refreshing change of pace. I also think that you don't need to read the first one to get things that happened in the second book (even with the ending being a little wiggy).

...I'll just go to the amazon summary, "Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents. 


Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. His sister died in the original uprising against the powerful corporate conglomerate that rules Avon with an iron fist. These corporations make their fortune by terraforming uninhabitable planets across the universe and recruiting colonists to make the planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion. 


Desperate for any advantage against the military occupying his home, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape base together, caught between two sides in a senseless war." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

At the beginning of the book we're introduced to Lee and Flynn who are on opposite sides of a struggle. They live on a planet called Avon where the planet is slowly being terraformed to support human life. The planet is behind for how far along it should be in the terraforming process; they still have swamps everywhere with little animal life (if any).

This has sparked an uprising from the people who were sent to colonize the planet. Mainly, Flynn's people.

Which brought the military in, Lee's people.

The book is also set up so the narrators alternate every chapter and they have the odd, half-page snippets in the beginning of each chapter that slowly begin to make more sense as the book goes on.

ANYWHO.

So Lee is a very tough soldier; she has remained unaffected by the fury for her stay on Avon. Most soldiers fall victim to the fury within one to six months of being on Avon. The fury is where they start to have dreams, get a little high strung/tense/twitchy, and then eventually seem to lose control as they commit an act of violence they wouldn't normally be capable of. The fury has a tell when it's about to happen; the victim's pupils dilate as they lose control. Lee is a captain in the military and takes care of her crew; making sure to ship them off Avon when they show signs that they'll succumb to the fury.

Flynn was raised on Avon; he lives in the swamps with the rebels (the Fianna). They're trying to usurp the military on Avon as they believe that someone is preventing the planet from terraforming at the rate it's supposed to. Flynn is the brother of the leader who last led the uprising; his sister. The Fianna look to Flynn to lead them in their next uprising, but Flynn would rather seek peace through conversation so he can better the lives of his people.

One night Lee is at the bar trying to enjoy a drink and not think about the war. She spots a young guy in military garb enter and she starts analyzing him, figuring he's a new recruit. When he doesn't act like a new recruit, she gets suspicious. The guy gets a little flirty with her before subtlety pulling a gun on her and kidnapping her in public. He whisks her off to the swamps. One guess who her kidnapper is....SURPRISE! IT'S FLYNN!

The story kicks off with a bang and doesn't drag hardly anywhere. The story seems to be very high strung at all times (like most rebellion situations I suppose) and seems very undaunted by everything it accomplishes.

The only thing that kind of irked me about this book, is they tied Traver and Lilac in from the first book in a way that I still have trouble being okay with.

Other than that, it was just a bit of a dense read. It was very methodical to show all the details it could about a situation (which was cool) but at the same time I got annoyed about hearing how the clouds on Avon never cleared and the weather was always wet. I suppose the more mundane details got really repetitive (like anytime they went into the swamp, 'These swamps are so damp and wet', 'I wish I could use the pole sticks to guide the boat because driving through swamps is hard', etc). I understand that was the constant conditions that the characters were dealing with but I feel a little brow beat with the setting.

It was good that the narrators were different enough that I could tell who was who even if I skipped the chapter title.

All in all, I'm going to be picking up the third book in the series.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Atlantia

Atlantia by Ally Condie

Disclaimer: I read the advanced reader's copy (ARC) of this book; this book will be released on October 28, 2014. Undoubtedly, there will be minor changes between the version I read and the published version. I picked up the ARC at the 2014 ALA Conference.

I recently read Ally Condie's other series (Matched, Crossed, and Reached) which kind of swayed me to pick up her book, Atlantia, but that might have been a mistake...

I was waiting in line to get the book signed by Ally Condie (which was pretty dang cool) and I kept hearing people say, "It's not about mermaids!" I grimaced, shrugged, and still waited in line to get my book signed anyways. I find it bizarre that a book would be titled Atlantia and have nothing to do with mermaids.

I digress.

