Waiting on Wednesday: “A Confusion of Princes” by Garth Nix

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine and showcases new releases that we can’t wait to get our claws… err, hands… on. :D

I really like this cover. The color scheme is so pretty 😀

Title: A Confusion of Princes (Click  to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Garth Nix

Expected Publication Date: May 15th, 2012 (for the U.S. release, anyway).

Summary from Goodreads: You’d think being a privileged Prince in a vast intergalactic Empire would be about as good as it gets. But it isn’t as great as it sounds. For one thing, Princes are always in danger. Their greatest threat? Other Princes. Khemri discovers that the moment he is proclaimed a Prince.

He also discovers mysteries within the hidden workings of the Empire. Dispatched on a secret mission, Khemri comes across the ruins of a space battle. In the midst of it all he meets a young woman named Raine, who will challenge his view of the Empire, of Princes, and of himself.

 Why I’m Waiting: I’ve loved Nix ever since I read The Ragwitch when I was twelve. Since then, I’ve pretty much devoured everything he’s ever written (even Shade’s Children, which was a little too hard SF for me but whatever), and I can’t wait to see how he incorporates his own military past into this lovely little sci-fi.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Comment below and let me know/link me back to your WoW post. :)

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Book Review: “Partials” by Dan Wells (Partials #1)

Title: Partials (Partials #1) (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Dan Wells

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

Maturity Level: Upper YA. Teen pregnancy, a relationship between an older man and a teenage girl, and violence.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy books about plagues; if you enjoyed Cinder; if you like cyborgs and/or genetic engineering; if you enjoy straight sci-fi with no paranormal elements.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you have triggers related to teen pregnancy and/or relationships in which one partner is significantly older/more experienced than the other.

The world of Partials certainly looks, from afar, like an intriguing one. After a war with the biologically engineered Partials, humanity is very nearly extinct. The survivors live on an island, and fight daily against the harsh realities of life in a post-apocalyptic world. To top it all off, the weaponized virus that killed the majority of the population still continues to kill every baby that’s born, forcing the government to take drastic action in the form of pregnancy laws. Kira is a medic. She watches all of this go on every day, and she’s determined to find a cure for the virus—even if that means coming into close contact with the deadly Partials themselves.

My main problem with this book is that it felt like set-up. I feel like the first half could easily have been condensed, and maybe some of the plot points that will hopefully be addressed in the sequel could have made it into this one. I also disliked the “evil evil government” cliché, as well as the creepy relationship between one of Kira’s teenage friends and her boss, a senator.

Overall, though, it was decent. I enjoyed it, for sure, but it just didn’t have any “wow” factor for me. Hopefully book #2 will be a little more engaging.

Pros

  • I love the world, especially the literal “urban jungle” of New York.
  • I happen to think the Partials are a pretty cool concept.
  • Kira’s definitely got some badass qualities.
  • The characters. They all have differing, complex motivations and this flavors their interactions in a very interesting way.

Cons

  • I thought this was a bit mature for YA—I’m not saying that we should sensor YA, by any means, but I think this book would be pretty alienating to the younger end of the YA readership.
  • I’m a little tired of the Orwellian government being so prominent in sci-fi.
  • Marcus is a total douchewad. Was so glad when Kira gave him the boot about halfway through.

Favorite Line (s): “You could get high on his farts.”~pg 41.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 3.5

Final Grade: B

Clip from the “Cinder” audiobook!

Hey, guys! This is just a quick PSA to inform you all that Macmillan Audio has kindly allowed me to post an excerpt of theCinderaudiobook, read by the excellent Rebecca Soler! Give it a listen, and if you like what you hear, you can purchase it directly from Macmillan Audio or through Amazon/Audible/etc.

Cinder excerpt is here under the cut! 😀

My 4-star review of Cinder is here.

 

Book Review: “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

I have to say, this cover is definitely one of my faves of 2012. Love the juxtaposition of the red shoe and the cyborg leg. Another plus? My mom actually picked this one up for me BASED on the cover. Said it looked like "something you'd like". So congrats, cover people. You did a good job. 🙂

ETA: Macmillan Audio has kindly allowed me to post an excerpt from the Cinder audiobook to this blog! The link is here.

Title: Cinder (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook, Audiobook. (If you just want to try out chapters 1-5, you can get those FREE for your Kindle/Nook here and here.)

Maturity Level: YA. Some disturbing imagery and mild language, along with the usual sci-fi trappings.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy science fiction, Fullmetal Alchemist (there are definitely a few shoutouts in here), and fairy tales.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you expect it to closely follow the format of the original fairy tale.

Linh Cinder lives in a pretty bleak world. As a cyborg in the predominantly human New Beijing, she is shunned and hated. A deadly disease is sweeping the land, wiping people out in droves, and Earth is on the brink of war with the ruthless, extremely powerful Lunars. Cinder’s only saving grace is her skill as a mechanic, and when she is contracted by the crown prince Kai himself, she falls into a terrifying political melee—and possibly, in love with the young prince.

My biggest issue with this book is that the balance between the fairy tale and the sci-fi aspect is kind of off. Don’t get me wrong, I love sci-fi—but I went into this expecting a fairy-tale retelling with sci-fi elements, as opposed to a sci-fi with fairy tale elements. Also, the world-building could use some work. I counted at least three or four different cultures that Meyer seemed to be trying to meld into the unifying society of New Beijing, but for some reason they just kind of clashed.

Wow, reading that last paragraph, you would think I really didn’t like this book. The thing is, I really DID like it for many reasons: the plague aspect was handled really well, I really liked Cinder as an MC, etc, etc. The storytelling definitely has a cinematic edge to it—I would not be surprised to see this one made into a movie in the next five years. However, the issues I outlined above did seriously detract from the story, merely because I found them jarring and somewhat annoying.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty solid sci-fi book, though it did have some issues. I was a little nervous when I discovered that this is meant to be the first in a quartet— I thought that minus the cliffie ending it could have easily stood just fine on its own—but I will definitely pick up Scarlet when it hits shelves in 2013. J

Pros

  • The plague, obviously modeled off of the sweep of the Black Death through Europe. Very well done.
  • Cinder. I thought she was a badass, and who doesn’t love a cyborg?
  • Prince Kai
  • Dr. Erland as the fairy godmother.

Cons

  • The Lunars are weak conceptually.
  • Occasional unnecessary over-description.
  • I’m not sure if this should be a quartet.
  • Melding of cultures in New Beijing is kind of awkward and heavy-handed.

Favorite Scene (s)

  • pg 349-onward. Love this as a “ball scene”.

Star Rating on Goodreads: 3.5 stars, rounded up for GR.

Final Grade:  B. Nice read, but had some issues that I simply couldn’t ignore.

Book Review: “Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex” by Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl, #7)

I do adore this cover, both for the color balance and for a full profile of Artemis. 😀

Title: Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex

Author: Eoin Colfer

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

Maturity Level: All Ages. Very light romance, some swearing but nothing too terrible.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy science fiction, humor, and genii, or if you’re a fan of the Artemis Fowl series as a whole.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you haven’t read the previous books in the series.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS, OPINIONS, AND FANGIRLING. A LOT OF FANGIRLING.

Mild spoilers ahead!

Artemis Fowl has come a long way from the 12 year old evil super-genius that we were introduced to in the first book. He’s battled manically evil pixies, the LEP, fellow megalomaniacs, his younger self, and demons hell-bent* on destroying humanity. But can he win when the grounds of the fight lie within his own mind?

This does definitely seem to be the main plot of The Atlantis Complex, despite the usual trappings of Colfer’s books. I certainly enjoyed this installment, in particular the portrayal of Artemis as he sinks deeper and deeper into his own pathos (something that Colfer has always pulled off pretty damn well, considering that he is a humorous writer). Still, something about this book bothers me—it’s just kind of flat compared to the ones that came before it. I have a feeling that it’s just because the series has run for so long, and I’m hoping that Colfer pulls out all the stops in the finale, but it definitely wasn’t as mind-meltingly awesome as, say, The Eternity Code or The Lost Colony.

Overall, though, this was a solid addition to Artemis Fowl canon. I loved that it ended the way it did, setting up what has the potential to be a brilliant finale.  

*I should no longer be allowed to make puns. I am obviously terrible at it. 😛

VERY VERY spoiler-y material ahead! You have been warned!

 

Pros

  • Butler and Juliet. Awesome sibling dynamic between two badasses of epic proportions. I like.
  • Artemis and Holly.  I love the slightly awkward romance that turns a little sweet towards the end. I really would like to see the two of them get a real resolution in the final book. 🙂
  • Atlantis Complex.
  • Certain events were sort of connected back to the alcoholic sprite that started the events of book 1. The continuity nerd in me loved this 🙂
  • The ending. I love that Artemis is most assuredly not all right—I’ve always been very intrigued by Colfer’s delicate treatment of mental illness, and in this regard he does not disappoint.

Cons

  • Colfer kind of seems like he’s trying too hard with his witticisms in this one.
  • Plots are getting kind of tired. Oh, look, there are criminals. Mulch Diggums is back. Holly pilots an unlikely vehicle and saves everybody. I’ve just seen it too many times.
  • I didn’t find Turnball to be a very convincing villain.

Favorite Scene (s):

  • Pg 183: Orion/Artemis going on about smiting and the reactions of Holly and Foaly 😀
  • Pg 191: Holly punching Orion/Artemis.
  • Pg 351-353: Artemis and Holly are my OTP, okay? ❤

Favorite Line (s): “If he asks you to look for birthmarks, say no immediately.”~ pg 181, Foaly to Holly concerning Orion’s… erm… intentions. 😀

Star Rating on Goodreads: 3.5 stars.

Final Grade: B. Enjoyed it because it’s AF, but it wasn’t as thrilling as previous books. Am holding out for the final book in the series in hopes that it  will bring the dazzle back.

FridayReads 3/9/2012

So I have been skipping FridayReads most weeks, as you guys have probably noticed. I got so caught up in reviewing that I just plain forgot about it, to be honest. When I did remember, I decided it was probably time to revamp, as you can see by my nifty little graphic. It takes up less space in the post than inserting each cover picture and contains more information, and mostly, I just like fiddling around with graphics on occasion. 🙂

Without further ado, let’s go on to the ‘reads!

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: This one is not quite living up the hype, I just have to say. I kinda like it, but it feels to me like the core of the story– the Cinderella retelling– gets lost amongst all of the sci-fi trappings. Don’t get me wrong, I love sci-fi, but I did go into this expecting more of a… well, Cinderella story. Overall, though, it’s been a good, fun, fast read so far. Here’s hoping that the fairy-tale comes out a little more while still keeping all of the awesome sci-fi elements in the rest!

The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer: So far, this one is awesome. It’s a bit like City of Ember meets Lord of the Flies. Sometimes, the plotting gets a little overly convoluted, but overall, it’s proving itself to be a solid read. 😀

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner:The worldbuilding in this one is PHENOMENAL. At only 15% in, I don’t really have much to say aside from that.

What are YOU reading this Friday? Drop me a comment and let me know!

 

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!