It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a meme created at Book Journey to catalogue everything read in the past week, what you’re working on now, and what you hope to get to in the coming week.

The Past Week

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

What I Didn’t Say by Keary Taylor

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart

The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Reading Now

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

The Week Ahead

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Showcase Sunday

Showcase Sunday is a meme created by Vicky at Books, Biscuits, and Tea to share new book acquisitions, whether bought, gifted, received for review, borrowed, or won.

Bought

  • House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
  • Eragon & Eldest by Christopher Paolini
  • Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier
  • Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier
  • Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart
  • Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
  • The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart
  • This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
 
  • Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
  • The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Gifted

  • Bitten by Kelley Armstrong First Edition Hardcover

For Review

 

  • The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (from NetGalley)
  • What I Didn’t Say by Keary Taylor (from NetGalley)

Won

  • Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral plus $25 iTunes giftcard (Thanks to Liz at Being Geek Chic and Razorbill Publishers)

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa’s The Iron King and I got off on the wrong foot. While struggling through the first in her Iron Fey series, I continually felt as if the blogging community had pulled one over on me, because for the life of me I simply couldn’t see the awesomeness that everyone else was gushing over. It was a serviceable take on fey lore, at best, and Kagawa’s reliance on pretentious metaphor was about as subtle as a semi truck. Yet, recently the blogosphere has been alit with excitement once again for The Immortal Rules, the first in Kagawa’s new Blood of Eden series. So before I wrote Kagawa off for good, I decided to give her one more shot to wow me, this time with vampire tropes in tow.

I’m sure there are many readers who appreciate a headstrong, stubborn female. Many

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

will see her as a welcome divergence from the weak-willed women who rely on others to save them, the damsels in distress who give reliant women a bad name. I am not one of those readers, because for me, it takes more than sheer determination to demonstrate strength of character. Allison has determination in spades, and unfortunately it’s the kind I dislike the most. She makes her own decisions, dependence be damned, yet those decisions aren’t reasoned, at least not to any degree reflected in the narrative. I’ve forgone many series for failure to connect with the main character, due mostly to my inevitable distaste for women who act before they think. Rose Hathaway from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series springs to mind as an exemplar of this most detestable of character types. Standing in contrast, Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels and Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax are wonderful examples of female characters whose strength is demonstrated not only through physical skill, but also through their abilities and willingness to utilize the fellow human resources at their disposal.

Honestly, Allison barely undergoes enough interactions with others to provide her with the opportunity to work together rather than blindly be contrary, yet the opportunities she does have, she squanders. Her decision to aid the ragtag band of humans she encounters speaks less to the connections she forms with its members than it does to the fact that she is fighting against her new vampire nature. While this might be an understandable reaction, it’s not groundbreaking, which rather sums up my reaction to the entire novel. As with her interpretation of fey lore, Kagawa has seemingly reconstructed the well-known tropes of past vampire legend in The Immortal Rules. Granted, literature, to a large extent, is necessarily a process of rehashing previous ideas into new formations. Yet while the most successful authors accomplish this feat seamlessly, Kagawa’s edges are so sharp, they basically point directly to her source material.

Nearly every aspect of vampire mythology described in The Immortal Rules is a derivative of earlier, better vampire stories. Yet perhaps the most troubling similarities I spotted are shared with the author who seemed to spark the current young adult vampire craze. I won’t name names, but surely I’m not the only one who noticed the parallels to two of a certain author’s series, one young adult paranormal and the other adult science fiction. An angst-ridden, self-loathing vampire? Present. Innate ninja skills upon being sired? Check. An uneasy alliance with a distrustful band of survivors seeking to eradicate the existence of your race (with a leader named Jeb)? Done and done. A beautiful boy who overcomes his initial hatred of girl’s inhuman existence to find le love? Got it. Girl’s rechristening as Wanderer? The list goes on.

I won’t spend much time analyzing the formation of the romantic relationship here, because even amidst the sea of hormone-induced instaloves rampant in young adult literature, there is no foundation for Allison and Zeke’s attraction. More confounding is the evolution of Allison’s relationship with her band of humans after they discover her true nature. A little calm, reasoned lecturing and she is able to make first Zeke, then Jeb- religious zealot Jeb- recant the convictions that served as their sole buoy for most of their lives in order to trust her. Well before the halfway point, I began to miss Kanin’s presence if for no other reason than the fact that, unlike vanilla Zeke, I enjoy the strong, silent trope. Unfortunately, given Allison’s reaction to her vampire “brother,” I suspect that Kagawa is going to develop this relationship in a decidedly paternal direction. It’s rare that I request a love triangle, but in this case I think it could only improve things.

