Friday, January 25, 2013

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman


Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina's tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they've turned the final page.


For some reason, I wanted to hate this book so much. There are so many good reviews of Seraphina that I wanted to get the book just to see why everyone else loved it. OKAY, BOOK. YOU WON THAT ROUND.

But even from the summary I was turned off from Seraphina. I don't like music, and it is apparent that music plays a large part in the story. Strike one, book. Two more and yer out.

Strike two: Seraphina has a unique special talent. She has the talent to meditate and see imaginary people in her head. They sometimes try to make her life miserable. What? Her "talent" seemed entirely useless to advancing the plot of the book. The parts when she went to her imaginary people's garden were the parts I grew to dread. The scenes did nothing for the book.

Despite all that, Seraphina coming to terms with her half-dragon heritage and the mystery of the beheaded man kept me interested. That and Orma. Orma, Phina's dragon uncle, won me over. Dragons are required to be unemotional. The dragons fear emotions. Orma cares for Seraphina, but he isn't allowed to show her any love. Dilemmas. How I love them. OKAY, BOOK. YOU WON YER COMPLIMENTARY FOUR STARS.

Seraphina kept up a prickly exterior, and she had to keep it to avoid anyone knowing her secret. I love Rachel Hartman's writing of all the secondary characters. They knew Seraphina was prickly, but they all kinda took in into stride. No one thought she was being mean, and they liked her. That rubbed off on me. I didn't realize it until the middle of the book when the action started picking up, but I actually started to to care about what happened to Seraphina, and I took special interest in her torrid luurve affair with Lucian. OKAY, BOOK. I give up. You win... ALL THE STARS! Five stars.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce VLOG review


As a child, Gretchen's twin sister was taken by a witch in the woods. Ever since, Gretchen and her brother, Ansel, have felt the long branches of the witch's forest threatening to make them disappear, too.

Years later, when their stepmother casts Gretchen and Ansel out, they find themselves in sleepy Live Oak, South Carolina. They're invited to stay with Sophia Kelly, a beautiful candy maker who molds sugary magic: coveted treats that create confidence, bravery, and passion.

Life seems idyllic and Gretchen and Ansel gradually forget their haunted past-- until Gretchen meets handsome local outcast Samuel. He tells her the witch isn't gone-- it's lurking in the forest, preying on girls every year after Live Oak's infamous chocolate festival, and looking to make Gretchen it's next victim. Gretchen is determined to stop running and start fighting back. Yet the further she investigates the mystery of what the witch is and how it chooses its victims, the more she wonders who the real monster is.

Gretchen is certain of only one thing: a monster is coming, and it will never go away hungry.

Vlog review: 

Fhew... I think it took me about seven tries to even get the video sounding THAT coherent. I should stick to writing. Nevermind... I've just realized my blog posts sound EXACTLY like that. I'll better stick to thinking. Everything makes sense inside my head as opposed to outside my head. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.


Ravka is fun. 'Tis "the place to be." Even in the prologue, the fairy tail vibe of Shadow and Bone is what sucked me in. Leigh Bardugo's third person narrative in the prologue set up the base Alina and Mel's relationship well. They are the only two people who's got each other's backs in a world that isn't so friendly. 

The magic of the Shadow and Bone  is fresh; it's the best out of a fantasy novel I've read in a while. I love all the different tiers of Grisha, and the lore they have about "small magic" and especially the Shadow Fold's creepiness. 

Mel, Alina's luuurve interest, started out okay. In the first half of the book, he never seemed to give a bother about Alina, and that bothered me. When they met up later in the book, he became one of my favorite characters. In the time they were apart, he had grown into a stronger person. He was sadder because he had lost so many friends, but he knew Alina was who he wanted which was a change from the first chapters. 

Alina's character development was great, too. I love when at the beginning of the book, a character's really weak, but then they grow up and turn badass. Alina was pretty whiny at the beginning. I started wanting to slap her in her little pale, sallow face. I get it, Alina. You're ugly as a walrus. An ugly walrus. There is nothing wrong with that. She, thankfully, stopped complaining eventually... but that was because she transformed into a pretty person. 

A lot of emphasis in the book was placed on beauty. Alina's main argument for why she couldn't be an actual Grisha was because she was ugly. I can understand not liking your looks, but by the fifth time she complained about it I was getting exasperated. 
Shadow and Bone gets four stars. Despite me hating on Alina's sulky attitude, the book kept me interested enough to read it in two days. I may pick up the sequel, but I'll get it only in paperback form. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

ya 2 you because I love you... TEAM DURHAM

I am happy. Y'know why? THIS.

Why has no one else done this before? It's BRILLIANCE! For those whom haven't heard of the most amazing contest yet, where ever gets the most entrees gets authors. The authors whose books are pictured above will get to have the authors come TO THEIR TOWN. (If you can't tell, I'm fangirling just a tad.)

I'm going to try and get my school library to carry a few flyers, and my NC peeps should totes try that out, too! Sadly, I live in a smaller city where not many teens I know like to read. My town could win, I guess, if only one person from each other city voted. Ha. My fate rests completely with the big city Durham/Raleigh kids. DON'T LET ME DOWN.

BUT. BUT. There is a second contest, too. Almost as exciting as the first. Almost.

Spread the word, and there is a chance to... WIN EVERY BOOK ABOVE SIGNED.

So, especially any *EHEM* lovely NC bloggers *EHHEMM*, ENTER!

Wow. That was the most caps lock I've used in a while. Who am I to break a streak?