Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study
by Maria V. Snyder
Fantasy, YA
416 pages
published: 2004
5 of 5 stars


About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace-- and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison. As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear....  - from Goodreads


I was longing for a book I could sink into and love, and I was fortunate to read this one. I was persuaded by several bloggers to put this on hold at the library and it came up just when I needed it. I quickly devoured this never-boring fantasy.

The Good Stuff:
  • Intriguing. I was fascinated by mystery, the horrible past, and the simple fact that this seemingly good character was perfectly fine with the murder she committed. I had to know the back story.
  • Different. I have never encountered the premise of being a compelled food taster before and enjoyed it. The post-rebellion world was also cool to explore. For all the problems with it, and all the reasons to dislike the government, it became apparent that it was a great improvement over before.
  • Pacing/Plotting. It was never dull. It felt like as soon as I got a handle on what was going on and started predicting where things would go next,  new layers of plot were spread on top.  
  • Characters. I loved that the characters where all (or nearly all) multi-faceted. The good guys did some questionable things, the bad guys had their reasons. Enemy and Friend where titles that were constantly changing. And yet the characters were consistent within themselves, you just couldn't always see the big picture at first.
  • World Building. I mentioned the post-rebellion government, but there was more to the world, including other countries and a magic system. This wasn't a hugely detailed or political book, but there was enough to completely immerse you in otherness.
  • The ending. There was a fully satisfying ending that wasn't perfect. Not a stressful cliffhanger. Not a pretty bow. Just goodness.
I highly recommend this to older teens and fantasy lovers.

Cautions: Some sex, fair amount of violence, and mature themes including torture and murder.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Listful Mondays: Book Moments I'll Never Forget

So it ended up being a three week break instead of one. My apologies. I had two rounds of family visitors, one right after the other, and then apparently a week to recover. It was all wonderful and busy and now summer will really start for my family. I'm excited to be blogging again, though I feel like it's has been years instead of three weeks, and my google reader agrees. Now we shall just have to see how (let's hope it is a 'how' and not a 'if') blogging will fit into this whole no school thing.

I am trying to list memories of books that are associated with specific times or moments in my life, not just awesome things I remember out of books. No attempt to write them in chronological order will be made - that would be entirely too much work.

Book Moments I Will Never Forget:
  1. Finishing the Anne of Green Gables series (with that glorious "yeth") and experiencing my first full blown case of P.A.B.D. (Post Amazing Book Depression). I just didn't know how to go on with my boring boring life.
  2. Going book shopping with my aunt, who doesn't like small children and who had only recently graduated me to the realm of worthwhile humans due to my double digit age and the fact that we both liked fantasy books. I confessed to liking Anne McCaffrey but that I hadn't read too many because of the lacking local and school libraries. She shocked me by buying Dragonsinger, the next book in the series, for me. At home I immediately curled up in the armchair and read the whole thing.
  3. Finishing Return of the King while nursing my second child. It was so heavy and dark that I had to repeatedly put it down for breathers, but since I had nowhere to go...I'd pick it back up.
  4. My senior English class when my teacher suggested I might like Pride and Prejudice. I held the plain little book I knew nothing about, shrugged, and opened to that famous line. Thank you Mrs. Cornelius.
  5. Attending the release party at Borders for the third Harry Potter with my baby girl (number one) dressed like Crookshanks. Then ever after having to buy the book on CD because neither my husband or I would relent and let the other read the new book first. We would drive aimlessly around town so we could listen to the book and the children would sleep.
  6. Whilst trapped at my grandma's house with nothing but reruns on cable, I scoured her meager bookshelf for something to pass the time. All her books were pastel and vapidly titled. No fantasy. I finally settled on a pink monstrosity mostly because it mentioned the ocean, and I embarked on my first romance novel. I was shocked by the amount sex (or near sex, frankly) and was deliciously scandalized by what my grandmother read.
  7. After trying unsuccessfully to read The Two Towers for what felt like months (and I suppose it could have been since I was probably 11ish) I gave up. How strange it felt. How like a failure. But at that moment I was honest and admitted it just wasn't making sense.
  8. Meeting Tasslehoff Burrfoot and the gang in Dragons of Autumn Twilight. I remember the scene so clearly I could have read it yesterday instead of in grade school. I was euphoric because it was adult fantasy and I could read it. It meant no more boring kid books.
  9. Trying to read The Book of Three on my brother's bed. (I've mentioned this one countless times.) I just wasn't ready for that one. I needed one more year.
  10. Stuck in a KOA while my parents did laundry, I grabbed a sci-fi book off the "here you can read this" shelf because it was by Anne McCaffrey and I was desperate. Enter The Rowan. I took that copy home with me. It became one of my friends.
  11. That moment in The Secret Garden when Collin walked and I knew I loved this book. It was also the moment when I acknowledged that my mother could pick out good books for me even though they weren't fantasy. I stopped fighting her suggestions. Mostly.
  12. The day, the whole entire day, I spent curled on the couch in my garage bedroom reading Illusion by Paula Volsky. I was so drawn in and desperate to finish it that I never strayed from my room for fear of being "assigned" something to do.
  13. Several things involving The Clan of the Cave Bear - remembering the title from what my 4th grade teacher was reading during our read-a-thon; being furious with my father for telling me I couldn't read it until I was 18, but telling my brother he could read it at 16, double standards suck; a friend in grade school scanning through the pages in the library because she hear there was "bad stuff" in it, and finally reading it, and loving it, on my own as an adult.
  14. Loving The Westing Game because the girl was named Turtle.
  15. Reading Out of the Dust by Karren Hesse is one breathless sitting, then reading it all over again out loud to my husband when he got home. Haunting. Glorious.
  16. Holes inspired a twice-read-in-a-day episode too. Amazing plotting and pacing. I had to share it immediately.
  17. Trying to read These is My Words on the treadmill and failing. I sat down, sweaty and exhausted, on the floor next to the treadmill and continued reading it...hoping to forget that breakfast and school and work would find me there.
  18. Needing a "break from it all" and hiding in my library with no idea what to read. I grabbed My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison for a re-read because I knew it would deliver what I wanted at that moment. And it did.
  19. Picking up my older sister's abandoned, water damaged copy of Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey and daring to open it. You see, my older brother had said her books weren't good, so I was rebelling. Within a few chapters I had decided to *gasp* disagree. A defining moment of independent decision making.
  20. The Apprentice by Deborah Talmadge-Bickmore. This will be discussed in another post soon to come.
This has been much fun. I'm sure that I am forgetting many, but I have to let go at some point... I would be in raptures to read about any of your unforgettable moments!

