Six months after her European experience, Ginny is applying to college, trying to figure out how to put into 1000 college-application-acceptable words...moreSix months after her European experience, Ginny is applying to college, trying to figure out how to put into 1000 college-application-acceptable words just how the summer changed her. Then she gets an email from a guy named Oliver, who says he has found her backpack and her envelopes. Ginny returns to London, and immediately goes to see Keith, her “sort of something” love interest … who has found himself a steady girlfriend. Crushed, she leaves to meet Oliver, only to find that he has read her letter and doesn’t plan to return it unless he can come on the expedition detailed in the last envelope. Aunt Peg has one more piece of art, composed of three parts, which Ginny needs to find and assemble. In exchange for telling her the letter’s contents and giving it to her at the end of the trip, Oliver wants half the proceeds when the art is auctioned off. Desperate to get Aunt Peg’s letter, Ginny agrees, and to complete the mess, Keith and his new girlfriend Ellis tag along for the journey. Keith still has some feelings for Ginny, and blatantly tortures Oliver the entire trip. Ginny, who still has feelings for Keith, is confused by her genuine like of Ellis, Keith’s inconsistency, and Oliver’s overall persona.
As with Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, The Last Little Blue Envelope is full of hilarious exploits and scarcely contained mayhem. Johnson’s quirky personality shines through in this book just as brilliantly as in her other works. (If you follow Maureen on Twitter, you know she often makes fun of Nicholas Sparks. There is a jab at him towards the end that took me totally by surprise, and I seriously cracked up. It was awesome AND true.) The characters were well-developed and I felt they all came out better for their experience. The story had a great sense of escapism to it, because you know while you’re reading that it’s highly unlikely that your own quirky aunt will die, you will go on all expenses paid misadventures to amazing European sites, inherit lots of money from her paintings, and then meet nice boys who think you’re awesome. Yet this was part of why the book was fun. It won’t happen to me, but it did happen to Ginny and it was fun to tag along.
This was a light read, easy to start and finish in an afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m excited to add this to my collection.(less)
Tor.com did a feature on Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel a few weeks ago. It piqued my interest enough for me to search the book on Amazon, and after re...moreTor.com did a feature on Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel a few weeks ago. It piqued my interest enough for me to search the book on Amazon, and after reading the rave reviews and determining this book to be worth the read, I picked it up at the local library. The library copy got me excited, mostly because it was battered and worn. The Name of the Wind came out 4 years ago in May '07 and didn't hit mass market paperback until April 2008. 3 years and it's this worn? It MUST be good.
Rothfuss' debut novel does not disappoint. Let me give you a small taste of the prose in the first chapter.
"The third silence was not an easy thing to notice. If you listened for an hour, you might begin to feel it in the wooden floor underfoot and in the rough, splintering barrels behind the bar. It was in the weight of the black stone hearth that held the heat of a long dead fire. It was in the slow back and forth of a white linen cloth rubbing along the grain of the bar. And it was in the hands of the man who stood there, polishing a stretch of mahogany that already gleamed in the lamplight.
"The man had true-red hair, red as flame. His eyes were dark and distant, and he moved with the subtle certainty that comes from knowing many things.
"The Waystone was his, just as the third silence was his. This was appropriate, as it was the greatest silence of the three, wrapping the others inside itself. It was deep and wide as autumn's ending. It was heavy as a great river-smooth stone. It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die."
The Name of the Wind is the story of a man who became legend, and is now hiding as an innkeeper. The story is told first-person to a scribe who learns the man's identity and is favored to take down the truth of his incredible life. Kvothe (pronounced nearly like "Quothe," as Rothfuss is particular to point out) tells the scribe that the story will take three nights, no more, no less. The scribe reluctantly abandons his plans for the next day, unwilling to miss the true story of the legendary Kvothe no matter what the cost. Kvothe spins his tale eloquently, with small breaks every 10 chapters or so. I rather liked this, although I was unsure at first. The self Kvothe describes in the tale has a tendency to be arrogant because he is so smart and skilled, sometimes manipulative and always calculating. The self Kvothe presents during these interludes is softer, more repentant and obviously full of sorrow over some great tragedy. These interludes make him more likeable as a character, as you the reader wonder what could have happened to him to bring him to this backwoods inn where no one knows he is the legendary hero about whom they sit around the fire telling stories.
