January 30, 2012

Book #10 - The Iron Knight (Iron Fey #4)

The Iron Knight (Iron Fey #4), Julie Kagawa
361 pages
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Started 1/26/12
Finished 1/27/12

All good things must come to an end, including really, REALLY good books. *sigh* But, it was fun while it lasted.

This book was a bit different from the first three in that it is told from Ash's point of view. All the other Iron Fey books were narrated by Meghan, so we saw the world as it unfolded in front of her eyes. It was refreshing to have a different perspective. It was really cool reading about Ash's thoughts, especially when it came to Meghan and how much he loved her. I didn't think it was possible for me to love this character any more than I did at the end of The Iron Queen - but I did.

I also appreciated the more serious glimpses of Puck that the reader got to see. Puck is King Oberon's court jester - a goofball who hides his feelings and frustrations behind jokes and being a very purposeful pain in the ass. But, there were times during The Iron Knight that Puck dropped all pretenses and showed his heart, which was pure and raw. It was... nice.

As one would expect, our hero and his lady end up together in the end, after he literally goes to the End of the World to be together with her. Talk about the ultimate act of chivalry. It doesn't get any better than this, ladies.

My only complaint - and it's a small one - is that we don't see much of Meghan in this book. I did say that the story being told from Ash's POV was a nice change of pace, and it was. But, I found myself wondering off and on what Meghan was doing/thinking/saying about her new role in the Nevernever. And, she and Ash's big reunion was waaaaaay too short for my liking. I wanted so much more from that scene.

Luckily, I hear that a spin-off series is on its way, taking place 10 or so odd years in the future and centering around Meghan's brother Ethan. Kagawa promises us that we'll see familiar faces. I hope she keeps that promise.

January 28, 2012

Book #9 - The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3)

The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3), Julie Kagawa
358 pages
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Started 1/23/12
Finished 1/24/12

Julie Kagawa is a genius. I often think I'd love to write a book. But, when I think about what I'd like to write about, the story in my head always sounds very familiar - like I've read that somewhere before. How authors come up with these fantastic worlds and complex characters and I-didn't-see-that-one-coming plot twists is incredible. And, Kagawa has done it again. I bow to her awesomeness.

So, Meghan and Ash don't even have a half hour to relax with each other before they're thrust back in the middle of the war between the Iron Kingdom and the rest of the Nevernever. After being exiled for loving each other, Meghan and Ash are granted a reprieve in exchange for killing the new Iron King, stopping the war and saving the Nevernever - AGAIN. No pressure, right? The same rag tag team of friends get together yet again to fulfill their destiny and come out on top.

And, through it all, the more refreshing part about this book is that Ash is no longer hiding or fighting his feelings for Meghan. everyone knows he loves her and she loves him, so what's the point? They don't even hide it from Puck anymore (poor Puck). I just loved every scene with them together. His chivalrous devotion to Meghan is the stuff of dreams.

But, the end - OH, the end! Talk about ripping my heart out. I feel the need to apologize to the Cumberland County Library System for returning this book slightly tear stained. Meghan becomes the Iron Queen to save the Nevernever, and releases Ash from his vow to protect her in order to save his life. Now, SHE is the one giving up everything to save the man she loves. And, it appears that their love is doomed. But, Ash promises to find a way for them to be together, and the reader has learned that, when Ash promises something, come hell or high water (usually both), he will make it happen. Plus, there is the fact that there's one more book left in this series...

Book #8 - The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey #2)

The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey #2), Julie Kagawa
359 pages
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Started 1/21/12
Finished 1/22/12

Sometimes it's hard to wrap my mind around a really great book. You know what I mean? Even now, nearly a week after finishing this book, I'm having a hard time getting this post started. Ok. Let me take a step back and start from here:

This was a damn good book.

