February 25, 2015

Review: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pub. Date: September 1, 2014
Pages: 224

Short Sweet Synopsis: Ceony has worked hard to be first in her class at the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined to fulfill her dream of choosing metal as the medium for her magic; however, her dreams are crushed when the school assigns her to work with paper. Little does she know that there is more to paper magic than she even thought possible. When a magician practicing dark magic enters the picture, Ceony must use all the magic she has learned in order to save the life of her teacher.

"The Paper Magician" was a nice change from the books I have been reading. You may think that the idea of a paper magician is lame, but Charlie N. Holmberg makes it incredible. Like the idea of a magician who can work wonders with paper, there were aspects of "The Paper Magician" that I loved, but there were some issues with the execution of the plot that got in the way of the flow of the story.

I'm going to start with the positives because my experience when reading "The Paper Magician" was a good one. I loved the characters in "The Paper Magician" because they all had strong personalities. Ceony and Emery had great chemistry throughout the book and I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop. I truly appreciated the way Holmberg created his magical world where there Magicians bond to a specific man-made medium. Once bonded a magician can only work with that material. Even though paper sounds like a lame material to work with, it turns out that almost anything is possible if the magician knows his craft and understand the material.

My biggest problem with "The Paper Magician" was the pacing. Much of the book moved very quickly, but then the book slowed down towards the end. There was too much descriptions that didn't add to the world building or story. There was also a point where the plot started to crawl along and Ceony was going around in circles. It was getting really frustrating. I think it would have helped the pace if Emery and Ceony had more time working together at the beginning of the story and less with Ceony running in circles (sorry I'm trying not to give away cool details). Luckily the end of the book made it totally worth it!

I really enjoyed "The Paper Magician" because it felt very unique to other fantasy books out there. Yes it had romance and a good vs. evil plot, but these are elements I enjoy when the author does them well. Even though poor pacing is one of my pet peeves, I still really enjoyed "The Paper Magician" and even plan on reading the second book in the series.

February 11, 2015

Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pub. Date: September 2nd, 2014
Pages: 358

Short Sweet Synopsis: In a world where the royals cannot reproduce, surrogates are trained to create offspring for the higher class citizens that live in The Jewel. Violet is now of age to be sold as a surrogate and quickly discovers that her training has ill prepared her for what her status really means in the society of The Jewel. 

I read The Jewel based on a recommendation by a friend. We both LOVED The Selection series and she thought this was a good read alike. Yes there are girls in pretty dresses and they are somewhat competing for the favor of royals; however, the feel of The Jewel is nothing like The Selection. The Selection had a pretty light tone to it, but The Jewel was heavy.

While I thought The Jewel was great, I spent most of the book insanely stressed out about how Violet would become pregnant. The process of impregnating the girls, like all aspects of their lives, are kept secret. This unknown act kept me at the edge of my seat for most of the book; it felt similar to reading a horror novel and knowing that something terrible would transpire but not knowing exactly what it would be and when it would happen. It has been weeks since I finished The Jewel and it still unsettles me. I know I am making the book sound awful, but I'm of the opinion that if you are going to write a book about women being forced into becoming surrogate mothers for the wealthy it NEEDS to make you stomach churn, else the author is doing a disservice to what could have been a powerful story about women's rights.

The Jewel has more than just a super creepy plot; it has dynamic characters, a steamy romance, page after page of mystery, and an amazing ending. The whole book is pretty mysterious because of Violet's limited knowledge about her life as a surrogate. She has no idea what is expected of her until she is presented with a situation. You think you have figured out a specific character in The Jewel and the next thing you know they act in a way that drops your jaw. Is anyone entirely evil or are they just reacting to their situations? You just do not know!

I have to say that I'm pretty over the dystopian craze. It feels like deja vu every time I pick one up; however, I am very glad I read The Jewel because it was very different from other dystopian teen novels that have been coming out in recent years. I will confess that the beginning of the book will feel very Hunger Game-esque, but that wont last very long. You will swiftly get past that part and find yourself in a twisted world unlike one you could ever imagine. I've been told it is similar to The Handmaid's Tale, but I haven't read it so I can't verify whether or not that is accurate.