Saturday, February 23, 2013

Save a Word Saturday (#10)

Welcome to Save-a-Word Saturday, a new blog hop hosted by The Feather and the Rose.
The aim is to spread love of old and unusual words by sharing them with other bloggers and thereby saving these precious, wonderful, whirling words from the dusty, lonely corners of the oldest, least visited vaults of the Word Bank.

The rules run thusly:
1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one. The easiest way to do that would be to grab the code under our pretty Save-a-Word Saturday button. Just copy and paste it into the HTML part of your blog. 
2.  Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. It really must be an old word, not just a big one. We are trying to save lovely archaisms, not ugly giants (for example, "Dihydrogen Monoxide" is not an acceptable choice).
3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme we have chosen this week. You may also add visual or musical interpretations of your word or your sentence. In fact, add anything that moves your creative spirit.
4. Add a link to your blog in the linky list below (it's down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!
5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life. Do leave us a note or add something to your own post to let us all know what wonderful old word you whipped out to befuddle your friends and relations.

This week's theme is:

And the word I have chose is:

n. - trance; rapture; seizure.

And my ever-so-wordy sentences are:

Kasia delicately passed the bow over the strings of the violin, afraid that pressing down any firmer would cause the fine hair of the bow to break.  The sound was entrancing!  Soon in raptus, she played robustly and no longer feared the instrument to fall apart.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman

Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.
The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.

There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: February 26th 2013 by Angry Robot 
(info grabbed from GoodReads)

I received a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
If I had to sum up Between Two Thorns simply, it would be traditional mystery meets the whimsical world of Harry Potter.  For me, the world of Between Two Thorns had a similar magical feel that I definitely enjoyed.  That’s where the similarities end, however, as Between Two Thorns is a very adult written book.  Not that it has anything inappropriate for younger readers -- it doesn’t really. Like most adult books, it is not character driven like ever popular YA books.

Speaking of the characters, I felt that the author put together a wonderful cast.  The characters had their own personality and their own piece that they brought to the puzzle.  In the beginning, though the book is third person, we takes turns following Cathy, Max and various other characters.  I loved how eventually you could see the pieces coming together, but at first it seemed that the characters were all completely unrelated.  While I did think that this aspect was well written, I did also feel that the constant switching between seemingly unrelated storylines a bit disorienting.  It also took quite a bit of reading before anything started to form together; half of the book was used for build up for each of the characters.

When the book did pick up and all our players are coming together, it became a very enjoyable read.  I especially loved Cathy’s story and issues with her family.  Her sacrifice and ingenuity to attain her goals made her my favorite character by far.  She is a witty underdog in the world of the fae-touched, and served as stark contrast to Max, our soulless split-world detective.

However, after the book started to pick up, I thought it began to feel rushed.  The climax came and went, still well written, but it was the downward action afterwards where I felt the book may be lacking.  There were several issues that were unresolved, and the book tries to end on a cliff-hanger, but more so felt incomplete.  Obviously, there is a sequel, but the ending page didn’t feel so much like the ending of a book as the ending of a chapter.  I for one think that even books that aim to be trilogies or series should be complete in and of themselves, so this was an issue for me.

Though with its hiccups, Between Two Thorns had good prose, great characters, and was a well done mystery.  I recommend it to anyone who loves faeries, high society related books, and/or a good mystery.  It is all those things in one, which made for a very fun read.

Final Thought: 3 out of 5 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Notes From My Desk: Anger Management and The Literary Boyfriend

So I have read a lot of books lately where I have been feeling nothing much in the romance category.  I was making myself lunch one day, pondering my predicament and had a pure “Eureka!”moment.  I do not dig this trend of guys being jerks to girls in books, and then suddenly they are in love and a perfect gentleman.  I don’t get it.  And I don’t really think that I should.  This post isn’t really about those books that have caused this rant, because at Where the Mome Raths Outgrabe, we (being myself, alone) like to focus on the positive.  So I wanted to spend some time talking about a few books/series that the male love interest is not a tool.  Ever.  Because in real life, if a guy is a jerk to you, YOU SHOULD NOT LIKE HIM.

The Chemical Garden Trilogy by Lauren DeStefano

While I admit Gabriel is a bit underdeveloped in the personality department, he still is not anything besides helpful and caring.  None of this inappropriate anger for any reason.  No rage filled glances in the main characters direction in the middle of “inane activities of the day.”  Just pure, 100% solid guy awesomeness.  Even Linden, who our heroine Rhine was forced into marriage with, is kind of a good guy.  He’s nice, just kind of stupid and under his evil mad scientist father’s control.  Rhine has nothing but stand up dudes pining for her.  Not to say she doesn’t have other issues in the book; that make the series quite boring.  But her problems are never her love interests’ behavior.  To sum it up: Rhine’s got ninety-nine problems, but a douche boyfriend ain’t one.

The Goddess Test Trilogy by Aimee Carter

I honestly think Aimee Carter did a beautiful job in the second book with real human relationship problems.  Kate has to deal with insecurity and jealousy after meeting her brand-spanking-new husband’s ex wife.  What?  A real life nightmare in the context of teen paranormal book?  Hell yes!  I love when books make boring and mundane everyday problems magical!  But let’s go back to the first book, where Kate and Henry first meet.  He’s quiet, aloof, and the God of Hell.  And not a total prick.  No, Henry has been burned by love in the past and is reluctant to open himself up to new possibilities, but does it without lashing out at Kate.  With the plethora of Persephone myth inspired YA novels, I found Henry an endearing incarnate of Hades, unlike some other versions (I’m looking at you, Meg Cabot _). 

