Category Archives: 3.5 Stars

Review: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae

Review: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin RaeWish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
Series: Wish You Were...
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on May 6th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 323
Format: Paperback
Source: Given From Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Pippa has always wanted to go to Italy … but not by herself. And certainly not to sit in art school the entire summer learning about dead guys’ paintings. When she steps off the plane in Rome, she realizes that traveling solo gives her the freedom to do whatever she wants. So it’s arrivederci, boring art program and ciao, hot Italian guys!

Charming, daring, and romantic, Bruno is just the Italian Pippa’s looking for—except she keeps running into cute American archeology student Darren everywhere she goes. Pippa may be determined to fall in love with an Italian guy … but the electricity she feels with Darren says her heart might have other plans. Can Pippa figure out her feelings before her parents discover she left the program and—even worse—she loses her chance at love?

*I was given this book for review, but it in no way affected my review or opinions–honest!*

This book. Man the cover is so cheesy I can’t get over it! It’s as bad as the old covers for Anna and the French Kiss (y’all who know what I’m talking about understand). However, this book has a lot to offer and I really enjoyed reading it!

Pippa doesn’t have the best relationship with her workaholic parents. For Summer they send her to attend an art course in Italy–something she’s not interested and doesn’t want to do. However, her mother told her about it a week before she was due on the plane. Her friend Morgan gives her a list of all the things she needs to complete for these 3 months (like the premise in Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson), and one includes: Fall in Love with an Italian. As Pippa arrives in Italy, she realises she utterly does not want to do this course…and she has a lot of money from her parents, so she decides to screw it, and travel Italy by herself.

I loved the self-discovery aspect of this novel, how the relationship with her parents developed, and the adorable romance. These Summer books are my favourite. I adore reading about travelling, and the fact that this was set in Italy, makes me yearn to go there myself. The list element of things she had to do was fun and exciting, it gave Pippa the push she needed to reach outside of her comfort zone.

The romance in this wasn’t sizzling or particularly amazing, but it was sweet in a way that is not always easy to find! Despite the fact that it wasn’t anything majorly exceptional, the romance was a really great addition to the story and fit nicely. I loved how his curly hair was a running joke between them!

I had a brilliant time reading the amusing and entertaining adventures Pippa goes through, along with the characters she meets and how she develops as a character in her 3 months in Italy. It’s amazing how something like this can make a person grow. It’s not an emotional romance or gritty or anything like that, it’s just a simple, pretty story to read in the sun. It’s feel-good, sweet, and a great Summer book. It will be going on my Summer recommendations pile!

Wish You Were Italian is the second book from the series Wish You Were…, however it can be read as a standalone, as I have not read the first. The cheesy covers are really off-putting, however I’m really interested in the other books now!!

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Rating: 3.5 Stars

three-half-stars

Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish DollerWhere the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury Children's on September 24th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Goodreads
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

I did enjoy Where the Stars Still Shine, but didn’t think it lived up to expectations. Everyone I’ve heard reviews from loved it–where as I was a bit disappointed. Callie was kidnapped by her mother as child and has been on the run for as long as she can remember. She only has distant, snapshot memories of her past life, but she knows she was kidnapped. Callie’s mother has a mental disability, and has not taken her prescribed tablets in years. Something happens that causes Callie to be re-united with her father and she has to dramatically change her lifestyle quickly and is expected to abide by a certain set of rules that weren’t in place before. This of course, causes issues.

Callie’s father, Greg, was such a sweet guy and I really loved him for it. They’re strangers to each other, Callie is 17 and grew up without a father figure. Callie has also grown up with abuse from her mother’s boyfriend/s. This is really the heart and trauma of the book. It affects Callie’s perception of men, and herself involving men. Callie adapted to this new lifestyle really well, but obviously she makes a lot of mistakes and has the tenancy  to run when things get hard.

Callie annoyed me in a lot of ways, because I felt she never tried to help herself. I could never, ever, understand the torrent of emotions and what she’s going through. However, sometimes she made things harder for herself and that frustrated me. Also, I never got a strong impression of her personality. She felt quite two-dimentional to me, because a lot of the book is obviously focused on her reaction to her situation, she felt a bit plastic. I’m not sure if this is intended though, because Callie’s never really had the opportunity to have a personality. Anyway, the whirlwind of emotions that tore through her was written beautifully and felt spot on–despite never having been in this situation myself. Callie’s torn between her wanting to love Greg, but wanting to be loyal to her mother; and even though she kind of hates her mother, her mother’s all she’s ever known.

