The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

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Based on the Emmy Award–winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
Twenty‑four‑year‑old grad student Lizzie Bennet is saddled with student loan debt and still living at home along with her two sisters—beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. When she records her reflections on life for her thesis project and posts them on YouTube, she has no idea The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon take on a life of their own, turning the Bennet sisters into internet celebrities seemingly overnight.
When rich and handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck‑up friend William Darcy, things really start to get interesting for the Bennets—and for Lizzie’s viewers. But not everything happens on‑screen. Lucky for us, Lizzie has a secret diary.
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Rating: 4 stars

First things first, last year I was absolutely obsessed with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a web-series on YouTube. (If you haven’t heard of it get right on over to YouTube and watch it. NOW. To help you along here’s the first episode):

I absolutely loved it. It was literally my life during my second year of university, and I probably spent more time following the huge amounts of interactive media that went along with the series (e.g. Twitter) than I did writing assignments. Anyway, I think any Jane Austen fan would enjoy this series, unless you’re one of those people who gets offended by any slight alteration to the master piece that is Pride and Prejudice, in which case I’d advise to stop reading.

This book is basically a written form of the series, with a lot more detail and extra scenes that we obviously don’t see in the videos. The book is written in the form of a diary although after reading this book, and having attempted to write a diary myself, it is not a very realistic diary. But who can say the web-series is considered realistic?! So I feel this point is invalid when talking about how good or how bad the book was.

Evidently, from my rating, I enjoyed the book. How could I not after devoting so much of my time to the series?! What I loved most about the book was Lizzie’s voice. It was extremely entertaining and I felt it captured Elizabeth Bennet in modern form perfectly. It was intelligent and witty and highly enjoyable. The adaptation from page to screen and back to page again was very well done, considering the time in which they wrote the book. I particularly enjoyed reading more about Lizzie’s relationships with her parents and sisters.

However, there were aspects that left me still wanting more. I feel they published this book out of fan demand and yet they barely embellished at all on the most important aspects (in a fangirl’s eyes) of the story: Darcy’s first “proposal”, and Darcy’s second “proposal”. The parts I really wanted to know more about and there wasn’t anything new. Even the ending was incredibly rushed compared to the rest of the book and it was a little underwhelming. The book would have got the full five stars if the ending was better constructed. There was a week after Darcy’s second “proposal” that the viewers didn’t really know anything about and I thought this would have been a great thing to embellish on in the book but nope. We get a small amount of clarification. BUT NOT ENOUGH!

But overall, I do think this is a book worth reading if you love Pride and Prejudice adaptations. I did enjoy it despite its set backs and I probably will read it again at some point.

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Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

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When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.
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Rating: 3 stars. 

Regrettably, this was disappointing. When I found the book on Goodreads a few months before the release date I was super pumped to find a new Young Adult book/series about assassin’s. I had become a little obsessed with them after reading the first two books of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, and not going to lie I had pretty high expectations. The premise sounded awesome and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. But it fell flat. 

It wasn’t a bad book, I enjoyed it enough. Enough that I will continue on with the series. But it wasn’t anything special. The plot was kind of what I was expecting it to be, awesome. But the characters were not good. None of the characters are particularly remember-able, which would obviously take a lot away from the book. With better characters this series could be amazing. It’s a shame as I was so prepared to love this book and I feel a little heartbroken that I didn’t. 

On another note, a few good things about the book was the whole magic system, I found it very interesting. Although it wasn’t vastly original, its still different enough to want to pick up this book for. Hopefully this aspect will grow with each book in the series (or trilogy, no idea what it’s going to be). It has me a little excited for more on that front. Fingers crossed that Cypress will deliver, 

Overall, really just another book to add to a pile of “meh”s and “maybe”s. For me this is a series I will have to keep an eye on, I feel like it’ll get better. I hope it will get better, 

 

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

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At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere. 

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock–to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she’ll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page.
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Rating: 3 stars

I feel sad that I didn’t like this book more. The amount of raving reviews I read before hand kind of made me think it would be something amazing. I’m not saying this is a bad book. It is really well written, to the point where I am willing to carry on with the series. However, I feel I didn’t connect with it as well as everyone else did. I think that the reason I didn’t necessarily like this book was not because of it being over hyped, I  actually understand why people love it so much. But I think it was because I felt it dragged on for so long that I kind of had to force myself to sit and read it.

There are a few things I really enjoyed about this book and one was how realistic it was, yeah I know it’s a fantasy, but it didn’t fell like it was accommodating to the clichéd scenarios that so frequently present themselves in other young adult fantasy novels. I didn’t roll my eyes once which was a breath of fresh air. The world in which this series is set is intriguing and it has its good and bad aspects, I thoroughly enjoyed the darker aspects which rarely make appearances in YA, with references to famine, disease, rape and death on a huge scale. It’s a little bit morbid of me to like reading about it but it really gave a much darker edge to the book that I was not expecting.

This book is definitely a story centred on its characters. There is an enormous array of characters that make appearances throughout the book that were really interesting and well formed. My only problem is that I want to know more about them. I really loved Trevanion and Froi. I could read entire books about them (thank god the next one in the series is Froi of the Exiles!). I disliked Evanjalin though, although there were aspects of her character that I liked, there was too much that I didn’t like. It makes me wonder what everyone else sees that I don’t.

There were some parts of the book and the world building that I didn’t like, that were well, confusing. I literally couldn’t picture what Lumatere was meant to look like. I feel that despite the huge amount of detail that Marchetta goes into in this book, she wasted it on things that didn’t matter and could have had more use in the descriptions of the world that the book is meant to be set. Although the writing is fabulous, there were also aspects which I just did not understand, I understand that it is part of Marchetta’s writing style, but I actually found myself trying to guess what was actually happening. I feel that these parts were meant to be obvious to the reader, I don’t know whether I was just being dense, but it really lowered my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, I do think this is a book worth reading. I don’t regret it, I just really wish I could have enjoyed it more. I will make my way through the other two books, but I may save them for a rainy day.