Sunday, October 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop: Oct 15-18, 2010

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy-for-Books. 
Click the button for rules on how to participate in this fun Book Party!
 
Book Blogger Hop


This week's question is:
"When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?"

My answer:
I'm like to think that I choose the books I read carefully enough  before I start reading to avoid this problem. This has only happened to me once, and while it was not a horrible book, it was not a YA fantasy and  I thought my time could be better spent on genre-related books. I do not have enough of a presence in the blogosphere yet to be receiving books for review, and while it would be exciting, it also gives me the freedom to review only what I want. 

Another thing to consider is audio books. I listen to a lot of audio books while I'm driving, and for me, it is easier to get through a book I am only marginally interested in when I am simply listening to it. I think for this reason I have skirted around the problem this week's Hop question addresses.

I'm a little late posting this week but if you've found my blog via the Hop, welcome, and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review: Valiant


Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black

Published: September 26th 2006 by Simon Pulse
Word Count: 63,568
Series: The Modern Faerie Tales, book 2
Source: library audio book

My Grade: B-

Synopsis from GoodReads: When seventeen-year-old Valerie runs away to New York City, she's trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city's labyrinthine subway system.

But there's something eerily beguiling about Val's new friends. And when one talks Val into tracking down the lair of a mysterious creature with whom they are all involved, Val finds herself torn between her newfound affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.

Note: This is technically the second book in Black’s series, but can be read as a stand-alone since none of the main characters in the first book, Tithe, appear in Valiant.

This is an urban fantasy about faeries and the unfortunate human teenagers who get caught up in faerie plots.

Valiant didn’t grab me the way it might have been supposed to because I couldn’t connect with the protagonist, Val. Maybe I was a little too straight-laced in high school, but a book about a teenage runaway who shoots up faerie heroine to get high and lives in a smelly rodent-infested abandoned NYC subway station for most of the book just didn’t pique my interest the way another premise might. I can see how it might be appealing to some teenagers, as I know the desire to go out on one’s own and ‘live on the streets’ may seem thrilling or glamorous or just plain adventurous.  I do like how the protagonist’s name casual shifts from Valerie to ‘Prince Valiant’ with her change in environment, signaling to the reader that she is assuming a new identity while keeping the same nickname: Val.

The human character I found most interesting was Luis, and the scene I found most interesting was when Luis told Val about his childhood and his history with the fairies. As you might know if you’ve read my other reviews, I’m a sucker for back-story. That’s the element that pulls me into a book the most.

The love story between Val and Ravus the troll was at first unexpected and then oddly refreshing, as you do not normally find love stories between mortals and what we collectively consider monsters or ugly creatures – trolls being in this category.

The actress who reads the audio book Valiant gives Ravus a very gruff voice. Because of this I didn’t necessarily suspect where his relationship with Val was going.  I think if I had read the book the more conventional way, I would have depicted him in my head as more of a ‘gentle giant’ type, although perhaps hidden behind a wary and rough exterior.

When it was revealed toward the end of the book that the faerie Mabry was a prominent figure in the main mystery the mortal teenagers were trying to figure out, I was a little uninterested because we only see Mabry once before her role in the central storyline is revealed. Because of this, we don’t get to know her very well and thus are disinterested in how she matters to the central action.

Overall, not my cup of tea, but I can see why it’s popular.

Get it on Amazon: Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie

Visit the author's website:
http://www.blackholly.com/

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October "Remember When..." meme

Remember When….
"Remember When..." is a monthly meme that showcases a book I read as a child or young teenager and remember fondly. I'm doing this to highlight some of the great older books out there that perhaps don't get the spotlight in the blogosphere because they were written before it's advent. When most book blogs are reviewing and hyping the newest books on the market, which is great, I would like to take a moment every once in a while to look back on what shaped my reading interests.

If you'd like to participate, just leave a link to your "Remember When..." in the comments section.

So, without further ado, here is my October book selection:

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

I can’t stress enough how amazing this book is. It is a traditional ‘quest’ book, so there is an abundance of landscape descriptions, which readers who are not accustomed to reading lengthy descriptions in today’s books may find a bit tedious. But they are not so bad as to put readers off the book entirely. In fact, the characterization of not only the protagonist and his group of travelers, but of the history of the three counties involved in the story, the religion, and the culture is so rich that you can only suspect what the author might do with it in her subsequent books. Since writing The Thief in 1996 she had completed three more book in this series. The last one came out in April 2010, which I have yet to read and am eagerly anticipating the pleasure!

These books are so full of twists and turns, narrative misdirection, and good old-fashion trickery. Each line of dialogue is so filled with purpose and meaning that you could dive into this series – and indeed this single book – and find as many literary elements as any book studied in a high school English class. Books of this caliber are few and far between, and the majority of popular YA fantasy fiction that is written nowadays as a response to current trends cannot hold a candle to perhaps less popular but higher quality books like The Thief. Back in 1996 it was published without much fanfare but nevertheless holds a loyal niche following. If you have not yet discovered this book, you are in for quite a treasure, and I don’t think anyone can call themselves a connoisseur of YA fantasy fiction without having read The Thief.

visit the author's website: http://meganwhalenturner.org/index.html

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Books on this blog

  • City of Bones, Book One of The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
  • Eighth Grade Bites, The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer
  • Evermore by Alyson Noel
  • Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
  • Magyk, Book One of the Septimus Heap Series by Angie Sage
  • The Alchemyst: Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud