Review: Fire Study by Maria V Snyder (Chronicles of Ixia #3)

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Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

or- WOAH WOAH WOAH MARIA CALM DOWN!

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Synopsis: The apprenticeship is over—now the real test has begunWhen word that Yelena is a Soulfinder—able to capture and release souls—spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena’s unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena’s fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before…Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself—and save the land she holds dear.

This book was great. Brilliant but way way too quick.

My biggest problem with this book was the pace. This book was really action packed, and sometimes it became too overwhelming. Where as Magic Study’s problems lay in too little action, this book had too much.

In fact, the action in this book should have been split over two or three further books. A lot of the action felt rushed, as if Snyder was so desperate to get it all down before she forgot it, and then was so desperate to get the book out on the shelves that she rushed the whole editing and elaborating process. This problem seems to centre mostly around the last half of the book. The action happened so quickly it was easy to get confused as to what was happening.

In Snyder’s frenetic pace she forgets to outline all the necessary things to make the plot move smoothly and not like a six year old on a quad bike learning about throttle. We lost details like character’s positions in the scene, and where exactly the scene was taking place, (some of the places weren’t explained carefully enough-they just rushed into the action and battle before the reader realises WHERE it is that it’s happening). The reader looses sense of place and then struggles to keep up for the rest of the sequence, as they are so busy trying to work out where, that they don’t pay attention to whom and why. Even these tend to be just given a forgetful cursory nod.

This marks such a jolting departure from Snyder’s other two books in the series where everything is explained and created before you in such detail. If it wasn’t for her strong characters and trade mark humor, I’d suspect that Snyder didn’t write the action scenes herself.

Even though this jolted me so severely, I still loved this book. The characters were rich and the first chapters  provided excellent world building information. The soulfinder revelations happened when they needed too, but the final gluing together of the facts, and the penultimate penny drop, were rushed like the action sequences.

Was this better than Magic Study? Yes. If anything for the sheer intensity of the plot.

Am I excited for the next part of the series? Hell yes.

The next 3 books in the series depart from Yelena and Co and reportedly meet up with Opal Cowan, which is a very exciting premise. Usually changes in POV annoy me, but mostly because the author hasn’t created enough of a reason to include them or often hasn’t summed up the original characters events. As rushed as the second part of this book was, it definitely summed up Yelena’s story enough that I’m not mad about the departure. This may be the reason behind the rushed feeling. Snyder would have known she was leaving Yelena for a while so she was probably desperately trying to wrap up multiple plot points in a limited number of words. Opal is an interesting character and having a natural born Sitian tell the story, the world is sure to develop more; Opal will be able to explain things that Yelena can’t.

The development about Roze I should have seen coming, but didn’t. I think I assumed she just didn’t have it in her which was my first mistake. It was a brilliant character development and honestly there was no other character it should have been.

Likewise, the developments about the books villains were equally exciting and I probably should have seen a lot of the twists coming but didn’t. In order to avoid spoilers, I will avoid discussing two villains in particular who really shined. (One may have been a disgraced former “Ixian”)

Two notable characters who surprisingly received a lot of attention and development in this book were Kiki the horse and Moon man. Snyder made these two shine and it’s obvious that she favours these characters a lot. Moon Man received some of the best scenes and really came into his own.

While there were some brilliant moments between Valek and Yelena, the relationship didnt feel like it progressed much. Oh sure there were super dramatic moments and the feels, but it feels like the relationship peeked in the last book. I still adore them as a couple, but Yelena’s attitude got in the way of any serious couple time. But despite the lack of development, Valek got a significant amount of personal character development, though easily could have been given more. Hopefully this relationship will be given more time through the next couple of books.

A lot of the reviews for this book on good reads, much like Magic Study, show a rather disgruntled group of readers. There are also other reviewers who disagree with my opinions of the pace of the book, but I suppose, to each their own. Any errors or wrong doing are balanced out for me by the good parts of the story. Others may not agree. Above all, I still think this book is good.

Read: Paperback (Australian Cover)

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Review: Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Higgs

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Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

or: Holy crap this is so creepy…. give ME ALL THE BOOKS

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Synopsis: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs. A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

I don’t usually read the more creepier side of the fantasy world. As someone who has zero tolerance for scary movies/books, I just cant deal. I get nightmares and its just not a fun time for anyone.