Rothfuss spins the tale eloquently; his prose was thoughtful and deep, but clear. While his literary voice is different from Brandon Sanderson's, the control was very similar. Rothfuss never allowed his plot to get away from him, which is remarkable considering there are several different arcs within the story. One of Kvothe's characteristics is near perfect recall, and he tells his story as each event happened yesterday, not many years ago. The details are all in place, as if you were standing on the scene, invisible and watching it all unfold before you, the reader. Many books written in the first-person tense fall short here, even some I've admitted are my favorites. The first person perspective was not only appropriate to the storyline, but was incredibly well-executed for a debut novel.
I spent several days immersed in Kvothe's tale, and stayed up until 1 AM on a worknight to finish The Name of the Wind. I immediately hopped out of bed and bought the second book for the Kindle. I told myself to go to sleep, but I couldn't stop. I kept reading because I couldn't sleep for thinking about the next book. Book 2, The Wise Man's Fear, came out on March 1 and has been called one of the most highly anticipated releases for the fantasy community in 2011.
(In case I've managed to attract any other Brandon Sanderson fans with all my ravings about his work, he and Rothfuss interviewed one another for Amazon and it was great.)
4 stars for a seriously amazing read. I've been itching to buy it and add it to my collection and I don't think I'll last much longer!(less)
Released in early March, The Wise Man's Fear has been one of the mostly highly anticipated novels of the last several months, if not years. The Name o...moreReleased in early March, The Wise Man's Fear has been one of the mostly highly anticipated novels of the last several months, if not years. The Name of the Wind released in 2007 to much acclaim, and Rothfuss' second installment in the Kingkiller Chronicle was just as enjoyable. (Tor has an excellent spoiler thread for anyone who has read both and wants to speculate on the last installment and what it will bring.)
After a couple hundred pages of "such and such at the University" stories, Kvothe finds himself in a rather sticky situation and leaves to travel for a time. At the suggestion of his friend, he attaches himself to a man "richer than the king," and most of the second night's telling is devoted to the misadventures he undergoes in service to the Maer. He stays with the Maer for a while, learning the ways of the court, gaining his trust, helping the Maer woo a fine young lady, and saving his life at the hands of a bad magician. The Maer sends him to hunt down some bandits who've waylayed his tax collectors, and Kvothe's little team spends a quantity of time in the forest and on the road. Just as they've caught the evil doers, Kvothe sees a Fae woman and follows her into Faerie country. Once she lets him go, he goes back to the group and eventually returns home with one of them, to defend his friend Tempi's decision to teach him the Way of his people. In the last chapters, Kvothe returns to the University.
In Name of the Wind, you had a sense of Kvothe's overall goals: get to the University, uncover info about the Amyr, avenge the death of his family. In Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe seems to meander about without much purpose, and Rothfuss spends the majority of the book starting to change Kvothe from a clever young man to a guy you can actually believe did all the things he's fabled to do. He's interested in finding out more about the Chandrian and the Amyr, but he doesn't make very much progress and it's mostly in the back of his mind. He's more concerned about his lute, and finding out where Denna is and how she feels about him, and protecting himself from magical attacks. As in NOTW, his various adventures are fascinating, and unlike some reviewers have claimed, the book did not "drag on and on." Well, I suppose it might if you didn't enjoy the pacing of the first, but then you probably wouldn't be reading the second, then would you?
