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Review: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
1.5 Stars: An Okay Read
Series: The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #1
Paperback: 379 Pages
Publication: October 23, 2012 by Halequin Teen

Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

After The Iron Knight and The Immortal Rules, I was really hoping to like this book. Okay, I'd really liked seeing things from Ash's perspective in the last book, and I might have wondered how hot Ethan was going to grow up to be. However, this book really felt like one big fan service. I cringe to use this phrase, but the story embodies all these plot devices that I'm seeing as a recurring pattern in with YA books recently and am not really liking.

The Lost Prince is one big romanticized adventure. The guys are hot and kickass in a fight while the girls are helpless, always needing to be protected in a fight. Yes, they stand up for themselves at times, but mostly they give comfort to the guys and aren't much help in a fight. I like feeling independent, but I concede that I would totally dig a guy who stands up for me in a time of danger. The characters also fall into grave danger, but things happen at convenient times to help them get out of danger. While I love books where all the odds are against the characters, I need to be convinced that what happens really could happen even if it wouldn't be plausible in the real world. I didn't feel convinced here.

Ethan is no longer the little boy that I fell in love with (in a protective, big sister kind of way). He's grown up to be a big broken boy, convinced that his sister abandoned him and the rest of her human family and that the fae are out to get them. We know from the first series that Meghan didn't want to leave her family behind--she only did that to protect them and because she also had duties to her people, being a Queen. However, Ethan doesn't know that, and he's grown up scared and unable to trust anybody. Nevertheless, while I can understand why he feels the way he does, I just couldn't empathize with him, which may have to do with the writing style. Ethan's thought processes aren't fully developed, and it didn't let me get to know him as well as I could have.

While this book wasn't quite for me, I am still interested in seeing where the story takes us. I enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new characters, including one that was somewhat introduced in The Iron Knight but we don't really get to meet until this book. And Grimalkin... he's still as catty as ever. I just adore him. This book also introduces a new enemy, one whose full intents still remain shadowed. I'm looking forward to finding out more about them.

An ARC was provided by HarlequinTEEN for review.

Related Posts
Review of The Iron Knight (The Iron Fey #4)

Imagine Weekly: Mailbox #40

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I finally finished and submitted the essay for my Arts class that I was taking in New York and finally took an inventory of the books I received over the past three or so weeks. Classes have begun again, which means that I won't be blogging as much as I have in the past, but now that my essay is over with I'll be blogging fairly regularly. I just finished reading The False Prince (at last!) and loved it. Which was wonderful because (1) I heard so many good things about it and loved to love it, and (2) it makes for an awesome return to the bookpile.

Other not-so-bookish-but-equally-awesome news: This semester, I'm taking Aikido, a self-defense based martial arts, and it's epic. I also love how I can tell people that I know how to hurt people now (if they make a wrong move), even if I haven't mastered the techniques yet (that'll come with time and practice).

Imagine My Mailbox
This covers quite a few weeks since I couldn't really check my mailbox while the two weeks I was in New York.

* Check out more book hauls at Tynga's Stacking the Shelves *

What did you get this week? Leave a link in the comments section, and I'll check out your week's haul!

Review Lag Time

Monday, January 14, 2013
I had the mistaken belief that I could keep up with reviews while running around New York looking at art galleries and museums for an Arts Course. I was so, so wrong. After being on my feet for the vast majority of the day standing around and looking and writing about art, I'm so tired at night that I crash soon as I get back to my room. So there probably won't be many new posts this week, but I'll try to catch up next week.

On the bright side, I saw Wicked Friday night. It was breathtaking. I laughed and I cried there in the audience. There's nothing like seeing a story come to life on the stage... and the sound! It's to be expected on Broadway, but the singers are amazing. I'd talk more about it, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. And now I have a copy of the book by Gregory Maguire coming my way. It sounds awesome in a darker and different way than the musical based off it.

