Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: Flora & Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo

It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K. G. Campbell.

Flora & Ulysses  is adorable. That's pretty much all there is to say about it. If you're not immediately engaged by a squirrel that's killed by a vacuum cleaner and comes back to life with special powers, I'm not sure where your soul is. 

But the heart of this story is deeper than the antics of a flying, poetry writing squirrel. It lies with a little girl who doesn't feel loved. Flora has shut herself of from the world and declared herself a cynic because she thinks her mother loves a lamp more than her. She's struggling to fit into her world because without her parents, she doesn't know where she fits. 

It's beautiful to see this little girl get the love she so desperately want from Ulysses. He opens her eyes to a whole new side of the world, and makes her realize she may not be a cynic after all. 

All in all this is a great book with hilarious situations, characters, and illustrations. It's sweet and reminds us how important the bond between parent and child is. I highly recommend it. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the start of a new series by Sarah J. Maas. If that's not enough to get you buy it, I'm not sure what is. When the is book was first announced I was thrilled, I mean, it just sounds amazing. Even when the cover was revealed and I was less than thrilled about it, I was still excited to read the book. 

Everything you expect from a Maas book is in here: an amazing world, action, steaming romance, and a beautiful gown or two, not two mention an absolutely reprehensible villain. If you like the Throne of Glass series at all, then you'll love this. It's different and new while keeping the same beauty that made us love Maas' first series. 

Now, this book does ride the line of YA and adult. The heroine--Feyre--is nineteen. Most YA books keep their characters somewhere between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. Plus, with the kind of romance and sometimes disturbing violence that's in this book, it definitely caters to the more mature audience members in the YA community. So while I would be hesitant to give this to the younger half of YA, I still loved it. 

Another curious thing to me is that this book is the start of a series. I'm both excited for that and confused. This book stands on it's own shockingly well, with only one two loose ends not tied up i a bow. So while I'm happy that we get to read more from these amazing characters, I'm also wary of where the extended plot will go. So much happened in this book. What else is there??

So if you like high fantasy with romance, action, and badass characters, (also, did I mention sexy?) then the Court of Thorns and Roses is one you need to pick up right away!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review: The Heir by Kiera Cass

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.

I know that when the extended books of The Selection series were announced, some people were excited, but a lot of people were also skeptical. Why do we need more than three books? But let's be honest, we can't have The Bachelor without The Bachelorette, now can we?

I've never been guarded about my unabashed love for these books. They're all teen angst, romance, frilly dresses, and cotton candy all wrapped up in a pretty package. That's what The Selection  trilogy was all about, and The Heir is no exception. This time around we have a heroine is at turns both bratty and charming, dealing with a whole different set of challenges than her mother did in the previous books. 

Eadlyn has been raised to be queen, and there are a lot of challenges that come with that. Expectations, being watched all the time, what people think of you, what you think of yourself, your job being your entire life, and civil unrest due to what everyone thought was a good thing. I know some people may peg Eadlyn for being overbearing and unlikeable at some points in the book, but let's be honest there girl has a lot on her plate. 

I read The Heir in one sitting, and it was just as delicious as I hoped it would be. It ended in a very different way than I expected! Now I'll have to satisfy my craving for the next (and last) book by rehashing all the possible choices Eadlyn has in her group of the Selected, and speculating about who she'll choose. 

It's going to be a long year to wait!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

Ever since the book was announced I was dying to read it. I didn't manage to snag one of the rare ARCs, but you better believe I bought it on release day. I was in no way disappointed. In fact, I kept delaying reading the ending of the book because I just didn't want it to end, and I never do that. 

I am so enamored of the world of ASDOM. The clothes, the magic, the parallel universes! Every moment reading the book was adventure because everything was just so cool. I want to visit the Isle in red London, and I want to experience all the magic of the scrying boards, the floral scent of magic, and witness the night market. This is one of those rare books where I'm genuinely upset that it's fiction. Can it be real please?

Now, world aside, let's talk about the characters. Kell is awesome, and I can't wait to find out more about his backstory in future books. There's secrets there. I want to know all of them. Then there's Lila. LILA. Such a badass. We need more female characters like Lila in the world. And of course, there's a special place in my heart for Rhy. 

I'm aware that this has been more fangirling than an actual review, but that's all I have to give. This book is a masterclass in world building, character development, close 3rd POV, and plot. The ending left me both satisfied and wanted more at the same time, which is an impressive feat. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to A Gathering of Shadows. Now go but this book!