I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while. When it was first released and the reviews started pouring out on blogs and Goodreads, the overwhelmi...moreI’ve been meaning to read this book for a while. When it was first released and the reviews started pouring out on blogs and Goodreads, the overwhelming majority that I read were very positive reviews. Needless to say, this book piqued my interest but I didn’t get around to reading it until now (an excuse I use for almost every book I read — “I didn’t get around to reading it …” Hah). I tried not to have my opinion of the book subconsciously swayed by the hype, though when it feels like EVERYONE loves this book, I feel pressure to love it too. Anyway, I definitely think this book is amazing, fun and creative, and I enjoyed it very much. I can totally understand why everyone loves it. I don’t think I love it quite as much as some other readers too, but I do think it is a very good book.
The story is about a young girl named Karou (pronounced ka-roo), who lives in Prague, alone in her own apartment, and attends an art school. She loves to draw and her friends love seeing the monsters she creates in her sketchbook. Little do her friends know, these monsters aren’t figments of Karou’s imagination; they are real. They are the monsters who raised Karou and Karou loves them as her own family.
Her “father figure” is Brimstone, who appears to be the leader of the four monsters. His life’s work is to collect teeth. All kinds of teeth, from humans to animals and even other fantastical creatures. Karou has no idea what Brimstone does with these bags and bags of teeth, she’s not allowed to ask. However, she runs errands for Brimstone and in return, he gives him small beads that allow her to make minor wishes, such as changing her hair colour to a natural blue, or giving her enemy caterpillar-bushy eyebrows.
When black handprints start appearing on doorways all over the world — the doorways to the world where the monsters reside — Karou’s world starts to change drastically. Suddenly, she loses all contact with Brimstone and the others and worse, she is being hunted by a beautiful but dangerous male angel named Akiva. However, little does Karou know, Akiva knows all about Karou’s true identity and how she is connected to him. Before she knows it, she and Akiva are embroiled in a forbidden love.
Before I say anything else, I want to make it clear that I did, indeed, fall in love with this book. I haven’t read a book this creative or imaginative since … well, it feels like a very long time. The best part of the creativity, for me, was the use of the teeth and wishes. I’m not going to spoil what Brimstone was using the teeth for, for those of you who don’t know, but I really liked that twist. Teeth! So simple, but so genius at the same time.
At its core, it’s still a pretty ‘common’ story. I would say the core of this novel is similar to the basic plot of Romeo & Juliet: two starcrossed lovers who cannot be together due to their affiliations. But in Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I feel Laini Taylor took that common story and re-imagined it on an epic grand scale, with angels and demons and an eternal war. The chronology of the story is also a bit different as well, telling the end first (although as the reader, you do not know it is the end) and then explaining the beginning, with how Karou and Akiva originally met and so on.
I really enjoyed the beginning of the book (or the ‘end’ of the story). I was totally loving being in Karou’s world, her art classes, her secret visits to Brimstone and her monster family, her annoying ex-boyfriend doing stupid stunts to try to win her back and all the little, and sometimes petty, wishes she made. Where the book began to falter, for me, was when the story shifted and began to tell the tale of how Karou and Akiva originally met. It was very removed from the setting I was already used to, and I was really not expecting that at all. I went from being on a slightly magical/paranormal Earth to a completely different world altogether, one where angels and monsters fought a war on a daily basis. New city names, new geography, new culture to know. The problem wasn’t the newness, it was just such a sudden shift for me that it almost felt like a disconnect between the first half of the book to the second half. The more I read, the more far away I felt from everything I read prior. It almost felt like a completely different story I was reading.
I wasn’t too crazy about was Karou and Akiva’s relationship either. It’s very sweet, but as I mentioned earlier, it is at its core, a Romeo & Juliet kind of story. Even though I praise the author for being so imaginative with it, the relationship is still as simplistic as what you think a Romeo & Juliet story would have. Their relationship is powerful, deep and passionate — and also quite instant. Even though Karou and Akiva started off as enemies, they very, very quickly put that all aside and, well, fell in love. I know, I know — you are thinking, “Uh, did you not READ the book? There is a reason!” I’m perfectly aware but I think even when Karou and Akiva met originally in Karou’s past life, it was still a lot of, “Wow, he’s so beautiful” and “Wow, she’s so beautiful”, with some “I saved your life” mixed in. I’m afraid I just didn’t feel the same fiery passion that these two character felt whenever they were with one another.
Now, with all that said, I did love reading this book a lot though. It was very fun and I became victim to the “just one more chapter” syndrome that all good books seem to be able to inflict on its readers. I liked Karou’s character a lot — not so much her “alter ego” (or rather, her original form) because that personality seemed way too Mary Sue for my liking. But I liked Karou and how she interacted with her human friends and her monster family. I loved the idea of a monster hidden in a little shop collecting teeth — don’t ask my why, but I’m very attached to that idea and this book did a very good job driving me crazy with wanting to know what the heck Brimstone was using the teeth for! You do get to find out in the end, no worries. The book also did a good job driving me crazy with who Karou was in her other life, but that one became somewhat predictable and therefore, less mysterious once Akiva entered the story and you see how they’re interacting.
I certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA novels, I do think this is one of the better YA novels I’ve read in the last little while. I eagerly look forward to book two: Days Of Blood & Starlight!(less)
I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. September is the month for Goblet of Fire.
Goblet of Fire has al...moreI’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. September is the month for Goblet of Fire.
Goblet of Fire has always been one of my favourite Harry Potter books, and re-reading it for the umpteenth time now, nothing much has changed. I still love this book and I had a really great time re-reading it!
In this fourth book of the series, Harry attends the Quidditch World Cup before school starts with his friends Ron and Hermione, but the exciting tournament ends horrifically when several Death Eaters (Voldemort supporters) scare everyone and shoot the Dark Mark into the sky.
