Introductory pacing. It didn’t take long for me to get into the story. Actually, the mentFull review can be found at Story and Somnomancy.
What I Loved
Introductory pacing. It didn’t take long for me to get into the story. Actually, the mention of Dracula’s medallion pretty much perked me up, and the fact that a great portion of the book took place in Ottoman Hungary piqued my interest.
A look at Dracula’s wives. This book, besides being a paranormal outlook of the 16th century, focuses on one of the three relatively unknown wives of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There isn’t much to be gleaned off of the Stoker novel, but I found that Saunders did well to take a closer look at each of the wives in turn, assuming the next books will delve into the past of the other two wives.
Yasamin’s story. Honestly, I thought Yasamin’s story carried the entire book, and I would have loved more insight into her past and how she managed to survive four hundred years without getting killed off by the numerous groups that seem to be after her.
Historical richness. There was a lot of historical events that were interwoven into the conversation and the story. Because I’m a dork and I had this slight obsession over the time period of Vlad the Impaler, Janos Hunyadi, Matthias Corvinus, and the subsequent Ottoman conquests (and because I may have spent one NaNoWriMo writing a historical fantasy about these said people), it was cool to read someone else’s take on things around the time period.
Mixing of cultures. Actually, this is probably more along the stuff I love. Yasamin’s POV largely hinges on Ottoman and Persian myths, with the constant mentions of djinn and occasional ghuls (which may have been mentioned only in passing, and never outwardly said). Adam’s POV focuses on the Eastern European myth of the vampire and the conspiracies revolving around secret European organizations. I liked that these became intertwined within the story. At some point, though, the interconnections kind of got confusing to follow, and I was a little disappointed that the “djinn” portion really didn’t amount to much in the end.
What I Didn’t Like
Too many POVs. For a book that’s around 330 pages, there were too many viewpoints added into the story. Honestly, I thought Adam and Yasamin were great as viewpoints, and I found their sharing of each other’s stories kind of likened itself to the Scheherazade tale. Only, in this case, it’s Adam who’s trying to keep himself alive by having to entertain the Byzantine-Ottoman vampire. Unfortunately, the POVs didn’t stop there, and the book included various one-off accounts as well as written accounts of Michael the Brave and a third viewpoint of “Evil Mystery Man”. There was too many, and I found myself not caring about the introduction of characters that ended up getting killed off the very next scene after they got introduced.
Disjointed narratives. This kind of goes along the same path as too many POVs. The chapters are short, and often frustratingly so, especially when right after a specific scene, the next chapter moves onto a different scene and not altogether related to the previous one. This drove me nuts, especially when all I wanted to do was continue Yasamin’s story, only to be thrown into a conversation between Adam and Yasamin, and then onto a letter from some dude that makes a mention of Yasamin, and then back to Adam’s action-oriented POV. It made no narrative sense to me, and by the time I got back to Yasamin, I was missing the point of what Adam was trying to make several chapters back.
Underwhelming ending. I’m assuming most of the mysteries are carried over to the next books, but is it too much to ask for a bunch of the conflict to get resolved in Book 1? Yasamin is no closer to getting what she wants, Adam is no closer to getting what he wants (minus the little revenge angle), and I’m pretty sure Mr. Evil Mystery Man is not even close to causing the havoc that he wants.
Deus ex machina. I feel like Adam gets saved by random characters that show up at the nick of time whenever he’s about to die. Then on top of that, he gets in one trouble after another. The guy can’t catch a break, he leaves a lot of death behind him (and it seems like the ONLY ones he felt sorry about are the girls he could have had romantic relationships with), and he barely carries his own weight as far as getting himself out of trouble goes. There’s a point where he gets saved by a “mysterious figure” that shows up in the nick of time, and I just. Could. Not. Deal....more
You know, I seem to like the absolutely minor characters. Like Bob. Bob is fabulous. And Toot. You know what, I even like Morgan! Yet I'm still on theYou know, I seem to like the absolutely minor characters. Like Bob. Bob is fabulous. And Toot. You know what, I even like Morgan! Yet I'm still on the fence about Harry Dresden himself.
But. I liked the book! It's a much different take on the mystery/suspense genre that usually hits mainstream, because heck, Harry's a freaking wizard. A good one at that. Whether or not he's relatively competent half the time only makes it more amusing, especially when he manages to pull off a nifty trick. And yes, he also made me laugh.
I think my one downside was the women in the entire story. I swear, they were either all good-looking or potentially good-looking or somehow wound their way into Harry's pants (okay, one person did). I suppose it had to happen to take the edge off. But maybe I'm used to the longer process of romance. Meh.
The standout of Storm Front was definitely its fantasy aspect, more than anything. Which is a good thing. Yep....more
I'm trying not to begin this review by mentioning Finnick Odair's underwear. Oh, look. I failed. That's really too bad, isn't it?
