Rummanah Aasi
   One of the many things that I love about my job as a librarian is discussing books with my students. After recommending Kristin Cashore's fabulous books (Graceling and Fire) to a student of mine, she came back and told me that I "have to read the Study series". Of course after more probing, I was told that if I wanted a "strong female heroine, with a great cast of characters, a wonderful story arc and world building in the realms of fantasy and romance" then this was the book for me. Ironically, that was how I pitched Cashore's novels. I guess teens do pay attention, huh? ;)

   While on Spring Break, I picked up Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, the first book in a trilogy. I was instantly swept away and could not believe I had not discovered this book or author before. So, thank you, Clarisse for your awesome suggestion!

Without further ado, here is the description of the first book: Yelena has been trialed and sentenced to death for killing a general's son. When it is time for her execution, she is given a choice: a quick death or become a food taster for the Commander of Ixia. Like any smart woman, she decides to become a food taster. The job isn't easy as Valek, the lead of the Commander's security, tests her every move. Will Yelena survive or will she die?

Review: I'm very tired of reading endless amount of books where the heroine isn't nothing but eye candy for the hero and she is ultimately dependent on a male to save herself. Yelena's story is a fresh breath of air. She is a fighter in every sense of the word. She is determined to stay alive regardless of what obstacles stand in her way. She initiates self defense lessons and investigates on the various poisons that could be used to kill the Commander. Though she can be stubborn, she does realize when she needs help and isn't afraid to ask for it. 
     Yelena has a dark past, which is shown through flashbacks and how she interacts with the minor characters. I found the country Ixia fascinating and would love to read more of its history. Besides Yelena, my other favorite character is Valek. Valek...*swoon*. He reminded me a lot of Mr. Darcy in Austen's most popular novel, Pride and Prejudice, because of his cool, standoffish, arrogant, mysterious persona. He is a man that has many tricks up his sleeves and not one that you can completely figure out. It was a blast reading his and Yelena interactions and banter.
    Overall, I would highly recommend this series to anyone who may be a bit skeptical about fantasy and romance. While there are elements of both genres, none of them are too overwhelming to turn off the reader. I look forward to finishing this series. Actually, I'm already in the 5th chapter of Magic Study, which is book 2 in the series.

Rating: 5 stars

Words of caution: There is a scene of rape and flashbacks of torture. Nothing too graphic, but enough details to let the reader know what is taking place. Thus for this reason, I would recommend it to high school and up.

If you like this book, try: Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Fire by Kristin Cashore, the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, and Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
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