Friday, 30 May 2014

Book Review- Seraphina

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Title: Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman 
Published: 10th July 2012
Publisher: Random House Children's Publishers
Pages: 467
Series: Seraphina #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dragons, Romance

Rating: 4.5/5

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.- Goodreads

When I was younger fantasy was definitely my favourite genre of books, and any novel with magic or dragons was right up my street. When I reached my mid-teens I went on a paranormal rampage and fantasy was forgotten. I've recently started to pick up more fantasy, and this was a YA fantasy read that had been on my TBR shelf for a while. 
It is the story of a girl, called Seraphina, who is an illegal half dragon half human and works as assistant to the Court musician. 
This is a really enjoyable novel, the plot is fast paced and action packed, although it does take a little while to get started. I really enjoyed the idea of the dragons being able to sort of fold themselves into human bodies. I think this added a whole new dimension to the human/dragon relationship. Another aspect of the novel I liked was the Treaty of Peace between the Dragons and Humans. It was very interesting to see the different parties that fought for the peace and the humans who were fearful of the dragons but saw themselves as better than them. 
Seraphina is the main character in the novel, and I really like her. She is an awesome female protagonist, she is fearless and tough, but also smart and she made none of the "typical" stupid decisions that YA heroines tend to make. She was so honest but not at all self pitying about her less than ideal circumstances.
This novel also had a host of other female characters who were wonderfully crafted by the writer. They were multi dimensional and strong, which was great to read. Glisselda was another of my favourite characters, she was graceful and strong and didn't rely on the male characters one bit. 
I also love the character of Kiggs; Prince and love interest to Seraphina. He was so endearing and completely won me over. He was honest and caring and treated Seraphina with respect. I definitely want to read more about him in the sequel. The relationship between him and Seraphina developed nicely, the attraction between the two developed slowly, it was subtle and not forced upon the reader.
The novel itself was also beautifully written. The imagery was wonderful, the book was a pleasure to read.
Overall I gave this novel 4.5/5 stars and this is definitely one of the best books I have read this year, and one of my favourite YA fantasy books that I have ever read.

Favourite Quote: "That's the secret to performance: conviction. The right note played tentatively still misses its mark, but play boldly and no one will question you." Pg 165 

Check the novel out on Goodreads here
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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Book Review- A is for Alibi

Title: A is for Alibi
Author: Sue Grafton
Published: Jan 1st 1982
Publisher: St Martin's Paperbacks
Pages: 308
Series: Kinsey Milhone #1
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Detective

Rating: 3/5

PI Kinsey Milhone 32, in a pretty California town, gets her first case. Laurence Fife was a slick divorce lawyer and slippery ladies' man until someone killed him. Released from jail after 8 years, his wife Nikki wants the truth. But the trail is cold, and at the end is a chilling twist - a second eight-year-old murder and a brand new corpse. -Goodreads

This is the first in the Kinsey Millhone Detective series, and follows private investigator Kinsey as she tries to discover the real killer of a divorce lawyer eight years on from when the crime took place. I came into this novel with high hopes, it had some good reviews and I always love reading about female detectives, however it didn't really live up to the expectations. Maybe I just had higher hopes for it than it deserved, but it fell flat for me.
What I really felt was missing was the connection with the characters. As the main character, I expected to connect with Kinsey, instead I was left feeling that she lacked dimension and depth. Grafton tried to write her in a way that made her seem hard and kick ass, instead she came across as rude, cold and emotionless. Overall I didn't really like Kinsey at all. I also questioned some of her actions during the investigation, including the fact that she slept with one of the suspects, which seemed a strange decision for a private detective, and must be against the unspoken guidelines of being a detective? As the novel is written in first person, from Kinsey's point of view, I had hoped that this would allow for a better insight into how she went about solving the mysteries, and her train of thought throughout the novel. However there was very little thoughts and feelings in the narrative, it read as though she was just giving a statement of what happened, just including the facts and nothing else.
I also thought the "mystery" aspect was pretty average. I knew who had committed the crime from about half way through the novel, and it seemed obvious to me, and kind of disappointing that Kinsey didn't notice it. 
I also felt that the novel was missing some of the mystery and suspense that I expect from a mystery novel, it all seemed rather simple, there was no great twist to the novel to surprise me. 
However there were some things that I liked about the novel. Due to the fact that Kinsey's narrative lacked feelings, it included lots of descriptions, many of which I really liked reading. I also liked the ending of the book, the last couple of chapters were fast paced, and action filled, they took me no time to read, compared to the rest of the novel which was a little slow. I also enjoyed the various strands of the story and characters that were included in the novel, and how they all linked together.
Overall I gave this novel 3/5 as I thought it was an ok detective novel, but nothing special,and I don't think I will be continuing with the series.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Book Review- Taste of Darkness

Taste of Darkness (Healer, #3)Title: Taste of Darkness
Author: Maria V Snyder
Published: December 31st 2013
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 400
Series: Healer #3
Genre: Fantasy, Magic, Young Adult, Romance

Rating: 5/5

She's fought death and won. But how can she fight her fears?
Avry knows hardship and trouble. She fought the plague and survived. She took on King Tohon and defeated him. But now her heart-mate, Kerrick, is missing, and Avry fears he's gone forever.
But there's a more immediate threat: The Skeleton King plots to claim the Fifteen Realms for his own. With armies in disarray and the dead not staying down, Avry's healing powers are needed now more than ever.
Torn between love and loyalty, Avry must choose her path carefully. For the future of her world depends on her decision -Goodreads

To read my review of the first and second books in this series click here and here.
I would like to thank the publisher for the review copy I received in return for an honest review.

This novel is the final book in the Healer trilogy, which is one of my favourite YA trilogies! I really enjoyed this novel, it's a really great book to end the trilogy on, although it doesn't end the series with a bang, I enjoyed it nonetheless. It has been a while since I read the first and second books and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to remember what happened, but this novel picks up almost immediately where the second book ended, and I soon slipped back into the series with no problem.
This novel is action packed, it never gives you a chance to catch your breath, from the minute Avry wakes to find Kerrick missing, it is all go until the very last page. 
I love the characters in this novel, Avry is one of my favourite YA female protagonists that I have ever read about. She is so strong and kick-ass, but still stubborn and reckless, and drives Kerrick insane which is really fun to read about. I also love the relationship between Kerrick and Avry, it seems realistic, and they're just so sweet!!! They complement each other so much and I just love them so much *sigh*.
I also thought Flea came into his own in this novel, he was a minor character in the last two books, but his character really grew and developed in this book, and I enjoyed the surprise/twist. 
The other characters that interact with Avry, the Monkeys, for example were great, reading this book reminded me how much I love all the characters Snyder has created in this series.
There were quite a few villains in this novel, so featured in the other two books, and some that were new arrivals. The Skeleton King is a new vilain, and I'm very glad he only got to feature in one book, he was horrible. However, although he was a pretty horrendous person, I would have liked to have read more about him, and I thought his storyline could've been done slightly differently. 
This novel changes perspective per chapter between Avry and Kerrick. I like this technique, and I think Snyder uses it well in these novels, it gives us insight into how the characters feel about each other. It is also useful for the story telling aspect as Kerrick and Avry spend a god bit of time away from each other in this novel, but the split narrative means we know what is going on in both of their stories. 
Overall I really enjoyed this novel, it nicely rounded off one of my favourite YA trilogies. I love the characters and the world that Snyder has built and I look forward to reading some of her other work.