October 13, 2012 § 6 Comments
by: Tina Connolly
Published October 2nd 2012 by Tor Books
series: Ironskin #1
Set in a alternate-history Britain, Jane Eliot, the MC, wears an iron mask over half of her face to protect others from the curse she holds there. In the last fey war she had been hit with shrapnel from exploding fey magic, like many others, but unfortunately her injury is much more visible which causes her some social awkwardness and makes it difficult for her to find and keep a job. Jane finally finds employment with the mysterious and reclusive Edward Rochart caring for his daughter Dorie who seems to have fey magic in abundance, which is frowned upon in society. She needs to help Dorie learn how to do simple things like eat, drink, and play without using that magic. At the same time, she seems to be drawn to the secretive Edward.
Apparently Ironskin is based on Jane Eyre, which I haven’t read, so I don’t know how it compares but from the very beginning, Ironskin had my attention with the unique way fey magic was presented. The fact that Jane carried this curse on her face that, without the iron mask, would seriously affect those she came into contact with was fascinating to me. That magic also affected her moods and she had to consciously try to tamp down the emotions stirred up by the fey curse.
The way Dorie used magic was interesting as well. This small child had never learned to properly use her hands to care for herself, using magic instead. I felt so sorry for her at times, she seemed so lonely and desperate for her father’s love and attention. Edward, however, remains distant and locked away in his room of masks.
While the unique way magic and the fey were presented was what I enjoyed most about Ironskin, the alternate history and straightforward writing style also worked for me. The relationships between the characters were very subtle and at times puzzling. The slight romance between Jane and Edward felt a bit stilted but I enjoyed the way Jane interacted with Dorie, as well as the rest of the background characters. The dialog felt authentic and I enjoyed the whole gothic feel to the story as a whole. I would definitely recommend it to fans of gothic romance, alternate history fantasy, and steampunk.
Rating 4 of 5
August 28, 2012 § 2 Comments
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Chelsea Knot is the best friend of the most popular girl at school and is known for her ability to ferret out, and expose, the good gossip. When she spills a secret that has violent repercussions, Chelsea makes a decision to do the right thing even if it means losing that all-important popularity. Suddenly, she’s on the outside and getting back all that she’s dished out in the past and then some. An article she reads in the National Geographic inspires her to take a vow of silence since talking without thinking has gotten her into this mess.
The beginning of Speechless was very slow and angst filled. The characters were all largely unlikable, a bunch of selfish, shallow teens with entitlement issues. I couldn’t stand Chelsea and didn’t feel particularly sorry for the position she found herself in. I even thought about marking this DNF and moving on to something else. I’m really glad that I didn’t though, because as the story progressed, it slowly became more than it first appeared.
The vow of silence she took seemed to be for selfish attention seeking reasons initially, but the unforeseen result of not speaking allows her to really examine the person that she is as well as the people and things she had surrounded herself with. Her silence also caused her to listen more fully to what people where saying and to consider their words instead of simply replying. Through her vow, she learns about friendship, accountability, loyalty, and the power of words. Her character grows very slowly throughout the story as she acknowledges some hard truths about herself and attempts to become worthy of the new friends she’s made and, of course, the boy. There’s always a boy… 🙂
No flowery prose or layers of meaning, the writing was as simple and straightforward as the story itself and felt authentic and perceptive. I enjoyed Speechless much more than I thought I would after reading the first couple chapters and encourage anyone who chooses to read this to push through that initial reaction to these characters because the book does get much much better.
August 21, 2012 § 5 Comments
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Monument 14 takes place in small town Colorado where 14 kids, ranging in ages from 5 to 16-17 find themselves trapped in a Greenway store while the world falls apart around them. On a seemingly normal day, Dean and his tech-savvy little brother Alex race to catch their school bus. On the way to school, crushing oversize hail begins denting the roof of the bus, breaking the windows, and in an effort to get the kids to safety, the two school buses quickly go to the Greenway store, which seems to be like a super Walmart. Once inside, the bus driver goes to find help and the 14 kids find themselves alone in the store as the riot gates come down essentially trapping them inside, which may be a good thing since they soon find out that a series of natural, and not-so-natural disasters are tearing the US to pieces around them. The Greenway store might be the safest place to be, unless they fall apart themselves.
The plot was pretty fast paced. It definitely kept me reading up into the wee hours of the night. The story had a sort of Lord of the Flies feel with the older kids having a power struggle about who would be in charge and how best to survive. I very much enjoyed the whole concept of the story while the execution sometimes left a little to be desired. Nonetheless, Monument 14 certainly kept me on the edge of my seat.
The story is told from the perspective of Dean, a bookish teen who is chronicling the events as they unfold. The interaction between all of the characters was fascinating. There is one particular character, a 5 or 6 year old named Max who told some of the most outlandish stories about his life. While there were a few crushes and hookups among the older teens, there wasn’t any real romance in this story, although it seemed to be heading in that direction.
The writing sometimes fell a bit short for me. I felt like using the teenage Dean to narrate the story was a way to compensate for less than stellar writing. The story felt choppy in places and jumped around a bit and I would have liked to seen some more character development in the older teens. However, as you see by my 4 star rating, I truly enjoyed Monument 14 and I won’t hesitate to pick up the next in the series. There was quite a cliffhanger ending and not much was resolved in this book, which is a pet peeve of mine and I considered only rating this 3 stars because of that. But I didn’t simply because I really liked this book, despite its flaws.