It has all the elements that make a fantastic story - action, humor, a kick-ass chick and a gut-wrenching wonderful love story. In the beginning, Meghan fulfills her promise and allows Ash to take her to the Winter Queen. Ash agonizes over this because he knows Meghan's time there won't be pleasant and he won't be able to shield her from that. However, they manage to uncover a plot by the new Iron King to destroy the Nevernever and every being in it. And, so, Meghan and Ash set off to defeat yet another Iron King and save their world.

So, you know those Twilight books? Wait! Don't leave! Just hear me out for a second. Yes, I read them. Fairly recently, actually. And, I really wasn't a big fan of them. Edward was the only reason I stuck through all four of them. See, I'm a completely hopeless romantic. And, I go all mushy inside when I read a story about a boy who loves a girl so much that he's willing to sacrifice anything - everything - to keep her safe and in his life. I think deep down, it's what every girl dreams about. That was Edward for me - the ultimate hero. The eternal protector.

Well, Edward has been topped.

The end of The Iron Daughter was so amazing, I had to read it three times. Ash gave up everything he knew for Meghan, not even knowing for sure whether she would return the gesture (of course she did). THAT is the kind of love that I want to read about. He left his family, his home, his whole world because he fell in love with the wrong girl and wasn't willing to give her up. Oh yeah - Edward who??

January 24, 2012

Book #7 - The Iron King (Iron Fey #1)

The Iron King (Iron Fey #1), Julie Kagawa
363 pages
Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Started 1/19/12
Finished 1/21/12

You know how little girls always dream about being a fairy princess? Well, Meghan Chase really IS one. This 16-year-old, unpopular girl soon finds out she is the daughter of the Summer Faery King Oberon. Oh - and she has pointy ears. Cool, huh? Oh, speaking of cool, she soon falls in love with the Winter Faery Prince Ash while on a quest to save their land, Nevernever, from extinction at the hands of the titular Iron King. But, as one might assume, Summer and Winter don't hook up. Like, ever. So, yes - this book really does have it all. A fairy princess, forbidden love, a magical land, dangerous monsters, and a talking cat.

The Iron King draws a lot of parallels from other stories - Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and of course, Romeo and Juliet. But, Kagawa throws in enough differences, enough deviations, to make it not really feel like any one story is being borrowed. It's more of an afterthought.

Honestly, at first, I wasn't totally in love with this book. It was a little... well, weird. But, about halfway through, I really got into it. It was about the time that the reader realizes that Ash, despite his cold exterior (hardy har har), this guy really loves Meghan. I mean, would-give-up-everything-and-risk-my-life-for-her LOVES this girl. That's something I love to read about. I have no doubt that over the course of the remaining three books in the series that Meghan and Ash will not find a smooth go of it. But, that's part of the fun of reading, isn't it?

January 21, 2012

Book #6 - Clockwork Prince (Infernal Devices #2)

Clockwork Prince (Infernal Devices #2), Cassandra Clare
502 pages
Started 1/16/12
Finished 1/18/12

I read the first Infernal Devices book, Clockwork Angel, last month. It was the first book of its like that I'd ever tried. It was a little steampunk, a little urban fantasy, a little paranormal romance. And, I LOVED IT. So, when Clockwork Prince hit the shelves, I knew I had to have it. I had to follow the continuing stories of Tessa, Jem, and Will.

So, our story begins with Jem still dying, Will still raging and Tessa still brooding. I have a problem, though. Clare is making me love them all. Crap. Crap. Crap. Usually I'm rooting for our heroine to get together with her dream guy and for the third wheel to take a hike. Although the first part of that statement is still very much true, I find myself falling in love with Jem too. THAT is why I loved this book so much.

For me, anyway, a sign of a good book is a raw, angsty feeling. I find myself really caring about the characters and what happens to them. I scream at my book, "NO! Don't say that! You DO love him - just tell him, already!" I laugh. I cry. Please tell me you know what I'm talking about so that I don't feel totally insane. This book has it all. It made me feel and care. I was excited to read it and disappointed when it was over. That's absolutely a five star book in my opinion.