An amazon summary, "“Utterly captivating. A heroine unlike any I’d met before, a setting I’d never glimpsed, a story I’d never imagined. Atlantia is fresh, wild, and engrossing. I love Ally Condie.” —Shannon Hale, award-winning, bestselling author of Austenland and Dangerous

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?


For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamed of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all Rio’s hopes for the future are shattered when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected choice, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long silenced—she has nothing left to lose.


Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the corrupted system constructed to govern the Divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

Atlantia focuses on an underwater city (Atlantia!) that was created because the air on the surface world got SUPER polluted, people were dying, so they built an underwater city to escape air pollution. Also to mine minerals and stuff I suppose.

Then Atlantia has a bunch of rules that will help them maintain life underwater, sanity, and the pursuit of the three miracles.

There are phenomenons referred to as 'The Three Miracles' for no apparent reason. They're not defined by anything, the people seem to just point fingers at something SUPER weird and go, "Look, A MIRACLE".

First miracle: The Sirens. Some people who live in Atlantia start developing these crazy voices that enables them to manipulate people....and sometimes objects. Did I mention this was a weird hybrid between science fiction and fantasy? The book really really wants to have science, but whenever science can't explain things, BAM; MAGIC (or unexplained, MIRACLE?!?!).

...so the sirens are usually carted off at an early age for the gains of the council that runs Atlantia, but mostly to keep them out of the population and making sure they don't make people do stupid things.

Second miracle: BATS. There are these bats that cropped up in Atlantia who have evolved to have purple/blue wings. They're the only creatures besides humans that live in Atlantia.

Third miracle: UNKNOWN. Wildly speculated. BUT, when the third miracle is found out; it hopefully signals the time when Atlantia can rejoin the surface world and have all the air again! Yay air!

Atlantia also has this choosing day ceremony where once a year, youths who are seventeen get to make the choice to leave Atlantia and go to the surface world or to stay in Atlantia.

Which brings us to Rio; the heroine of the story. Rio is a siren; her mother and sister hid her abilities from all of Atlantia. Rio has a desperate, holy crap you will read so much about how much she wants to go to the surface world, need that she will never stop thinking about, being concerned about, or just thinking about all the time.

...seriously annoying.

ANYWAYS. So Rio and her twin sister, Bay, go to the choosing ceremony where Bay has pleaded with Rio to stay in Atlantia so they can be together forever (they both can't go to the surface as they're the last in their blood line, and they need everyone or else, well, inbreeding). Rio chooses to stay in Atlantia, and Bay chooses to go to the surface.

If you just went, "Wait, what?" and reread that last paragraph; bravo! That is exactly how I reacted to the book.

The story really begins to spin as Rio tries to desperately figure out why Bay left, how to get to the surface, and just how much she distrusts her aunt. Rio's mother and father are dead; her father from lung disease and her mother may have been murdered (which is part of the mystery of the book).

....but really, I didn't care for the book. I got to the end and my reaction was basically, "...that's it? That's all?" The wind up led to an okay pitch, but I don't think it ever connected with the bat....I think it just rolled across home plate, lamely, without obstacles.

...yeah. It was a weird read. It's a weird blog post.

Happy reading!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

ALA Loot

Potato camera action!
As if I couldn't shut up about the 2014 ALA Conference...I just wanted to show you the 113 books that finally made it through the mail to me (in some significantly damaged boxes - like WHOA I'M HAPPY MY BOOKS MADE IT THROUGH THAT DISASTER).

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

...undoubtedly, I will not want to read every single one of these books.

...I just, I just have other books that I also need to read.

And some of them are accidentally about law/business. Whoops (I had grabby hands at the conference, NO REGRETS).

And some of them just don't appeal to me (like scary/suspenseful books).

All books will find a good bookshelf, because I'm sweet like that.

.....

IN SUMMARY.

MORE BOOKS.

MORE BLOGS.

ALL THE YAY.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Whispering Skull

The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Disclaimer: I read the advanced reader's copy (ARC) of this book; this book will be released on September 16, 2014. Undoubtedly, there will be minor changes between the version I read and the published version. I picked up the ARC at the 2014 ALA Conference.