Rothfuss really concentrated on changing Kvothe in this second book. He's a likeable rascal, and dangerously clever, but he still has far to go. For one, narrator Kvothe is obviously subdued and non-magical; whatever happens in book 3 is so incredibly traumatic that it's irrevocably changed his character. Story Kvothe hasn't gotten there yet, and through all these mini adventures, Rothfuss is strengthening him, honing his personality and getting him ready for whatever terrible, horrible things he's about to inflict on his character in the last installment.
One major flaw (for me): due to the dalliance he has with the Fae seductress, he goes from sexually naive to a sex addict. I get where the author was trying to go: this character's skill and intellect make him seem older than he is, and he is constantly projecting and reinforcing that impression to those around him. He's still a young teenager, perhaps 15 or 16 at this point in the story, yet he's leading this amazingly complex life. So naturally, his sexual innocence does not lend itself to creating the image of the hardened, mature hero the villagers talk about around their fire. While I (think I) get where Rothfuss was going, he went too far in the opposite direction. I agree that Kvothe probably could have been kissing girls and such at this point in his life, but it gets excessive and contrived in some parts of the book. Kvothe at one point does the deed with his teacher, because he was distracted by her and she wanted him to pay attention to the lessons. If the goal of that whole section was to have Kvothe have lots of sex so that we'll all feel like he's manlier, um ... okay. WE GOT IT. LET'S MOVE ON NOW.
All in all, still a 4 star book. I bought it for the Kindle, and I want to buy it in the physical edition once it's released in paperback, so I can put it on the shelf next to my Brandon Sanderson novels and give it a place of honor. If you liked Name of the Wind, Wise Man's Fear will not disappoint.(less)
It took me a few chapters to really get into this book; though The Curse of Chalion starts off with a slow first chapter, it builds slowly into the ki...moreIt took me a few chapters to really get into this book; though The Curse of Chalion starts off with a slow first chapter, it builds slowly into the kind of epic tale that fantasy readers devour into the late hours of the night.
The story is told from the third person limited perspective of Castillar Lupe dy Cazaril: Caz, to his friends. Caz, having narrowly escaped death in several ways before the story begins, has made his way back to the home of a man he served as a page in his youth. Of the Provincar's widow, the Provincara, he has one request: a post, any post she may desire, so long as he is no longer a wanderer in the world. She appoints him the position of royal secretary and tutor to her granddaugther, the royesse Iselle. Caz takes up the task of educating Iselle and her maidservant, Bertiz: teaching them language, history, strategy and mostly importantly, critical thinking. Shortly thereafter, Iselle's half-brother, Orico, the Roya of Chalion (for all intents and purposes, roya = king), summons Iselle and her brother Teidez to attend him in the royal court of Cardegoss.
At Cardegoss, he finds a man who once tried to have him killed and then sold him to the slave ships of the Roknari pirates: Dondo dy Jironal. Dondo and his brother Martou, the Chancellor, are very influential and powerful at court, feared by many and liked by few. The Chancellor in particular has a sway over the weak-minded Roya Orico, an ill man whose failure to produce an heir has led him to call his heir, the royse Teidez, to his side at last. Dondo is intent on winning the adolescent Teidez, as an ally, and Teidez, whose tutor cannot compare to Caz, cannot stop them from becoming attached. After some weeks at court, Iselle is horrified to learn that Orico has granted the Chancellor a boon: her hand in marriage to the despicable Lord Dondo dy Jironal. To save Iselle from marriage with the worst of men, Cazaril must perform the kingdom's most forbidden form of sorcery: death magic.
The first 200 pages of the novel cover the aforementioned plot points. The next 300 describe what happens after, a well-planned tumble of theology, politics, magic and intrigue. The theology of the book is the driving force behind all of the action, a literary device that I found most engaging and extremely well executed. Cazaril acts not as an instrument of the gods, but as a conduit for their saving the heirs of Chalion from an evil curse that should've never fallen on them in the first place.
