Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Selection - revisited by the royal romance's heir

I enjoyed The Selection Series.  Oh how I know it's not for everyone.  It's heavy on the romance and light on the everything else.  But I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Cass has come back to rewrite The Selection Process for the next generation in her recovering world. 
The Heir, Kiera Cass
For me, this story was all about my interest in The Selected.  I wanted to know more about them and see how things played out for them.   Why?  Because the heir(ess) was unlikable for most of the book.  By the end, I was hopeful I could care about her...and still very concerned about the lads...so on the self-same day I tore into...

The Crown, Kiera Cass
...wherein the protag grew on me...like lichen.  I cared about her in the second book!  There are still buggy stereotypes and these books are predominantly love-driven princess stories, I get it, but guys...I like those sometimes.  Highlight: the camaraderie between the elite.

I recommend only if you enjoyed The Selection series, Matched and/or The Jewel (I think it's quite a bit better than The Lone City series).

Monday, May 2, 2016

Three (and a Malapropism)

Whenever the girls observe certain unusual behaviours between characters in a film (and very occasionally amongst fellow human beings), they dip their chins and whisper, "They're fluting!"  Because they know, guys.  They know high giggles, flicked hair, batted eyes, puffed chests and/or cloaked-boasts constitute a behavioural pattern with a name.  They just don't get the name quite right...aaaaaaand...
I'm not going to correct this one just yet.  Sue me.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A blue-haired supernatural feisty heroine...that isn't Karou

Who's Afraid? Maria Lewis
Well.  This was a little surprise!  Paranormal Urban Fantasy.  Overall: a good time...that I'd sticker as R18.  It isn't that its thick with heavy content...it's that it's dappled with enough of it that I wouldn't recommend this to younger YA.  I read it in a day though...so er...it's fairly fun.
  • Yeah, the heroine bears some resemblance to Daughter of Smoke and Bone darling, Karou.  But not quite as clever, witty or intriguing.  That said, her dialogue is above average.  I can't help but compare, and to other works as well; Who's Afraid? is like a grown-up version of Shiver (although I found the latter more compelling) and heavier spin-off of a Twilight.  But if it's werewolves you're after, I still think nothing has topped the Mercy Thompson series.
  • Despite all of these similarities (which aren't necessarily a bad thing, but it did mean it felt less fresh), I wanted to keep reading.  I still do (I plan to read the next book).  Book one didn't rock my world, but like many other titles I've given time in the past month, it answered my guilty pleasure craving nicely.  
  • I was crazy-invested in the love story's potential.
  • I didn't find it consistently hilarious, but it was solidly amusing with occasional laugh-out-loud moments.
  • New Zealand features (a little).  I wouldn't say it's either the star or setting of the story, but there's a visit and reasonable share of allusions.  I liked the kiwi expressions best.  I found it very hard to buy into werewolves going under the radar in New Zealand.  Yes, I realise I'm questioning plausibility in a story wherein humans morph into canines...but my nose-scrunch remains -- I think NZ was chosen for novelty rather than any reason that enriched the narrative.  Yes, we have a native people with their own mythical lore here...but wolves have never been a part of it, and certainly wouldn't help were-people go undetected, but rather would raise the alarm.  Areas of the world with wolves and wolf lore are better places for werewolves.  The end.
  • The aforementioned dappling of mature content includes quite a lot of swearing, hot sensuality descriptions, casual sex references, and a very unpleasant sexual attack quite early in the novel which the protag unacceptably downplays.  Although another character corrects her dismissal of what is happened, I don't think this is adequately resolved or painted for how severe it really was.
I am not crazy for this book.  I will not be telling everyone I know to read it.  But if you are an adult someone I know who wishes Shiver hadn't ended and you haven't snubbed Twilight (and the mature content in this doesn't sound like too much), this may scratch your itch.

Review copy from Hachette, thank you!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I finally read the Throne of Glass Series


Rachael, Mabel and Emma all pointed me towards these books -- thank you!  I took my time getting to them, I realise...but you know what?  It's so nice to start a series that is already all out, now and then!  So nice.  I love turning the last page of one installment only to grip the first of a subsequent in the next breath.

