Monday, August 17, 2009

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder

Title: Poison Study

Author: Maria V. Snyder

Series: The Study Series

Summary: Yelena has spent the last year in the Commander's dungeons awaiting execution for murder, and it looks like she is finally next in line, until the commander's food tester dies. The Code dictates the position goes to the next in the line for execution and she has two choice; either be executed or undertake training that might kill her. She will learn under Valek the most feared man in Ixia, a country that is set to stomp out any magic. Magic like the stuff that the General who's son she killed might be dabbling in as he tries to get revenge on Yelena.

Thoughts: Snyder's debut novel is at the height of excellence. The imaginary country, government and society is all well constructed. As are the characters with Yelena and Valek being both clever and interesting. Although Valek tends to pop up and save her a little too often for my liking, regardless Yelena manages to hold her own against some super-evil villains. The Commander also was interesting managing to set up a military dictatorship, a strict legal code, and having the determination to follow said code and live like all the civilians. He is an wonderful leader despite his shocking secret. The novel was a complete story yet also did a fabulous job setting up for the rest of the series. Readers will become truly invested in the fate of all the characters.

Cover: The original cover is nice, but the spiffy one pictured is the YA cover. The leaves are kind of transparently shiny, making it gorgeous!

Rating: 4.5 stars

PS: Look out for her lovely new book Sea Glass out this fall!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Title: The Reformed Vampire Support Group

Author: Catherine Jinks

Summary: Instead of the dark, sexy, and powerful image of vampires present in protagonist Nina Harrison's Zadia Bloodstone novels, vampirism is a disease. Affecting dead people, this disease causes light sensitivity, brittle skin, and digestive problems. Nina is forever 15 and stuck living with her mother, and participating in the Reformed Vampire Support Group (to help vampires adjust and to promote an alternate diet), when a member is staked and shot with a mysterious silver bullet. So in an effort to prove vampires aren't weak, Nina embarks to solve the mystery with fellow Support Group members, former-punk-rocker-turned-vamp Dave, and a human, sympathiser Father Ramone. In the process they also encounter the underground werewolf trade, giving her her first trial at resisting the scent of human blood and fanging hamsters to deal with the alternate nutrition.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed the alternate to the forever young, sparkly love tales that dominate vampire fiction. These tales are also inject the all superhuman vamp into the story in the form of Nina's Zadia Bloodstone novels. The disease-like form of vampirism was also let us see the characters as real people rather than super-beings with no repercussions. Nina is a witty realist and made the book incredibly funny. Calm, regular Dave was also a good balance to the unusual mix of the group. The suspense and action was well balanced and the novel in general was well paced. The dynamics between the group member were excellent. The dialogue between the lot is hilarious. I enjoyed Nina's realisation that vampires don't need to be Zadia to get what they want from life, and that along with the ending was immensely satisfying. Readers who want to be subverted from the usual vampires will enjoy this dark, witty, mystery.

Cover: I like the cover, its cute but I wish all the members of the support group were shown rather than the skeletal group. The alternate cover is black and white but also quite nice.

Rating: 5 Stars

PS: Hope everyone is having a lovely summer.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Title: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Author: Mary E. Pearson

Summary: Jenna Fox is 17 when she awakens in a new town from a car accident a year ago, remembering nothing but bouts of encyclopedic knowledge. She can remember entire book passages but not if she had ever had a best friend. As she begins to remember snippets of her life, she begins to wonder about the accident, and her family's bizarre behavior.

Thoughts: I loved The Adoration of Jenna Fox! Jenna, her family, and classmates are fascinating, as are the dynamics between them. While the novel is science fiction, it blends seamlessly into the current time period. Nothing about this novel is outrageous in any way. The most interesting point is what makes us human. Jenna's father had invented a substance that serves as artificial blood or organs, and the book looks quite thoroughly at the ethics of the practice. IWhat I love most about the novel was that it was impossible to peg what was going on until Jenna herself knew. The ending was also great!

Cover: I like the image. There seems to be a lot of these hands-holding-something type covers lately, but this one is treated more softly than the others.

Rating: 5 Stars

PS: The website for the book is really nice too!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Demons Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: The Demon's Lexicon

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Summary: Nick and his brother Alan are always on the run, along with their crazy mother, from the magicians and their demons that killed his father. Before they leave their latest home a girl and boy come to him with a problem. The girls brother has been marked by a demon and will be possessed without their help. Alan then gets marked also, so they set out to hunt down the magician responsible for unleashing the demon. Through this Nick begins to suspect his past isn't as everyone says.

