Sunday 30 September 2012

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Second book by Snyder I have read. Still not the last.

Poison Study is pretty awesome, I haven't read many fantasy book (I think only other fantasy book I've read is the only other Snyder book I've read: Touch of Power. I am seriously liking the fantasy genre. Fantasy = epic, much?

There are probably only two things (that I can recall!) that were downsides to Poison Study. The first being the romance (again! Snyder, your romance never seems to fully appeal to me...) and the second, the anachronisms.

I think I'll talk about the 'things that don't belong' first. I don't understand how 'glue' and a couple of modern recipes could appear in a novel where the people wear capes and use candles. It just made me stop reading when things that didn't really fit appeared. I feel like I'm maybe picking on a very minute problem but even the smallest of things in a book can abruptly take you out of the amazing fantasy world and that can be a little irritating.

The only other thing in Poison Study that slightly irked me is the romance between Yelena and Valek. Why, Snyder? Why do I never seem fully satisfied with the romance in your novels? Is it me? Am I what's wrong? (Gosh, I feel like I'm breaking up with the author...)
*back on track* So, the romance. I just didn't like the fact that at first Valek thought of Yelena as expendable. Unlike in Touch of Power, the relationship doesn't do a sudden 180 from hate to love which is a plus. I'm happy that they ended up together, their relationship does progress in a realistic pace, evolving from respect to friendship to eventually, love. However, the realistic nature of their relationship doesn't fully make the relationship feel right to me, just because I assumed that Valek would be an enemy(ish) from the beginning.
I guess it could be me just annoyed that I didn't guess from the beginning who the love interest would be. Yeah. It could be that. :)

Overall, this book is... really good. I had an awesome time reading Poison Study. I loved the characters, especially Ari and Janco (<3) and the story line is very, very enthralling. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel but I'm a little scared because everybody I've talked to has said that the remaining books are disappointing. Should I be scared?

Music choice:  The one thing going around in my head... Toxic by Britney Spears. I'm sorry! It's just that it says poison somewhere in the lyrics and I said I'd say what song I thought about when reading a book even if it is ridiculous. So...

itunes link:

Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

There's one thing I can say straight away about Snyder: she has the most amazing imagination. The world that this author creates, the fantasy land, it's... just wow.

This is the first book I have read by Snyder and although I had a couple of problems with Touch of Power, this will definitely will not be the last book.

I had this book on my bookshelf on my for a while and I had forgotten about it until I realised I only had a couple of days before it was due back at the library so... I re-read the blurb and started reading.

Let's just say it's not easy to stop reading a book that you're totally engrossed in.

The novel starts with Avry risking her life by healing an ill child. You see, before the plague devastated her world people like her, healers, were respected but after? After the plague, after healers were blamed for the disease, healers had to flee and hide because if ever caught, they would be executed. Avry heals the dying child but is then reported by the parents and sent to her execution. To her rescue comes a man and his band of outlaws, they want her to heal their prince before the Fifteen Realms are taken over by the corrupt King Tohan. The decision to heal the prince doesn't come easy for Avry, she doesn't think he's worth her life...

The whole book is about Avry travelling across the through the Fifteen Realms to the Nine Mountains with the people who saved/abducted her while the men try to convince her to heal the prince and... they run into a couple of evil people along the way. You know, to keep things more interesting.

It really is a very good book. (That's not very convincing, is it? Let me try again.)
Touch of Power is so different to anything I've ever read and I enjoyed it. (Better? xD )

However there were a few things that ticked me off. First, the romance. Now, there isn't any insta-love (thank you!) but at times I felt like I would have preferred the insta-love to what we actually got. *gasp* That bad? Yes, for me, that bad. Avry's love interest isn't obvious - at all - at the beginning of the novel, actually, at first, I suspected Belen to slowly develop feelings for Avry but no. Noooo. The love interest turns out to be the one person I thought Avry hated with all her being, the one person that I wanted to beat the shit out of. The person who HIT Avry, let her freeze, starved her and cuffed her to a tree multiple times. Even if this is a fantasy novel, even if women have different roles in this society, even if he - the love interest - improves a bit during the novel, it doesn't excuse the things he did so recently. I could have accepted the romance a bit more if the characters had actually mentioned and talked about what he did rather than him just mutter a vague apology half way through the novel. The romance in Touch of Power is truly infuriating.

The other thing that is really confusing is the pacing of the novel. One second it takes a chapter to record a day and then it takes a couple of pages to say that two weeks have passed. It isn't easy to keep up with how long has passed in the novel, the only way I could tell that a day had gone or a month had gone was when Avery or one of the other characters actually said that a certain amount of time had passed. I gave up on keeping up with the time a couple of chapters in - way too much effort.

It'd be a lie to say I completely loved this book from start to finish but... I didn't hate it, I actually really enjoyed it. Snyder knows how to weave together an interesting, surprising and original novel. I may or may not read the sequel to this book because of my earlier said problems and the rushed and slightly abrupt ending but I will definitely be reading another Snyder book. Poison Study, perhaps?

Music choice: One of the main things in this novel is the concept of death. There's a whole lot of dying in Touch of Power. Especially in the ending...
Death by White Lies

itunes link:

Monday 24 September 2012

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I usually feel sorry for books that have a lot of hype and love surrounding them because I always seem to be the one person who sticks out and either hates the book completely or deems it as "nothing special". The Book Thief is one book that I desperately didn't want to read, just because I was afraid that my insanely weird brain wouldn't like an obviously amazing book. But alas, my book club at school decides that they'd make the choice for me because tada! Next book = The Book Thief. 


