Tag Archives: Five Stars

Victory Of Eagles, Naomi Novik

It might be a reflection on my character that it took an alternate history to make me care about the Napoleonic war. But let me tell you, in this story I CARED. I had to bold that to give you the full effect. I got a bit emotional about it.
*coughs*
*Looks at Team Duke of Wellington t-shirt.*
Just a bit emotional.

And yes, the story. Because of reasons in the last book which I’m not going to tell you about, Lawrence and Temeraire are separated. Lawrence is in a jail until further notice, waiting trial for treason. Temeraire is in Wales, chatting up the ladies. IF you know what I mean, and I think you do. Heh.

And then the Eagles land. Eagles, in this case, referring to the standards of Napoleon’s army, which just came ashore in force. WHERE IS YOUR HONOUR NOW? England is being routed, because let’s face it, the generals are just not quite working on the same level as the French Army. For example, I might not think the most appropriate response to an invading force is to stand around talking how awesome you are and how he’s going to turn back at the first battle, but possibly that’s just me. And we didn’t really want London, did we? Nah, that just took up too much space anyhow. Scotland is much nicer! Breezy!

And I gave this book five stars out of five. I know that seems excessive, give what I rated the ones just before- but hey, I told you I was fickle. I just DELIGHTED in all of this one. ^_^ I loved how finally we got to talk to Dragons other than Temeraire, and all the politics he had to confront and overcome. I especially liked the overcoming, because I’m- just that way. I like to read about people being awesome, is that so wrong? No, no it is not. And while Lawrence’s arc made me shrivel up and die inside, it was good for him, I think. Yes, I think of Lawrence chiefly in a motherly way, is that so wrong? And again we say no, it is not wrong.

Let’s see, I loved how basically everyone grew a pair and was AMAZING in this book. Including in some cases, growing a pair of consciences, for the empathizing, or a pair of frontal lobes, for the thinking. And the final battle. Oh, the final battle was DELICIOUS.

P.S. I’m sorry this is so incoherent. I don’t want to really spoil anything? It just made me happy, that’s all! You should read it.

Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey

Ellie Spencer is attending boarding school in New Zealand. Note to readers: this is not a “jolly school story.” Minimal shades of Enid Blyton. (heheheheh)

Ahem. Ellie isn’t what you’d call a social butterfly. Or outstanding in any discernible way, really. I mean yes, she has her black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but she hasn’t practiced in a year or more. She’s slumping along through school work in approved teenager fashion, and she’s worrying about the future and her body in a distracted fashion.

And that’s fine with her! Maybe not, y’know, great, (when is exile ever great?) but it’s perfectly fine. She has her best friend Kevin, and there’s a cute boy in school to obsess over from a safe distance.

Perfectly normal.

Until Kevin vanishes, the cute boy starts stalking her, and a freaky red-haired woman is showing up everywhere. Put this together with a serial killer who’s taking people’s eyes, and mysterious people making cryptic comments about her own power, and you have a recipe for a book that escalates fast.  Every time I thought things were going to find an equilibrium, the stakes went up again.

Now, I can’t exactly say I believed in the romance. (This is YA Paranormal! Of course there’s a romance!) I still have that lost-in-translation problem. But I did absolutely love how it panned out. It was just aesthetically delicious, to me at least. *hums happily* Oh man was that delicious. I just beam every time I think of that scene with Ellie and [Redacted] at [Redacted] after the [Redacted Redacted.] So [Redacted] lovely.

I have to give this five stars because there is no other way to describe it. The book was amazing. I cared, I was furious, I was grossed out, and I learned a lot about Maori culture. I didn’t agree with everything the characters said, or even the author said between the lines. But it was so relentlessly creative, I can’t help but call it amazing. Because it was. Amazing.

P.S. THE MASK ROCKS MY WORLD.

P.P.S. Geckoes are freaky. Poke them with sticks.


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White Cat, Holly Black

I’ll give you the run-down I gave my younger siblings, because it was apperantly so effective that now my 11 year old sister declared her interest in reading it. *edges away from angry parents* (I said no, t’wasn’t age appropriate, if you MUST know.)

