Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

Dust City
Pages (Hardcover): 304 pages
Publisher: Razorbill
Released: September 30, 2010

Quick Thoughts: What do you get when you mix a classic fairy tale, an urban fantasy like setting, and a beautiful cover? You get Robert Paul Weston's new novel, Dust City. This has all the things I love in a book! I mentioned before that I love fairy tale retellings, I love urban fantasy, and I'm a sucker for nice covers, so I was really excited to get my hands on this book and read it!

Review: Henry Whelp is the son of the famous big bad wolf, you know, the one that killed Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. His father claims to be under something when it happened. He knows he killed them, but it was the fairy dust brought out that side of him. He was meant to do a simple job, but Skinner, the drug lord that Henry’s father worked for, gave him something to calm his nerves. Too bad, it did more than that. But Henry’s father knows it’s the fairy dust!

But that's impossible.

All of the fairy magic has disappeared and now big corporations are sucking up the remnants of the old magic for simple things like medicine, electricity, and even as a means to get high.

It's not until after the death of Henry's therapist that he starts to wonder about the real story behind the fairy dust. And maybe find a way to help his dad and get the girl in the end.

Final Thoughts: There are a lot of great things in the book. I enjoyed hearing about the division between the animals and humans. The fact that a wolf can break a window and go to jail is scary, but things like that happen in this day and age too, which is even scarier.

I think if you took out the magical elements of this book, and some scenes near the end, it would still hold true to what is happening to some people. So I liked seeing this as it made me connect to the story more.

I also loved Detective White, I just wish we saw more of her and actually saw her make progress in trying to catch Henry. She kept saying that Henry couldn't get away from her, but I never felt the urgency in her words. She says something, and then disappears.

This brings me to one of the first things that I didn't like about the book, the lack of character development. Did I like the characters? For the most part I did. Did I know anything about them? That is a good question. They were there, but never felt real to me. The only character that was semi developed was Jack, but we hardly see him as well.

The main problem about this novel is the pacing. Everything felt too rushed. One moment we're with Henry in jail and once it starts to get interesting and I start to wonder more about the jail, Henry breaks out.

Then Henry starts to walk to the streets of the City and I start to get interested again. Then he's working with the drug lord, Skinner. This has potential, real potential. And I'm waiting for more about the drugs, his team, and about this side of the underworld...but all of a sudden, he's in Eden. Eden goes by too quickly for me to wonder how the world is like and then the book is done.

Each time I start to feel invested in a character or the world, the scene changes. This was incredibly disappointing for me, since I was eagerly anticipating this book and due to the pacing, my experience is slightly ruined. I just wish that there was a bit more development, since I wanted more meat to the story.

There is a good story here and I am in the minority about this, I just wish the pacing was better.

Grade: 5.5 out of 10

Thank you to Penguin Canada for providing this book for review.

Read the shorter review at 5 Line Reviews

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eon by Alison Goodman

Pages (Paperback): 544 pages
Publisher: Firebird; Reprint edition
Released: August 31, 2010

Quick Thoughts: I love fantasy novels and I love beautiful covers, so when I was offered this book to review I knew that I had to jump on this chance.

Review: Ever since Eona could remember, she could see the Dragons, but in a world where women are thought to be to bring corruption in a world of dragon and magic, they are pushed aside. Eona, along with her master, decide to disguise Eona as a male and train her to be a Dragoneye. If Eona, now known as Eon, is accepted as a Dragoneye, it will bring riches to her master and bring her into a life of stability. If she doesn't get chosen, then she'll be sent away to the salt mines. Both paths bring hardships, but only one will leave her wondering if death is around the corner. And this isn't from the salt mines.

Eon isn't successful at first and all seems to be lost, until the Mirror Dragon, a dragon that hasn't been seen in 500 years, shows up. Her master is pleased, Eon is pleased, but without knowing it, she's made herself a huge politic chip that is just waiting to be moved around the board. Pushed into the politics, without wanting to be a part of it, and trying to hide her gender, Eon will have to find her place within the Palace and find herself as well. If she doesn't succeed it will bring death and misery, not only to herself, but to everyone as well.

Final Thoughts: The story told in Eon isn't anything new. Women pretending to be men to infiltrate a palace is something I've read before. However, Goodman does a good job in weaving something that is somewhat predictable into a compelling and refreshing story.

Eon's struggles with her gender and trying to fit in were one of my favourite parts in the novel, but also one of the more frustrating aspects. There were many times when I wanted to reach out and tell her what the dragon was saying. I thought it was obvious, but then again because I'm not in her situation and I'm simply on the outside, it seems more obvious to me. If she was found out then she'll be killed, so even though it was frustrating, it did make sense.

I also enjoyed the politics in the novel and seeing Lord Ido do his stuff. Even though he is one of the villain of the novel, he was one of my favourite characters to read about.