  • Offers a very interesting protagonist.  Being BA isn't new, but cocky chattiness isn't something I find in all YA.
  • Reads like a guilty pleasure-read.  Romance + Action.  It isn't high art, but it is the kind of thing I devour during a bout of sickness in our household.  I ate up the romance big time.
  • As a bonus, the sexual references are not vulgar.  Thank you.
  • The ruddy names!  Why oh WHY must you do this to me!?  I forgive, but golly...so many names and they're similar.  I get that it's nice for them to sound like they all belong to the same world...but making them all rhyme or end the same...and have lots of syllables...it's not my favourite approach.
  • There's some swearing.
  • There's a lot of violence.
  • It is like a mixture of The Selection and Prodigy...with a dash of Reboot.
Just as good.

  • I was amazed by how much I want things from the love story.  I cared deeply.  It is hard to make the relationship journeys with the characters -- it is intense!
  • I wasn't totally sold on a new arc being woven into the story (with new characters' perspectives).
  • I feel like Maas consciously ramps up the fantasy elements in this book...and by the end, I was happy that had happened.  She also upped the epic, and I reluctantly then wholly embraced the shift.  This book's reach is further within the world and that ends up being a great thing.
  • Things get even more gruesome in this book and the next.
  • Maas has a serious knack for creating characters I don't think I can ever like...and then they grow on me again and again.  Except Sorscha. Never her.  Sorry, Sorch.
  • I felt like the writing matured with this book.
  • The witches are like a separate book.  Their episodes are pretty good but sometimes I don't like being pulled there.  I tire of them some...but mostly because it isn't as awesome by comparison to the main episodes which I have a deeper investment in.  I wouldn't be into them on their own.
  • This book is much more liberal with with swearing.  It doesn't get crazy, but it is frequent enough that it took me out of the story.  A few curses here and there were kind of funny in the medieval-feel fantasy of the earlier books, but in this one it interrupts with a contemporary edge I didn't like.
  • The romance was torture.
Altogether: Pretty satisfying up to this point.  

Assassin's Blade (0.1-0.5 Prequel Novella Anthology)
  • Read after the series proper and I'm glad I did.  Although these chronologically come earlier, and contain content that might be nice to know during the later books...I don't think the novellas could have won me over the way Throne of Glass did.  They're arguably miss-able...although I've read some fans felt they greatly enriched their understanding of Celaena.  For me she was a jerk in these books...which reflects her growth, sure...but she's such a jerk.  She does pull off some cool stunts, but we've had plenty of allusions to these in the later novels and I've imagined equal to what was filled in for me here.  Sam didn't live up to the hype.  If you've finished 1-4 and pine for more, they're like Special Features for those hungry for more...so there's that.  I felt done after 4.   If I had to recommend a best reading order, it would be reading 1, then the Novellas, then finishing series 2-4.
  • These had a neat and clean finish.
Yes, I will be seeking out A Court of Thorn and Roses.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ivy turns 5

She turned five last week.  She regularly says "I can't believe I'm five!" Because we homeschool this marks...a new age-number, not a lot more...although I admittedly become more intentional in lessons from five.
  • Surprised me by showing an early interest in reading.  I didn't think she'd be into it until later and wasn't concerned.  What I was, was wrong.
  • Has such an unusual (often hilarious but equally often dark) imagination!  Think Tim Burton.  One of her re-occuring dreams is about creatures called Imbiens.  They are creatures that can only do anything once except for eating.  (Imbiens are not to be confused with Sardinebugs -- another creature whose eating habits she has described in detail.)
  • When she sees two family members hugging she often throws down what she's doing and calls "Cuddle cube!" throwing her arms around the existing pair and urging others to join.  When she feels really happy (maybe she loves the picture she is colouring and it has been very quiet for a while), or she's learned we are going somewhere exciting...you see her swell, then she runs and hugs me and returns to what she is doing.
  • When she can't sleep, as well as being unable to "find her night mouth" she will say "I feel like a worm."
  • Out of nowhere said to me: "A banana really hurts if you throw it hard."
  • When we last went to a dress-up party the theme was Disney. The kid decided to be The Butterfly That Landed on Bambi.  Um...Ivy.  You're hilarious.  She would however have been a Disney princess if a certain Cinderella costume had been available for loan, so she's not above that sort of thing.  She also considered going as a knight.  She really loves putting on chain mail. 
  • Is very generous.  She will let her sisters colour in pages in her oversize colouring book, have turns on her harmonica for long periods of time...she almost always says "yes" and smiles.
 Last About Ivy.

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