Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Published: 2011 by Greenwillow Books
Version: Hardcover
Obtained: Library

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic,are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

First Sentence:
"Prayer candles flicker in my bedroom."

Having only heard positive reviews on this book, I quickly got it from the library and devoured it almost instantly. It’s stunning.

Elisa is being forced to marry an older  king, Alejandro (not like, really old, but too old for her. I guessing he’s still pretty hot for like late-thirties(?)), who lives really far away. He knows about her godstone and he wants her to help his country. However, he is also embarrassed by her. Elisa grew up with a mean older sister and no friends so her self-esteem is incredibly low. Food is her only comfort, which of course, makes her fat, which in turn does nothing to raise her self-esteem. After being with the king for a while and learning more about her destiny and the godstone, she gets kidnapped and taken by rebels who want her to help them.

Ultimately this is the story of Elisa finding herself. For so long she’s hid behind food, been overshadowed by her sister, and ignored by her father. Everyone wants her to embrace her destiny as a chosen one should. But most everyone, including herself, doubt her ability. She’s fat, shy, and average. She has major flaws, but she works hard to get around them. Through the novel, she learns more about herself, her abilities, and her power.

The unique and detailed settings were my favorite aspects. From her home, they travel through a dense forest filled with natives, to her husband’s desert kingdom. She also travels across the desert to the mountainous regions. The evil “bad guys” are camped in an area that I always pictured looking like Mordor. Elisa hides in caves and travels along rocky cliffs. Everything was so visual and life-like. Similar to how much I loved the settings in Blood Red Road. Just so diverse. Wonderful world-building. I’m excited to see what new locations will be in the sequel.

I also loved all the characters. I loved the evil, good, neutral characters. Her nursemaid (killing someone with a hairpin is so hardcore.), the courtiers, Humberto and his sister, Hector, EVERYONE. They were all so interesting and intricate. Alejandro had questionable motives and I couldn’t figure him out. Elisa wished for his acceptance and love, even though she didn’t really want it. He was like an unattainable ultimate that she wanted simply to know that she could, but really she didn’t love him.

One of the main conflicts within Elisa was over the godstone. Supposedly she was to use it to complete God’s will. However, the bad guys also claimed that God was telling them to do what they were doing. This confused her. How was she to know what to do or if to do it, if it’s causing these creatures to be evil. Eventually she understood it more, stepped up to the plate, and harnessed the power of the godstone.

I couldn’t believe a certain event that happened about three-fourths of the way through. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve read it. I was very depressed about it for awhile, but then I realized I admired Carson for doing it. It’s not every author who will do something so horrible like that in their first book.

Refreshingly unique, detailed, and interesting, The Girl of Fire and Thorns had me riveted. I can NOT wait for the sequel, The Crown of Embers to come out. I have absolutely no clue what’s going to happen, and that delights me.

Content Warning: Kissing


5 Pigs


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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review: Scarlett Fever

Title: Scarlett Fever
Author: Maureen Johnson
Published: 2010 by Scholastic
Version: Hardcover
Obtained: Library

Ever since Mrs. Amberson, the former-aspiring-actress-turned-agent, entered Scarlett Martin's life, nothing has been the same.

She's still in charge of the Empire Suite in her family's hotel, but she's now also Mrs. Amberson's assistant, running around town for her star client, Chelsea - a Broadway star Scarlett's age with a knack for making her feel insignificant.

Scarlett's also trying to juggle sophomore year classes, her lab partner who is being just a little TOO nice, and getting over the boy who broke her heart.

In the midst of all this, her parents drop a bombshell that threatens to change her New York life forever...

First Sentence:
"It was four-thirty in the morning, and Scarlett wanted answers."

Hey, heads up!! This is a review of a book that is NUMBER 2 in a series. Therefore, if you do not want plot pieces from this one to spoil aspects of the first one’s plot, STOP and retrace your steps until you find that time you almost read Suite Scarlett. Read it now, then return to me.

Once again Maureen Johnson flings her amazing talents down upon us. The sequel, just like Suite Scarlett, is beautifully written, fantastically funny, and very relatable.

