Showing posts with label witch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label witch. Show all posts

Sunday, January 22, 2017

[Review] Poison Study (Study #1) - Maria V. Snyder: Food Tasters and Poison





In POISON STUDY Yelena was arrested for murder and is released from the dungeon to become a food taster.


What intrigued me: I've seen this one around a lot.

Let me love you, Yelena!

The story starts right off with Yelena getting released from her dungeon, malnutritioned, almost hallucinating, and absolutely exhausted. POISON STUDY had me from the first page.

Snyder has a way of conjuring up images with words that make this novel easy to read and the fantasy world easily accessible. I often struggle with the High Fantasy genre because I don't really encounter concepts that fascinate me. Same with POISON STUDY to some extent - I didn't really care about the fictional region of Ixia that is ruled by different generals that have their own territories and force everyone to wear uniforms. 

I zoned out whenever there were intricate descriptions of uniforms. The whole world is certainly a weakness of POISON STUDY - the story about Yelena could take place in any other fictional world and be just as fantastic. I didn't find the world building particularly inventive or outstanding.

Making a murderer the food taster doesn't sound that interesting and groundbreaking of a story either, but it just is. There doesn't happen much in POISON STUDY, aside from Yelena getting attacked continuously by the soldier's of the father of the guy she killed, but yet it's ridiculously addicting. The writing is top-notch, the story feels like you are Yelena, you're experiencing everything first-hand and wandering through the castle yourself. I seldom have found myself so thrown right into a book as I read and grown attached to a protagonist.

Wonderfully refreshing concept

If you read a lot of YA and are very tired of seeing the same cliche tropes everywhere, POISON STUDY is the novel for you, because I don't think I counted a single one. No love triangles! No Mary Sue! No plot convenience! Actual danger! Consequences for messing up! It's so refreshing to read a book that makes you feel like the protagonist is in actual danger the whole time.

However, this book is very, very, very slowly paced. I did like this at first, but the more the pace slowed down, the more I disconnected from the characters. I do like to know what I'm getting myself into when I start a novel and the introduction of magic halfway in confused and annoyed me a little. POISON STUDY takes a completely different direction halfway in, causing me to lose interest completely. I was very enamored with the premise of the food taster and would have loved to just see an story about intrigues without any magic.

POISON STUDY awkwardly turns into Duel of the Magicians and this is just not what I'm personally interested in and/or signed up for. Regardless, I did enjoy this and think it's a good read!


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

POISON STUDY is a fantastically unique novel. I really needed this breath of fresh air and I can recommend this book to you, because it's just so creative and fun! If you don't mind a dash of magic, sure, go for this!



Additional Info

Published: March 1st 2007
Pages: 409
Publisher: Mira
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780778324331

Synopsis:
"Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison...

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...
 "(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read the Study series?

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Monday, August 29, 2016

[Review] Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) - Susan Dennard: Magic and Persecution

In TRUTHWITCH, Safi has the ability to see truth and lies through magic and is in big trouble when people realize what she can do.

What intrigued me: I've been in the mood for some witches.

Magic for the Sake of It

TRUTHWITCH immediately sucked me in through the marvellous writing. Dennard uses one of my favorite ways to start a story - jumping right into the scene and leaving the reader trying to find out what's going on. I was absolutely infatuated with the idea of these two havoc-wreaking girls who also happen to be witches, but after a few dozen pages quickly realized that there is one thing missing:

TRUTHWITCH heavily relies on it's massive foreign-yet-familiar world that's somehow reminiscent of Funke's spellbinding Inkworld trilogy. But where the Inkworld is cohesive and strucutred, TRUTHWITCH absolutely doesn't explain anything. Dennard chooses to introduce us to its world by simply mentioning words. Bloodwitches, Truthwitches, magic ropes. Everything is magic somehow but beyond the name of said magical object or person we aren't learning anything about the world. It's blatanlty obvious that this world building may be extensive but isn't well-thought out. Especially with the inciting incident: Truthwitch Safi is chased by a Bloodwitch all of a sudden. What's a Bloodwitch? Why is he immortal/invincible? What did they do? Why are they being chased??

This stands representative for the entire experience you'll have reading this. Zero explanations. Zero structure and logic, despite a giant world that you'll want to desperately know more about.

...everything else? Top notch.

At the core, TRUTHWITCH is so very well-written involving the most fantastic friendship between the leading girls Safi and Iseult and I wish, I desperately wish the magic system made sense. I wish the world building wasn't so la-di-da and standoff-ish. I grew so attached to the characters so quickly and I absolutely love Safi's character voice, which makes it all the more difficult and tragic to say that I genuinely didn't like this at all. 

TRUTHWITCH is by no means a book that you should skip because of that; I feel like this is a deeply personal thing - I personally like my magic to be cohesive and to make sense immediateley. The dilemma with TRUTHWITCH is that everything else about this novel is very close to perfection. The characters are great, the writing is top-notch, the world feels absolutely real. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

TRUTHWITCH is by no means a bad novel. I guess it comes down to personal preference; I'm a factual person that likes clear-cut descriptions and explanations. If you don't mind that and want a solid High Fantasy read that will suck you into its world, TRUTHWITCH is the right pick for you.



Additional Info

Published: August 22nd
Pages: 512
Publisher: Penhaligon
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9783764531348

Synopsis:
"In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she's a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden - lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult's true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls' heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.(Source: Goodreads)



Have you read TRUTHWITCH?

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Recommendation: Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) - Zoraida Córdova: Witches, Latinx, and Demons





In LABYRINTH LOST, Alejandra discovers that her witchy powers are stronger than she thought when she accidentally sends her entire family into limbo.