Cassel is running a betting operation out of his dorm room in boarding school. Everyone in the school is laying odds on everything from if the mouse in the common room is going to die, (and if so how,) to what the next pop quiz is going to be on, to LONG odds on shrewish teachers hooking up.

Oddly enough, this is Cassel’s version of going clean. Because, you see, his family is in the mob. His Dad’s dead, his mom is currently in jail for entrapping rich men with the intention of separating them from their savings, and both his older brothers are working as enforcers for a major crime lord. Though you can’t really blame them for following the dark side. His whole family is and has been Workers, which mean they can work magic. The only issue with that is that magic has been illegal since the 1920’s, so workers tend to end up in Organized Crime, whether they intend to or not.

Cassel’s not a Worker, which one of the reasons he knows his family lets him make nice plans for a peaceful civilian life. He’s a bit of the family disappointment, and now he’s just trying to move on and get over his past. His personal past. Because his family might be in the mob, and he might be the only one who isn’t a Worker, but he also killed his best friend when he was 14. He doesn’t even know why, he just remembers standing over her bloody body with a maniac grin on his face.

So yes, running a tiny little betting operation that involves the whole school is Cassel’s version of toeing the straight and narrow. And he’s TRYING. Only he keeps sleepwalking, and having freaky dreams which seem to imply he’s going insane. And believe me, the issues I’ve just mentioned to you are only the tip of the iceberg that are his troubles.

I have difficulties expressing the awesomeness that is this book without spoilering it. Curses. (heh.) I would just like to take this moment to say a few words. One, the characters are delightful, and are all three-dimentional to the point that I am sure even the dead ones have nefarious plots they’re enforcing from beyond the grave. I love his entire family with a stark, unholy and deeply unsafe love. Unsafe because, well, this is CASSEL’S family we’re talking of. (Barron, I can always count on you to make my heart soar. Right before you set it on fire and roast marshmallows on it.) The plot is twisted in the manner of a bent corkscrew, so just when you think you can tell where things are going, they curve off in another truly awesome/disconcerting manner.

You know how you try to dissect songs sometimes, and you’re left going- wow, there are NO wasted words? Every single syllable is doing double duty towards the general awesome! This book is like that. (And what, you say only strange Jasmines and their fathers do that, therefore I am strange? I say Psh, you know not of what you talk. Get with the program. Dissecting songs is awesome.)

I gave it five stars out of Five, because to my way of thinking of how a story should be told, this one is up at the top of the curriculum. (Wow, let’s see how unclear I can make a sentence, eh? LET’S ADD MORE ‘OFs” AND SEE IF THAT MAKES IT BETTER.)

P.S. *cough* Sorry, this is not the most clear of all book rants I’ve ever ranted for you. But I know only inane people read this blog anyways, so I figure you can deal. ^_&

Astonishing X-Men Vol. 4: Unstoppable, Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

This is a terrible cover picture, for an awesome book. Sorry.

I couldn’t find a larger english version!

Ahem. Let’s continue with the story. The art is beautiful and amazing, but it was through the entire last three books, so I don’t think it hardly even needs to be mentioned. (I made a desperately complicated sentence with lots of negatives! Go me!) Though I did tell my younger brothers they HAD to read it, and then realized only later that there are some incidences of *cough* minimal clothing on girls. One girl, really, but yeah. Little to no clothing. ^_^ Oops? I’ll add that to the list of things I’ll atone for in purgatory.

And then we get to the story. I’m gonna talk in spoilers, so if’n your the delicate sort you might want to stay away. Ahem. In the previous books we met Ord, and saw his freakishnes-ness, and then found out that he kinda maybe had a reason to hate mutants, given that there’s a prophecy by some precogs that a Mutant is going to destroy his world. Colossus, specifically, is going to destroy his entire planet, the Breakworld. Any minute now. So of course S.H.I.E.L.D and S.P.E.A.R. (or whatever the heck weapons they’re named for,) immediately send Colossus, his GF, his buddies, Ord and the killer A.I. wired to kill them all- to the Breakworld. What could go wrong!

Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh.

