I really liked Raven Boys and this was an eagerly anticipated sequel. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it quite as much as the first. I found it a bit confusing and vague and kept wondering if I was just not remembering enough details from the first book or what. That said, I was still fascinated by how Stiefvater brought this ancient magic into a contemporary setting. And the idea of bringing something out of a dream and having it be real is both fascinating and horrifying (depending on what your dreams are.) I find myself especially interested in finding out more about Blue’s psychic family and they are very entertainingly on display throughout this book. The visit to Gansey’s rich and connected parents’ home was kind of jarring. And Ronan’s antagonist, who is a big part of the book, I found such a strange character. At times entertaining, but the whole drag racing thing was just kind meh to me. The best addition to this installment was the character of Mr. Grey-a funny hit man with his own backstory. You’ll notice I haven’t even said anything about plot. That’s because I doubt I could even describe it since it’s all still sort of vague to me. The boys continue to look for Glendower, the Welsh king, and to tamper with the ancient magic running beneath their town. Although not as great as the first, I did still like it, and I think Stiefvater’s writing is admirable. Looking forward to seeing how it all wraps up in book #3.
I’m delighted with this series–kids using magical objects to shrink down to a tiny size and visit other times and places via the Thorne Rooms in the Chicago Art Institute. This one was much the same as the others, except in this one, for the first time, the kids see consequences of mucking around in the past (like in Back to the Future.) If I had to criticize it would be to say one of the storylines seemed a bit contrived. I think I would have liked it better if the kids just went into a room, stepped back in time, and had an adventure. Instead, the adventures had to be tied to action in the present day. Still, this is a fun adventure, with lots of interesting history thrown in.
How excited was I to find out there was a sequel to The Apothecary? Pretty darn excited, I tell you. I’m out of the loop and didn’t even know it was coming out and just happened across it on the new book shelf! This was the second book I read while on vacation and I polished it off pretty quickly and then passed it on to Paul, who also devoured it. Two years have passed since Janie and her parents left behind the extraordinary magical/scientific adventure of the first book and lost their memories of that time. Janie has since had her memories returned to her, though she hasn’t seen Benjamin since then. Like in the first book the good apothecary society is fighting against the bad people who favor nuclear war and using their knowledge for evil. One of the things I liked so much in the first book was the interesting historical context and this book also has one. Benjamin and his father are in the jungles of Vietnam helping villagers who are attacked by the Vietminh. The Vietnam War and its origins has always been confusing to me, and it was fascinating to read about it here. The action of the story moves back and forth between Janie, working on a science experiment at her boarding school, and Benjamin, with his father in the jungle. A kidnapping builds the suspense and action and brings them all together. There are plenty more amazing abilities revealed through the big book they rely on. While the first book didn’t leave me yearning for a sequel, this book clearly is set up to have a third and final installment.
I was completely enchanted by this book. hahaha. But seriously, I loved this. Sunday Woodcutter is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, so she is bound to be magical. They live in a world where fey abound and magical things happen. Basically they live in a fairy tale! There are fairy godmothers and enchanted nameday gifts and Sunday’s sisters are all named after the other days of the week. In the wood by an old well one day Sunday meets and enchanted frog. She and the frog fall in love and though she kisses him it does not turn him into a man. But of course he actually does and then must set about meeting Sunday in human form and having her fall in love with him that way. But alas, their families are all mixed up with bad history and curses. What I loved so very much about this lovely story was that it was not a retelling of just one fairy tale. Instead there were bits of everything woven together-old woman and the shoe, princess and frog, Cinderella, Jack and the beanstalk, Rapunzel, and so on.
I’m a sucker for fairy tale retellings and this was a very original take on it. I loved it!
I can tell from Goodreads that this is Woodcutter #1, letting me know that the author intends to make this a series or trilogy. You know I normally hate that, but in this case it’s ok. The story ended completely, was fully satisfying, but there are so many other characters (6 other sisters who’ve all clearly got their own stories) that it would be very easy and natural to tell each of their stories. Sort of like how Marian Keyes’ books are about all these sisters in the same family. Except when they came out people didn’t announce ahead of time first book of a big named series. It was just she wrote a book. Then the next book you were reading you were like “hey! She just referred to a sister who seems to be the person I read a last book about.” and it was all very low key and cool. That would never happen nowadays.
