Friday, February 28, 2014

Book Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication date: April 2013
Pages: 400
Source: Library
For: Fun (and for assassin nuns)
Series: His Fair Assassin, Book 2

Summary from goodreads:
When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St. Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons. 
But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for...
Things I Liked:
I wholeheartedly love the setting and the plot of this book.  I love seeing a time and a place that doesn't often make it into historical fiction (or historical fantasy).  It was fun to watch the intrigues and the politics play out.  I was fascinated (and sickened a few times) by the things people did for power then (and I'm sure still do now).  Plus, I love seeing women who had power and could wield it well during a time when most women were simply easy targets or repressed.  Fun, if not light, stuff.

Things I Didn't Like:
This book was definitely quite dark.  Sybella is rather depressing character.  In fact, I found her belief that she is inherently evil, completely unlovable, and totally flawed to be a bit much at times.  It seemed like she often wouldn't even give herself any kind of break.  And yes, this is likely a very real result of the horrors she grew up in.  Still, at the end she does seem to give herself a break.  There were a lot of dark deeds and disturbing details that made the book less enjoyable, though more interesting I suppose.  I'll be interested to read about Annith and kind of hope she might be a bit more cheerful than Sybella was.

Start with Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Poison by Sara Poole

s-factor: !@
a few here and there

mrg-factor: XX
mostly obliquely referenced, but some disturbing details

v-factor: ->->->
there is quite a bit of assassinating and killing and what not

Overall rating: ****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Book Review: Dodger by Terry Pratchett

Dodger by Terry Pratchett
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: September 2012
Pages: 368
Source: Library
For: Fun (plus, it's kind of a retelling)

Summary from goodreads:
A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he's...Dodger.

Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London's sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He's not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl--not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England.

From Dodger's encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens and the calculating politician Benjamin Disraeli, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery.
Things I Liked:
Once I got into the groove of Pratchett's writing, I was sucked into it.  I love the quirky and compelling stories and characters he's created (or reimagined in some cases).  Pratchett really does have a wit that pops up endlessly on every page.  Every phrase seems perfectly crafted and you can't help but love the characters who get to say those things.  Dodger was so loveable and so completely dense at times that it made him more endearing.  The supporting cast, including Dickens and Solomon, were fantastic as well.  I never fail to come away from a Pratchett novel (not that I've read very many) feeling smarter and entirely entertained.

Things I Didn't Like:
It was a bit hard for me to jump into.  For some reason, it seemed a little more dense than I have been reading lately (which is probably more of a statement about what I've been reading than anything else).  Also, the story does get a bit far-fetched.  But that is part of what makes it so fun to read.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Plus, Pratchett has a bajillion published works

s-factor: !
a few here and there

mrg-factor: none
though a few oblique references

v-factor: ->->
a few rather gory or disturbing bits, not described in detail

Overall rating: ****

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem by Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: March 2013
Pages: 432
Source: Library
For: Fun
Series: Delirium, Book 3
Summary from goodreads: *Spoilers are inevitable for the first two books*
They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past.
But we are still here.
And there are more of us every day.

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor.

Maybe we are driven crazy by our feelings.
Maybe love is a disease, and we would be better off without it.
But we have chosen a different road.
And in the end, that is the point of escaping the cure: We are free to choose.
We are even free to choose the wrong thing.
Things I Liked:
I liked how the ending wasn't exactly neat, tidy, and all wrapped up perfectly.  I liked how things were still ambiguous and how people were still trying to figure out what was right or wrong.  There were some very interesting thoughts about choice and emotions and freedom.  It was nice to see a little more about how when we do have freedom, we tend to still make awful choices, but that freedom is still more important than not having it.  And the story was pretty interesting too - watching Lena interact with old and new friends and what happened to her.  I think Hana, however, was more interesting to me.  I found myself following her story more than Lena's.

Things I Didn't Like:
I am not entirely sure what kept me from really enjoying the book, but I just didn't.  I think at times it felt kind of bland.  Sometimes it seemed to be a little too focused on Lena and which boy she wants.  I wanted to know about the world and the cure and people's opinions on invalids.  Lena's story was just not that interesting to me.  As I mentioned, I was more invested in Hana.  I guess I just have no real reason for not liking it, but I didn't much enjoy the read.

Start with Delirium and Pandemonium
Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld

s-factor: !@#
some, a handful of f-bombs

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
there is fighting and some domestic violence as well

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Classic Double Challenge Link-Up for January & February

Sign up for the Classic Double Challenge.

Link up with any reviews/thought posts you've done in January or February!  Hope you are all doing better than I am - I haven't even chosen my book pairs yet :(  Any good suggestions?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Book Review: Sabotaged by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Sabotaged by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication date: August 2010
Length: 9 hrs
Source: Audiobook from Library
Series: The Missing, Book 3

Summary from goodreads: *spoilers are inevitable for the first two books*
After helping Chip and Alex survive 15th century London, Jonah and Katherine are summoned to help another missing child, Andrea, face her fate. Andrea is really Virginia Dare, from the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Jonah and Katherine are confident in their ability to help Andrea fix history, but when their journey goes dangerously awry, they realize that they may be in over their head. They've landed in the wrong time period. Andrea doesn't seem that interested in leaving the past. And even worse, it appears that someone has deliberately sabotaged their mission...

Things I Liked:
I'm always up for fun time travel adventures that help me learn more about history.  This series is pretty entertaining with a unique premise that keeps you invested in the characters.  I definitely knew next to nothing about the Roanoke colony, so this was really interesting to learn more about.  In fact, I think reading anything about such a strange historical mystery would be interesting.  The ending will definitely leave you dying to know what happens next.  The narrator, Chris Sorensen, was good, but not outstanding.

Things I Didn't Like:
I think that this is one book that reminded me why I am not the target audience for MG reads.  The plot twists were ridiculously obvious and I really, really wanted to smack Jonah for being so slow!  He always took ridiculously long catching on to social cues and what was happening.  Admittedly, this happens often enough that the other characters make mention of it, so it is probably intentional.  But it really annoyed me continually and I couldn't enjoy it much when I was so constantly bothered.  I'll probably keep reading the series, though, just to see what happens next (and what annoying person from history Jonah is).

Not much I can think of (sorry, feeling brain dead :)
Start with the first two books, Found and Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix

s-factor: none
that I recall

mrg-factor: none 

v-factor: -> 
a little bit of fighting

Overall rating: *** 

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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