Tag Archives: rewind and review

Rewind and Review: April

4 Apr

Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!

I’m LOVING this meme, friends. Although, the last two months, I’ve only managed to read one of my three proposed titles each, and I keep switching things out. March was just such a month, guys. AND I still haven’t managed to read three books for this meme in one month. But I read some Rewind & Review books last month, and I’m REALLY looking forward to the ones I’ve picked for THIS month. YES I have picked three, and YES I WILL READ THEM ALL. Check out my reviews for THE DEMON KING and LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES, and then oooh and ahhhh over April’s selections below (one should look familiar)!

Book cover for The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams ChimaBook cover for An Abundance of Katherines by John GreenBook cover for I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter

BRING IT, APRIL. 

Rewind and Review (4): The Demon King

29 Mar

Book cover for The Demon King by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Demon King (Seven Realms #1)

by Cinda Williams Chima

(First published November 19, 2009 by Disney-Hyperion)

Yo, the fact that I hadn’t yet read Cinda Williams Chima’s THE DEMON KING until now is egregious, guys. A serious misstep on my part. Why this happened is beyond me. I knew about the Seven Realms series; I knew it was high fantasy with magic, politics, and intrigue; I knew that lots of people thought it was excellent. I’d even checked it out of my library once before and somehow got distracted by other things. Sometimes, I think I just need to be in the right mood to read certain books, and that includes my beloved high fantasies. THANKFULLY, I was finally in the mood to read THE DEMON KING because guys? IT’S LEGIT, and I can’t wait to read further in this series. 

So, THE DEMONG KING by Cinda Williams Chima has lots of things going for it: it’s got magic, a repressed princess, a thief trying to reform, a queen not acting like herself, and a 1,000-year-old truce between wizards and the clans–a Native American-esque race who control and disseminate magic–borne out of the actions of an ancient queen named Hanalea, and the most powerful wizard ever to live, the Demon King. This truce is really the center of the story because it’s losing its footing among the wizard elite, and their efforts to subvert the peace that helps contain their magic loom HUGELY over the whole story.

Of course, the politics of THE DEMON KING wouldn’t mean much if we didn’t have such AWESOME characters flesh out the rest of the story. Cinda Williams Chima gives us well-rounded, complex, funny, bright characters in Princess Raisa and Han Alister. Raisa is confident, strong, opinionated, and feeling a little rebellious. There are times when she might come off as entitled and spoiled, but she has so many redeeming qualities. Raisa is KICK-ASS, friends, and she’s really coming into her own by the end of this book. She’s got BIG THINGS coming, I can feel it! 

Han Alister is, to me, almost instantly lovable. He’s got rough edges and a sketchy past, but his motives are sweet and understandable and his struggles with a life of crime on the streets lend to his complexity. But YO, Han seriously CHARMED the pants off of me (and, I feel like, LOTS of girls in Fellsmarch, too. Honestly? I couldn’t blame a single one of them) and I LOVED his story. He’s smart and sneaky and he’s got that unassuming confidence about him that’s really magnetic. 

Both Han and Raisa have spent lots of time with the clans and it’s clear that they both prefer the more carefree, natural environment there. Of course, they’ve never encountered each other there. In fact, although I’m assuming that Han and Raisa are the OTP of this series, their interactions are limited in THE DEMON KING, and Cinda Williams Chima throws a further wrench in their interactions by giving Raisa an alias at certain times so that Han winds up having no idea who she really is. They’re definitely feeling the little electric shocks of each other, though, if you know what I mean. MOAR OF THEM, PLEASE. 

Don’t worry, though, there’s some kissy face. It just happens to be between the two leads and other people, which I appreciate. Han  has clearly gotten some before, and he has a nice little relationship with a girl from one of the clans. And I appreciate very much that Raisa enjoys kissing boys and is looking forward to doing it more often. She’s unashamed of her burgeoning desire for making out and being intimate. (Unfortunately, she mostly kisses the douchebag, Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, who is the resident BAD GUY.) She does get some nice relationship complexity with her old friend Amon Byrne, though, who is a member of the Queen’s Guard and is absolutely being set up as the “nice guy” to Han’s “trouble maker” in le triangle. 

All in all, the action and the plotting and ALL THE LIES in THE DEMON KING by Cinda Williams Chima make for one gripping tale. There’s all kinds of juicy stuff going, y’all! Back-stabbing, SEKRETS, death, mystery, sneaky political machinations, confusing relationships, magical shenanigans, and a big reveal at the end, which I did kind of puzzle out early, to be honest. But that did NOTHING to dampen my LOVE of this story or the people in it, nor did it make me any LESS eager to get my grabby hands on the rest of the series. Huzzah for great fantasy!! HUZZAH!