There is romance, which I think added to the growth of Callie, because it caused her to overcome a lot of issues. Alex was a lot more sweeter than I thought he would be, but at the same time their relationship annoyed me. I thought they should have taken it slower, right from the beginning to contrast to her other relationships and show that it was different. I felt like she never really learnt anything, even though Alex helped change her perception of men.

Overall, I’ve never read anything like this before and enjoyed it originality the set-up. Even though I didn’t think it was outstanding, it was still a pretty amazing book and I would recommend it!

Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Review: Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Review: Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan MatsonAmy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon and Schuster Children's on May 4th 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
three-half-stars
Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

After Amy’s dad dies in a car accident, her mother decides to move to Connecticut. Whilst Amy’s brother is in rehab, and her mother is getting the house ready in Connecticut, Amy is alone in her house in California. She hasn’t driven since her father died, so to get to her new house in Connecticut, Amy’s mother organises her to be driven by her old childhood friend–Roger.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour was a fun read with serious undertones, but not something that astounded me. Ultimately, because the romance let it down. (Romance is very important to me and this didn’t tick all the boxes, sadly.) I felt very much for Amy on a personal level, because my father died of cancer, and Amy’s dad died in a car accident. This made it a pretty emotional book to read at times, because I could relate to a lot of her regrets and thoughts. There’s a lot of messages about loss, family, love and life that anyone can identify with.

I loved the travelling aspect of this, because Amy and Roger travel over a whole lot of states in America. America is somewhere I’ve always wanted explore and go on a road-trip to. The UK is so small, that it freaks me out how huge North America is, therefore, I found it so cool to find out that some restaurants  and chocolate bars are only in certain states. Every couple of chapters there’s a list of songs that are from Roger’s playlist, which was really fun, and every chapter there were pictures and recipes which added to the exciting imagery of travelling.

An aspect that I really enjoyed is how Amy steps out of her comfort zone, by defying her mother and by spending a lot of time with a cute guy, when she has spent the last 3 months in her house alone.  Amy’s mother annoyed me beyond belief. Her father dies and her mum decides to move house. I understand the reasoning behind this, but after such a massive change, Amy now has to deal with a new house, new school and all the other stresses that comes with moving states. On top of that, Amy’s mother refuses to have a proper conversation with Amy, and leaves her alone in the house for THREE MONTHS, after her father has died. Neglect anyone? That is simply not okay, and means Amy has to mourn alone. There are so many more things that made me hate her mother, but that would probably take up pages so…

Roger was a cute guy, but was a bit lost and blind to what he wanted. The romance is slow-building and sweet, but nothing mind-blowing. However, it’s not really supposed to be. The last couple of romances I’ve read have left something to be desired! UGH. Anyway, when they realised their feelings together, the novel was pretty much done and there was really no room for any scenes together, which disappointed me. I like to see how the characters are in their relationship and how it develops.

Overall, a cute novel and something I would recommend because it has a lot to offer (travel, dealing with death, romance, stepping out of you comfort zone), and really it was the romance that let it down. Otherwise, it’s a really great book.

Rating: 3.5 stars

three-half-stars

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Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky #1)

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky #1)Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #1
Published by Atom on January 3rd 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 374
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Goodreads
three-half-stars
WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.

DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

Under the Never Sky took a while to draw me in, the entire premise was quite complicated and not very well explained. It jumped right in with bewildering lingo like ‘Realms’  which left me confused. Some of the world intricacies were never explained and I have no idea how the Earth got into this weird Sci-Fi situation or if it’s a different dimension entirely. However, despite this initial bump, at about page 130, Under the Never Sky got good.  Really good.

I loved the idea of having ‘Realms’. They are virtual worlds that humans live in and you can change to different Realms with a single thought. For example, you can go to a Forest Realm for lunch and then a Beach Realm in the blink of an eye. Everything is virtual, so the experience is not quite the same as real life, but the people who live there try and make everything appear, feel and taste as life-like as possible. Our main protagonist, Aria, is from the Realms and soon finds that the Realms have done no justice to real life. It was amusing to read about her reactions to things very common to us, like fires, which mystified her. Also, she kept collecting rocks, because they’re unique shapes and sizes on earth, whereas in the Realms they are formulated and often boring and the same.

Meanwhile on Earth, humans live in Tribes, with a leader called a Blood Lord. Humans have been set back a hundred or so years. They are living in stone huts and finding it hard to survive with enough food through the winter. Peregrine is our main hero, and when his nephew goes missing, Peregrine sets off to save him. Then Aria gets thrown out of the Realms, and her and Peregrine strike a deal to help each other.