BUT THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD I DON’T CARE IF I GET NIGHTMARES FOR YEARS

I highly recommend this book, and I highly recommend going into this book with zero ideas or expectations of the plot. Trust me stick with the Vague summary- the shock value just adds to the experience, and trust me, this book is an experience.

The beginning of this book is a little bit slow. I found myself stopping and starting during the beginning chapters, just reading in short random spurts whenever I had a few minutes. After giving myself a well deserved night off from tedious assignments, I decided I wanted to get stuck into it.

Best. Decision. Ever.

This is definitely a winter book; the winter winds and the dreary weather today made this book even better or if you live in a country that celebrates Halloween, save this until then.

All of this book is amazing, but a definite highlight of this book is the creepy antique photographs of children that appear sectioned throughout. I’ve worked in a local museum- i’ve seen creepy photos *shudders*- but nothing compares to these ones. They’re so coooool. Creepy, but cool as heck. These pictures aren’t just in there for the sake of being in there- these add to the story and makes the universe Higgs has created more vivid.

This is exactly the first book you want in a series- it sucks you in, makes you invested in a new and wacky world and makes you itch to go straight out and grab the next books in the series. I love how Higgs sustains such an elegant mystery- he’s so careful about what he releases. He merely hints at things and teases you mercilessly with the information you don’t have. The villain becomes a good old fashioned, curl your toes villain; except there are no dramatic soliloquies revealing his master plan. This is perfect though, it adds to the mystery. There’s nothing worse than guessing what the villain is up to before it happens because an author reveals to much. I hate it. But this is certainly not the case with Higgs. If anything Higgs is the opposite and you could possibly accuse him for releasing too little information on the master plan.

At first I was very wary about the main character of Jacob. I was really worried we’d get the painful “I’m a privileged whiny teenage boy” stuff  that often happens in opening chapters. I didn’t need to worry, Higgs didn’t fall into the faux par. We learn about Jacob’s personality and family as he goes through a mental break down. Higgs understands mental health and pays careful attention as to how he presents it; he could have charged in like a bull in a china shop but his delicacy is admirable and his research impeccable.

Higg’s writing is typical of this style- simple, quick paced and no use of unnecessary words. A refreshing change from the prose and descriptive ladden sort of books I usually read. Even though his style is economic, its still easy to imagine the landscapes, people and action as it occurs. Riggs creates a rich fictional world that is impossible not to be drawn into.

I’ve been fortunate this year to read some good books, and this is most certainly one of them.

Read: On my Kindle. 

Review: Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead (Dark Swan #2)

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Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead

or: YES! THANK GOD! THIS IS MUCH MORE LIKE IT

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Synopsis: Eugenie Markham is a shaman for hire. She’s paid to bind and banish creatures from the Otherworld. But something happened after her last battle. She became queen of the Thorn Land. With her kingdom in tatters, her love life in chaos, and eager to avoid the prophecy about her firstborn destroying mankind, the job’s really not all it’s cracked up to be. Now young girls are disappearing from the Otherworld, and no one seems willing to find out why. Or to put an end to it. Not that Eugenie’s fazed by spilling fey blood, but this enemy is shrewd, subtle, and dangerous — and nursing a very personal grudge. Eugenie must venture deep into the Otherworld and trust in a power she can barely control. She may be a reluctant queen, but she’s vowed to do her duty, even if it means facing the darkest and deadliest side of her nature.

THANK HEAVENS!

You know sometimes you read a book you don’t mind but aren’t really enthused by, and then you convince yourself to give the sequel a shot. You aren’t sure what you’re going to get. You are more than likely going to get the same thing you got in the first. But sometimes- very rarely, you strike gold. The sequel is BETTER than the first and the attachment to the series you missed in the first, hits you like a cannon ball in the second

I was growing worried after I had finished the first book in the Dark Swan series- Storm Born – that Richelle Mead had just misfired with this series. But I should have never have feared, the goddess of awesomeness that is Richelle Mead kicked ASS and did not let me down.

