Review: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
Looking for Alaska by John Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m sure this will upset a bunch of people: this was not my favourite John Green book. I know that for many it is, but I just had a hard time connecting with it.

Perhaps it was that I figured out the “Before” and “After” gimmick almost immediately; I thought Alaska was effectually a ‘manic pixie dream girl'; and that the obsession with people’s last words was the only part of the novel I really enjoyed — it was an odd ‘quirk’ and could have easily felt forced, but I liked it.

I don’t know. It just wasn’t for me. I can sit here objectively and call it a good book — basically a case of “It’s not you, book…it’s me.”

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Review: The Emperor’s Blades

The Emperor's Blades
The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alright, let’s talk about this book — I read it as part of an online/digital book club I’m in that focuses on Fantasy/SciFi, and this was our April book of the month! I was super stoked about this because I’ve been eyeing this book for some time, especially whenever it popped up on Book Outlet ;)

But, alas, I’d never bought it because I not only didn’t know anything about it, but I didn’t know anyone who’d read it — plus I had tons of other books to read — but it was always lurking in the back of my mind.

All in all, I liked it — I didn’t LOVE it, but I did like it. I thought the female characters were a little weak and sometimes the viewpoint character voices were too similar for me to distinguish between them. But the religion-based worldbuilding was very interesting. I look forward to reading the next installment.

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Review: Endsinger

Endsinger by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do wish we could give half-stars, because this is definitely a 4.5/5* book.

Alright, let’s do this.

I am emotionally WRECKED by the ending of this series. Mr. Kristoff set up, executed, and finished a tale that was so grand in scope that even trying to describe it would take a book — hey, it could even take three! ;)

In all seriousness, though, this series is one of the most unique, complex, and creative worlds I have ever read. I know I’ll likely never find another series like this one and, oddly enough, I’m glad of that. The ending is bittersweet, as it was meant to be, but again, I’m glad of that. There was no way this story would end on an entirely happy or entirely sad note. It’s too complex, too well written for that.

Read and see. Pack some tissues. A bar of chocolate — or even some Japanese sweets! And brace yourself. It’s a thrilling conclusion to a thrilling ride.

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Review: Kinslayer

Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Picking up right where STORMDANCER left off, KINSLAYER continues Mr. Kristoff’s Japanese fantasy-stempunk epic by upping the emotional stakes. The world doesn’t necessarily expand, though it kind of does, so much as entrench itself deeper into emotional and inter-personal turmoil.

It’s slower than its predecessor, and that can be frustrating at times. But sticking with this book is worth it, as Mr. Kristoff really uses this book to explore some large questions and issues: loyalty, trust, what does it mean to be human, and just how far will a person go for answers. And that’s just to name a few.

Kin, a second-tier main character of the first novel really takes centre stage, as he is the one who struggles with the aforementioned questions most of all. For those of us who just want a book of Yukiko & Buruu action, this book might seem like a chore to slug through — but I really enjoyed reading Kin’s struggles. Granted, I figured out what was going on very early on, but watching it all play out was just as enjoyable.

The cliffhanger ending of this novel will leave you swearing — or maybe that’s just me. I have a habit of doing that at (a) cliffhanger endings and (b) cliffhanger endings that leave me wanting more.

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Review: Stormdancer

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FINALLY! I know, I know — this book has sat on my TBR shelf for almost an entire year. I tried and tried again to start this book but, honestly, I just wasn’t in the mood for it. And this is a book you totally need to be in the mood for – if you’re not, the initial pacing might drive you a little mad.

It is a wee bit slow to start, but that’s because Mr. Kristoff has to set up one HELL of a world. I mean…how many books have you read that are a fantasy-steampunk set in a warring Japanese shogunate empire? I can’t think of any. And, yes, the world is rich, well thought out, and cohesive. But what really makes this book work — what’s really the true glue that holds this novel together: the characters.

Yukiko is one HELL of a strong protagonist. Tough as hell, but still vulnerable; brave as all get out, but still cautious and wary; and so desperate in her determination to live that it’s sheer will that is beyond admirable…it’s fucking awe-inspiring. And then we have Buruu, the arashitora whom Yukiko captures, saves, and then befriends. Their relationship is the very best part of this series. ALSO Buruu is literally the only thing I would want more than a dragon…and we know how much I love dragons. I’m just sayin’…

By the time you think you’re ready to put this book down, you’re suddenly not able to. Also, I highly recommend listening to the GHOST IN THE SHELL film soundtracks by Kenji Kawai while reading. It’s astonishingly good mood music.

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