At school, Harry discovers that Hogwarts is hosting the Triwizard Tournament, an event not held for over a century now. The Tournament is a friendly competition of magical skill and bravery between three magic schools, with one student from each school chosen to represent them. Only students seventeen and older may drop their name in the Goblet of Fire to compete, which means Harry can’t try, but he’s perfectly happy to support whoever the Hogwarts champion is.
However, when it comes time to choose each school’s champions, the Goblet of Fire spits out an extra fourth competitor — Harry Potter. Suddenly, Harry finds himself having to perform all sort of dangerous tasks; whoever put his name into the Goblet seems to want to put Harry in danger.
I really like this book for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is the introduction of these other wizarding schools. I admit ,when I first read this book, I was like Harry — it did not occur to me there were other wizarding schools, as it was never mentioned before. Anyway, I love the Triwizard tournament and the idea that there are other wizarding schools out there, especially Durmstrang, even though they’re hinted to be a not-so-great school because they focus a lot on the Dark Arts, I just love the idea of a school in the far north, with uniforms that include fur trimmed hoods and stuff, and they traveled to Hogwarts in a pirate ship! Okay, it wasn’t a pirate ship exactly, but it was a ship and I thought that was cool … Hahaha, so random, I know.
Another reason I like this book is the growth in Harry’s relationship with his friends, specifically Ron. Harry and Ron have a huge fight in this book, and I really like the depth it brought to their relationship. With Harry now a competing school champion, Ron’s subconscious jealousy of Harry (of being famous and all that) explodes and comes out at last, and they stop speaking to one another for a while, only to, of course, make up later. Friends fight in real life — I’m glad Rowling incorporated this into her story as well. And it makes their friendship seem all the more stronger and genuine for future books!
With each Harry Potter book, the plot becomes progressively more complex, but I think this is especially so in Goblet of Fire because we have more bits of the past revealed to us now and must piece it together with the present, as well as the fact that the Ministry of Magic is more involved and that means things get relatively more political. I love plots like this, where lots of things that happened in the past are now affecting the present and future in the story.
My final thoughts? Goblet of Fire is still as amazing as ever, 11 years later! Oh, and yes, I did get teary when Cedric died (I can say he died, right? It's not really a spoiler by now, is it?) Especially when Dumbledore honored Cedric with his speech. Beautifully sad.
Oh god, I’m finally done this book. I’ve had this book for just over a year, I totally bought it impulsively. I had heard nothing about it before I go...moreOh god, I’m finally done this book. I’ve had this book for just over a year, I totally bought it impulsively. I had heard nothing about it before I got it, just wanted to read a fantasy novel. Well, now I’m done this book, and it was, unfortunately, an ordeal to get through it. I cleaned out my bookshelf yesterday, and I think this book is going in my “to donate” pile of books to bring to the thrift store.
I’ve got a lot of issues with this book. The biggest thing is that it’s difficult to follow. The writing isn’t the best, and there’s weird scene transitions and absolutely no explanations about anything. My copy of the book includes an introduction by the author, and he says in his introduction that he purposely didn’t want to have to explain everything because he didn’t want to dumb down his story, which in turn may be insulting to his readers’ intelligence. Okay, fair enough. However, I don’t think it was handled very well. Some explanation or hints would have been nice. I don’t know how I’m supposed to know which characters were on which side, are what ranking, etc. without a little help. A lot of terms also went right over my head; I still don’t really know what a Warden is, or what a T’lan Imass is. I have a vague idea but still not really sure.
So, the book was confusing. I’m usually prepared to be a little confused at first when I start a new fantasy series. Fantasy series seem to like to drop readers into the middle of the world and have you work your way around the story-verse yourself, which is fine. I usually am able to sort everything out 50-100 pages in (which is nothing, considering how long these books usually are) and then just enjoy the story from there. With Gardens of the Moon, I was on page 600 out of 752 and still had no idea what I was reading about, just a lot of assassins, gods and running around on rooftops …
I mean, I sort of got the gist of the story. The Empire, led by Empress Laseen, tried to take over the city of Pale in the beginning. Pale was helped by Moon’s Spawn (which I had to look up on the Internet — it’s a floating fortress), but eventually Pale falls. Then the rest of the book shifts to the characters wanting to take over or save, depending which side they are on, the last free city of Darujhistan. And there’s some gods who are involved with these mortals’ affairs, which is really putting a kink in Laseen’s plans. So yeah, I kind of get the story, but at the same time, I feel like I didn’t understand the story at all.
The characters and dialogue were rather poor as well. The characters were on the dull side. I didn’t feel invested in any of them, it was like no big deal when any of them died. The dialogue was overly dramatic and corny, also dull. It just wasn’t very engaging.
I do think the world was very intricately built and well done though, from what I can tell with my limited understanding. It’s obvious this book takes place in an immense world with a deep and rich history that spans thousands of years. I do feel a little sad that I was unable to enjoy this world; I did want to like it, but there were simply too many obstacles preventing me.
I have read that the first book is considered the weakest, even amongst fans of this series. I read somewhere that new readers are advised to simply start with the second book (there are new characters and stuff, so it’s not like a direct continuation from book one). At this point in time, I’m not sure if I want to give the series a second chance. I feel quite burnt out from fantasy reading this book, so if I do try the second book, it won’t be for a long time. Perhaps after I read some reviews/opinions on the second one first, then I will decide. As for this first book, I think if you are really, really into epic fantasies, into world building and super complicated fantasy plots, you can give this a try, but for any one else who just reads fantasy from time to time, you’ll probably want to skip this one.(less)
I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. August is the month for The Prisoner of Azkaban (hurray for bei...moreI’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. August is the month for The Prisoner of Azkaban (hurray for being caught up)!
In this third book, the wizarding world is thrown into a bit of a panic as news of Sirius Black’s escape from Azkaban (a wizard prison) spreads. Even the Muggles are warned about the criminal. Sirius was Voldemort’s right hand man, and everyone is sure that he has escaped to hunt down Harry and avenge the death of his old master.
