Monday, January 31, 2011

Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

(Tiger Saga book #1)
Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 448 (hardcover or Kindle)
Published: re-published January 11th, 2011 by Splinter
Recommended for: anyone looking for an incredibly fun YA read

Synopsis:
Passion. Fate. Loyalty.
Would you risk it all to change your destiny?
The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she'd be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world.
But that's exactly what happened.
Face-to-face with dark forces, spell-binding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.
Tiger's Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.


My Take:


I was thrilled to see Tiger's Curse on a bookshelf display at the front of a store (Walmart, no less), traditionally published and with a beautiful cover rendition.  I read the Kindle edition of this book a few months ago, and was taken by surprise by how much I enjoyed it.  I'm so glad that the Tiger Saga will be getting the hype and readers it deserves.  It has great market appeal to YA readers especially and is one of the most fun books I've read in a long time. 


Our protagonist Kelsey Hayes is a recent high-school graduate on the hunt for a job, any job.  She signs on to take care of Dhiren, a white tiger who lives a decent but dull life performing in the circus.  The two form a slow bond which seems closer than anything shared by tiger and handler.  As they grow closer, Kelsey is approached by the mysterious Mr. Kadam, an Indian man who is Ren's personal manager and reveals to her that the tiger is being flown back to his homeland of India.  Kelsey is offered the chance to accompany Ren back to India, in order to ensure that he is comfortable.  Kelsey accepts, and soon she is flying to India far from the suburban US world she knows, on what will become a fantastic, fast-paced adventure.  For Ren is a young Indian prince cursed to spend all but a few minutes of every day as a tiger.  The concept is fairy-tale-like in its simplicity, but the execution, and the adventures which Kelsey and Ren (both as tiger and man) have in India are almost like levels of a video game in the way they unfold and progress.  Which doesn't make for excellent, jaw-droppingly beautiful prose, but it definitely does make for a really fun story.


The characters in Tiger's Curse are all very lovable-- Kelsey immediately comes across as this very ordinary girl, without seeming too Bella Swan- like (though the similarities are definitely there).  She somehow manages to be a unique character, anyway.  Mr. Kadam is awesome-- he reminded me so much of the benevolent Indian man from The Little Princess who helps Sarah and Becky when they're living in the attic.  I also really enjoyed reading about the Indian culture and myth (like the involvement of the goddess Durga in helping Kelsey and Ren search for a way to end his curse).  My biggest problem with the writing is the prologue.  The writing is weird and it's very disconnected from the rest of the story.  I would almost( not quite) recommend skipping it.  The only other negative thing about this book: the painfully sudden ending.  But I've said this before-- all series books have to do that, because they have to be able to grip you into the story.  I don't think I can wait for Tiger's Quest, the second book, to come out in hardcover-- I'm going to have to read it on my Kindle. (Which I'd sworn off.)  I really recommend this book for anyone looking for a light, extremely entertaining and involving fantasy adventure with just a little romance thrown in for good measure. (I detect a love triangle for future books.)


Cover: 5/5 
Premise: 5/5 
Characters: 5/5 
Plot: 4/5
Overall Rating: 5/5

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cover VS Cover: The Hunger Games


Cover VS Cover is a new feature I came up with because cover memes are so much fun, and I've recently become fascinated with the differences between US/UK, new/old book covers.  This week we're looking at international covers for the ever-popular, ever-awesome Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, of which there are a ton.  I've tried to dig up as many covers as I could find-- if you know of any I'm missing, just drop me a comment and be sure to tell me what you think.

   US
I've always liked the US covers.  They have a very wide appeal and are undeniably cool. 

German
The German (the series is called Die Tribute von Panem there) covers are arguably some of the most unique.  They are very eye-catching, and I love the brilliantly sharp colors of the leaves and eyes.  

UK/ Australia/ New Zealand
The UK covers might actually be my favorites.  The logos on the latter two books are beyond cool.  There is also an alternate UK edition of the first book with Katniss featured instead of Peeta.

Chinese
Chinese covers tend to look like movie posters.  These are no exception.  I especially love the cover of the Hunger Games, what with the really vibrant gold.  Chinese Catching Fire reminds me of a Jurassic Park movie poster, what with the pterodactyl-like mockingjay and the outline of the jungle. :)

Swedish
I'm not a fan of the Swedish covers, not at all.  I mean, that's basically the same shot of the girl three times, just transposed onto a slightly different background.  I don't get the expression, and I don't get the spinning cube.  Maybe it's supposed to look like a network TV logo... any thoughts? 

Italian
Not sure if the other two books have been released yet-- couldn't find them anywhere.  This cover is sort of eerie, but not very 'Katniss', I don't think.  But hey, it's more fitting than the Swedish ones.

Japanese
The Hunger Games has officially gone manga!  I'd love to own this edition (what do you mean, language barrier?)  Yeah, this cover is a little dramatic and doesn't quite capture the real feel of the book, but it's definitely fun.

Russian
Not loving it, though I suspect this one is right up some certain Team Peeta people's ally. ;)  I think it's just a little too like the cover of a romance novel, without the universal appeal of many of the other covers.  Though the pose of the two models is perfect.

Whew.  So, in summary, we have 17 different covers from 8 different countries.  (So far. As usual, I'm sure there are plenty of covers that I've yet to find.)  I'm going to pick a favorite and I think it's going to have to be the UK set.  So what do you guys think?  Which country's design team has captured the feel of the series just so perfectly... and which haven't so much?  If you know of any other Hunger Games covers I've missed, just let me know!