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Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!

Rewind and Review (3): Lips Touch, Three Times

19 Mar

Book cover for Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini TaylorLips Touch: Three Times

by Laini Taylor

(First published October 1, 2009 by Scholastic)

Oh, Laini. I know I’ve said this before, but I think I just might have to say it again: You’re magical. The words you write are so pretty and your stories are imaginative, fantastical, and emotional and I love them! Even when they’re short. And guys? The stories in LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES all lived up to my expectations of Laini Taylor’s writing and her ability to evoke FEELINGS in her readers. Yay!

LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES is a collection of three novellas that all feature some important turn of events involving a kiss (hence the “lips touching” part). Obviously, this is fantastic. But I actually really enjoyed the fact that Laini Taylor is so good at creating the whole picture of a story that the kisses–to varying degrees–don’t overshadow anything. In fact, the elements from these stories that I recall with greatest clarity and that I enjoyed the most aren’t necessarily the kisses at all. So on that note, into the breech!

The first story in this collection is called “Goblin Fruit,” and it’s good. It’s the shortest of the three, and probably on the whole, my least favorite, although that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Not so. It’s about a young girl named Kizzy who’s family is majorly superstitious. They believe in the old ways, which involves lots of things but most important for this story is their belief in goblins, and the fact that the only way a goblin can steal a girl’s soul is for her to give it up willingly in a kiss. Perhaps you might be able to determine where this story goes without me saying anything else. It’s a good story, though, and I enjoyed reading about Kizzy’s family’s old-world superstitions.

The second story in LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES by Laini Taylor  is called “Spicy Little Curses” and it takes place in post-WWI British India. Seriously, can we have more of this please?! The setting is lush and gorgeous and, as in “Goblin Fruit,” this story relies heavily on beliefs and superstitions. It’s about an old woman who is an ambassador to hell who must deal with a demon to save the lives of children on Earth (the demon saves the kiddos and she gives him the name of a baddie instead). One time, though, the old woman makes a deal with the demon to save a bunch of children and in return she must curse the daughter of a British diplomat. It’s BAD. Obviously, it also involves a kiss, but that comes later. This story was gorgeous and perfectly contained; I didn’t feel like anything was missing when it was finished. There was drama and love and, OF COURSE, elegant writing. SO PRETTY. 

At this point, I’m going to interrupt MY little flow here to say that I thought LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES by Laini Taylor had a flow, too, and it went something like this: The first story–good, short, and the lightest in tone of the three; the second story–better, longer, and darker, what with the terms of the curse being what they were; the third story–the BEST and the LONGEST and the darkest, as well. In my opinion, of course, in terms of the “good, better, best” thing.

So, now you know that I thought the third story, “Hatchling” was the best and it was definitely my favorite. You guys, I would read a whole book about this incredibly vivid, imaginative world with a totally unique mythology, and I think it definitely benefited from getting the most air time, as it were. But for real: “Hatchling” was so gorgeous, so fraught, and so absorbing that I wanted it to keep going. It MADE the entire book, for me.

“Hatchling” is about a young girl, Esme, and her mother, Mab (NOT the faerie queen), who find themselves on the run from these wolves after Esme wakes up one morning with one of her brown eyes blue. The wolves serve the Druj queen (the Druj are these soulless, immortal…I don’t even know what to call them, except to say that they aren’t vampires. Just plain demons, perhaps?), and she is a BEYOTCH. Which is fun to read, obviously. Shenanigans ensue. We get LOTS of back story about Mab, who spent some time with the Queen in her youth. These parts were STUNNING, guys. The descriptions of life in the Queen’s citadel were stark and beautiful, and I LOVED the mythology. And the way this whole story comes together I thought was genius, and so satisfying. *Sigh*. Esme was a great character, and I REALLY loved Mihai, this conflicted, unique Druj with a connection to the Queen. This one story is reason enough to pick up LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES, guys. It’s seriously LEGIT.

Aside from the gorgeous writing and the FEELINGS and the creative world-building, this book has some absolutely stunning, beautiful, jaw-dropping images by Jim Di Bartolo. Guys, these pictures are out of this world. There are several panels that accompany each story and they’re all exceptional. It almost makes me wish that Laini Taylor had teamed up with her husband to write LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES as a graphic novel. They were AMAZING.

So, final assessment: I really enjoyed LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES. The stories were all unique, emotional, gorgeously written urban fantasies that got steadily better as the book progressed. As always, Laini Taylor spins some KILLER yarns, friends. If she hadn’t become one of my instant-read authors after I finished DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, Laini Taylor would certainly be one now. I can’t wait to read ALL OF HER WORDS.

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Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!

Rewind and Review: March

2 Mar

Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!