As you can imagine, this is not a particularly delightful thing to hear about for Harry Potter. Not only does he have that hanging over his head, but friends, teachers and even the Ministry of Magic are determined to do what they can to keep Harry as safe as possible — which ends up feeling a bit stifling for the poor boy. Even worse are the Dementors — frightening creatures that can suck the happiness right out of a person — who are stationed all around the school. Still, Harry tries to carry on his school year as normally as possible, but it is clear that he is in a very dangerous situation as Sirius Black continuously attempts to get close to Harry.
As a kid, The Prisoner of Azkaban was actually my least favourite book. All my friends found it to be their favourite, except me (who favored The Chamber of Secrets). However, ever since the movie and having re-read it a few more times as a teen and as a young adult now, I’ve definitely warmed up to the book much, much more. In fact, I think it’s one of my favourites of the series now. I’m not a hundred percent sure why, but I’ve come to appreciate the complexity of this particular installment much more now.
What’s different about book three compared to the first two is that the story becomes more detailed and complicated. Firstly, we have Harry, Ron and Hermione’s relationship grow. Instead of being happy-go-lucky friends, they’re experiencing many fights with one another, which is all a part of the growing-up process. The characters are developing to become more complicated, as are their relationships with one another.
Secondly, there is a lot more background story introduced in Azkaban, a lot of it having to do with Harry’s father’s life as a Hogwarts student himself, and of the night Harry’s parents died. The first two Harry Potter books were quite simple in plot and characterization, but I think starting with Azkaban, the story takes on a more serious tone. Because of all the information regarding certain events that happened before Harry was even born, this makes Azkaban one of the most important installments in the series, in my opinion.
So, like I said, I didn’t really like it as a kid (and I know I am the oddball in that regard), but re-reading it this time around, I was completely engrossed by the story. This book has been out for over 10 years now, surely it’s not a spoiler to say I loved the time-travel aspect of it? Well … I do! Time traveling is something I love to read about in all books, and I really like the way J. K. Rowling tackled it in this book. This book was great, amazingly written, and if you haven’t read the Harry Potter series yet, well, I’m sure you’ll find this particular installment very addicting to read.
I adore fairy tale retellings, especially Cinderella, because it’s definitely my most favourite fairy tale of all time. When I saw this available on N...moreI adore fairy tale retellings, especially Cinderella, because it’s definitely my most favourite fairy tale of all time. When I saw this available on NetGalley, I knew I wanted to read it!
In Cinder and Ella, there is actually a family of six — a mother, a father, and four daughters. The father disappeared long ago, lured away by a dark prince. The mother spends all her time working and doesn’t really bother to take care of her kids. Two of the daughters, Katrina and Beatrice, are absolute brats and the other two, Cinder and Ella are more responsible (Cinder being the more kind one). I thought it was really unique that the character of Cinderella was split into two characters, I never saw that before.
The story is really cute and sweet. Cinder goes to work at the kingdom castle and Ella runs away from home to work as a servant for someone else. When Cinder returns home for the weekend, she sees Ella has run away and her worry causes one of the castle knights, Sir Tanner, to decide to embark on a quest to find Ella. This quest, however, is watched over carefully by the dark prince, who Cinder begins to fall in love with. Tanner can’t figure out why the prince wants Ella so badly, so he becomes quite wary.
I am not really sure why this book is categorized as a Young Adult novel. I think this is definitely more of a children’s or middle-grade book. The story is really short and simple, the characters are one-dimensional (not that that’s a bad thing in a children’s book) and the writing is simplistic as well. It really reads like a Brothers Grimms fairy tale. If I had picked this book up expecting a YA novel, I think I would have been disappointed.
But as a children’s novel, it’s perfect. It definitely feels like an original take on an old fairy tale, and I loved how at the end there were a list of discussion questions, such as “When members of a family are struggling, what effect can that have on the other members of the family?” (Also based on the questions, this is another reason why I feel it’s more of a children’s book than a YA book). The only thing I was not as crazy about with the story was how it ended. It was one of those kinds of endings that make you go, “Well, why didn’t he just do that from the very beginning?!”
But other than that, I enjoyed this Cinderella retelling. It was a fast-paced story and made for a quick, fun read.(less)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a fantasy YA novel that centers around 16 year old Princess Elisa. Elisa appears to be not that special first because s...moreThe Girl of Fire and Thorns is a fantasy YA novel that centers around 16 year old Princess Elisa. Elisa appears to be not that special first because she describes herself as a “sausage” and being unattractive. However, what does make her special is the fact that she carries the Godstone in her navel. God chooses one bearer every four generations to bear the Godstone and Elisa is the chosen one.
Elisa is not 100% sure what it means to be the bearer of the Godstone though. Previous bearers have some sort of special duty to fulfill, but Elisa does not really have much confidence in herself in doing anything amazing. She gets married off to the king of an allied kingdom — for the Godstone, not for her. Her new husband is pretty nice, but is indecisive and cowardly, which really doesn’t bode well for the kingdom given the fact that another kingdom wants to start a war soon. They hope that with the Godstone on their side, God will favor them in the war. But then Elisa gets kidnapped by revolutionaries who think the Godstone can help save their people. During her kidnapping, Elisa learns much and more about what it means to be the bearer of the Godstone, and how she can help save her father and husband’s kingdoms from the invaders.
I didn’t really start getting into the story until Part 2 (there are 3 parts, with Part 2 being the longest part). Part 1 was alright though a bit slow, but I think it got much more excited once Elisa got kidnapped. Even though Part 2 started off a little oddly — Elisa doesn’t seem to be frightened of her kidnappers at all, she just goes along with their plans — Part 2 was full of action and when it’s made clear just how high the stakes are, so there is more tension and excitement. It’s also when Elisa starts breaking out of her shell a bit and becoming more directive and confident, so in that sense, she also became a more admirable character during that time. She does some pretty cool things, and I loved how she took initiative despite being the kidnapee.
