It is hard to avoid comparisons with Harry Potter when your story stars parentless children, a hidden magical world, and a wise old wizard, not to me...more It is hard to avoid comparisons with Harry Potter when your story stars parentless children, a hidden magical world, and a wise old wizard, not to mention an evil sorcerer rising to regain power. Add in the conventions of an epic fantasy and you may be thinking that The Fire Chronicle is not a book for you. I, however, would urge you to look beyond the cover and read at least a few pages. You will soon discover that Stephens has not written a quick and hasty fill-in-the-blanks story. Instead The Fire Chronicle is great mix of historical fiction, fantasy, and adventure all in one.
This is the second book in the Books of Beginning series, and, for the most part , it concentrates on the second child, Michael. He has always had his sister Kate to make the decisions and take control. In this book he must learn how to be the leader and look after Emma. She may be less than a year younger than Michael, but she is still the baby in the family and needs him more than ever. All three siblings have very different characters and voices, and throughout the story they all learn, develop and grow. Michael in particular is written with great affection and humour; reading about him and his worries you can’t help but empathise with him. The story itself moves quickly, with plenty of action to keep you turning those pages. There are dragons and elves, magical worlds and time-travel. This book really does have something for everyone to enjoy.(less)
I had very low expectations of this book because of the cover, but it was sent for a magazine review so I started it. Really enjoyable well told story...moreI had very low expectations of this book because of the cover, but it was sent for a magazine review so I started it. Really enjoyable well told story with some great children's characters.(less)
Before I start reviewing this, I just want you to do one thing, read the title of this book. Railsea. Now imagine what that means.
If you have imagined...moreBefore I start reviewing this, I just want you to do one thing, read the title of this book. Railsea. Now imagine what that means.
If you have imagined a world covered in railtracks, with trains as ships then you have gotten a bit of an inkling about the world this book is set in. And if you happened to further imagine that burrowing animals might be a threat to these locomotives and so have placed giant moles and stoats and turtles are huge monstrous beasts, well, then well done you, because I certainly wouldn’t have imagined it before reading this book. I do love it though.
Sham ap Soorap is out on a moler’s ship. This is his first voyage on the Railsea, he is the doctor’s apprentice, although he isn’t entirely sure that this is what he wants to spend his life doing. The captain of his train, the Medes’ captain is a captain with a “philosophy” that is, an obsession. Many hunters have them. Her’s is the great white mole. And if you can see ever so slight echoes of Moby Dick, well, yeah, that is kindof obvious. And that isn’t the only literary influence on this book. There are pirates and salvagers, molers and warengines, excitement and orphans. All packed into the one book. It really is great fun.
However, it does take a little while to get going, and the narration is, well, idiosyncratic to say the least. Personally I really enjoyed it, but I could see some readers not liking the & instead of and, and the little interlude chapters could be taken as irritating rather than entertaining. Horses for courses and all that.
I don’t think this would count as my favourite Mieville novel, I really enjoyed it, and I love the idea of it, but I still think, that for all its flaws The Iron Council is my favourite. This is more than entertaining though. And I love the cover. All his books have been reissued with this style cover in the UK market and I think that they look fabulous.(less)
Medraut is the eldest son of Artos, but he will not inherit the High King’s title, lands, or power. For he is the illegitimate son of the king. And mo...moreMedraut is the eldest son of Artos, but he will not inherit the High King’s title, lands, or power. For he is the illegitimate son of the king. And more than that, the result of incest. Medraut’s mother is Artos’ sister, Morgause. In this adaptation of the Arthurian legend Artos, or Arthur, has two more children. Twins, Lleu a son, and Geowin, a daughter. Much younger then Medraut, it is Lleu who will inherit everything. It is Lleu who receives all his father’s love while Medraut has to live under the cruelty and torture of Morgause.
My main reason behind reading this was Wein’s most recent book, Code Name Verity which I loved. Unfortunately this series of books, The Lion Hunters seem to be out of print, so if you are interested in reading this you will have to look for some second-hand sellers. Although I did see mention of the possibility of some ebook publications in the future. Here is hoping, because while I didn’t love this one quite as much as Verity it is still a great read.