Characterization in the novel was absolutely brilliant, though character development is limited to Caz. As the main protagonist, he enters the story with great deeds already ascribed to his person, and while he references them, for indeed they were so harrowing that how could they not have influenced his character, he never acts like any great hero. He is presented like an ordinary man, muddling through his current predicament on logic and trust alone. Through his experience, he learns more about the gods and their workings in the world, viewing the 5 deities of the world in a much different light by the last page. His character development is really the only great development in terms of main characters. Iselle is a strong and likeable heroine, and through Caz's tutoring and her life changing experiences, she becomes more strong and mature. She didn't, however, seem significantly different by the end of the book, aside from events in the plot elevating her status in the kingdom. But then, though the book seems to be about what's happening to her, it's really about what Cazaril is doing and feeling about what's happening to her.
The world building was likewise brilliant. The reader steps into Chalion with their military, their religious order, their monarchy and nomenclature all decided. This was no novel where world building happened as you went along. The structure of this world was alive and breathing before you opened it and it's still alive and breathing when you turn the last page. Bujold had already captured a fan base with an award winning science fiction series, so it stands to reason that she might have trouble with a genre that captures a similar audience, but calls for a completely different kind of writing. Not the case with The Curse of Chalion. I was thoroughly captivated, and can't wait to buy the sequel, Paladin of Souls. This is yet another library book that I intend to add to my collection!(less)
My mind is reeling as I lay the Kindle down and finally hop off the couch to indulge in the bathroom break I've been needing for an hour. I am in book...moreMy mind is reeling as I lay the Kindle down and finally hop off the couch to indulge in the bathroom break I've been needing for an hour. I am in book shock: that feeling when you've turned the final page, learned all the secrets and plot twists and the characters have done all that you will see them do until the next installment. My mind whirls around phrases and ideas and I am unable to process them for more than a millisecond before it reverts to thinking, "HOLY WOW."
This is the intense satisfaction one feels after finishing a truly great book.
There's been a lot of buzz about this book, or perhaps more accurately, this author. Veronica Roth wrote the story that would become Divergent while she was in college, and sold it before she even graduated. It's a dystopian thriller, a genre that's been hot ever since Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games hit the Young Adult literature scene in 2008. The movie rights for Divergent were purchased before the book even hit shelves. I almost never buy new books from unknown authors until I've read a library copy first, to make sure it's not crap. But this time I did and the hype was deserved.
Short summary: Society has crumbled into five groups, called factions. At age 16, children choose where they will go: to the faction they've been raised in, or to one of the others, to abandon their families and become someone entirely "other." Beatrice Prior has been raised in the Abnegation factor, who value selflessness and servanthood above all else. But Beatrice has never been able to really feel selfless, and at the Choosing, she switches to Dauntless, the thrill seeking, adventuring faction. While going through initiation, Tris has to figure out who she is, and who she is not, because her test results before the Choosing revealed that she is different, and therefore dangerous. She is Divergent.
I am still in book shock. I finished this book half an hour ago and all I want to do is sit here and think about it. Roth's dystopian debut was absolutely stunning, for so many reasons. I struggle even to write about what she wrote.
My first holy whoa thought is how she crafted the relationship between Abnegation, the selfless faction, and Erudite, the knowledge seekers. The factions dislike one another, although Erudite's dislike is more pointed. Abnegation displays several very obvious similarities to the Church, while Erudite is the faction of research, learning, and understanding mysteries. It isn't hard to see the Religion vs Science parallel that the author was drawing here. But Roth doesn't dive into religion in this book, aside from two references, made by Tris in passing, to God. Instead, Abnegation is merely selfless, rejecting any kind of emotion or behavior that would be prideful, self-serving, or self-indulgent; it is a faction where everyone takes turns and people freely offer to do favors for others but never accept those offers in turn, because accepting a favor would be selfish, but not offering would be even more so. The conflict between Abnegation and Erudite boils over by the end of the book, and there is all out war. (In the book world, this is undesirable, but in the real world it means we get SEQUELS!) [Side note: don't you love the faction names? Abnegation, Erudite, Amity, Candor, Dauntless. These aren't words you hear on the street or on TV. These are words for BOOK PEOPLE, and I loved that!]