This is the second book in a series, I reviewed the first book, The Screaming Staircase, HERE.

Going into this book, I was SUPER stoked about it when I picked it up at ALA. SUPER STOKED. I'm pretty sure I gave the person running the Disney Hyperion both a mild panic attack from my abundant enthusiasm. After reading the book, my enthusiasm was well deserved.

...an amazon summary, "In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn't made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood's investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in theTimes newspaper.

Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well-until George's curiosity attracts a horrible phantom. 


Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood's annoyance. Bickerstaff's coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found. 


The author of the blockbuster Bartimaeus series delivers another amusing, chilling, and ingeniously plotted entry in the critically acclaimed Lockwood & Co. series." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


I have to say it; this is one of those books that I read for. I was so pumped up to just read the next sentence of the book that there was a sleepless night involved. I just didn't want to stop reading it; especially with the last page of the book being such a cliff hanger.

I also need to tear apart this amazon summary because it doesn't do justice to the book.

The Whispering Skull begins six months after The Screaming Staircase; Lockwood & Co. have done very well for themselves since then. They have notable mentions in the different papers as well as live comfortably in the same house, and seem to have a steady stream of cases to solve. Lucy, Lockwood, and George are up to their old tricks when an interesting job happens upon their doorstep.

Mr. Saunders asks Lockwood & Co. to make a grave safe to excavate. This isn't unheard of and Mr. Saunders admits he stopped at the first agency he found. After some terse negotiations, Lockwood & Co. have agreed to take the case.

In the meanwhile, George has taken to experimenting on the ghost jar to see if the level 3 ghost can be coerced into talking. It would be one of the biggest breakthroughs since the ghosts started appearing. So far, George has had no success in convincing the ghost to speak.

As they delve deeper into the case that Mr. Saunders has tasked them too, there is no end to the trouble they unearth. Lockwood & Co. are back; exploring the mysterious surrounding ghosts, having a jolly go at each other, and trying to live.

So.

I LOVED this book! It was a perfect, chilling follow up from to The Screaming Staircase and while the subject of the book is a bit creepy (dead people, ghosts, and usually the horrible ways that people died to end up like ghosts); Stroud makes it fun.

Lucy is still kicking butt and not stopping to take names, Lockwood is still up to his clever ways, and George has his head stuck in the library (not a bad place for it).

I enjoyed how much I couldn't figure out what was going on for the longest while but in the end it all made sense in a terrific epiphany.

I admire the pacing of the book as I was never overwhelmed by action and the explanations tempered throughout to show what was really afoot were well placed and well timed.

I am in a lot of anguish having to wait for the third book...the second book leaves off on a doozy of a cliff hanger.

Simply a marvelous read.

Happy reading!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Darkest Part of the Forest

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Disclaimer: I read the advanced reader's copy of this book. The publication date is January 13, 2015. This will be a book to watch out for; I apologize that you most likely have to wait that long to read this book. I got my hands on a copy from the 2014 ALA Conference (it's even signed by Holly Black)!

I've read previous books by Holly Black and blogged about a couple (DOLL BONES and THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN) but I think I've managed to read almost everything that Holly Black has published. ...yes, I am shameless.

Because she's awesome. Just saying.

Anyways, an amazon summary, "Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they're destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she's found the thing she's been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries' seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointy as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does...
As the world turns upside down and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years spent pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

This is Holly Black's triumphant return to the fantastic fae worlds she spun in Valiant and Tithe. This book is very similar in that it incorporates fae into the modern world but it shows in a more direct way how the presence of fae affects the entire town.

Very cool.

The narrator, Hazel, has always had aspirations to be a knight. She was raised by negligent artistic parents who instead of taking care of her and her brother, Ben; they threw crazy parties until late hours of the night. They'd often forget to feed/take care of/keep an eye on them. Not the greatest parents. Ben is pretty freaking awesome though.

As a kid, Hazel and Ben would roam through the forest looking for fae to slay that were preying upon humans. When Ben was just a baby, he was gifted with musical talents that would render the listener in a trance like state for as long as he played (due to his mother painting a fantastic picture of a fae). As Hazel and Ben traveled through the forest, Ben would play music to stun the fae and Hazel would slay them with the sword she found.

They stopped when Ben realized it was too dangerous for them, but Hazel has always wished to return.

The town of Fairfold itself is a place where the natives believe whatever happens to a tourist, the tourist deserved for being stupid and not taking proper precautions against the fae. Fairfold is also home to a mysterious glass coffin where a boy clad in a different era's style of clothes has lay dormant for centuries. The boy also has horns. Hazel and Ben tend to think of this boy as the prince they are trying to save (when they are children). Ben spun many stories about the prince to Hazel when they were kids.

I'll stop there because anything father than that would be too close to spoiling things in my mind.

I enjoyed the writing of the book and how the woods of Fairfold seemed to become another character within the story as well as the town of Fairfold. The dynamics between the fae and humans were well played up as well as the dangers of the fae. Between Hazel, Ben, Jack, Carter, and the wide variety of fae present; there was never a dull moment through the story. It was a well paced book that seemed to constantly have different minor curiosities solved (that would paint a better, bigger picture) but there was always an air of mystery present to the story.

The only minor hiccup I had about the story is where the monster of the woods was while the 'prince' was sleeping. Even that I can definitely shrug off though; it didn't hinder the story in any manner.

Happy reading!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Reached

Reached by Ally Condie

This is the last book in the trilogy; if you don't want any spoilers, read no further.

I previously reviewed Crossed (and kind of MatchedHERE.

To give a little more back story, I read Matched before I started this blog (and thought I had blogged about it but turns out WHOOPS I had not). I recently acquired the sequels (they were on SUPER sale), and now I'm finally finishing Cassia's story.

I saw Ally Condie at the ALA conference which just further motivated me to finished this trilogy. NOW YOU KNOW MORE USELESS INFORMATION ABOUT MY LIFE.

.....the amazon summary or else I'm going to get into a fit of silliness, "Conclusion to the New York Times Bestselling Matched Trilogy!

Cassia’s journey began with an error, a momentary glitch in the otherwise perfect fa├žade of the Society. After crossing canyons to break free, she waits, silk and paper smuggled against her skin, ready for the final chapter.

The wait is over.

One young woman has raged against those who threaten to keep away what matters most—family, love, choice. Her quiet revolution is about to explode into full-scale rebellion. With exquisite prose, the emotionally gripping conclusion to the international–bestselling Matched trilogy returns Cassia, Ky, and Xander to the Society to save the one thing they have been denied for so long, the power to choose." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

....I don't think of Cassia as an angry character she actually strikes me as a love-driven character that quietly moves against the Society in small ways. Fighting for freedom in the guise of working for the Society but in fact working for the Rebellion.

Confused?

At the end of Crossed, Cassia had found the Rebellion with Indie. The Rebellion evaluated them and determined where they would be placed to better their interests in overthrowing the Society. Indie would best serve the Society as a pilot; Cassia would best serve the Society as a sorter. 

In the beginning of Reached, we see Cassia return to the Society where she works as a sorter; Xander and Cassia speak often because they are matched. Cassia works as a trader for the Archivists and seeks out poetry. She also is determined to create new poems and wants to see what everyone else can create as well.

Ky is working for the Rebellion as a pilot; he decided to follow Cassia.

Xander is really the one who is the most revealing narrator. Xander works as an official and a physic. He is the one who shows how the Rebellion is spreading a plague through the society that attacks the nervous system and makes people 'go to sleep' or have the 'still'. The Rebellion is undermining the Society's control by screwing up The Banquet (where citizens become matched) and infecting them with a plague that the Rebellion only has enough medicine to cure.

Throughout the course of the book we watch the Rebellion slowly take control of the Society and learn more about the people who refuse both the Rebellion and the Society to live in the stone villages on the outskirts of 'known land' (for lack of better phrasing).

Also, plaques are bad (and spoilers if you don't understand viruses!) develop into different strains that the initial cure, can't cure.