I really enjoyed the overall story. The best thing about this book, in my opinion, is the Godstones and magic system. I personally felt it was very unique, and I appreciated it wasn’t super complicated or anything, so it was easy to understand. Honestly, it was one of the things that really hooked me into the story — the idea that God plants a blue gem in a chosen one’s belly button isn’t something I come across everyday.
There are a few things I felt could have been better in the book. Elisa, for example. She’s not unlikeable by any means, but she’s not very interesting. She’s very much a Mary Sue and a very devout follower of God so she seems too perfect, almost. I did like the fact that she wasn’t a perfect, beautiful little princess though.
The romance in this book was kind of awkward to me. Elisa falls in love with one of her kidnappers, which reminded me of the Stockholm syndrome. I know it’s probably real love and not crazy-reverse-psychology-love, but I couldn’t help but keep thinking of that syndrome because of the situation she was in. I didn’t feel much chemistry between Elisa and the kidnapper, but it wasn’t forced, at least. It just felt a bit hollow.
There’s also something about the writing; it is in first person, but I do not feel like I am reading Elisa’s thoughts a lot of time. She gives off the impression that she’s somewhat omniscient through the writing … I don’t really know how to describe it, but it seems to me that third person may have suited the story even better.
So, overall, the plot and story were my favourite parts, while Elisa remains a character I have mixed feelings towards. This isn’t a must-read, but I think if you typically enjoy YA fantasy, you will probably find this an enjoyable read. A million thanks for HarperCollins for allowing me this e-ARC.(less)
I feel sad that the trilogy is over now, but I can tell you, I was not disappointed at all by this final book. I loved Leviathan and Behemoth, and nat...moreI feel sad that the trilogy is over now, but I can tell you, I was not disappointed at all by this final book. I loved Leviathan and Behemoth, and naturally had high expectations for book three. Goliath not only met them, but exceeded them. It’s pretty rare for each installment in a book series to raise the bar higher and higher, but Goliath has done just that. If you love Leviathan and Behemoth, I can almost guarantee you’ll love Goliath as well.
This is the final book, where all sorts of secrets start unraveling and all those events you have been hoping to read about occur (for me, that was Alek and Deryn’s relationship)! In Goliath, the Leviathan airbeast heads toward New York City, all the way in the United States. The crew has rescued a Mr. Tesla in Siberia, an inventor whose gigantic, and dangerous, weapon of mass destruction, Goliath, sits in New York. With the Goliath, Tesla hopes to scare the world into stopping the war.
Loved this book. Truly an epic ending to an epic story! It was fast paced and a thrill to read. Most of my favourite scenes involved Alek and Deryn, especially the eventual revealing of Deryn’s gender (I don’t think this is a spoiler because I think it’s kind of obvious that it would happen in this book).
The revealing didn’t happen the way I thought it would, but actually, I liked the way Westerfeld handled it much better. I think my vision of how it would happen (that is, that Deryn would just outright tell Alek) is kind of predictable and boring anyway. I have been waiting for Alek to find out that Deryn is actually a girl ever since Leviathan, and I’m so, so happy with the way it turned out: not a perfect happily-ever-after, but the kind of ending that opens Alek and Deryn up to a zillion possibilities in their future. Their relationship just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.
The characters are still as wonderful as ever. I still remember walking away from Leviathan liking the story but not really attached to any of the characters. Well, definitely by the end of Goliath I have become quite fond of the quirky cast! Dr. Barlow has become a favourite (memorable quote from her: “… I make it a policy never to appear surprised.”) and Eddie Malone, though an annoying creature to the characters, is funny and lovable (well, unless he was a real person, then I’d probably think he was annoying too, haha). And of course, I love Deryn and Alek (view spoiler)[(though I am a little saddened by the fact that Alek is no longer a prince at the end of the book. Part of the appeal of Alek is that he was a secret heir … but I still love him!) (hide spoiler)].
It is really amazing how Scott Westerfeld weaved his steampunk ideas into real history. Of course, the entire Leviathan trilogy is fiction, but there is an author’s note at the end of the book that points out the real historical facts that Westerfeld incorporated into Goliath and I was pleasantly surprised by how many factual elements are in the story!
This book, and its predecessors, are great books, truly! If you haven’t started this series yet, I highly recommend it. It’s good timing too, since the third book is out now, so you can read them all together! (PS. Thank you Simon & Schuster Galley Grab for this galley :)
(This review was originally posted at http://skyink.net).["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Been a while since I read another WoT book. I’m still determined to finish the series, but I admit, the series is progressing in such a way t...more1.5 stars
Been a while since I read another WoT book. I’m still determined to finish the series, but I admit, the series is progressing in such a way that it’s been difficult to find the motivation to read it sometimes. I was already starting to see plot progression slow down a few books back, and in The Path of Daggers, it’s really starting to grind to a halt. I literally cannot pinpoint what was the overall plot of this book.
From what I can remember, this is what generally happens to the characters in the book: Egwene deals with people treating her like a puppet Amyrlin, but she’s determined to rise above them. Perrin is on some sort of mission for Rand but gets sidetracked by his crazy wife wanting Perrin to be more bossy (WTF?). Elayne, Nynavae and Aviendha are … I don’t know, actually. They were trying to right the weather with the Bowl of Winds, but I can’t remember what the heck happened after that, just that Elayne eventually ends up taking back the Lion Throne (which, by the way, her return to the throne was rather anti-climatic). And Rand. Ohhh Rand. I don’t even know. I think I started skimming some of his chapters, they just bored me to death. There was a lot of fighting going on, he’s conquering cities, he’s trying to fight back the Seanchan, he tries to use Callandor and all hell breaks loose, he’s trying not to be crazy … I don’t know. I have a feeling there were too many pages spent trying to describe what Rand was doing when in reality you only needed maybe ten, and as a result, I ended up confused.
