After watching the Kick-Ass (again) and Kick-Ass 2 movies, I thought that I should check out the source material, and I'm really happy that I did. The...moreAfter watching the Kick-Ass (again) and Kick-Ass 2 movies, I thought that I should check out the source material, and I'm really happy that I did. The art here is excellent, and the story makes much more sense than what they used for the movie. I was surprised how different the stories were, even how sometimes the complete opposite thing happened from book to movie. I'd say that the story for the movie was definitely Hollywoodified, and in some ways they made the story better, but in others the comic book really shines in comparison. Overall, I really enjoyed this graphic novel, and I look forward to reading the sequels. (less)
This was a great debut novel, but personally I never really got into it, and consequentially this took me much longer to read than a book normally doe...moreThis was a great debut novel, but personally I never really got into it, and consequentially this took me much longer to read than a book normally does. It's still a great book, and I enjoyed reading it, I just didn't find it to be a real page turner. Part of the problem might have been that there really isn't much of an overarching story in this book and the world building was pretty slight, making the characters and flintlock action really the only things to grab a hold of. That being said, I did really like the two main viewpoint characters, and all of the supporting cast. One of them is a female soldier pretending to be a man, who by relatively random chance is promoted to lead a company of green soldiers. I probably liked her parts of the story the most, but at the same time a lot of the drama relied a bit too much on luck/fate. Still I really enjoyed all of the time spent with her. The other main character is the second in command of the army, and while I liked him, his parts were generally very slow. His viewpoint is needed for the reader to see the eccentric general (or whatever he's called) and some other plot agents that cause drama later in the book. The story of this book is essentially that a powerful country (France?) has colonized a far away continent (The Middle East?), though they work with the royalty of that country. However, at the start of this book there has been a very large rebellion fueled by religious fundamentalists/crazies and the occupying forces/Prince have fled to the coastline. In response the France analog (I believe) has sent an army of barely trained soldiers led by an eccentric genius general. What follows is essentially a war diary where the army trains and moves further and further inland fighting the rebels along the way. There really isn't any other story in the book, other than character drama and a few comments about stuff that's going on back home and what will probably be the story for the sequels in this series.
What's very different about the action in this book is that the viewpoint characters are commanders, meaning that they generally only direct the soldiers, unless things are going very wrong. The flintlock rifles and bayonets also make for very different action from what I'm used to. To make this even more different from the average fantasy novel, there is very little world building for almost the whole book, and while magic is mentioned as a possibility, it really doesn't come into play until the last chapters. To me, this works and I did really enjoy what's there, but it just took me a while to get through all of it. This book was a very high 4 stars for me, and I would recommend it, especially for fantasy fans looking for something different. I'll be picking up the sequel when it comes out, but I just hope it's a little more exciting, and honestly it'll probably be very different since it'd be tough to replicate the journey of A Thousand Names.(less)
I really enjoyed reading this book, but at the same time there just wasn't as much story and character development as I usually like in my favorite bo...moreI really enjoyed reading this book, but at the same time there just wasn't as much story and character development as I usually like in my favorite books. It definitely feels like a story that people could go over and over about what everything actually means, but personally that not what I love to do when I read for entertainment. For the world building here, it's actually pretty lacking, everything is just handwaving, and none of it really makes sense, although it is very imaginative. The writing is incredibly visual and masterful, with the story strongly reminding me of Ghibli Studio's anime films. This book is very short, I would personally consider it a novella, instead of a full book, but is a lot of book within the covers. I would recommend this book, but not strongly. I can see why people would absolutely love it, but for me, it was just a little lacking. (less)
I read this book after I finished a reread of one of my favorite series, as I knew it would probably be an easy and entertaining read, and I was defin...moreI read this book after I finished a reread of one of my favorite series, as I knew it would probably be an easy and entertaining read, and I was definitely right. I just really enjoyed the book, blasting through it in about 3 days, as this is a real page turner. I loved the character of Reacher, especially how badass and efficient he is, along with a lot of other idiosyncrasies the character has that makes him very unique. My only small problems I found with the book were that there was a lot of unlikely coincidences that came into play throughout the story, the set up for the finale was a little predictable, and the novel felt it's age. Out of those three, the worst is probably how much the novel felt its age, as parts of the story feel very odd (where only one person who's really rich has a "mobile phone") including the main conspiracy this story is based around, as it just wouldn't work in today's world. Still, I really loved this book, and I plan to read more of them, although it's really annoying that 20 year old books are priced so highly, especially with the ebook higher than the paperback. I might just end up loaning them from the library, unless the books are still on sale at target (that's where I bought this one when the Reacher movie came out as they had them on sale).(less)