Anyway, everyone readI'm trying not to begin this review by mentioning Finnick Odair's underwear. Oh, look. I failed. That's really too bad, isn't it?
Anyway, everyone reading knew by the end of Catching Fire that no matter whether one liked it or not, Mockingjay was necessary for the trilogy. It was practically the final arc, the macro to The Hunger Games's micro, with Catching Fire bridging the two together (and honestly, I wished I could stay on that bridge, 'cause that was a fun ride). But it had to end, and end it did.
I can't lie and say that the book was a fantastic end to an otherwise great YA series. The problem with the whole war within Panem was the fact that it became difficult for the main, slightly inexperienced character to play a relatively important part, one that could possibly make a difference. I feel like Collins threw Katniss somewhere to the side, to flail about while in the background, the author wrote out the true effects of what was happening. Katniss didn't even fathom the enormity of the conflict and only saw the slivers that she chose to see.
Also, Katniss for me regressed back to her Hunger Games personality for most of the book; it took Haymitch and a few other characters to snap her out of her self-induced stupor of paranoia and lack of perspective. I went from being indifferent to her in The Hunger Games, to absolutely liking her in Catching Fire, and then finding her annoying in Mockingjay. Honestly, I think the real winners of the Games and the entire series are President Snow and Effie Trinkett. But that's just another discussion waiting to happen.
Thaaaat said. I greatly appreciated Collins' depiction of war and its random unnecessary deaths. She showed it in a number of her characters, even took off a number of important ones to show that the rebellion and the quashing thereof was sacrifice after sacrifice. Not that I agree with her methods and who she managed to kill off (I swear, two of the characters were just...over the top, even for me). Still, it worked. The most she did was show that war is a cold-hearted bitch; and she takes no mercy.
Finally, I was extremely happy that she did not do the usual YA triangle copout (where the second guy either winded up dead or became a "not-so-likable-character"). I think I would have been happy even when the ship wasn't to my liking (not that I ship either way, I think Gale's still a jerk and Peeta's still way too good for Katniss). But yes. Here she did right.
Yes, Mockingjay isn't as good as its first two sisters. But it isn't something to outright condemn either....more
If there was any character who could teach you the ways of badassery, it would have to be Durzo Blint. There really is noFirst read finished 1/24/2012
If there was any character who could teach you the ways of badassery, it would have to be Durzo Blint. There really is no question about that.
Add the assassins (and wetboys, of course!), the prostitutes, the crazy cast of ambitious characters, as well as wytches and prophets, and The Way of Shadows is just frelling brilliant. I'm pretty sure that my vocabulary bubbled down to Aleine's expletive vernacular every other chapter (if not every chapter), and I know that I was stringing a list of newly-created words out of incredulity by the end. A few friends could probably attest to my blubbering, it really wasn't pretty.
The book was fast-paced, filled with action, romance, magic, and history. You'd think it being a novel about assassins, that I would learn not to get so attached to the characters in the story. But unfortunately, I did anyway, and I even knew some of my favorites would eventually die off. And yes, if Durzo Blint lived in the real world, I'd probably hate him. But he worked as a fictional character. And I have to admit that I really loved the bastard. And Logan too! I loved awkward Logan.
Yes, obviously I loved the book!
And obviously I'm going to have to work my way to the next one...
EDIT: Finished re-read 11/23/2014. Still enjoyed it, and re-reading was a great idea, because I completely forgot how much happened in the book, especially with the coup and the "Roth reveal" at the end! So many named people supposedly dropping like flies, it's put G.R.R. Martin's Red Wedding to shame. I think my only wish was that there were more prominent female roles in the wetboy/assassin field. I mean, there were some badass females that didn't need a blade to hold their own (Momma K, Elene, Jenine), but where are the female wytches and wetgirls?! That said, I hope Vi shows up again in the later books, because one scene with her already made me adore her....more
Ooh, well this was pretty darn good. Nothing like a good dystopia to end the night!
But honestly, I really liked the set-up into the rest of the trilogOoh, well this was pretty darn good. Nothing like a good dystopia to end the night!
But honestly, I really liked the set-up into the rest of the trilogy; the mystery of the Flares, the introduction of the various characters that would become clearly important later on, etc. I might have gotten attached to characters again (yay Minho and Newt!), but after so many Game of Thrones moments, I might have at least braced myself for a couple of heart-wrenching moments. And those moments did come.
