Review: The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragon Slayer, #1) by Jasper Fforde

The Last Dragonslayer (The Last Dragonslayer, #1)

In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

A friend loaned me this book for a road trip, thinking I would enjoy it. Man, did she think right!

Jasper Fforde’s writing is a glorious mix of moral messages and delightful humor. While we were driving, I would spontaneously burst into laughter and my brother would stare at me like I was nuts.

The plot:
The plot twisted and turned like a roller coaster. I was never really sure where it was going, but it was moving so fast and so well, that didn’t matter! I kept my eyes on the pages as we barreled along miles and highway and lost track of time!

The characters:
Jennifer Strange is sixteen, but has more responsibilities than many adults. She runs what is basically a group home for magicians, sorceresses, apparitions, ghosts, and things that no one’s really sure what they are. I adored her dry wit, her affable nature, her dedication to do the right thing no matter what, and her quarkbeast.

Quark, or simply “the quarkbeast,” is like a little shaggy terrier with razor-sharp spikes instead of fur, that eats metal as a main food group. He was an adorable, faithful, lovable addition to the scene and now I want a quarkbeast!

Tiger, who is more or less in training to take over Jennifer’s job in two years, is another cute addition to the cast.

There were plenty of other faces, King Snod, Magawon, Arthur the moose apparition, Maltcassion the Dragon…each brought something special to the story and each was enjoyable in his/her own way.

This was a great book! I was impressed with how the clean the ending was and I do hope you go look into it!

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EXCITING NEWS!!!

I  would like to announce something very, very exciting! I have just completed my first-ever novella and it will be published January 22, 2013!

image

Now it’s all rather hush-hush…

But what I can tell you is that the title is Fanged Princess, it’s about vampires,  there’s a good dose of romance, the cover reveal is going to be next month, and the main character is an eighteen-year-old vampire named Hadassah Chadwick (and I am very proud of myself for coming up with that name). You can even check it out on Goodreads, here! So, until November, guys can all be like…

Ta-ta!

Review: Guardian (Creepy Hollow, #1) by Rachel Morgan

Guardian (Creepy Hollow, #1)

1. Receive assignment.
2. Save a life.
3. Sleep.
4. Repeat.

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until one of her assignments—a human boy who shouldn’t even be able to see her—follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? But Nate and Vi are about to land themselves in even bigger trouble—and it’ll take all Vi’s training to get them out alive.

(A novelette)

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

 

Short book=Short review

I got into this book very easily and stayed hooked until it was done. Vi is determined, all-work-no-play kind of girl who is good at what she does and strives like no other to be the best. At the same time, there is an endearingly vulnerable side to her and I was kept on the edge of my seat watching the romantic sparring between her and Nate. This story ends in a cliff hanger that has left me dying for the next novella, and the others in this series are high on my to-read list. =)

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Rachel Morgan’s Blog

Review: Pyxis (Pyxis #1) by KC Neal

Pyxis: The Discovery (Pyxis, #1)

Corinne lives an average teenage life working at her dad’s cafe, hanging out with her best friend, and trying to forget a falling-out with her almost-boyfriend Mason. Things take a strange turn when she uses her late grandmother’s food dyes for a bake sale, and her customers suddenly find her irresistibly alluring. Then she discovers she and Mason are haunted by the same dreams of a dark force that consumes everything in its path.

Pursued by shadowy figures and a crazy woman with secrets from the past, Corinne must find out who her grandmother really was. In her quest to unravel her family’s history, she learns she is destined to protect this world–and the dark world of her dreams. She races to find the answers she seeks before her nightmares break free.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

Short book=Short Review
An enjoyable, fun read. I think that this book was excellent, it just didn’t grab me. I have a problem with the modern mentality of the teenagers and dating and that just put me out a bit. (I’m a prude, yes, I get that a lot. Please don’t hate me!) Still, I recommend this book to fans of urban fantasy. It was a good story and I hope you’ll give it a shot!

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Review: I Am Alive by Cameron Jace

I Am Alive (I Am Alive, #1)

Author Note: I admit that I Am Alive was not properly edited. A better version will be available by the end of August. To know more click here http://bit.ly/OzH3wP

Every girl dies – not every girl really lives.

Sixteen-year-old Decca Tenderstone feels captivated when she meets gorgeous and reckless Leo, who is arrogant, silent, beautiful, and shoots almost every one he meets.

The usual boring girl meets badboy story … hmm … with a twist …

They live in a dystopian future in Los Angeles where every sixteen-year-old is ranked on a scale from one to ten to determine their future. Outranks, who are considered a danger to society, are forced to attend the Monster Show, a brutal sacrificing ritual that is broadcasted worldwide on live TV, where rebellious teens are labelled Bad Kidz or Monsters and get to fight for their lives in deadly games.