I really enjoyed this book, and it's almost a five star rating, but it just isn't quite as good as the first book. To me, And Blue Skies... suffers fr...moreI really enjoyed this book, and it's almost a five star rating, but it just isn't quite as good as the first book. To me, And Blue Skies... suffers from the Book-Two-of-a-Trilogy syndrome, where there isn't an exact beginning middle & end, the unresolved problems from the first book are resolved without any new ones really being added with the main character going through an evolution where he'll be ready for whatever happens in the finale of the trilogy, and the drama of the story just isn't as strong or enthralling as the first (and probably third book). That being said, this is far from a bad book, as I loved it while reading it, but once I was done I was just a little let down. I felt like Liam was a little too whiny in this book (although the psychology of what would happen if a shapeshifter's first change is brought upon by a brutal rape is very interesting and realistic), especially when he keeps going on about how he's a pacifist now, but then right after he keeps fighting people and getting injured over and over. It's also too bad that there wasn't a great villain in the sequel, as the only ones we see are the heavily foreshadowed broken toothed half-demon (there was some cool stuff here with the priest, but I thought that the scene could have been pulled off a little better to make it more powerful) and some big demon that's introduced and defeated near the end of the book in a few pages. I enjoyed the heist portion of this book, but it was kind of odd where how it turned out was pretty confusing (as it was a bust but there were also demons involved and the leader of the small group of IRA provs seemed to have something going on that wasn't really explained). I also enjoyed the bits in the Faerie Twilight realm, where Liam went through a further coming of age, but at the same time I wish that there had been more of it, and some of the world building could be a little confusing (possibly because I don't know too much about the Irish Faery Tales). There's also some more Urban Fantasy stuff, where Liam found an underground Punk Culture where there are other half-bloods, but again I wish there was more of it. Also, the Connor wizard character was cool, but he wasn't developed enough, and he almost felt like a forced character of convenience that comes in and gives magical gifts to the the main character and provides help in the final battle out of nowhere. The writing was again very well done in this book, it's a real page turner and I really want to read another novel from the author (though now I'll have to wait, possibly for awhile).
Overall, I would definitely recommend reading this book if you've read the first novel, but I wouldn't start with this one as you would be completely lost. The world Stina Leicht created in this series of books is very original and entertaining, with the characters inhabiting it being very realistic and endearing/frustrating. (less)
First let me comment about the actual book, which is beautiful, with a great cover and a nice cloth binding underneath. The pages are thick, and in ge...moreFirst let me comment about the actual book, which is beautiful, with a great cover and a nice cloth binding underneath. The pages are thick, and in general the book is just of great quality, there are two pictures, but I kind of wish there were either more pictures within the book or none at all. For the story itself, it is very different from Hobb's normal style, as it almost reads like a friend telling you their horrible life story (if your friend was a great storyteller). On one hand, I really appreciated this different style, where the viewpoint character is writing a true history for the future generations to correct all of the horrible lies and rumors. However, I felt like this style of story telling removed a lot of the emotion from the story. I think that if Hobb had written this like her normal books, it could have been a whole huge novel, instead of just a novella. Still, I loved reading this, and it gives a great background on why the Wit is is such a despised ability in the Fitz & Fool trilogies. I could never understand why so many people viewed this amazing ability to commune and bond with animals as evil, and the truth told within The Willful Princess and The Piebald Prince completely explains it in a way that rings true even in our own world. History is told by the victor, and that is shown to horrible effect here. I will say though, that this book does contain a lot of what Hobb is known for, which is the torturing of her main characters, and while it does ring true here, it's horrible what happened to the various people in this story, whom probably could have all been heroes if the situations had been different. Since this is a prequel and only a novella, it's too bad that there is no happy ending at the end to make up for all of the suffering like in her other series. There is a little bit of an awesome ending that put a big grin on my face, but I still kind of wish that things had been different, although that would mean Fitz's story would have probably been different. The one thing that would make this story better in my mind, is that the reason we're reading it is that it has been found in Hobb's world, and perhaps the Witted people could possibly have a brighter future.
Overall, again I loved this novella, and I would recommend it to anyone that's a fan of all of Robin Hobb's books. However, if you haven't read any of her books, this is not a good place to start, and I'd advise that you'd either read Assassin's Apprentice of Ship of Magic.(less)
I really enjoyed this book while I was reading it, but once it was done I just found it to be a bit underwhelming, which is something I'd never say ab...moreI really enjoyed this book while I was reading it, but once it was done I just found it to be a bit underwhelming, which is something I'd never say about any of Robin Hobb's other trilogy endings. The writing is classic Hobb, where it is incredibly enjoyable to read and all of the characters are completely unique and entertaining. There's also a bit of character torture going on here, but it's really only one character, as all of the other good main characters have it pretty easy in Blood of Dragons (which is surprising considering Hobb's track record). The one thing I didn't love about the character development (everything else was great) was that Hobb had a strong tendency in this book to pair up all of the human and dragon characters together like a matchmaker. I'm sure that it's bound to happen when a group of young people (and dragons) go on an adventure and start a new settlement, but it felt a little forced at times.
The story for Blood of Dragons is pretty basic, where the dragons and new elderlings continue to grow/change and they have to deal with the threat to all dragonkind from Chalced. That's basically it beyond all of the different character interactions and development. I expected a bigger climax from the confrontation with Chalced, but because of the chosen viewpoints and the style of storytelling for this section, which mostly occurs with a character recollecting what happened at a later date, it was just a bit of a letdown. Still, the events in this book have really changed the world, and the future books by Robin Hobb could be very interesting.
If you've read the previous books in The Rain Wilds Series, you should definitely read The Blood of Dragons, as it does pretty nicely tie all of the different plotlines in a knot. However, I'd defintely advise a new reader to start with Hobb's Farseer or Liveship Trilogies.(less)
This was a really cool short story, although I wish that it had been a little longer. The concept here is really interesting, taking faeries and makin...moreThis was a really cool short story, although I wish that it had been a little longer. The concept here is really interesting, taking faeries and making something new from them, Piskies (or something like that). The idea of using words like Coins when talking to the creatures, and the consequences for mismanaging your money/words was really interesting. The story was too short to really establish any characters other than the main viewpoint character, and even she was inconsistent. She generally comes off as an intelligent, confident, strong woman, but her actions that were the impetus for the climax of the story were really goofy and seemingly out of character. Still, the result of it was entertaining and suspenseful, and I enjoyed the ending, even though their survival after the story ends was still in question depending of different factors out of their control. I really liked the illustrations that accompanied the story, as they are very well done and helped with my visualization of the faery like creatures. I will mention though, that this story is not apparently set in either of Robin Hobb's worlds from what I could tell (even though the description says that it is), something I didn't know before reading it. Still, I would recommend Words Like Coins, it's a quick, fun, interesting little read.(less)
I absolutely loved this book, so much so that I’d probably consider it my favorite book I’ve read so far this year. I’m not sure I liked it quite as m...moreI absolutely loved this book, so much so that I’d probably consider it my favorite book I’ve read so far this year. I’m not sure I liked it quite as much as the original First Law Trilogy, but I think that this is my favorite of the standalone books from Joe Abercrombie. I loved the setting inspired classic Westerns, especially since it’s in the First Law world with multiple returning characters. Perhaps because of it being a Spaghetti Western Fantasy Adventure Novel, there really isn’t anything magical or fantastical in Red Country, other than a very brief cameo from a Wizard that I believe was in one of the previous stories. In fact, this book could probably be placed in the Western section, if it wasn’t for the presence of swords instead of bowie knives, cross-bows instead of six-shooters, and the fact that it takes place in a secondary world, not the western United States. This book is instead driven by the wonderful original characters, excellent writing, and the rather simple but heart wrenching powerful story. I really only had two problems with Red Country, the first is just the basic formatting, where for some reason in his books all of the quotes only have one apostrophe instead of the normal two. It really took me awhile to get used to it, and until then the flow of my reading was effected, especially with some of the vernacular using apostrophes and having some of the viewpoint character’s thoughts following right after someone else’s comment. My other problem with the book isn’t exactly a problem as it leads to some of my favorite scenes in the book, but in a fantasy book that’s more realistic/gritty, the extreme amount of coincidences that fuel the story and interactions are a bit problematic. I’d say that it almost borders on being driving solely by Fate or Prophecy, even though that doesn’t seem to be part of the story/world-building. I just found that the way everything falls perfectly into the place (sometimes horribly) at exactly the right moment to be a little odd, and it occasionally took me a little out of the story, it also made some of the outcomes of the story slightly predictable.