I loved Scorpio Races, which I read earlier this year, so this time around I was eager to read her book regardless of cover or what it was about (I had been turned off of Scorpio Races and then was surprised by how awesome it is.) Thus, not knowing anything about it and thinking it was a straight up star-crossed lovers at boarding school book, I was completely surprised that it is somewhat supernatural. And a bit of a star-crossed lovers at boarding school. And a mystery. And X-Files-y. It was really fascinating how she put it all together. And also one of those books that you get to the end and want to start over again and see what you missed the first time through.
Because I didn’t realize there was a magical element to the story I had a couple of double takes as I started reading-wait? What? Ghosts? in the first couple of pages. It was really cool how she did blend in magical ghostly stories into a perfectly contemporary, almost ordinary story of a small town hosting an elite boarding school. I’m very curious to see what the next installment brings.
This fall is just filled with much anticipated YA sequels, and this was one of the tops for me. I’m happy to report that it totally lived up to my expectations, if not surpassing them. Trilogies have become so common now that I find when I am reading a book in one I think more than I ever used to about how the book fits into the trilogy as a whole, it’s function, and what role it plays in the overall story arc. Because I’m a kid of the 70s/80s, I tend to still reference trilogies by comparing them to Star Wars. So in this case Crown of Embers is Empire Strikes Back, thus I expect it to be a little darker, more intense, and unresolved as the characters prepare for an epic and final battle.
I have to admit that as much as I really loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns last year, I couldn’t remember many details. They did somewhat return to me as I was reading, but it didn’t matter too much. Elisa is now the queen of the country, but still not fully safe from the magical and mysterious Invierno. She has her trusted nurse and lady’s maid and Hector, her personal guard with whom she is clearly in love. There’s a lot going on in this story, so I’m going to boil it down to this: Elisa and a few others go on a secret and dangerous mission, filled with challenges from God, to fulfill her destiny and claim some power that will help her rule and protect her country. There was indeed lots of danger and excitement and Elisa is a great heroine. I enjoyed her relationships with the others, and especially when she turns to Mara to talk to about confusing new feelings and intimacy between a man and woman.
What’s really interesting in these books is that although there is a magical or supernatural element to them (her Godstone has powers, the animagi draw fire from the earth, etc.) the stronger presence is actually religion. Elisa’s Godstone is a direct conduit to God, her relationship with him is a tremendous part of her life, and the made up religion (which seems to be fact-all the populace believe) is thought out and described very fully.
This was a great installment that can totally stand on its own, but taken as the middle of the trilogy has fulfilled my second book requirement–leaving us with the heroine ready to face a final epic battle with critical relationships changed. I’m definitely looking forward to the conclusion!
I had a few minutes to myself at the library last week and saw this on the new book shelf. Regency with a little bit of magic? Count me in. It turns out that this is a sequel (and reading the title of the first book I believe I actually have the book in my house, got it as a prepub and never read it-now if only I could find it…), but it was perfectly fine to read this without having read the first. It’s a bit of an alternate history, set during the Regency (with an appearance by dear naughty old Prinny.) The unique angle to these books is that in this world people can manipulate folds and strands (??) from the ether and create magic. I suspect all that was a bit more explained in the first book. The image the descriptions created in my head were of people waving their hands around in the air and looking like they are tying invisible shoelaces. The shoelaces being strands of magic. And if you are a talented glamourist you can create nearly any glamour (an image, moving or still, of something that is not really there.) So stop right there and just imagine all the decorations that exist! You have a dinner party and hire a glamourist to create moving pictures on your walls so that guests feel like they are under the sea. You spruce up your home with a glamour of wallpaper. And so on! Totally charming. The main character is Jane, a quite talented glamourist, and her taciturn husband, Vincent, who is also very skilled and a bit famous, it seems. I gather that the first book was all about them getting together and his drama. I found him a wee bit unlikable and cold and am curious to see if, when I read the first book, I can possibly understand what it is she sees in him. In this story a few big things happening–Jane is “increasing” and thus unable to work glamour at all (for reasons totally sketchy), they are in Belgium and there is a lot of concern about Napoleon trying to reclaim the throne and spies are at work, and Jane & Vincent are working madly on a secret project of tremendous importance–putting a glamour into a glass ball so that anyone could use it-and this particular glamour is for invisibility. All three of these things make a bit of an adventure. Jane is a smart and strong heroine and I especially enjoyed her coming to her husband’s rescue. A terrific blend of magic and history and now I must go see if I can unearth that first book!
