BOOK REVIEW: The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (The Inheritance Trilogy, #2)

Title: The Broken Kingdoms

Author: N.K. Jemisin

Available In: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, Kindle, Nook.

Warnings: R for sexuality, violence, and gore.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

It takes me a long time to get through each new N.K. Jemisin book. This isn’t normal for me; generally I’m a speed-reader who can whip through a book in a week, no problem. However, Goodreads shows that I’ve been working on this one since October. Whew.

Our story opens with gods in garbage and introduces us to Oree, blind magic-artist from the city. Oree doesn’t know it, but the strange man that she takes in is far, far more than he seems, and she’s about to be thrown into the midst of a scramble for power that includes gods, demigods, and even certain humans.

As usual, Jemisin’s prose is worth the slow pace. She has such a distinctive, lyrical style, and while The Broken Kingdoms is not set in the grandeur of Sky as the first book was, she shows a distinct ability to bring that same lyricism to a grittier setting. The characters are lovely as well—I was particularly fond of Madding the godling—and Jemisin explores their interactions with the same deft sensitivity that she brought to the political push-and-pull of Yeine’s Sky.

The only complaint that I have about this book is the same as the first—at times, the slow pace of the plot really bogs the book down, and there are moments when I have no idea what’s going on, even after I reread several times. It’s not a huge annoyance, but given the vast strides Jemisin made as a writer between The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and the Broken Kingdoms, I hope to see her improve this aspect.

Pros

  • The magic. As usual, Jemisin’s magic system is beautifully realized and completely unique.
  • Great continuity between book 1 and book 2.
  • Jemisin’s gods. ❤ I love that she incorporates some elements from existing mythologies into them without sacrificing her personal vision.
  • Oree’s POV. She seems much more grounded than Yeine, and I love that she’s an artist despite her blindness, which is handled in a way that I personally thought was inventive and respectful.
  • The bond between Itempas/Shiny and Oree.
  • The sex/lovemaking scenes. This is one of my favorite things about Jemisin’s writing; she is very good at making her sex scenes complex and impactful, and at exploring the many different facets of human love and lust.
  • The end, which I thought was simply perfect.

Cons

  • The plot is somewhat wandering and vague, and is very slow to develop and come to fruition. At times, the slow pace is appreciable, because it’s nice to be able to savor Jemisin’s prose, but at others it is simply annoying. I did see a definite improvement between The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms, however, so I hope to see this trend continue in the next book.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars out of 5.

Final Grade: A. Would reread, will definitely read next book in series.

Friday Reads

Just a quick post for FridayReads today, dear readers, as I am at least 70% sure that the freezing rain in my area is going to cause a power outage tonight, and therefore wish to put this post up while I still have Internet. Oh, the joys of winter storms! 😛

Anyway, on to the books!

 

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

So far, this is a nice, light paranormal read with bucketloads of quirk. I’m not sure that I am entirely fond of Evie, but I do love her snark. And I absolutely LOVE what Ms. White has done with the mythology of faeries/vampires/shapeshifters! I’m not too deep into the romance quite yet– I am particularly interested to see how that might develop. (Also, this cover is LOVELY.)

Warning: I have some light spoilers in the next book-bit. Please don’t read if you haven’t read Mastiff and do not wish to be spoiled.

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

I’m only about 50 pages into Mastiff, but so far I am liking it just as much as the first two books of the Beka Cooper series. Unlike many reviewers, I do not believe that the abusive relationship that Beka found herself in is unrealistic or out of character– women who get abused don’t go around thinking “oh, I’m going to meet a jerk who’s going to do terrible things to me today”. Even the strongest of women can find themselves in an abusive situation, and I think that Pierce has portrayed that with a certain amount of grace, at least so far. Also, I am totally psyched about Master Farmer, who is one of my favorite new characters in Tammy’s pantheon. He’s adorable. 🙂

 

What are you all reading this Friday? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

 


 

 

 

 

 

Waiting On Wednesday: TEAM HUMAN by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that showcases books that we are eagerly awaiting.

Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestier

Publication Date: July 3rd, 2012

When a vampire shows up at Mel’s high school, it’s up to Mel to keep her best friend from falling in love with him. Add a mysterious disappearance, a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and poignant.

I’m pretty sure y’all know that I am… well, not the biggest Twilight fan. In fact, I kind of hate it. The writing is sub-par. Bella is about as interesting as a piece of cardboard. There’s some truly creepy and disturbing messages about sexuality threaded throughout the series– and this is coming from someone who used to read SLASH FICTION on the internet, guys. That can get pretty squicky, but still not as squicky as Jacob imprinting on Bella’s kid.

