Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gracling - Kristin Cashore

TITLE: Gracling

AUTHOR: Kristin Cashore

SUMMARY: Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Pos friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone - From Publisher

REVIEW: So this would be book number 2 of fantasy for this avid reader. I’m a little shocked I’ve never jumped into this world previously. I love “Lord of The Rings”. I think I was worried they’d use old English and confuse the crap out of me, which is probably easier than I care to admit.

Regardless, this book hooked me early on. The character of Katsa pulled me. I loved her hard edges and refusal to let anyone in. She was in a way her own worst enemy, but it was beautiful watching her open to others and slowly morph and take the power back. Of course when she allowed herself to be vulnerable and got hurt it made that dagger just push in a bit deeper and twist more violently.

The plot was intriguing and I liked how the first few scenes set up for the rest of the book. I originally thought it was simply a rescue mission, a way to introduce the reader to Katsa and her Grace. (Sidenote: the concept of Graces was awesome. I loved that each was unique, some sought after by greedy men and others so useless.)

While the plot and pace was kept up through the majority of the book I found when we were almost finished Part 2 that it hit a bit of slump. The plot or something slipped and I found myself struggling to stay focused. I don’t know if it was the addition of Bitterblue, who I liked, and how all of sudden I was suppose to have the same level of love for her as I did for the others. That wasn’t the case. Thankfully the plot and pace was kicked back up and I didn’t finish the book with that ‘meh’ feeling. The ending was perfect for everything that Cashore had previously set up. In fact there are other books to this ‘verse. Not so much a series of following Katsa but using other characters and building the ‘verse.

Generally I enjoyed this book. However, I don’t know that it would be a series that I would follow, mostly because I am more interested in Katsa & Po, what I am sucker for the main characters.

RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rampant - Diana Peterfreund

TITLE: Rampant

AUTHOR: Diana Peterfreund

SUMMARY: Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns . . .

Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one attacks her boyfriend-ruining any chance of him taking her to prom-Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient Cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.However, all is not what it seems at the Cloisters. Outside, unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from bone-covered walls that vibrate with terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to her growing attraction to a handsome art student . . . an attraction that could jeopardize everything. - From Publisher

REVIEW: It had me at killer unicorns. looks around Okay that, is a total lie. I found the killer unicorns a bit ‘odd’ and corny and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to read this book. Plus when I think of unicorns I imagine the episode in Supernatural where Dean is rambling about unicorns. It’s hard to take it seriously when Dean Winchester is mocking it. However, putting aside my ‘are you kidding me’ face and deleting all unicorn references from my mind I continued to read about killer unicorns and Alexander the Great.

A brilliant angle, not to mention good use of mythology in having the hunters being virgins in order to kill the unicorns. I like reasons for characters actions and I like tension. I think the build up to any romance is always far more interesting and even when they are together I like the conflict; it gives characters so much depth. With this book Peterfreund mixed the two. Astrid has to remain a virgin in order to fulfill her destiny and that brings in romantic tension, which just makes this ready endlessly happy.

Pacing is something I tend to find with a lot of teen/ya books lacking. Normally the romance is happening quickly, the plot is moving at a constant pace and at times I wish that it would slow down, do some more build up. Of course, the counter argument is that if you only have 288 pages and no deal for a continuation you’ve gotta get stuff done. I found the pacing in this book to be perfect. Lots of information and character build up but at the same time you got plot jumps where something would happen that would take the book to another level.

The book didn’t read as ya, however never did I feel that it took the story to an inappropriate place. The relationships and interactions and reactions to events were spot on. I loved that Astrid wasn’t obsessed with the lead male and that it didn’t distract from the storytelling. That she makes mistakes and sorta bumbles about trying to figure things out. She wasn’t always sure footed and that endeared her to me.

Honestly, this book sums down to one thing and that’s that Peterfreund managed to make killer unicorns into something realistic. There, I said it. Killer unicorns exist. She created a world where at first I was leery and than became a huge fan, not just with the whole killer unicorn angle (though that was awesome) but even the mythology. The girl did research and took things and weaved them brilliantly together. If the whole killer unicorn thing seems a bit odd to you, suck it up. Pick this book up, you’ll love it!

RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kitty Goes to War - Carrie Vaughn

TITLE: Kitty Goes to War

AUTHOR: Carrie Vaughn

SUMMARY: Kitty Norville, Alpha werewolf and host of The Midnight Hour, a radio call-in show, is contacted by a friend at the NIH's Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology. Three Army soldiers recently returned from the war in Afghanistan are being held at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs. They're killer werewolves-and post traumatic stress has left them unable to control their shape-shifting and unable to interact with people. Kitty agrees to see them, hoping to help by bringing them into her pack.

Meanwhile, Kitty gets sued for libel by CEO Harold Franklin after featuring Speedy Mart--his nationwide chain of 24-hour convenience stores with a reputation for attracting supernatural unpleasantness--on her show.

Very bad weather is on the horizon. - From Publisher

REVIEW: This series continues to exceed my expectations. Whenever I go to pick up the new Kitty Norville book I always get some trepidation on whether this book will be the one that leaves me with that uncomfortable disappointment that eats at me. Thankfully it seems with each new installment Vaughn continues to keep up the pace and brings new angles to keep us readers hooked.

What I loved about this installment was that some old characters where brought back. Back in book Kitty Goes to Washington we got to meet the Doctor that exploited Kitty now he's back. While he doesn't make any face time we do get to see his 'work'. I'm so happy that Vaughn tied in previous characters and I loved that angle of using the supernatural in human wars. It adds depth to the book and I'm hoping that we go down this path more and more.

If you haven't picked up the series I highly recommend that you do. The first few books are a bit tedious to get through, however I loved them but I know other reviewers weren't instant fans of this series. Regardless, pick 'em up and enjoy the ride.

RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