Imagine This: When Historical Figures Meet Fictional Plots

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Imagine This is a feature hosted by Austin at Imaginary Reads. Every Friday, Austin comes up with a question that asks readers to explore a book and come up with an outcome using the power of imagination.

This Week's Question
You get to introduce a historical figure to a fictional plot. Who would you choose and what will happen?

My Answer:
I would put Napoleon into the plot of the Inheritance series. I admire his rise from the bottom of society to become one of the most famous military leaders in history.

Napoleon would most likely start off in the Empire's army and work his way up to the top before trying to take control, similar to the way he rose through the French army and took over as the Emperor. Napoleon would very likely find a way to discover the secret to Galbatorix's power and overthrow him. Being the intelligent man and strategist that he was, Napoleon would make for a far more formidable foe for Eragon and the Vardin to face, and unlike Galbatorix, Napoleon would be on the front lines leading his army, allowing for swifter and more unpredictable counterattacks.

Review: Exposure by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

Thursday, January 10, 2013

3 Stars: An Entertaining Read
Series: Twisted Lit #2
Hardcover: 272 Pages
Publication: January 18, 2013 by Merit Press

Double, double, toil and trouble. Sometimes, the quest for high school royalty can be deadly! In this emotionally-charged twist on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a self-conscious shutterbug named Skye Kingston navigates a treacherous school year in Alaska fraught with unspoken secrets and tragic twists of fate. Along the way she encounters three strangely prophetic BFFs; one social-climbing, sociopathic cheerleader; and a heart-stopping hottie named Craig McKenzie: the man who would be Prom King. Can Skye save the boy she loves — and herself — before they get caught in the crosshairs?

Another humor-filled Shakespearean retelling from Kim and Amy!

Frankly, if I found out the guy I'm crushing on was involved in an accident that resulted in someone's death and didn't tell the proper authorities, I would fall out of love right there. I'd also go tell the authorities. Because I'm a goody goody like that. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't be crushing on the guy who lets his bitchy girlfriend boss him around. Skye has a bigger heart than me here. She wants to save Craig from the mess that he's dragged himself into, and she stays quiet about what she knows for his sake, waiting for the right moment to help him. Craig isn't a bad guy at heart, and he's lucky to have a good girl like Skye by his side.

Past the small detail of Craig's wimpiness, I enjoyed reading this story. I'm not familiar with Macbeth, as it wasn't on my high school reading list and I never got around to reading it on my own time. Nevertheless, I do know that Craig's girlfriend really fits the role of a modern-day Lady Macbeth. She'll do anything to climb the social ladder--even murder. She's psycho, and I'm not sorry about what happens to her in the end. Just that Skye had to get involved with her to protect Craig.

Like Tempestuous, Exposure is filled with stereotypical characters. From cheerleaders who see Halloween as an opportunity to show off as much skin as possible to dumb jocks with equally dumb senses of humor to strange artists with unique personalities and the crazy, daring environmentalist, this book has them all. Normally, I like to think that stereotypes shouldn't exist and that all people have different sides to them--like Craig, the jock and artist. However, that would be a perfect world, and such stereotypes do exists. And playing with stereotypes leaves a lot of room for humor to come out.

This is a quick and highly entertaining addition to the Twisted Lit series. If you enjoyed Tempestuous, you'll love this one as well. I hope to see more twisted lit books from Kim and Amy!

An ARC was provided by Merit Press for review purposes.

Related Posts
Review - Tempestuous (Twisted Lit #1)

Review: Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

3 Stars: A Good Read
Series: Angelfire #3
Hardback: 469 Pages
Publication: January 29, 2013 by Katherine Tegan Books

Ellie knows that the darkest moments are still to come, and she has everything to fight for:

She must fight for Will.
The demonic have resorted to their cruelest weapons to put Will in mortal danger, and Ellie makes an unlikely alliance to save him and to stop Lilith and Sammael, who seek to drown the world in blood and tear a hole into Heaven.