I only got this for the Best of the Best reading challenge, and didn’t even know anything about it. Sometimes I like to go into a book not knowing too much about it and I’m really glad I didn’t. It made every plot turn, character, and detail so surprising and exciting and fresh. This story was so wonderful that I picked it up from the library Tuesday afternoon and by Wednesday night had finished it. I stayed up late reading and the next day let Tabby watch extra tv just so I could keep reading. This had adventure, romance, and fantasy all wrapped in one. It reminded me very much of Shannon Hale and Tamora Pierce novels-a fully imagined and created world that seems historical and bears a resemblance to civilizations in our world, yet has an element of magic, and its own unique history and mythology. Also like Hale and Pierce’s books, this one has a kick ass strong heroine. But she doesn’t start out that way! Although Elisa is a princess and doted on by her nurse and maid, she has always been aware that her thinner, prettier, stronger sister is, frankly, the better princess and will make a great queen. Elisa’s strengths lie in her intelligence-she has read extensively of war and military strategy, and she is also extremely pious and is well versed in scripture. In fact, Elisa has a direct connection to God, though she is not yet sure for what purpose.
The story kicks off with Elisa being married to a somewhat neighboring king as a tactical alliance. En route to his kingdom the adventure begins. I really don’t want to say anything more plot-wise. All you need to know is that it’s a wonderful story. Religion plays a huge part in the story and I’m not sure I’ve really read anything before that has religion play such a large part where the religion is one made for the story. It’s monotheistic but not Christian, but seems very believable. It was all very fully realized for the story, which I just thought made it amazingly well written.
Also, I had no idea if this was going to be a series or what, but nowadays everything is a series so I assumed it was and was prepared for an unsatisfactory ending. I was delighted to find out that the story was stand alone and had a completely satisfying ending. Then when I looked it up on Goodreads to do this post I see that it is listed as “#1″, so I guess it is going to be the start of the series (or, more likely, trilogy.) But that’s ok because like I said, this is completely stand alone and also I really liked Elisa and would love to read more about her.
Another one from last year that Paul and I both read. This is a great big enjoyable book, that is very reminscent of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe-particularly with regard to the mean witch lady who practically offers turkish delight.
It turns out that outside of Portland there are the wilds-an area that no mortal goes into (except regular people have no clue that there is anything other than regular-mortal people.) But when the girl (Sophie??)’s baby brother gets carried off by crows she follows them and finds herself in the woods, dealing with talking animals, coyote soldiers, witch queens, caught up in feuding factions, and that her family is part of a magical deal.
This was just wonderful.
This book got a ton of hype last year, which I totally resisted, then when I did pick it up to read it I could not put it down. I absolutely loved it (5 stars!) There’s a sequel to look forward to, as well. This is a difficult book to categorize-it does have a supernatural element to it (angels, fallen angels, the devil?), but it’s not a lame-o Twilight book.
The heroine is a fascinating teenager living in Prague (which is also fascinating). Turns out she’s been raised by some supernatural beings that she can always find, but no one else can. Her father figure carer is a terrifying creature, but caring and nurturing to her and along with some others the only family she’s ever had. She does not know the specifics of his work, but the reader can tell it’s unsavory.
Things start happening around the world and it’s all very good and evil, fire and brimstone, questioning what she knows. Romance, adventure, mythology, religion-all wrapped up in a detailed, exciting package.