Even if you're not a steampunk fan, take it from a book junkie who knows what she's talking about, and go out and get this book. Like, now. Actually, get both Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince - you won't be sorry.

P.S. Bonus - I get to cross a genre off my list! Squee!!

January 16, 2012

Book #5 - Shadowfever (Fever #5)

Shadowfever (Fever #5), Karen Marie Moning
594 pages
Started 1/8/12
Finished 1/14/12

I waited a few days after finishing this book to write about it. This was one of those books that you have to absorb and process for awhile before forming some semblance of an official opinion about them. To be honest, I'm still not sure where I stand with it. Let's try the old "Pros" and "Cons" columns to see which one wins out, shall we? (Beware of spoilers - don't say I didn't warn you.)

1. Mac and Barrons get together - FINALLY! It doesn't happen until, like, page 450, but it does happen, at long last.
2. Lots of plot twists. I like it when a book surprises me. I read often enough, that it doesn't happen a lot. And, there were many surprises in this book, which was very refreshing. Other authors, take note. We avid readers like to raise our eyebrows and go, "Huh. Didn't see that one coming!"
3. The witch gets what's coming to her. I don't want to say too much, but it is always nice when a baddie gets her comeuppance.

1. I'm not feelin' the love. Mac and Barrons may have gotten together, but, to me, it just seemed like hot, steamy sex. Don't get me wrong - that has its place. But, after 5 books of these two exuding sexual tension, I really wanted more than just bow chicka wow wow. I wanted an expression of feelings - a declaration of love. It wasn't there.
2. What's with the loose ends? This is the last book! Questions should be answered; new ones should not be made. Not now. Dani and Mac have a falling out. Dani was a major character in this book, and in the end she's just a postscript. No reconciliation. No mention of where she went. And, the book was destroyed, but not. The world was not put right. This was... unexpected. And, unfulfilling.
3. Too much info dump. I get that you need to do back story. But, sheesh. You had four other books in which to spread it out. It became a bit tedious.
4. Use of the f-word, ad nauseam. Really? I'm not a shrinking violet, but c'mon. Is it really necessary to blow massive holes in a book with excessive f-bombs? The answer is, no.

So, where does that leave me? Three pros and four cons. Although the beginning was slow, it did pick up about two-thirds of the way through. There were lots of elements of this entire series that were really cool. Others, not so much. So, I'm landing somewhere in the middle. Once you've invested the time involved in a five-book series, one would hope you'd end up further right than that.

January 12, 2012

The Kiss of Death

In my very humble opinion, the worst fate that a book can encounter is apathy. Ambivalence.

The "Meh" Factor.

You know what I'm talking about - the point where, either halfway through the book, you're wondering what in heaven's name you were thinking by starting it in the first place, or you're part of the way through a 4-, 5-, or 6-book series, and you just don't really want to see it through. I frickin' hate the Meh Factor. Especially in the latter scenario. You feel like you spend so much time getting to know these characters and feel invested in what happens to them. And, then, you get to the point where you just don't give a crap anymore. It's sad.

I've started the fifth and final book in the Fever series, and I'm dangerously close to encountering some serious Meh. I've grown to care about Mac and Barrons, so it's especially distressing when I'm all of a sudden seriously considering cutting my losses and not finishing their story. There's an incredible amount of info dumping in this final book, which causes it to plod along. Adding to that, the author can't just, for the love of God, have Mac make up her mind one way or the other about Barrons. She's constantly plucking that daisy - I love him. I love him not. I love him. I love him not. O. M. G. It's BOOK FIVE. It's OLD.

You may notice that I've been working at this book for longer than the typical two or three days that books of this length take me. The Meh has affected my motivation. Despite all my moaning and complaining, there's no doubt that I will continue and finish the book. Perhaps I'm a glutton for punishment. I guess we'll see.