Under the Never Sky is told in dual points of view, following both Perry and Aria, it was enjoyable to read about both of their lives and the contrast of how they live and their thoughts about each other. To begin with, they share an animosity towards each other because Aria thinks Perry’s a savage, and Perry thinks Aria’s a spoilt brat. Both of those opinions hold some truth. But of course their relationship continues to develop and drama ensues.

It’s a mix or science fiction and Dystopia, which was interesting to read. I really enjoyed this book, although I don’t think it was initially explained in the best way, I was still very taken by the writing and the unique premise. I highly recommend this series, and urge you to get past the fairly boring and slightly confusing first 100 pages, because the next 250 are a real gem.

Rating: 3.5 Stars, but only because of the beginning, otherwise I seriously loved it and I will definitely be carrying on with the series.

three-half-stars

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Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall by Susan Ee
Series: Penryn and the End of Days #1
Published by Hodder and Stoughton on May 23rd 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
three-half-stars

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

I’m not keen on Angels novels, I don’t know why but every Angel book I’ve read leaves something to be desired–I’m looking at you Hush Hush and Fallen. The premise to Angelfall was unusual, because Angels caused the post-apocalyptic world and are evil. I got a little freaked out by how awful Angels were in this book!
It is quite uncommon that I love the heroine and get a little annoyed with the love-interest. However, I found Raffe was luke-warm and then cold towards Penryn. Presumably so he didn’t develop feelings for her and to ‘protect’ her, but honestly, it became annoying. However, I loved Penryn’s independence because she’d learnt martial arts and could protect herself, despite being a little lost.
There are many cliché’s that pulled this novel down for me in rating, most of them involving Raffe. Angelfall isn’t entirely to blame however, it’s also the other Young Adult books churning out the same clichéd stories that are wearing me down.
An example of a cliché was that Raffe was described as ‘Adonis like’ and Penryn was ‘boring looking’. I find this is the case with a lot of Young Adult novels, with the stunningly attractive male falling in love with the average-looking female. I like reading about confident girls, and I don’t need the guys to be God-like in appearance to keep me interested.

Me: “What? This guy doesn’t look like a Greek God?” *shuts book* “Nope, not good enough.”

Raffe was sometimes unreasonably rude to Penryn and I felt like she was too kind towards him and it would’ve made things more interesting if she’d defended herself more.
I empathised with Raffe and his situation, considering a part of him had literally been ripped away from him. I did like Raffe, and in some scenes of the book, my heart melted a little. However, he brings up quite a few of my annoyances and pet-peeves, that I could not ignore.
Penryn was on a mission; her wheelchair-bound sister had gotten kidnapped and Penryn has to save her from evil Angels who’d taken over the world. Oh, and she’s also got a crazy mother who likes talking to demons and showing up at the most inappropriate times. Penryn was fantastic, I really understood her–she was a normal teenager who didn’t entirely know what she was doing, but wasn’t completely helpless. She had a mission and no one was going to stop her, I admired her determination.
Towards the end climax, I was completely shocked and the plot really thickens from there till the end. It was a very open ending, because I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next installment, but it stopped on a satisfying, positive note. I’m interested to see where this story-line goes, especially for Penryn’s sake.
I didn’t love, love Angelfall, but I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.
This book gave me tons to think about, there were a lot of things that did not cater to my personal preferences, yet I still managed to enjoy it, which says something!

I’m wavering, but I’m going to go with 3.5 Stars. Recommended if you like Angels, and hot n’ cold relationships.
If anyone has a recommendation for a good Angel book, let me know. I’ve tried Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and Fallen by Lauren Kate. I didn’t like them.

three-half-stars

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Review: Tent City by Kelly Van Hull

Tent City by Kelly Van Hull
Series: Tent City #1
on March 10th 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
Pages: 270
Format: eBook
Source: Given From Author
three-half-stars
Tent City

Goodreads

After a devastating plague, introverted 17-year-old Dani Campbell and her family find themselves living in a very different America, one run by a cult-like leader, who forces children to move to “safety camps” designed to protect the human race. Encouraged to flee by her parents, Dani and her five-year-old brother seek refuge in the Black Hills of South Dakota. On the run with danger around every corner, Dani must fight to ensure their survival in this new world while trying to unmask the mystery of how it all came to be

Danielle, her friend Kit, and her brother Brody, escape the chaos of society and the soon impending ‘safety camps’  children are forced to live in. Tent City was an enjoyable Dystopian read that had me interested from page 1. Dani grew throughout Tent City, both physically and mentally, she seemed so much more capable by the end of the book, and I found that satisfying. She doesn’t sit around, something happens to spur her into action and train, so she can protect herself and those she loves.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the love triangle between Bentley, Jack and Dani. I knew it was coming. Romance is not a major aspect in Tent City, things are more focused on survival, but it’s undeniably there. It creeps up on you, and I had a definite favourite between two. Jack was swoon-worthy, and had a really sweet relationship with Brody. Secrets and mystery encased both Jack and Bentley, which made them both more appealing, but also quite infuriating. I kept waiting for answers, some of which I figured out and some of which were revealed. There were a couple of loose ends and the ending was quite sudden.

