Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Plain Kate

Plain Kate, by Erin Bow. The GoodReads summary:
Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. When Kate's village falls on hard times - crops fail, and even Kate's father falls victim to a deadly fever - the townspeople look for someone to blame, and their eyes fall on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he'll give Kate the means to escape the town that seems set to burn her, and what's more, he'll grant her heart's wish. It's a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes that she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed.
I’m not usually much of one for middle-grade books. Admittedly, this was an older middle grade, but still, I thought at the beginning it wouldn’t end up being for me. Because middle grades don’t usually grab me—I don’t usually feel that level of investment and involvement that I want to feel when I read a book. And because this book takes a little while to get going, I thought it was going to stay that way, and honestly, if I hadn’t been reading this for book club, I probably wouldn’t have finished it.

But. Once I hit the part where Kate runs away with the Roamers (aka Gypsies), I was sucked in. Seriously. I hardly even came up for air. Because Kate has it rough. Every single time you think she might find a bit of happiness, it gets taken from her. But Kate is strong and Kate is resilient, and she overcomes. And I couldn’t help wanting to be with her every step of the way in hopes that by the end she’d finally, finally find a place to belong.

And here’s the other thing about this book: Taggle. I love cats. Everyone knows this. But Taggle takes cats to a whole new level. He’s loyal and fierce while still maintaining that haughty, disdainful bit of quintessential cat-ness. Plus, he can talk. And anyone who’s ever read “Sabriel,” by Garth Nix, knows that talking cats are a very good thing.

Overall, a strong book, once you get past the slow beginning. It’s not a happy book, even at the ending. I mean, it made me cry, which doesn’t happen that often. But it’s not depressing either—rather it’s a bittersweet that leaves you feeling that, like Kate, you’ve been on a journey and come out the stronger for it.

Rating: 4 / 5

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Across a Star-Swept Sea

Across a Star-Swept Sea, by Diana Peterfreund. The GoodReads summary:
Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.
So I picked up this book because I enjoyed “For Darkness Shows the Stars” by this same author. And because it’s based on "The Scarlet Pimpernel." I’ll admit I’ve never actually read "The Scarlet Pimpernel," but I watched the first episode of the A&E miniseries countless times in high school due to my crush on Richard Grant. So I’m familiar with the basic storyline at least.

I wasn’t sure going in though, how it would intersect with “For Darkness Shows the Stars”—like, I wasn’t sure how much from the first book I needed to remember. Luckily, the answer is not much. While “Across a Star-Swept Sea” takes place in the same world as “For Darkness Shows the Stars” (and a few characters from that book make a guest appearance), in general “Across a Star-Swept Sea” is self-contained and you don’t need to have read the other for it to make sense.

Anyway, I honestly wasn’t that impressed by “Across a Star-Swept Sea.” I mean, it was fine, but nothing about it really stood out to me about it. The characters were likeable enough, but I never truly cared about them. And the plot was a bit slow, I thought. Like, I swear all that happens is Justen sits around feeling guilty about his past and Persis flits around pretending to be a dumb. Persis does go on a couple of rescue missions, but even those aren’t particularly exciting. The world building was kinda fun—a futuristic Pacific island—but it sometimes had me rolling my eyes (the queen of the neighboring country was killed by a pod of genetically engineered mini-orcas, for pete’s sake). Mostly, I think this book just felt longer than it needed to be.

Overall, it was an okay book that had its moments, but I don’t know that I found it particularly memorable. (I do love the title, though.) Still, it was fun to read a "Scarlet Pimpernel" adaptation, though I’ll probably re-watch the A&E miniseries rather than reread this book if I’m ever in the mood for that story.

Rating: 3 / 5

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It's not that I haven't been reading...

I was looking over my blog and I realized it's been two weeks since I've posted anything, and even longer since I've posted a review. Well. I *have* been reading. This is me after all. When am I ever not reading? I just haven't been reading any YA, which is what I usually review here. So here's the lowdown on what I've read so far this year:

-"Frost Burned" (Mercy Thompson #7), by Patricia Briggs
-"Hunting Ground" (Alpha and Omega #2), by Patricia Briggs
-"Fair Game" (Alpha and Omega #3), by Patricia Briggs
-"Wait for You," by J. Lynn
-"Harvard Hottie," by Annabella Costa

That's 3 urban fantasy, one New Adult, and one romance. The three Patricia Briggs books were great, though I prefer the Mercy Thompson series over Alpha and Omega. "Wait for You," I guess I could've reviewed here since it's New Adult, but I just didn't like it enough to bring myself to care about writing a review. It was schmaltzy when I wanted depth and the main character frustrated me, though I'll admit it was entertaining at times. "Harvard Hottie" was charming up until just about the end, when it took a turn I didn't like and it lost me after that.

So, yeah. Five books so far this year and none of them YA yet. But that will soon be remedied, as I just started "Across a Star-Swept Sea," which I'm really looking forward to. I'm just hoping I don't have to remember what happened in "For Darkness Shows the Stars" to get what's going on, because although I enjoyed FDStS, I read it way too long ago to remember what happens in it. Has anyone read it yet? What did you think?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...