Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Thousand Pieces of You - Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You Claudia Gray book cover
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #1
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Source/Format: Publisher, via Edelweiss (Thanks!) || e-galley
[I received this book for review. This is no way affects the opinions expressed in my review.]

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

If you’re interested in finding a read that will explain all the details of how inter-dimensional travel works, then this is not the book for you. A Thousand Pieces of You features the technology that allows characters to leap between two parallel universes, but doesn’t quite delve into the mechanics of it all. Hardcore sci-fi, it is not; but this does not lessen the fact that A Thousand Pieces of You is a marvelous read.

In the interest of honesty, I will say that it took some time for the novel to pick up. The first few chapters, with introductions to the characters and the history of things, are oddly paced. It is hard to become invested, particularly since you don’t really know what’s going on or why you should care. But, thankfully, there’s a point at which the tide turns, and the reader will find themselves steamrolled into wanting to know what will happen next.

The main characters of this story are Marguerite (also known as Meg), and the two interns who work with her parents, Paul and Theo. While there’s still much to be learned about these three, readers are given enough to go on. It’s enough to be invested in the plot that loops and twists and ties them together, though it’s not enough to completely fall in love with them or even feel like you know them.  There are also quite a few secondary characters too, and while they are interesting, they’re not particularly memorable either.

Still, even with this slight detachment from the characters, A Thousand Pieces of You was pretty darn compelling. There are multiple plot threads involved here: Meg’s efforts to track down her father’s murderer. Her shared memories with Paul. Her shared moments with Theo. The discovery of other key details regarding her father’s murder. Each one is carefully, cleverly woven in, though it might perhaps be easy for some readers to guess at things. By the end of the novel, readers will find themselves delighted with how crafty Claudia Gray is.

Personally, I feel like the novel could do well as a stand-alone. But I look forward to watching as Gray expands this story even more in the next installment. A Thousand Pieces of You is a real page-turner, nearly impossible to set down once the plot gets going. Though there are things that could use some improvement, it’s still a great story that combines sci-fi details, romance and friendships and family, and even a bit of mystery too.

Our Question: What branch of science would you be most interested in studying?

The stars have always, always, always been a source of endless fascination for me. I've always wondered about the universe, about space, about planets and stars and asteroids and the like. While I don't think I'd ever be fit for space travel, I think I would love to study astronomy. It would be fascinating to ponder the mysteries of space and the universe, and learning about them and unraveling them would definitely be a fun way to spend my time.

Faves & Flaws: Daughter of the Forest


Today's Fall Into Fantasy post is a Faves & Flaws post focused specifically on Daughter of the Forest. Instead of doing a traditional review, Hannah and I will both be sharing what we really liked about the book, as well as what we thought didn't work for each of us.

Daughter of the Forest book cover
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Series: Sevenwaters #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: April 1, 1999
Source/Format: Gifted by Alyssa (Thanks!) || Paperback

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment. 

But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever. 

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all.

1. Fairytale feels

The way Juliet Marillier writes Daughter of the Forest echoes the feel and writing of fairytales beautifully. It is all too easy to fall in love with the way she paints a picture of her settings, scenes, characters and story. Her descriptions are utterly evocative, her words are chosen with care and her plot twists and turns are perfectly times. Readers will come to feel like the world of the Sevenwaters series truly exists; they will also appreciate the loveliness of every turn of phrase. Whether it’s the fairytale-ness you’re after, or if you’re a connoisseur of excellent writing, Daughter of the Forest will meet your expectations – and far surpass them.

2. Character connections

Hand in hand with her gorgeous writing, Juliet Marillier adds yet another strong element to her spellbinding story: wonderful characters. Writing a story with a plot that keeps readers turning the pages is one thing; writing that story plus populating it with characters that feel so real, almost as if their your friends, well, that’s another thing entirely. Marillier definitely does an excellent job of bringing to life Sorcha, her brothers and all the other characters in Daughter of the Forest (whether human or magical). Readers will be utterly invested in Sorcha and her fate in particular, as they’re privy to her innermost thoughts and emotions for the most part. And readers will love (or hate) the other characters of this tale as called for, which is no easy feat considering how many people Marillier mentions! Yet each one of these secondary characters is written well enough that they remain distinctive and interesting even when they disappear for long periods at a time.

3. Slow-burning swoons

Fairytales have their fair share of romances; Juliet Marillier certainly draws inspiration from them in the way she chooses to weave in the romantic aspect of Daughter of the Forest. It totally, absolutely worked. Even before either character was invested in the romantic sense, I already was. It is a romance edged in subtlety, feelings unspoken but expressed in actions and events that unfold. In spite of the lack of outright admission of any feelings until much later, it is absolutely, wonderfully believable. The romance is one of the elements that made me cry more than once while I was reading, which speaks volumes about how invested I had become in the relationship.


1. Lengthy chapters

Is this even really a flaw? If you’re the kind of reader who likes finishing a chapter before you pause in your reading, then this might slightly irk you. But I happen to be that kind of reader, and it didn’t once bother me so… Basically, this is just in the flaws section for those of you who would like to be informed of such things. But it’s not even a REAL FLAW.

-o-o-o-o-o-

If it's not yet clear to you based on the decided lack of actual flaws in this post, Daughter of the Forest was a total five star worthy (or even MORE than five star worthy) read. Inspired by a fairytale, it drew on the elements and characters of the original but breathed new life into them in a style all Marillier's own. The writing, the characters, the relationships, the story - I loved it all so, so much. Even though the length and print might initially prove intimidating, trust me when I tell you Daughter of the Forest is definitely a worthwhile read.

(I just reread that, and seriously, my paragraph does not convey my full love of this amazing novel. Just know that I highly recommend it, and that it made me cry multiple times while I was reading it. When I finished, I wanted to start it all over again. And I'm still thinking about these characters. It's freaking amazing, y'all.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Want Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere

One of my favorite things about fantasy novels is the plot! Most fantasy novels involves quests to retrieve a much-needed object or magical talisman, or a journey that will get them where they need to be to defeat a great evil. The adventures make fantasy books so compelling + exciting to read, and so Hannah & I thought we'd focus on adventures for today's event post.


What's your favorite adventure in a book?

THE HOBBIT BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN / I mean, really, who wouldn't want to read about an important, life-changing quest that takes the characters through forests and mountains, homes of elves and dwarves? Plus, it's the kind of adventure that changes a person, pushing them to be braver, stronger, and more than they ever thought they could be. I've reread this book countless times and it's still always as epic as it was the very first time I read it.

What adventure would you like to go on?

THE HEROES OF OLYMPUS BY RICK RIORDAN / It was really hard for me to narrow it down to one adventure I'd really like to go on, but this is the series I decided on. It has a lot to do with the fact that I adore mythology, and that I just think the demigods (and other fun characters) in the series would be great company. The stakes might be high for their adventure, but seriously, they go through a lot of cool things together. I'd like to have a godly parent to make me a half-blood too so I could join them!


What's the best adventure you've ever been on?

JAPAN 2009 / I've been fortunate to travel to many wonderful places in the quarter of life that I've lived! My favorite adventure I've ever been on so far is, hands down, the trip to Japan I went on in 2009. It was a last-minute sort of thing, as my grandmother and her friends needed a younger traveling companion along. But it turned into one of the best trips ever! I got to see such beautiful temples and castles, and go to a few cities (Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto). Japan is a beautiful mix of modern chaos and elegant tradition, and I fell madly, deeply in love after my visit. I can't wait to go back someday!

What's your favorite adventure in a book?
What adventure would you like to go on?
What's the best adventure you've ever been on?

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