The Short Death of Phineas Bean by Daniel Miller

Genre: MG fantasy
Pages: 233 (available in paperback or Kindle) See this book on Amazon
Published: 2011
Recommended for: younger readers who will enjoy a fun fantasy of epic and ghostly proportions
*I received this book from the author in exchange for a honest review, and this has in no way affected my review*

Synopsis:
Phineas Rigormortis Bean has
the unusual dilemma
of being the only living soul
trapped in the Afterlife.
he must rescue his
recently departed parents,
uncover the secrets of a cryptic amulet,
and reveal his family’s dark past. Welcome to the Spooky town of
Ghasterville, where grim reapers lurk
in graveyards and amusement park rides
are haunted by homeless poltergeists,
where death is not the end,
but the beginning of
an adventure.

Turning eleven was more
Than he bargained for. 



My Take: 


The Short Death of Phineas Bean is a ghoulish fantasy in the traditional coming-of-age sense, filled with wonderfully wacky and heartfelt characters as well as ghastly villains with terrible schemes.  The book is definitely aimed towards younger readers, around middle-grade age, but is no less enjoyable for it.  A clever cross somewhere between Neil Gaiman's book The Graveyard Book and the cult-classic Micheal Keaton movie Beatlejuice, this fast-paced and always entertaining novel will have readers turning through the pages at the tremendous speed of an undead buffalo. (Inside joke ;)

Our hero Phineas Bean is a gravedigger's son who has been surrounded by death all his life.  His mother's side of the family, the Rigormortis clan, are a wicked pair of uncles who lord over the family funeral home and treat Phineas and his family like grave dirt.  After a tragic accident involving the local theme park ferris wheel and his best friend, Jenny, Phineas wakes up to find himself... well, dead.  He and Jenny, who perished in the accident, embark on a journey to reach the inner sanctum of the Afterlife, where they are awaited by a host of ghosts and deceased people who inhabit their own strange world.  I adore the old movie Beatlejuice, and the clever jokes at the expense of the famous dead and ancient dead (including a talking Egyptian sarcophagus), immediately brought to mind that fun and pleasantly gory film.  Phineas soon learns he's not quite as dead as he thought and that he is in fact a Seer-- one of the rare living humans who can see ghosts and travel between the realms of the living and dead.  His parents have been taken captive by a mysterious ally of his evil uncles and he must wade through a world of deadly family secrets and otherworldly powers if he ever hopes to rescue them.  The ending, while temporarily satisfying, promises a second book in the Ghasterville trilogy and much more undead adventure still to come.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, short as it was compared to my usual reads.  The author writes with fast-paced prose reminiscent of the early Harry Potters and classic fantasy elements twisted to fit a new and enthralling kind of ghost story.

Cover: 5/5 (like the purple and the Tim Burton-esque drawing)
Premise: 4/5 
Characters: 3/5 
Plot: 4/5 
Overall Rating: 4/5

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 416(hardcover)
Published: August 2010 by Razorbill
Recommended for: a wide variety of readers, adult and YA
(from Goodreads):
Haven Moore can't control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan, and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother's house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was.
In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept into an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Iain is suspected of murdering a rock star and Haven wonders, could he have murdered her in a past life? She visits the Ouroboros Society and discovers a murky world of reincarnation that stretches across millennia. Haven must discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves¸ before all is lost and the cycle begins again.

My Take:

The Eternal Ones is based on a concept that's not uncommon in paperback romances-- a love story which involves two lovers finding each other again and again throughout their many incarnations, and more often than not, meeting a tragic and untimely end only to be reborn again and find each other yet again. (Lots of 'again's there, but you get the picture.)  I was a little hesitant to read this book, because the reincarnation angle reminded me too much of Fallen by Lauren Kate, which was a huge disappointment for me.  The Eternal Ones, however, is surprisingly smart, well-written, and always entertaining. 

Haven Moore is the odd girl out in her small, uber-Christian town of Snope City, Tennessee.  She's had visions of the man she loved, Ethan, and their lives together in Rome and New York since she was small.  These visions are usually accompanied by fits and fainting spells, and the fact that Haven's dad allegedly ran away a few years ago with his mistress only to die in a car wreck doesn't help her reputation in the little town.  Haven's own grandmother, along with her entire high school and the local pastor, is convinced that Haven harbors a deadly demon which will lead her to follow the avaricious, evil paths taken by her father.  The way that the town and her grandmother especially treat Haven is fairly horrible, and I would have been disgusted enough with the lot of them to put the book down had it not been for Beau, Haven's best friend.  The 'gay-friend-who-loves-fashion-and-is-a-sympathetic-fairy-godfather' stereotype is a bit of a YA cliche, but Beau was so much more unique as a character than that stereotype that I instantly loved him and completely got why he and Haven had been friends forever. 

The novel starts out fairly slow in Snope City for the first 100-150 pages but if you can keep patience with it, the story really takes off after that.  Haven ends up running away from Snope City and headed up to New York to seek out the latest incarnation of her beloved Ethan-- Iain Morrow, a rich and paparazzi-pursued New York playboy.  She also has several encounters with the mysterious and corrupt Ouroboros Society-- a group whose ranks are filled by people who like Haven have lived many times before--, including a charming, yet sinister, man who may well be Chaos (or the Devil, call it whatever you like) himself.  The Ouroboros Society's world is so intriguing and complex, making me wish there was a sequel where we could learn more about their wicked ways and circle of fear and endless 'favors'.  The Eternal Ones bills itself as a romance, but honestly I didn't enjoy it for the romance.  Iain wasn't even one of my favorite characters-- I never trusted him much after Haven stumbles upon the rumors that he was in fact the one to kill her in her most recent past life.  Short chapters and relatively fast pacing make this book seem much shorter than its 400+ pages.  Altogether, I pretty much loved it.