She must fight for humanity.
As the armies of Hell rise and gather for the looming End of Days, Ellie and her band of allies travel to the world’s darkest and most ancient regions in her quest to come into her full glory as the archangel Gabriel.

And Ellie must save herself.
Her humanity withers beneath the weight of her cold archangel power, but Ellie must hold tight to who she is and who she loves as she prepares for the ultimate battle for Heaven and Earth.

This review is so, so very hard to write. I have been a huge fan of the Angelfire trilogy thus far, and I really wanted to fall madly in love with this book like with the prior two books. The battle scenes are just as epic as always, especially the final battle, and I love the characters as always. I'm also still a fan of the gory details of battle. A book where the fate of the world is at stake never has felt real to me unless there lives are lost and sacrifices are made. However, the beginning of this book threw me off, and it took me a while to get back into the story.

Ellie has always been a strong-willed, independent girl that will have her way or else (and it's no threat when she's deadly with two blades close at hand), so it wasn't like I didn't expect her to be as rash as always. However, she really loses it at the beginning of this book. Remember what happened at the end of book two? Now, Ellie's love for Will and the desire to save him blinds the better judgment that she should have with all the fighting experience she's accumulated and remembered from some past lives. She runs around far more recklessly than she's had in the past in a way that threatens both her life and that of Will whose life depends on her living to find the cure, and that alienated me at the beginning of the book. As much as Ellie's emotions overriding her common sense is justified, I don't think I'm a good match-up with characters letting passion override their rationality.

Things do get better when Will comes back in the picture. Those who have been a fan of Will and Ellie's steamy chemistry will swoon many times over as the two grow closer together. Their love scenes are a welcome break from the high-tension chase to find the tools necessary to defeat Sammael and Lilith. I adore seeing the two of them together; at the same time, I prefer more action and adventure in a story, and there was just a tad bit too much romance for my liking. Cadan is just as sweet as always; there is one scene where he loses control of himself, but Ellie knocks him back to his senses. I still love the guy to death and enjoyed learning more about his past. As much as I support Will + Ellie, it's heartbreaking how he has to watch the girl he loves be with another guy.

Ellie and her comrades have come so far since book one. It's been a joy watching them grow and seeing how far they've come. More friends are lost even as more comrades are gained, and Ellie must put all that she cares about on the line to save the world from the clutches of the Fallen and the demonic reapers that serve them. In the journey to the final battle, much has been sacrificed. Lives, hopes, and dreams. While this book wasn't my favorite in the series, it is still a good, solid conclusion to the Angelfire trilogy.

An ARC was provided by Harper Collins for review.


Author Interview: Elizabeth Percer

Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Today, I'm delighted to be interviewing with Elizabeth Percer, author of An Uncommon Education, today on the blog!

Afraid of losing her parents at a young age, Naomi Feinstein prepares single-mindedly for a prestigious future as a doctor. But when her only friend and confidant abruptly departs from her life, Naomi isn't sure she will ever recover, even after a long-awaited acceptance letter to Wellesley arrives.

Yet Naomi soon learns that college isn't the bastion of solidarity and security she had imagined. Amid hundreds of other young women, she is consumed by loneliness--until the day she sees a girl fall into the freezing waters of a lake.

The event marks Naomi's introduction to Wellesley's oldest honor society, the mysterious Shakespeare Society, defined by secret rituals and filled with unconventional, passionate students. As Namoi immerses herself in this exciting and liberating world, her hapiness is soon compromised by a scandal that brings devastating consequences. Naomi has always tried to save the ones she loves, but sometimes saving others is a matter of saving yourself.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
I come from a family of writers and readers. My father's family fought hard to win the chance to come to the U.S. for education, and many of them followed in the footsteps of their rabbinical ancestors to become academic scholars and writers. My mother hated school, but loved to read, and she instilled in me an appreciation for literature that went far beyond the classroom. My sisters and brother and I all LOVE books, so it was natural that at least one of us pursue writing in earnest. Being the third of the four, I think I had a unique opportunity to bend the rules a bit and be creative. I imagine this is how more than one novelist was born!