Scarlett is still neck-deep in crazy. It wasn’t just for the summer, it’s during the school year too. Mrs. Amberson has started a business, and she has Scarlett helping her out by getting to know clients. One, named Chelsea, has a brother named Max, who is in Scarlett’s school and is driving her insane. Spencer is having some problems at his new job, Lola is in a slump, and Marlene is actually being nice. Also, she is trying to get over Eric, and failing. Miserably.

I loved being able to see Scarlett in school. The first book was during the summer, so we never met her school friends, or watched her try to juggle work and school. Scarlett has an amazing ability to handle so much at her throat at still get out ahead. She even manages to keep up with the homework at her advanced high school.

My new favorite character is Max. I love him. In the beginning, I loved his complete horribleness, and near the ending, I loved him more than I loved Scarlett. I loved how he slowly revealed more of himself to her, and we finally saw his awesomeness. If only stupid Eric would just LEAVE, life would be so much better.

I can’t say much else, except that you should definitely read this series as it is simply WONDERFUL. Maureen Johnson has pulled a dirty trick on us by starting another series. Now we’ll have to wait longer for the new installments of each series. (I speak of the Shades of London series, which is REALLY good, review of The Name of the Star coming soon!)

Also, if this is only a trilogy, be warned this is the classic “middle book” which is a bit of a downer and ends with a mild cliff-hanger.

Content Warning: Kissing, language.


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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Review: Across the Universe

Title: Across the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Published: 2011 by Penguin Group
Version: Hardcover
Obtained: Library

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

First Sentence:
"Daddy said, 'Let Mom go first.'"

This is one of those books with an unbelievably beautiful cover that just makes you want to melt. (Sadly, both paperback versions took most of that beauty away. Go Google them.)
I have had this book on my to-read pile FOREVER. Once again I regret my slowness.

I’m not exactly a big sci-fi fan when it comes to books. All the crazy names and places get confusing. But this was more like Inside Out (by Maria V. Snyder), exciting things happening in a small enclosed space. Also, the main girl has a PRETTY AWESOME NAME. *wink, wink*

Amy’s parents are going to be cryogenically frozen so that when the spaceship lands at the “new earth”, many years away, they will be unfrozen and help start a new civilization. Obviously her parents don’t want to force her to be frozen as well, but she decides that she’s said her goodbyes already and she wants to stay with her parents. Now we’re on the ship as Elder is trying to learn how to be a leader from the gruff, secretive Eldest. From here on we flip-flop between Elder’s point of view, and Amy’s. Amy gets unplugged, and suddenly she’s thrust into life onboard the ship, with all the secrets and weirdness that goes along with that. After more people become unplugged, Amy and Elder hurriedly try to solve the mystery.

Amy’s wandering thoughts/dreams while frozen desperately made me never want to be in a coma (or be frozen like that). Not being able to tell how much time is passing, not knowing what’s going on, just thinking. Basically being trapped inside your brain. Ms. Revis writes all of this with such clarity that I felt trapped while reading it. Also when Amy is exploring the ship and realizing how small it is compared to Earth, I was getting very claustrophobic. I DO NOT WANT TO EVER BE ON A SPACECRAFT FOR MORE THAN 10 MINUTES. All of that scares me. Even though I felt trapped while reading, the simple truth is that Ms. Revis made me feel emotion. She is a fantastic artist, painting the setting so you feel what the characters feel.

Amy and Elder’s relationship was. . .unfinished. Elder was quite smitten with her, but she wasn’t really paying attention to him in that way. Also they kept keeping secrets from each other. There was something pretty horrible that happened to her, and it bothered me that she never told him. I’m guessing in the sequel, which I am DYING to read, their relationship becomes more realized.

Many reviewers have pointed out that all the mentions of “the season” got a bit much. I mostly found it disturbing in the sense that that was the society norm. It creeped me out completely. Most of the society’s ways were horrible. The treatment of the old people, the water, the “crazy” ward, the way they all looked the same to avoid conflict. Everything was wack. Granted, they were on that spaceship for a LOOONG time. Long enough to go crazy and come up with weird laws.

