My old blog had branches out to a few other blogs for book reviews, games, and vampire lore. I’ve debated doing the same for this blog, but for now I think I will keep everything central. Therefore … here’s a book review to get things started! 🙂
Book: Of Fur and Ice
Author: Andrea Brokaw
Genres: YA, romance, urban fantasy
Attacked by a were-creature of no known identification, high school student Michaela is transferred to a school for were-students in Alaska. She must wait until the next full moon’s change before anyone can find out what kind of creature turned her. But signs indicate that whatever turned her seems to have followed her there and has become a threat to the were and human communities. The were-community needs to catch it before it draws too much attention to their packs or causes serious harm to anyone. But how can they catch it if they don’t know what they’re after?
Michaela is befriended by a family of were-foxes, some were-leopards, and a were-bear to aid her transition. But then there’s Warren — the wolf. She’s not sure what to think of him because one minute he’s all wolf; the next he’s … actually kind of nice … for a wolf, that is. My personal favourite character was Seth, the were-leopard, but I’m not sure whether it’s because of a preference for cats or that his hair was long and two-toned. Or maybe it’s just the fact that he was willing to buck tradition and listen to his heart to do his own thing.
I found this story to be entertaining. It’s got a bit of a “Beauty and the Beast” theme to it, along with themes of friendship and love, betrayed and lost, and the insecurities that are naturally part of a coming-of-age or life-change story. (Will your friends and loved ones still accept you if they see the real you?)
Told from first person perspective, its humor is light where Michaela and her friends are concerned. Each character’s personality is distinct. And I don’t remember reading any other stories where a were-beast was as uniquely designed the way Michaela and her “sire” are.
Brokaw’s style is well-organized, informal, and has an easy flow to it, quite suitable for the intended audiences. It’s suitable for younger teens, as well, in my opinion, though it does have some mild language in it. Her words are clear, and her ideas are well-developed.
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in the above genres, particularly if you favor high school settings, romantic dramas, lycanthropic stories of various kinds, or winter sports.
One final note: I used to give star reviews — points for whether certain elements were included or not. I’ve decided against continuing to do that in my text, though I may still click “star-bait” on sites where I share my reviews.
After participating in many discussions on why people rate books the way they do, I’ve come to realize how inconsistent readers are in how they reward (or punish) “good” and “bad” books.
Some readers rarely give five stars because they say a book must be absolutely perfect to deserve that, and that never happens; so five-star ratings must be reserved only for the best of the best. Other readers give a book five stars if they liked it … for no specific reasons other than that they liked it. While other readers, like me, had “grading” systems that acted like points: one star for grammar, one star for character development, one star for plot, etc.
In reverse, I’ve seen a one-star review for a book because a reader didn’t like that it was YA … when the book was clearly labeled and marketed as YA. Why would a reader buy a book knowing it’s a genre he dislikes, then give it such an awful review for being what it is? That makes no sense. The reader obviously has very strong opinions about YA, but the fact that he purchased a book from a genre he doesn’t like is his fault, not the book’s. People who like YA enjoyed the story.
So, it’s important to remember not everyone has the same taste in what they prefer to consume, but everyone can make their own decisions about what they consume if the ingredients in the recipe are not ambiguous or entirely grounded in opinion. Since the purpose of the book review is to communicate with other readers — to help them decide whether a book has elements they might like or dislike — words do a better job at offering literary analysis than stars. Stars may grab the initial attention, but words are what reveal the literary elements readers look for.
I worked on this book as editor and illustrator. It would be very easy for someone to accuse me of favouritism in star reviews for it. So it’s more helpful toward matching other readers with books they may (or may not) enjoy if I offer specific information about the elements within any books I review. 🙂