My second holy whoa is the characterization of Tris. "Correct" Abnegation behaviors weren't second nature for her, and now she knows she is neither Abnegation nor Dauntless. She is Divergent, even if she doesn't quite understand what that means. The Dauntless initiation is basically combat training, turning flesh into muscle and little girl into someone colder, more deadly. As she gets into training and feels further away from who she was raised to be, Tris indulges in doing whatever she wants to do, now that she doesn't have to feel guilty for it. She becomes strong, cold and brave, but not in an off-putting way. She thinks through her actions, comparing them to what an Abnegation should have done or a Dauntless should have done, then rejects that path if it doesn't suit her. Sometimes she makes mistakes. Sometimes people get hurt. Sometimes they die. Tris is drawn to her instructor, a boy named "Four" who is collected and seemingly fearless. Four is part of how and why Tris becomes stronger, but not in a saccharine, unrealistic, typical YA kind of way. Their relationship seemed very real, which doesn't happen a lot in YA literature. It was less a driving force in the novel than a supporting, buoying presence. Bad things were happening, but they were both Dauntless, and they were facing them together. YA authors have a tendency to make everything dramatic in their characters' relationships, partly because their audience tends to be dramatic and partly because it makes stories more exciting. The backbone of Roth's story was compelling enough not to need that, and as an adult who loves YA lit, I found it refreshing.
My third love is the pacing. This book grabbed me from the moment I read the sample chapter a month ago to the minute I opened the e-book last night. Amazon says it's 496 pages, but it didn't feel that long to me. (I lose the sense of how long a book is on the Kindle.) All throughout the book as Tris was leaping from speeding trains and running along precarious footpaths and being a generally dangerous person, I felt the urge inside myself to run around outside and leap off of things and be all adrenaliney. Don't worry. I won't actually be leaping out of trains or climbing abandoned ferris wheels. I'm just saying I wanted to.
All in all, this book blew me away. Roth's novel is a fantastic blend of edge of your seat action and coming of age self-searching. It was an excellent addition to the current dystopian craze, a statement that cannot be made for all the hyped up books that have been released since The Hunger Games (see my review of Matched). 4 stars!(less)
Initial Reaction: I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO RATE THIS OR HOW I FEEL.
I think Allegiant may have broken me, and I’m not even mad about it.
On the whole, the...moreInitial Reaction: I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO RATE THIS OR HOW I FEEL.
I think Allegiant may have broken me, and I’m not even mad about it.
On the whole, the book was a pretty good conclusion to the series. Allegiant explains more about the world-building and gives our characters new challenges.
Allegiant uses the dual-POVs of Tris and Four. I found this a little jarring for series consistency, because up until now, it has been Tris’ POV only. Lots of other people have said that it’s hard to tell between Tris and Four, and I agree. (I also think that’s a problem with nearly all dual-POV novels that don’t have a truly, spectacularly unique character whose mind is so immediately identifiable that you’d know them even if someone ripped the pages out of the book and played “guess the narrator” with you.) It wasn’t badly done though, and since Four did have separate experiences and opinions, getting the perspective of Tris from someone besides herself made me appreciate her strength even knowing that Four would be biased in her favor. <– yeah I keep calling him Four because I hate the name Tobias. I don’t know why and I don’t have a good reason. Just do.
Probably my biggest issue with this book was that the plot was EVERYWHERE. The style was very much “keep up or get left behind.” I wasn’t confused so much as overwhelmed by the sheer amount of new information, revelations about the city, and their latest round of plans. Part of the fault here lies with me: I read this too fast so I could get to the end, so as I was blitzing through the novel, the various schemes and plots and serums got all muddled in my brain. Unless the reader is careful and slow, the amount going on in Allegiant is overwhelming, and it’s hard to read slow because this is a “thriller” book that intentionally has you on edge.
