Friday, 31 May 2013

In a Nutshell - April-May 2013

Wow! Every Flavour Books is already over a month old! Each month I'm going to summarize what I've posted and what books I've read (inspired by Jamie's Monthly Rewind posts at The Perpetual Page-Turner). Here's my first In a Nutshell post, recapping what happened on this blog in April-May.


Joining the Blogosphere
Time to Quote (#1): Blood Red Road
Time to Quote (#2): The Perks of Being a Wallflower


Cashore, Kristin: Graceling 5- stars
Clare, Cassandra: Clockwork Princess 5 stars
Chima, Cinda Williams: The Demon King 4½ stars
Crowley, Cath: Graffiti Moon 5 stars
Chima, Cinda Williams: The Exiled Queen 4 stars
Dessen, Sarah: Lock and Key 5 stars
Chima, Cinda Williams: The Gray Wolf Throne 4- stars

I read really good books in April-May, as you can see! A short while before I started this blog, though, I read a book I didn't like that much (but didn't hate either!), Anna Dressed in Blood, just in case you're thinking that I love everything I read... ;) However, I have to admit that sometimes I feel like I should give positive reviews to all books - but I'm working on combining honesty, critique and a sense of appreciation of the author's hard work in my reviews because I think that's fair. I suppose I'll figure it out gradually!


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)Graffiti Moon
Sources: GoodreadsGoodreads

1) The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (review to come!)
2) Graffiti Moon
3) Clockwork Princess
4) Lock and Key
5) Percy Jackson series (review to come!)


Top Ten Tuesday (#1): Books I Thought I'd Like More/Less
Top Ten Tuesday (#2): Books When You Need Something Light and Fun
Top Ten Tuesday (#3): Books Dealing With Tough Subjects
Top Ten Tuesday (#4): Favourite Book Covers
Top Ten Tuesday (#5): Fun Characters (Freebie!)

It's Monday, What are you reading? (#1) 29.04.2013


Thursday, 30 May 2013

Review: The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima

The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms, #3)
Source: Goodreads
Title: The Gray Wolf Throne
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: The Seven Realms #3
Published: 2011 by Hyperion
Where I got the book from: the library

A synopsis can be found here on Goodreads (it has spoilers for the other books so I won't paste it on the blog).


Cinda Williams Chima’s third novel in the Seven Realms series did not, just like the first two books, lack in tension, secrets or romance. Emotions are described well – hurt and betrayal for example, which were inevitable when a certain revelation was made. Moreover, The Gray Wolf Throne focuses on court and politics, which I love reading about especially in the high fantasy genre.
Another aspect I was pleased with was the fact that I really don’t know the answers to the main mysteries! This one kept me on my toes, waiting to find out who was the bad guy and dying to know how things would finish up with Raisa and Han because truly, things could end in any way and the suspense of that makes me happy. The ending left me intrigued about what could happen next but I have a feeling the final book will leave me surprised.


Unfortunately, The Gray Wolf Throne disappointed me in a few ways. First of all, I wanted the Seven Realms to be a trilogy, but apparently it’s a four book series. The library doesn’t have the fourth book and I don’t want to buy it because I hate buying sequels if I don’t have the whole series, and additionally because I don’t PASSIONATELY love this series.
Another reason why I wasn’t stunned by The Gray Wolf Throne is Raisa’s complex and frustrating collection of relationships. I am sick of Micah and Nightwalker buzzing around her like flies attracted to a pot of honey, and her letting them. And Mellony – well, I think Mellony should have had a slightly bigger role in book one (I’m not sure if Raisa ever even had a conversation with her?) so that we could witness the apparent change in her. Mellony is just annoyingly easily swayed and so very naïve-seeming.
Furthermore, I was kind of tired of the danger element remaining only a threat. What I mean is there have been enough assassins and I want a real battle next.
Finally – and this is a really small issue, it hardly bothered me - the beginning had a predictable element, Crow’s identity. It was one of my guesses so I wasn’t surprised.

The Gray Wolf Throne wasn’t a jaw-dropping, amazing novel but nonetheless a strong enough sequel to the Seven Realms series. I liked not knowing how things would end but would have wanted the series to wrap up already. Raisa’s “suitors” annoyed me but otherwise I enjoyed the plot, especially the political intrigue and the suspense.