It's cool how your family loves to read. I'd love to share books with my brother, but he thinks I'm a bit too obsessed with books. I saw that like Naomi you also attended Wellesley College. How has your time there influenced the writing of the novel and what liberties did you take in fictionalizing the experience?
I love this question, though I'm never quite sure how to answer it. A novelist, I think, should not write about what she knows, but should instead explore the persistent mysteries in her life. As I set out to write the novel, I knew that I wanted to explore my own questions about what it means to be an educated woman in this country in the 20th/21st century, and Wellesley was the perfect setting in which to create fictional characters who would enable me to explore that interest to the greatest extent. The fact that I am familiar with the college -- or was fifteen years ago -- made it easy to let those characters move smoothly within that setting. But I did take many a fictional liberty -- there's nothing in the roof of the Shakespeare House, for example, and forensic burning does not exist.

What are your thoughts on women's education and the gains to be had from the college experience?
Oh, wow. OK, well, truth be told, my thoughts on women's education change almost as soon as I can get them down in writing. I think this is because I believe that education, in general, is best when it's an individualized program, attentive to the particular nuances and idiosyncrasies of the mind it's serving. That said, the fact that so many women in this world are denied an education is an ongoing reminder that my feminist existence -- and many of the things I tend to take for granted along with it -- is the result of exceptional opportunities, rather than universal rights. And until the latter is true for all women, we need to fight for women's educational opportunities no matter what shape or size they might come in.

Naomi also receives an education of sorts through her interactions with her peers, family, and other people in her life. What do you feel is the significance of social relations to Naomi and all the young adults out there finding their way in life?
I love this question, too -- the education that takes place outside of the classroom is, invariably, far more interesting and influential than what takes place inside it. One of the most remarkable things about Wellesley is that it throws together a couple thousand goal-oriented, intense women when they are young adults and puts them in an environment where men mostly out of the equation. The result is a far more intimate knowledge of women's experiences than most of us get to have, and it is at once intimidating and invigorating. I think the social experiences women -- and men -- have in their teens and early twenties continue to teach them throughout their lives in a way that few other relationships can. When these social experiences occurs between the ages of 18-20 and mostly involve other women, they shape you in unusual and profound ways.

What are some of most important things you learned while writing An Uncommon Education?
I learned a lot about having faith in the creative process. I think it might have been James Thurber who said something like, "Writing a novel is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see about three feet in front of you, but that's all you need to get to where you're going." I love how writing teaches me this way to take a backseat to my hyper-controlling tendencies and just let my intuition drive for a while. It's healing and terrifying, and I wouldn't give it up for the world. I also learned that sometimes dropping your standards is the way to really allow for flow and find that creative place where we remember to play and allow enjoyment to come into the work -- both for ourselves and for our readers.

You also were a member of the Shakespeare Society. If you were to use your experience and audition for a role in An Uncommon Education, which character would you like to be and why?
Best question of all! I've always wanted to play Gertrude, Hamlet's mother. I think we tend to judge her from our modern feminist experiences, and fail to recognize the bind she was probably in. I used to love playing characters whom I felt were unfairly maligned -- Isabel in Measure for Measure, Cressida in Troilus and Cressida -- not so much because I wanted to make them seem lovely when they weren't, but because they were juicy and had great potential for complexity.

The complex characters are always the most interesting ones! What are you working on right now?
My second novel, All Stories Are Love Stories. It's set in modern day San Francisco and follows a group or survivors in the immediate aftermath of two major earthquakes. I live just south of San Francisco, so this satisfies two of my requirements for a novel-length project: that it scare the hell out of me (both in prospect and subject), and that it allows me to express an intimate knowledge of a place and time that I love. Watch for it in early 2014!