If you look solely at Red Country, the world building is very slim. This is great for the long-term reader/fan of Abercrombie’s books as there isn’t any retread as the author tries to provide an info-dump to attempt to catch every reader up (new and old), but it’s also great for a new reader as there really isn’t anything they would need to know other than what’s outlined at the beginning of the book. Basically, the western part of the continent is starting to be repopulated, partly by settlers looking for a new life, but mostly by people betting their lives on finding gold along with other people waiting to prey on them. Things are further complicated by the presence of savages (Indians) unhappy with the incursion of civilization and the two super-powers of the world (The Union and the Empire) hoping to lay claim on this fertile newish land. There are multiple main characters with interweaving stories, but the main driving storyline is initiated by the rampant kidnapping of children and the murder of anyone else that gets in their way. The child thieves happen to steal the wrong pair of children, as their older sister and step-father (whose pasts are riddled with bloodshed) will stubbornly follow them to the ends of the earth. This part of the story, especially near the beginning, is immensely powerful as they follow the bloody trail of the kidnappers, cleaning up the messes they made by burying all of the bodies they find, praying that the next body they turn around won’t be one of their kids. After a bit, they group up with a wagon trail, and the story slows down a bit, but I still really loved the section as it evolved the characters and really increased the Western feel of the story. The other storyline in Red Country focuses on a mercenary company that’s been sent by the Union to oust all of hiding rebels and bring the territory under Union control. Sadly, whenever you throw a couple hundred blood thirsty warriors at a problem, it tends to end in bloodshed along with rampant pillaging. The time with the mercenaries was entertaining, but it wasn’t as good as the main story, however it does introduce an excellent and completely original viewpoint character in the Merc Company’s Lawyer/Jack-of-all-trades. I won’t go into any more depth in regards to the story to avoid spoilers, but I will say that I loved it, and while the ending is far from perfect it was still very enjoyable and expertly crafted.
The writing in this book is superb, and I really don’t have anything to complain about. The flow of the writing is great, with the book being a real page turner, although occasionally an expertly written scene or line would break me out of the flow where I was forced take time to recognize its majesty. There are a few odd choices made with the name of the characters though. I won’t describe who exactly I’m talking about as it would be a spoiler, but there are a few returning characters whose true names are never spoken. Some of them are smaller, and this caused me to not exactly remember them, but another is huge, and even when who he is was made abundantly clear, it was odd that his name was never actually said. By the way, for anyone that had previously read Abercrombie’s books but wasn’t sure about picking up Red Country, the presence of this awesome character is enough by itself to warrant a purchase and read-through of the book. The action here is very well written, but it was a bit odd that none of the main viewpoint characters were really the heroes/fighters in the story; I mean they still take part in the battles but it’s usually in more of a secondary capacity. Abercrombie does a really interesting thing every once in a while, where for an important event there will be multiple rotating viewpoints to get different angles/opinions on the unfolding event. It could be a little jarring since for most of the book the reader is riding along with one character per chapter and there aren’t many main viewpoints, but I still really enjoyed the change in pace this writing tactic created. Those viewpoint characters are amazingly original and well written, and the only other author that I’ve seen come close to having such completely different characters (especially if you include Abercrombie’s previous books) is George R.R. Martin. The voice really feels completely different between the characters, and to me they have to be so unlike the author that I find it amazing that he can make them so real and believable.