When I read a rather mediocre redo such as The Immortal Rules, I fear that kids will neglect the classics of the genre-Dracula, Anne Rice, Let the Right One In, I Am Legend (from which The Immortal Rules essentially stole what little plot it provides)-in lieu of these derivatives. And it’s not an original derivative at that. See authors such as Delilah S. Dawson, Ilona Andrews, and Clay and Susan Griffith for some new takes on the classic vampire theme. Suffice it to say, I am not a Kagawa fan, and while her sentences might flow nicely, her substance is severely lacking.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a meme created at Book Journey to catalogue everything read in the past week, what you’re working on now, and what you hope to get to in the coming week.

The Past Week

Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

 Reading Now

A Family Affair by Karen Chance

 The Week Ahead

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a meme created by Kristi over at The Story Siren to share new book acquisitions, whether bought, gifted, received for review, borrowed, or won.

Bought

  • Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
  • Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean
  • The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

While it wouldn’t be the first time this year that my expectations for a novel failed to measure up to reality, I’m particularly disappointed by how far short of the mark The Iron King fell for me. Kagawa riddled what could have been a promising series with every cliche that gives the young adult genre a bad name. I never cared enough for the incompetent, cardboard-cutout heroine to worry whether she would find her brother and make it out of NeverNever whole and well. I wasn’t quite sure when and for what reasons Meghan started to care for Ash and vice versa, other than the fact that he’s oh so dreamy. The only plausible explanation I could come up with was that my copy has a few chapters missing in the middle, because otherwise it would appear that their relationship transforms from one in which his sworn duty is to kill

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

her to one in which he is willing to die to save her, all in the span of twenty or so pages. The only real dialogue that the two share seems to consist of his recounting the tale of his long-lost former love, which does not seem conducive to lead to their sudden and inexplicable mutual attraction.

Of course, Kagawa does her best to lay the seeds to the third side of an upcoming triangle, creating plenty of flirty banter between Meghan and her best friend/mythological mainstay Puck. I’ve read plenty of iterations of Robin Goodfellow, and unfortunately, Kagawa misses the mark for me. While the character clearly is meant to exhibit the usual charming trickery, I found his words and antics rather annoying most of the time. Though she could have saved the dynamic between Meghan and Puck by more fully illustrating their friendship, as they have supposedly been best friends for most of Meghan’s life, Kagawa never goes down this route. On the contrary, I feel she leaves readers questioning the extent to which Meghan and Robin were ever friends at all, as he has apparently been manipulating and maneuvering her throughout the course of their relationship.

Amidst these underwhelming relationships, Meghan’s introduction to the world of the fae unfurls, and honestly, if I hadn’t had doubts as to her intelligence and competence based solely on the aforementioned factors, I certainly would after her repeated failure to grasp the dynamics of the faerie world. Granted, not all of us are well-versed in the language of urban fantasy or mythology, but one would think it would not take more than one potentially life-threatening mistake to change one’s habits. Yet Meghan seems to make ambiguous contracts with nearly every dangerous fae she meets, continually attempts to thank her fae counterparts, and eats fae food on numerous occasions. While Kagawa assures readers that Meghan has a wealth of untapped power residing under the surface, I’m not convinced.

Overall, Kagawa’s story is a mixture of typical fae folklore, Shakespearean reference, a storyline reminiscent of the movie Labyrinth, and a feline character that seems torn from the pages of a certain Lewis Carroll novel. Despite all this, it never lives up to its predecessors. As I’ve already bought the second and third books, I’ll stick around for now, but I hope that Kagawa has much more up her sleeve.

 

Book Beginnings on Fridays

Book Beginnings on Fridays is a meme hosted at A Few More Pages designed to feature the book you are reading right now by sharing the first few lines of the story.

Tomorrow I’m reading The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.

Ten years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

No, he didn’t leave. Leaving would imply suitcases and empty drawers, and late birthday cards with ten-dollar bills stuffed inside.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series, so I’m excited to have finally tracked the first few down.

Here’s the summary, taken from Goodreads:

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.