Allegiant really highlighted how differently the characters have developed as well. Tris has become stronger, more self-assured, and more practical. I loved seeing Tris mature and grow even more as this book went on. She’s really embraced the “Abnegation” things about her personality that give her power. However, I find it it really unlikely that she is the only person capable of critically analyzing the motives of others. It’s been revealed that there are lots of Divergents from different factions, and just because she’s got aptitude for Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite, it suddenly unlocks this part of the brain that everyone else can’t access? NO ONE else can look at someone and think, “I bet they’re doing x because of y or z”? Um … okay. This is carrying the premise a little too far.
Four … oh Four, what happened to you? In Divergent, Four was this badass, stoic trainer guy. He was tough, he wasn’t afraid, and he was confident without being a cruel piece of crap like Eric or Max. In Allegiant, the biggest word surrounding him is insecure. He keeps trying to fix things by joining in with Nita or taking the blame for Uriah’s death. Then someone tells him he’s damaged and he can’t shake it.
For someone so lethal, you’d think he would be less emotionally fragile. Plus, he and Tris are constantly fighting. I loved their relationship until now, and I was still rooting for them, but every time they argued, they just ended up walking away from each other or kissing. You can’t solve your differences by making out. (Like really, there was a LOT of kissing in this book, almost too much, which I didn’t think I’d ever say.) That said, Tris fights back. She doesn’t just stand there like a little girl and take it. At one point when Four yells at her, she puts him in his place so effectively that he’s stunned into silence and I mentally fist-bumped her.
The Much-Discussed End
Now, all this talk about the end. From the start, I was really hoping for a crazy, non-standard ending. I like a happily ever after (HEA) as much as the next reader, but that’s why I read contemporaries and fantasy and other stuff. I do not read dystopian with the expectation that I’ll get a HEA. It’s nice when that happens, but this genre is mature enough now that if every single novel ends that way, they’ll start to blend into one another. I liked that Roth took chances even though she had to know that a lot of readers would hate it and I liked what she did with the story even though it wasn’t a happy ending. (view spoiler)[Tris dies!!! OMG! I am totally fine that she died. I'm sad, but Harry Potter, Katniss, and so many other MCs don't die and go on to lead scarred but full lives. I'm not sorry that Roth chose to be divergent (you see what I did there? eh? EH?!) and kill off her character in order to save her brother. (hide spoiler)]
This book was ridiculously hard to rate. I’ve spent a couple of days considering it and for once, I need to explain my rating more clearly. On the whole, the book had some problems that I feel could have been addressed. Perhaps it’s the uproar and my own love for the ending, but this is a 3.5 star book that I’m kicking up to 4 stars because I applaud brave choices that are well done, even if they make me feel like the book just broke me.
The review "Allegiant" first appeared on StarlightBookReviews.com.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
**spoiler alert** Warning: Spoilers for Eon ahead.
When we left Eona at the end of Eon, her identity as a girl had just been revealed to just...more**spoiler alert** Warning: Spoilers for Eon ahead.
When we left Eona at the end of Eon, her identity as a girl had just been revealed to just about everyone, she realized the Mirror Dragon is a female, Prince Kygo had been murdered, the ambitious Lord Ido had been healed of his evil ways, and she had joined up with the resistance to concoct a plan to oust Kygo's uncle Sethon, who had taken over the empire and was planning to do bad things. Got all that?
Turns out Kygo has NOT been murdered, and he's hiding out with the resistance. (Shocker.) During this novel, Eona is doing one of two things: lying or withholding the truth. She does this very often to Kygo, although she usually confesses the truth. Her real problem is this: there are lots of secrets she doesn't want anyone to know about, because she doesn't fully know what's going on, so she waits to tell people about them until she does know what's going on, by which time someone else has found out about them or she's been captured by Sethon.