Cover: 4/5 (I love the Ouroboros symbol) 
Premise: 5/5 
Characters: 4/5 
Plot: 4/5 
Overall Rating: 4/5

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Follow Friday + The Book Blogger Hop

Happy Friday, everybody!  A warm welcome to everyone stopping by my blog for the first time today via the Book Blogger Hop (hosted by Crazy-for-Books) or Follow Friday (hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee's View), as well as to any old followers dropping by to say hi.  This week, Friday isn't really the last day of school for me, because my school district thought it would be extra fun necessary suitably torturous to make us all have to attend Saturday school to make up for missed snow days. Yay...
Anyway, leave me the link to your blog when you comment to say hi, and I'll be sure to hop on by and return the following favor later. Only a few days left to enter my giveaway to win the Iron Fey trilogy by Julie Kagawa! And be sure to check out my interview with Dori Jones Yang, author of YA historical fiction novel Daughter of Xanadu, for a chance to win her book.(Just page your cursor over for the links, people-- I really need to make them a different text color.)


The featured blogger over at FF is Marie of Mission to Read . Be sure to stop by her blog and follow if you haven't already.  This week's question is

What is/was your favorite subject in school?

My answer: My best subject is English by far, but I'm just crazy about history.  History teachers are the best of the high school bunch, in my experience.  And there's nothing especially painful about learning cool historical facts and stuff about ancient eras, etc, at least not for me.  I like Spanish, tambien, and it's a given for such a literature/history-minded person that anything Math just plain right out sucks.  Don't even mention Algebra to me, please. :)
And the question over at the Book Blogger Hop is:
 "What book are you most looking forward to seeing published in 2011?  Why are you anticipating that book?"

My answer: Answering this question is like cruel and unusual torture.  There are so many books I'm looking forward to this year! Scanning my Goodreads 'to be released' category, I'm going to have to pick Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.  She's one of my absolute favorite authors, and I know this tale of crashlanded beauty queens on a Lost(!)-like deserted island will not disappoint!

I hope you all have an awesome (and very long) weekend!!

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Genre: YA horror/ contemp
Pages: 240 (hardcover)
To Be Published: February 8th, 2011 by Simon Pulse
*Book provided by Simon & Schuster Galley Grab in exchange for honest review-- thanks!*
Synopsis:

The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? 

The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.
  
My Take:


Cryer's Cross has the set-up, great writing and characters of a fantastic novel.  I've heard a lot about Lisa McMann and her books, particularly Wake.  That said, I wasn't overly impressed with the execution of that gigantic plot twist of Cryer's Cross, nor with the eerie supernatural cause behind all these creepy small-town disappearances.  This is going to be a hard book to review without giving away any spoilers, but I'll just say I'm glad I don't have to break the big mystery to anybody, because I would feel like I'm kind of letting them down.  This plotline has so much potential... but the driving force behind the horror would barely make a weak episode of Buffy during one of the weaker seasons.  I apologize for the vagueness and will plough ahead with the review.  


Okay, there's definitely a positive side to this book: we have several likable characters, including the protagonist Kendall who has lived all her life in Cryer's Cross harvesting potatoes, but dreams of attending a top-notch university and acting on the stage.  She also has a pretty severe case of OCD.  (I was like, 'HALLELUJAH! Me, too.')  I like how Kendall's OCD comes to fixate on the disappearance of her classmate Tiffany Quinn and how it takes over her mind sometimes.  Our OCDs are completely different as far as how they manifest, but I really sympathized with her over this and was glad to see a protagonist with OCD.  I liked Nico, Kendall's best friend/ boyfriend and the new guys who moves to town, Jacian.  I love it when guys in books aren't cliches or just there to serve as love interests, but actually have a personality and dreams of their own.  

The story is told in an unusual POV: third person, present tense.  I can't even remember the last time I read a book written in that point of view, but here it worked out pretty well.  The novel is fast-paced and really hard to put down once you start reading-- there were a couple of times when I was just going to read for five minutes and ended up reading a hundred pages. (Oops.)  And the cover of this book... it's an aerial view of a student desk. (OH! I see it now!)  I swear I drove myself crazy squinting at the little icon for the e-book, trying to figure it out, when it first appeared in my library. (I'm visually challenged or something.)  The cover is oddly appropriate, and oddly enough much more of a spoiler than I've given in this entire review.  So in summary, Cryer's Cross is a well-written, fairly addictive novel with a cool protagonist and unusual small-town setting, and the lamest horror movie twist I've come across in a long time.  The book is short enough that I still recommend it... but only if you can check it out from the library or snag it from the Simon & Schuster Galley Grab, which is awesome.


Cover: 4/5 
Premise: 3/5 
Characters: 4/5 
Plot: 2/5 
Overall Rating: 3/5

Stylish Blogger Award

I'm so happy and honored to have received the Stylish Blogger Award from Maria of Twilight and Other Dreams and Jessica from Musings+Teen Librarian.  Thanks so much, you guys, and I'm sorry it took me so long to find time to pass the award along properly.  :)  I used to have my awards up on my sidebar, but I took them down when I redesigned my blog and sidebars, so now I'm in the process of creating a separate page for my awards.


Anyway, the rules for the Stylish Blogger Award are:

1.)  Be sure to thank the person who gave you the award, and link back to his or her blog.
2.)  Share 7 things about yourself.
3.)  Pass the award along to 10 to 15 other bloggers whom you think have GREAT style.
4.)  Contact the bloggers you have chosen to let them know about the award.

7 Things About Me:

1. I want to go to college to study things like History, Languages, Literature, and Foreign Cultures... but will probably end up studying Journalism or English instead just because it's hard to find a job related to those majors.  If anybody has suggestions for a job where I could combine them, I'm all ears. :)

2. I'm a total nerd. (What do you mean, you already guessed that??)  Seriously, I not only think nerd-dom usually manifests at a young age, it's also contagious and to some extent, hereditary.  So it's like lung cancer... except good.