Told in the first person, by Medraut, and addressed to his mother, it took me a little while to get use to when he addressed her as you, but apart from that it was an engrossing read. Medraut is such a conflicted character, he often doesn’t know how he feels about his situation or his siblings, he has been so twisted by his years under Morgause. And there is a lot of darkness there, mostly hinted at, very little overt, but you still totally understand that Medraut has been badly damaged. And like many victims he is still very much under Morgause’s sway, he may hate her, but he will also obey her because he fears her. And he also does resent Lleu, afterall, the favoured son has everything that Medraut could possible want, and yet doesn’t seem to appreciate it. Lleu’s arrogance pushes at Medraut, provokes him, but is it enough to push Medraut over the edge?
This isn’t a book that everyone will enjoy, but I certainly appreciated its beauty, and will be reading on in the series.(less)
Mel is not having a good year at school. Her friends have turned on her, and her boyfriend one day stopped talking to her, became her ex over night an...moreMel is not having a good year at school. Her friends have turned on her, and her boyfriend one day stopped talking to her, became her ex over night and hasn’t spoken to her in weeks. But she does have Pug.
I don’t think I am going to say very much in this review. But just in case you don’t read any further can I just say quickly that I really really really loved this book.
This is one of those books that might be labelled “domestic fiction”, because it is about those small everyday things that happen in life. And Lanagan writes it so well that you’ll be wondering why more books aren’t like this. Highlighting the small things in life because they really are the most important things.
Mel is such a great character. At times I just wanted to shake her because she was being so silly. And yet, it made sense in her convoluted way of thinking. Nothing she said or did ever made me think a real person wouldn’t do/say that. It all seemed so real.
And I loved her relationship with her parents. Not that it was perfect, or even functional at all time, it was just so realistic and believable. And that is what I want in my books, real characters who mess up, who make mistakes, and who are sometimes, just plain stupid in their actions.
I could maybe argue that Mel should have been a bit more worried about money, and her future. I know I was thinking about that as I read the book. What was she going to do if she dropped out of high school. Was she going to get a job? But that was never really brought up, which is understandable in one way. And she is still a kid in many many ways.
And then there is Pug. He was just wonderful. He’s the nice guy who never seems to get to play the love interest in books/films any more. He was solid and dependable and just nice and lovely. And you could so see why Mel fell in love with him. I mean, in comparison to the likes of Edward in the Twilight series, well, there is no comparison. Edward is a stalker, and I really don’t understand why Bella falls in love with him. But Pug… ah, just read the book. You’ll find him adorable, I almost guarantee it!
Okay, I’ve never wanted kids. Never had any interest in becoming a mother. So when I tell you that reading this at one point I actually thought, hmmm having a baby sounds pretty cool will tell you just how well written this book is. Not that I thought that for long, I mean, nope. Still not interested :) But it is a perfect illustration of what good fiction does, it gives you an alternate viewpoint from your own.(less)
As I said about the first book, this is a children’s book and is written for its market. Which means that it isn’t too concerned with character twists...moreAs I said about the first book, this is a children’s book and is written for its market. Which means that it isn’t too concerned with character twists and darkness, or subverting genres, or any of that sort of thing. Instead it sets out to tell a story, an adventure story with some myth thrown in to the mix.
Emily used to be an ordinary New York school child, but now she is the Flame of Olympus, but her father is still in the hands of the evil CRU and she intends to rescue him, with or without Jupiter’s help. But she also has to worry about her new powers and her lack of control over them. She runs the risk of hurting the very people she is trying to help. And to cap it off the dangerous Nirads are back!
This is a quick and easy read. It is entertaining enough but it wouldn’t be a book I’d revisit. If I was a child though, well maybe :) It is full of action and there is rarely a dull moment, so it is very easy to just keep on reading until you suddenly come to the end, there isn’t a dull moment.
Plus, you know my previously mentioned weakness for horses (even if Pegasus isn’t really a horse).(less)
Honour is the youngest of three girls. Her mother died soon after the birth of a fourth daughter, as did the baby, when Honour was only a toddler. Her...moreHonour is the youngest of three girls. Her mother died soon after the birth of a fourth daughter, as did the baby, when Honour was only a toddler. Her father is a very successful business man, and has built up wealth and status in the city. Honour herself feels that she doesn’t live up to her nickname of beauty, but that is what everyone has called her since she was five years old, so Beauty she remains. All seems to be going well with the family when disaster strikes. Three of her father’s ships & investments are lost, and they are forced to leave the city and set up home in the country. All three girls must learn to work hard if they are to get by, but none shirk their duty.