To me, very little plot occurs in this book. I think it tried to pass itself off as an in-between book — you know, those books that happen in the middle of the series that aren’t as great as the beginning or end books of a series, but has to exist just to progress the story. That’s this book. Except I’m pretty sure you can put all the important things that happened in this book in the next book and it would still have been fine. So much of this book was just long and boring descriptions. I know, I know — descriptions are important in books. I’m not saying get rid of all of them, but there is a limit to how much description a reader wants to take in. I do not need to know every little detail about every body’s clothes or rooms or whatever, especially if they are nothing more than some barmaid or innkeeper or whatever.
Robert Jordan provides even more evidence that he does not really know how to write love relationships in this book. Some past examples include Egwene and Rand *suddenly* realizing they don’t love each other romantically, Perrin’s dislike for Faile and then *suddenly* she’s the love of his life, Lan and his ambiguity towards Nynavae (sure, Jordan says Lan loves Nynavae, but Lan has said or done nothing to convince me of this). Siuan’s one of my favourite characters, but she just got butchered in this book. Essentially, Siuan’s become Nynavae — she has completely taken her personality and her attitude and is Nynavae. And for some reason, Siuan’s in love with what’s-his-face but, like Nynavae, treats him really bad and pretends she hates him when really she secretly loves him. WHAT IS THIS, KINDERGARTEN?
Then there’s Faile and her desire to have Perrin dominate her, so to speak. She wants him to be assertive and boss her around, which, in her mind, will show that Perrin believes her to be a strong enough wife to put up with his shenanigans. I actually can be okay with this bizarre logic if it was only Faile, but it turns out every woman who is Saldean (like Faile) thinks like this. What kind of bizarre culture do Saldean women have? It’s actually kind of almost offensive. The weird thing is, in Robert Jordan’s books, there are never any exceptions. If you are a female from Saldean, you want a dominating husband so you can play the who-has-the-power-in-the-relationship game. I can’t think of more examples right now, but it’s the same with characters from X, Y, or Z places. If you come from such-and-such a place, you are automatically like this or that. So weird.
Okay, so if you can’t tell by now, I didn’t really enjoy The Path of Daggers. It was difficult for me to get through, as the majority of it is just fluff. Honestly you could probably skip this book in the series and continue without it — that’s how unimportant the “plot” was in this book to the overall story.
(Originally posted at http://skyink.net). I give this book a 4, but I think it’s really more like a 3.7 or 3.8 … However, I’m not going to get into de...more(Originally posted at http://skyink.net). I give this book a 4, but I think it’s really more like a 3.7 or 3.8 … However, I’m not going to get into decimals, heh, so I rounded.
Continuing on with The Wheel of Time series, I finally finished reading book six! This one was quite long, hence the lack of updates around the blog while I was trying to get though this phonebook-sized novel …
So what happens in book six? Well, truth to be told, I cannot remember much that happened in the first 500 pages or so — it felt like nothing much was going on and it was difficult to get through. I just didn’t care about Rand’s problems, or Morgase, or even Mat in this book. And I usually love Mat! I think it’s because those characters’ parts of the stories are becoming increasingly political, which normally isn’t really my cup of tea. But the last half of the book was amazing to read, and I was so hooked. Especially all the Aes Sedai stuff. I love the concept of Aes Sedai in this story, it’s one of my favourite things about the series. There are a lot of very important plot points that happen in Lord Of Chaos, events that I am sure are going to play very large roles in future installments.
It’s very difficult to write synopsis for books in a series without spoiling what happens in previous books (so skip this paragraph if you’re worried). The White Tower, as established in the previous book, has split, which is not a good thing at all. The White Tower (or, Elaida, the Amyrlin who usurped Siuan) sends emissaries to Rand, the Dragon Reborn, at the same time as the Hall of the Tower (the Aes Sedai in Salidar). Rand is basically confronted with two schools of Aes Sedai, each wanting him to be on their side — but the truth is, the Aes Sedai need Rand more than Rand needs them. Not to mention the fact that Rand feels he can’t trust any Aes Sedai anymore. That’s the major plotline of this book, I believe. There are lots of other very important events though, such as Rand founding his school (the “Black Tower”, the students affectionately call it, haha, I love it!) and Egwene, Nynavae and Elayne and their becoming Aes Sedai. Egwene, in particular, has something tremendously exciting happen to her that I don’t want to spoil, but I was quite shocked when it happened!
The ending was really great too, it reminded me of the endings from books one and two, where something large and profound happens that forever changes the story world. Definitely makes me want to start book seven right away.
I get the impression that as the series goes on, each individual book becomes hit-or-miss for many readers. I totally understand; for me, this book was mainly a hit, though a belated one. Like I said before, the first half of this book was quite long and boring, and it really felt it could have been pared down considerably. It’s just that, nothing much happens in the first half. I can’t even remember what I read in the first half. The prologue alone used up 70 pages! I would not be surprised to hear that people just give up this book in the middle … which would be a real shame, because the last half is so not worth missing out on.
Also there is a lot of repetition in the series which I am sure readers (who are not die hard fans, and thus, less likely to overlook) may be sick of. I’m a little sick of it myself, but I guess since I am what you would call a fan of the series, I am more willing to forgive it. You know, the constant description of everyone‘s clothes (really?); certain phrases like ‘good Two Rivers woolens’; necklines on dresses and, if they are low, how their boobs are popping out; Rand, Mat and Perrin constantly thinking each other are expert on women; the women constantly thinking men are all ‘woolheaded’; the men constantly thinking women are all confusing; Nynavae and her damn braid-tugging … If you’ve read books in this series, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
But like I said — I do like this series and I am determined to finish it. And as much as I complain about the occasional lack of plot or repetition, I’m fan enough of the series to ignore it. I do completely understand readers who cannot finish the book (or any other book in this series) because of said cons though. I do agree that this book felt stretched out. In fact, some of the previous books felt that way as well. However, there is something about the series that still has me hooked onto it. It simply hasn’t failed in delivering epic-ness yet. Granted, it’s not a continous or even distribution of epic-ness, but I am still loving this series, and this book’s last half was truly fun and amazing to read — so much that I think it makes up for the beginning half’s lack of story.(less)
I don’t normally write spoilers, but since this book has been out for over ten years, I’m not going to hold back on the sp...more**spoiler alert** 4.5 stars.
