I’m sorry it’s been a few days since I’ve posted. I had been feeling a little under the weather, but it did give me some time to do some reading!
So, this week I’ve read a fair few fantasy novels.
Entwined by Heather Dixon is a retelling of the classic Grimm’s fairytale of the twelve dancing princesses.
Princess Azalea is the eldest girl who promises her dying mother to care for her younger siblings. Her father, the King, is an enigma who appears to be all head of state and not a kindly parental figure, but he is grieving, poor, and is shouldering the kingdom’s major problems including a war. The princesses are required to mourn for the mother for a year, meaning no dancing. They find this a great hardship and discover a magic passageway to a pavilion for dancing, overseen by a mysterious man called The Keeper. However, not everything is as it seems as precious items keep going missing, but The Keeper demands payment for letting the girls dance in his magic pavilion=his freedom. Azalea must discover the real truth about The Keeper, magic, her family, and her heart because she fears her sisters could be in terrible danger…
While I certainly enjoyed reading this book, it wouldn’t be one I would read over again. I just didn’t find it clear enough to picture what actions were happening (especially the descriptions of the dancing!), and the mysteriousness of the book seems impossible to figure out for the reader. I enjoy books that keep me guessing, and I had no idea where to start for this novel. I think this was a case of too much detail and too little clarity to make this a great read. However, don’t let my thoughts discourage you from reading! Everyone has different opinions, and despite the possible writing flaws, the story is cute and keeps you reading.
Rating: Either you like it or you’re super annoyed with it. Maybe read.
The Selection by Kiera Cass was possibly my favorite read this time.
America Singer believes she has a bright future ahead of her because she is in love with Aspen, even though he is in a caste below her. Despite the possibility of marrying down and having less food and more problems, she loves Aspen and would do anything to be with him, but she cannot turn her back on her family. When the Selection (a drawing of girls for the marriage choices of the Prince of Illea) comes around, her mother pushes her to sign up for the possibility of a fairy tale-like bright future (and the familial perks that come with it). But when Aspen also wants her to do it, the future she envisioned is tossed into oblivion. Rebellious, hurt, and angry, she signs up and is one of the Selected. Now she is one of thirty-five girls who have the chance to be the wife of the prince, but America has no intentions of any sort of love with gracious Prince Maxon. However, this change in fate has made America see the real possibilities in her future, one where she wants to be a part of changing the ways of society. Can she find out what she really wants, especially in love, before it is too late?
I obviously have a unchecked passion for dystopians and this book is no exception. While some might find flaws in the background and setting of the story (what seems to be an American continent coalition of South and North American countries reborn into a constitutional ((?)) monarchy, whose stability is threatened by inner secret rebel groups), I don’t bother with those things (because have you ever tried to INVENT a society all in your head and have it be perfectly reasonable and absolutely clear? It is NOT as easy as you might perceive. I would know, I have been attempting to do it). I think the real draw to this story are how real the characters seem and the flow of the story. I was feverishly reading to see what would happen, maybe because I am a romantic deep down (but only if it is believable and there is a some sort of conflict). Although I generally don’t like much reality tv (especially shows like The Bachelor) because of how fake people are on the shows, I do love reading that sort of idea on the page. I think it is much more believable in “drawing” kingdom-wide. It rather puts me in the mind of Cinderella and how all the maidens in the land of a certain age came to be presented to the prince to see whom he would marry; except in this case, Cinderella isn’t looking for her prince. I think Kiera Cass has done a great job so far in this series, and frankly, I’d like to be friends with her. She seems really fun and personable. (Check out her website for more news!) I am really excited about the next book in the series The Elite coming out in April 2013, and to read the novella The Prince, the date of release of which I forget.
As far as my personal thoughts on the characters, I do love how personable America is, and how perfectionist and responsible Maxon seems to be, but Aspen…I haven’t decided what is so special about him especially when most of what he does could utterly ruin both of their lives. America just seems to want to do the right thing and be who she is, which is a loyal, altruistic young woman who would rather sacrifice herself and her wants/needs than see others come to harm. I quite think we’re somewhat alike in those tendencies.
Rating: Good Read. Maybe like/love? Buy ASAP? Nah.
The Dark Divine series by Bree Despain
The Dark Divine follows Grace Divine, a pastor’s daughter, as she is thrown into confusing circumstances with the return of her childhood love and adopted brother, Daniel, and her real older brother Jude, who acts perfect and yet hates Daniel. Grace cannot help but disobey Jude’s wishes forbidding her to even see Daniel, but the old love returns. Daniel is not the same person he used to be. Jude thinks he’s dangerous, yet Grace believes although he might be troubled, he is good. Through the tangled and secret past of her family and love, Grace must confront the unbelievable and make a sacrifice, for isn’t that the nature of divine grace?
This series is a supernatural romance with werewolves (Urbats or Hounds of Heaven/Hell) but this is not just another run-of-the-mill werewolf series. It uses religion in an “angels and demons” type of battle between the human who is capable of being saved and the wolf which is almost inescapable sin. Really, I find it hard to put down! So far, I like the second book best…
The Lost Saint is the second installment in the Dark Divines series. Grace’s brother Jude is still missing, and it has torn her family and life apart. Her mother is a metaphorical zombie, her father is absent, her best friend April dislikes her, and even Daniel starts keeping secrets. Meanwhile, Grace struggles between using the newfound abilities of an Urbat to help stop the recent series of thefts and murders and find her brother against becoming the evil, murderous wolf and possibly hurting the people she loves. When she gains a new Urbat mentor in Talbot, another handsome boy with a savior complex, she unknowingly falls headfirst into the trap set for her and her beloved Daniel.
In the third book, The Savage Grace, Grace seems to have come to the end of her rope. Her mother is put in the psych ward, her father gets critically injured in a bomb attack, her brother is locked in a cage for his own good, and Daniel has been turned into a white wolf. To top it all off, she’s mothering Daniel’s new pack as alpha female, the Shadow Kings and Caleb still want her dead, and Gabriel’s pack leader Sirhan is dying, creating a werewolf magnet for miles to claim leadership of his pack. Grace knows only she can save Daniel, so that must be step one. To overcome all of these obstacles, she has to quit lying to herself, being angry, and start freely giving. Being Grace and being honest has never been so tough, but to get what you want, you have to work and work hard.
I read this third book in a couple hours; it was so gripping! I did find a fair few grammar mistakes that made me mad at the editor, but the story was still good. I enjoyed the series. Perhaps not the absolute best thing ever, it was still a great series. Fans of Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy will probably also like this trilogy, except there’s more paranormal butt-kicking like in Kiersten White’s Paranormalcy series or Cassie Clare’s Mortal Instruments.
Rating: Great read especially if you love werewolves!