Now they gave me the summer to read the book so you'd think that I'd be a bit happier, y'know? But no, this was my train of thought: 

"Okay, this just keeps getting better. The whole world is out to get me. Seriously. WHY?! First they want to make me an even more of a freak by making me read a book that should love, but will probably hate. And as an added bonus, they're giving me a summer to read this. 6 weeks. 6 long weeks. GREAT."

That probably doesn't make sense, does it? The thing is once I don't like summer reading. Wait no, I like summer reading where I pick up a book randomly when I feel like reading. I like summer reading when I don't feel pressured into reading. But SET summer reading? Hell no. I feel like it's a task I have to tick off but can't be bothered to start, it's agitating and annoying so I always leave summer reading to the last minute, when it doesn't feel I'm reading. In the summer. As work. (? That is such a strange paragraph, please feel free to ignore it.) 

I finally started to actually read The Book Thief after I spent a lot of time staring at the oh-so-pretty cover and I'd taken some random photos with it.

(I was feeling strangely art-y with my pretty necklace)

I'll be honest and say that I didn't fall in love straight away when I started, to be even more honest, I'd have to say that it actually took me a couple of chapters for me to slowly, but surely love this book. It took me a couple of chapters to truly appreciate the amazing storytelling by Death Zusak. If I could marry a book and not be locked away in an asylum, I'd marry this one (actually, I might just risk the asylum for this book - the crazy things you do for love, I guess). 

There's just something so clever and enthralling about this book. 

You probably don't know this but I love history and I love understanding people or trying to understand people. The thing about understanding people in the past is that it's so much harder to wrap your head around ideas that you now find archaic, weird and... insane. In The Book Thief, I understood people that in the past I'm sorry to say, I would have dismissed as horrid, cruel and just, disgraceful. Even though this book talks mostly of only Liesel's (main character!) little world, her world is a microcosm to what was going on everywhere else. The people in her little world are the types of people who would have lived in Nazi Germany. 

Although Death (the narrator - I know, crazy, right?!) discloses many events in the book before they actually occur, I'd rather not ruin the book for you. 

Read the book with an open mind, I'm sure there's something in The Book Thief that will make you incredibly happy that you read it. The Book Thief seems to have it all; the historical backdrop for the history lovers, the romance for the soft-hearted, the drama, the humour, the sarcasm, the originality, the tragedy... must I go on? 

PS. You might cry. A lot. 

Music choice:  One of the main things that stood out for me in this novel is the amazing bravery of all the characters. The most memorable scene is probably the part in which Liesel's adopted father acts on impulse and gives the bread to the dying Jewish man, although it was a foolish thing to do in the circumstances, it was definitely brave and I can only dream of ever being that courageous. My music choice is, because of this, is about wanting to be brave - One More by Superchick


Monday 3 September 2012

Review: Switched by Amanda Hocking

Even though I strongly disliked the first book I read by Hocking, My Blood Approves, and then decided to read and hate the sequel to My Blood Approves, Fate, I actually thought it would be an okay idea to read Switched.

I must really hate myself.

I don't think there's anything about Switched that I actually liked. It's not easy to finish a book, let alone LIKE a book when you absolutely despise the protagonist. Wendy is simply one of the most annoying, bratty and juvenile female characters I have ever come across. It's actually quite insulting that she's supposed to be a seventeen, nearly eighteen year old girl. I'm pretty sure it's not just me but the majority of young adults that I know don't act like they're six.

Switched is a book about trolls. I wasn't expecting that but honestly, it didn't really make a difference. Trolls? Vampires? Werewolves? Hocking could have written about any of these paranormal creatures and I'm betting she would have come out with the same product. The trolls in this novel are just people with magical powers living under an archaic monarchy in Fรถrening. Other than the changeling aspect it's as if Hocking decided to just pick a lesser known paranormal creature to make Switched appear appealing and original.

This book is not original.

Girl feels sad and alone

Dark, mysterious guy comes to town

Guy tells Girl she's different, she's a vampire/werewolf/alien/witch/elf/leprechaun/troll/anything-else

Girl likes Guy but Guy's not interested

Guy takes Girl back to ancient land
*is there a picture for that??*

Girl is important/part-of-an-ancient-prophecy/royalty

Guy professes love but leaves because he's not good enough for Girl

Some fighting...

Guy saves Girl

Girl sacrifices everything for Guy

The end.

Or you know, something like that.

Deja vu anyone?

It's not just Wendy and the same-y story line, it's all the other one-sided characters and their inability to even try to explain to Wendy what she is supposed to be doing. Even though I didn't necessarily like Wendy, I felt bad for her when she kept making mistakes because Finn and everybody else failed to tell her what she needed to do and say.

Overall, Switched is just too formulaic for my liking. You know what? I'm actually not that surprised that this is a 'Multimillion Copy International Bestseller', I'm annoyed that it is, yes, but I'm not surprised. Switched is exactly like every other popular young adult book at the moment. There's nothing particularly wrong with the writing but I didn't feel like reading the same book with different characters. If you like this BoyMeetsGirlWithAParanormalBackdrop thing then... great. I'm glad you like to read and you have found a book or a group of books that works for you. But me? I like a little bit more originality, a little bit more world building and a little less predictability.

Music choice: Hmmm... the book, to me, is just an insta love romance book about a girl yearning for a guy's attention. So, just pretend the singer is a girl and the lyrics sound like they're made for Wendy! 'People try to tell me, but I still refuse to listen 'Cause they don't get to spend time with you' - my music choice? Love Me by Justin Bieber.

You can listen to Wendy Justin too!
itunes link:
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