I really enjoyed this book - probably because I have more than a passing interest in Japanese culture. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to knowI really enjoyed this book - probably because I have more than a passing interest in Japanese culture. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about Geisha having read Memoirs of a Geisha, and is really interested in this subculture. ...more
I didn't enjoy this book. There were too many attempted references to pop culture for me, and it somehow all seemed 'out of touch' with what being a tI didn't enjoy this book. There were too many attempted references to pop culture for me, and it somehow all seemed 'out of touch' with what being a teenager is like.
I did read to the end of this book, so it couldn't have been all bad, but it definitely wasn't all good either. I didn't engage properly with the main protagonist - I found her fairly irritating in fact, and a complete Mary-Sue with it.
Of course, there was the typical girl-gets-ripped-out-of-old-life and there are Vampyres (yes, spelt like that) and the stereotypical hunk. Of course, the girl also happens to be the school's outcase/underdog/whatever and gets dragged up by doing something awesome.
Basically, this book seemed to come out in the aftermath of Twilight, and it shows.
This book was okay, but nothing special, and I think Twilight fans would probably enjoy it....more
This review can originally be found on my blog Hey, Tara.
Given how much fantasy I read, it’s pretty surprising I haven’t touched this series until noThis review can originally be found on my blog Hey, Tara.
Given how much fantasy I read, it’s pretty surprising I haven’t touched this series until now. It’s one of those series I’ve wanted to read, and haven’t got round to, and now finally managed to borrow the first book off of The Bookish Ex, who assured me of how brilliant it is. I’m inclined to agree.
I’m going to admit, the first hundred or so pages seem to jump around a lot. They’re there to introduce the reader to the characters and to the world Sanderson has created, where a tyrannical ruler is in charge, and things like flowers don’t exist, because ash consistently falls. There’s a very strict cast system, with The Lord Ruler himself at the top, then his Inquisitors/Obligators, The Noble families, and then the skaa at the bottom.
In this world, magic is taken from metals. Those with ‘allomantic’ powers can ingest various metals, and the eleven metals give off different powers. A misting is an individual who can ‘burn’ one metal and use the power, and a full Mistborn can use all of the metals.
Kelsier is one f these Mistborn, and has an elaborate plan to free the skaa from their own oppression beneath this Lord Ruler, and start a rebellion. In the process, he recruits a crew of a criminals, all of whom are in on a very elaborate (and seemingly insane) plot. Vin is one of these criminals. She believes she is a common street skaa, however, she has been using her own allomantic powers for years without realizing what they truly are. This is explained by the fact that skaa don’t have alomancy – it’s something that the Nobility have, and the only way for skaa to have it is if half-noble-half-skaa children are born.
Basically, the story reads a bit like a coming of age for Vin, and a show of true heroics from Kelsier. However, the supporting cast of characters are interesting, and well written, and whilst the aforementioned first hundred pages begins to drag, the story quickly picks up and continues moving at a swift pace. I have to admit, I was quickly sucked into the world, and dinner has been made late on more than one occasion because I “just needed to finished this chapter”.
I liked the fact that this story takes the fantasy stereotype of the Ruler always being benign and good and turns it on its head – this is what happens when the wrong person is put in charge. Admittedly, everything else followed standard fantasy procedure, but to me, that doesn’t matter. There were enough twists and individual things to make this it’s own story – not least the fact that in this magic is derived from metal burning, which is a concept I haven’t seen elsewhere.
The plot is sufficiently convoluted and enjoyable, with twists and turns, and unlikely allegiances and survivals. There’s enough romance for my inner romantic, but it doesn’t overbear the story, and it’s not one of those “love conquers all” kinds of books, which was nice.
I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy read, and will definitely be reading the rest of the series soon. The only reason this isn’t getting the full five stars is because of the slight drag in the lead up to the story actually starting. However, it’s definitely worth pushing through that, because the story is just that good. ...more
This was the first Stephen King novel I read, and with the size of it, it was very much a challenge. However, once I got into the book, I thoroughly eThis was the first Stephen King novel I read, and with the size of it, it was very much a challenge. However, once I got into the book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is scary in the sense that it's what isn't seen that worries you, rather than what King actually describes.