Overall, it was nice to read the third book and to see how things could go wrong, how a culture can crumple to give way to something new, and really just to read Xander's narration (because I was so done with Cassia/Ky just thinking about how much they love each other).

However, I felt a lot of the book was driven by emotional panic; I understand the intentions behind it, but the follow through seemed very drawn out without accomplishing much in the ways of story development or character growth.

I do appreciate how the contrast in the culture of The Society, The Rebellion, and the stone village folks (and even the Farmers I suppose) because they were all people from that area who developed in different ways. But sometimes it seems like the book took a very round about way to make a point.

All in all, I'm glad I finished the series just to know how everything wrapped up.SPOILERS: it had one of those nice whimsical endings where emotional serenity makes everything okay; that life can be conquered because they've persevered through so many hardships.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Crossed

Crossed by Ally Condie

For some reason I could have sworn that I blogged about the first book in this trilogy, Matched, but apparently I didn't. I looked back through my old blog posts and turned up nothing....maybe my skills are lacking. I don't know.

So a brief synopsis of Matched. 

Matched introduces us to Cassia, Xander, and Ky who live in this futuristic society where there are relatively no choices or decisions left to the people living within the society; they all operate within strict guidelines. Cassia is okay with this but often wonders what would happen if they are allowed to do more.

Everyone performs the job that they would most excel at and everyone tries to do what is good for the Society.

It's very big-brother-esque as the Society is always listening/watching/keeping tabs on its citizens.

Cassia attends her banquet where she finds out who her match is. The match is the person who's data and personality are supposed to be the best one for their life partnership (marriage if you will). There is a slight error with Cassia's match though as it briefly turns out to be Ky for a hot second before it resolves itself to be Xander. Cassia wonders about this and begins to question the life she has always lived.

End for Matched. If you want to find out more about Matched, here is the AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

If you don't want Crossed spoiled for you, read no further.

An amazon summary on Crossed, "The highly anticipated second book in the Matched trilogy!

Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky--taken by Society to his certain death--only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons.  On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life . . . and the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game.  On the edge of Society, nothing is as expected, and crosses and double crosses make Cassia's path more twisted than ever.

Look for the epic series finale, REACHED!" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE


....so at the end of Matched, Cassia (who works as a sorter-someone who organizes and sees patterns in the data presented and determines different values of worth to different items) has to sort the people who work in a factory type setting. Ky is among them as he is actually a second class citizen in the Society (and aberration/anomaly). Cassia sorts Ky into the 'wrong group' and Ky is drafted to go to the Outer Provinces; a place where the Society still fights the Enemy. There is a lot of heartbreak as Cassia has doomed the person she LOVESSSSSS.

Xander is also in love with Cassia.

Ky is in love with Cassia.

HELLO?! LOVE TRIANGLE? IS THIS ORIGINAL?!?!? [/unimpressed face]

ANYWHO.

Cassia ends up getting into trouble so she'll basically go to a juvenile detention center of the future variety where she works hard and breaks a sweat and such. Essentially, they'll make her so exhausted she has to be good (is the really basic understanding of it).

Cassia meets Indie who is mischievous, clever, and hiding a secret closely. Xander does everything he can to help Cassia before she strives to go further to the outer edges of the Society so that she may be reunited with Ky.

She also wants to know more about the rebellion and possibly join the rebellion.

Xander and Ky are still madly in love with Cassia.

Basically, Crossed has a lot of survival elements and deep ponderings about art and the true intentions of the Society, the Rebellion, and the general nature of humanity. Cassia is the narrator and as such, she wonders constantly.

The narration also shifts to different narrators (SLIGHT SPOILER: but not because of horrible reasons) which was refreshing to see different perspectives.

All in all, not a terrible read, but I did get hung up by how OBSESSED Cassia was with art and poetry; how both Cassia and Ky were really. I understand that due to the nature of their lives in the Society they had very minimal exposure to new and original (or even old) pieces of art. Yet it was very hard to be understanding when the poems were constantly used as a point of reflection for both characters.

....yes.

Happy reading!