January 8, 2012

Book #4 - Dreamfever (Fever #4)

Dreamfever (Fever #4), Karen Marie Moning
388 pages
Started 1/6/2012
Completed 1/8/2012

Ok. Now we're getting somewhere.

I've seen several places classify the fever series as not simply urban fantasy (UF), but also paranormal romance (PN). Up until this point, I've called BS on the PN bit. Sure, there's been sexual tension in spades. But love/hate (heavier on the "hate) relationship between Mac and Barrons has been a love/hate thing for me too. I mean, I appreciate the author not wanting to hand over the relationship on a silver platter 50 pages into the first book. But, geez louise, making us wait until book #4 for the relationship to move forward was a bit extreme.

But, here we are. When we last saw Mac, she had been gang raped (I know - rough, right?) and was in a reeeeeeeally bad way. Barrons swoops in like a hot knight in black and saves her. He administers his own type of "therapy," and in doing so, shows a side of himself that the reader hasn't seen yet. A side that obviously truly loves Mac. Why he hasn't just come right out and told her this yet is beyond me. I imagine it has to do with his tortured soul, or something. But, Mac comes back from the brink, a new Mac. A dark Mac. Not one I think I like as much, but whatever. As long as she and Barrons get it on for goodness sake (as both willing and competent participants, that is), I'll be satisfied.

And, that ending. Whoa. Glad I had the fifth and final book already on hand. 'Cause, that was a doozy of a cliffhanger. A beginning and ending like that elevated this book above all the others so far in the series.

January 6, 2012

Book #3 - Faefever (Fever #3)

Faefever (Fever #3), by Karen Marie Moning
327 pages
Started 1/4/2012
Completed 1/5/2012

More confusion. More of the same. And yet, there was more. Are you as confused as me yet? Yeah.

So, Mac and Barrons continue to hunt for the Book. Sexual tension oozes off the page when they're together. By this time, it's getting to be a bit much. I mean, it's three books in, and these two still seem like they want to kill each other more often than love each other. Perhaps that's what the author is going for. Perhaps if you ramp up the tension and draw it out to ridiculous lengths, when the two finally get together, it will be all that more fulfilling. It is this premise that drives me through these books. I like Mac. I like Barrons. They're fascinating. And, I think I would love them together. Can't wait to see it finally happen.

So, the end. That's the worst. Mac finally seems to be getting stronger. She and Barrons may be on the verge of a relational breakthrough. And then her worst nightmare comes true. She's enslaved by her enemy. And the reader is left hanging. Thank goodness I already had books #4 and #5 on hand. If I had read this book as soon as it had come out, I would've been PO'd. As it is, I'm still PO'd. Just for a different reason.

It's incredibly frustrating to see a character come a certain distance only to see it all go to crap. When Mac was first introduced she was a prissy prom queen. By the end of book #3, she was starting to be a bit of a badass, and about time, too. She was learning about her abilities, and learning how to handle those who wanted to control her. I hate weak characters, especially the females. So, it was fulfilling to see this weak woman slowly turn into a strong one. And, then the end. The end stripped that all away. It makes me wonder what the point was. I guess I'll find out. As I mentioned, I already have book #4 in my possession. But, the author better fix this, or else. Meh. Who am I kidding? I already know that I'm at least in this for the long haul. I'll finish all five books. Hopefully I won't feel like it's been a waste of time at the end.

January 4, 2012

Book #2 - Bloodfever (Fever #2)

Bloodfever (Fever #2), by Karen Marie Moning
320 pages
Started 1/3/2012
Completed 1/4/2012

I've been trying to organize my thoughts about this book since I completed it, and I just can't quite line them up enough to form a solid opinion. One minute I think it was a really great book, and the next, I think it was a little stinky. Ok, wait. Let me back up a bit.