What intrigued me: I can't pass up books about witches, even less books about Latina witches!

Brujas > Witches

LABYRINTH LOST will show you witches in a way you definitely haven't seen them before. 

Córdova skillfully manages to merge Latin American tradition with magic in a way that makes it seem natural and extremely believable. I thoroughly enjoyed how she doesn't shy away from adding lots of diversity, lots of cultural influences, and lots of little nods to Latinx people. The world building is impeccable, I probably won't ever be able to read about witches again without thinking of Córdova's brujas. 

Paranormal Romance AND Fantasy Adventure in One!

Love interest Nova, fellow brujo and troublemaker deluxe grew close to my heart and became my favorite character throughout the novel. To save Alejandra's family, she bribes him into coming with her to magic limbo, or Los Lagos. Their adventures there differ a lot from the first impression I had of this. On the surface, LABYRINTH LOST is a typical paranormal romance novel, but halfway in changes into an epic magical, mythological-feeling fantasy adventure. 

This is difficult to pull off, to change the entire tenor of a novel so far in, but I think Córdova did a fantastic job. Exactly the fact that we have the first half to get to know her family, raises the stakes and personally made me invested. I needed Alejandra to save her family just as much as her, and I sucked up every little bit of information and lore about Los Lagos

I generally feel like the world building is the core and reason why I consider LABYRINTH LOST to be a gem in the genre. All those stories about the Deos/Gods La Mama and El Papa, the little snippets from the Books of Shadow of Alejandra's ancestors - where is Córdova getting all this from? Regardless whether this is based on real lore, it's fresh, it's fun, it's fantastic.

I need to have a separate bonus novella with a collection of all those little spells! LABYRINTH LOST has the potential to be the beginning of a truly epic and memorable series and I am already in pain when I think about how long I'll have to wait for the sequel. 


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

LABYRINTH LOST is a fantastically magical book about family, adventure, and first love. I can wholeheartedly recommend this to everyone, especially because of the wonderfully and skillfully interwoven Latin American base frame.


Additional Info

Published: September 6th 2016
Pages: 339
Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Witches and Wizards 

Synopsis:
"Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…"(Source: Goodreads)


Can you recommend some witchy books to me?

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

[Review] Carry On - Rainbow Rowell: Is This Queer Harry Potter?



In CARRY ON, Simon Snow, chosen one, wizard, and roommate to his moody vampire nemesis, is facing his arch enemy the Humdrum for the last time in his final year at a magical school.

What intrigued me: I wasn't a fan of FANGIRL and didn't really enjoy the snippets from CARRY ON in there, but I decided to give Rowell one last chance. And what can I say - sometimes books or certain authors just don't match your taste. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're bad.

If you're going to rip-off/write an homage, at least TRY to be original...

When I first heard that Rowell is writing this, I was actually pretty offended. It's cash grabbing, obviously. Simon Snow and Baz are the subject of the fan fiction of Rowell's character Cath from FANGIRL. They're an homage to Draco and Harry from the Harry Potter Series. And then Rowell goes ahead and writes a book about them. This would be fine and all if she actually put any effort in making "Carry On" an actual stand-alone. 

This book can't survive without Harry Potter. It's full of references that you only get if you're familiar with the HP books and every single chapter is blatantly ripped off from Rowling. From a genderbent!Hagrid to Hermione/Penelope to Dumbledore/The Mage  to Voldemort/The Humdrum.

And it's just not fun to guess who's who for 500 pages, it's just insanely frustrating to read a super predictable retelling of a better book whose only difference to the original is that it has more diverse characters. This is all there is to CARRY ON for me, the only thing that it does better than the HP books is the diversity. It's not suggested, it's not implied, it's referenced repeatedly. Kudos to Rowell, my rating goes up a whole star just for this.

The base frame may be copied, but the plot is her original... and it's not good.

Rowell completely loses herself in world building and neglects everything else. There is no reason for the reader to root for Simon, who's constantly complaining and cursing and giving off bad vibes. He's not sympathetic and he really is "the worst chosen one who's ever been chosen" like love interest Baz put it so nicely. He's a horrible character. I've had issues with Rowell's voice before, and yet again she can't write authentic teenage voices at all. Every word that comes out of Simon's mouth makes me cringe, even worse when combined with the excessive unnecessary cursing.

Well, not everything is bad about CARRY ON. I like the way she did copy stuff from the HP books but just altered it enough for this book to not be considered fan fiction. There are numerous magical beings and there's a nice ghost sub plot, but it's just not enough to keep my attention for whopping 522 pages. This book seriously needs some tightening. It's definitely interesting, but it gets old very easily. 
After about 150 pages I was just bored and had to force myself to continue. It just wasn't fun for me. I wish I would have liked this more, but the bitter aftertaste of CARRY ON being the least original thing to hit the YA market last year just makes me cringe infinitely.

Rating:

☆☆


Overall: Do I Recommend?

I'm simply not a fan of Rowell's novels personally. Her style is hard to read for me and insanely boring and every time I actually finish a book by her I feel like I've wasted my time. This doesn't mean that the books are bad. You'll have to find out for yourself, but I can just say that I didn't enjoy it and wouldn't recommend it to anyone with similar taste like me.



Additional Info

Published: October 6th 2015
Pages: 522
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Witches and Wizards
ISBN: 1250049555

Synopsis:
"Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.
 "(Source: Goodreads)


Do you think it's a Harry Potter rip-off? Are you as upset about it as I am?

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