Harley was a lovely character. The artist. I loved how he had Amy’s back whenever Elder couldn’t. The three of them made a great trio as they tried to solve the mystery. Regarding the mystery, I totally realized something was up with a certain someone like halfway through, but I didn’t realize all the details until they were slowly revealed later. All the ship’s secrets and lies just came down one after another. It was like BAM, BAM, BAM. Oh you thought you knew what was going on? BAM, you were wrong.

I realize this is a long review. There’s just so much in this book! I loved it so much more that I thought I would.

I NEED to get my hands on A Million Suns right now. The completely lovely thing is that I have absolutely NO CLUE where the story will go from here. :)

P.S. Slight Spoilers In The Content Warnings!

Content Warnings: “The season” is gross. It is basically the time where all the population has sex, basically mating, very much like animals. There is also an attempted rape which is quite terrible.


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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review: The Son of Neptune

Title: The Son of Neptune
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: 2011 by Disney – Hyperion
Version: Hardcover (SIGNED!!)
Obtained: Bought

Percy is confused. When he awoke after his long sleep, he didn’t know much more than his name. His brain-fuzz is lingering, even after the wolf Lupa told him he is a demigod and trained him to fight. Somehow Percy managed to make it to the camp for half-bloods, despite the fact that he had to continually kill monsters that, annoyingly, would not stay dead. But the camp doesn't ring any bells with him.
Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn’t do a very good job of it. When the Voice took over her mother and commanded Hazel to use her “gift” for an evil purpose, Hazel couldn’t say no. Now, because of her mistake, the future of the world is at risk. 
Frank is a klutz. His grandmother claims he is descended from ancient heroes and can be anything he wants to be, but he doesn’t see it. He doesn’t even know who his father is. He keeps hoping Apollo will claim him, because the only thing he is good at is archery—although not good enough to help the Fifth Cohort win at war games. His big and bulky physique makes him feel like a clumsy ox, especially in front of Hazel, his closest friend at camp. He trusts her completely—enough, even, to share the secret he holds close to his heart. 
Beginning at the “other” camp for half-bloods and extending as far north as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment in the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and features other remarkable creatures, all of whom are destined to play a part in the most important quest of all: the Prophecy of Seven. 

First Sentence:
"The snake-haired ladies were starting to annoy Percy."


You know, you wouldn’t think that ONE Percy-less book would make me miss him as much as I did. But goodness, it’s nice to have him back.


He’s forgotten everything!!! Well, almost everything. Just as Jason was crazy confused in The Lost Hero, so Percy’s memory is fuzzy.

I did completely love this book, definitely more than The Lost Hero, just because Percy is present.

So you know how in ancient history, there were the Greeks, and then there were the Romans, and they hated each other, and they also had the same gods but with different names? Yeah, that all comes into play in this series.

The one thing I don’t really understand is how the gods are in both Roman and Greek forms. It’s like they are both at the same time and yet they “can’t remember” things they do in their other form. It’s overall just confusing.

BUT somehow Riordan makes all of this work. There are the two sides of the mythical-in-modern-world world, and they hate each other, but now they have to work together. Jason and Percy are sort of peace messengers but they don’t know it. Hera has caused both of them to forget most of their memories and to join the opposite camps. Thus, Percy is now buddy-buddy with the Romans as well as the Greeks, and Jason has built friendships with the Greeks along with the Romans. It’s all pretty complicated.

The Roman camp is pretty amazing, but I’m still a die-hard fan of Camp Half-Blood and all other Greek-oriented things. The Romans are harsh and violent, but also fun and exciting.

The new characters, Frank and Hazel, are amazing. Their backstories are long and complicated, but ultimately show the creative genius that is Rick Riordan.

I am worried about the ending to this book and how it might mess with the relationships. I’m a big fan of: Percy&Annabeth, Jason&Piper, Frank&Hazel.
This book has made me fearful that the second two couples might have some issues with some other folks entering the picture.

Anywho! Read this series! It’s amazingly incredible.

Content Warnings: Nothing, Riordan’s books are always objectionable-content-free reads.


5 Pigs
5 Pigs for the whole series. For Rick Riordan. For Percy Jackson.

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