Saturday, May 12, 2012

Review: Flora Segunda (Flora Trilogy #1) by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Overall Impression:

Source: Library

Publication Date: January 2007

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)Flora knows better than to take shortcuts in her family home, Crackpot Hall--the house has eleven thousand rooms, and ever since her mother banished the magickal butler, those rooms move around at random. But Flora is late for school, so she takes the unpredictable elevator anyway. Huge mistake. Lost in her own house, she stumbles upon the long-banished butler--and into a mind-blowing muddle of intrigue and betrayal that changes her world forever.      Full of wildly clever plot twists, this extraordinary first novel establishes Ysabeau Wilce as a compelling new voice in teen fantasy.

My Review: I forget exactly how I came across this book, but I am SO glad I did. This is a keeper guys! This book was a magical mix of Coraline, a Ghibli film, and Gormengast. Where has it been all my life?

Let me explain. Some books you want to read to find out what happens at the end. There is an element of that with this, but honestly, the journey is what really matters with this one. Flora is such an amazingly full character. I can hear her voice in my head and her personality is so funny! I laughed and chuckled constantly with this book. It was fantastic!

And the main character doesn't steal the show either! All of the secondary characters add so much color and contrast that it was such a pleasure meeting them and knowing them as Flora does.

And the WORLD! Ms. Wilce does an absolutely fantastic job creating a land and society that is different and yet familiar and I loved loved loved learning about it. It truly was such a joy to experience it all and to learn more about it as Flora had various adventures and invariably got into trouble (or very narrowly avoided it).

I'm not sure if this would really be everyone's cup of tea, however, it is quite quirky but that was part of its charm for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Wilce's writing style and will honestly buy this series for keeps on my bookshelf (just ordered the 3rd and final that came out on the 8th!!). I thought she did a fantastic job of giving us enough detail and back information (Flora's comments and analysis of the people and world around her were just too funny! but also very poignant at times as well) but she kept it going at a good pace and stuff was always happening. But even when stuff wasn't, I didn't feel bogged down, at all, with the minutia of daily life because it was just so clever and Flora was experiencing so much!

I honestly cannot say enough good things about this book. You should read it, you really should!

Review: Stolen Away by Alyxandra Harvey

Overall Impression:

Source: Netgalley and library

Publication Date: January 2012

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)For seventeen years, Eloise Hart had no idea the world of Faery even existed. Now she has been abducted and trapped in the Rath of Lord Strahan, King of Faery. Strahan was only meant to rule for seven years, as Faery tradition dictates, and then give up his crown to another. But he won't comply, and now chaos threatens both worlds.

The only one who can break his stranglehold on the Faery court is his wife. . . Eloise's aunt Antonia. Using Eloise to lure Antonia, Strahan captures his wife, desperate to end the only threat to his reign. Now Eloise must become the rescuer. Together with her best friends Jo and Devin, she must forge alliances with other Fae, including a gorgeous protector named Lucas, and Strahan's mysterious son, Eldric-who may or may not betray them.

My Review: I enjoy books about the Fey and Fairies quite a bit so was excited to give this one a try. I had attempted to read Alyxandra Harvey's vampire series but ended up quitting after 1.5 (for the same reasons, though the first one was descent enough) of them but wanted to see if this one was such luck.

What I liked about this book is that it tried. There were times where the details almost, almost made it more believable, but then it just annoyed me.

I am going to keep things short for this review because honestly, I just didn't like the book. It wasn't my cup of tea and I don't want to belabor that point unnecessarily. The characters tried to have depth but it was fake, the storyline is not original in how it portrays the fey, I did not feel transported to another world or another time, and there was a TON of insta-love.

In the end I just lightly skimmed the last 100 pages because it just was not keeping my attention at all and totally knew how it was going to end. I was getting frustrated reading it and just don't like forcing myself to read that kind of thing when there are simply oodles of other great books that I could move onto.

Overall, not a recommendation. You might like it if you liked her vampire series the Drake Chronicles, but I'm glad I moved on to other books.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cover: ARC Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Garriger

Guys! One of my most anticipated reads of 2013 finally has a cover! Totally found this by accident (no thanks to you goodreads) and here it is:

I quite like it! What do you think? This is from Gail Carriger of the Parasol Protectorate fame. I'd be willing to trade my earliest memories...or maybe my hair color....for an ARC of this book. Apparently it was at the TLA conference or something like I know copies exist...I'm just not special enough yet though.

Still not convinced? Well, I guess the synopsis will be the clincher then (goodreads):

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother's existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea--and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right--but it's a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine's certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

First in a four book YA series set 25 years before the Parasol Protectorate but in the same universe.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Review: His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire #1) by Naomi Novik

Overall Impression:

Source: Library

Publication Date: March 2006

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain’s defense by taking to the skies . . . not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future–and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.
My Review: I am so happy I stumbled across this book. It's been out for a few years and I'm not sure why it didn't come to my attention sooner, but I am SO glad that it finally did (probably reading a review on a blog, so thank you)!

Looking at this just on a library shelf, I probably wouldn't pick it up (sad, but true, I judge covers sometimes unless someone has told me about it or I have read the description. This unobtrusive cover, however, is hiding all kinds of awesome! Basically this has Master and Commander, Jane Austen, and Eragon, all wrapped up into one, it's fantastic! You get the old timey feel of proper speaking and manners mixed with naval battles and talking dragons and their handlers!

That being said, there were times where things were a bit slow, and someone would take a slight to a comment that would pass a bit over my head, but for the most part, I was able to imagine things exactly. The writing was superb and the story telling and story line are very original. I just can't say enough of how much I appreciate this book.

Ms. Novik's universe sounds so entirely plausible that I'm a little put out that I haven't been called to be a Long-Wing captain myself! I'm also pretty happy that I came upon this series when I did since the 7th (is it the last? Not sure) just recently came out so I can read through this as quickly as I am able (I hate waiting).

Definitely worth a read for fantasy buffs but for those with a historical fiction bent as well. Truly, awesome work!


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