I don’t normally write spoilers, but since this book has been out for over ten years, I’m not going to hold back on the spoilers too much. Besides, it’s kind of hard talking about the fifth book in the series without revealing things anyway. You have been warned!
Ummmmm … WOW. I really, really enjoyed this one. This book was what I needed to rekindle my interest in the series (because if you have noticed, my ratings for the previous installments of this series have been steadily declining, heh). It took me 4 weeks to finish this, only because this was my commuting book, so I only read it on the bus, to and from campus. Despite reading it in small doses at a time, I was hooked into the story world each time I opened it up. Yeah, there were a few sluggish parts — for example, some of the scenes near the end involving Rand and the war. Those were kind of too political-ish for me and I’ve never really been a fan of reading war scenes — but overall, I think this is one of the better ones in the series.
In The Fires Of Heaven, a lot of things happen to everyone, and pretty much all of it is going to be spoilers because, well, that’s the nature of the series. Each book doesn’t seem to have a very cohesive plot, but the entire series as a whole has a cohesive plot … if that makes any sense at all.
Almost everyone was doing something interesting in this book. The book begins with Min, Siuan and those people trying to find the secret gathering of Aes Sedai who have broken off from the White Tower, while at the same time, being chased by a Lord for burning down a barn. This was interesting because Siuan is no longer the Amyrlin Seat — no longer an authority that even kings and queens bow to. So reading about how she is adjusting to her very low status now was exciting, particularly because she refuses to remain in such a low status. She wants revenge. I also enjoyed Nynavae and Elayne’s part of the story. They have joined a traveling menagerie … the circus! And they do tricks! That’s always fun and exciting. What’s more is that they find Brigitte in the dream world and she actually comes to life in the real world after a mistake of Nynavae’s. So we have a newish character join our heroes now, and Brigitte is pretty awesome, being a legendary expert marksman (markswoman?) and all. And in Caemlyn, we also have the whole Morgase being smitten by Gaebril plotline, which finally progresses in this book. Morgase finally realizes Gaebril is slowly taking over her kingdom, but it’s a little too late to find out so she has to escape her own kingdom. This sets in motion a whole separate series of events at the end of the book.
The only plotline in this book I wasn’t too crazy about is, as already mentioned, Rand’s. I was a bit mixed with his plotline — sometimes it was great, sometimes I had serious trouble paying attention because it was boring. However … and this is a big spoiler … one part near the end of the book totally caught my attention and I was absolutely stunned. Moiraine died! I couldn’t believe it! She’s one of my favourite characters! In fact, even though all the characters were talking about her dying, and even Lan says he can no longer feel he connection he had with Moiraine and leaves (no, Lan!), I still couldn’t believe it. I refuse to believe it until I read the entire series and Moiraine still hasn’t come back alive. Moiraaaaine!
While I greatly enjoyed the story, and this book has totally got me craving for the next one, I did find the characterization in this book (and probably the previous ones, though I kind of noticed it more here) very one-dimensional. Most of them anyway. Nearly all the female characters can be grouped as one, all stubborn and proud and believing men are fools and women know best. The men have more ‘categories’, but only a few more — those who find women complicated, those who live life as honorably as possible, etc. I hope for more variety, but it is the 5th book, so I have a feeling I will be stuck with these one-dimensional characters for the rest of the series … not neccesarily too bad of a thing for an epic fantasy, since plot has always seemed more important than character development in the genre, but you know — just a wish. (less)
I’ve been seeing this book (and its other installments of the series) around on many, many blogs and there’s also this hype surrounding the 4th book,...moreI’ve been seeing this book (and its other installments of the series) around on many, many blogs and there’s also this hype surrounding the 4th book, The Iron Knight, that is coming out soon. Soooo I decided I wanted to check out what all the hubbub around this book series is about. I don’t want to miss out on a party when there is one, although I tend to read with cautious optimism when it’s a book that’s beloved by many readers, to save myself from too much disappointment should the book not live up to its hype in my eyes.
I ended up … loving it.
The Iron King is about 16 year old Meghan Chase, who is pretty ordinary, even if she is the school loser. Her only worries are getting her car license, school and whether the popular football player of the school notices her. However, upon returning home one day, she realizes her little 4 year old brother Ethan is gone and replaced by a changeling child who wreaks havoc. Seeing her determination to get her brother back, Meghan’s best friend Robbie reveals that Ethan has been taking into the Nevernever, and that he himself is actually a faery … a rather famous one: Puck.
Meghan traverses into the Nevernever into the Seelie Court, where she discovers something major — King Oberon is actually her real father. Meghan is half human, half fey. Oberon wants Meghan to act like a princess now that she’s in his court, and takes her to a meeting between the Summer/Seelie Court and the Winter/Unseelie Court. It is there that Meghan meets the Winter Prince, Ash, who, despite wanting to kill Meghan to win the favor of his Queen, accompanies her and Puck on their journey to rescue Ethan.
This book was non-stop action. From the moment I picked it up to the moment I finished reading it, there was always something happening, something adventurous and exciting. This was a book where I could just sit and read and not realize how much time has gone by (Studying for exams? What exams?) I’m not exactly that familiar with fey legends and whatnot, and I haven’t read too many books that dealt with faeries (I think the only other faery related book I read was Wicked Lovely, which was okay but didn’t really nab my full interest), but this book has me suckered into the whole fey world now.