Because of all the intricate unfolding plot lines, the book easily captured me. It was the characterization that irked me, and if the plot and setting hadn't been intriguing, this would have barely been a 3 star book. Eona is constantly making the kind of bad decisions that only someone with a serious moral gap can make, and her good behavior isn't enough to make me like her. She's not had an easy life and I get that. No one has taught her right from wrong, and other than loyalty to the Emperor, there is no moral code. She's usually lying about the plot lines that relate to her power: either Ido being able to control her, or the Emperor and the blood magic being able to control her, or her being able to control the people she's healed. Eona has all these lies going because she's afraid of what will happen if someone can control her through the dragon magic, but also because she doesn't want to lose her own power. She's got used to being treated like a boy, and now she's a girl again in a culture where women are less valued. Unfortunately, the way she goes about handling her situation doesn't endear her to the reader.
There's an awkward love triangle going on too. Eona is starting to like Kygo, even though he annoys her (but then, so does everyone else) but she's drawn to Ido too. Ido is powerful and he's teaching her to use her dragon power. The book very pointedly reminds the reader that Ido is only 24, even though the dragon magic has aged him and he looks and acts like a 40-something. Then Goodman introduces a strange plot twist, and Eona and Ido get a little frisky. Given that this man tried to rape her a couple of times in Eon and is constantly manipulating her, you'd think Eona wouldn't want to make out with him, but no. Doesn't faze her. I didn't like this particular plot device.
All in all, the actual progression of the plot was good, and the plot lines were well executed. Characterization was way too flawed and it felt like Goodman got carried away with making sure her heroine made mistakes before she saved the day. Loved the plot, but the author made me dislike the title character and I don't think that's what she was going for.(less)
Plain Kate has been highly praised since it's September 2010 release. Book bloggers, reviewers, authors, and literary types have been crazy excited ab...morePlain Kate has been highly praised since it's September 2010 release. Book bloggers, reviewers, authors, and literary types have been crazy excited about the prose, the story, the characters.
Sorry everyone else who has anything to say about books, but I just don't get it.
Plain Kate was a fine book, a solid 3, really. The story was interesting and well-told, the characters were nice and round, the dialogue was well written, and the pacing was excellent. The prose was simple, and the writing was fine, but I didn't find it as "deceptively enchanting" as many others did. It didn't hold any magical beauty for me.
The thing I found disappointing was the style, rather than the content. Plain Kate was written like a children's book, rather than a YA novel. Kate's dilemma was certainly YA material, but the reader didn't get as much of a glance into her thoughts and struggles as I would have liked. In children's literature, the main characters seldom indulge in introspection, and that's how Plain Kate felt to me. For example, when Kate sells her shadow, she begins to worry that she has somehow lost her soul. After one cursory, "I wonder if I've sold my soul," that's the only time Kate voices any concern on this very real, very frightening concept. She doesn't question what will happen if she dies, or if she will continue to feel emotions like love, which are the kind of questions I would assume someone would ask who has just inadvertently sold their own soul. Kate doesn't think about these things, and seems to travel along her pre-set path with concern, but not a lot of urgency.
I liked the setting, and what I found especially engaging was Bow's description of Kate's carving. The way she describes Kate's artistry was detailed and thorough, and I kept wishing the book had included illustrations of the pieces Bow was describing.
All in all, a solid 3, and I'm glad the library had it, but probably not something I'll be buying for myself.(less)
Every Sunday while her mother has lunch with business associates, 8-year-old Jane and her imaginary friend Michael have dessert at Tiffany’s. Michael...moreEvery Sunday while her mother has lunch with business associates, 8-year-old Jane and her imaginary friend Michael have dessert at Tiffany’s. Michael is everything Jane’s mother is not: warm, caring, understanding, and supportive. When she turns nine, however, Michael has to leave her, but he promises that she won’t remember him the next day.
Flash forward to 30-something Jane, living on her own, dating a stage actor (who is a total crapbag), and working for her mother’s production company. She recently put on a highly successful Broadway play about a little girl with an imaginary friend named Michael, with whom she eats dessert every Sunday at Tiffany’s. She still remembers her dear imaginary friend, and despite appearances, she is incredibly unhappy.