Anyway, I am not a Twilight fan.  And when I saw that Sarah Rees Brennan was going to be co-writing a Twilight/vampire fiction spoof with Justine Larbalestier, I was freaking ecstatic. The title makes me snicker, the cover is just perfect, and the tagline? AWESOME~!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Let me know in the comments or link back to your WoW post!

Book Review: “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook, Audiobook.

Warnings: R for sexual content, bodily fluids, and disturbing imagery.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND OPINIONS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I knew going into The Fault in Our Stars that this was going to be one of those books that had me completely raw and broken at the end. Even so, I was not prepared for how thoroughly John Green did this—and I loved every second of it.

Hazel Grace Lancaster has been terminal since she was thirteen years old. Whether she would die was never a question; now, with the “miracle drug” Phalanxifor shrinking her tumors and keeping her cancer under control, the question is when she will die. Hazel’s reaction to this is not unreasonable—she sinks into torpor, watches tons of America’s Next Top Model, reads her favorite book and waits.

Then, she meets Augustus Waters, gorgeous Survivor with a capital S, and slowly but surely, she begins to fall in love.

Overall, this story is a beautiful one—life affirming, even, despite the death which hangs over so many of the character’s heads throughout the course of the book. The characters are very real and very raw; they are not the stereotypical “brave” cancer patient that Hazel details at several points in the book. They are brave, for sure, but they are also broken, afraid, lonely, and angry. Not a single character in this book is spared from the harsh reality of the ending—even the non-sufferers are affected, just as is the case in real-life cancer cases. And at the very heart of the story, there is a romance between two doomed children who haven’t really had the chance to experience life, and who are determined to do so one way or another. Mixed in with all this bleakness are sparkling moments rather like the titular stars, the hilarious and heartwarming blended smoothly with the darkness and blood and Hazel Lancaster’s struggling breaths. John Green has definitely crafted a book for the ages here, and there is not a person in this world that would not benefit from reading it.

(NOTE: I usually have a Pros and Cons section to my reviews right about now—however, for the purposes of this book, I have had to retitle these sections Things That Made Me Laugh/Aww and Things That Made Me Cry, since a.) I couldn’t really find any cons and b.) when I tried to they all ended up falling into the latter category. )

Things That Made Me Laugh/Aww

  • Hazel’s voice. She’s funny in a dry sort of way, and the way she perceives the world is very interesting.
  • Hazel’s obsession with An Imperial Affliction. I think any reader can relate to this sort of love for a book.
  • Isaac.
  • The romance. There are so many wonderful moments between Hazel and Augustus throughout the book, with my very favorites being on the plane to/from and in Amsterdam.
  • The Anne Frank House. Best scene ever.
  • Hazel’s diagram for Augustus after their “night” together in Amsterdam.
  • Van Houten showing up to Augustus’ funeral.

Things That Made Me Cry

  • That Hazel blames herself for causing the people around her to suffer.
  • Van Houten being a douche.
  • Gus’ recurrence. I pretty much cried through the last 70 pages.
  • The scene on page 244 with the G-tube, when Hazel has to call 911. At this point I was literally bawling.
  • And then again, pg 247 when Hazel is reading him poetry and just starts adding words.
  • The ending. So perfect ❤

Star Rating on Goodreads: 5 out of 5.

Final Grade: A+. Will definitely reread at some point.

Friday Reads + Book Goodies

I’ve had a pretty awesome week as far as books go. My PaperBackSwap membership has started paying off, with books that I don’t want leaving the house at least once a week, while ones that I do want trickle in. It’s helping me keep my book budget down, which in turn allows me to buy more new books. Which is awesome, considering that there are SO MANY great books coming out right now!

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to one of the aforementioned awesome new books, which was released exactly ten days ago:

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

How to describe The Fault In Our Stars? Well, if you haven’t heard of it or read it or gotten your hands on it at some point in the last ten days, then you are missing out. My usual Pros and Cons review notes have been tentatively re-titled Things That Make Me Laugh/Aww and Things That Make Me Weep, Sniffle, and Cry Like a Baby. I’m not going to say much more, because I’m over halfway through and will probably have my review up early next week, and also because I don’t want to spoil this book for ANYONE. If you’re questioning whether or not you should pick up this book, my answer is unequivocally “Yes.” Even if you don’t like “sad” books. Even if you “don’t read” YA. Even if you’ve never read  a John Green book before. GET THIS BOOK.

It’s one of those books that simply demands to be read.

TFiOS has kind of been dominating my thoughts recently, obviously, but I’ve also received a ton of other interesting/awesome/fun-looking books recently, courtesy of fellow users of PaperBackSwap and the wonders of Amazon.

