Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review: Kat, Incorrigible (Kat, Incorrigible #1) by Stephanie Burgis

Kat, Incorrigible (Kat, Incorrigible, #1) 

Kat, Incorrigible (Kat, Incorrigible #1)
by Stephanie Burgis


Goodreads Link:

Read from 01/09/15 to 01/14/15

Recommended to Stacy by Gail Carriger

Recommended for fans of Gail Carriger, Victorian England, magic, precocious Middle Grade narrators

I read Kat, Incorrigible (Kat, Incorrigible #1) by Stephanie Burgis because it was the January book of choice for Gail Carriger's Book Group. I just adore Gail Carriger and her books, so when I saw this book, I decided "if it's good enough for Ms. Carriger, it's good enough for me" :) Now I must admit that she has been selecting books for her Book Group since June 2014, but I haven't read any of her suggestions in the past, mostly just because I was always in the middle of some other book or series. This time there was just something that struck me when she posted this cover, and I had just finished Changeless, and I decided that I would read along. And it was a fun read.

Kat (short for Katherine), the main character, is quite the precocious little know-it-all. And while I didn't always like, her the story was really fun to read. There were heaps upon heaps of action - it never got dull. Most Middle Grade books, and that is the age-level I'd assign it, have to be loaded with cover-to-cover action because it's challenging to maintain the attention of a tween. And even as an adult, almost 3 times older than the 12-year old narrator (yes, I just admitted my age), I can't complain about constant action - no one wants to be bored, tween, adult, or otherwise. But this book even had more than just action, which was nice.

The character development was fairly well done. Each character was clearly unique from the others - even the dialogue of each character was distinguishable, which is very difficult to do - I have read many YA & adult books in which every character sound exactly the same (example of a culprit: Allegiant by Veronica Roth! In that book, it switches narrators every chapter between Tris, a girl, and Four, a boy, and yet Roth failed to differentiate the two. It was so difficult for me to figure out/ remember who was talking when in Allegiant, and it made a huge difference). But in this book, luckily, I could easily distinguish Kat from her sisters, Angeline and Elissa, and Sir Neville from Mr. Collingwood, etc. Every character had a unique diction and tone, and that takes massive amounts of writing talent! Major kudos to Ms. Burgis for pulling that off. 

But as you saw from my rating, I only gave it 3.5 stars. And that was for Kat. I, unfortunately, was not a fan. She was so precocious and cocky and bossy that it was downright annoying! I mean even in the life-or-death scene in the forest (won't go into details for fear of spoiling it), she was overly confident. And in Victorian era, when children, especially female children, were expected to be seen and not heard, her bossy nature seemed anachronistic. Even now-a-days, I don't think I could think of scenes in which the character's life is in danger, and yet he/she is still brash enough to boss the assailant around. But Kat did! And I'm all for an empowered female character, great example for young girls to read, but Kat was just so smug all the time - "I've got this completely under control" was her main mantra. But real life, especially in Victorian England, would not have worked out so easily. And yes, I know this is fiction, and fantasy fiction to boot, but there has to be some level of believability, even in fantasy. She was way too cocky, and it was irksome.

But the plot line was great: always something new happening. And the magic system was interesting - there are Guardians and witches, and the Guardians are the ones who keep the bad witch magic under control. And of course, Harry Potter addict that I am, I had to love a portkey, in this case a magic golden mirror. I won't give away too much about that, but it allows for teleportation through a magical portkey (by the way, I know that "portkey" is J.K. Rowling's own term, but for me it has become like the word Kleenex: portkey now applies to all forms of teleportaion). 

I think Middle Grade and Young Adult readers will love this book. And for the most part, I did enjoy it as well. I would recommend it to a specific audience. And I do actually plan to read the other two books in the series: Renegade Magic and Stolen Magic. Both of them have higher ratings on Goodreads 4.06 & 4.25 stars, respectfully, which are higher than Kat, Incorrigible at 3.97 stars. But the ratings for sequels are always deceptively higher than the first because only people who liked the first book are going to be willing to continue to read the series, so sequel scores are from established fans. But I did like the setting, the magical system, and the sisters. I only hope that Kat gets taken down a few notches as she grows.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: Changeless (Parasol Protectorate 2) by Gail Carriger

Changeless (Parasol Protectorate, #2)

Changeless (Parasol Protectorate 2)
by Gail Carriger


Goodreads Link:

Recommended for: Fans of Victorian Literature, Steampunk, Gail Carriger, restorative tea :)
Read from December 24, 2014 to January 09, 2015 — I own a copy

Changeless by GailCarriger, second installment in the Parasol Protectorate Series, was another enjoyable romp through Carriger's Victorian Supernatural Steampunk world. And this time, we even escaped London to enjoy some of the Scottish Highlands! And as a huge Outlander fan, I canna complain about more time spent there!

