I don't know why I keep torturing myself with Arthurian legends. They are never written quite the way I wish they were, although I really shouldn't expect much 'happily ever after' from a legend with elements of incest, adultery and murder. In any case - this one had promise as the main character was not legendary, but completely fictional. A young girl is picked up by Merlin in his travels and becomes his companion and spy. Sounds pretty good, right? And it was for the most part. I especially loved how dark it was. Arthur was a grizzly, self-centered barbarian redeemable only in bardic song and legend. If the book hadn't been so episodic and the romance so silly I probably would have loved it as it actually reminded me a little of Rosemary Sutcliff's "The Shining Company". Overall, not the worst rendition of Arthur but certainly not the best either.
Anthologies of short stories usually aren't my thing but this one had "vampire" stories by Maria V. Snyder, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare that I thought might be worth reading. And those three did end up being pretty good, but I'm not really a huge fan of stories that end right as I'm getting into them. The most interesting thing about this book is that it almost puts the fear back into vampire. The stories aren't about Edward, but about Dracula. Reminds me of the good ol' days when vampires were still afraid of the sun and never considered vegetarianism.
I should have known something was up when I had to re-read the first chapter of this book over and over again. And not because it was boring. When you get used to certain genres (like YA Fantasy) then you come to accept and understand the simplicity of the plot and environment. Oh, we're in a castle, I've read plenty of books about those. Skip five paragraphs of descriptions about gray stones and the chilling drafts in winter and you haven't missed a thing. But not this book! Half the story takes place in a living prison called Incarceron and the other half takes place in a distant future where everyone "pretends" to live in the dark ages. As my mind is still reeling I think I'll go and have a lie down . . .
This is a four book series (I seem to be reading a lot of series lately . . . ) - Uglies, Pretties, Specials and Extras. The first book was great as it reminded me a lot of other survival fiction I've read. The strangest thing about these books though is that the main character is the most flawed and confused character throughout all four books. Which isn't really something I'm used to. Rather than thinking "Wow, she's so awesome I want to be just like her!" I ended up thinking "YOU STUPID IDIOT!! Stop ruining your life and wasting mine!" So yeah . . . a little different but I can definitely understand why these won awards. In short - Tally lives in a world where when you turn sixteen you have cosmetic surgery to make you pretty and perfect in every way thus ensuring a society free of jealousy, hate and war . . . or does it? Thought provoking and fun, easy reads.
I really wanted to like this book. Mercedes Lackey has written some of my favorite books (The Fairy Godmother and Firebird to name two) but this just flopped miserably. The worst part is that it was a fantastic book up until the last third! I was really excited to read her version of the Arthurian Saga and she didn't disappoint in the first half of the book with fun twists on familiar characters and places. Somewhere around the last third though, she got lost in legend canon and her voice and characters turned into well, the stuff of legend. It was like the book just died . . . She should have just kept to her own version of the story and screw avalon's mists and sons that want their dads to die . . . seriously . . . ick.
Wow . . . the girl on the cover of the second book doesn't have nearly as impressive a chest as this guy. Silly covers aside - I loved these books! City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass are probably the best paranormal fiction I've read recently. I really don't want to give too much away by telling you about them but the entire time I was reading them I was thinking about Harry Potter and I couldn't really figure out why. I later found out that she used to do a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction . . . maybe that's why? I don't really get it. Vampires, werewolves, hot witty wizards and tattooed demon slayers abound!
I just finished reading all three books in this series; Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study. I loved Poison Study! A girl about to be hanged for murder is given a choice between being executed or becoming the commander of Ixia's next food taster. It makes for a fun and interesting plot and I think the author did a pretty good job with it. The other two books in the series didn't even feel like they were written in the same world with the same characters by the same author. The bishounen is a sissy boy in the second two books, acting like a cliche, clingy, doting romantic piece of fluff nearly the entire time. I was skipping entire pages by the end of the third book. So read the first book and if you absolutely just can't stand not knowing what happens to the characters (i.e. if you're just like me) then go ahead and torture yourself with the last two.