To prove that you’re still alive you have to scream I Am Alive every six hours. Lower your voice, and you’re dead.

Deccaa doesn’t need Leo’s company. She has a secret of her own. While they both can’t stand each other, she will find out why she doesn’t fit into any rank.

Nothing will stand in her way as she has to make choices concerning love, life, staying alive, growing up, and finding out who she really is.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

To prove that not all my reviews are sparkly, I am including this one of a book I rated 3-stars. As I say below, I think it has great potential, it just needs a bit more editorial work.

Read from August 25 to 31, 2012
This book could be a great book. Fans of The Hunger Games will definitely be intrigued by this one. I think it was a good story, surprisingly original and very engaging. It just needs editing. A lot of editing. The author has announced that a fully-edited version of this story will be released, but I’m reviewing this book “as-is.” 🙁

The plot:
I don’t think dystopian is “my thing.” I find myself thinking “that might happen, but not like that” far too often to properly enjoy the stories. This goes back to some boring beliefs about human nature and my own interpretation of Machiavelli (nerdy, right?). Nonetheless, it was a fast-paced, intense plot that could truly sparkle with the right editor to polish it. Though I found the ending a little far-fetched, this is dystopian and anything can happen!

The characters:
I found myself deeply caring about the characters. Decca is determined and intelligent. Watching her come to understand the nature of her world was a journey that I had to see completed.

I especially came to like Pepper and her factual, yet multilayered personality. (The romance between her and Woodsy was so sweet!)

Leo provided a not-so-charming love interest for Decca as well as an intriguing and mysterious persona. I was worried about him just as much, if not more than Decca. (There are two more books, I figured Decca would probably be okay.)

All in all, this book was okay. There were a few things that didn’t make sense and there were a few inconsistencies involving the iAms and Decca’s personality, but I think that those rough edges could be easily smoothed out.

If you are a fan of YA dystopian, I heartily advise you to check out the revised version when it becomes available. I will be looking into the author’s other books for sure. =)

The Three Categories of Heroines

The other day I was thinking, and I realized something rather fascinating. Heroines in fantasy books (or I suppose it could apply to any genre) can be grouped into the basic categories of three fairytale princesses.

Snow White baking a Pie

Image from Disney-ClipArt.com

First, we have the Snow White category (think of Disney’s Snow White). Snow White is very sweet, very beautiful, very cheerful, very kind, very thoughtful, very stupid. The things that people love about her, her gentle spirit and perpetually kind manner, are also the things that get her into trouble. She thinks ill off no one and this often allows bad people to do bad things because she’s too trusting. The Snow White genus of heroine is practically extinct now, in favor of the other two categories.

Image from 1901 illustration

There is the Márya Morévna category. Márya Morévna is a figure in Slavic folklore. A warrior queen who defeats an immortal ogre and locks him up in her dungeon. But then one day while she’s out fighting or doing whatever it is warrior queens do on the weekends, her boyfriend goes and lets the ogre out by accident. Márya must then go on a quest to rescue said boyfriend from the ogre. As you have probably guessed, the heroines in this category are what is commonly referred to as “kick-ass.” They are great fighters and they are the sort of young women you don’t provoke if you value your life. The Márya Morévna heroine is at the top of her game and the stories about these heroines usually involve her finally meeting an enemy who is stronger than she is. Kristin Cashore’s Katsa falls into the Márya Morévna category as does Sarah J. Maas’ Celaena Sardothien.

File:Mulan Screenshot.jpg

Image from Wikipedia

The third category is the Mulan heroine. Mulan is a character in Chinese folklore who dresses up as a boy to take her decrepit father’s place in the emperor’s army. This type of heroine is the sort who doesn’t know how to fight or use magic or what have you at the beginning of the story, but learns as she goes. The Mulan heroine is usually motivated by survival or the desire to save a loved one. She essentially wants to be left alone, but does what she needs to do. She relies more on her wits than her skills. Shannon Hale’s Ani is a Mulan heroine. The main character of my books, Janir Caersynn Argetallam, also falls into this category.

Of course, these are sweeping generalizations and some characters, like Suzanne Collins’ Katniss, could belong to more than one category. And then there could also be sub-categories within each category, too. Even the two heroines I used as examples for the Márya Morévna group could be divided into “trying to survive and help people along the way” and “went on quest to save kingdom.”

And there you have my random observation of the day. No surprise, my favorite category is the Mulan heroine, but everyone’s different (thank Heaven or life would be very boring!). So what’s your favorite type of heroine?

Originally appeared as a guest post on Book Bite Reviews