What I did find the most vivid in the storytelling, however, is the image of the Grievers. At first, when I started into the story, I thought the Grievers were these menacing, long-limbed beasts that were the hybrids of a skinny lion and a Deathclaw (yes, I am pulling a Fallout: New Vegas reference here). But a third into the story, the actual description puts the Grievers as a hybrid of spiked-up porcupine machinery in the body of a slug. I'm not sure whether I was more disgusted by the description or freaked out. Probably both, since I despise slugs and hearing about them clanking and crawling, with a great deal of arsenal all over their bodies? Yeah, pretty much takes the cake on creepiness there.
Now, I know it's a trilogy, so clearly the entire purpose of the Maze Trials is still only hazy. But I wonder exactly what purpose the entire thing is supposed to have...but that's only very little of my unanswered questions...
Okay, I liked the idea of Dracula. I liked the idea that the story was written through accounts of those who were clearly afraid of him. And while DraOkay, I liked the idea of Dracula. I liked the idea that the story was written through accounts of those who were clearly afraid of him. And while Dracula hardly showed up, his presence was scary enough to have made all of those encountering him tremble and "shat their pants."
I'm not sure, however, whether I liked reading the story through annotations. Sometimes the annotations helped (especially when it came to trying to decipher the accented persons), other times they didn't and mostly just interrupted my train of thought and suspension of disbelief. The comparison between the abridged and unabridged texts also made me think that I should have just read the abridged text out of the fact that at least I wouldn't have to bear with the inconsistencies and the overly-drawn out journey to capture and cleanse the world of the vampire. I think past late September in the journal accounts, I was nodding off and flipping pages, just to figure out whether they would finally kill Dracula or whether Mina Harker would finally turn into a vampire and bite people (boy did I wish that to happen!). Also, I found Van Helsing boring, annoying, contradictory and borderline incompetent. Is it sad that the one guy I found endearing was the one committed to the insane asylum (good old Renfield!)?
That said, I did like the essays at the end. Bram Stoker is to be appreciated for spanning such a popular following. He put the myth of the vampire on the map, and he certainly was one of the vanguards of the vampire movement. I can't say I liked Stoker's Dracula more than, say, Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, but I do know that he opened the doors for all the possible interpretations of what authors find to be their kind of vampires (even if they are vegetarian, sparkly ones...). Also, I do agree. Bela Lugosi is the only "real" vampire. Yes....more
RUSSIAAAAA! The Romanovs and their sad fate--as well as the theorized conspiracies over possible surviving members of the family--were always a senseRUSSIAAAAA! The Romanovs and their sad fate--as well as the theorized conspiracies over possible surviving members of the family--were always a sense of intrigue, much like anything else I have when it comes to certain aspects of history. I have to admit, however, that this would be the first fictional book I have read regarding the Romanovs and regarding this particular area of Russian history (sadly, I go for the more ancient, folkloric Russia, the Slavic mythologies and the like).
There's no denying that the first time I was even remotely fascinated by the Romanovs was after a viewing of the Fox film Anastasia. That was certainly a starting point, though fortunately that was not the ending point. There is much to be said about the tragic result of the monarchy after the Soviets got their hands on them. A much sadder tale when it came to the Romanovs. It was like the French cleansing of their aristocrats during their own Revolution. And a story revolving the possible survival of Nicholas II's direct line would be utterly romantic and would practically give those Soviets the ultimate middle finger.
I liked the fictional backdrop here, though the governmental process and the idea of the return of an absolute monarchy is more fantastical than I'd hoped; I suppose this is because I think the semi-presidential federalist republic that Russia holds now seems a better option than giving one man absolute power. Still, the fact that Berry simplifies the idea and puts most of Russia behind the man that would be "Tsar of All Russia" is commendable, and--for the story's purpose--highly moving.
Putting the story in the present was great. And the addition of the past in between--with the glimpse of the two Romanovs' survival--was endearing. Rasputin's prophecy and the fact that the characters depended on fate quite a bit made me smile (I mean, come on, that was as close as I was going to get to some sort of mysticism!). So yeah, I'm glad I took the time to read it....more
As far as suspense goes, I was certainly surprised. Pleasantly so, actually. I figured there'd be some tying up at the end, but did not expect the endAs far as suspense goes, I was certainly surprised. Pleasantly so, actually. I figured there'd be some tying up at the end, but did not expect the end to be more dramatic than it already was. Yay for the unpredictability of it!
I enjoyed Silence of the Lambs enough, though it was mostly out of the sheer mind-playing Hannibal Lecter did with Clarice that I remembered most. Red Dragon was completely different, and there was so much invested in the killer's character. The storyline with the Red Dragon and the showcase of the "why" to his methods was brilliant. It was something complex and sick, and at times even a little endearing.
Will Graham was also a case of awesomeness. He carried the obsessiveness of Clarice, the mind that worked like a monster, and the experience of someone blessed with an immense gift--or curse. Harris had me guessing what was really happening in Graham's mind up to the minute where he actually writes what Graham's thinking. It was difficult to say whether the special agent succumbed throughout the hunt or if he stood his ground and refused Lecter getting to his head. Up until the very last minute, that is.