3. I am a teenager.  Who does not have texting. I kid you not.  I've actually only ever texted a couple of times in my entire life.  I also don't have an iPod... hmm, clearly I am indeed an 'old soul'. (No offense to any of you non-teenagers who can text like 100.6 times faster than me.

4. I own approximately 337 books... that's twenty more since the last time I counted.  Oh no, this is explains why I'm broke again!

5. I'm addicted to a horrible, cruel, wonderful game called Traveler IQ. So much that I actually emailed the Travel Pod people asking if they couldn't update the game so you can play against other people.  If that ever happened... I'd really need help tearing myself away.

6. I really like manga and anime, though I don't remember ever mentioning that on my blog.  My favorite animes are: Death Note, Fullmetal Alchemist, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Vampire Night, xxxHolic, Claymore, and Fruits Basket/Furuba.  My favorite manga is much the same, except I also really like manga Godchild

7. I want to travel to most of the world's countries, and to buy a comic magazine from every single one of them in a different language. 

OK, now for the incredible stylish, generally awesome blogs I'm passing along the award to.  If you see your blog here and you haven't been notified yet: this post is scheduled, so I'm still at school and just haven't had time to drop you a comment yet.  If you've already received this award, just smile and wave. ;)  I could never have picked 10 blogs or more, because I'm incompetent like that,  but here's what I do have:
*Drumroll*...

Booklopedia
Braiden's YA Concoction
Epic Book Nerd
Midnight Fume
Oktopus Ink
Quick Quotes Quills
Ramblings of A (Future) Librarian

Congrats, you guys!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (15)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted at Breaking-The-Spine.com that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.  This week I'm waiting on... 


Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan 
To Be Released: March 1st, 2011


(from Goodreads):
One of the strangest (and funniest) love triangles ever to hit YA fiction, when a pair of twins (one boy, one girl) both fall for the boy who moves in with them…who may or may not be a vampire.
Judy and Kyle Renneker are sixteen-year-old fraternal twins in a rambling family of nine. They have a prickly history with each other and are, at least from Judy's perspective, constantly in fierce competition. Kyle has recently come out of the closet to his family and feels he might never know what it's like to date a guy. Judy, who has a history of pretending to be something she isn't in order to get what she wants, is pretending to be born-again in order to land a boyfriend who heads his own bible study.
When their parents announce that the family is going to be taking in a fellow student for a month so that he can finish the school year before moving away, both Kyle and Judy can't help but sit up and take notice. Garret Johnson, who is taking temporary residence in the newly finished attic, is a young man who moved into town less than a year ago and who is a mysterious, goth loner . . . and claims to be a vampire. He's not an easy person to get to know by any means, but the twins find him (to varying degrees) both strange and alluring. 

What an incredibly wacky scenario.  This one sounds like a lot of fun.


So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 323
Published: March 2010 by Hyperion
Recommended for: paranormal fans, Harry Potter people :)

Synopsis:
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
My Take:  


I really want to go to Hecate Hall.  Come on, witches and faeries and classes like 'Classifications of Shapeshifters'-- what's not to love?  Of course, there are those aforementioned 'blood-curdling mysteries' and evil secret societies and a few serial killings, but doesn't Hogwarts occasionally have the same problems?  This book is a little reminiscent of HP had it been narrated by a witty sixteen year old girl, but in a completely awesome way.   


Hex Hall is a really enjoyable read, fast-paced and uncommonly funny.  Sophie is a great protagonist-- she's hilarious and smart and the kind of girl I could see myself being friends with.  The other characters are fully-realized, too.  I liked Sophie's new best friend Jenna, who is possibly the only vampire in all of literature to A. adore pink in all its forms, B. be a lesbian.  Upon arriving at the school, Sophie is immediately confronted by a three-girl coven, led by the enigmatic and beautiful Elodie, who want her to join their ranks as one of the most powerful witches in the school.  Rachel Hawkins's take on witches is more Sabrina the Teenage Witch (ah, yes, I used to adore that show) than anything else.  Sophie and the others can pretty much use their innate powers for anything from designing the perfect prom dress to transporting themselves via magic.  Archer Cross (Masterpiece Theater name, as Sophie remarks) is aforementioned gorgeous warlock and Elodie's boyfriend, but Sophie just can't seem to stay away.  The two of them end on cellar duty together, cataloging ancient things in the Hecate cellar, and these encounters grow to be surprisingly hot.

There are a few good plot twists in there, though I think the story is a little predictable overall.  The cliffhanger ending promises a sequel in Demonglass, which has moved way up in my TBR list, and I think there will likely be more books in the series after that.  My pet peeve with this book is the cat on the front cover.  It looks just like Salem from Sabrina!... but why is it on the cover??  I know black cats are symbolic for witches, but I don't remember reading about any pet cats.  All feline confusion aside, Hex Hall is a really enjoyable book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a fun, quick read.  I pulled a couple of quotes from the book, since there were so many good one-liners.

Cover: 3/5 
Premise: 5/5 
Characters: 5/5 
Plot: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5


--"I don't know what I was expecting a vampire's room to look like. Maybe lots of black, a bunch of books by Camus... oh, and a sensitive portrait of the only human the vamp ever loved, who had no doubt died of something beautiful and tragic, thus dooming the vamp to an eternity of moping and sighing dramatically.
What can I say? I read a lot of books." 

--"So if you can heal with your touch, why are you working here as like, Hagrid, or whatever?" 

--"Sophia Mercer," Elodie intoned, "we have come to induct you into our sisterhood. Say the five words to begin the ritual."
I blinked at her. "Are you freaking kidding me?"
Anna gave an exasperated sigh. "No, the five words are 'I accept your offer, sisters."