So overall, I would strongly recommend this book to anyone that likes to read, whether they’re fantasy fans or are new to the genre, whether they’ve read the previous books from Joe Abercrombie or are new to his masterpieces. I will say that if you’ve read his previous books, you will get a lot more out of Red Country, but it just improves the reading experience, and I don’t think it would harm the quality of the story for a new reader. It may also provide an interesting experience if the reader goes back and starts the First Law Trilogy, as they can see younger versions of some of the characters in action. I simply loved reading this book, so much so that I was kind of sad when I was done, especially since I know it could potentially be awhile before I can read a new book in this world. (less)
This was a cool short little story, and it had a crazy little idea, however I expected a bigger ending/climax. I loved the crazy flaming cat aspect of...moreThis was a cool short little story, and it had a crazy little idea, however I expected a bigger ending/climax. I loved the crazy flaming cat aspect of the story, and the writing is classic Palahniuk, but the hotel room setting and the blind child that won't speak to her over the phone (along with the weird call to the neighbor) made me think even more was going on. In the end it's just a story of a cold-hearted bitch and some insurance fraud, really nothing more. That's fine, but I assumed that there was a build up to something crazier happening in the present possibly with the main characters blind daughter, instead of just a story about what happened previously.(less)
My experience with this book was a little different, as my Dad had an emergency that sent him into the hospital, so I started and read most of this bo...moreMy experience with this book was a little different, as my Dad had an emergency that sent him into the hospital, so I started and read most of this book in one long day in waiting rooms. I then finished the book in the next day or so in a hospital room. It was an odd way to read a book, as I usually take around a week to read an average book, instead of ingesting it in one day when my psyche was probably a little messed up. Still, however my experience affected it, I really loved this book. There's nothing absolutely amazing about it, it's far from a masterpiece, but I just found it to be a very enjoyable light fantasy book.
The world of Exile seems to be very different from our world, as there are seven moons (Eyes) and the culture doesn't have anything too similar to our past. There are Gods in this book, and they do play a part in the story, but as a whole they don't seem to have too much influence on the world other than telling their chosen representatives what to do (specifically the main character). There is magic, but it's not too well described. Although there may be more of it in the world, all that we see derives its power from death. One of the main characters is essentially a version of a Necromancer, where many spirits of the dead inhabit him and they can control them. Also, they can apparently separate various objects out of thin air, and the more powerful ones can throw out some basic destructive magic. There's also two other magical species, one of which controls nature (and can stop time) and the other seems to focus on healing magic. If I'm being honest, the world building was probably the weakest part of the book, it's all very light, and when it drys to go deeper it wasn't very believable. Still, the setting allowed the author to write about some entertaining characters and a good story.
I liked all of the characters, especially the main viewpoint character Draken. He is a Royal Bastard and honored general for his cousin the King. However, before the beginning of the book his wife is brutally murdered and the only suspect is Draken, resulting in him being Exiled for a crime he didn't commit. When he arrives at the new continent, the home of the people he'd spent much of his life warring against, he immediately meets up with a Necromancer Prince and his half faery-ish (I forget what they're called) assistant. The relationship between the three of them is very different, but I really liked it, possibly because I haven't read anything quite like it. There is a love interest with the Queen of the new country he's exiled too, and while I liked her character a lot, how the author put them together felt a little forced (though some of that is explained near the end). Her character, even though she's off-stage for most of the book is very complex, and I really liked her combination of strength and vulnerability. I loved the bit where Draken is linked up with the soul/ghost of a dead master swordsman because his skill with the sword is lacking. The interplay between the two of them in the main character's head, fighting for control of the body at times, was just really interesting and actually believable (even though it's so unbelievable in theory), I just love how the author pulled it off. There's also another character that starts off antagonistic to Draken, but by the end they were essentially best friends. That's really my favorite part of the book, all of the characters greatly evolve within the story, and all of the growth is very well done, it seems real and not forced. The villains are also very well done in this book, but I won't go into too much depth on them as there are some big plot twists involving them. I will say that the ultimate enemy's back-story and motive for his actions was a little forced and not fully explained, but it was interesting and provided for a very interesting (if predictable) climax for the story.
The story of Exile is very enjoyable, but my biggest problem with it was that it seemed too random and perfect. To me, it came off like the author heavily outlined the story and wrote around it to fill all of the plot-points out. It really resembled books that rely a lot on prophecy/destiny, yet the story didn't have much of either, even when the Gods were involved, it seemed more like they just had a plan that they wanted Draken to follow if possible. All of the seemingly random events are essentially explained at the climax of the story, but I still found it a bit unbelievable. There were multiple different plans going on throughout the story that were all designed and implemented by different people, yet they all interacted perfectly with each other until they crashed together at the end. There are a lot of plot twists in the book, but I personally figured out all of them (if not perfectly) most likely earlier than I was supposed to. A lot of the things were predictable to me, but when the twists actually occurred, I really enjoyed the impacts they had. Overall, the story wasn't perfect, but I did really like it, as long as I didn't spend too much time ruminating on all of the random coincidences that filled the pages.
So in the end, while Exile isn't ever going to be a critic darling or a bestseller, it's a really fun and entertaining light fantasy romp that I would definitely recommend. (less)