I've got a stack of library books collecting fines on my desk because I still want to blog about them, so I think I'd better do a bunch of quickies and clear the desk for the next lot.
I have been doing relatively short reviews on Goodreads for some of the books I finish, and I guess it is considered kosher to copy reviews from your blog to Goodreads and vice versa, so that's what I'm going to do.
Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman. Seraphina is assistant court musician in a renaissance-like country that is renewing a peace treaty with dragons. Her job is to create the musical entertainment for the dragon king's state visit--but Seraphina has secrets of her own that may make the difference between peace and war. Hartman has a great take on dragons--original and fascinating. I loved how the novel
explored the idea of peace between two species with such a history of
violence. It reminded me of Speaker for the Dead with
its exploration of how we could possibly coexist with a race so Other,
and so dangerous to us. Can we afford to trust them? Can we afford not
Great characters: complex, interesting, real. Loved that
Seraphina is a musician, loved the use of music in the novel. Loved the
dragon characters and their wrestle with human emotions. Especially
Orma--oh, he was wonderful! And the creatures in
Seraphina's garden were way cool.
Cool plot: unpredictable,
intelligent. Doesn't end on a cliffhanger but there will be a sequel and
I'm excited to find out where she takes it.
If you're looking for something different than all the other YA fantasy out there, check this out. (If you like Sherwood Smith and Robin McKinley, this will be up your alley.)
When I reviewed The Scorpio Races (on my blog),
I said it "grabbed me with its sharp teeth and carried me out to drown
into a stormy sea." The Raven Boys wasn't as immediate or violent in its
effect on me, but in the end I think it was just as powerful. It was
more like being led hesitantly into a forest--following a raven that
stares at you and hops from branch to branch and looks back to see if
you're coming. And by the time you realize that you're completely lost
it doesn't matter, because there's so much to discover in the forest and
you never want to go home.
This book has to do with psychics and ley lines, omens, sentient forests, and a sleeping king; but really it's all about the characters. Deep, fascinating, quirky, wounded, unpredictable, annoying, vulnerable,
break-your-heart characters. Every one of them. I loved them, I wanted
to throttle them, I couldn't wait to see how their relationships would
develop. There's so much more I want to know about them!
My Goodreads review is somewhat longer; you can go here to see it if you want. I won't tell you anything about the plot, though. It's best if you don't really know anything.
Girl of Fire and Thorns when it came out a few years ago, and was impressed. Court, magic, adventure, romance--but a unique take on it all, and a unique heroine. The romance isn't at all predictable, and Elisa develops in interesting and believable ways as she tries to be the queen her people need her to be.
Crown of Embers is as good or better. There's danger, treachery, and the difficult decisions a queen has to make, when she has to do what's best for her country rather than following her heart. I like that Elisa has to experiment with trusting people she doesn't want to trust, including herself. This book ended in an interesting place, so I'll definitely be looking out for the sequel.
Catherine Fisher has gotten a fair bit of press for her very original and compelling books Incarceron and Saphhique. When I saw this earlier series in the library I was intrigued. I've only read the first book, The Dark City, so I think I'll wait to do a full review when I've read the rest, but I'm definitely hooked. It's an interesting take on the advanced-technology-looks-like magic and repressive-regime-tries-to-suppress-it plot line. What sold it for me was the characters: bitter Galen, his patient apprentice Raffi, and complicated Carys. Fisher has a thing for dark, broken underground places which I don't necessarily share, but I was willing to follow these characters anywhere.