Well actually I’m getting ahead of myself, because we start with a nice look at the Breakworld from the inside, so to speak. We follow a person in a red cape around, as she talks about how brutish, nasty and short life is here. Of course, later we find out that she’s not exactly what you’d call a “reliable narrator,” but w/e. Look at the pretty explosions! Yes, those fireballs you see are the X-men, landing in a controlled and delicate fashion. Or as Logan puts it. “I’m gonna be another half hour regrowing my skin. You can cry into my bubbling shoulder if you want.” (There were other parts of that quote, but WHO NEEDS THEM. That’s right, no one.)

So after doing a very subtle night insertion into the Breakworld, the X-men tiptoe about researching and making tea for the inhabitants. Also, Scott and Emma have a touching and very sweet make-out session underwater, and Kitty and Logan decide to make a baby.

You may care to know that one or more of those statements in the above paragraph was a lie! I just thought you should know.

And the ending? In the words of my 15 year old brother who I beat around the head with a shoe until he agreed to read it, (before you worry, he didn’t take TOO much beating;) “That sucks!”

I gave it five stars out of five. *huggles book*

Astonishing X-Men Vol. 3: Torn, Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Artist)

Dude. This volume gave me the warm-fuzzies. I heart Emma Frost. *hearts her* Especially when she’s physiologically torturing everyone! It’s so awesome! ^_^

In this volume, basically Emma goes all “I’m the White Queen, I’m going to hand you your mind in a nice jar, wench,” while everyone else runs around doing her bidding. Thinking they’re being rebellious. It’s so CUTE! *beams* And then thanks to everyone in the world pulling together, and also some help from a teleporter, they leave the world, for the BIG plot.

^_^

This just makes me smile. I was thumbing through it, there, to find my fave parts, and it’s ALL my fave parts!

 But Scott with a gun has to be up there in the laugh-out-loud-every-time category. Along with Young!Logan in the tree, and Young!Logan discovering beer. 😀 In terms of sheer awesome, Emma and Scott having their little heart to heart to open each other’s eyes is FLAT OUT MARVELLOUS. And Kitty is just lovely. 😀 She’s not as flashily amazing as Emma, but in this series, she’s lovely. I’d want her on my side in a fight. I just really don’t want to be fighting AGAINST Emma. Or on the same side, if she does this to all her co-workers.

I gave it five stars out of five, and dove head-first into the next book.

The Rise of Renegade X, Chelsea Campbell

Villainy runs in Damien’s family. His mom is a very respected (and feared) mad scientist (dad isn’t mentioned, perhaps a lab accident?) and he’s quite happy with his family heritage. He’s ready to embrace his evil destiny, in fact! He’s going to go to the local university for super villains- with early enrolment- take something tasteful, like mad science, and then take over the world. He just has to wait till his thumbprint turns to a V on his sixteenth birthday, and then he’s on his way.

Only on his birthday, in front of hundreds of paying guests eager to see an actual villain embrace his heritage, things go wrong.

Because his thumbprint just changed- only not into a V. Damien is now the proud owner of an X on his thumb. The rare and almost mythical progeny of a villain- and a hero.

Damien now is less ready to believe that his dad met with an unfortunate lab accident, or was a turkey baster, as he’d always believed. Now for a spot of non-consentual DNA testing! Yay! That’s always good for a laugh…

And then before you know it, we’re dealing with mind-control rays, public schools, GIRL ISSUES, flying (omg omg omg omg and not in a good way) SCIENCE, the future, Zombiesand BIG DECISIONS. I’m saying that in a very vague and probably annoying way because I don’t want to spoil it for you. ^_^ I’ll just say I liked the kissing scenes. And the torture. And the kissing torture. ^_^

Oh, and I think this is the first love triangle I’ve read that I both enjoyed, thought was believable, and knew right away who I was cheering for. (Now come on, he’s caught between a heroine and a villainess. Who do YOU think he should go for? :D) I was IMPRESSED how it seemed entirely believable to me. I mean- granted- everyone involved is insane and has truly twisted ideas of how relationships should work, but I’m cool with that. I can understand that MORE than oh dear pretty fluffy angels you’re so pretty and I’ve never seen you before plz have my babies plz plz plz??? Which is my reading of most relationships, and ESPECIALLY love triangles. *cough* Not that I’m thinking of the classic triangle of our generation *coughJacobBellaEdwardCoughCough* or anything. *cough* Nope *cough cough* I need to go get a drink of water…

*returns, triumphantly hydrated* So yes. The plot just makes me happy to outline, much less read, the love triangle gives me the warm fuzzies, the characters are win- did I mention that? Yes, they are win. Especially when you’re moving from first impressions to how people change (or are proven to be exactly the person you thought they were.) They’re all LOVELY.