Whilst the book may seem extremely long, it's worth the effort to read it....more
This book follows the story of Ludlow Fitch, a boy from The City, who runs away from his apparently awful parents, and ends up stowing away in a carriThis book follows the story of Ludlow Fitch, a boy from The City, who runs away from his apparently awful parents, and ends up stowing away in a carriage bound for the small hillside village of Pagus Parvus. Through a twist of fate, he ends up meeting Joe Zabbidou - a man whose profession is a 'Secret Pawnbroker', a job which entails listening to the woes and secrets of the villagers, and paying them for their troubles, all the while allowing them to sleep better at night, and subtly changing the course of things in the village for good.
This book, for me, was an easy read, probably because it's meant for readers younger than myself. However, I got given the book, and I thought I'd give it a go. The easiness of the language in this was actually fairly nice, making the book relaxing, and quick to get into. The curiosity of what secrets the villagers had kept me turning pages, and I finished the book relatively quickly.
I'd reccomend this book to anyone with a curiosity streak, and to anyone who enjoys YA fiction. Definitely worth a read....more
In secondary school, I studied Japanese as a language, and for one of the final exams I had to take, because I’m not from a Japanese background, I hadIn secondary school, I studied Japanese as a language, and for one of the final exams I had to take, because I’m not from a Japanese background, I had to spend an ample amount of time studying culture, otherwise the questions wouldn’t have made sense to me. Far from disliking this studying, I became fascinated with Asian culture, especially Japanese.
I’ve previously read books about Geisha, and I couldn’t quite leave this one on the shelf of the second hand bookshop where I found it.
Much like Liza Dalby’s Geisha this book is written by an author who has gone over to Japan, and seen the Geisha districts, giving a first hand experienced view of what they’re really like. However, one thing that was more prominent in this book than in the previous books on the subject I’ve read is that it focuses a lot on the history of Geisha, and how they are different from the predecessors, for example, the Courtesans and Concubines of Older times. For me, this was one of the more interesting parts of the book because I didn’t previously know about it.
The second half of the book deals with ‘modern’ Geisha, and discusses what’s happening in the Geisha world of the present day, admitting that numbers are in decline, and looking at what the reasons for this might be. Whilst this was interesting, previous works have been able to tell me that much, and it was nice to hear it from a European point of view rather than American (The comparisons were better for me, personally) it wasn’t anything new particularly.
For anyone interested in this subject, I’d definitely recommend this book. The author’s personal touches are nice – it has been criticized as being almost like a “how-to” guide for wannabe Geisha, but I don’t think that’s the case. For me it was a description of a vocation, by someone with a serious interest – more of a historical/anthropological work than anything else. It’s also accompanied by several pages of glossy photos, which help describe some of the things written about in the book, especially for Western audiences who may not have seen it before.
Overall, this book is informative, and adds nicely to the current literature on the subject. Definitely a good read for anyone with an interest in Japanese culture, or Geisha specifically. ...more
This review appears in its original format on my blog Hey, Tara.
I picked up this one because for some reason, the third book of the series is on my sThis review appears in its original format on my blog Hey, Tara.
I picked up this one because for some reason, the third book of the series is on my shelf (and has probably been there a fair while) but I’ve never actually read the rest of the series.
Basically, the story follows Aislinn, who is the chosen Queen of Keenan, the Summer King of the fairies. Of course, this leads to all sorts of situations wherein Keenan is pursuing Aislinn, though of course, it’s not as simple as it seems. Throw in the fact that Aislinn already has a love interest (Seth) and Beira, the evil Winter Queen, and you have this story.
Even before Keenan showed up, Aislinn has been able to see fairies. It’s an ability her Grandmother has, and her Mother clearly had before her. When you’re introduced to Aislinn, she has already accepted this, seeing as she’s had it all her life, and therefore isn’t freaked out by it.