As they are settling in to their new home and new circumstances news arrives. A ship has made it back. Their father sets off to finish his business, but on his way back home he becomes lost in a storm. He finds safety in a strange, enchanted castle, but upon leaving its gates he sees a rose garden. Remembering his youngest daughter’s desire for some rose seeds he plucks one. Only for the enraged owner of the castle to accuse him if betraying his welcome. This beast threatens to kill the rose thief, but eventually relents saying that he may leave, provided he returns with his youngest daughter who must stay with the beast.
I’m guessing that I didn’t need to relate that to you, after all, pretty much every one is familiar with the story of Beauty and the Beast. This version, published back in 1978 is an adaptation of that classic fairy tale. But you will find no squabbling sisters, or petty jealousies. All the girls are loving sisters and daughters. And there are no evil stepmothers. What a relief!
I enjoyed this book, but it felt a little uneven to me. Some aspects were almost too practical for the sudden magical elements in it. The enchanted castle and curse upon the Beast didn’t seem to fit with the start of the book at all.
A nice, enjoyable read, but not McKinley’s best. It was her first so that can be excused(less)
No recapping on account of this being the second in a series, and if you haven’t read Leviathan then you’ll be spoiled, and I wouldn’t want to do that...moreNo recapping on account of this being the second in a series, and if you haven’t read Leviathan then you’ll be spoiled, and I wouldn’t want to do that to anyone. I will say, however, that our two main characters Deryn and Alek are still stuck in the middle of the war between the Clankers and the Darwinists. The Clankers are those Austrian-Hungarian/German powers who favour mechanical constructs. The Darwinists are the British/French etc allies who prefer to tinker with life itself and create airships and much much more out of living creatures.
I really really enjoyed the first book in this series. It was such an interesting take, with the steampunk mixed with the fabricated creatures. And I really enjoyed the two protagonists, so I was looking forward to this one. Unfortunately something about it just didn’t click with me. I’m not sure why, but it fell a little flat.
It is still an entertaining read, and a wonderful take on the first World War, and the Ottoman Empire, it just felt as though the story never really got going.
But I’ll still be on the look out for the next book because it was entertaining and readable, and very likeable. Just not as fantastic as the first. I do hope I amn’t damning this book with faint praise, because that is not my intention. There is a lot of action and derring-do, plus the world-building is creative and interesting. Maybe it was whatever mood I was in while reading it, and you’ll have better luck with it? If you’ve read and enjoyed book 1 I’m sure that this will keep you entertained, almost as much as the first :) (less)
Cassy lives with her grandmother. Her practical, sensible, responsible grandmother. Her mother is a dreamer, unable to look after herself let alone he...moreCassy lives with her grandmother. Her practical, sensible, responsible grandmother. Her mother is a dreamer, unable to look after herself let alone her daughter. And her father, well, no one ever talks about him. Cassy has learned that if she isn’t told about something then she shouldn’t ask, it obviously isn’t her business. But every now and then Nan will decide, suddenly and without warning, that she should go visit her mother. Stay with her for a few days, or maybe a few weeks, until she is sent for. It’ll give Cassy a chance to get to know her mother, so her grandmother says.
But on this occasion is all came far too suddenly for Cassy’s liking. And when she tries to get in contact with Nan there is no response. Her mother has moved from her address but Cassy is used to this, and tracks her down to her new squat and her new boyfriend. He is a children’s entertainer. But something about him makes Cassy uneasy. And then there are her dreams, wolfish and full of danger…
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting with this book, but I got something quite different, but nevertheless a very entertaining and readable book. I really liked Cassy as a character. Her upbringing with Nan has made her such a no-nonsense girl, she is only thirteen but she is a lot more sensible than her mother. A lot more mature and in touch with the “real” grown up world. Or so Cassy believes. And in many ways she is the grown-up child, knowing that work has to be done and that fun is for afterwards. Her mother is far different, but she is also hiding a secret. The same secret that Nan keeps from her. Over the course of this book, and it is quite a short book so I won’t be giving away much more, she has to discover that truth, and come to the realisation that sensible, responsible Nan isn’t always who she tries to be. That the past sometimes needs to be investigated, even if those you love and trust think it is none of your concern.