I think at this point you might be getting a vague idea that I liked this book. If you were thinking that, you would be CORRECT. In fact, I gave it five stars out of five. I know there are some technical issues, but I just love it so much. 😀 You should all read it.

Oh, and Ms. Campbell is writing a book set in ROME next. Ancient Rome. I hope her book after that will be a sequel to renegade. 😀

Hunting Party, Elizabeth Moon

^____________________^

I read this book, oh years ago. I was browsing the ten cent shelf, saw the name Moon in the SF section, and thought that was an EXCELLENT handle for a SF writer. Then I read it.

Oh My Gosh, you guys, it blew my mind. When I start to build my SF futures, this is one of the main building blocks I use. It’s just so- complicated! There’s so MUCH going on in the book! *big, sappy grin* Politics, and death, and acid put downs, and stupid young boys, and girls being awesome, and lizards, and fox hunting, and royalty, and smuggling, and safety regulations, and family obligations and fighting, and so on. *cough* I remembered it as being rather mind-blowing when I read it the first time. (I was 16 at the time.) And then I would RUE THE DAY I sold it to another bookstore. RUE, I tell you.

*Happier, sappier grin* And then the other month, I found it at the bookstore again. I may have done one of my traditional dive-and-squeal attacks on the entire SF case when I saw it. There were are no witnesses, so who can tell? And anyways, I brought it home and read it again. And it’s JUST AS GOOD as I remembered. I had actually forgotten the whole first part of the book, which was delightful and classic Moon. I am unreasonably delighted by things like the inclusion of banking in adventure books. And shopping. For guns. For old ladies.

And Customs! ^__________^ I love customs! Silly small-minded import officers. He he he he.

This is probably not selling the book to you. Let’s do a nice overview of the plot, hmm?

Herris Serrano is a naval officer, one in a long and honourable line of officers. However, her family isn’t talking to her, because she’s just resigned her commission. Her honour is technically intact, but everyone knows the truth. The only job she can get is as the Caption of the luxury liner Sweet Delight, where no one seems to know their job, she has to wear purple plush, safety standards are abysmal, her boss is a doddering old noblewoman who’s mad for horses, and her XO is smuggling contraband in the air exchange system. Welcome to the future, Herris.

Meanwhile, we’re also following her employer’s POV. Lady Celia has no patience for idiots, which she considers to include most of the world (and her former captain, who managed to get himself killed, the dolt.) Her NEW employee seems to be sensible, though rather stressed about things that surely don’t matter. (Safety drills in the middle of the night? Really?) However, Celia has her own, more pressing issues to deal with. Namely, her truly moronic Nephew and his entourage of adoring fools, who’ve been foisted on her for a year. She decides that nothing and no one- including the darling duffer she’s related to- is going to stop her from her season of fox hunting. Her Nephew and his cohorts can just learn the sport of kings.

ALSO we get story from the Nephew’s point of view. And that’s just delicious, so I won’t spoilt it for you. Heheheheh.

I gave it five stars out of five. I just love this book. It makes me HAPPEH. ^_^

(P.S. The main character is dark skinned, despite what the low down deceiving cover is telling you.)

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You, Ally Carter

Okay, when it comes to heist stories or spy stories, I love them both, but I like the spy ones better. For one thing, the spies get better GADGETS. (And I like tech. Have I mentioned this? My favourite character in Iron Man was the computer Geeves.) But also, the stakes are usually higher. They do things for more reasons than just personal safety and money, and if you get caught, well, jail for spies is generally less nice than jail for thieves. Also, well, I like spy stories. ^_^

With that said, I expected this story to be less spy story and more teen romance. (*yawn*) I was mainly reading it to vet for my little sisters. I mean, it’s a debut novel set in a girl’s school. How good could it be?