Michael is between assignments in New York when he sees Jane. He follows her to work and they meet. Both are confused about why Jane can remember their friendship when all of Michael’s other children have long forgotten him. As she spends time with Michael, Jane remembers how valuable and safe she always felt with Michael, and Michael remembers what a special person Jane was. They fall in love, but Michael is an imaginary friend, and he’s not really human. (I’m not spoiling. This is fairly predictable and probably even on the back of the book.)
This was a sweet, although predictable novel. I won’t spoil the end, but anyone who’s seen a fair amount of Lifetime/ABC Family/Disney movies can guess at the ending here. Still, it was an enjoyable read, the kind of “beach book” you’d buy if you just want a light, uncomplicated reading experience.
3 stars for being cute, well written and enjoyable, but forgettable all the same.(less)
I don't think either of the sequels can capture the magic of Sorcery and Cecelia. This installment was a rather bland one. Kate is at home with her hu...moreI don't think either of the sequels can capture the magic of Sorcery and Cecelia. This installment was a rather bland one. Kate is at home with her husband and her kids and Cecy's kids, while Cecy and James are off chasing the connection between magical ley lines and railroad lines. Despite their jokes about their letters being largely about their children ... their letters were largely about their children. When the kid is yours (or related to you in the case of me and my nephews), the story is hilarious, and you share it with others, who smilingly humor you. I felt like I was humoring Cecy and Kate for far too much of this novel. The excitement of learning about magic and the blooming romances between the two pairs are just gone in this last book.
Donita K. Paul's dragon books are some of my favorite Christian fantasy. They were also some of the first books I discovered once I learned that Chris...moreDonita K. Paul's dragon books are some of my favorite Christian fantasy. They were also some of the first books I discovered once I learned that Christian fantasy could mean more than The Chronicles of Narnia.
Kale never expected to go from village slave to a girl on a quest, but that's exactly what happened when she found the dragon egg. The village council decides to send her to Vendela, the capitol city of Amara, to consult with the leaders at the Hall, where warriors are trained. Before she reaches the city, however, she is waylayed by grawligs (basically trolls) and dumped into a hole in the ground. Finding a tunnel, Kale is inexplicably drawn further and further into the earth, where she finds a cluster of more dragon eggs!
After being rescued, Kale meets new companions and learns that she is meant to go on a quest for Paladin, the king of Amara. (Paladin is this story world's Aslan, FYI.) An evil wizard named Risto has stolen a meech egg; a meech is a type of dragon that is built much like a human, is capable of human speech, and is extremely powerful and intelligent. Risto plans to use the meech egg to perform an unspeakable act of magic, and it is up to Kale and her group to stop him. As she travels with her new friends, Kale learns about Wulder, the Creator of the world, and what it means to live a life in obedience to Him.
I love this series and have eagerly devoured each new volume in the series. Donita K. Paul is a fantastic author, and this is a strong portion of the Christian fantasy genre. The parallels that Paul draws are rich and deep, with the characters learning truths about Wulder and growing closer to Him in each volume. Characterization is extremely well done, and development is fantastic. Kale is our protagonist, and undergoes significant development in terms of understanding Wulder, maturity, and coming to terms with her own new identity not as a slave, but as a servant of Paladin. Each of the supporting characters has a rounded personality and could support his or her own story, while not overpowering the overall sense of Kale as the main event.
The writing is really great. Paul's dialogue really is fantastic, and at no point in the story do I get frustrated by it. Dialogue is a tricky part of writing, and it's refreshing when an author gets it exactly right. Her word choice is varied, with the more educated and older wizards displaying a wide selection of vocabulary and sentence structure, as would be appropriate to their characters. The world building is described in beautiful detail, while not overpowering the story.
In short, DragonSpell is a 4 star book, one that I read often and hug when I'm done.(less)