Monday, September 13, 2010

Mini-review Monday 2

For today's edition of mini-review Monday, I bring you some of the fantasy/paranormal YA books that I haven't yet gotten around to reviewing fully! First up...

Graceling by Kristin Cashore - In a world where people born with an exceptional skill, known as a Grace, are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her Uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to carry out his dirty work, punnishing and torturing anyone who displeases him. Breaking arms and cutting off fingers are her stock-in-trade. Finding life under his rule increasingly unbearable Katsa forms an underground Council, whose purpose is to combat the destructive behaviour of the seven kings - after all, the Middluns is only one of the Seven Kingdoms, each of them ruled by their own king and his personal agenda for power. When the Council hears that the King of Liend's father has been kidnapped Katsa investigates . . . and stumbles across a mystery. Who would want to kidnap him, and why? And who was the extraordinary Graced fighter who challenged her fighting skills, for the first time, as she and the Council rushed the old man to saftey? Something dark and deadly is rising in the north and creeping across the continent, and behind it all lurks the shadowy figure of a one-eyed king . . .

Graceling was one of my favourite books that I've read all year. I really loved the premise of gracelings, the characters, the relationships and the setting of the story. I'd love to friends with Katsa and have her carry me over a mountain any day. Graceling is the story of a world where some people are born with unusual skills. These people are called gracelings and most people feel uncomfortable around them. And some are even feared, like Katsa, whose Grace is that for killing. Her uncle is quick and keen to exploit Katsa's Grace in order to strike fear into his political enemies.

Honestly, I have a bit of a girl-crush on Katsa. She comes across as incredibly likeable and a little intimidating with her awesome Grace. She tries to balance out the misdeeds of her uncle by forming an underground council and runs off doing good things. Including saving an old man who brings her into contact with the quite-sexy Po. Loved Po. I wanted to clap my hands everytime Po and Katsa were together during the first half of the novel. After the turning point, things were different, but STILL. I did enjoy the first half of the novel a bit more than the second, but Cashore was able to build an interesting fantasy world with believeable and likeable characters.

This review is quite shockingly bad, but seriously. Go out and read this one, you won't be disappointed. Me? I'm looking forward to the companion in the series, Fire.


Beastly by Alex Flinn - A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

I wasn't quite sure what to make of Beastly when I first read it. It's meant to be a modern take on Beauty and the Beast, but I have to say, I was a little put off with the whole online-chatroom-support-group at the beginning. But once I got past that niggling concern, I found myself falling into Beastly pretty easily. It's very quick to get through and stays fairly close to the story that most people are familiar with. I'm not sure that it's adding anything major in this retelling, but there should be a lot of excitement for the new film coming out - starring Alex Pettyfer and Neil Patrick Harris. Holy crap, I'm excited about it just typing that sentence!

I'm kind of drawn to fairy tale retellings and this is one is OK. Enjoyable and not too taxing on the brain. I shall be looking out for other retellings written by Alex Flinn!


Generation Dead by Daniel Waters -All over the tri-state area, something strange is happening. Teenagers who die aren't staying dead. They are coming back to life, but they come back different - they stutter and their reactions to everything are slower. Termed 'living impaired' or 'differently biotic', there are lots of conspiracy theories to explain this new phenomenon. But as their numbers keep on growing, so does the discomfort of the living people in the community. When Phoebe falls for Tommy Williams, her best friend and star of the football team, Adam, has conflicting emotions. And when Tommy decides to try out for the football team, it sets off a chain of events that escalates into deadly violence.

Generation Dead really and completely surprised me. I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. I wasn't even intending to read it. I'd picked up the sequel by accident. I had picked up a different book and it was in a Buy One Get One Free offer. I had read or owned everything else in the offer (this was awhile back) and the best of the rest seemed to be Kiss of Life, the sequel. It kind of languished on my shelf for ages, until one day I found Generation Dead in a charity shop for 50p. I figured 'why not?' and here we are.

Phoebe is a pretty regular high school student going about her business unaware that her best friend Adam has a crush on her. When students that have died start coming back to life, Phoebe does her best to continue treating them as though they weren't different. She even falls for one of the living-impaired, Tommy.

Like I said, I really didn't expect to enjoy this book about teenage zombies. I didn't outright love it though. It pulled up some interesting themes, especially racism, as the zombies were treated very differently or ignored or avoided. I remember as I was reading it, that the writing style made it feel as though the characters were a little distant and I didn't fully connect with a lot of them. That said, I am still really interested to find out where the story will go with Phoebe and Adam and Tommy... Thankfully, I have the sequel handy!


The Firework-Maker's Daughter by Philip Pullman - More than anything else in the world, Lila wants to be a Firework-Maker. But every Firework-Maker must make a perilous journey to face the terrifying Fire-Fiend! Can Lila possibly survive? Especially when she doesn't know she needs special protection to survive his flames...The exciting and heart-warming story of Lila's journey to face the fearful fire demon fizzes with fun and drama.

I read this in one sitting. My Littlest was ill and we were cuddling on the sofa shortly after I went to a Philip Pullman event in Oxford. I was quite keen to read other books by Pullman that I'd never considered reading before. The Firework Maker's Daughter was pretty short and aimed at a younger audience than I'd usually read. It's fun. It's kind of an adventure story with one of those heart-warming messages that you don't mind if your kids read. I may have a better impression of this book than I should because I compare it to the other Pullman book that I read that day and didn't enjoy quite as much. If I remember correctly, this one had cute little illustrations!

It's the story of a girl who would like to follow in her father's footsteps and become a firework-maker. She asks her father how to go about this and sets off an a bit of an adventure. Luckily she has a really good friend willing to chase after her to help as she set off not knowing the full extent of how she would be tested.


And there we have it! Another Monday, another set of mini-reviews. At least until I run out :)


  1. I loved Generation Dead and have had Graceling sitting on my shelf forever. I think I need to get to it!

  2. I loved Graceling too! I liked Beastly but I dont know how I feel about the movie. Seeing the trailer made me wonder how much they are going to change.

  3. Sophie - oh you really should read it! Sooner rather than later :)

    Lyndsey - I have Fire waiting for me, and I never feel like reading it, I wonder why that is? Also, I'm kind of looking forward to the movie. I don't mind so much if they change things, as it's a different medium. They kind of have to, but the cast sound like it could make it very interesting.. :)

  4. I liked Beastly. I had a hard time with the chat room stuff too but enjoyed it after a while.

  5. It always amazes me the similarity in book choices we have. I own the top three but I haven't read them yet.

  6. Linda - yeah, same with me. After awhile it didn't matter anymore. Have you read any of her other books?

    Vivienne - it's like our brains, they're connected! :)


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