Fantastic story as well. I might have actually liked this even more than Silence of the Lambs. And there was less Lecter here!...more
Oh gawds. Okay, I admit it. I bawled. BAWLED. Mostly because in the deep corner of my heart I'm still somewhat a Christian, and the loss of a soul hasOh gawds. Okay, I admit it. I bawled. BAWLED. Mostly because in the deep corner of my heart I'm still somewhat a Christian, and the loss of a soul has a much deeper effect than death. So yes. That means I bawled quite a bit, and by the end of the novel, I had already unleashed a string of savory and profane words.
I've said this over and over again to people that I'd mentioned this book to: I really liked it, surprisingly enough. When I picked it up and started reading the small teaser blurb, I thought "well, sounds interesting enough." But I honestly expected a repeat of Bella and the Jacob-Edward rivalry (the so-called ghuls are, after all, vampire-like minions with no souls).
Thankfully, I was wrong. Some bits read predictably, but others were just so well-planted that I was still reeling from one event and unable to see what would happen on the next one. Perhaps for a story like this, I was kind of put off that all the events happening went by so quickly. There was barely any room for pause! Still, at least it was fast-paced enough to keep my attention.
Still, I must say, Billi might have been the main character, but it was Arthur SanGreal that stole the show. The man was as fierce as The Morning Star, and even Satan himself was scared of the crazy man. Lawdy, heaven forbid God actually pissed him off.
Sigh. I need to find happier stories. This one might make me cry again....more
It's interesting when you read a book again with fresh eyes. It must have been years and years that I'd read The Picture of Dorian Gray (probably whenIt's interesting when you read a book again with fresh eyes. It must have been years and years that I'd read The Picture of Dorian Gray (probably when I was a first or second year in high school), and when I opened the book again, half of a set of notes fell out. So I took those random page numbers and comments in mind, and I read the story again.
Of course I already knew the story and the plot (from the recent movie with a fantabulous Colin Firth as Lord Henry Wotton and from mild recollections of passages). But when I read it the first time, my notes implied the anger and overall incredulity of the text. The younger me was absolutely indignant over the drawn-out sayings that Lord Henry Wotton would spout to his friends. The older me is amused; in fact, so amused that I actually am enamored with his character. It's amazing how Dorian was easily twisted by a string of cynical words, even more so when the cynic himself is merely that: a cynic, and nothing more.
The writing style made me blush from time to time, not gonna lie. While the movie expressed all the debauchery that Oscar Wilde merely implied in the book, his description of beauty has that "oh la la", fan-yourself effect. It almost made me feel like I was reading a dime-romance on the train. Not good!
I've always understood how suspense and crime novels always come out to be such big sellers for the general populace. I've succumbed to a few of themI've always understood how suspense and crime novels always come out to be such big sellers for the general populace. I've succumbed to a few of them from time to time, too! (Here's looking at you, Daniel Silva!).
The Silence of the Lambs was just something else entirely. I didn't think I had much sleep on the days I read the book because I must have been disturbed or apprehensive or whathaveyou. Anyway, I am quite glad to have finished it, and am absolutely craving to watch the film version of the book. If my imagination was any indication of how the book played out, I can only wonder how the actual film can hold true!
Then again, the movie will always have Anthony Hopkins....more
Suzanne Collins played the audience so well that I had to laugh at how clever the entire story unfolded. It was like molding putty and expecting to coSuzanne Collins played the audience so well that I had to laugh at how clever the entire story unfolded. It was like molding putty and expecting to come out with a masterpiece at the end. And she kind of did. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even though any form of romance in my head kind of got squashed in between the camera lens and the fact that even I agree with Katniss Everdeen when it comes to procreating in such a place like Panem.
The Hunger Games was really good. Was that supposed to be a surprising revelation? I got sucked in like I would get sucked in watching any random reality television show, except this one happens to be deadly and in the form of the written word. The plot and the fascinating way the story was written were always the strongest points of the book, even before I finally read it (I do sometimes listen to people, even when I try to tune them out past the squeeing). Plus, Peeta Mellark is one hell of an amusing character. I can understand why the audience couldn't resist the sighing and the swooning over the actions during the games. Heck, if I wasn't being reminded every so often that the audience was reacting along with me, I'd have been doing the same thing.
Which is probably why I didn't do any sighing or swooning myself. That was probably the only downside (and a small one at that); that I couldn't believe in much of the romance. At least I got my cheesy, heart-wrenching lines near the end, even when I half-expected it couldn't last that long. But c'est la vie!
Yes, I will read Catching Fire. Don't rush me!...more