Review: The Amaranth Enchantment

July 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Amaranth Enchantment
The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ever since the death of Lucinda’s parents, she has been forced to live under the thumb of her bitter and overbearing aunt and her weak uncle, working at their jewelry store. Within one eventful day, Lucinda’s life drastically changes. During this short period of time, she deals with a lovesick prince, a mysterious witch, a charming thief, and a tragedy that leaves her homeless. Things quickly go from bad to worse for Lucinda as she tries to put the pieces back together.

When I picked up The Amaranth Enchantment, it was because I was in the mood for a feel good, happy ending fairy tale. I was certainly not disappointed in that but I was surprised to find that Julie Berry’s story had plenty of action as well as unexpected plot twists and turns. I enjoyed that each of the characters showed both strength in some areas and weaknesses in others. It made them much more realistic. The prince was a little weaker than I would have liked personally, but he fit so well with Lucinda. The Amaranth Witch was by far my favorite character, mysterious in so many ways yet very apparently flawed and insecure.

I would recommend The Amaranth Enchantment to anyone who enjoys a happily-ever-after kind of story with some unique twists and turns along the way.

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Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

July 29, 2011 § 2 Comments

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Miss Peregrines’s Home for Peculiar Children is an odd sort of book with quirky characters and an almost sci-fi time-travelicious plot. The story begins with Jacob Portman losing his much beloved Grandfather who had, for years, told Jacob stories of growing up on a magical island with friends that had strange gifts. Jacob was devastated by his loss and also by the manner of his death and the fact that nobody seemed to believe him. At times, he even questioned his own sanity. Following the request of his dying Grandfather’s last words, Jacob makes his way to the island where his Grandfather grew up to see for himself what was real and what was just fairy tale. This is where his real adventure begins.

I’ve read so many wonderful reviews of this book, I may have had unrealistic expectations for it because I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The use of the incredible vintage photos to accent the story was wonderfully brilliant and were what I felt was the highlight of the book. The problem for me was, as peculiar as the children on the island were, they never really progressed much deeper than their particular oddity. I wanted to know more about each one of them but, while they were interesting enough, they were not quite as fully developed as I would have liked. I felt the same about the villains, I think their purpose was a little too vague and I would have liked a better understanding about the conflict between the two factions. The romance between Jacob and his love interest was fairly alarming and frankly a bit disgusting… and beyond that, it was not very believable as a relationship. I think if the book had been a bit longer so that the author could have further explored more of the characters, relationships, and plot, this book would have been a much better read for me.

All in all, I did LIKE the book, but I wanted to be overwhelmed like so many others felt about this unique novel. I will say that the presentation of the book itself and the use of the antique photo’s were highly original and fascinating. The story kept me interested enough to continue and not simply put it down and although I wanted more, I enjoyed what was there.

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Review: Wildefire

July 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

Wildefire by Karsten Knight

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wildefire is a YA fantasy about teenage Gods and Goddesses from several different Mythologies who all attend a private school. I loved the opening of the story where the heroine, Ashline, was in the process of kicking the crap out of the girl who her boyfriend cheated with. It immediately made this heroine immensely relate-able, and she continued to be throughout the story. I really enjoyed her assertiveness and “fiery” spirit.
I actually liked most of the characters, I thought that they were the one thing that kept me invested in this book whereas the plotline really didn’t work as well for me. There were several plot lines that were not followed through on so that it left me a bit confused about their relevance to the story. I’m speaking, in particular about the “Cloaks” and also about Ashline’s sister Eve and the young girl in their visions. I’m not sure if Wildefire is supposed to be a beginning of a series and these things will be explained as the series progresses. I think that I would have enjoyed Wildefire much more if I would have found the storyline to have been a bit more cohesive. I felt that it was a bit all over the place. I loved the idea of all of the different Gods and Goddesses from different Mythologies being reborn over and over again but the arc of the story was very vague and weak. I would probably read any follow up book with the hope that these things would be addressed because, as I said, I truly like the concept and the characters.