Monday, January 24, 2011

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

Genre: YA paranormal romance
Pages: 292 (hardcover)
Published: June 2009 by Point
Recommended for: paranormal fans, someone looking for a light beach read

Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science. . .and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she's happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate.There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can't make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship. . .and reality.
Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined?

My Take: 

Sea Change is pretty much the poster child for a beach read.  I mean, even the cover and the synopsis have me thinking blue sea and white sand.  I read it in a hotel room in Mexico, listening to the waves lap on the shores of the lagoon below my window.  I haven't read a lot of paranormal books about mer-people, selkies, etc, and honestly finished this only a little the wiser towards them.

Our protagonist Miranda is a no-nonsense, brainy kind of gal, fairly likable.  She and her mom head to tiny Selkie Island after her grandmother dies and leaves them her beautiful and mysterious old seaside house.  The local teens are modern Southern aristocrats who spend their summers chasing boyfriends/girlfriends and drinking out by the docks as they gossip beneath the simmering Southern sun.  I read a lot of books with romanticized views of the South (Beautiful Creatures comes to mind, though don't get me wrong, I love that series), and honestly, I far from have a problem with it.  I'd much rather people write about this area as charmingly quaint and beautiful than full of loudmouth rednecks, lol.  Still, I had to kind of chuckle occasionally, especially when one of the older Southern ladies in the story corrected Miranda for saying 'Thank you' in everyday conversation, telling her instead to say 'Amen!'  Soma us down here do talk purty funny, gosh darn it, but ya'll ain't never met Southern the likes a my grandma. (I do apologize for that last most sincerely.) 

Anyway, Miranda finds an old book in her grandmother's house which describes the myths and legends of Selkie Island-- namely (duh) the selkies who have made it their home since ancient times.  Miranda's skeptical, but oddly intrigued by the stories, especially after she meets Leo-- a local boy who immediately captures her suspicion (as well as her heart) due to his habit of appearing very suddenly whenever she's alone by the ocean.  Leo works at the local marine center and comes across as pretty much perfect, except that he evasively dodges every question Miranda asks about his family or life on the island.  It soon becomes pretty obvious that Leo and the other inhabitants of the local Fishermen's Village are probably, in fact, merpeople who spend part of their lives on land, the other half in the ocean.  I say 'probably', because unfortunately this is never really confirmed beyond a doubt in the book.  I would almost categorize this novel as just plain romance or chic lit rather than paranormal, just because there's so little of the paranormal going down.

The author has previously written a few bestselling chic-lits and personally I think she kind of wanted to package a summer romance story as a paranormal to go along with the current market trends. I mean, maybe I'm totally wrong, and there's a sequel and more about Leo and his mysterious people to come, but that's just the vibe I get.  The pace of this book is just a little slow, but there are a few good plot twists involving Miranda's grandmother and family skeletons in the closet which kept things just interesting enough.  Of the ending, I'll just say that it was neither great nor terrible.  Haven't heard anything about a sequel to Sea Change, but I wouldn't be at all surprised.  Altogether, this is a fun, light, and romantic read-- just don't expect any paranormal action or great depth.

Cover: 5/5 (I like it, very shiny...and blue)
Premise: 4/5 
Characters: 3/5 
Plot: 3/5 
Overall Rating: 3/5



Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cover VS Cover: The Forest of Hands and Teeth Trilogy


Cover VS Cover is a new feature I came up with because cover memes are so much fun, and I've recently become fascinated with the differences between US/UK, new/old book covers.  Today we're looking at the many covers for The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan.  If you haven't read these books, then I definitely recommend picking them up.  The world Carrie Ryan has created is post-apocalyptic and darkly thrilling... and, you know, zombies.  :) 


US            UK
As far as US vs UK, I definitely prefer the US covers here.  Is the object on the UK cover for the first book a shriveled leaf...?  I'm really just guessing here, I have no idea.  It looks more than vaguely creepy, whatever it is.  The UK for The Dark and Hollow Places (which will be released in April, yay!) looks a lot like the one for the YA novel Forbidden by Tabitha Suzama, I think.  And also like the cover of Claire de Lune in the UK-- wow, sinister-looking hearts must be the next big thing in covers.  All the girls on the US covers look so miserable-- but I guess they have a right to be, lol.  I also found a few international and other covers for the Forest of Hands and Teeth... 
 
French
 Is that title translated 'The Forest of the Damned'? Interesting...I kind of like this one.

 US Paperback
 
This is the US edition I have, but it doesn't fit with the other US covers so well...

German
 I love this cover, though not the fact that they shortened the title like that.  Not very attention-grabbing (never mind. I only took in the huge red lettering, and missed the cool sub- title-- thanks, Mrs. DeRaps!) I also like the dark contrasts of the light and the woods.  It brings to mind the M Night Shyamalan movie The Village.

Italian
This one is so different from all the other covers!  I like how it's mildly melancholy and a little spacey rather than dark like many of the others.

So, what do you guys think?  If anybody has any suggestions for covers to feature in the future, I'd be more than happy to take them.  I'd like to start featuring some newer covers, rather than just my old favorites. Wishing you all a great week!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.  The idea behind IMM is not only to put new books on our radars but also to encourage blogger interaction. IMM explores the weekly contents of our mailboxes: books bought, received, won, and borrowed, along with other goodies and swag.

I haven't posted IMN for weeks, so now I've got a ton of books to show off.   :)

What I Got: 

From The Library: 


E-books/ For Review:

-- Radiant Shadows (Wicked Lovely series) by Melissa Marr 
-- Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry #2) by Simone Elkeles 
--Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer 
-- The Dead and Gone by Susan Beth Pfeuffer 
-- Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan 
-- The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller 
-- Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins 
-- Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #2) by Jackie Morse Kessler 
-- Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann 
-- Mieradome by Kate O' Hegarty

Thanks to: 
-- The Gaston/Lincoln County Library System 
-- NetGalley 
-- The Simon & Schuster Galley Grab 
-- Kate O' Hegarty
--And a big thank you to Melissa @ BuildASign for the lovely A Myriad of Books bumper stickers.



