Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review of NAMELESS by Lili St. Crow

Ever wonder what the world would be like if the West had stuck with Paganism instead of transitioning to Christianity? In Lili St. Crow's new book, NAMELESS, she explores exactly that.

Along with retelling the classic fairy tale, Snow White & the Seven Dwarves.

If you haven't heard of Lili St. Crow, she's also the author of bestselling series Strange Angels. You can visit her website here.

Her newest book, the start of a trilogy called Tales of Beauty and Madness, comes out of April 4th. So what's it about? And should you buy it?

Read on, readers. Read on.

Here's a sneak peek of the cover of NAMELESS and a short synopsis.


Summary:

When Camille was six years old, she was discovered alone in the snow by Enrico Vultusino, godfather of the Seven—the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Papa Vultusino adopted the mute, scarred child, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico.

Now Cami is turning sixteen. She’s no longer mute, though she keeps her faded scars hidden under her school uniform, and though she opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellie, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino heiress, she knows that she is not really Family. Unlike them, she is a mortal with a past that lies buried in trauma. And it’s not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth…to find out where she comes from and why her past is threatening her now.

New York Times bestselling author Lili St. Crow thrilled legions of fans with her dark paranormal series Strange Angels. Now she has crafted an evocative update of Snow White, set in a vividly imagined world and populated by unforgettable new characters.


***

On Goodreads, I gave the book 3 out of 5 stars. I think Crow's creativity overwhelmed this novel--the world she's composed is familiar, yet alien and incredibly engrossing.  

However, I didn't care much for the main character until the very end of the book. I got tired of her stuttering problem, and on a different note, I got tired of the number of adjectives that stifled what might have been a pretty good story, otherwise. At one point, I wished I'd tallied how many adjectives she uses. I bet the list would stretch from one end of the US to the other. 

The prologue opens in first person, but the main character continually refers to herself in third person. Then in chapter one, we slip into second person. I'm sure Crow wants to seem literary, but frankly, I don't understand how these issues slid past her editors. 

But the story was strangely intriguing. I kept reading, despite these quirks. And at the end, I even got a little weepy-eyed as the main character finally finds where she belongs. 

So I'm not much for main characters who need to be coddled, and I'm not much for glam and extravagance in books. But I know those elements draw a lot of people in, and if that's your thing, then Crow's book is the April read for you.

Will I read the next volume in the trilogy? That depends. If I have time in my reviewing schedule and get an ARC, then sure. If not, I probably won't look back. 

Again, NAMELESS comes out of April 4th and can be found in bookstores, libraries, and, of course, all over the web.

See you next week when I'll be reviewing WHITE LINES by Jennifer Banash. Sneak Peek: I'm about a hundred pages in and really enjoying it. 

As always, if you have a book you'd like reviewed, leave a comment, and I'll put it on my list.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review of FEARLESS by Cornelia Funke

Finally, a review of a (nearly) straight fantasy novel for young adult readers!

Ever since Robert Jordan's final novel A MEMORY OF LIGHT has come out, I've wanted to read and review straight fantasy. Probably because I haven't yet had a chance to read the conclusion to the Wheel of Time series. Is it good?

But I'm off on a tangent. What am I reviewing this week? FEARLESS by Cornelia Funke, the second novel in her Mirrorworld series. If you're familiar with Cornelia Funke, you know she's a terrific novel with a great track record, which includes INKHEART and its follow up novels.

Here's a sneak peek at the two covers that FEARLESS will be jacketed in, as well as a summary of the novel:





Synopsis:

After saving his brother, Jacob Reckless faces death from the fairy's curse burnt into his heart. In search of a cure, he returns to the Mirrorworld where he is reunited with Fox, a beautiful shape-shifting girl. He has one more chance: a golden crossbow with the power to save and destroy life, buried in a dead king's tomb, beneath an invisible palace. Jacob must cross continents, face monsters and men, including a dangerous rival, and learn what it means to stay alive.

How many stars do I give FEARLESS? Five out of five. I loved this book. Even though I came in during the second installment of this series, I had little trouble following. I liked the main character, Jacob Reckless, and I liked his love interest, Fox (or Celeste, as we later learn her name is) even more. 

Funke did an amazing job at making the main antagonist likable as well, something I always love in a book. Reckless and the Goyl merely have conflicting interests, and at times, you might wonder which one of them you want to complete the quest first. 

Plus, Funke has a dozen subplots that help carry the novel along, and she does a good job of bringing characters from her previous novel into this one--so if your favorite character from the first Mirrorworld was Will or one of the fairies, you'll see those characters brought back in FEARLESS. 

The only trouble I had will the book were these two small things. The characters' internal monologues often sounded like they were all the same person, one hivemind that all spoke exactly the same way. I also didn't like the ending. I know, I know. Why should you read a book if the ending isn't satisfying? It wasn't so much that--it was just...confusing, I guess. I couldn't see the author's vision. But maybe others won't have that problem.

Even with those small flaws, I loved the book, and I'd read it again. I'm definitely picking up RECKLESS, the first book in the Mirrorworld series, and I'll report back on that as well.

After saving his brother, Jacob Reckless faces death from the fairy's curse burnt into his heart. In search of a cure, he returns to the Mirrorworld where he is reunited with Fox, a beautiful shape-shifting girl. He has one more chance: a golden crossbow with the power to save and destroy life, buried in a dead king's tomb, beneath an invisible palace. Jacob must cross continents,face monsters and men, including a dangerous rival, and learn what it means to stay alive. 