This book was awesome

Eugenie pissed me off in the first book. I found her whiny and honestly didn’t really care what happened to her. I’m not sure if Mead re-framed the character in this book and made her less annoying or if it was her plan all along to make you connect with her in the second one. The love triangle was less annoying, and Kiyo for once became a believable character and stepped away from his 2D persona and Dorian was as bomb as ever. Seriously can someone create Dorian in real life for me? Hot damn.

I loved spending more time in Thornland and really getting to understand the otherworld more. In the first book it seemed confusing and felt like Mead was leaving parts out- now, after reading the second book, its sort of becoming clear why this was. I think Mead intentionally left the otherworld as vague as possible in the first one so that we could learn more about it as Eugenie does. Mead’s carefully positioning us to stand beside Eugenie and see what she sees which is quietly brilliant; we haven’t been totally aware of it, but Mead is slowly gaining our trust with Eugenie’s character and making us root for her.

I am DESPERATE to see what happens next.

Mead’s got this fantastic skill of weaving multiple plots and multiple different villains and heroes together seamlessly. She so expertly navigates multiple problems at once and cleverly drops plot twists and cataclysmic action at very precise points. Mead’s grasp of her own world is commendable and I can guarantee whatever she has planned as her end game for this series, I’m not going to see it coming.

Will this series overtake the lofty places of the Bloodlines and Vampire Academy series for me? No. But will this still be a well liked series of mine? Yes.

It’s always interesting reading the less popular and side works of well known and beloved authors, especially when you personally love them and admire your writing styles. Mead’s creativity never ceases to amaze me. Plot lines or conversations never feel recycled or similar and each character is new, and totally fresh as are the relationship chemistry’s and dynamics.

I’m really glad I already have a copy of the third book.

I’m also really glad to see a strong female character very much in touch with her femininity and still bad ass grapple with internal struggles of good and evil. Bloody hell I love Richelle Mead

Review: Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder (The Chronicles of Ixia #2)

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Magic Study by Maria V Snyder

or: … what the heck-? Yelena!!!

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Synopsis: YOU KNOW YOUR LIFE IS BAD WHEN YOU MISS YOUR DAYS AS A POISON TASTER…With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she’d been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can’t help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways—and her newfound friends and relatives don’t think it’s for the better….Despite the turmoil, she’s eager to start her magic training—especially as she’s been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia’s throne for a lost prince—and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians. If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies….

A couple of book reviews ago, I reviewed the delightful Poison Study by Maria V Snyder and raved about the book. Well I quickly got my hands on the sequel and third book in the series intending on whizzing through the series. While real life may have held back the whizzing part, I did eventually get around to reading the sequel to this book.

I’ve really struggled to write this review, partially because I’m not sure how to articulate how I feel about this book, and partly because I never know how to write reviews about sequels in book series. Like how much do you reveal without giving away the first book?

Now that I’ve finished the third book in the series and have clear thoughts on what to write for it, I’ve been able to put together a simple review for this one.

As sequels in series go, this one was reasonable. It was a bit drier, and not as much happened yes, but most sequels in the fantasy genre tend to focus more on world building and developing the strength of the main characters. This book did this as promised. Sure the action in the book sort of rolled along too slow, but I appreciated it. If Snyder had rushed explaining Sitia or fleshing out what magic means in Sitia then I would have been really disappointed. A lot of people called this book dull for this reason, but I don’t think it’s dull, it’s just Snyder being a good author and explaining some stuff. For a lot of people its tedious, for me its a necessary and desired part of any series. I want to immerse myself in these fantastic worlds the author has created, but I cant do so unless I have all the information possible.

So on behalf of the readers, thank you Ms Snyder for giving us what we need. They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to need that information for the intensity of the next book.

With the benefit of hindsight, its clearly obvious why Snyder provided us with so much information in this book- she didn’t intend on providing it in book 3 and wanted to get it out of the way. It would be easy for many readers to skim this part of the book but I bet they got a mighty surprise and wish they hadn’t when they reached Fire Study. It pays to pay attention in this book, not only does it help with the rest of the books, but it also helps the reader solve the mystery of the book along with Yelena. Snyder positions us next to Yelena so we learn about Sitia and magic as she does, effectively creating a nice empathetic energy between her main characters and us as readers.