I will say that I liked this book ever-so-slightly less than Soulless, but I think that is a fairly natural reaction to a series: books in the middle are tricky because there purpose for existence is merely to create new complications for following books, and nothing is ever as fresh as the first book in a new series. However, even with that said, this was still a solid 4-star book that I enjoyed thoroughly.

I definitely enjoyed the involvement of Madame Genevieve Lefoux. I enjoyed her precocious manipulations in the Finishing School Series, so I was very happy to have her back in these books. And I am curious to see whether or not Alexia might follow in her father's experimental footsteps - that would be quite salacious!

I do wonder why Carriger choose to bring Felicity, Alexia's half-sister, along for the adventures in Scotland - I cannot quite figure out her purpose, yet. But maybe that will reveal itself more thoroughly in the upcoming installments.

And I wonder what sort of ramifications will develop from the ultimate decision of Miss Ivy Hisslepenny and the claviger Tunstell. Will that decision cause future consequences, too? And what of the outcome with Sidheag? How will that complicate Alexia's future? Hmmmm...

And of course, the ending! I cannot say much for fear of spoiling it, but I was shocked and intrigued by how it all wrapped up in the end. That will have major ramifications, to be sure.

I will say, however, that I found it very out-of-character for Alexia to just give up and accept that fate - she is so strong-willed; I would have expected her to put up more of a fight. But shock can cause drastic numbing effects, so maybe the fight will come up in the third book.

I am looking forward to getting into Blameless right away. I have so many questions that I want to have answered, and there are so many loose ends, that I want to jump right in before I forget any of them. Plus the description on the back of the book says that Alexia will be traveling to Italy, and Io amo l'Italia

I am very much enjoying this series, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys an intriguing plot, complicated characters, and brilliant banter.

Book Review: Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander, #2) 

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2)
by Diana Gabaldon


Goodreads Link:

Read from November 06, 2014 to January 09, 2015 — I own a copy

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon was an excellent book, made even more excellent by the reading of Davina Porter in the Audiobook version. I cannot recommend her readings enough to suffice her stellar performance, and to be honest, I don't think I would enjoy the books half as much if I read them myself. Her reading is absolute perfection, and in my honest opinion, it is the only way to read these books; it is THAT well done.

About the story, I found it perfectly intriguing. I will admit, as most have in their reviews, that it was a bit slower than the first in that there is a lot of political struggle and negotiation. However, for me, I found it all absolutely fascinating.

And while some people have complained about the amount of time that Claire and Jamie spent in France as being too long and drawn out, I loved it. But I am ever the Francophile (only second to my Anglophilic infliction), so, for me, the parts in Paris were amazing. I was mesmerized by the goings-on of Louis's court and L'Hopital d’Orange, and of the mysticism of Master Raymond - I loved it all. In fact, when they first scurried out of France I was a bit sad to be leaving, but then I found the parts in Scotland equally intriguing. I loved it all.

This book almost felt like three books in one: the story of Roger, Brianna, and Claire searching for history in the present time (1968), Claire and Jamie's time in Paris, and the revolution in Scotland. However, even though they were three individual story lines, they mixed so well together, that I don't think one would be able to stand alone without the others.

And that cliffhanger at the end!!! I cannot wait to start listening to Voyager this afternoon during my drive home. I don't know what I will do when I run out of Ms. Gabaldon's books to listen to. I actually look forward to my commute to and from work just so that I can listen to these stories. Luckily for me, she has written so many of them that I have quite a while before I have to worry about running out. Here's to more time spent daydreaming of Claire and Jamie's story!!! You should get into this series, stat; you will not regret it one bit! And I definitely recommend that you listen to the audiobook versions; I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Davina Porter's renditions are absolute perfection.