Archive

January 2014

Browsing

I’ve kindly asked a friend to review a book for me. This book has been reviewed by Deborah Osborne:


I found the Iron Kingby accident while browsing books on my Kindle.  The cover was the first thing that attracted me because it was mysterious and gorgeous.  The second thing was the idea of a race of iron faeries and how they would fit into the story.  It did take me a while to get stuck into the book as in the first instance it seemed to be a premise that had been done quite a lot before (she was just an average American high school student when suddenly…) Having said that I liked the books so much that I read the first three in the series in a few weeks, and have the fourth downloaded.

 

Story

The plot begins with Meghan going to save her brother from the Iron King, a race of fae who are toxic to other faeries. The pace was brisk and the tension kept coming, especially towards the end of the book.  There was a steady stream of obstacles to block Meghan’s way too.  My favourite of these was King Oberon, whose aloofness and certainness in his own opinion made it very clear that being related to him wouldn’t get Meghan anywhere fast.  Plus it gave her a whole other barrel of obstacles to deal with as she is soon drawn into the politics between Oberon’s Court and their long-time adversaries at Queen Mab’s court.
There are the flickerings of a love triangle between Meghan, Ash and Goodfellow, but it doesn’t take over the main story.  Plus it’s quite clear that Meghan’s heart belongs to the boy she can’t have, which only adds to the fun.

Character

I liked Meghan Chase, the heroine of these books.  She was good natured and brave.  Sometimes with books in this genre I find the main female protagonists too similar.  Meghan Chase is definitely of the same type as other YA fantasy romance heroines, but I still enjoyed her company and could connect to her journey. Although she does have a talent for forgetting deals she’s made with other faeries that are quite important. For me though this book was all about the boys. 
The ancient feud between Ash and Robin Goodfellow added an extra layer of tension to the story as they are forced to work together to help Meghan save her brother.  They are contrasted well and are satisfying foils for each other. Grimalkin the Cait Sith is sophisticated and crafty. It’s nice never being entirely sure what he is up to, or what side he is on. His dialogue is brilliantly distinctive too and oozing with sarcasm in some places.

World Building

I love faeries, especially bad scary faeries, and the world created was sinister mostly due to the system of deals and favours between the fair folk. You never get something for nothing which means that the characters are constantly in a state of assessing what they are prepared to lose in order to get what they want. 
We learn right from the start that this land is dangerous as within a few minutes of arriving Meghan is being hunted by numerous beasties. Most of these beasties also exist in the ‘real’ world too so even on the occasions Meghan travels back to America she isn’t safe from horny satyrs and scheming oracles.
The description of Oberon’s court with the magical moving hedges is one that stays in the memory. I loved that and was disappointed that more of the action didn’t take place there. The second one that stayed with me most were the tunnels that lead Meghan to the Iron King’s Castle.  They were sinister and filled with peril, especially for the more traditional faery characters.
 Overall, I would have to give The Iron King 4/5!

Debbie has her own blog that you can check out. Go over to www.thewickedqueensmirror.wordpress.com !!!

When I realised that this was going to be a book about a girl android, I was over the moon. Finally, a decent sci-fi book from a girl’s perspective. For some reason most of the sci-fi books I’ve read are from boy’s perspectives and are Children’s books.

In any case, Mila is an android. Or at least, that’s what she discovered, by accident. After a fire killed her father, she’s started a new life with her mother in a small town in Minnesota. Her relationship with her mother isn’t what it used to be, and the two are a bit distanced, but all in all, she has a fairly normal life. Queue the cute boy, an almost fatal accident that forces her to realise her true identity, and some bad guys chasing after her, and her normal life goes out the window.

The most Mila has ever had to deal with are boy troubles and bitchy so-called friends. Then an attack turns her life upside down and she’s running for her life with her mum. That’s when things get interesting.

Pacing

There are a number of things I liked about this book, but the pacing at the beginning could have done with a bit of improvement. I think it’s quite difficult for anyone to know how long is needed to introduce a character and show their lives before the big CHANGE and introduce that PROBLEM. Whilst I did appreciate getting to know Mila before her life spiralled out of control, I think Driza focused on a number of mundane things that made me get a little bit fed up. But when the conflict occurs, things really get pumping and this is when the bad-assery begins.

Romance

I don’t know whether this counts as spoilery but I will tell you that I was rather dissapointed by the romance in this novel. The character that was introduced as a love interest remained a mystery. He wasn’t a person. He was a stencil. He was the same-old mysterious, brooding outsider type that I’m used to reading about. Don’t get me wrong, I liked him. Or what little I knew about him. But Mila spent half the book yearning for him and it made her seem weak. Surely he shouldn’t have been seen as one of the things that made her more human when what she had with him was more of a crush than a romance. I just felt that Driza should have either taken it a step further with the romance, or should not have even included it.