Well, I gave it five stars out of five, just to give you an idea. I heart this book so HARD. ^_^ (And yes, I loaned it to my sisters and my brother. Then I went harassing them for my copy back shortly afterwards. “What, you’re not done? But you’ve had a WHOLE HOUR!” I’m such a just person.) It’s a good book. (Also, I remembered that I love stories set in girl’s schools.)

I guess I should pause my gushing to give you an overview of the plot.

Cammie Morgan attends an exclusive all girl-school, Gallagher Academy. The local population thinks that it’s a school for rich snobs with socialization issues. The truth is that the girls don’t get out much, but that’s because they’re busy studying college-level chemistry, learning fourteen languages, and practicing self defence. (Don’t challenge these girls to Rock, Paper, Scissors.) They take self-reliant grrl to a new level. Not that they need your approval, thank you. Cammie has been perfectly happy in her exclusive life with its traditions and gadgets and friends, until her Sophomore year at the school. She starts to realize just what this life means, (see above: torture and death, experience and witnessing of,) and what she’d be giving up to take it on, (see implied: romance, girly things and wrist corsages.)

And yes, there was a romance, but I am not sure that it was the main focus of the story. (Though maybe I just missed the main focus. I’ve been known to do that.) What I needled in on, and loved, was the support of her schoolmates- even when she was a jerk- and her gradual understanding of the big picture. I also loved how lost she was in social situations! (Maybe because I’ve spent too much time in books and generally feel lost in social situations, BUT IT STILL COUNTS, OKAY????) Oh! Also the adults were awesome, which makes me smile. I like side characters who have lives, they do not just exist to fill space. And spy gadgets and talk. ^_^

Er, yeah, five stars. Whew, I need to work on my run-on sentences. Sorry.

His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik

I started reading this, and the first page got a “meh, Horatio Hornblower” from me. But a friend had said it was amazing, and I like dragons, so I kept reading. By the second page I remembered that I loved Horatio Hornblower. By the second chapter I was having guilty flashbacks (I wasn’t supposed to be in the adult SF section, okay?) to reading the entire Pern series (which I also loved,) and then by the time the story got to dry land I had dispensed with comparisons and was just devouring the book.

I gave it five stars out of five and immediately dove for the next book, I think it’s safe to say that I loved it. The voice is deliciously dry, which falls in marvellously with the understated drama that the story is full of. I grew up hearing stories about WW2 fighter pilots and Yorkshire vets, and this is full of the same calm assessment of dire situations and stiff-upper-lip reaction to said situations. We might be going down in flames, but we are British. This in its self is sufficient for us to die well. (Okay, honestly I decided I loved the book when the French-bashing started. I am a bad man.)

It’s rather hard to describe the world which Ms. Novic has made, but if you really want an idea to put in your pipe and smoke, I’d say mix Pern, Ancient Rome, Master and Commander/Horatio Hornblower and a dash of Austen for class structure, and you get a general idea. Then you should read the book and marvel at how sadly my description fell short.

Here, have a quote;

“Perhaps not all of you are aware,” he said, silencing the whispers with a look, “that England is in a very dire situation as regards the Aerial Corps. Naturally, our handling is superior, and the Corps can outfly any other nation of the world, but the French can outbreed us two to one, and it is impossible to deny that they have better variety in their bloodlines. A properly harnessed dragon is worth at least a first-rate of 100 guns to us, even a common Yellow Reaper or a three-ton Winchester, and Mr. Pollitt believes from the size and color of the egg that this hatchling is a prime specimen, and very likely one of the rare large breeds.”

“Oh!” said Midshipman Carver, in tones of horror, as he took Laurence’s meaning; he instantly went crimson as eyes went to him, and shut his mouth tight.

