Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tender Morsels

Tender Morsels is a dark and vivid story, set in two worlds and worrying at the border between them. Liga lives modestly in her own personal heaven, a world given to her in exchange for her earthly life. Her two daughters grow up in this soft place, protected from the violence that once harmed their mother. But the real world cannot be denied forever—magicked men and wild bears break down the borders of Liga’s refuge. Now, having known Heaven, how will these three women survive in a world where beauty and brutality lie side by side?


Beth says 5 Stars...
This book was astounding. I couldn't get enough of it in every way possible, despite the fact that it isn't full of sunshine and rainbows. The subject matter is dark and painful, but is rendered so beautifully. However, the beauty of the story doesn't take away from the brutality that is shown as a part of the world. The language used in the novel is interesting; it has a very distinctive dialect that doesn't necesarily correspond to today's spoken word. It made the flow of the book very different and unexpected at times. It didn't quite resolve how I thought it would. I was kept at a distance from the characters, but for some reason it didn't matter. My connection was to the story and the heartache that developed throughout. There's not too much to say about this book besides that it's amazing. Be warned, however; it deals with some very heavy mature themes. If sexual abuse, rape, and the cruelty that humans can exert on one another isn't something you want to read about steer clear. If you can come to terms with the content, the story is filled with hope, love, and beauty. This is a worthwhile read for anyone who picks it up.

Friday, February 12, 2010


It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.


Beth says 4 Stars...

I thought that I would like this book more than I did. I thought that it would rock my world, and it didn't. It was really good, and I enjoyed it, but that was it. The plot was really fun and different, which I found thoroughly delightful. I really loved how Westerfield wove mechanical possibilities with advanced genetic engineering in a believable (ish) version of the past. I was particularly intrigued by the Darwinist because I'm a huge science person. The problem that I had was with the main characters. I couldn't connect with them very well at all. It wasn't that they were annoying, or had some other blatantly obvious flaw. The issue resided not with the writing either, for Westerfield was on point with the prose. There was just some disconnect somewhere that left me feeling a little cold. I had begun to warm by the very end of the book to both of them, I think in part due to their relationship with one another. Together they were much more compelling than they were separately. Overall this was a fun start to an interesting new series. It wasn't quite as amazing as I had expected, but it wasn't bad. This might also resonate better with younger teen boys, as it has lots of action without lots of romance.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Demon King

Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister Mari. Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can't sell. For as long as Han can remember, he's worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes. They're clearly magicked-as he grows, they grow, and he's never been able to get them off. While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer catch three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. After a confrontation, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won't use it against them. Han soon learns that the amulet has an evil history-it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back. Meanwhile, Raisa ana'Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She's just returned to court after three years of relative freedom with her father's family at Demonai camp - riding, hunting, and working the famous Clan markets. Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name-day, she isn't looking forward to trading in her common sense and new skills for etiquette tutors and stuffy parties. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea-the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems like her mother has other plans for her--plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the Queendom stands for.

Beth says 4.5 Stars...
I adore Cinda Williams Chima. Her books are just so much fun to read, filled with adventure and danger. This series has the potential to be epic in more than one sense. Already in this first of a series Chima has created a rich and lush world rife with varying traditions. There are the mages, the Clans, and the royals; all of whom have different desires and complexly intertwining histories. This story is set in a completely new world, and has the feel of classic high fantasy; a departure from the Heir series. The change is accomplished with relative ease, despite a few less than stellar pieces. It takes a little bit at the beginning to get your bearings in the book, but it isn't too bad.
The main characters are fairly good. I still have lukewarm feelings about Han, but the end of the book was so great that I think there's potential for me to really love his character. Raisa is delightfully spunky, with true wit and strength. The secondary characters are fantastic, and really help to enhance the book. Everyone is layered, and the fact that this is just the beginning will really allow their depths to be plumbed.
I'm giving this book a slightly higher rating because it's the beginning of a series and the end showed such amazing potential for the rest of the books. Overall, this is a great read for someone looking for a sweeping fantasy to transport them to a different realm.

Nathan says 4 Stars...
Cinda Williams Chima is pretty awesome. Her Heir series was action packed and immersive, but if The Demon King is any indication Chima is embarking on a completely new, and dare I say, better adventure.

I was immediately struck by the influences of Chima’s universe. Every people seems to have a very particular culture that resonates with some actual culture. Native American, feudal, and Scandinavian pseudo-societies make up many of the factions, and though it has yet to be fully revealed, there appear to be even more cultures to explore.

This intricately conceived world is further set off by strong and dynamic characters. I did feel that the characterization of the Heir series was a little more sophisticated, but this book lags behind only slightly.

The plot lags in the middle; however, by the end, Chima is fully in the driver’s seat. The conclusion reveals that much of this novel is set up for the rest of the tale, and I’m really excited to see what she can do with it in the future.

Chima once again delivers a book well-worth reading.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Freaks And Revelations Review + Winners!!!

This raw, moving novel follows two teenagers-one, a Mohawk-wearing 17-year-old violent misfit; the other, a gay 13-year-old cast out by his family, hustling on the streets and trying to survive. Acclaimed author Davida Wills Hurwin creates a riveting narrative told in alternating perspectives of their lives before and after the violent hate crime that changed both their futures. This tragic but ultimately inspirational journey of two polarized teens, their violent first meeting, and their peaceful reunion years later is an unforgettable story of survival and forgiveness.

This story is inspired by the real lives of Matthew Boger and Timothy Zaal, who have shared their story on The Oprah Winfrey Show and NPR.
Beth says 4 Stars...

The concept of this book scared me a little at first. I'm not the world's biggest Oprah fan, and books about "Oprah stories" can be more than a bit cliche and boring. So, I went into this book with less than astoundingly high expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I really thought that the way the book was written made it much better. I loved that it was told by both of the major characters, and that it was so evident when the change occurred. The fact that the font changed was such a great divider, and I felt that the fonts were good representation of the characters. How the book managed to avoid the cliche was that it told the stories of the characters as individuals, instead of just focusing on the moment their paths crossed. The main complaint that I had was that at the beginning it was extremely difficult to determine which character was narrating.

I found the supporting cast to be interesting, and I though that the book was made richer because of them. None of them were astounding. The plot wasn't the main focus of the book; instead it relied on developing the main players and letting everything flow from there. The ending was so moving without being sappy and trite.

This was a lovely book that hit the right nerves once it got going. This is a good read about the biases that we have and how they affect others.

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