{Next week: Books I ReRead}

Thursday, June 3, 2010


As you have probably noticed, I haven't been posting. The situation has been so bad that I haven't even posted about not posting! Crisis.

You see, my house will very soon be the site of a family get together. I have a big family. While not everyone is coming, enough are for me to stress. We have had to recover the pool from a bad winter, fix broken pipes inside the outdoor drinking fountain, fix the the air conditioner, assemble the playset and the trampoline net, and clean clean clean. And run errands and shopping and getting vehicles registered and...and...and....there was school ending and graduations and outgrown shoes and reservations and a recital.

Well. They are all arriving Saturday and leaving approximately one week later. At that point I will have much blogging to do. I have a list. Literally. It's in my green notebook - reviews, lists, thoughts, ramblings, ideas, opinions. I'm dying not able to write anything. I am exhausted. I haven't even been reading. I haven't been sitting down. :(

But I shall be back as soon as I can be. I miss you Bloggies, and I miss reading reviews. I miss my books. Tomorrow I continue to scale Mt. Washmore.

See you on the other side!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Listful Mondays: Pumpkin Books

A Collection. Perhaps the titles in your crockpot cooking corner, or all the Newberry's you own, or the rhyming picture books. I'll be going with my pride and joy - my Pumpkin Book Collection. Especially since you all have heard enough about my fairy tales.

Alright Bloggies. A weekend has finally come when I was not on the computer at all. Not even to do my List. I'm embarrassed. But it was a holiday weekend, and though my husband wasn't off work, I had helpers willing to work with me on cleaning the house, putting together the new swing set and the trampoline surround net, cleaning the pool, doing the dishes, and even painting. I'm afraid I'll take some embarrassment for that. 

So though it's Tuesday, I'm going to pretend for a minute that it is still Monday and put up my list. My Pumpkin Book List. I've mentioned that I decorated my family room in pumpkins year round...well this collection sits on one of the shelves in that room. Many our taken out for Pumpkin Day in the Fall.

  1. Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, Illustrated by Megan Lloyd. (Picture Book.  A old woman who can't stand pumpkins because she had to eat too many as a kid finds herself with a whole crop of pumpkins in her yard. What will she do?)
  2. Pumpkins by Ken Robbins. (Picture Book. A journey with photographs through the life cycle of the pumpkin.)
  3. Pumpkin Town by Katie McKy, Illustrated by Pablo Bernasconi. (Picture Book. When the wind grabbed the unneeded pumpkin seeds and rained them down on the nearby village, that seemed to be the end of it...)
  4. Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper. (Picture Book. Three friends knew just how to do their own job and make the perfect pumpkin soup...until one of them decided they wanted someone else's job.)
  5. The Pumpkin Blanket by Deborah Turney Zagwyn. (Picture Book. A little girl learns to give up her favorite blanket for something else she loves.)
  6. Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie by Jill Esbaum. (Picture Book. Another life cycle story told in photographs.)
  7. Halloween Pie by Michael O. Tunnell, Illustrated by Kevin O'Malley. (Picture Book. Witch makes a delicious pumpkin pie and curses it in case someone else tries to eat it.)
  8. Mrs. McMurphy's Pumpkin by Rick Walton, Illustrated by Delana Bettoli. (Picture Book. What if what of the pumpkins was...evil?)
  9. Pumpkin Time by Kathleen Wiedner Zoehfeld, Illustrated by Christopher Santoro. (Board Book. A Little's trip to the pumpkin patch.)
  10. Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin by Marcy Serfozo, Illustrated by Valeria Petrone. (Board Book. Another Little picks the perfect pumpkin. What for?)
  11. Pumpkin: A Super Food for All 12 Months of the Year by DeeDee Stovel. (Cookbook.)
  12. Pumpkins & Squashes. (Cookbook. With pretty pictures.)

You might think this overkill, but as with many addictions, this is NOT enough. I have my eye on several more pumpkin books and will probably grab another handful just before Pumpkin Day this year. Crazy? Perhaps. Awesome? Totally.

Do you have any collections??

{Next week - which will be the week after next week - explanation soon: Book Moments I'll Never Forget. (I'm real excited about this one.}