A Gift of Poison – Four stars!

A Gift of PoisonA Gift of Poison, what a name! And like its intention grabbing name the book started off with a flourishing scene involving gambling, a good chase, and knives being thrown at our heroine.

This book certainly has a hook.

The story centers around a young girl named Briand, who’s sharp, beautiful under all her gruff antics, and gloriously flawed. She doesn’t lack in spirit but she does lack in discretion, and it tends to get her into trouble. The fact that the man who is charge of her wishes she didn’t exist doesn’t help her situation.

The book started off well. Briand is shunned by her Uncle to the “wildlands” which seems to be an eventual death sentence. Her cousin, Bran, and the Steward of the castle, Kael, want to save her from the harsh punishment, so they attempt to whisk her away somewhere safe. In the process it is revealed she is the “Dragonsayer”, meaning she can control animals – even dragons.

Sounds cool, right?

In many ways it is. Kate Avery Ellison is an amazingly descriptive author with a vivid imagination and this book is full of poetic world building. Some people don’t like that, but I do. And there are moments of really great story telling, such as the snake scene (when you read it you will understand) and the moment in the mountains with the lake (JUST READ IT!). It has loss, different cultures, and a great twist ending. This book is appropriate for young teens and still interesting for adults, which is a rare thing.

It’s just missing something.

I think what’s missing is more connections. More connections between the characters, and there are a few holes in the story. This is the first book of a series, so I suspect many of those holes were placed with purpose and will be explained in the future. That’s understandable. But this book’s description is “Intrigue. Romance. Dragons.” Those last two words are a bit understated in the storyline.

There are dragons, just not as many as you might like to see. That is fine with me, the first book of a series often offers only peeks of what’s to come. Be warned that if you are choosing this book because of the dragon aspect you might be disappointed.

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There are many great reasons to read this book, but if dragons are all you want go somewhere else, or wait until the next book in this series is released so you can jump right in.

As far as romance goes, this book is lacking in it.

Romance is starting to show by the end, but it hasn’t fully bloomed. I have a problem with that. I am a sucker for a good “angsty” duo or a spit fire boy and girl who love to hate one another. This book almost has it, but not quite. I think a little more would have driven the plot along, especially because the two characters in question are so much more multi-dimensional when they are together. They make one another better, not just as people but as characters in a story. I am hoping the next book will break past the “I almost like you” barrier. When Briand and her love interest cross over that line it is going to be quite a show!

Finally, the ending is abrupt. Way to abrupt. I wouldn’t call it rushed. The plot points that needed to be tied up in this book are taken care of and foundation for the next installment is laid. The book just sort of …Ends. Where it ends doesn’t really make any sense to me, so I felt sort of lost.

Overall, I’d say this book is good. Not great, but good. It wouldn’t be the first book by Ellison I would recommend, but I will be anxiously waiting for the next installment to be released, mostly because of the ending.

Wait.
I think she did that on purpose!
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3.75 stars, and I’m rounding up on all the sites that don’t allow decimals…which is all of them.
Thanks for the book Kate Avery Ellison! It was an enjoyable read.

A review of The Heir – Not what I was expecting!

The Heir (The Selection, #4)The Heir by Kiera Cass

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The fourth book of the Selection series has finally arrived! Some of us have been waiting for a year to meet the offspring of much-loved Maxon and America, and I am sure there are tons of girls (including myself) that immediately bought the book the moment it was available, sat down, and read it cover to cover. Now that I’ve finished it, what did I think? Was it good? Did meet my expectations?

Well, that’s a complex question.

When I started this book I was fully aware of the massive amount of industry demand and expectation that was riding the tails of The Heir. The Selection’s success is hard to truly express, the words “exceptionally well” really fall flat. I mean, it’s The Selection. It’s up there with The Hunger Games and Divergent. Heck, it’s up there with Twilight! I am positive that if a show or movie is ever created (please, please do this WB!!) there will be girls playing the shows on repeat on their DVR/ lining up outside the movie theater in the same droves twilight invoked.

That is quite a bit of pressure for one book.

Was it as good as the last book in the Selection series? No, it wasn’t. However, I think there is good reason for that.

The original Selection story was just that- an original story. That isn’t the case with this new part of the series. Yes, it is a new story with new characters, but Kiera didn’t have the freedom to just create any world she wanted. She had to build a new story around an already existing cast and set. She had to weave the old characters in with the new, and provide enough of the old to entice her readers, while still keeping her new characters as the main focus. She had to make us fall in love with new people, while we were still over the moon about Maxon and America’s happy(ish) ending.

Holy Spumoni, that sounds hard! I have to imagine that was a challenge, even for the exceptionally talented Kiera Cass!

Right from the beginning this book had so much to surmount, and it showed. I have to be honest, I dredged through the first few chapters. It wasn’t that they weren’t good per se, they just weren’t good in comparison to the first chapters of The One. I didn’t have the same heated anticipation that spurred me to fly through The One, tearing through each page with the vigor of a hungry child. There was nothing I needed to know about Eadlyn yet, because I didn’t yet know her at all.