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Review: The Child Thief

July 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Child Thief
The Child Thief by Brom

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is Peter Pan like I have never imagined it. The Child Thief is one of the most disturbing, violent, and frightening fairy tale re-imaginings I’ve ever read. It reminds me of the more grim versions of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” That being said, I was absolutely enthralled, I couldn’t put it down. There were some times when I had to walk away from it for a bit, but I’m a bit squeamish when it comes to even a hint of gore. There were also some situations that were uncomfortable to read about such as child abuse, torture, and molestation. However, these things do happen and the way they were used in the story was fitting.

Peter finds his “lost boys” among the forgotten children, the runaways, the abused and neglected. He offers them a chance at a different kind of life in a magical world where they never have to grow up and each day is a new adventure. He does warn them that there are also monsters. With his golden eyes and infectious smile, Peter finds it easy to win over these mistreated kids and he creates his own clan in mist shrouded Avalon, his refuge from the cruelties he, himself, experienced in the human world.

Brom paints a vivid world of dying beauty and frightening violence. I love the images he creates of the fairies, pixies, elves, and even the more dangerous creatures that lurk in the swamps. One thing that this author has done incredibly well is blur the line between good and evil. I found myself, several times, feeling sympathy for a character I hated just a couple pages before.

Ultimately I feel that this is a extraordinary story, one that fans of dark fantasy will certainly want on their shelves. The characters, the world, the plot were all written so flawlessly that I easily lost myself in the pages. I would highly recommend The Child Thief and want to thank the person who recommended it to me.

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Divergent by Veronica Roth

July 23, 2011 § 7 Comments

Divergent (Divergent Trilogy)

Veronica Roth’s first installment of her new dystopian trilogy Divergent simply blew me away. I was not expecting this novel to contain such intensity and emotionality. I usually enjoy dystopian stories, but this one, although much more violent than what I was anticipating, was above and beyond my expectations both with the depth of the characters and the unique plot. The storyline was thrilling, definitely not for the faint of heart.

In this society, each citizen is classified into 5 separate factions based on the virtues that their personality is most suited to. The factions are Candor (honesty), Erudite (intelligence), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful). This seemed a bit strange at first, I was worried that a society of people adhering to such one dimensional views would fall understandably flat. This was not the case however. Veronica has created a fascinatingly terrifying world where nothing and nobody are quite what they seem.

Divergent contained a bit more violence than what I am used to in a YA novel. This was not a negative aspect however. Roth did not shy away from the unexpected character deaths either which I always enjoy in a book as it is conceivable that when there is a war, many people are killed, and highly unlikely that the main characters make it out unscathed.

The main character, Beatrice or Tris as she comes to be known, certainly does not make it through this book unscathed, physically or emotionally. I was fully caught up in her struggles to fit into her new faction and reconcile her feelings about the family she left behind. I loved how she grew as a character, realizing her inner strength while still acknowledging what she is physically incapable of doing. I think that the romance was fairly well written, building slowly as they got to understand one another.

I really can’t think of anything that I did not like about Divergent. I can’t wait to read the next in this action packed thrilling dystopian series.

Rating- 5

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Review: The Magicians

July 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

The MagiciansThe Magicians by Lev Grossman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was like Hogwarts: The College Years

This started off SO good. At first, I really enjoyed the way it was similar to Harry Potter in some places, and to Narnia in others. Unfortunately, as promising as the magic school Brakebill seemed at the start, it didn’t really live up to what I was expecting of it. For a school of magic, it was extremely dull and nothing much happened there. One of the things that stand out to me is that the students were matched with their particular “discipline” or the branch of magic they had the most affinity with. This started off rather intriguing, but then went nowhere. They were just sorted into their groups and that was that.

The characters are what saved this novel for me. They were enough to keep me drawn into the story wanting to know more about them and their motives. There was a few times where the author almost went into possible controversial subject matter, but then kind of let it go instead of following through. This was kind of disappointing. The main character, Quentin, was a bit of an anti-hero as well. I liked him less and less as the story progressed. If the school would have been as interesting as the characters, this would have been an amazing read.

Once the story progressed to the introduction of the Narnia-like world, the similarities between both of the more famous series (Potter and Narnia) was beginning to be annoying. The Magicians is so much like them that it was almost as if the author simply replaced the original characters in both series with the ones he created. Ultimately however, I did enjoy The Magicians, both because of the compelling characters and because it was an interesting retelling of Narnia with a Hogwarts-like beginning.

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