The relationship between Dani and her little brother, Brody, was really cute. Dani did everything she could to protect him, and I knew, she would do anything for him if it came to it. I didn’t entirely relate to her situation, because I’m the youngest and have two older brothers, but I understood the need to protect those you love. It was always her first priority, yet her constant worrying didn’t annoy me, when it has before in previous books.

The world was not the most extensive Dystopia ever, but I don’t think it was meant to be. I liked that it was a cross between natural disaster and our—humans—reaction to it. The majority of the book is set in Tent City, which made it less exciting, but left room to develop the setting and the ideas involving Tent City. I liked the always underlying problem of survival, and I especially loved the waterfall scenes!

The end left me waiting for more, because I wasn’t satisfied with the loose ends and the things that were left. Events were definitely set up for a book 2, and I’d be interested to see what happens– especially with the romance!

Rating; 3.5 stars

three-half-stars

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Review: Forsaken by the Others by Jess Haines (H&W Investigations #5)

Review: Forsaken by the Others by Jess Haines (H&W Investigations #5)Forsaken by the Others Published by Zebra on 1 August 2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
three-half-stars

 

  •  

Have a one night stand with a vampire, and you can end up paying for it for eternity. P.I. Shiarra Waynest, an expert on the Others, knows that better than most. Yet here she is, waking up beside charismatic vamp Alec Royce with an aching head…and neck. Luckily, Shia has the perfect excuse for getting out of town – namely, a couple of irate East Coast werewolf packs who’d like to turn her into a chew toy. On Royce’s suggestion, Shia temporarily relocates to Los Angeles. But something is rotten-literally-in the state of California, where local vampires are being attacked by zombies. Who could be powerful enough to control them-and reckless enough to target the immortal? Following the trail will lead Shia to a terrifying truth, and to an ancient enemy with a personal grudge…

 

After the events of the previous novels, Shiarra Waynest finds herself facing the consequences of her skewed judgement. We are taken away from all the key characters, and Shiarra and her best friend Sara go together to another city. Forsaken by the Others was an enjoyable read, however it lacked in some key aspects that let it down.

I would have liked to see more Royce in this book, after the beginning he’s not really in it at all. I never like it when the author mixes things up and takes them to another setting, because it means we never get to see our favourite minor characters. The only good thing was we had the additional characters–The White Hats, who I really liked–probably because I like werewolves.

This book never got going for me, I was never in suspense about the plot, and nothing exciting or shocking happened enough. I enjoyed the idea of it, however the way it was executed didn’t keep me as intrigued as I’d have liked.

Shia was an interesting character, but it was never quite cleared up what was going on with her and if she was turning into a supernatural being. Her relationship with Royce wasn’t developed well enough either, or explored at all after the first few chapters. I thought she was refreshingly realistic, she didn’t pretend to be something she wasn’t and fight Vampires, or get herself in too deep in situations she knew she couldn’t handle. She’s a private investigator, not a fighter. The thing is, that’s usually where things are made interesting–when the heroine mucks up. Her voice was down-right hilarious at times and very dry, the way she was written was incredibly entertaining.

The world was the most intriguing aspect, it had vampires, werewolves, zombies and a hint of something else as well. I liked the characters, the setting, the supernatural elements, however I am not keen on how I kept waiting for the plot to thicken, but it never did. The pacing was too slow for me. I really loved the writing, and the voice of Shia, it was sarcastic and witty, and made observations that were so funny to read.

It sounds like I didn’t enjoy it from this review, but I did, it was simply the lack of suspense and slow pace that ruined it!

Rating: 3.5 Stars Fantastic world and funny voice, but the plot left something to be desired.

three-half-stars

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Review: White Cat by Holly Black (Curse Workers #1)

White Cat by Holly Black
Series: Curse Workers #1
Published by Gollancz on 29th July 2010
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 324
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
three-half-stars

Cassel comes from a family of Curse Workers – people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got any magic, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail – he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago. 

Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the cover–I really like it!