We’re on to month #2 of this awesome meme, friends, and I can’t wait to keep on keepin’ on! In case you missed my Rewind and Review books from February, you can check out my reviews of VAMPIRE ACADEMY and THE SWORD OF THE RIGHTFUL KING by clicking on the links!

Alas, I had wanted to review a THIRD book in February that I didn’t get to (curse you, shortest month of the year!), so it got bumped to March. THE DEMON KING IS HAPPENING. Plus two more. I WILL read three books a month!

The Demon King, Seven Realms, Cinda Williams Chima, Fantasy, Fantasy YA, Young Adult, Series, High FantasyJohn Green, Contemporary, Contemporary YA, Young Adult, RelationshipsJennifer Roberson, Sherwood, Sherwood Series, Historical Fiction, Robin Hood, Legend, British history, Maid Marian, Nottingham, folk hero

Game on, March! Game. On.

Rewind and Review (2): Vampire Academy

9 Feb

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)

by Richelle Mead

(First published August 16, 2007 by Razorbill)

I think one of the reasons that I hesitated to read VAMPIRE ACADEMY is because the Twilight series managed to burn me out on vampires, and the backlash from those books made me wary of other vampy books. So I kept putting these books off because I felt like it would just be reading Twilight all over again. This turned out to be a great lesson in not making assumptions. YOU WERE SO WRONG, AMY. In my opinion, now that I’ve read books from both series, the Vampire Academy series is better for a lot of reasons, and I’m mad at myself that I waited this long to jump in. Also, NOT becoming addicted to these books is as impossible as, like, time travel. THEY ARE BOOK CRACK AND I LOVE THEM. Ahem. So. Let’s discuss, shall we?

There were a few things that I noticed right away about VAMPIRE ACADEMY that I really appreciated, and one is that the world is sophisticated. There’s no silly, cheesy vampires here. The way the different breeds of vampires exist is complex and dangerous and full of drama. I’m digging the impending political/ideological crisis vibe that’s going on between the various Moroi and their dhampirs, and the Strigoi seem badass and creepy. Also, I love me a good rebellion, y’all, and the seeds of one are being sown.

The characters are also FANTASTIC, and are one of my favorite things about VAMPIRE ACADEMY. Generally speaking, I always love it when teens in books act in a realistic way. The kids at St. Vlad’s curse, have sex, get into trouble, and drink. That always gets a thumbs up from me. And the secondary characters are fleshed out and have great personalities. I loved Lissa and Christian, and Mia is deliciously malicious.

But really, the centerpiece is Rose, and she’s a BAMF. Rose is AWESOME, and I think a kind of rarer character in YA in that she isn’t your typical wallflower kind of girl.  She’s sassy, impulsive, brash, and confident. When it comes to Lissa, her best friend with whom she shares a very rare, almost psychic bond, she’s fiercely loyal and determined to protect her at any cost. But let me just say that it was refreshing to read about a character who was both aware and unashamed of her physicality. She likes hooking up and flirting and flaunting what she’s got, and I LOVED it. Granted, she’s unashamed of her body because it sounds like she’s basically a 10, but the idea still applies. I loved her confidence. She totally jumps off the page with her fieriness, and I felt all of her feelings almost right away. I LOVE THIS.

Obviously another cornerstone of not only this book but the series itself is the relationship between Rose and Dimitri, her mentor and fellow dhampir. Their relationship has the potential to be tricky, but in the end, I thought it was AWESOME.  I recall reading something about how some readers perceived their relationship as weird and inappropriate because Dimitri is 7 years older than Rose and basically, although not technically, her teacher. And those things are true, and they would have bothered me to no end if they had gone unaddressed. But they didn’t. In fact, I think those things are handled pretty well here. Their age difference–both in literal number and in emotional maturity–is a HUGE sticking point in their being together. Don’t mistake me: they have CRAZY chemistry, and a hot little interlude, but their chemistry is something they struggle with, and their interlude has a catch. I’m totally rooting for them.

Guys, I can’t say enough about how glad I am that you all lit a fire under my ass to get me to read these books IMMEDIATELY. Because now that I started them, I literally can’t stop (I’m reading book 3, SHADOW KISS, right now. I literally couldn’t wait long enough to write my review of the first book before I plowed through the second and half of the third). I really can’t think of many negative things about these books: they’re engaging, fun, humorous, fraught with drama and danger, have an interesting mythology, and characters who are unique and fabulous. Are they the most thought-provoking or emotional books I’ve ever read? No, but they’re certainly some of the most flat-out enjoyable. They give vampire books a good name. Now, pardon me, but I must dash. I seriously had to force myself to stop reading these books to write this review. HOLLA!

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Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!