May 22, 2017

The Midnight Queen: A Rambling Review (Adult)

The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

20821047This book was enjoyable enough, but not amazing. I liked the Regency-plus-magic setting (as I pretty much always do!), but I would have appreciated more knowledge of how this alternate version of Britain came to be (and a little more political/geographical explanation would also have been good). The main characters of Gray and Sophie were cute together, but I didn't feel a whole lot of chemistry between them; their relationship was an it's-so-obvious-it's-staring-everyone-in-the-face-so-why-can't-you-see-it kind of romance. Basically, you could see it a mile away and know it was inevitably going to happen at some point. The plot consisted of a LOT of conversations, and in my opinion, not enough action/suspense. There was some intrigue, of course, but it wasn't really the sort the reader can try to figure out, because we weren't given enough information. Things do get more eventful right towards the end, but even then, I thought the climactic scenes were a little confusing and didn't provide the pay-off I wanted considering the less-than-eventful lead-up to them.

In terms of characterization, Gray and Sophie were both a little too good, in a way, for my taste. They are both intelligent, loyal, well-liked, and (generally) well-meaning individuals; perhaps it was just that they weren't given enough weaknesses to make them feel more authentic. The third-person tense may also have made it a little more difficult to really get inside their heads and understand them as people.

I also think the villains could have been more villainous (they didn't seem that sinister, except perhaps by sheer number of them) and their characters expanded upon. I had difficulty keeping them straight, there were so many!

That said, it was a pleasant, comfortable, familiar kind of read. The language used evoked an older era, and yet was usually not particularly dense or archaic, making for fairly easy reading.

May 13, 2017

Cruel Beauty: A Rambling Review

15839984Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I found this one super easy to just fall into and keep reading. I'm a sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings and this one was no exception. The world-building was really interesting and different from previous BatB retellings I've read; I liked how it involved Greco-Roman mythology. I'm not usually big on traditional demons so this version of demons – no horns or tails involved, no smoldering sulphur pits or whatever – more or less worked for me. I do wish some of the plot points, particularly the climactic scene, were a little clearer, as I am still confused about what happened (spoilers, highlight to read: what was the Kindly Ones' riddle, and why was 'a handful of happiness' the answer? Was Ignifex or Shade the prince's anger?). Also, I distrusted Ignifex through a large part of the story because we really aren't given much insight into his thoughts or feelings; this compromised the romance aspect somewhat for me because I was wary of Ignifex and if we could believe him.

Nyx I found to be a somewhat melodramatic heroine, who was a little too keen on mental self-flagellation ('I'm such a bad person, there's such hate in my heart') without that much evidence to back up that she actually deserved all this criticism. I mean, she wasn't too fond of her family, but who can blame her? Her dad and aunt treated her terribly, and don't get me started on her sister... It also irritated me that Nyx kept changing her mind about things based on how she was feeling in a given moment (this is a common pet peeve of mine for YA novels, and while I can understand it to some extent given the premise, it became repetitive as the novel wore on).

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the fairytale feel to the narrative, and the descriptions of setting (so many different rooms in that castle!) added to the magical flavour. I also liked all the allusions to the original fairytale, which worked while still having the story be entirely its own.

Also, the plot point that happens towards the end that changes everything (being super vague here so as not to spoil, here are more specifics, highlight to read: when the prince opens the box and time unravels all the way back to before the original bargain was made) was quite bold, and made the ending a little less traditional.

April 29, 2017

The Replacement: Read It, or Weed It?

I have a limited amount of space for books, and let's be real: I'm always getting new ones. That means that some of them have to go, hence the reason for my new feature, "Read It or Weed It?" I am turning to you, dear readers, for your thoughts on some of the books I own but have not yet read (or started but not finished). Should I keep them on my shelves...or do they need to move along? I need your input!


The book for this post is The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff. I tried it years ago, read most of the way through, and then lost interest and just...never finished. Is it worth picking up again, or should I say adios? Vote below!

April 16, 2017

Cress: A Rambling Review

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Cress by Marissa Meyer

I wasn't as engaged with the story as I was with Scarlet. The pacing seemed uneven – large slow stretches peppered with short bursts of excitement – and I wasn't the biggest fan of how we kept switching character POVs (there were some storylines I had less interest than others). I think part of it was just that I don't really have the time/energy to read during the week, so I kept just reading a little bit each weekend, then waiting a whole week before reading another chunk...but still, I found it easy to put down, and it wasn't strongly compelling me to pick it up again.

That said, I enjoyed spending time with the characters; I'd say characters and dialogue are Marissa Meyer's strengths. Perhaps because the plot was getting more intense, I think there was less humour in this one than in Scarlet (everyone was too busy trying to stay alive to crack a lot of jokes). I liked that Cress was not a "perfect" sort of character, but I did wish she'd been given a few more attributes to make her a little less one-note; it seemed like she was used for all technology-related needs and not much else (and she turned into a liability in any physical fight, although at least she couldn't be mind-controlled). I really enjoyed finally getting to see Kai and Cinder meet up again, and how that scene played out. I'm also intrigued by the introduction of Winter, and interested to get to know her better in the next book.

March 28, 2017

The Winner's Kiss: A Rambling Review

25526307The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

An excellent final book in the series! Marie Rutkoski was not afraid to put her characters in dark, dangerous situations with the odds stacked against them. She certainly didn't make things easy for Kestrel and Arin. I also really appreciate the way she showed how relationships are not neat, black-and-white, clean-cut things, but full of uncertainty and emotions that don't necessarily make sense, and that one may not want to even acknowledge.

I did think that the book could have been tightened somewhat; the first half became somewhat repetitive in its exploration of Kestrel and Arin's relationship, and the second half had a few too many battle (and battle preparation) scenes for my liking. (Battle scenes are always quite hard for me to picture, and so they don't do all that much for me as a reader.)

I thought it was clever the way the climactic scene was structured, split between what Kestrel was involved in and what Arin was up to (and plus, I liked how Kestrel's plan involved an element introduced earlier in the book). Also, the opening part of the book, detailing the treatment of Kestrel in the mines (and the psychological toll of that), really made me feel for her and was a way to create conflict in the Kestrel/Arin relationship without relying on a cliche such as a love triangle or "star-crossed lovers."

One thing I would have liked would have been more discussion of the whole issue of slavery; this largely seems to get dropped from the narrative, given the pressing issue of the war going on, but given how very recently the Herrani had been slaves to the Valorians, I think realistically that tensions surrounding that would have been high.

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