This is such an intriguing premise to read about. I don’t read many book where the protagonist is male, so it was refreshing to read White Cat in a different perspective than I usually read Young Adult. Cassel is the black sheep in his family, he is not a Curse Worker. Unlike his two older brothers and his mother, who each have a power to change your emotions, you luck and your memories with simply a touch to the hand. Curse work is illegal, so many become crooks and con men, therefore Cassel has to become the best of the best con men to outsmart those more powerful than him.

Cassel goes to a boarding school and pretends he’s normal, he tries his hardest to blend in and be the average guy everyone wants him to be. Except he’s not really normal. Not only does he come from a family of workers, but he also once killed his best friends Lila—and he enjoyed it. But now he’s filled with self-loathing and he’s found sleep-walking, having dreams that he can’t explain. His brothers are keeping secrets too, so Cassel has to do his best to be conspicuous and out-smart his brothers to reveal the truth.

I really enjoyed White Cat and the premise it was built on. It took me a while to get fully invested because I thought the beginning was quite slow, but once it got going it was a great read. I loved the concept of the conmen and how Cassel tries to excel at lying and playing people, but sometimes messes up.

Cassel is a weird mix of being really flat and at the same time complex. He seemed interesting at the times when he was talking about himself and how he felt about killing Lila and being so out of place in his family. However, the writing style of Holly Black made him seem quite flat at times, and it was a rather weird mix.

I think it got slightly boring at times, but it’s quite a small book and it didn’t take me a lot to keep going, I was interested in seeing the resolution. I really did enjoy it, I just don’t think the characters were interesting enough for me. I wasn’t compelled to read it for the characters, but more the story. I will definitely keep reading this series, as it was a fun read, with intriguing plot-twists and fun con-men elements.

Rating 3.5 Stars

three-half-stars

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Published by Gollancz on September 3rd 2009
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Source: Bought
three-half-stars

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Published: 3 September 2009
  • ISBN-10: 0575085304
  •  

18-year-old Katsa is the niece of King Randa, living in one of the seven kingdoms in this dystopian/fantasy world. Some people are born with a ‘Grace’, meaning they have a certain skill, but are often feared or exploited for their talents. Born with a killing Grace,  Katsa accidentally killed a man at a very young age. She began to train her lethal ability, at first using sacks filled with grain, perfecting her knife, archery, combat, and sword skills. Her ability to fight and kill was well known, and one day the King; started exploiting her skills to kill or maim anyone who displeased him in the other kingdoms.
For years Katsa is repulsed by the orders she obeys, and later decides to create a Council to secretly defy the King, where she helps people in the kingdoms who have been wronged. On one of her missions, she meets Po, who has a Grace of fighting, and they seem matched in their abilities. They start to train together and their next mission is to find out who kidnapped his grandfather.
Katsa was an interesting person at times and also a little frustrating, because she has only ever had one friend before and doesn’t know how to proceed in any relationship. As Po and Katsa become friends, their relationship was quite relaxed, and it was clear to me, they were going to be more than friends. Katsa grows, as she learns how to mostly trust another person, other than herself. Most of the people in the Kingdom are disgusted by her, and in doing so, making Katsa believe she is a savage monster herself. We see her vulnerable in a relationship and it’s a new experience as she always keeps people at arms length.
Katsa refuses to marry because of her inability to trust, and her desire to be independent her whole life. She can’t bear to wear a dress or have her hair done up, heading straight to the archery building for her comfort zone when she gets upset. It seems like she’s compensating for physical strength, because she feels vulnerable. I understood why Katsa feels she can only trust herself and a handful of other people, and I thought Po and her fit very well as a couple, him being the Yin to her Yang. However, I have two opinions on their relationship. I really liked their relationship when they were friends. I truly believed the build up towards their relationship, but from then on, I was slightly disappointed. I really wanted their love as an opportunity for them to act more as a couple. Having said that, I understand that it’s not Katsa’s type of personality.
The plot had such potential, and there was lots of build up, but the fight scenes were quick and didn’t give me enough time to enjoy them. Katsa was praised a killing phenomenon, yet there were not enough fights to satisfy me. Throughout the book,  I didn’t get enough intrigue and it didn’t leave me guessing. I liked the premise of the story and what Kristin Cashore has built, but the story never hit me hard enough.
The twists and turns in this plot were very interesting, but not un-put-down-able. I really liked the different characters and their development,  enjoying the contrast between Katsa’s badass personality and her vulnerable side. The world Kristin has build is interesting, and I’m excited to see where she takes me in the next book.
I give this a 3.5 Stars

three-half-stars