Friday, January 21, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with Dori Jones Yang, Author of Daughter of Xanadu

Today I'm so happy to have Dori Jones Yang, author of the new and phenomenal YA historical fiction novel Daughter of Xanadu in for an interview and a giveaway of her book.


The Interview:

Bold= Kat
Normal= Dori

 --You've written nonfiction and been a journalist for years, but when and how did you make the transition to writing historical fiction?  And why YA fiction in particular?
Ever since childhood, I’ve wanted to write novels, and I especially love historical fiction. But making the transition was hard because journalists are not trained in plot, setting, dialogue, or character development!   YA fiction is the most exciting, fast-growing genre in publishing today, open to new ideas. I believe YA readers are also more open to other cultures because they have grown up in a multicultural society and a global world.

--Tell us a little about your travels to Mongolia and China.  What was the modern-day Xanadu like? 
Mongolian culture is very different from ours, and very appealing. In Mongolia, I had fun staying in a ger (yurt), exploring the Gobi Desert, riding a camel, and even playing the horsehead fiddle. Modern-day Xanadu is a lovely, grassy meadow with wildflowers and a few stone ruins. Nothing is left of the Khan’s marble palace and well-tended gardens, but I could feel the magic.

-- Do you have a favorite character in Daughter of Xanadu, or a character who was the most fun to write?  There are a lot of historical figures in your book-- (Kublai Khan and Marco Polo!)-- which one of them was the most fascinating to you?

I had fun writing about Marco Polo because I discovered he was a storyteller to the Great Khan. He must have been charming, witty, and entertaining, and the stories he knew from the European Middle Ages probably were about knights and ladies and courtly love. That must have made him seem very attractive and romantic.

-- I think it's awesome that you're fluent in Mandarin Chinese and have been a cultural correspondent as well as a journalist and writer!  What first sparked your interest in Chinese and Mongolian culture? 

As a kid, I knew nothing about China. But after college, I spent two years teaching English and studying Mandarin in Singapore and traveling all around Asia. I got to explore whole new worlds and discover thousands of years of history that I had never learned about in school. That’s when I fell in love with Asia.

-- What advice do you have for people who want to be authors or to travel widely as you have?
What it takes to be an author is 20% talent and 80% persistence. You’ll make it only if you’re determined, and you keep at it.  My dream was to write and to travel, and I’m living the dream now. It IS possible!

-- If you could live in one time period of the past, what it would be?  Would you walk with the Egyptians, dance in a Victorian ballroom, or maybe practice archery in the courtyard of Kublai Khan's palace?
I would love to visit Xanadu at its peak, to wander the gardens and peek in the pavilions. But I would not want to live in those times! For women and girls, the best time in history is the present.

-- Do you read a lot?  Who are some of your favorite authors who've inspired you?
I love reading, always have!  As a girl, I was crazy about J.R.R. Tolkien, but lately I’ve been reading historical fiction writers, such as Philippa Gregory and Margaret George, and stories set in China, such as Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.

-- I'm very curious-- are there historical records of women having fought as soldiers in the Mongol army the way your heroine, Emmajin, did?  

There is no record of any woman joining the Mongol Army, but earlier, before there was a standing army, Mongolian women sometimes went to war with their husbands. One wife of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan went to battle with him. And Marco Polo tells an amazing tale of Emmajin’s cousin, Ai-Jaruk, who fought in battles with her father, Khaidu.

-- What do you most want readers to 'come away with', having read Daughter of Xanadu?
I hope readers will find the book a fun read, full of adventure and action and romance. But there is also a deeper message, about rethinking your values and assumptions after you get to know a foreigner and see the world through his eyes.

-- Do you think you will write more YA novels?  Maybe... a sequel to Daughter of Xanadu? *hint, hint* 

Originally, the story of Daughter of Xanadu was twice as long, telling what Marco and Emmajin did in the following year. If readers really love this book, perhaps my publisher will agree to a sequel. What do you think?

--(Personally, I think that would be awesome! The ending of Daughter of Xanadu was a good one, but I found myself wishing it was even just a few pages longer.)  Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, Dori!

More:
 --Read my review of Daughter of Xanadu    --See the book trailer
--Visit Dori's website                  -- Dori on Facebook  
___________________________________________________________
One lucky follower will win a copy of Daughter of Xanadu, generously provided by Dori and Random House!

To Enter: Leave a comment with your email address (include links to anywhere you helped to spread the word for extra entries, please).   The last day to enter is February 10th, 2011.

Rules and Extra Entries:


1. You don't have to be a follower to enter, though it is much-appreciated and worth extra entries.

2. The giveaway is open internationally.

3. Now for extra entries!

+2 for following A Myriad of Books via GFC.
+2 for tweeting about the giveaway, or posting about it on Facebook, or linking to it on the sidebar of your blog
+5 for a blog post about the giveaway
+2 for commenting on my review of Daughter of Xanadu.
New: +2 entries for liking Dori's Facebook page
+1 entry for summing up all your entries (this is much-appreciated, saves me from doing math ;)

So, if you went crazy and earned all the extra entries, you could get a maximum total of 16 entries.  The winner will be chosen by random.org on February 10th, and that winner will have 48 hours to respond following my email notification before a new winner is chosen.  Good luck, guys!

