Friday, 28 October 2011

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa (The Iron Fey #4)

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Adventure, Romance 
My Rating: 4 out of 5


My name - my True Name - is Ashallayn’ darkmyr Tallyn. I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her. My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…

To cold faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase - a half human, half fey slip of a girl - smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the unwelcome company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end - a quest to find a way to honor his vow to stand by Meghan's side.

To survive in the Iron Realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. And along the way Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.


The adventure and humour in this are as great as ever, with so many favourite characters back, and some new ones. But I think this suffered a bit for not having Meghan. She was in only two scenes, both of which were great of course, but it wasnt the same without her. More importantly, Ash wasnt the same without her. I really missed the super sweet things he always said to her that made my heart race. My heart did no racing while reading this one. There was no space for romance with a missing Meghan. The ending was perfect though, so that's what really matters. Pretty much everything I would have wanted in an ending is what we got, minus Ash's ambiguous condition.

This is still my favourite series ever, but this would probably be my least favourite of the four. But I hope to reread them soon since I dont remember The Iron King as well as the others. I wasnt really disappointed though since the book is totally awesome. I just put more emphasis on romance than most people.

And I really didnt enjoy the tests, especially chapter 19 and 20. I knew they werent real but they were still so sad and I dont know why Julie felt like she had to put us through that. She could have made it much more brief and much more like a test. I am very glad that is not how things turned out, but it still left a little bit of doubt in me that I dont want to have.

I was surprised to read in the interview included at the end of the book, that Julie Kagawa prefers tragic endings, but her publisher insisted that Ash and Meghan be together in the end. OMG thank goodness! If not for her publisher I may have died! But now I am a little worried about Julie's two other series. I hope her publisher is super stubborn.
“I have come from the End of the World. From the River of Dreams, through the gauntlet and the Briar and the Deep Wyld, in order to stand before you today. I have but one request—to take my place at your side. To resume my duty as your knight, and to protect you and your kingdom for as long as I draw breath.”

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Eldest by Christopher Paolini (The Inheritance Cycle #2)

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure
Publication Date: August 23rd 2005
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 5 out of 5


Darkness falls…despair abounds…evil reigns…

Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in the skills of the Dragon Rider: magic and swordsmanship. Soon he is on the journey of a lifetime, his eyes open to awe-inspring new places and people, his days filled with fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and nothing is what it seems. Before long, Eragon doesn’t know whom he can trust.

Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle–one that might put Eragon in even graver danger.

Will the king’s dark hand strangle all resistance? Eragon may not escape with even his life...


This was much slower than the first book. The first was mostly an adventure. Eragon getting from Carvahall to Farthen Dur, on opposite sides of the kingdom. The second is almost entirely Eragon's training with the elves. I found it all very interesting and it kept my attention as much as the first, if not more. Even though there wasnt any action for the first 80% of the book, there were lots of memorable events and we really got to know the characters more. Eragon has really grown and I love him even more. Not only has he matured as he naturally would at his age, but he has been forced to grow due to everything that has happened to him, as well as due to his Rider training. He has grown into a very impressive Rider, warrior, and man. He is pretty awesome. Although he continues to be adorable towards Arya. We unfortunately still dont know her very well. She is very guarded and we have only glimpsed her personality. But, she is still interesting, being a beautiful female warrior is enough for me.

And the last 20% or so of the book was so amazingly epic! One of the best battles I have ever read! I kept picturing Eragon fighting in 300-style slo-mo! It would be so awesome to see on the big screen! No chance of that now, though. Even if they tried to make the sequel I dont know if they could. They set up such a weak ground for the story in the first movie, they would have nowhere to go from there. They left way too much out. Not to mention the huge casting blunder. Chris Egan and Garrett Hedlund should have switched roles.

My one issue with this book is the twist at the end. It really irks me because of how much of a coincidence it is. It is so ridiculous how unlikely it would be to actually happen, but at the same time so terribly cliched. Its like Paolini wanted this obvious twist in his story so badly that he disregarded all reason. It is technically possible, but just so terribly unlikely. I now somewhat understand the Star Wars comparisons, but at least in Star Wars it was supposed to be hereditary!

Anyways, I enjoyed this way too much to let that ruin it for me, especially since it was at the very end. Awesome book!

