Thursday, October 26, 2006

Review: The Panther and the Pyramid by Bonnie Vanak and Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

And now, what you've all been waiting for, the reviews :D Let's start with The Panther and the Pyramid and keep Poison Study for the dessert :D

The Panther and the Pyramid by Bonnie Vanak: N/A

Okay, I'll admit it, I didn't "read" the book, I skimmed through it. However, skimming through, I know what happens... but I've probably missed some details. Because I skimmed through the book, I don't want to give it a grade because it would be unfair. The only thing I'll say is that I thought the book was so-so and didn't love it as much as Kristie or Cindy (sorry!)

So what is the story? Basically, Graham Tristan grew up in Egypt after his parents were slaugthered during their trip. Kidnapped by a tribe, he was abused by two men, one Egyptian whom Graham killed later on in a ceremony to show he was a man, and a red-hair, green-eye Englishman who promised him he would save Graham. Graham has now returned to England where he has become Duke and live with his long-time lost brother, Kenneth (who also grew up in Egypt) and Kenneth's wife and daughter. Anyhow, Graham is having nightmares that featured the Englishman who raped him... Trying to forget about his nightmares, Graham decides that he must lose his virginity and goes to a brothel where he asked for a virgin. Enters Jillian Quigley, the daughter of a count or viscount who wants to lose her virginity so she would be ruined and wouldn't have to marry the man her father chose. In addition, with the money, she could escape to America where she could go to college and get a good education.

Few days after the act, Graham meets Jillian again at a ball - where he learns that Jillian is the daughter of THE Englishman. To set his revenge in motion, Graham decides to marry Jillian. So something, something happens... you know :P Anyway, finally, Graham receives news that his investments failed and that his family is almost ruined. In order to save the family's fortune, Graham can only think of one thing, a treasure hidden in Egypt. He has half of the map and Jillian's father, the other half... and story continues.

So as I said, I skimmed through the book :P The opening was pretty unusual and I was glad that the two characters got rid of the sex this early in the book. I thought that if they were going through a regular courtship, it would have taken forever. I find both characters okay - they're not annoying, but they didn't leave me with a strong impression. Graham is indeed tortured, he is scarred by the abuses, and his upbringing is quite different from any other English lord. Also, perhaps the ending was a bit too smooth? I mean, with everything that happened between Graham and Jillian, I expected a bit more angst... Aside from that, I don't have much to say about this book (sad, I know... and I call this a review?) I guess I had really great difficulty imagining everything that was described. Perhaps when i read the previous books, it'll be clearer in my head... but till then, that's it.

So what everyone's been waiting...

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder : 4.75/5

Wow, this book was great. You know, I've been hearing so much about it... I think the first time was on Jennie's blog :) I was hearing so much good stuff about it that it scared me and that's why it took me so much time to decide reading it :D Definitively a keeper :D

You probably know the story by now, but it doesn't matter.

Growing up in an orphanage, Yelena was sentenced to death after killing the son of her benefactor, General Brazell - not without good reason. Now the day has arrived and she is given a choice: death by hanging or become the Commander's food taster. Yelena is no fool and the choice is easy. Then, her learning of poison starts. However, poisons are not the only thing Yelena has to worry about: a) Valek (the Commander's right hand man)'s imprevisible tests and b) Brazell's attempts on her life. In addition, Yelena discovers that she has magic power in a country where magic is forbidden and magicians are killed. Who is friend, who is foe and how can she escape?

I really liked this book. The telling was very smooth and although it was a first person point of view, it didn't bother me at all. I liked it when we went through the learning of the poisons, although it was too short to my taste and I liked it that her job wasn't limited as food taster. Yelena is bright and courageous, but she's human too. She has doubts, she fears, but she's calm. She can be in a good mood one moment and be down in the next. You know, she's not the fearless food taster who's like: I want to escape and that's my goal and unique goal. She gets attached to the others... anyway, she felt really real to me :D I liked Valek a lot... see, that's the kind of man who is obviously an alpha male, but he doesn't overshadow the woman. That was quite a nice change. Valek is smart, cunning and moves like an assassin :) Valek and Yelena together are a deadly combination :D I liked the ppl Yelena befriended with too, but for once, it seems that the story will focus only on the main couple. Okay, I'm running out of thing to praise LOL. Basically: I love it, everything - the characters, the plot, the writing - people love it and if you haven't read it, go find it! I'm going to read Fire Study tonight and tomorrow, while you're looking for it :D I'm actually glad that Fire Study is also getting good comments, because what's worst than having a good first book and the second is a flop? Nothing... that would be major disappointment.

I know, I know... if I love it so much, why only 4.75? Why not a perfect grade? One major reason and one minor. The major reason, I thought as a reader, I didn't get enough world-building information. This is fantasy... I know that they live in Ixia which is divided into Military Districts... The commander rules, everyone has a job and wears uniform... okay, I get that... but what about the setting: is it a desert? because I kept imagining somewhere very dry, a bit like in Kingdom of Heaven (with Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson), but then, I was reminded that there was a forest... so you know, was the castle where they live more European or Middle East? My other reason, which is really, really, really minor and I know, you're going to laugh... is that the author, i think only twice (and in the same dialogue), used the word 'okay.' So what's the problem with it? Well 'okay' sounds way too modern for Poison Study. It was just out of blues, out of context and it jumped right at me... am I too picky? Perhaps, but still. you don't use 'okay' in regencies right? well same thing here... it shouldn't have been used. Oh, and one more thing... what is the mutation? But nonetheless, this is an AWESOMELY, FANTABULOUSLY GOOD BOOK!

ps - sorry, Blogger was having some trouble yesterday night. Luckily, I did save it in a word file!