Every night Conor O’Malley has the nightmare. Every night. But tonight something is different. Tonight there is a new monster. A new nightmare. And Co...moreEvery night Conor O’Malley has the nightmare. Every night. But tonight something is different. Tonight there is a new monster. A new nightmare. And Conor isn’t sure if this is a dream or not. But either way, this is the monster he was fearing. This monster, the yew tree, tells him that it will tell him three stories. And then Conor will tell the monster a story. A true story. And if he doesn’t, then the monster will eat him alive.
Conor is isolated and bullied at school. He and his friend Lily have had a falling out. His father lives in the US and rarely visits. He has nightmares. And his mother is sick.She is undergoing cancer treatments, and tells Conor that she will get better, but deep down Conor knows that may not be the truth. And he resents his grandmother’s present in his life, interfering when his mother is unwell, tired, or in hospital.
a monster calls
A monster calls by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay This is a wonderfully told book. Incredibly sad. But incredibly beautiful as well. And the illustrations by Jim Kay are just perfect, and fit the story so well.
I really loved this book. The monster, the green man, or yew tree, however you see him, and the stories he tells are not at all what I expected, and yet are so well fitted, that after reading them there is no other story that would have worked.
I suppose in many ways the theme of this book is similar to the Chaos Walking series, in that it is all about the truth. Truths we hide from ourselves, and truths that other people hide from us. Sometimes to try and protect us. But without the truth, however terrible that may be, how can we figure out how to deal with anything. Along with this idea of the truth, is the one, that life isn’t fair, and it certainly isn’t simple. Another truth we learn while growing up.
The central plot, that of a child dealing with a parent’s illness, made me think of I kill giants, even before I had read this one. And of course both feature monsters as well. But they are very different books. And both work in their own way. I can’t really compare them, apart from to say that if you liked one then I’d recommend picking up the other as well.(less)
It’s funny. I’ve never read any books by Justine Larbaleister but I read her blog and when she recommended My life as a rhombus I guess I was feeling...moreIt’s funny. I’ve never read any books by Justine Larbaleister but I read her blog and when she recommended My life as a rhombus I guess I was feeling in a suggestible mood because I ordered it right then. And I’m glad I did; its a good solid read, engaging enough to make me delay setting out for the train last Friday evening until I finished it. Course then I had to reread the last chapter because I’d skim-read so much of it.
I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while. It’s been stirring up quite a bit of controversy, what with its storyline involving rape, abortion, a...moreI’ve been wanting to read this book for a while. It’s been stirring up quite a bit of controversy, what with its storyline involving rape, abortion, and incest, although none of that is the reason why I wanted to read it. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read by Lanagan up til now so I knew I’d get around to this one sooner or later. And I’m glad I did, as I did enjoy this one too. Not all of it, but it isn’t all meant to be enjoyed.
I’ll be honest, I picked this up because back when I had telly I thought the ads on Sky for the film version looked cool and interesting. And then the...moreI’ll be honest, I picked this up because back when I had telly I thought the ads on Sky for the film version looked cool and interesting. And then the book showed up at work. I love it when that happens :)
It isn’t a big book, but it packs a lot in there. The main character is Michael, a ten year old boy, whose life is on hold. His baby sister is ill, his parents are trying to fit him in while worrying constantly about her, and they’ve just moved into a new house. He has a lot going on before he meets Skellig.
This is the third book to star Yelana Zaltana as its heroine. And, as I am still reading them, I’m still enjoying learning her story. Way back in book...moreThis is the third book to star Yelana Zaltana as its heroine. And, as I am still reading them, I’m still enjoying learning her story. Way back in book one she was a lowly food-taster, condemned to death for murder, but over the course of the other two books she has come a long way, so if you haven’t read them this review will spoil some of the developments for you. But then again, by knowing that there is a 3rd book you already know she didn’t die at the end of the first book. Or do you… maybe her ghost is telling the story.