Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Okay, I would like to make a confession here: I love Forever 21 and H&M. Why? Well, aside from the fact that they are giant stores and I love shopping--I mean, win/win combo here--they are known for mimicking styles that are at the top of the most recent fashion wish lists. Those Prada earrings? H&M has almost the exact same pair! That 3.1 Phillip Lim bag? Forever 21 has its near identical twin.
But you notice the difference right away. The earrings break after a couple of uses, and strings magically appear to pop out of the seams on the handbag. And while these are easily replaced and are honestly minute problems (seriously, I'm not really complaining, because I go through different styles too quickly to care), the fact is, they are obviously paler versions of the real thing.
So pale

Ah, and here is where Falling Kingdoms comes in! Undoubtably, if you've heard of FK, then you know it's supposed to be like a YA version of Game of Thrones. My love for GoT is no secret, so believe me when I say that I tried very, very hard to NOT compare Falling Kingdoms to GoT. This was semi-easy to do because Falling Kingdoms takes its sweet time going anywhere, let alone falling. Sadly, though, the similarities to Game of Thrones make it evident why it's compared to the high fantasy series. But since many people haven't even read GoT, I won't be comparing it to FK in my review. Just know that if Tyrion Lannister had been in FK, he would have been a boring, slow-witted, and probably taller version of himself.

It's the little things that get to you:
-Don't mess with incest. If you're going to use it, you can't hold back. Not to say that I am like YES, PLEASE GIVE ME MORE INCEST, but it's a tricky/taboo sort of storyline, and I like to see authors tackle lesser-used ones. But Prince Magnus was such a zzzzz character, and Lucia was just sooooo underdeveloped, that by the time Magnus actually acted on his desires, I was  over all his ANGST!
Grow a pair, and I DON'T mean on the battlefield. Either be a badass, or be a coward, but stop being a halfass. I don't really care, just figure it out before I catch some of your angsty incest!
-EVEN MORE BORING: Jonas. Um, hello, I get that you want to avenge your bro. That's cool and all, but you don't need to keep telling me. Also, even a blind person can tell you thought Cleo was hot right away, so get over yourself and work on your internal motivation a little bit more, because you're coming off as a minor character.
-Prince Anus [that's not really his name, but he's so stupid I read his name as Anus throughout the whole book]. He reminds me so much of the guy from Vampire Academy [you know, the one who drinks all the time...I haven't read that series in forever but I know this comparison is not misplaced!] that I was like wtf are you doing in this story? I'm not supposed to be comparing Falling Kingdoms to Vampire Academy!

Unlike all the other blah characters, Cleo grew on me. Okay, so her writer made her kind of unbalanced: One minute she's partypartyparty, then the next she's wandering off to find a cure for her sister's illness. And I HATE the way her relationship with her bodyguard just sort of happened. It was one of the most unbelievable couplings in YA I have ever read. However, by the end of the book, I started to like her. She's obviously going to play a larger role in the second book, and I'm looking forward to seeing her character grow. But other than that, it's snoozeville with the main characters, IMO.
So sleepy and SOOOO FLUFFY!
So, should you read Falling Kingdoms? If you like to put yourself through almost an entire book just for it to finally get good--the last twenty pages are all that kept me from trashing this book, but trust me, they're really good pages---then YES. Personally, I think I could have been won over if I hadn't read Game of Thrones/watched the tv series, and if my knowledge of fantasy genres in general was lower. Sadly, my appetite was just not sated by the newest addition to the YA fantasy family. I am all for a good knockoff, but I don't believe that Ms. Rhodes wrote Falling Kingdoms just for it to sell to those thirsty from GoT. I have very high hopes that the second book will be the reason I end up loving this series. I am ready to eat my very words if I am wrong, but I sincerely believe that Ms. Rhodes was only trying to set the reader up for when the story gets, well, better. 