Thoughts: I loved The Demon's Lexicon. The characters are brilliant. I liked Nick's narration, and his insistence that Alan was the good one, and how important Alan was to him. I also liked Alan who is the nice, bookish, older brother with quite a lot of secrets. Their relationship was so important to Nick that the revelations shocked him, even an obvious one, as he had just accepted Alan's word. This book was unusual in the magicians being cruel, and evil rather than the wonderful, and strange qualities usually associated with them. The book is quite twisty, there is one obvious revelation (about their mother), and a series that really surprised me. The pieces fit together perfectly and I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Cover: The cover is lovely, I would really have liked to see perhaps a figure of Alan in the background.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

PS: This is going to be a series, yay!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tithe: A Modern Fairytale by Holly Black

Title: Tithe: A Modern Fairytale

Author: Holly Black

Sequels/Companion Novels: Valiant, Ironside

Summary: Sixteen-year-old, Philly resident, Kaye Fierch ends up shipped back to her grandmother's house after her mothers boyfriend tries to stab her mother. However once she gets there she sees the reappearance of her imaginary friends from childhood. Faeries are real and she is one of them. Her friends tell her that the Unseelie court has selected her for their next tithe (human sacrifice) and she should pretend to be human until the they removed her glamour and reveal her. This will allow her friends freedom from the sinister Faerie courts for seven years. Unfortunately she is also in love with a knight of the dark court who would rather make alliances with the light. Adding the interference of a few of her human friends the tithe may not go as planned.

Thoughts: It's not very often I find myself liking faerie books but this one was great. I found Kaye a bit abrasive at first but I love how strong she is as well as her ability to take things in stride. Kaye is also very clever and inventive in dealing with her troubles. I also found the rules of the faerie courts dealt with in a neat, matter-of-fact way. I also enjoyed the contrast between the modern world (which was full of Stark Trek, comic, and literary references), and the beautiful (but cruel) faerie world.

Cover: The cover is lovely and matches the companion novels well.

Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Title: Audrey, Wait!

Author: Robin Benway

Summary: As soon as Audrey dumps her musician boyfriend, Evan, he writes an angry break-up song, Audrey, Wait!, which goes straight to the top of the charts. Suddenly, Audrey is famous and has no idea how to react to all of the people who just won't leave her alone. When hanging out with her best friend is big production she will certainly have issues dealing with her new crush. But the media attention doesn't stop and articles are written about everything: her arm warmers, the Lolita's singer wanted her to be their muse, and what her MTV reunion with Evan.

Thoughts: I really loved the wittiness of Audrey and all of her friends. I even felt a little bad for Evan who was in the same boat. I really liked the direction the book went. It was also really interesting when Audrey met her favorite band (Lolitas) and the weren't all they were cracked up to be. However Audrey and even her friends sometimes made cringe worthy choices. It was natural for her to slip up in all of this, but she'd have to know that interview she gave would come off wrong. Also, this author put in the music references really well. It's clear that Audrey is a girl who loves music and not a bunch of song names slapped in to appeal to teenagers. This book was a really excellent, fun read!

Rating: 4/5

Cover: The cover is lovely. I like the girls pose and the font. I'd seen the old cover before and it didn't spark my interest at all. This one is totally great. My sister saw it and immediately wanted to read the book!

PS: Hope exams went well for every one!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Droughtlanders by Carrie Mac

Title: The Droughtlanders

Author: Carrie Mac

Series: Triskelia (Book 1)

Summary: Eli and his brother Seth live in the Keylands. They have learned to remain in their cities away from the Droughtlands, barren patches of land filled with poverty and "sicks". Seth joins the Keyland guards who aim to rid the world of Droughlanders, and Eli whose eyes have been opened by his mother, aims to join the Droughlanders secret organization determined for equality between the two classes.
Thoughts: While dystopian books are usually awesome this was lacking. The setting doesn't initially seem that out there but has the full discovery quite quickly. Eli is of course the sensitive character who makes the realization that society isn't perfect. I found Eli to be slightly overdone as an underdog type character (he is overly meek and far more naive than his twin). He takes quite a while to deprogram (he is homophobic towards another character). Of course he seems more likable in comparison  to his evil twin Seth. Seth is a violent bully, however he manages to be morally sound than most of the guard. I found Seth's sudden burst of compassion a little out of character compared to the death he orchestrated at the beginning of the book. So while I wasn't completely happy with the characters, the logistics of the world held up quite well. The Droughtlands and Triskelia are quite well explained although I would like more details on the Keylands. As a warning people who like to shy away from the darker themes like drug addiction and rape probably won't be happy reading this.

Cover: I like the cover. Fits well with the rest of the series too.

Rating: 2/5 Stars (Not for everyone)

PS: The author is Canadian (from BC)!