*edit* There was a twist in the twist, and this twist was revealed in the next book to not be true. So, that is redeeming and far less cliched. I did not see it coming. I much appreciate the clarification and it improves on the series as a whole.

“Live in the present, remember the past, and fear not the future, for it doesn't exist and never shall. There is only now.”

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Ironside by Holly Black (Modern Faerie Tales #3)

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy/Paranormal, Romance 
Publication Date:  April 24th 2007
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 3 out of 5


In the realm of Faerie, the time has come for Roiben's coronation. Uneasy in the midst of the malevolent Unseelie Court, pixie Kaye is sure of only one thing -- her love for Roiben. But when Kaye, drunk on faerie wine, declares herself to Roiben, he sends her on a seemingly impossible quest. Now Kaye can't see or speak to Roiben unless she can find the one thing she knows doesn't exist: a faerie who can tell a lie.

Miserable and convinced she belongs nowhere, Kaye decides to tell her mother the truth -- that she is a changeling left in place of the human daughter stolen long ago. Her mother's shock and horror sends Kaye back to the world of Faerie to find her human counterpart and return her to Ironside. But once back in the faerie courts, Kaye finds herself a pawn in the games of Silarial, queen of the Seelie Court. Silarial wants Roiben's throne, and she will use Kaye, and any means necessary, to get it. In this game of wits and weapons, can a pixie outplay a queen?

This wasn't as good as the first, but better than the second. It had an actual quest and adventure, like the first. But it focused mostly on Kaye, Corny, and Luis (a returning character from the second book), and not enough Roiben. He was around, but not prominent. And there was very little romance. No scenes like how the first book ended, or like when Kaye was enchanted and Roiben felt he took advantage of her. Its as if Black felt their romance didn't need to be focused on again since it got attention in the first book.

The most sexually charged scene was actually between two other characters, Corny and Luis. It was brief but you could tell it was heated. I wouldn't have been disappointed if I hadn't been misled by the fact that the first two books were fairly strong in the romance department. This book remains primarily a faerie adventure. In that sense it was very good. Lots of action and suspense and faerie politics.

I said in my review for Valiant that I didn't know whether or not Valiant was necessary to get the story of this one. Well, it wasn't. Although Luis was in this one, and a glimpse of Val and Ravus at the end, the story of the second was not relevant, and anything you would have to know about Luis was explained in this one. So you could read just #1 and 3, or just #2 alone.
“She knew what it felt like to tremble like that before touching someone -- desire so acute that it became despair.”

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Eragon by Christopher Paolini (The Inheritance Cycle #1)

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Adventure
Publication Date: August 26th 2003
POV:  Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 5 out of 5


Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy--until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save--or destroy--the Empire. 

This story is far larger than the movie led me to believe, with so many more characters. I really love the movie. It is actually one of my favourites. But I knew the movie was not well received because of how much they butchered the book. But I had no idea! It is quite ridiculous really how much they took out of the movie. I don't really understand why since the movie was really short, they could have included so much more of the original content.

The basic outline of the story is still there, but the events were completely rearranged chronologically and often altered and combined. And so, so much was left out completely. Mostly I wish they had kept more of the details of the story, and the intrigue and political maneuvering, so that the movie wouldn't have come across as just a simple adventure. But regardless of what the movie left out, the book had it all!

There is so much about this that I loved. There is so much adventure! Action and dragon riding! And I love the world and its history and mythology. I am mainly referring to the dragons and dragon riders, and Saphira as a character is awesome. I love how close she and Eragon are. She is almost motherly toward him even though she is only 6 months old at the end of the book and he is 16. It seems like she was born with some knowledge but it hasn't been made clear yet. 

I love the other characters too, but mainly Eragon and Murtagh. Brom was a typical mentor archetype and Arya was cool but we didn't really get to know her since she was unconscious for most of the book. But Eragon is super cute with her and I cant wait to see more of their relationship in the other books.

“Keep in mind that many people have died for their beliefs; it's actually quite common. The real courage is in living and suffering for what you believe.”

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Valiant by Holly Black (Modern Faerie Tales #2)

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy/Paranormal, 
Publication Date: May 31st 2005
POV: Female - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating:  3 out of 5

When seventeen-year-old Valerie runs away to New York City, she's trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city's labyrinthine subway system.