I’ve been waiting to pick these two up for ages, and when I found them on PBS, I decided it was about time that I snagged them.

TFiOS (and yes, that is a signed copy sticker on there– I took a picture of that too :D) and Paranormalcy, which has been recommended to me by several people including the lovely adkwriter15. (I figured I might need that one as a feel-good once I got done with TFiOS– just in case the worst happened/happens.)

I’ve heard great things about Kleypas’ historical romance, and I’m a devoted fan of Bones, so these were kind of a no-brainer for me.

What great books have YOU gotten your hands on recently? Have/are you read/reading TFiOS? Feel free to comment and let me know!

Book Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices, #1)

Title: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Available In: eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook, Paperback, Hardcover, Audio CD

Warnings: PG-13 for violence, sexual content, and Magnus Bane’s existence.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS AND STRONG, HONEST OPINIONS. ALSO, DECLARATIONS OF LOVE FOR CERTAIN CHARACTERS.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

When I first picked up Clockwork Angel, I had not yet realized that this book was a prequel to The Mortal Instruments series. I’m kind of glad I didn’t; since I’ve only read City of Bones, my inclination would have been to put the book down and read the rest of TMI first. I kept going, however, and was pleased to discover that my very basic working knowledge of the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders was enough to carry me through this book.

The story opens with our heroine, Tessa, sailing from the familiar streets of New York City to the unfamiliar atmosphere of London Town at the behest of her brother Nathaniel and in the wake of her beloved aunt’s death. Tessa’s already nervous enough about leaving the city that has been her home, and when she is met at the docks by a sinister pair of women who claim to be acting on Nathaniel’s behalf, she is understandably perturbed. She goes along with it, however, thinking that surely Nathaniel knows best. It turns out, however, that the Dark Sisters are interested in her for their own reasons– particularly, her strange power to Change into others at will.

And when Tessa meets Will Herondale, a young Shadowhunter, she discovers that the Dark Sisters aren’t the only ones intrigued by her…

Overall, I really thought this book was much better than City of Bones. I liked Tessa more as a main character than I liked Clary—mainly because there is no reason for Clary to be as passive as she is given that she’s a modern gal. Tessa, on the other hand, is very much a classical Gothic heroine, bound by society’s expectations but determined to fight back, and towards the end of the book, she really has started to grow a backbone of steel. I am also completely in love with Jem, and the love triangle that Clare has set up is delicious. Throw in the lovingly researched alt-London setting and the demon-killing badassery that characterized TMI and we have a real winner here. I’m definitely looking forward to Clockwork Prince.

Pros

  • The clockwork angel pendant is such a lovely concept.
  • Henry. I adore mad scientists, and Henry’s ineptitude makes me snicker.
  • The fact that Tessa is a book lover. Rock on, bookworm girl. Unfortunately, the real world is not like the novels, which sucks.
  • JEM. ❤ I just cannot get over how much I love this guy. He’s just so sweet, and brave, and so DEAD at some point in the future. I always go for the doomed ones.
  • Sophie. I love her as a  character, and should Will/Tessa become a thing, I would love it if Clare threw in some Jem/Sophie—if it weren’t for the fact that Jem is so DEAD.
  • Jessamine’s killer parasol,  which is badass.
  • Henry/Charlotte. They are just so cute together, regardless of what people say about the reasons for their marriage. I do think they truly love one another, under all that—at least they’re happy.
  • The Institute’s family dynamic. I loved reading the bits where the “children” were spying on the Enclave meeting and Jessamine and Will’s brother-sister bickering.
  • Magnus Bane. Who needs no explanation. All I can say is, the Victorian era suits him. AND CHURCH! ❤
  • Jessamine clonking Nate. I was cheering for her. Out loud.
  • Tessa’s London is lovingly researched and beautifully portrayed. It’s a world I would love to take a holiday in, and I applaud Clare for her efforts to make it as historically accurate as possible while still adding enough twists to make it just a little bit steampunk.

Cons

  • Tessa’s kind of passive in the early parts of the book, almost in a bodice-ripper heroine sort of way, which always makes me cringe a bit. She gets better as the book goes on, though, so I’m hoping to see her gain even more awesomeness in book 2.
  • Occasionally, the exposition in this book is rather unwieldy, with long portions of dialogue that are nothing more than one character telling another how the world works.
  • Some descriptive words are used repetitively, i.e. Jem’s silvery eyes.
  • The prose could be made a little tighter and neater, by cutting unnecessary descriptors and sentences, especially when they do nothing but reiterate what a character has just said/done.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars out of 5.

Final Grade: A. Would reread, will definitely read other books in series.