Friday, December 14, 2012

Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughn

There comes a time in every reviewer's life when she will have to face the insurmountable challenge of the battle between the heart and the head. A book will come along where the heart and the head are so conflicted that it may be unclear if the review is coming from the biased, mushy fan girl side of the reviewer or not. THEREfore, I would like to give Warprize a review of, oh hell, four out of five stars. It's not five star material because it just doesn't capture your attention enough, but Keir makes up for a lot of that. 

So insert all of my fangirl screaming here:
And okay, moving on!

What Was Right
-It's not entirely age appropriate, but who cares? While there are no fantastical elements, it's whimsical enough to feel like you're still knee-deep in fantasy. Although, it would be a lot easier to put it in the"Healer/Mage" subcategory with Touch of Power.
-The "eventual" romance. Seriously, you will read 50% of this book and then wonder why you've read half a book without Lara/Warprize and Keir/Warlord doing anything. It makes sense why it takes 60% of the book for Lara to FITFO, but I don't want to throw the one spoiler this book had into my review. Let's just say...you'll want to give up, but you kind of know it's going to happen, so you pull through. I would definitely say that the warm and happy feeling you finally get to experience makes it worth the wait though.
-Keir. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

What Was Just NO
-The names. Having been working on my own YA fantasy for, oh...ever, I know how tempting it is to create ridiculous names only to create nicknames from them. But it's almost like the characters are suffering from split-personality disorder. Lara is Xylara, who is a princess, but also Xylara, who is a healer. Then she's Lara, for those who know her personally, although they will call her Xylara or some various form of "her highness" when necessary. Of course, Keir the Cat aka the Warlord aka Keir of the ____insert some title Lara rambles on about____ refers to her as Warprize, as do the rest of his people--but don't be fooled; they call her Lara sometimes, too! *throws up hands* mazel tov! 
-The narrative. I think first person POV is great, but I don't care how many little things Lara does. It's not like Outlander, where the little details are what provide such a great mental image of the story. No, Lara just likes to talk about how she will lay down, open her eyes, blink at Keir, yawn and crack her jaw, and then close her eyes again.
-The healing. If you're going to have a healer as your protagonist, it's probably a good idea to come up with more than three medicinal solutions. Apparently, in Xylandia or whatever it's called, 'fever's foe' is the cure for every ailment imaginable. That, or Lara is just a crap healer. Regardless, she never really did anything all that cool. Actually, she's not even that cool of a character. 
I guess this is more of what I expect from a healer??
-The antagony. Oh, the antagony! Could we have more of the antagonist, please? Obviously, Keir is NOT the bad guy, Lara's half brother I-can't-even-remember-his-name-except-that-it-starts-with-Xy is. He was supposed to be the cause of all the bad stuff going on, and yet he barely makes an imprint in this book.

OKAY, I really did like Warprize, but I think I respect the premise a lot more than the actual plot.  of course, I was extremely pleased with the star-crossed love. I'm always, always a sucker for those. if you enjoy being swept away by a lighthearted plot, romance, some adventure, and some more great world building, and I really do suggest that you read Warprize. However, if you are looking for a strong female character, and still read, but tread carefully. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I'm on the naughty list...

...because I haven't kept up with my reviews! School and my social life/organizations just became so frenetic this semester, and I didn't get to do a lot of reading for pleasure. HOWEVER, I'm not entirely naughty--I did accomplish some reading [minus the drudgingly boring drivel I had to read for Post Colonial Literature]. I may not have developed a love for Fanon or Foucault,
 --but I have had an affair with Maria V. Snyder!
*disclaimer* any affair a reader 'has with an author' is obviously one of the mind. Or, you know, ridiculous fangirling. 

This affair has been one of adventure, spirit, and in the case of Touch of Power, RIDICULOUSLY ROMANTIC. I have to start and say that I wanted to do a nice review of the second book Snyder's Study series, Magic Study, but then THIS happened:  
I had to select this one due to the art on the left side. 25% of me giggled at these blatant display of cheese, while 70% of me truly wondered if that's how badass Avry looked when healing. It's got all the colors of a Sailor Moon costume-change montage!