4-/5 A solid, intriguing sequel with a couple of disappointing details!
My review for The Demon King can be found here, and for the The Exiled Queen here.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (#5): Fun Characters (Freebie!)

This awesome book blog meme - hosted by The Broke and the Bookish - is where book lovers list their favourites inspired by a new topic each week. This week it's a FREEBIE, which means everyone gets to choose their topic! I had some trouble with settling on a topic but I finally decided on Top Ten Fun Characters (not sure if this has been done before). Here they are, in no particular order as usual...

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)
Source: Goodreads
1) Grover (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)

A satyr who eats aluminum cans when he's nervous? This guy is one of my favourite characters from the whole series because he's just so sweet and funny (maybe often in an unintended way but who cares). Grover is awesome!

2) Percy (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)

Okay, another one from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series! The reason: Rick Riordan's action-packed, Greek mythology based series is one of the most fun adventures ever - and that's thanks to the witty characters and especially Percy's humorous narrative even in deadly and dangerous situations.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
Source: Goodreads
3) Fred and George (Harry Potter series)

Yes, I realize Fred and George are two separate people but they BELONG together and they basically host a two man show. And neither will hardly play a prank without the other in on it. Anyway, I don't think this choice needs explaining... The Weasley twins are cool and funny mischief makers, perhaps the best there are.

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)
Source: Goodreads
4) Will (The Infernal Devices trilogy)

Will's antics and witticisms definitely made me grin. Who could forget dragon pox, or any of his stupid poems? Perhaps his remarks annoyed some of the other characters at times, but for me as a reader they were purely entertainment.

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)
Source: Goodreads

5) Manchee (Chaos Walking trilogy)

A sidekick animal? Check. Loyal and sweet? Check. Knows how to "talk"? Check. Funny? ABSOLUTELY. Manchee is surely one of my favourite dogs from literature - he's that fantastic. His inner speech made me laugh with its simplicity and doggyness.

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1)
Source: Goodreads
6) Foaly (Artemis Fowl series)

He's a paranoid centaur inventor with a big sense of his own importance. How could that not be a funny combination? I ought to re-read this series (I've read all but the last book) now that I've reminded myself how funny and smart the characters are...

7) Mulch (Artemis Fowl series)

Another of Eoin Colfer's hilarious characters - Mulch, the dwarf who tunnels by eating mud and ejecting it out of his behind. You better believe that leads to a lot of wacky incidents.

An Abundance of Katherines
Source: Goodreads

8) Hassan (An Abundance of Katherines)

Hassan is the main character Colin's overweight Muslim best friend who really knows how to lighten up a situation with his humour. He balances out Colin's seriousness well.

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)
Source: Goodreads

9) Evie (Paranormalcy trilogy)

I was starting to notice that all my favourite fun characters seemed to be male when I thought of Evie. I remember she has an amusing perspective and a love for cute dresses and heels - that definitely counts as fun!

Nightshade (Nightshade, #1)
Source: Goodreads

10) The wolf packs (Nightshade trilogy)

Again, these are quite a few people, but its actually the whole dynamic interaction, all the banter, that made Calla's and Ren's packs so fun for me. I really liked them all as an entity and loved the dialogue.

Those are my Top Ten for this week! Leave a comment or a link to your blog - I'd love to see your list! If you'd like to, you can also share your favourite fun(ny) characters in the comments. =)


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Review: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Lock & Key
Picture source: Goodreads
Title: Lock and Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Series: no, but Dessen's characters appear sneakily in her other books! ;)
Published: 2008 by Viking (Penguin Group)
Where I got the book from: the library

Synopsis from Goodreads

"Ruby, where is your mother?"
 Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she's been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.That's how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn't seen in ten years, and Cora's husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future—it's a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?
I can say with complete confidence – Sarah Dessen is one of the most gifted writers in YA contemporary literature. Honestly, anyone could write a book, but very few succeed in capturing thousands of readers’ hearts with each novel they create. Dessen is surely one of these.

Lock and Key is like any of Sarah Dessen’s other books – a story of growth, relationships and struggling to overcome personal challenges. The main character, Ruby, has had a difficult childhood filled with abandonment, uncertainty and premature independence. Her father left when she was a small child and so did her sister some years later. Ruby’s mother is an alcoholic and the two don’t have a close relationship. One day, her mother disappears and Ruby is forced to deal with her past when her sister Cora and his husband Jamie adopt her to live in their house and start a life which is as different to her old one as it could possibly be.
Ruby’s life and her problems touched me deeply. The entire story could have been true, it was so believable, and it saddens me that some people really have to go through all those things. Ruby is afraid of allowing people come close to her and letting go of the secrets she has covered up all those years, and it was a heart-warming journey to see her barriers coming gradually down. I loved the contrast between her past and present, which are polar opposites – going from trying to handle everything herself with no consistent show of love from her mother to being surrounded by safe and caring people who want the best for her.

The characters – like always in Dessen’s books – were as real as they come, well-developed and so very lovable. If only I could meet them! Jamie is perhaps my favourite, with his genuine encouragement, loving nature and boundless enthusiasm for all kinds of things. Flustered, anxious Harriet is one of the sweetest characters ever, and Gervais is such an annoying nerd but quite nice anyway.

Dessen’s talent lies within the creation of relationships (friendship, family, romance) between characters. They are never hasty nor unplanned, but they build up slowly, with bumps and hitches on the way, to an honest connection, all the while described with amazing skill. Ruby and Cora, Ruby and Roscoe, Ruby and Nate, Ruby and Olivia… All the interactions are from every-day life told in a way that kept me hooked. The disintegration of relationships is also masterfully depicted, showing clearly why they didn’t work out. Dessen is an expert on communication and contact between individuals.

In brief, there is simply nothing I can nit-pick in Lock and Key because in my opinion it is a compelling read with beautiful character development and interaction. Dessen’s writing is thought-provoking, steady and focused with nothing unnecessary at all. I would thrust this in the hands of anyone looking for a contemporary novel that really has meaning.

5/5 A compelling read by the amazing Sarah Dessen!

Similar books: anything else of Sarah Dessen’s, How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (#4): Top Ten Favourite Book Covers

This awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish book blog is where all book lovers list their favourites inspired by a new topic each week. This week's topic is Top Ten Favourite Book Covers of Books I've Read, so get ready for some cover love!

The beautiful girls…
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)
The striking faces…

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #1)Wintergirls

  The gorgeous backgrounds…

                       Divergent (Divergent, #1)  Insurgent (Divergent, #2)                                                  Spirit Walker (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, #2)

The elegant ones…

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)What I Was
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Spirit Walker by Michelle Paver
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
 What I Was by Meg Rosoff
What are your favourites? Leave a comment (and a link if you have a blog) - I'd love to drool over some pretty covers. =)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Review: The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

The Exiled Queen
Picture source: Goodreads
Title: The Exiled Queen
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: The Seven Realms Series #2
Published: 2010 by HarperCollins
Where I got the book from: the library

To read the synopsis - it has spoilers for book one - visit Goodreads

The Exiled Queen follows the characters and the story from The Demon King smoothly. Naturally I was eager to see how Raisa, Han and Dancer managed on their way to and at Oden’s Ford, and hoped for more magic and mayhem to ensue. In that aspect I was not disappointed – the subplots of The Exiled Queen were various and yet linked together well, and both Raisa’s and Han’s stories kept me turning the pages.

However, I didn’t find the big picture of the plot, so to speak, very clear. Once at Oden’s Ford, Raisa and Han basically lived a boarding school-ish life (which is always fun, I don’t deny that), and more than once I thought that Micah Bayar and his friends were very much like Draco Malfoy with his cronies. Han gets tangled in a curious world and finds himself pledged to perhaps too many masters with dubious aims. Raisa, on the other hand, develops into a convincing speaker, though she even more uncertain where things stand between her and Amon Byrne, her commander. Despite all the happenings, I finished the book feeling like there wasn’t a proper story in it, as in there wasn’t one large plotline the subplots attached to and complemented. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book – I did, very much. Dancer was more fleshed out, like I had hoped, and there was a lot of excitement and plot twists. I did guess one of these twists very early on, though it still came unexpectedly along. The romance was great and left things hanging for the final book which I wait to read in anticipation. I only hope things work out in a satisfying way for Raisa, Han, Amon and Dancer. The fact that there is a love triangle of sorts didn’t bother me in the least, because it was executed very believably and there’s a chance it won’t work either way, which is intriguing.


I have to say that one of my favourite supporting characters is Cat. Her name is annoying because Cat is really not that original, but then again, it suits her fierce and independent nature perfectly. I love her unyielding street accent and tough shell and the changes she goes through, slowly letting go of her guilt. Though she has her flaws, she is unbelievably loyal and her passion for music shows that she has her softer parts.

There is one character that I genuinely hate, and that’s Crow. I won’t say much because that might spoil the book for those who haven’t read it, but he is frustratingly enigmatic, power-hungry and the one person I trust the least. I really want to figure out his motive because he has so many secrets and he might play a key part in the third book.


Again, I loved Chima’s way to tell the story – simple, concise but accurately descriptive. Within the genre of high fantasy, there seems to be a tendency to write from third-person narrative, and while I generally prefer first-person, the narration in the Seven Realms Series is very likeable. Though I wasn’t as close to the characters’ immediate thoughts and feelings as I am in first-person, I felt that I really knew who Raisa and Han were and connected with their feelings.


I liked The Exiled Queen very much although I think the plot could have had a clearer purpose. The romance and the intrigue were portrayed well, and enough questions were left unanswered to leave me waiting in anticipation to begin the third book. All in all, The Exiled Queen was a well-written sequel to The Demon King and interesting because of the different setting and development of characters.
4/5 An exciting fantasy novel!
See my review for The Demon King, book one in the Seven Realms Series, here.

Similar books: The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan (Black Magician Trilogy #1)


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (#3): Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects. Here are my ten, in no particular order...
How to Save a Life
Picture source: Goodreads
1) How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

This beautiful book with many important themes really found a place in my heart. It is a sad yet happy story of two people, or more, finding the path to themselves. Both abuse and grief are touched on expertly in this novel.

The Sky Is Everywhere
Picture source: Goodreads
2) The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

I was pretty much rendered speechless by the profound truth and meaning I found in The Sky is Everywhere. It is funny at some times, gut-wrenching at others, and powerful for the rest of the time. This is one of the best books I know that handle grief.

Second Chance Summer
Picture source: Goodreads
3) Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Taylor, the main character, was totally relatable to me and her emotions, thoughts and flaws felt utterly, compellingly real. I especially loved her growth in this novel – she came to terms with, confronted and conquered her fears and insecurities. The way the family became tight was simply heart-warming.

Picture source: Goodreads

4) Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson 

Wintergirls is such an insightful, moving story dealing with difficult topics. I strongly recommend it to anyone wanting to read about how an eating disorder affects a person's life.

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)
Picture source: Goodreads

5) Where She Went by Gayle Forman

The girl he loves left Adam without explanation. He also grieves the deaths of her family members who were close to him. This really was an emotional read, I cried buckets. Wonderful.

Looking for Alaska
Picture source: Goodreads

6) Looking for Alaska by John Green   

A well-written book that sucked me in, Looking for Alaska also handled a tough subject masterfully. John Green is amazing!

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Picture source: Goodreads

7) The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne                           

Through the eyes of a naïve German boy, the horrors of the Second World War are depicted through such an innocent perspective that I couldn’t help shivering. Thought-provoking!

Hate List
Picture source: Goodreads
8) Hate List by Jennifer Brown             

School shootings are definitely difficult issues to handle. For the main character of the Hate List, Valerie, it is even more difficult because it was her boyfriend who was behind it, killing people they both shared their hate for. Worth reading for sure.

Thirteen Reasons Why
Picture source: Goodreads
9) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher                                           

This was awful, in a way, because from the very beginning we know that there is no hope for Hannah anymore. Yet as a reader, I couldn’t help wishing she would have survived as the reasons behind the terrible act are uncovered slowly in an original way.

Veronika Decides to Die
Picture source: Goodreads

10) Veronika Decides To Die by Paulo Coelho                                                          

Veronika has attempted suicide but she didn’t succeed. This novel is powerful and beautifully written, maybe even my favourite Coelho book.
So those were my Top Ten this week - what are yours? List them in the comments or leave a link to your blog and I'll stop by!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Graffiti Moon
Picture source: Goodreads
Title: Graffiti Moon
Author: Cath Crowley
Series: no
Published: 2010 by Pan Macmillan Australia
Where I got the book from: the library

Synopsis from Goodreads

"Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers."

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

My thoughts


This time I’m reviewing a little differently – I loved Graffiti Moon so much I’m going to make a list of reasons why you should read it!

1) The book takes place during a single night.

This is something that will always capture my attention in a book synopsis – there’s something really special about a story that focuses on one day/night that is unforgettable for the protagonist and changes her/him in some way. Graffiti Moon takes this concept and makes it really work! I could sense the development of the characters so well.

2) It radiates an amazing urban artistic-ness.

I swear, all of the three POVs (Lucy, Shadow, Poet) successfully give out a fresh, unique perspective on art and how it affects their lives. The graffiti, the glass-blowing, the poetry… It’s such an exotic and fascinating combination that really grabbed me as a reader.

3) The characters are compelling.

Graffiti Moon succeeds in characterization outstandingly. Through Lucy’s and Shadow’s POVs the reader is truly in their heads, faces their bared souls and comprehends who they are and how they became that. Poet’s POV, simply poems he has written and nothing else, is a unique way of showing what he is like, complemented by Shadow’s remarks and the way he views Poet. I enjoyed reading about the other characters too – Lucy’s wacky parents, Jazz, Ed’s boss Bert and the rest.

4) The emotions are tangible.

Crowley is skilled with layering each sentence with emotion – present are feelings of yearning for connection, fear of exposing your complete self and uncertainty about following dreams. Through the one night relationships slowly build or strengthen themselves. I especially loved Ed and Leo’s tight, brotherly friendship and the way Ed and Lucy slowly find out that they have a lot in common.

5) The dialogue is smart and fun.

Especially the interaction between Lucy and Ed is great – it’s feisty, arty and feels very authentic. The three girls also have good conversations that are humorous and speak volumes about them.

Is there anything I don’t like about Graffiti Moon? Um, no. In short, it is just perfect.

5/5 A new favourite contemporary novel!

Similar books: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (#2): Books When You Need Something Light and Fun

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish.
This week’s topic is Top Ten Books When You Need Something Light & Fun. The thing is, I had trouble coming up with books that would completely fit this description – most books I’ve read have some kind of serious subplot at the very least. I also thought of only 8 this time. In no particular order…
Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)
Picture source: Goodreads

1) The Paranormalcy trilogy by Kiersten White
These books fall into my category of light and fun. Yes, there are monsters to be fought, but Evie is such an entertaining character and she loves pink, sparkly stuff, so…  :D

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
Picture source: Goodreads
2) Ten Things We Shouldn’t Have Done by Sarah Mlynowski
Again, this one has a dash of seriousness, but all in all, it’s a wild and spontaneous novel about teenagers living together for a short while.

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1)
Picture source: Goodreads
3) Summer series by Jenny Han
Yes, the books do deal with grief, but I think the summer setting and the romance balance it out into a slightly lighter read than some other books having to do with illness.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Picture source: Goodreads
4) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
This novel is a wonderfully cute and fluffy read – but that doesn’t mean it’s worth any less than some other book. This is something I might pick if in need of a quick cheering up.

Along for the Ride
Picture source: Goodreads
5) Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen
It’s not all lightness and fun, but it’s a good contemporary read that doesn’t deal with too heavy themes. Also, it’s set in the summer.
The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver, #1)
Picture source: Goodreads

6) The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
So maybe Ruby Oliver doesn’t have an ideal life what with seeing a psychiatrist regularly and basically having lost her friends and becoming unpopular, but her first-person narrative is sassy and quirky and the novel in its entirety is really quite fun.

An Abundance of Katherines
Picture source: Goodreads
7) An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
This has to have one of the funniest sidekicks I have read about, Hassan, so I strongly recommend this to those in want of a laugh – and some unconventional maths!

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Picture source: Goodreads
8) Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Well, this book is definitely fun! In a tough, hot, energetic, desperate, sweet and musical way. So what if there’s a little angst in between…

That was my TTT for this week! What's yours? Leave a link in the comments and I'll come visit!


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Time to Quote (#2)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Picture source: Goodreads
This (hopefully) weekly post is partly inspired by Quote it Saturday (Freda's Voice). I will be choosing a favourite quote – sometimes a few - every weekend, share it with you and explain why I think it’s special, beautiful or thought-provoking. Enjoy! P.S. The quotes won’t have any spoilers.

This week I chose the following quote:
"I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people."
-The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I couldn’t agree more with Charlie, the main character of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The point in life is to do things your own way – put in a clichéd way, to listen to your heart and follow its advice. It really isn’t living if it feels like it’s going against the core of your being. Everyone should aim for what brings them the most satisfaction and personal joy without harming others in the process. Once you figure out your own life, what makes you happy and angry and sad, you can decide who you want to share your honest self with. I love this quote because though its words are simple it really has the meaning of life summarized in one sentence.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

The Demon King
Picture source: Goodreads
Title: The Demon King
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Series: The Seven Realms Trilogy #1
Published: 2009
Where I got the book from: the library

Synopsis from Goodreads


Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch, and reformed thief Han Alister must rely on all his skills to provide for his mother and his sister.