Next time I'll be reviewing NAMELESS by Lili St. Crow, the first book in a new series called Tales of Beauty and Madness. So if you loved her Strange Angels series, stay tuned for next week's review.

As always, if you have any books you'd like reviewed, leave them in the comments, and I'll be happy to check them out for you. 

Until next time!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review of 17 & GONE by Nova Ren Suma

Need a change of pace from the YA books I usually review? Then here's a review of a suspense novel called 17 & GONE by Nova Ren Suma.

Before I delve into my thoughts, what's this book all about? Well, read on, readers, read on. I'm about to reveal the cover art and synopsis for this March 21, 2013 release.

Synopsis:

 Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.


****

Sound good? Well, before you rush out and pre-order, let me tell you my thoughts.

I'd give this novel three stars out of five. Why? Though Suma's writing is elegant, I felt she spends too much time on minute details instead of moving the story along, and though I believe she uses repetitive sentence structure as an art form, I found it vaguely drum-like. I also didn't particularly like or identify with the main character, but maybe that's because I haven't been 17 in a long while. Either way, I needed interaction with other characters to break the monotony of the first person narrative, and I didn't get that. 

There were also a few lines I found disturbing, like, "Besides, I could sense him thinking, what was she? She was only a 17-year-old girl. And 17-year-old girls vanish all the time." 

Or this long paragraph: "Having a mother wouldn't stop it [a girl from running away/being taken], and not having a mother wouldn't make a girl go. Staying home every day or going out every night. Taking drugs or not taking them. Talking to strangers or talking to nobody. (skipping some here) If a girl was meant to go, she just did."  

Personally, I don't buy the first line, and as for the second paragraph, in my opinion, it's simply not true.

*SPOILER ALERT* Perhaps the main character believes these things because she turns out to be schizophrenic. Either way, I don't think it's a good message to be sending youth--you DO make decisions that will impact the rest of your life. Period. 

But I'm sure many others loved the main character's spiral into darkness, her brushes with suicide, her dance with madness, and ghosts that turn out to be nothing but spiders in the mind. If that's the kind of read you're looking for, then Suma's book is the one for you.

All in all, this definitely hasn't been my favorite read of the year, and I'm looking forward to moving on to the next one.  

I'll be reviewing FEARLESS by Cornelia Funke, a Mirrorworld novel, so stay turned to for next Wednesday's post, which will be a review of this book. 

Till next time!

(As always, if you want to put in a request for a book review, please do!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review of CRAP KINGDOM by DC Pierson

I decided to review CRAP KINGDOM by DC Pierson because it's so different from the books that I usually review. If you follow my blog, you know I love anything that has fantasy, paranormal, horror, sci-fi elements to it. But I don't normally couple those things with humor.

However, DC Pierson has done that. And in my opinion, he's done it masterfully.

So what's CRAP KINGDOM about? When will it come out? Read on, readers, read on.



Summary: THE CHOSEN ONE MUST BE RETRIEVED FROM EARTH

HE WILL BRING DOWN THE WALL AND RESTORE THE KINGDOM TO GLORY

HIS NAME IS TOM PARKING

With this mysterious yet oddly ordinary-looking prophecy, Tom's fate is sealed: he's been plucked from his life and whisked away to a magical kingdom to be its Chosen One.

There's just one problem: The kingdom is mostly made of garbage from Earth. Okay, well, two problems: the king hates Tom. Also, the princess likes to wear fake mustaches. And being Chosen One seems to consist mainly of cleaning out rats' noses at the Royal Rat-Snottery.

So, basically, the kingdom sucks.

When Tom turns down the job of Chosen One, he thinks he's making a smart decision. But when Tom discovers he's been replaced by his best friend Kyle, who's always been cooler, more athletic, and better with girls, Tom wants Crap Kingdom back—at any cost. And the hilarity that ensues will determine the fate of the universe.


*** 

Sound good? Want to buy it? CRAP KINGDOM is expected to come out on March 7th of this year, so you can buy it tomorrow wherever books are sold!

I really did enjoy this read, and I enjoyed it a whole lot more than I thought I would. At first, I figured the book would mostly appeal to 12-year-old boys who like penis jokes. But there's actually a lot more to the book than that. 

Pierson, whether purposefully or not, has done a great job of making the identity crisis that we all went through (or are going through) as teenagers accessible and fun. Sometimes it's easier to be somebody else than yourself. Sometimes it's hard not to want to be somebody else. But we are who we are for a reason. 

Here are a couple quotes from the book that I liked: 

1) "...there were always times when Tom's head was on the chopping block and he would learn all kinds of lessons in that moment of need, gaining the wisdom of a man whose death was imminent. And then, at the last second, his head would somehow be saved from the chopping block and he'd completely forget all the things he'd learned while it was there."

2) "Ohohohohohohohoh, I see, big adventurer. You know everything now." "I know almost nothing," Tom said. "But that's a whole lot more than nothing."

See? With lines like these, you've got to like this book. 

Interested in learning more, visit DC Pierson's site here.

***

If there are any books you'd like to see reviewed, let me know, and I'll do my best to put my hands on them. Until next time!