I think it’s the world that had me the most addicted to the story. I mean, the plot was fantastic as well, but the world … it felt like Wonderland with a mix of the Labyrinthe. To move around the Nevernever, there’s like secret passageways and maze-like paths, not to mention to move from our world to the Nevernever, there’s even more hidden doorways and whatnot. It all felt very fantastical. They have different territories and the environment of the region is shaped by the kind of fey that live there — my favourite being Nir Na Nog (did I get that right?) probably because I always had a fascination with beautiful, snow covered ice lands. My second would be the iron fey’s territory, because it sounds super cool with all its scrap metal and technology, even if it is horribly dangerous there. Even though these different areas are so vastly different, they fit together really well in the context of the story.
Meghan is a great character. She’s surprisingly courageous and outgoing for someone who’s on the bottom of the school food chain, but perhaps it was the situation (you know, people wanting to kill her in the Nevernever) that brought out these qualities in her. I’m so thankful she isn’t whiny or annoying. She’s got a good head on her shoulder.
The only complaint I have about this book is probably Meghan and Ash’s romantic relationship. I really don’t understand how it went from Ash telling Meghan he’s going to kill her one day … to them kissing and being in love. It kind of just happened — bam! so I’m not completely convinced by their romance. There was no scene that I can remember that helped with the transition. Meghan disliked Ash one moment, and suddenly, Meghan was in love with him. Same with Ash. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care how gorgeous a guy is, if he told me he wants to kill me and I know he’s dead serious about it, I would find it very difficult to make my feelings do a 180. Yes, I admit, I find Prince Ash very swoon-worthy too, but that kind of gets thrown out the window when threats toward my life is made.
I like Meghan. I like Ash. But I don’t really understand Meghan + Ash.
If you haven’t read this series yet — read it! It’s a fun faery story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with a cast of memorable characters. This is a case where yes, the book does live up to its hype.
I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. July was supposed to be the month for the Chamber of Secrets, b...moreI’m re-reading the Harry Potter series as a part of Shannon’s Harry Potter read-along. July was supposed to be the month for the Chamber of Secrets, but unfortunately I 1) forgot and 2) was busy (as evident by the lack of books I posted about in July). But! I am trying to catch up now, before I fall too far behind.
In The Chamber of Secrets, Harry’s excited for his second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but before he even has a chance to return, strange things are happening to him, including a disastrous visit from a house elf, and being magically blocked from boarding the Hogwarts Express train. Harry is forewarned that Hogwarts is no longer safe for him to go to, but Harry brushes the warnings aside and returns anyway.
Something is attacking the Muggle-born witches and wizards. Whisperings of the Chamber of Secrets are passed from student to student, about how only the heir of Salazar Slytherin can control the horror within. Worse yet, everyone seems to think Harry might be the heir. Nobody seems to know how to stop the attacks, and if they continue, Hogwarts may be closed for good.
The second Harry Potter book has always been my favourite one in the series. Still is, actually. All my real-life friends seem to prefer The Prisoner of Azkaban (which I also love!) and find The Chamber of Secrets their least favourite one! Not quite sure why, I’ve never understood it — must simply be a difference in preference. I’ve always loved the mystery/sleuthing aspect to the story, as Harry, Ron and Hermione try to discover the culprit. Also, since it is the second book, there is less “introductory” things in this book compared to The Philosopher’s Stone, although there are still lots of new things to discover about the wizarding world here, like floo powder, Squibs, the Polyjuice potion, etc. Always love discovering new things about Harry’s world!
Anyway, this re-read was lots of fun and brought back a lot of memories. There’s a lot of scenes that I have completely forgotten because my memories of the Chamber of Secrets have largely been replaced by the movie version: the Deathday party Harry attends, the Kwikspell letter of Filch’s, to name a few. I always feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside to re-discover these forgotten scenes — it’s like running into an old friend you haven’t seen or thought about in ages.
This book also introduces some characters that become more important later on, like Cornelius Fudge and Ginny Weasley (same name as me! Except I begin with a letter ‘J’ :P). Oh and who can forget Gilderoy Lockhart? When I was younger, I hated him because he was so arrogant … but now, re-reading it as a young adult of 22, I just find him hilarious. Not quite sure why I was so passionately against him as a child, heh.(less)
So right from the get-go, I was really impressed with the way the story was shaping up (Percy Jackson is MISSING?!) and I got really into it. Like the...moreSo right from the get-go, I was really impressed with the way the story was shaping up (Percy Jackson is MISSING?!) and I got really into it. Like the Percy Jackson books, this one is also full of crazy adventures, laughs and of course, lots of Greek mythology. Except this time, we also get .... *drumroll* ... ROMAN mythology as well!! Which I think is absolutely fantastic.
Oh and there's a robot dragon. How cool is that?!
I love how The Heroes of Olympus series includes the Roman mythology as well, which is very similar to the Greek mythology; Rick Riordan isn't simply pretending the Roman mythologies don't exist for simplicity's sake. Nope, he created this whole brand new series that gives some focus to the Roman side of things without confusing everyone. (view spoiler)[Basically, Camp Half-Blood is a Greek camp and at the end of this book, you find out that there's a Roman camp out there with Roman demigods too. I LOVE THIS! It opens up so many possibilities! (hide spoiler)]
I really like the new characters as well, especially Jason. I think of him as Percy Jackson's double, actually. Jason is a bit moodier though, a bit sadder (but for good reasons, I think ... he did lose all his memories). Piper and Leo are fun new characters as well, but I like Jason the best :)
Cannot WAIT for book two, The Son of Neptune!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I remember eight or nine years ago, seeing this book everywhere in bookshops and there was the movie and everything too. I didn’t get around to readin...moreI remember eight or nine years ago, seeing this book everywhere in bookshops and there was the movie and everything too. I didn’t get around to reading it then, but I picked it up now because I know someone who likes this series so when I saw it, by chance, at the library, I decided to take it out.