While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer, discover three young wizards using a magical amulet to set fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han wrestles it from them, but without realising that his heroism has put him and his family in great danger. For the young arsonist is Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, and the amulet a treasure with immense power; it once belonged to the Demon King, the legendary wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. The Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells, has just returned to the city after spending three years with her father’s Clan in the mountains. She aspires to be like Hanalea, the legendary warrior-queen who vanquished the Demon King and saved the world, but her mother has other plans for her – plans that will put both the queendom and Raisa’s future in great danger. The Seven Realms will tremble when the adventures of Han and Raisa collide in this stunning new page-turner from bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima.

My thoughts

What I expect from all high fantasy novels is a blend of monarchy, magic, mystery and memorable characters set in a richly described realm alive with lurking dangers and deadly secrets. Cinda Williams Chima’s The Demon King, the first book in the Seven Realms, fulfilled my expectations very well but not quite perfectly.
I was very anxious to like The Demon King – partly because I really wanted to immerse myself in a fantastical world of the favourite genre of my childhood, and partly because I had tried to start a few books before that and they hadn’t resonated with my mood enough for me to bother to finish them at the time. However, my worry of not liking this book faded very quickly when Chima cut right to the quick in the story and one of the main characters, Han Alister, former no-good streetlord, runs into an unusual conflict with a few wizards. Han and his friend Fire Dancer are left with a powerful-looking magical amulet and many questions that eventually lead Han into a dangerous mess involving Princess Heir of the Fells, Raisa.
Han’s and Raisa’s stories run parallel, partially intertwining, in third-person narratives, building up tension effectively as the reader waits for the imminent collision of their worlds. Han is burdened with earning a living for his family and the dangerous secret of the amulet, whilst Raisa suffers from being Princess, confined to the castle and to frilly many-layered gowns. Meanwhile, under the blind eyes of Queen Marianna, a devious plot is hatched against the realm and its millennium-old traditions. With dreaded excitement and anticipation, the plot goes into action, with fairly obvious hints that lead to its contents, and finally is revealed – unfortunately to be almost exactly as I guessed. However, despite the general predictability of the plot, Chima executes it successfully, and I was shocked or surprised at least a couple of times.

I became immediately fond of Han and Raisa because of being able to relate to or connect with their thoughts and feelings. Han was lovable in his determinedness to take care of his family and Raisa was adorably stubborn and very kick-ass in her own way. What I especially enjoyed about The Demon King was the fact that secondary characters were also fascinating and fleshed out nicely. Amongst others I liked the honesty and good-naturedness of Speaker Jemson and the fierce and protective personalities of Amon and Captain Byrne. I was a little disappointed by Fire Dancer, Han’s friend, as it was continuously mentioned that he usually was cheerful but through the entire book he was angry and depressed and we never saw the “better” side of him. I hope Dancer will get more attention in the second instalment of the series because he has potential to be a more central character.
The relationships in The Demon King satisfied me with their complexity. There’s on one hand Han and his mother who clearly love each other but don’t show it the right way. Then again there’s Raisa and her childhood friend Amon who haven’t seen each other for a few years but are now developing a new kind of connection. Of course there’s also Micah Bayar, the High Wizard’s son, who has romantic interests in Raisa which are returned.
Chima’s writing was, I think, just right for this novel. The prose was not overly descriptive or tedious but instead smooth and vivid. Her words called out clear images in my head: “gargoyles launched themselves from every side of the building”, “the torchlight bled through the cage door” and “the firelight deepened the lines on her face, the map of her long life” are only a few examples of the author’s mastery at crafting sentences.
Perhaps this is only a problem in the copy of the book I read, but there was no map of the realms! I think this is practically a must in all high fantasy novels because I feel it’s important to have a clear visual of a newly introduced,  imaginary world.
The Demon King was a great start to the Seven Realms Trilogy and a tense, exciting read. The characters were relatable and though the plot was a little predictable, I enjoyed the novel as a whole. Especially the Chima’s writing deserves praise with its simple yet elegant description.