Laurence ignored the interruption; Riley would see Carver’s grog stopped for a week without having to be told. The exclamation had at least prepared the others. “We must at least make the attempt to harness the beast,” he said. “I trust, gentlemen, that there is no man here who is not prepared to do his duty for England. The Corps may not be the sort of life that any of us has been raised to, but the Navy is no sinecure either, and there is not one of you who does not understand a hard service.”

“Sir,” said Lieutenant Fanshawe anxiously: he was a young man of very good family, and the son of an earl, “do you mean–that is, shall we all–“

It’s so DRY. *bounces* I was boring and mystifying my family with quotes taken out of context for the whole time I was gleefully reading it. (You can read the rest of the excerpt here.)

… and, I’ve managed to rant for a page without giving you any idea of the plot. Right. Clearly I’m a great reviewer. Okay, so Captain Lawrence is Post Captain of a naval vessel in His Majesty’s Navy, and they capture a French ship which is carrying a dragon’s egg. However, they’re so far from land that the egg is going to hatch before they can get word to the Aerial Corp. And because the rest of his crew fails- okay, sorry, they don’t like the idea of being a dragon rider and all the shame that comes with it (FAIL) – Captain Lawrence steps up and harnesses the dragon.

And then he learns to fly, and then he goes to land and reads about rocks, and then he goes to England, and then there are more dragons and roman baths, and there’s a mid-air rescue or several, and DEVIOUS SPIES, and awesome women who are awesome and scandalous but also awesome, and many battles, and invasion by the TRICKSY FRENCH, and acid-spitting dragons, and officers who are fools (I can’t tell you how much this pleased me,) and officers who are awesome, (also, I was delighted, though not as much as by the incompetents. Sorry world,) and plot twists, and treason and references to Newfoundland, and SUNDRY WONDERFUL THINGS*. I cried inside when the dragon died.

Go buy, beg, borrow or steal a copy, and read it. You won’t be sorry.

*I really push the envelope for coherency with these, don’t I?

The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan

This is the fifth book in the Percy Jackson series, and Percy is now in High School! (Some of you may be surprised by this, if you’ve seen the movie, which appears to start in high school. The movie LIES. That’s all I have to say on the subject.)

But anyhow, Percy is coming up on his sixteenth birthday. This is of MONUMENTAL IMPORT, as you know if you’ve read the other books (again, the movie lies) because there’s a prophecy that a child of the Big Three (Zeus, Poseidon and Hades,) will save or destroy Olympus on his or her sixteenth birthday. The gods, understandably, are a little tense about this. They’re even less inclined to be Zen right now because their late and totally unlamented father Kronos has reconstructed himself from sheer willpower, trickery and blood, and now he’s out to destroy them and the rest of the world along with Olympus. Oh, and he has backers.  Powerful ones.

So that’s the setting. With added dashes of people going insane, bad flashbacks, BETRAYAL, and romance which confuses poor Percy so much. Why are all the girls LOOKING at him like that? Also Drakons and teenagers being badass. (The movie lies.)

THE MOVIE LIES.

Okay, now that is out of my system…

I really, really, really enjoyed this book. After seeing a lying film which I won’t dignify by name, I’m reminded how good the books are. They show the progression from a brave but WAY over his head twelve year old, to a brave 16 year old, in way over his head but prepared to do what is necessary to get the people who are important to him through this. They have side characters who kick a**. They have side characters who aren’t one-dimentional! You get the sense that all these people have lives, and we jst happen to be following Percy. But it we were following, say, Clarisse, or Luke, or Annabeth, or Chiron, it would be an equally exciting and awesome story. Plus they have MOSTLY ACCURATE myths coming out their ears.*bites down on rant about movie*

So that’s just the underlying excellence of the structure of the book. And then there’s the delicious, delicious icing of scenes of glory. Clarrise and the Drakon. Luke and Kronos. Luke’s mom. Martha and George. (heheh.) Annabeth’s terms of endearment. (Can I say how happy I was that Prothemeus was a jerk? I always knew he was a jerk!) I gave it five stars out of five.

(SPOILER: Oh, and after the Battle of the Labyrinth, I was afraid that it was going to pull a His Dark Materials and kill off all the Gods. It made me QUITE HAPPY that this didn’t happen. I may have been loudly jubilant about that. Just maybe.)