About the Author

Elizabeth's Website | Facebook
Elizabeth Percer is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and has twice been honored by the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation. She received a BA in English from Wellesley College and a PhD in arts education from Stanford University, and has also completed a postdoctoral fellowship for the National Writing Project at UC Berkley. She lives in California with her husband and three children. An Uncommon Education is her first novel.

Review: An Uncommon Education by Elizabeth Percer

4.5 Stars: An Amazing Read
Paperback: 352 Pages
Publication: January 8, 2013 by Harper Perrenial

Afraid of losing her parents at a young age, Naomi Feinstein prepares single-mindedly for a prestigious future as a doctor. But when her only friend and confidant abruptly departs from her life, Naomi isn't sure she will ever recover, even after a long-awaited acceptance letter to Wellesley arrives.

Yet Naomi soon learns that college isn't the bastion of solidarity and security she had imagined. Amid hundreds of other young women, she is consumed by loneliness--until the day she sees a girl fall into the freezing waters of a lake.

The event marks Naomi's introduction to Wellesley's oldest honor society, the mysterious Shakespeare Society, defined by secret rituals and filled with unconventional, passionate students. As Namoi immerses herself in this exciting and liberating world, her hapiness is soon compromised by a scandal that brings devastating consequences. Naomi has always tried to save the ones she loves, but sometimes saving others is a matter of saving yourself.

An Uncommon Education is a coming-of-age story that follows Naomi from early childhood to her adult years. Over the years, Naomi learns things about her family that she wonder might have been better left alone, she finds love in different people and in different forms, and she comes to terms with who she is and what she wants to do with her life.

Naomi is a gifted child with a photographic memory. An ambitious child, she isn't satisfied with passing the days in blissful ignorance. She asks questions, hard questions for adults to answer given her young age. At the same time that her talent allows her to read and remember texts beyond her level, however, it isolates her from those around her, beliving her cursed or possessed. From childhood through college, she makes few true friends, and even then they all have their own secrets and she must watch those she care about leave her. She runs to leave her problems behind her, and she even finds some comfort in studying during her first year at Wellesley. Life moves on though, and she must learn to confront her deepest fears.

The story is told in five parts, which I found interesting because of the significant role that the Shakespeare Society has on Naomi's life. There, she is able to free herself of the many burdens that she's placed on herself, giving her the freedom and space necessary to explore who she is as an individual and not who she thinks she must be. She makes friends that stay around through her college years and even into her adult life, she learns how to love and move on, and she learns about betrayal.

I always wondered, growing up, about my mom's words that the college years would be the best years of my life. Was she right or wrong? I know believe that it is worth the experience. Even more than during the adolescent years, the college years are about discovering what we truly want in life, and it is when we really find our self identity. Away from her parents, Naomi is alone and cannot continue to let anyone else other than herself define her if she wants to survive. And it is at Wellesley that she breaks free of her limitations and finds her own form of happiness. I love this book and recommend it for readers looking for New Adult books, especially readers that lean towards more literary works.

Imagine Weekly: Imagine My Mailbox (41)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Past Two Weeks in Review
Book Reviews

Lenore Appelhans

My Mailbox

I'm a kid at heart. I watched Rise of the Guardians with my cousins and loved it so much that I persuaded my mom to get me the box set of the first three books in the Guardians series by William Joyce that inspired the film. So far, I've fallen in love with the magic of the first book and am looking forward to reading the rest of the books (and to the release of the fourth book coming soon).

I'm a big fan of the Code Geass series. My cousins came over for Christmas, and with the Holiday money they gave me, I ordered box sets of the DVDs that also came with some manga editions. There are also some character sketch books and soundtracks (not shown). Code Geass R2 Part I hasn't come in yet, so it's also not shown.

* Check out more book hauls at Tynga's Stacking the Shelves *

Other News
I'll be in New York through the 20th. Do you know of any bookish events / other awesome things I should check out while I'm there?

What did you get this week? Leave a link in the comments section, and I'll check out your week's haul!