This brings me to Snyders characters in this book. This book introduces us to a swath of new characters and develops and strengthens the characters of old. Yelena becomes even more 3D and we begin to understand why she does the things she does. Meeting the Zaltana clan is amazing and I loved everything about their development and features. A clan based of amazonian tribes? Hell yes! Give me all the metaphors!! We also meet in this book several key players for the next book- Irys is explained in more detail and we meet the other 3 master magicians  Bain Bloodgood, and Roze being two notable additions (Bain is like a medieval Dumbledore minus the scheming and Roze is something akin to a voodoo priestess with a bad attitude).

Yelena’s connection with Kiki the horse is also a beautiful moment in the book. It was fascinating to see the bond form and was even nicer to see how the relationship progressed. Snyder has a strong knowledge of horses and it shows.

Also worth mentioning is the Sanseed clan, in particular Moon Man. While not exceptionally clear in this book, Moon Man acts as the physical embodiment of Yelena’s inner voice and his vague, poetic lines are expertly crafted. He’s a fascinating character but doesn’t reach his peak until book 3 leaving him rather under utilised in this book. He could have played a bigger role here, but I understand Snyder’s reasons for not doing so.

The mystery of this book is tantalising but not overdone. Snyder could have beat this to death but didn’t, leaving the mystery out of reach in the most skillful way. I didn’t see it coming, and I’m sure neither did others. The mystery appropriately acts as the catalyst for the beginning of Yelena’s realisations about herself and the mystery doesn’t stop at the end of this book. Snyder sets up an appropriate villain to usher in the events of her next book and effectively distracts the audience from the real problems at hand.

And man, was it good to see Valek again. Oh how I had missed him. Like fine wine, Valek’s character brings new elements to the table each time he slithers from the shadows and its impossible not to fall more and more in love with him. This book definitely confirms Valek’s place on my fictional boyfriend list… yes I have a list… yes, I know i’m sad.

I’ve hinted a lot a book 3 in this review, but there’s a reason why, and you will probably work it out when I post the review for that book. It’s coming soon. For the moment, just enjoy Magic study, love.

 Ciao

Review: Undertow by Michael Buckley

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Undertow by Michael Buckley 

or: This book had so much potential but didn’t make it. 

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Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

I had a lot of faith in this book. This book also let me down.

The potential this book had was amazing; Do I want to read about a bunch of new, highly creative sea monsters that take over part of the state of NY? Heck yes I do!! Do I want to read about a forbidden romance? Yeah sure, bring it on! Do I want to find out about a bigger threat than the Alpha coming? YES.

Did this book do any of that? No not really

And that’s the sad part about this book. Buckley’s setting up of the Alpha world is interesting and probably the best part of the book. Are there many holes in his new world? Yes. But you can overlook them as you try to work out how the Alpha work. His main characters- Lyric and Fathom- are overwhelmingly dull and made me want to push both of them into a fiery pit. And seriously what the HECK is wrong with these names?! Some YA books are starting to get beyond ridiculous with all these stupid names. Give me a character name that MEANS something. But I digress.

I didn’t give too f’s about what happened to them. If Buckley gave me a story focused around Lyric’s best friend witnessing all this, then heck yeah I’d like this more. She was probably the most interesting part about the story.

I’d seen this on goodreads and was really intrigued by the premise- there were no overwhelmingly bad reviews, or if there was I didn’t see them. People were talking about how cool the Alpha were. I agree- the Alpha were excellent but man… the subpar, whiny and utterly BORING main character just sent this book to an early coffin.

Books with wasted potential irk me and frustrate me more than anything else in the world. This book could have been a ground breaker for a new sort of alien species. This book could have earned a spot in the YA fantasy/contemporary hall of fame. This book could have served as an excellent metaphor for the current issues on racial discrimination in the US and other parts of the world. It could have been poignant and done so much that it didnt

I could keep going on what this book “should” have been for ever. But I guess its just water under the pier now.

lol did anyone see what I did there? dudum tsch!

Crappy book, pained review, but still managed to chuck in a bad pun…. I need a life.

I had to repeatedly cleanse my brain after this book to get the after taste of Mary Sues out of my brain. Its been a while since I read this book, and thinking about it is still painful.

The verdict? Send this book to Davy Jones Locker to rot.