Why are we okay with our make-believe-dudes having anger issues?  This is one of the few things that I do hope stay in the book and don’t jump out of the pages into real life.  I mean, I want some elf to come kidnap me to the Never-Never and tell me I’m a faerie princess as much as the next girl, but he has to be nice about it.  Also, both the above mentioned series have their third installment coming out in this glorious month that has been February!  It may be freezing (at least for me, enjoy your warm weather those who have it) but I will be cozy in bed with Sever and The Goddess Inheritance for at least a little while.
Happy reading,

PS:  Did I miss a nice literary guy?  Tell me about him in comments!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review: Reached by Ally Condie

After leaving Society to desperately seek The Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again. Cassia is assigned undercover in Central city, Ky outside the borders, an airship pilot with Indie. Xander is a medic, with a secret. All too soon, everything shifts again.

Hardcover, Dutton, 512 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Penguin

(info grabbed from GoodReads

This review is pretty spoiler free, so if you haven’t read Matched or Crossed there’s really no risk reading.

The ending to the Matched trilogy was truly beautiful.  All of the pieces came together like a puzzle, finally showing a bigger picture.  It was a superb ending to a great series.  However, until the ending, I have to admit I was kind of bored.  I tend to like slower paced books where I can get lost in the details and have the author paint a vivid scene for me, but I didn’t get that so much from Reached.

Probably my biggest gripe is the switching of characters.  I don’t typically like alternating perspectives and Reached is no exception.  There were three perspectives (Cassia, Ky, and Xander) rotating each chapter and for a majority of the book, with these characters were in different cities doing different things.  It was madly disorienting.  They obviously did eventually come together, and when they did the confusion was pretty much eliminated as you didn’t have to remember what that character was doing in the last chapter they narrated as much.  I felt it made reading the book much like a jerky car ride, with a speed bump placed at the beginning of every chapter.

The reason I think I became so bored at points was that there was very little going on.  I don’t know if it was intended for build up, because that is for sure not what it did for me.  There was simply a lot of waiting for anything to happen.  When things finally did happen, well… If you were hoping for a blaze of glory finale, you will be disappointed.  It could be said (and I am saying it) that Reached exemplifies a quote of TS Eliot: 

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

So why am I rating the book well if I was bored?  Well yeah, the ending was just that good.  Maybe part of me is just happy I’m through it, but I don’t think that is the only reason.  If you haven’t read the Matched trilogy at all and were maybe thinking about reading it, TRY TO READ THEM CLOSE TOGETHER.  There are a lot of minor characters introduced and minute details that are easy to lose track of between books.  There would be times were someone from a previous book would be mentioned and I’d be sitting there like “Who?”  Reading them within the span of a month or two versus reading them over the span of a year or two would probably make all the difference in that regard.

Final Thought: Reached gets 3 out of 5 toadstools
                        The Matched Trilogy as a whole gets 4 out of 5

This review is also posted on GoodReads.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

Hardcover, 358 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co.

(info grabbed from GoodReads)

It took me awhile to get into this book, but I'm glad I kept reading.  I'd heard mixed things and was feeling iffy when I started reading.  Shadow and Bone doesn't really start slowly, I just didn't have that pulled-in feeling until a lot later than usual.  I usually fell “into” the story before page 100, but at that point, I was intrigued enough to keep reading but not foaming at the mouth quite yet.  It was probably page 200-ish that I started to be like O_O.

Epic fantasy is not my normal love, even though it kind of was my first love.  As a little Mome Rath, I loved the fantastical worlds authors could create.  It was a great escape from boring suburban America for me.  However, a little less than twenty years later, it’s not my go-to genre.  That being said, I really liked the world of Shadow and Bone.  It was dark, fantastical, and original, with the author creating her own monsters and evil-ocean-thing.  The Russian influence was interesting and added some flair, though I don’t feel it needs more mention than that.  It did add a different feel, as most fantasy tends to be more Western European inspired with very few exceptions.

The reason I began stray away high fantasy/epic fantasy years ago was because they tend to bore the crap out of me.  I'd rather have someone pull out my teeth than read Lord of the Rings.  No offense to anyone who loves Tolkien, his writing is just not for me.  Shadow and Bone did not bore me; it was everything that made me fall in love with fantasy in the first place.  Excitement, magic, betrayal… prime fantasy goodness at its best.

The one thing that REALLY makes Shadow and Bone stand out to me is that I was truly surprised.  Now maybe other people won’t be, but I really didn’t see one twist coming.  And I loved it.  That pushed Shadow and Bone into the exceptional category for me and makes me hungry for the sequel.  I recommend it to anyone who thinks they may like fantasy or anyone who desires something different. 

Final Thought: 10 out of 12 rushin’ Russian toadstools

PS: I do have to note though to anyone familiar with Slavic names that the main characters name is …well, wrong.  In Russia, last names for women end with an “a.”  So in the book, her last name is Starkov, where it should be Starkova.  There are a few other name issues in there, but I felt it was easy to read past it.  Some may be more sensitive than me to accuracy, though.  I’m just happy that an Eastern European inspired book exists.

This review is also posted on GoodReads