Friday Five: In Which Kaz Reads Stuff

I am way behind on everything, and blogging has fallen to the bottom of my list… which is just plain wrong. So here’s a Friday Five made up of the books I’ve read most recently, with some thoughts on each (all books are YA unless otherwise noted):

1)* Liar by Justine Larbalestier

I don’t know where to start with this incredible book. I mean, seriously… how can you possibly sum up a work of genius? Okay, the answer is: I can’t. I also can’t say too much for fear of spoiling anything (and the novel will be totally spoiled if you’re not careful about what you read online before you check it out). It’s sort of a YA-detective-whodunnit-contemporary-OMGWTFBBQ!!!1! psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator. I loved Micah – her voice and intensity were beautifully rendered. And yes, I think you can love an unreliable narrator. Interestingly, I don’t find her to be as unreliable as some readers have… Justine Larbalestier has given plenty of clues throughout the text (although I am still on the fence about some things!), and I have a strong feeling that this is a book that will reward multiple readings. I think it is the kind of novel that should be studied in schools – it is that good and that important. Is it challenging at times? Yes. Do the twists and turns make your head spin? Sure. But is it AWESOME? Oh hell, yeah! 🙂 I strongly recommend Liar to you. Give it a try and just trust me on this. (And no, I am not going to talk about the ‘cover issues’ around the book – there’s plenty of that online if you just Google it or read Justine’s blog. I don’t want to detract from what a mind-blowingly powerful read this was by getting into the whitewashing subject here. However, I do like the new cover very much.)

2)* Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith

I wish I hadn’t left it quite this long to read Tantalize. On the other hand now I can read the next book, Eternal, straight away. I adored the setting and wordbuilding of this book. This is what I call a quirky read, but in the best possible way. Sometimes I felt like I wanted to be a little closer to Quincie – although she absolutely rocks – but loved the way she just lit up around Sanguini’s restaurant. As a large proportion of the book’s action takes place in Sanguini’s it all worked out pretty well. 😉 The premise and setting are unique; the focus on food and cooking a delight; and Cynthia Leitich Smith’s almost-gothic (at times) writing is beautiful. If you love vampires and werewolves but are getting a little tired of the same-old, same-old, give Tantalize a shot. I will definitely be back for the next book, and was happy to see that Eternal made its debut on the New York Times Bestseller List (at #5). Yay!

3)* Darkness Calls by Marjorie M. Liu

Okay, so this is the second book of the ‘Hunter Kiss’ adult urban fantasy series, and I have to say that it was my favourite so far. There was also a gorgeously written novella that is actually a prequel, so this is really the third story set in the crazy world of hunter Maxine Kiss. Although I’m not a huge fan of Marjorie M. Liu’s Dirk & Steel paranormal romance books (I like them, I just don’t LOVE them – sorry, Renee *g*) this is far more my kind of thing. Darkness Calls is pretty dark – all the Hunter Kiss stories are – but that’s because Maxine is fighting the darkest things imaginable. She is gradually losing her humanity in the face of the battle she is born to fight but her partnership with her soulmate, Grant (an interesting and multilayered character, rather than just eye-candy *g*), helps give her something – and someone – to fight for. Some of the mythology and backstory is a little… confusing at times, but the series is building gradually and more is becoming clear. I’m quite enjoying the slow process of revelation; it’s like peeling back layers one by one, to reveal the true depth of this richly created world. I also have to mention ‘the boys’ – Maxine’s demon companions; her family (sort of). By day, they are invulnerable tattoos on her body. By night, they peel away from her skin and fight by her side. What. A. Concept. *love* Especially Zee; brilliant character! Anyway, I recommend this series – and this book in particular – but I would suggest starting with the anthology story ‘Hunter Kiss’ to put you fully in the picture.

4) The Demon’s Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan

So here we come to it… the follow up to my top read of 2009. It is no secret that I loved The Demon’s Lexicon, but can The Demon’s Covenant measure up? Would I be disappointed? The answers are: Yes, it does measure up. And no, it does not disappoint. Book two is a meatier affair – there is more to get your teeth into and multiple plot threads and shenanigans going on. This is a Good Thing. My interest never flagged and I read and read, one night staying up ’til almost 3am to finish because I had to know what happened! I admit to missing Nick as the POV character, but Mae was more than a match for him (in more ways than one! *g*) – and I can see why it wouldn’t have worked to have Nick ‘narrating’ any more stories. (Have you read the first book? If you have, then you’ll know what I mean.) I loved seeing more of the Goblin Market, and we learn much more about the fascinating demons Anzu and Lianan. The magicians’ Circles are expanded upon and, really, the whole world that Sarah created in Book One just expands here – very exciting! I absolutely CANNOT wait to read the final part of the trilogy. I want to see more of Mae’s feisty spirit, and it will be interesting to see how the book works from Sin’s POV. I will leave you one non-spoilery thought about The Demon’s Covenant: OMG, the ENDING was so beautiful and perfect. I actually had tears in my eyes and, although I cry very easily in Real Life, I hardly ever cry at books (movies are another matter entirely – I cry buckets at the cinema). But this was an emotional story in so many ways. I adored The Demon’s Lexicon for how clever it was, but I loved The Demon’s Covenant for how much it made me feel.

5) Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

And onto another of my most anticipated reads of 2010. It is no secret that I am a hopeless Melissa Marr fangirl. I was talking to my dear friend Ana, the other day, and I said that anything by Melissa would get a 7 out of 10 from me just for existing. It wouldn’t matter if I thought the story was terrible (which would be impossible), the quality of writing already lifts her work well above the average. Yes, I really do think that her writing is that good. Anyway, this book is better than a 7… 😉 I loved Radiant Shadows, and I think it has to go up there as one of my favourites in the series. It’s so hard to judge these things – and I change my mind regularly – but it’s possibly in second place behind Ink Exchange. Um… at the moment. Ani’s story is fascinating in and of itself, and yet it also takes us further into the heart of the Wicked Lovely world. I got the feeling that larger events are overshadowing the lives of individuals, but I suppose that’s what happens during a war. The court fascinations and politics are really beginning to take flight now, and this book leaves us on the precipice of something terrible. That’s not a spoiler: darkness and unrest have long been brewing and here, in the fourth book of the series, we see many previous threads being woven together (which actually makes me think of one of the POV characters in the book, Rae, who I loved!). And that’s not to say the ending of this book wasn’t satisfying – it absolutely was; I’m just saying that there are Big Things about to happen, and this book lays the foundations for what looks to be a kick-ass final showdown. Oh, I must also mention Devlin, who we met briefly in Fragile Eternity as Sorcha’s Bloody Hands, who really comes to life in Radiant Shadows. Once again I found myself shifting my allegience from some of the other male characters – I’m so fickle. Heh. Melissa sure knows how to write ’em hot! *g* The fifth and final book cannot come soon enough for me…

* These books count towards the POC Reading Challenge (although I had them on my TBR pile, anyway). Click the image to find out more:

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22 Responses to Friday Five: In Which Kaz Reads Stuff

  1. Naomi says:

    Tantalize is amazing! I recommend it to everyone, lol. I have Wicked Lovely in my TBR pile – must get to that one of these days…

  2. Carolin says:

    Tantalize has suuuuch a beautiful cover, I think that alone makes me want to read it. I desperately want to read Melissa Marr and Sarah Rees Brennan, but haven’t gotten around to it, yet. Man, my TBR pile is growing by the day! So many good books out there.

    • Kaz says:

      There are too many books… *sigh* I have stuff on my shelves that I can’t believe I haven’t managed to read yet!

      And I can’t wait to hear what you think of Melissa Marr & SRB. 🙂

  3. Ari says:

    So excited for the mail!

    Anyway, I really liked Tantalize although I much preferred Eternal (they are both good but I LOVED Eternal). I wish Liar was taught in schools. It would be so interesting to hear about what everyone else thinks really happened vs. what was a lie. It would be an intellectual discussion! Why is YA not taught in English class (not all the time, but one book a year that was actually written for teens would be nice to read). I too thought that Micah being an unreliable narrator made her even more awesome and frustrating. My head hurt but I was smiling really hard when I finished Liar. I can’t wait to read Justine’s other books!

    The covers of Melissa Marr’s book are really pretty, especially Radiant Shadows 🙂

    Thanks for joining the POC challenge

    • Kaz says:

      🙂

      I am even MORE excited to read Eternal now!

      Yes, re. Liar – just think of the amazing discussions people could have. And you make an excellent point about why YA books aren’t a regular part of English Lit classes. Hmm… I’ve got Justine’s Magic or Madness books on my shelf right now! I have to read them soon.

  4. Leisa says:

    I’m 3/4 of the way through LIAR right now. I have to agree with you. Incredible book. The way Micah is written and, the whole book, really, is just wow. I never could pull something like that off. I can’t wait to see how the last 1/4 goes. I also can’t wait to get my hands on The Demon’s Covenant and Radiant Shadows.

  5. Firewolf says:

    Yay Books!

  6. Glad you liked. 😉 As the time Draws Closer, my nervousness knows no bounds.

  7. Maggie says:

    Great list! You’re reading all the books *I* want to read! 😉

    • Kaz says:

      LOL! I’ve been trying to read a bit more this year, but it does mean I stay up very late at night – it’s the only time I manage it.

      And thank you for coming to visit!! 🙂 *hands out cake*

  8. Brian Kell says:

    Everything you said about LIAR is spot on! Very, very cool book. I can’t imagine the plot outline the author had to create in order to follow the story herself. Crazy! And I picked it up with ZERO idea of what the book was about. I didn’t even read the backcover or the blurb, went into it blind. And my mouth dropped open SO many times.

    And I can’t wait to read The Demon’s Covenant… but, since I’m just a Joe Schmo… I have to wait for it to arrive in stores.

    • Kaz says:

      I was – and am – in awe of her. I couldn’t read fast enough towards the end!

      Re. Demon’s Covenant… oh, pish! You’re not a Joe Schmo. Unless that’s your real name and Brian Kell is your superhero name? Or something… 😉

  9. *drools*

    So many good books. . .*happy sigh*

  10. Mardel S says:

    I haven’t read anything else by Marjorie M Liu other than the first Hunter book. Not the short story, I didn’t know there was one. I have Darkness call on my shelf and I just keep getting more books to read. I need to slow down on acquiring books…..nah!

    You’ve really interested my in Tantalize (and Eternal). I’m wondering how this one qualifies for POC challenge – is it a character in the book? more than one character?

    I’ve been wanting to read Liar also, but strangely enough it’s not in either of the stores that I normally book shop in. I’m wondering if it’s in paperback yet. I noticed the other day while browsing the YA section, that most of the books are in hardback. There are hardly any paperbacks and if I were a parent this would be hard for me, on the pocketbook ($$)

    • Kaz says:

      “Slow down on acquiring books”.. haha… yeah, like we ever could! 🙂

      Cynthia Leitich Smith is Native American, and the POC challenge is for characters of colour & authors of colour.

      Re. hardbacks – Oh, I 100% agree with you! I’ve noticed more and more this trend towards hardbacks for YA novels, which I think is a great shame. I know that lots of people actually like hardbacks, but I’m not one of them so I only think of the price. *Sigh* I wonder how people afford it, too.

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