The first book in the Fever Series, Darkfever, introduces MacKayla Lane, a prissy southern belle who goes to Ireland to find out about her sister's murder. While there, she finds out she's not entirely human and that all sorts of nasties are being unleashed on the world with her being the best hope to stop them. Mac's mentor and teacher is the enigmatic Jericho Barrons. I'm still not entirely sure what Barrons is, but he's not entirely human either.

My first problem with Bloodfever is that it seems to be a clone of Darkfever. Mac and Barrons argue. Barrons takes her out to find relics. Mac and Barrons argue again. Mac gets the crap beat out of her. Barrons saves her life and seems like he loves her or something. Mac and Barrons argue. I was ready for something different. I was ready for Mac's and Barron's relationship (what there is of one) to go... somewhere. But after two books, they still can't stand each other. And, that's frustrating.

I also am not a huge MacKayla Lane fan.She's froofy and annoying. She can't decide whether she's going to be strong or weak. Whether she loves Barrons or hates him. Crimeny - stop waffling and make up your mind already.

As you may have guessed, I've already started book #3. We'll see if things improve. More on that soon.

January 3, 2012

Book #1 - Last Sacrifice

Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6), by Richelle Mead

594 pages
Started 12/31/2011
Completed 1/2/2012

Holy crap, was this a good book. Holycrapholycrapholycrap.

I feel like I can't talk about this particular book without talking about the entire Vampire Academy series. Have you ever watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer? This series is like that, only better. WAY better. It is narrated by Rosemarie Hathaway, a 17-year-old half-human, half-vampire who is going to school to learn how to protect "good vampires," Moroi, from the "bad vampires," Strigoi. There's obviously more to it than that, but I'll allow you to discover that for yourself.

Anyway, Rose is everything I've always wanted to be - beautiful, bold, brave, strong, fierce. She has a total disregard for authority, stands up for what's right and true and loves her friends completely. Speaking of love... of course I'm going to speak of love. Her instructor is Dimitri. He sets my heart a-flutter. He's tall, dark and Russian. And, he totally falls for Rose. It's awesome. Until he is turned into a Strogoi and lost to Rose forever.

Against all odds, they find their way back to each other to get their happy ending. I do love my happy endings. Some readers like a little angst. Angst is okay - as long as it's wrapped up neatly and happily at the end. I'm a sucker for that stuff. And, it takes awhile, but Rose and Dimitri and (most of) their friends find happiness in the end. *sigh*

Seriously, this series was one of the best I've ever read. And I've read A LOT. It had it all for me - love, mystery, suspense, action, humor, and a really super strong female. If you haven't read it yet, go buy it. Like, NOW. Put a hold on it at your library. Borrow it from a friend. You will not be disappointed. I wasn't.

My Personal Challenge

I'm Krista. I've been married for 10 years. I have a five-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son. This is me:

I'm a reader. I've always been a reader. I can remember devouring my mom's old Nancy drew books when I was young. Scholastic Book Club days were better than pizza day in the cafeteria. I doubled up on English classes my senior year of high school so that I could take American Lit, British Lit and Creative Writing courses. I am a certifiable book nut.

Then I got married. Had kids. Got busy with life. And my books and my love of reading got a little dusty.

Two years ago, I picked up a book again. Maybe you've heard of it - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It was like coming home. I found some online friends who also like to read. I joined Goodreads.com to keep track of my books. And, in 2011, I read 73 books. Pretty awesome, huh? My genre of choice is urban fantasy. I am also a hopeless romantic, so I love a good love story. Although most of my books in 2012 will fall into those categories, I want to broaden my horizons. So, my personal challenge in 2012 is to read 50 books, with at least one in the following categories.

1. High Fantasy
2. Steampunk
3. Biography
4. 750+ Pages
5. Crime/Mystery
6. Historical Fiction
7. Dystopian
8. Science Fiction

I will probably add to this list as I go, but for now, it's a start. And, as you may have guessed, I've already started. So, here goes...