(My review of Clockwork Prince is now live! Click to read….)

Top Ten Books That I’d Recommend to Someone Who Doesn’t Read Fantasy

Let’s face it, I am a ridiculous fantasy geek. The first novel that I read, at age 6, was The Hobbit. This was quickly followed by the Lord of the Rings series, C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, and the first two Harry Potter books, and that was that. However, I’ve run into a lot of people who don’t read fantasy at all, or even folks who have a serious aversion to it. Some of this is a difference of opinion, I know, but I happen to think that quite a lot of it stems from the fact that there is so much bad fantasy and sci-fi out there, and it can be difficult to trawl through the bad stuff in order to find the good.

So for Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish), my topic will be Top Ten Books That I’d Recommend to Someone Who Doesn’t Read Fantasy. I’m also going to take a leaf out of Miss Anderson’s book and separate my top ten list into two lists, one featuring YA and one for adult fiction.

So, without further ado, allow me to present Top Five Books That I’d Recommend to Someone Who Doesn’t Read FantasyYA Edition.

1.) The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

The Thief Lord has always been one of my favorite books, and it has a cross-genre appeal that’s undeniable– I even got my anti-fantasy younger brother to read it, and he loved it. I consider this one a fantasy, but I know people who would say that it’s action-adventure or mystery, and who I am to argue? The point is that it is both fantasticAL and fanTASTIC. (The movie’s not bad either, even though it suffers from the usual  “overblown romance” issue that tends to be so prevalent in YA/MG movie adaptations.)

2.) Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

This book reads like a fairytale, and in a way it is. It is also a romance, a mystery, and a cozy-afternoon-and-tea kind of book. Even though there are so many fantasy elements, the central story and characters are all very realistic– who doesn’t know someone like Howl or Sophie or even Calcifer? Also, Jones’ sense of comedic timing is impeccable, and who doesn’t want to read a funny book every once and awhile? (Again, there’s an anime movie out there that’s worth a watch as well; Miyazaki took definite creative liberties, though, and after the first half, the movie is not much like the book at all.)

3.) White Cat by Holly Black

Again, this is definitely a genre book, in that magic is central to the plot. Again, however, this story is also much more than a fantasy; the complex family dynamic of the Sharpes and the dark romance that exists between Cassel and Lila would be enough to lift it up, but throw in the criminal element and the political issues that Black handles, and you have a satisfyingly thrilling and complex story with just a sprinkle of magic. (The sequel, Red Glove, is even better, and I am eagerly awaiting the third and final installment, Black Heart, which will be released April 3rd.)

4.) Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

This series is just fun. It’s hilarious, action-packed, and the main character grows exponentially over the course of the series without ever whacking us upside the head with his burgeoning morality. At its heart, ironically enough, this story is about friendship– not something you’d believe with the cold and callous Artemis as the main character, but it’s true. Also, it will ensure that you never look at fairies in the same way again.

5.) Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

If you love books, then you need to read this book. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your normal reading fare is.  (You might consider reading the sequels and watching the movie as well, but nothing tops this first book. It is transcendent.)

Annnd the Top Five Books That I’d Recommend to Someone Who Doesn’t Read Fantasy– Adult Edition

1.) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

The Apocalypse is given a hilarious and strangely insightful treatment by Gaiman and Pratchett in this cult classic, and so far, I haven’t really come upon anyone resistant to its charms. Some might balk at the irreverent tone, but that’s about it.

2.) Palimpsest by Cat Valente

This book is just gorgeous. If you’re squicked by sexual content, then you shouldn’t pick it up, but otherwise, this is definitely a book I’d recommend. Cat Valente has an elegant, lyrical prose style that reads like a a song, and that alone makes this book worth a read.

3.) The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

This is high fantasy, but with a literary twist. Jemisin’s prose style, like Valente’s, is lovely, and while her plots progress extremely slowly, they are complicated enough to keep even fantasy snobs coming back for more. I’m currently finishing up the sequel, and it is just as good if not better, so I think we can look forward to seeing this sort of intelligent, well-constructed mythology from Jemisin in future.

4.) The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner

Kushner’s qausi-Regency world should appeal to fans of historical fiction and romance as well as fantasy fans. Her grasp of politics and society– along with her wit-filled treatment of these subjects– is astounding, and a true pleasure and privilege to read. Her characters feel very real and present, and overall, this is just a truly awesome book.

5.) Od Magic by Patricia McKillip

Again, McKillip has a lovely prose style. Add to this a compelling plot, beautifully understated magic, and wonderful characters, and you have a total winner.

What is YOUR Top Ten? Comment or link to your own blog to let me know!

Previous Older Entries