Follow Friday + The Book Blogger Hop (14)

Happy Friday, everybody!  A warm welcome to everyone stopping by my blog for the first time today via the Book Blogger Hop (hosted by Crazy-for-Books) or Follow Friday (hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee's View), as well as to any old followers dropping by to say hi.  I've been down with the flu for a while this week, and don't want to miss a minute of sleeping (I've bested the average household cat with 20+ hours a day ;), so I'll make this post quick. Leave me the link to your blog when you comment to say hi, and I'll be sure to hop on by later.   And there's still more than a week left to enter my giveaway to win the Iron Fey trilogy by Julie Kagawa, so check that out if you wanna. :)



Over at Follow Friday, this week's featured blogger is Logan E Turner.  Be sure to stop by her blog and follow if you haven't already.  And the question she asks is:

                                                            
                                Who do you cheer for?

 Me: *Blanches*.  What is this you speak of... sports? ;)  I'm not a big sports fan, and that's an understatement.  I sometimes go with my family in the summer to watch the local minor league baseball team, the Hickory Crawdads, and I used to cheer on the Carolina Panthers from the comfort of my living room.  (Back in the day, before they sucked so bad.  Remember that? ...Anyone remember?)  Nowadays, I rarely watch a game.  Shame, but it's true. 


The Book Blogger Hop question is:   Not yet posted.  I'll update as soon as Jennifer posts the Blogger Hop... or possibly later.  I might have to sleep before then.

I hope you all have an awesome weekend, and wish you happy hopping!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

Genre: YA contemp/fantasy
Pages: 228 (paperback)
To Be Published: April 18th 2011 by Harcourt Graphia
Recommended for: fans of contemporary, edgy YA as well as paranormal fiction

Synopsis:
Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. But after the party where she was humiliated in front of practically everyone in school, who could blame her for wanting some comfort? Sure, most people don’t find comfort in the touch of a razor blade, but Missy always was . . . different.
That’s why she was chosen to become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War. Now Missy wields a new kind of blade—a big, brutal sword that can cut down anyone and anything in her path. But it’s with this weapon in her hand that Missy learns something that could help her triumph over her own pain: control.
A unique approach to the topic of self-mutilation, Rage is the story of a young woman who discovers her own power and refuses to be defeated by the world.

My Take:

"Thou art War.  Thou art the Red Rider of the Apocalypse.  Rock on."-- Death

I usually try not to review ARCs until closer to their release date (this one doesn't come out until April), but I want to review this one while the book is still very fresh in my mind.  Rage is a different kind of novel, with a different kind of paranormal premise and a very different kind of heroine in Missy.  I haven't read Hunger, the first book in the series, but luckily the two seem to be more like companion novels and either one is fine to read first.  The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse were a new concept for me, something I'd never heard of outside of a Metallica song, so I had to go forth and question the Google Overlord.  Basically they're like the human incarnations of War, Famine, Death, and Pestilence (Plague) who run amok about the world on their steeds, causing turmoil in their wake.

Our heroine Missy is chosen by Death (who resembles Kurt Cobain and is as talented a rock god guitarist as he is a psychopomp) to become the new War after she accidentally kills herself with a razor blade.  Missy is a Cutter-- self-mutilater, and has been for quite some time.  This is an edgy subject at best, one which luckily is getting a lot more attention in YA fiction than in years past, and Jackie Morse Kessler writes Missy's character, her pain and bottled-up anger, perfectly.  At first I had a difficult time understanding why Missy keeps cutting even after she's transformed into War, just because the book deals so much more with the emotional side of it rather than the logical reasons beyond it, in Missy's case.  I've had friends who cut or burn themselves, and this book made me realize this even more: it doesn't take much, not as much as you'd think.  The way Missy is treated by the people at her school, even her own sister-- the constant name-calling and vandalizing of her things-- is pretty terrible, but very well-portrayed.  

Rage has the brutally honest feel of an edgy contemporary novel, but the concept of the Horseman and her transformation into War make it a dark, gritty fantasy.  The writing is fantastic-- never slow for a second, and the characters, especially Missy, draw you into the story immediately.  Missy is an angry, conflicted heroine, as both War and as her ordinary teenage self.  She must learn to balance her icy exterior with her inner rage, peace and passiveness with the holy terror that is War.  I was fairly satisifed with the resolution of the novel, but did wish there was a little more justice served to Missy's ex-boyfriend and the people who were so cruel to her.  My favorite character by far is Death, who is Missy's sort-of love interest (yeah, that's weird, but in a completely awesome way).  Maybe that's just because I love Nirvana, but I loved how he seemed so human despite being the leader of all the Horsemen.  I can't wait to read his story in the fourth and last book in the series!  Pestilence is the Horseman next up, with the third book Loss scheduled to be released in 2012.  I'm making a prediction (though I'm unfortunately no psychic and there's no synopsis yet) that the new Pestilence will be a teenage cancer-patient or a victim of some other disease.  Anyway, all babble aside, I really loved Rage and can't wait to read the other three books.

Cover: 5/5 (so freaking cool)
Premise: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Overall: 5/5

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted at Breaking-The-Spine.com that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.  This week I'm waiting on... 


Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter
To Be Released: August 1st, 2011

(from Goodreads):
"The Luxe" meets the ancient world in the extraordinary story of Cleopatra's daughter.
Selene has grown up in a palace on the Nile with her parents, Cleopatra & Mark Antony—the most brilliant, powerful rulers on earth. But the jealous Roman Emperor Octavianus wants Egypt for himself, & when war finally comes, Selene faces the loss of all she's ever loved. Forced to build a new life in Octavianus's household in Rome, she finds herself torn between two young men and two possible destinies—until she reaches out to claim her own.
This stunning novel brings to life the personalities & passions of one of the greatest dramas in history, & offers a wonderful new heroine in Selene.