Anyway, why you should read Touch of Power:
Because I did not. At least, not at first. I downloaded the sample of this months ago when I was in my Read All the Dystopia! faze, and somehow I went through the sample, loved it, and then didn't purchase it.
Months later, I look at the reviews of Snyder's popular book Poison Study. I read it, and of course, I love it. I went through the second book, and loved it almost as much. And then I found myself thinking "hm, wasn't there another book by her that I really liked the sound of?"
IDIOT<---me b="b">, because I could have enjoyed this book a long time ago!!!!!!!!
But why should you read it? What makes it so great? I'm not big into summarizing, especially when they do such a fantastic job already over at GR, but I'm very into lists. Touch of Power is amazing for several reasons, but there's one little plot line that just makes this book for me, so I'll list a few great things about this book and then tell you what sets it apart from other books in this genre. Actually, lets say the YA genre as a whole, not just fantasy [major points have just been given by me].
So, the pros: 
  • if you like fantasy in the YA genre, which I probably always will, then this is a forerunner for winners in this genre. It's not too fantasy-heavy, but there is world building [which I always love] and a magician concept.
  • THIS PLAGUE. I mean seriously, leave it to Snyder to create an entirely new plague. The bubonic plague has nothing on this plague. This plague takes your preconceived notion of a plague being any type of needed and central aspect to a book and punches it into the ground! Plague: 1 [well, technically the victims are countless, lol] Assumptions: 0
  • The Death Lily/Peace Lily thing. It's confusing at times, and a bit odd to picture the main character getting eaten by a giant flower, only to communicate with it and then be spat back out [this happens several times], but the mystery behind these flowers is addicting. I wanted to learn more about them, and Snyder delivers. And then leads me to a cliffhanger...but I digress, because my FAVORITE PART OF THE BOOK was...

*The romance*

*swoon* Is it cheesy? Actually, not really. Kerrick and Avry spend most of the book not really liking each other. Then throw Cray Cray Tohon into the mix and his seduction powers, and you've got an acute love triangle. I'm convinced that this unholy trinity--the acute love triangle--is the only one that will work in novels these days. Basically, Kerrick was betrayed by love. Kerrick can't get over it. Kerrick falls for Avry but doesn't allude to it to the reader or Avry herself. Then Kerrick's enemy from school, cray cray Tohon, starts using his powers to tempt Avry into sexy time. Avry has no idea that Kerrick loves her, and she hasn't really given it any thought herself. 
Honestly, the ONLY person who thinks about the two of them is the reader. It's like, okay, can you have a typical YA misunderstanding where you kiss and then don't speak for days? I love this approach! It gives an entirely new meaning to star-crossed lovers, in that two people who shouldn't belong together don't even realize that they should belong together. At least, not until Cray Cray Tohon shows up. 
Except he's hot and crazy deluded and there's a shallow part of me that wanted Avry to give in to him and be tossed onto the bed because his kisses drive her to insanity, and if he keeps on teasing her like this, Avry will have no control over her already bad bout of swooning. I'm sorry, but the fire and temper in this heated I-hate-you-and-you-WANT-me fight is just so...swoon.
So. Much. Swooning.

Cray Cray Tohon is only doing this, though, to get back at Kerrick. I love these plots!! It's like Pride and Prejudice and the Swan Princess gave birth to an Acute Love Triangle named Kerrick-Avry-Cray Cray Tohon. 

I could ramble on and on, but it would make this book seem like a romance, and it's not. Yes, romance is essential to the YA pn/dystopia/fantasy genre, but this book is full of a lot of interesting mystery and adventure. The only good part about having such a delayed start in reading this is that since I finished it last night, I don't have to wait a year for the next book. It's preordered and will be released next week! Proof that this start to a series is definitely worth reading!
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