Plot

There is not a lot I can say about the plot. Driza mentions two organisations that are after Mila. One is a government group (The CIA I think), and the other are alluded to be an illegal organisation. Mila spends a third of the book being an ordinary girl, two thirds being an android and 99% of the time wishing she wasn’t. She goes around running with her mum in the hopes of finding some semblance of safety, and when she is captured, she does all that she can to survive. Sadly, there really isn’t much of a plot beyond simply surviving. There is no great mystery except for the one about Mila 1.0 and yet this doesn’t seem to have much prominence at all.

And yet what I really enjoyed about the book was Mila’s voice. Some readers on Goodreads have complained that Mila was annoying because she wouldn’t accept being an android and she refused to use them even when they could have meant the difference between life and death. Yes, that does seem a bit stupid but in all honesty, I completely understand. Why would you want to be anything but human if it is what you have always firmly believed? Mila’s reaction, though at times a disappointment, were completely understandable. To me it give her layers. She was such a well though out character and I loved her. I just wish everyone had been given this kind of attention.

Driza does however excel at her action sequences. I was definitley rooting for Mila through all her trials and tribulations. She was a different kind of bad ass. In some ways she is more relatable than bad asses like Tris and Katniss. From the beginning it is clear that she does not want to survive at the risk of losing her humanity. For Katniss, this is a revelation she seems to realsie as she gets closer to Peeta, but for Mila, her humanity is something she doesn’t take for granted. It’s a tenuous argument when her survival hinges on her hiding her emotions, of course.

My Rating: 3 stars

Brilliant voice for the main character, but there lacked a great mystery in the plot and some of the characterisations fell flat.

Either way, I am definitely reading the sequel, so all is not lost. I’m rooting for you Mila. I’m rooting for you, Driza!

If you’re reading this, well done! You’ve made it to 2014 🙂

I would have posted this earlier but I was on Christmas Holiday with no access to the Internet for TWO WHOLE WEEKS!!! Now I’m at Schipol Airport trying to make up for it, thankful that the plane landed safely after a journey of slight turbulence. I don’t have a phobia of flying but the lightning I saw from the little window was not inspiring peaceful thoughts.

So, it’s the third day of the New Year and by now most of you will have at least thought of,  if not decided on, your New Year Resolutions!
Now I know many of you will be groaning by now. Why bother with something you’re just going to epically fail at? Well, the reason for having these resolutions is to have a goal to aspire to– something that will motivate you so by the end of the year you can pat yourself on the back and say “This was a great year.” 
Here are a few guides on making New Year Resolutions:
  • Make them achievable. There’s no point in reaching for the moon if you know you will just crash back down to earth. Don’t make your goals so far fetched that you freak out about achieving them. Having said that, it’s always good to challenge yourself, but only you know your limits.
  • Have a plan. If one of your resolutions is “To Get Fit”, don’t just leave it at that. Define it! Have a weight goal in mind, or some sort of race you want to achieve. Maybe set yourself monthly goals so you know that you’re keeping track. In the case of all thing books, you may have a quota of books you want to read. My goal last year was 40 and I failed. Why? Because I didn’t have a good average of books read per month. Becuase I let the stress of exams and getting into university overtake me, and because in the end the goal of getting into university was more important thatn reading 40 books in 2013. And that’s fine. This leads on to my next pointer.
  • It’s OK to fail. Take for instance NaNoWriMo. The goal is to write 50k in a month. A number of people reach that goal whilst some even exceed it. And then there are those that float by the wayside with far less than they had hoped to write. But the idea is, if you’ve gotten more on your manuscript than you had before you started NaNo, you’re still a winner in your own right. That may sound corny, but it’s true. Don’t let yourself be bogged down with what you were not able to accomplish, and don’t let the fear of failure stop you from at least trying. 

So what are my goals? Oh, I have a few…

  • Pass my 1st year at university. Ideally I’d want a First but I could live with a 2:1. 
  • Get Fit. I’ll should be getting a personal trainer for a 10/12 week scheme at my university gym thanks to the NHS due to my RSI, and after that I’ll probably join the gym full time. Right now I can’t say for sure what I hope to accomplish but running around without getting dizzy and so easily winded will be a good start. I also want to continue Kickboxing and get into sparring.
  • Finish writing a novel. I’ve been writing one particular novel for maybe 3 or 4 years now and I’d really like to be done with it.But as a contingency plan in the event I don’t finish it, I’d like to add at least an extra 30,000 words to it. 
  • Read 30 books this year. I’m hoping this is a realistic goal. We shall see.
  • Blog regularly. Considering how busy uni life will be, I will try to post at least twice at the month and at most, once a week. Wish me luck.
  • GET A JOB! Need I say more? 

I don’t know about all of you lot, but I can definitely say that this is my Year of Greatness.