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Archive for the tag “Sarah J Maas”

Top Ten Books I Thought I’d Like More (Or Less) Than I Did

top ten

Hosted by the awesome folks as The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme celebrating all things book.

Today we’re looking for books you really wanted to love – but didn’t. And books you expected to loathe – but didn’t. These are the top ten books I though I’d like more (or less) than I did.

bronte

Because no. I read Wuthering Heights thinking “Really? THIS is a classic romance??” Huge let down given how widely this gothic novel is worshiped.

Vampire Academy

I know this keeps coming up on my lists! But really. Given the cover and the slew of vampire fiction available when VAcademy was released, I grabbed it as another waste-of-a-couple-of-hours read. And since then I (evidently) can’t shut up about how fantastic the series and Richelle Mead in general are. (PS – keep an eye out for my review of Gameboard of the Gods. This book is gonna be BIG. Because it’s amazing.)

next doorI have nothing against My Life Next Door – it was a perfectly nice coming of age YA romance. But that’s all. It didn’t stand out at all for me. And with the hype I’d been hearing about it, I really expected it to.

Rosie

On the other hand, The Rosie Project seemed like a silly romantic-comedy-in-a-book. But it was so much more! Smart, funny and a gorgeous read.

glass

Ugh. I was deeply unimpressed by Throne of Glass – and I realise I’m in the minority here. Caelena didn’t grab me at all, and the plot was confused by too many angles. I don’t get the hype.

peculiar

Whereas The Peculiar, a steampunk faerie novel set in 1920s London, was SO GOOD. I couldn’t have anticipated how much I’d love this unassuming story. Read it read it read it!

Uninvited

Yeah. I liked this crime novel a lot – until it devolved into a mystic, paranormal thriller halfway through with no warning. Pick your market.

revolution

Holy up-until-3am read, Batman! This book is the definition of an addictive read. I completely drowned out the voice that tells you to go to sleep in favour of finishing Revolution as fast as possible. An engrossing story, and beautifully written.

thief

Look, The Book Thief was okay. It was good, even. But it’s never been one of those books that changed everything for me, and it is to so many other people I’ve talked to.

promise

You know what? If you’re looking for an intelligent, creepy, taut crime novel, don’t be as surprised as I was when you have a ball with Promise. It’s the best crime I read in 2012. (And the sequel’s no slouch, either!)

Friends, readers, tell me, share with me those books that let you down, or the ones that yanked you up with a WOAH!

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Poison Study – by Maria V Snyder

This is the old-school cover, the one I have!

I know, more Maria V Snyder already! After reading Touch of Power a couple of weeks ago I was emphatically reminded of how much I love Snyder’s writing. I couldn’t help re-reading Poison Study, to hang out with Yelena, Valek and the wonder twins again. Here’s how I enjoyed revisiting my old friends:

Yelena is about to be executed. But on the morning of her execution she is offered an extraordinary alternative. She can become the Commander’s new food taster, under the tutelage of his right hand man, the most notorious assassin in the land: Valek. The job no doubt means that Yelena will succumb to poison sooner or later – but she won’t die today.

Soon enough, Yelena is embroiled in the heart of life in the Commander’s castle; spies, assassination attempts, learning to fight, making friends and evading her enemies. All Yelena wants is a chance to run away to Sitia, where she’ll have the chance to be free, and where she will need to learn to control her recently discovered magical abilities before the power flames out and kills her. But fate – and Valek – are unwilling to let her escape so easily.

This story is wonderful, with many concurrent plot lines and competing agendas. The world is layered and authentic. And the characters are absolutely marvellous.

Yelena is hugely resilient. She was educated and cared for in her childhood before being subjected to years of torture, both physical and mental, once she reached the age of 16. When we meet her, she’s at her lowest, barely a shell of her former self. Watching her build herself up into a person again is painful and incredibly rewarding.Valek’s raison d’être is his unflinching loyalty to the Commander, and everything else he is is secondary to his concern for the Commander’s wellbeing – a fact that very gradually starts to change once Yelena enters his life.

Janco and Ari, the ‘wonder twins’, are soldiers who take Yelena under their collective wings, and their mentoring and friendship is one of the main reasons Yelena is able to draw herself up again. Every single character in Snyder’s world is three-dimensional, complicated and a healthy mix of sympathetic and unlikeable. And for me, at least, if the characters are great I’ll follow them almost anywhere.

The love story simmers ever so gently beneath the narrative, and is one of the sweetest I’ve read in years of YA, or in general fiction, for that matter. This is not your clichéd hatred-turning-out-to-be-repressed-attraction, nor is it a sudden-change-in-how-he-sees-her. It’s a love born from a place of mutual distrust that gives way as they get to know each other to respect, admiration and understanding. And it’s the kind of thing you have to read to really appreciate.

My experience in past years with Poison Study is a key reason I didn’t enjoy Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass all that much. Yelena is Celaena Sardothien’s predecessor, and outshines Celaena in every way.

If you haven’t read Poison Study, and especially if you haven’t read any Maria V Snyder at all, please read this book and its sequels (it’s the first in a trilogy).

five fox

It retains its place as one of the best young adult fantasy series I’ve ever read.
And if you have readi it, do you think the reviewer doth praise too much? Or do you share my love for Snyder’s amazing trilogy?

Have you read Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass as well? How do you think the two match up?

Throne of Glass – by Sarah J Maas

Another reading copy snagged from work! Yay for bookshops. The synopsis for this book caught my eye:

“Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.” Celaena’s an assassin, infamous and extremely skilled. But she got caught. When she’s offered an unlikely opportunity to escape from her prison by representing Dorian, the Crown Prince of Adarlan, in a contest to decide who will serve as the Court assassin for three years before being granted freedom, she accepts the challenge. How could Celaena have anticipated how much things would change once she set foot on this path?

The elements of this story are all familiar: there’s a beautiful, dangerous main character with plenty of suffering in their past. There’s a chance of freedom and possibly redemption. There’s a test, in this case a tournament between fourteen champions chosen by the nobility. There’s a corrupt power structure that must change. There’s dissidence in the new generation and the hope of reform/revolution. There’s magic, mysterious forces that have been outlawed for generations but not gone from the world, but that no-one now understands. And there are tangled emotional problems. Danger and Drama and Fighting, Oh My!

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