So I set the book down, and I reset my mind. I reminded myself that I wasn’t feverish when I first picked up The Selection, either. The Selection had just been another new book, and that was how I needed to treat this book too. Regardless of knowing who Eadlyn’s parents are, I needed to focus on Eadlyn and not her parents. This was her story, not theirs.With a new additude, I charged on.

As the book went on, it grew on me. That doesn’t surprise me, Kiera is great with the build of a story’s crescendo. I don’t like Eadlyn as much as I liked America, but I think I could. I suspect that many people will prefer Eadlyn over America at first. The reason is simple, Eadlyn is a spoiled princess, and America was the very opposite. In fact Eadlyn isn’t just a spoiled princess. SHE IS A SELF CENTERED BRAT!!

Eadlyn and America could not be more different. Other than their stubbornness they have almost nothing in common at first glance, simply because they are both the product of very different worlds. Eadlyn was raised to know she was powerful and important. She is spoiled, and why wouldn’t she be? She is the next ruler of I’llea. She grew up in a palace, with an army of servants. Of course she has a bit of a self-important complex. Yet, I see potential in her. I see her mother’s steadfast nerve, and her father’s faith. I see a girl who could be great… if a few things change. One of things that needs to change is the way her parents handle her, and that was difficult for me to absorb. The Maxon and America I knew would never have allowed a daughter to treat people the way Eadlyn treats others… but then again, they seem to be trying to teach her selflessness through the selection.

I also want to discuss the boys, of course! I have to say, I am not sure what the outcome of Eadyln’s love life will be. Her love story isn’t as intense as America’s was, but I think it will be. I definitely have a favorite for Eadlyn, but my favorite could easily change. I knew exactly who America should be with pretty quickly, this time it doesn’t seem so obvious to me. The problem is Eadlyn’s crippling fear of falling in love. She puts up walls so people can’t see that she is just a girl, and you can’t fall in love if you don’t let anyone in.(view spoiler) My favorite picks from the selection are Kile & Henri, and I am leaning towards Kile because the Language barrier is a big obstacle for sweet, perfect Henri to overcome! Of course there is also Eric. He may not be a part of the selection, but he is certainly becoming an important part of Eadlyn’s life. I am interested to see where that relationship goes.

Finally there was the ending. It was devastating! I have a love/hate relationship with cliff hangers, but I feel no love for this one. It was cruel. Be warned, you might cry.

Overall, this was my least favorite book in The Selection series. I’ll still read the next one, and I think the next one will be much, much better, but I feel like this whole book should have been squeezed into the first half of one book. Eadlyn could have been a little more likable too! However, there were moments that truly moved me, and there are some very quotable phrases in this book. Some of them were so good I had to stop reading and take a breath, just to revel in them. four stars is my final verdict for The Heir!
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The One – Definitely the one for me!

The One (The Selection, #3)The One by Kiera Cass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been waiting for this book for over a year. A YEAR! So I was prepared to be let down because of the massive amount of build-up I had centered on The One. I promised myself I would stay calm, collected, and I would not cry hysterically, yell at the pages, or shout with joy. I was going to act like a composed adult.

Then I got through chapter two, and I was already yelling at the pages. You see, there are books that immediately capture you, and this series does that. Then there are books that get you so involved in the characters you stay up all night because you just HAVE to know what happens…and this book is one of those as well. So heed my warning, and start in the morning! You will not be able to put it down.

This book is a fairy tale. When I say that, I mean it in terms people don’t usually think of when they hear that phrase. There is a happy ending, but it comes with heartache and struggle as well. And really, isn’t that what most fairy tales are like? The characters in this book go through a lot to get to their happy ending. Maybe it should be called a “real fairy tale”, because it isn’t just a happily ever after story, it is an “I love you no matter what” story. That is probably why I loved this story so much, because those are my favorite kind.
I can’t say much more then what I have said already, because if I do there will be spoilers. This is a book you need to read spoil free! The ending is a surprise in a way most will not expect. It is fulfilling, happy, sad, and everything Cass’s loyal fans wanted. It is hard to make everyone happy, but I think she did it!

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book Review Ann Aguirre’s Horde

Horde (Razorland, #3)Horde by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is simply fantastic. In fact, the whole series is! I won’t go into too great of detail, because if I do I will end up giving away parts of the story. This book is too good to read with an already known conclusion.

Horde contains has tons of action, emotional growth, excellent character development, and delivers a compelling, exciting story. Throughout the series, Ann Aguirre manages to do something that many other writers in her genre have seemed to fail at lately. Ann’s characters grow and change in a progressive, inspiring way without changing the essence of who they are. For example, Deuce will never be much with words but she learns their importance and how to communicate more appropriately. Horde is very well written, has few errors, and it has an impressive level of realism for a book that is written in a futuristic imaginary world. Ann obviously put a ton of research into her work, and it shows.

One of the best things about this book was….the ending! It was fulfilling, and I am so appreciative of that. There seems to be a trend for dystopian writers to shock their audience, or to at least be unpredictable. As a result, a few books I have read recently had an ending that was left too open, didn’t make any sense, or was just flat out depressing. Ann manages to deliver a big surprise, but also ends on a happy note. I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I was!

I strongly encourage this series to fellow readers. This series started out on par with a few of my other favorites, however it has risen above the rest because unlike so many other series this series ended stronger than it began!
AWESOME BOOK!

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