An elf named Arya is trying to smuggle a dragon’s egg to a safe location, away from the evil Empire. When it seems they are about to catch her, she uses magic to make the egg appear leagues away, in front of a boy named Eragon, who thinks he’s found a polished blue stone. Eragon is a realtively normal fifteen year old kid, living on a farm, but his life is turned upside down when he realizes the Empire is trying to find this mysterious stone (that he later realizes is a dragon’s egg). After the Empire burns down his farm, killing his uncle in the process, Eragon flees while vowing to get revenge. He is found by an old storyteller named Brom, who turns out not to be who he is — he is actually part of an ancient order of Riders, men who had dragons and rode the skies protecting the land. With Brom on his side, Eragon journeys to where he believes the killers are, while being taught swordplay and magic.
There’s more, but if you haven’t noticed by now, you just read the basic plot of Star Wars: Episode IV. The rest of the book is also quite similar to the ending of Star Wars, but since I didn’t want to give away “spoilers”, I didn’t continue describing the plot (which is, I know, silly, if you already know the plot of Star Wars).
Eragon is written by then-teenager Christopher Paolini, and all I can say is that it really shows. I couldn’t stand the writing and I’m certain there was some thesaurus abuse. He over-describes everything, every room, every piece of clothing, every action. This also applies to the general story: every little action was described. He doesn’t take advantage of the fact that words can make the passing of time go much faster or slower — you’re just stuck with Eragon the whole time in everything he does. An entire chapter is devoted to describing an eventless trip through the desert, which I think could have been summed up in a paragraph, if not a sentence or two. I remember there was a scene where Eragon is talking to someone, mentions he’s feeling a little grimy from all his traveling, so he goes takes a bath, and comes back to resume the conversation. I mean, really? Did you have to insert a bath scene right then? It didn’t add anything to the story at all. It was utterly pointless.
The characters were rather boring. Eragon started out bland and one dimensional, and as the story continued, I actually started disliking him. Other characters scraped by with maybe two character traits. For the majority of the book, the characters were very evenly split into good guys versus bad guys, with no gray area. Such black and white characters. There was a little bit of an attempt to give Durza, one of the main villains, a sympathizing back story near the very end of the novel, but it was done rather clumsily and hastily, so it didn’t really work. As for the races, they were incredibly cliche: elegant, beautiful and wise elves; short, strong, hardy dwarves; young, ambitious humans. Yeah.
Move along, nothing new here.
I’ve no doubt that the author put lots of time and effort into this book, as all authors do, and I don’t think the similarities to Star Wars are intentional, but I can’t help but wonder how this book became as popular as it did. My overall experience with Eragon was cringe-worthy. I spent the last 200-ish pages wondering why this story just won’t end. I definitely have no interest in continuing this series.
My first book (that is not a school textbook, haha) of 2011 is Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. This is a book I’ve been interested in for a long, long...moreMy first book (that is not a school textbook, haha) of 2011 is Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. This is a book I’ve been interested in for a long, long time now (since last summer). I first saw it in a bookstore. The title intrigued me at first (though I was thinking more of Leviathan from Final Fantasy video games, haha) and when I flipped through the page and read the summary on the dust jacket — steampunk, World War I, Darwinism, walking machines, a prince in hiding, a girl disguised as a boy — I was really, really interested!
Unfortunately this was constantly being taken out at my local library and I had no interest in being put on a six month waiting list or whatever, so I just waited until by chance I saw the book available. Lo and behold, it finally was!
Leviathan takes place at the beginning of World War I, though it is not at all a factual retelling of any sort. The story takes place in an alternate reality, where the Austria-Hungary Empire and Germany are fascinated with technology and machines, and Britain, France and Russia are fascinated with fabricating new animal species with their DNA and, well, biological technology. I think of them as being fascinated with making chimeras. The story has two main characters who meet around the halfway point of the novel: first is Prince Aleksander, the young heir to the Austria-Hungary Empire, whose parents are killed by the Germans and now he is on the run; the second is a fifteen year old girl named Deryn Sharp, a common Brit disguised as a boy in order to join the army. They meet when the two are stranded in Switzerland for different reasons and must work together despite being enemies in the war, in order to escape their situation.
I was extremely fascinated with this book. I’m no stranger to steampunk (hello, Final Fantasy VI) but I’ve never encountered the idea of using fabricated animals as part-machine war equipment. Was that hard to understand? Haha, well, besides your traditional chimera creatures like a part-tiger, part-wolf creatures, they also use animal DNA (or life strands, as they are called) to make things like the Leviathan. The Leviathan is the name of an airship. It is an entire eco-system of an airship. The main life strands used are those of a whale, followed by glow-worms in its membrane to keep it warm, fabricated birds and bees to gather food for the whale-creature which uses hydrogen to fly in the air … I know, it sounds all very confusing, but I promise the book does a way better job of explaining the concept than me. It also has pictures to help! (Lots of pretty pictures)!
So basically, Deryn and her British crew fly around in a giant floating whale as an airship! Haha, it sounds a bit silly, but it’s actually a really interesting idea.
This book was really fun to read from start to finish for me. Though it is a ‘young adult’ novel, I feel it’s more of a children’s book, personally. That’s not to say people of all ages can’t enjoy it though!
While I can’t really say I became attached to any of the characters (I did like them though, I just didn’t really like them enough to become attached), I did become attached to the world. It’s just so fascinating! Although the dust jacket lies a bit when it says Deryn and Alek go on an around-the-world adventure. No, they really didn’t … they were stuck in one country for the most part, haha. But I’m guessing they will do more traveling in the sequel(s)? I saw the sequel Behemoth at the library too, but I was being all cautious and didn’t want to take that out too in case I didn’t like Leviathan. In hindsight, I really wish I did because the book ends off on a bit of a cliff hanger, and I really want to find out what happens next!