 I love the sound of this one-- like another Cleopatra's Daughter, a historical fiction novel also featuring Selene which I was very obsessed with a while back.  Can't wait!!
Just a short FYI-- this is officially my 100th post!!  I've been blogging for a little over 3 months, which seems nothing short of bizarre to me.


So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 323 (hardcover)
Published: September 2010
Recommended for: fantasy and paranormal romance fans, and especially Twilight fans

Synopsis:
A hidden truth.
Mortal enemies.
Doomed love. 



Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.
Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.
Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide. 

My Take:


I expected to love Firelight, but ended up just liking it fairly well.  (There, that's the short review. :)  It wasn't the kind of book I get passionate about, or carry around and try to sneak into such unorthodox places as restaurants with fussy waiters or school Biology exams.  I read this book by the pool in Cancun, and it makes for a perfect beach read.  Lots of romance and enough action and conflict to keep you interested, but nothing that's going to make me wish there were more pages and stalk the author's website looking for extras.  I've read a lot of rave reviews by bloggers about this book and had high expectations, and maybe that's skewing my perspective.

Firelight has the formula for a great YA fantasy and paranormal romance: star-crossed love, a kick-ass heroine with a deadly secret, a love triangle, even a sibling (Jacinda's twin sister Tamra) who turns out to be more trouble than she's worth.  The mythology of the drakis (descendants of dragons who've evolved over time so that they can shift into human form at will) was cool, and I thought it was interesting how Jacinda was supposed to be able to 'surpress' her draki and eventually become entirely human.  We don't get to learn much about her pack of draki, but there's definitely more to the story there. All that said, the draki were a little reminiscent of other shapeshifting races like werewolves, etc, but different enough that it was okay.  The book opens really strong and kind of leaves you hanging at the end (typical first-in-a-fantasy-trilogy ending with the guy and girl left just clear of mortal peril).  I really like the cover-- the slit pupil of Jacinda's eye and the scales are really eye-catching.  Overall, I did a lot more liking on this book than loving, but I'd still recommend it to paranormal romance fans.  The basic story reminded me a lot of Twilight, and I think fans of the series would enjoy Firelight as well.


Cover: 5/5 
Premise: 4/5 
Plot: 3/5 
Characters: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cover VS Cover: Graceling + Fire


Cover VS Cover is a new feature I came up with because I love cover memes and I've recently become fascinated with the differences between US/UK, new/old book covers.  This week we're looking at the many covers of the Seven Kingdoms Trilogy by Kristin Cashore (aka Graceling and Fire since the cover of the third book, Bitterblue, is yet to be released).

US & Canada 
UK & Australia 
German 
And... I think you could guess where this one's from. :)  Yes, it's the Chinese cover for Graceling and I absolutely adore it.  I don't think Fire has been released in China-- too bad. 

So what do you guys think?  Me, I'm a huge fan of the Chinese cover, especially since I'd never seen it before I went cover-hunting, but the UK covers are definitely the coolest I've actually seen around the blogosphere.  The US ones are nice, too-- those are the ones I have, so I'm a little attached. The German ones are decent, but maybe a little too similar. Of course, it's a little difficult to differentiate the two books without being able to read German.  ;)


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 404 (hardcover)
Published: November 2010 by Putnam Juvenile
Recommended for: fans of Robin McKinley's other books

Synopsis:
Because she was a princess, she had a pegasus.

Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.
But it's different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-- so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo- and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.
New York Times bestselling Robin McKinley weaves an unforgettable tale of unbreakable friendship, mythical creatures and courtly drama destined to become a classic.

My Take:

Oh, what potential this book had!  Robin McKinley is an amazingly talented, experienced, beloved fantasy author.  Her books Sunshine and The Hero and the Crown are nothing short of genius, and yet Pegasus falls so short of expections, for me.  The world in which Princess Sylvi and her pegasus Ebon exist is brilliantly, beautfifully realized-- I was entranced with the first 50 pages, by the intricate descriptions of pegasus and palace life and culture, by the foreign names and the history between pegasi and humans. 

By page 60, I realized that that was it.  This book is more like a cultural textbook about a fantasy race than a dynamic novel.  Some of McKinley's other books can occasionally seem slow, but they always pick right back up again.  The beginning of this novel meanders along... by the middle, it's trudging through pretty heavy bush... and by the ending, it's positively stagnant.  There are very few plot twists-- very little plot at all, really.  Pegasus is a tome-- just over 400 pages-- and the story could easily be told in 100 pages, were it not for the admittedly interesting details of pegasi culture.  And then I read the last page and realize that this is the first book of a two-part series.  I can't imagine reading through another book in which so little happens, especially if the endings are all so entirely unsatisfying as this one's.  The villain (Fthoom-- try saying that name aloud)-- was so typical, with his court magician sneers and conspiracies that he really started to grate on my nerves).

I didn't hate this book.  I was tempted to skim pages and tempted to not finish, but it's by no means a terrible novel.  The writing is beautiful, the descriptions of the pegasi are beyond cool, and Ebon is a fantastic character. (The only fantastic character, for me.  Most of them, even Sylvi, are fairly boring and typical fantasy stereotypes.)  I did like Sylvi's mother, the Queen, who was far fonder of riding out with army patrols and slaying monsters than sitting at a court banquet.  That said, Pegasus was overall more than a little disappointing to me.  The reviews I've read from other people are so mixed-- some people are like me, and really miss the lack of action and plot in this book.  Some people seem to right-out hate it.  And hardcore McKinley fans mostly seem to love it.  It's one of those books, I think, that every reader will interpret differently.  Give it a go if you're still interested, or as captivated by that beautiful cover as I was.

Cover: 5/5 
Premise: 4/5 
Characters: 2/5 
Plot: 1/5 
Overall: 3/5

*This book qualifies for the following reading challenges: British Books Challenge 2011*
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