There are many great points about Eon, but I would have liked to read more about the Prince and seen more about how Eon trying to do go through life in the Palace. The ending also isn't an ending and you will have to pick up Eona when it comes out to see what will happen next in this duology. Other than that, this was a great read. Eon has great characters, great plot, a lovely setting rich with Chinese and Japanese culture, and writing that flows smoothly. Even though there are many pages in this book, it never felt like an overwhelming task to finish. Everything just worked.

I enjoyed my time reading this and I can’t wait to pick up Eona!

Grade: 9.5 out of 10

Thank you to Penguin Canada for providing this book for review.

Read the shorter version of Eon at 5 Line Reviews

Friday, September 3, 2010

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Testimony: A Novel
Pages (Mass Market Paperback): 352 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Reprint edition
Released: Aug 31, 2010

Quick Thoughts: When I read the blurb of this novel and read the reviews of other bloggers who read this, I knew that this was a book that I had to read. I've never read anything by Anita Shreve before, but I thought this would be a good place to start and so, I read the book.

Review: Testimony starts off with a bang. Mike, the headmaster in Avery Academy receives a tape. In the tape, students are drinking and having sex. Four of the students, all men, are 18 years of age or older. The only female on the tape is 14, and therefore underage.

Once the tape is out in the open, Rob, J-dot, and Silas are left to face the consequences of what they've done. The boys, their parents, Mike, and Sienna, the girl in the video, and others share their testimonies about what happened and the fall out.

Things will never be the same again for anyone.

Final Thoughts: There are some good points in the book and some bad. I enjoyed the writing style and how each chapter was the point of view of a different character. The chapters, for the most part, are written differently for each person, for example, Ellen's chapters are written in second person, Sienna is written in first, Mike's chapters are written in third person. This usually throws off the flow for me, but here it worked nicely.

There are some problems with having a chapter per character though, sometimes they sound similar and I forget who I'm reading about, but the biggest problem is that you never get to know them as well as you want to.

I do wish that Sienna was written differently. I don't know if the author wanted us to dislike her or not, but for someone who lied, you would want to see some sort of conflicted thoughts going through her. Instead you have her wondering if she can go on Oprah or write a book about this. You did get the sense that there was more to her, but due to the chapter changes you do feel like you are missing something.

I felt this way about Silas as well. His chapters are letters he wrote to his girlfriend and even though I know I should sympathize with him, I want him to go and talk to someone instead of acting out. He's still just a kid, even at 18, but I wanted him to do something.

I think that the entire situation was blown out of proportion, the sex was consensual and while she is 14, this is a school and seniors are going to date and have sex with freshmen. It happens everywhere. But something like this can happen and once the media comes in you can't control the situation any longer and it becomes a big deal.

Testimony does do a good job in showing how a simple mistake can have devastating consequences. I do wish that the reveal of the fourth boy was handled better, but other than that I did enjoy the book.

Grade: 7.5 out of 10

Read the shorter review at 5 Line Reviews

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

New Moon   [NEW MOON] [Paperback]
Pages (Hardcover): 608 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Released: May 31, 2008

Quick Thoughts: After being one the last few people who didn't read Twilight, I decided to read this series and see what the hype was all about. I enjoyed Twilight, for the most part. So when my friend offered me her copy of New Moon to read, I decided to pick it up and continue the series.

Review: Everything should be perfect for Bella Swan, well almost everything. At the end of the last book, Bella and Edward were happy in love and Bella wanted to solidify their relationship. By having Edward turn her into a vampire so they could be young forever. Edward refuses, because he sees himself as a monster, but Bella wants nothing more than to be with Edward for all of eternity.

When her birthday passes and she finds herself getting older than Edward, her need to be turned into a vampire intensifies. Edward, however, decides to leave her after his brother, Jasper, almost attacks Bella over a paper cut.

Bella is heartbroken and is in a comatose like state for the many months the two are separated. So Bella decides to spend more time with Jacob, leading him on in the process, she decides to do dangerous things because when her life is in danger she sees Edward. She is hunted by another vampire. Werewolves come into the picture and Edward tries to kill himself in Italy.

Final Thoughts: What on earth happened here? I liked Twilight, I did, but New Moon is just bad. I mean, really bad. My friends tell me this is the worse book in the series, which is true, but still. After reading something like Twilight and then seeing this. It's disappointing.

I didn't like Bella in Twilight, she ditched her friends as soon as Edward came into the picture, but even then it was slightly forgivable due to her falling for Edward. She wasn't a really good friend to them, but it was still realistic. In New Moon, once Edward leaves Bella goes into a comatose state and becomes an even worse friend. There is a scene with Jessica that made me shake my head. Then Bella wonders why Jessica doesn't like her very much and I wanted to tell her that it was her fault.

I did like the werewolves though, they are interesting and Jacob seems like a good kid. It's clear that Bella is using him to fill the void that Edward left, but he just seems to be happy that she's there.

I'll still read Eclipse, but I'm hoping that it isn't as disappointing as New Moon.

Grade: 4 out of 10

Read the short version of this review at 5 Line Reviews