But there's something eerily beguiling about Val's new friends.
And when one talks Val into tracking down the lair of a mysterious creature with whom they are all involved, Val finds herself torn between her new found affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.


This was rather disturbing at times, and I even considered not finishing it. But I knew that the romance had to start eventually, and when it did, I loved it.

I thought Kaye, the main character of the first book, Tithe, had a difficult childhood, but it was nothing compared to this. I wonder if Holly Black had a difficult childhood too. Most of the book follows the main character, Val, and her friends Lolli, Dave, and Luis, who live in a disgusting, abandoned subway station, while they get high on faerie drugs all day, which they use like crack. Val even starts acting like Alex DeLarge at one point when she breaks into a family's home. Lolli kills her cat because she is just tired of taking care of it. There is also cutting and casual sex among friends. Very disturbing book and far from YA IMO.

The only good part is Ravus, the troll Val falls in love with. Although the fact that he is a troll makes Val even less relatable IMO (I've personally never fallen in love with a troll and it's difficult to imagine), but Ravus is extremely sympathetic. It was hard to get an image of him in my mind because he wasn't describe well, but I gathered he looked basically human, except with slightly green skin and large teeth. Val's narrative never described him as handsome, but she did say he was tall and lean, with gorgeous yellow eyes and long, silky black hair. I really enjoyed his character, and he was way too good for Val.

I was hoping that the book would at least finish on an amazing high note, like Tithe. They did both end with the girl's romantic interest visiting her after she went home and they had been apart for awhile. Probably a few weeks. But while Tithe ended with an amazing kiss, Valiant did not. There was actually only one kiss. Although it was a really good one, it was before Ravus got mad at Val. A make-up make-out would have been nice. :P

Roiben (the romantic interest from the first book) was actually in this one for a bit near the end (also the only few minutes spent in Faerie), and Kaye was mentioned to be in the room, but we didn't see her. I know the next book, Ironside, is about Roiben and Kaye again, but I don't know how much of an impact the events in Valiant will have. This book can probably be read as a standalone.

“It demeans you to cover rotten meat with honey. I know what I am. What would you want with a monster?"

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card (Pathfinder #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Adventure 
My Rating: 4 out of 5


A powerful secret. A dangerous path.

Rigg is well trained at keeping secrets. Only his father knows the truth about Rigg's strange talent for seeing the paths of people's pasts. But when his father dies, Rigg is stunned to learn just how many secrets Father had kept from him--secrets about Rigg's own past, his identity, and his destiny. And when Rigg discovers that he has the power not only to see the past, but also to change it, his future suddenly becomes anything but certain.

Rigg’s birthright sets him on a path that leaves him caught between two factions, one that wants him crowned and one that wants him dead. He will be forced to question everything he thinks he knows, choose who to trust, and push the limits of his talent…or forfeit control of his destiny.


Wow, that was a lot to take in. I could hardly wrap my mind around it. I cant imagine a lot of young adults who could keep up with it, except the very intelligent and very ambitious. I would most definitely not categorize this as YA, even if the author himself does, he must have a much higher opinion of young adults. It contains very complicated theories on time travel and space travel, a young protagonist who is almost as genius and difficult to understand as Ender himself, and such a large and complicated story and world of characters and ideas that I cant even begin to explain it.

Whenever I read a book I try to imagine it as a movie. What kind of audience would it attract, what movies it could be compared to, a possible cast, etc. But I cant really imagine this as a movie. If it was, it would most certainly not be a children's movie, or even a teen movie. It is so ambitious and confusing that I would dare to say it would most likely attract the same audience as Inception.

It reminds me of Ender's Game, as I already mentioned, but also of The Worthing Saga, one of Orson Scott Card's earliest works, which had some similar topics and gave me a similar sense of confusion. Basically, they both give you very little information, a little bit at a time, that you have to slowly piece together as you read, before you can even figure out something as basic as the setting of the story. If you've read The Worthing Saga, then you probably know what I mean. Not that there are any plot holes or inconsistencies. Not that I could detect. It just keeps your brain really revving the whole time, trying to keep up. This book is not what you want to read when you are looking for some down time.

I gave this a 4 star rating because of the great accomplishment which was writing it, and I am a great fan of the genre, but it was perhaps a bit slow, or perhaps I should say, steady. I am curious to find out what happens next, but its a bit dramatic, some adventure mixed in there, but really no action. At no point was my heart racing, which can actually happen quite easily for me. But it had a great group of characters I really enjoyed. I look forward to reading more.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Tithe by Holly Black (Modern Faerie Tales #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy/Paranormal, Romance 
Publication Date: October 1st 2002
POV: Female - Third-person, Past tenseMy Rating: 4 out of 5


Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces the sixteen-year-old back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms -- a struggle that could very well mean her death.

This was so much fun! I started out very unsure about it, since it was recommended to me by The Iron Fey fans, I was expecting something else. But Tithe is far darker than The Iron King. So much so, that I would hesitate to call it YA. I know I wouldnt let my kids read it if I had any. It was very thematic and I was thrown off by the heroine's heavy drinking, smoking, swearing, and shoplifting, a girl of 16. But once I got acquainted with its world I realized different is not bad (although I still don't like her lifestyle).

Kaye attracts the attention of a gorgeous fey of the Unseelie Court, a knight. But Roiben is very different from Ash. They both have the whole victim-of-circumstances vibe down, but I was actually a little scared of Roiben in the beginning. He seemed so evil and menacing. I was hesitant to start liking him, but eventually I couldnt resist him anymore. The romance was well played out, better than some YA.

Being only my second faerie series, it was interesting to see the similarities and differences from The Iron Fey. I was not previously familiar with ideas of faerie glamour, and the courts, and I didnt know how much was unique to The Iron Fey. So that was interesting and I now have a better grasp of it. I found the story very interesting and exciting with a lot of twists and turns. Although I will admit, I still don't fully understand what happened. It wasnt explained as well as it could have been. But the very best part is the end. It ended on such a great note I couldnt stop giggling. Here it is with hardly any spoilers, except the fact that Kaye gets Roiben, but thats hardly a spoiler. It is a YA romance after all!

"There is something of yours I would like to return to you." 
"What?" He leaned across the distance between them and caught her mouth with his own. Her eyes fluttered closed and her lips parted easily as she felt the kiss sizzling through her nerves, rendering her thoughts to smoke. 
"Um..." Kaye stepped back, a little unsteadily. "Why does that belong to me?" 
"That was the kiss I stole from you when you were enchanted." 
"Oh...well what if I didnt want it?" 
"You dont?""No, I'd like you to take it back again, please." 
"I am your servant," his lips a moment from her own. "Consider it done."

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Awakening by L.J. Smith (The Vampire Diaries #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Publication Date:  March 1st 1999
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Elena Gilbert is a pretty, popular teen who was orphaned when her parents were killed in an accident. Despite the tragedy, her life has always been normal and wholesome. Until the beginning of the school year, when two new vampire brothers show up to shake the peaceful universe at Robert E. Lee High.

This was so much better than I expected it to be! I read it in one sitting! I love the TV show but this rivals it. Stefan is so much cooler than in the show. I wasnt a huge Stefan fan, but in the book he is just as awesomely romantic and smoldering as so many other YA vampires.

Of the 3 leads, the only one who I pictured as the actor from the show is Damon. Ian Somerhalder sounds like a perfect description of Damon, except way older. Elena actually referred to Damon as a boy more than once, whereas Ian Somerhalder is clearly not a boy. But still, I didnt really picture Paul Wesley as Stefan, and definitely didnt picture Nina Dobrev as Elena.

Her character is also very different. The Elena here starts out very snobby and high and mighty, but that changes in time. It makes sense that Stefan would bring out the best in her. Although, I dont really get why Stefan would fall in love with her in the first place, the way she was in the beginning. It also happened way too quickly. After two conversations Elena tells him she loves him. Pretty ridiculous really, but besides that its great. The romance between Stefan and Elena is awesome, and the added creepiness of Damon stalking her is perfect. Cant wait to find out what happens next!

“Right now everything looks so strange to me, as if I don't belong here. It's me that's out of place. And the worst thing is that I feel there's somewhere I do belong, but I just can't find it.”

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