However, due to the fact that these fairy sightings appear to be more frequent and malicious than usual, she shares her power with her would-be boyfriend, Seth. Who doesn’t freak out, or even really question it. Yeah, okay, this aspect of things bothered me a bit, I’m not going to lie – I mean, surely you’d be a bit bothered if the girl you like tells you she can see what are meant to be mythical creatures? But either way, Seth takes it in his stride, and helps Aislinn deal with them.
Now Seth himself… he’s definitely everything the 16-year-old Tara would have wanted in a boyfriend. He likes 90’s metal music, he has his own place, and he has piercings. Oh, and he’s intelligent and he sounds like a genuinely nice guy. Who can cook. Yeah, it’s a shame they don’t make Seth’s in the real world. Seth was definitely one of my favourite parts.
As for Keenan, aka Aislinn’s other love interest, well. Let’s just say that I kind of spent a lot of the time thinking that he should have a friend who loves Orange Soda. Anyone who grew up in the 90’s will probably get the reference, and it’s not that the name bothered me or anything, but that kept springing into my head at inopportune moments!
Aislinn, however, was fairly kick-ass throughout. She wasn’t a whiny teenage protagonist. I liked her. She took things in her stride (I’d have had massive freakouts given what she had to deal with) and grew into someone who could deal with the Summer King, having previously been scared of him, and could accept him, and her duty. Serious respect to the girl for the lack of tantrums and/or sulking. I definitely liked her.
I did enjoy the book, not exactly a favourite, but it was alright. I had fun reading it, and there were only a few things that bothered me, but not enough to ruin the story.
One thing I would say is that despite the language which would appeal to the younger teen, there’s a few sexual references and sexual themes throughout the book, and some of them surprised me because of it – however, it definitely kept me reading!
This is definitely one for fans of all-things-fairy, but for me, Kagawa’s The Iron King was much better. ...more
This review was originally posted in full here on my blog Hey Tara.
I admit, I waited for a long time before reading this, and the reason for that wasThis review was originally posted in full here on my blog Hey Tara.
I admit, I waited for a long time before reading this, and the reason for that was because I’d previously read The House of Night novels, and because both series are set in schools for young vampires, I was pretty worried they’d be similar. I know a lot of people liked the HoN novels, but I really, really didn’t.
Thankfully main protagonist, Rose, is nothing like Zoe. Well, very little. One of my favourite parts of the book was Rose herself – she’s a little bit nuts, and very protective, and reminded me very much of one of my good friends. But best of all, she’s well developed and consistent. Anyway, Rose is a Dhampir, or half-vampire, and therefore eligible to take a position as a guardian, who (you guessed it!) guards the Moroi, the ‘living’ vampires.
Moroi vampires are born as vampires, and whilst they do drink blood to survive, they don’t kill from those they drink from. Strigoi vampires turn that way mainly from draining their victims completely of blood, and are ‘dead’ vampires, unable to reproduce. However, they are stronger than their Moroi cousins, and therefore slowly wiping out the Moroi.
Basically the story is that Lissa, Rose’s Moroi best friend has had a lot of strange things happening to her, especially since returning to St Vladimir’s academy from a stint as an escapee. And Rose needs to protect her, as well as deal with high school politics and deal with their messy love lives. And catch up with everything she’s missed whilst ‘escaped’.
I liked the book a lot more than I’d hoped I might. As I’ve said, I liked Rose, and Lissa was a good character, and the supporting cast were interesting, varied, and most of all, distinguishable from each other. It’s all to easy to have very samey background characters in books, and that wasn’t the case in this. The story went along at a good pace, and there was quite a twist at the end, which I didn’t see coming. ...more
Firstly, I should point out that I’m really interested in Japan and Japanese culture, probably stemming from the fact that I studied Japanese from sec Firstly, I should point out that I’m really interested in Japan and Japanese culture, probably stemming from the fact that I studied Japanese from secondary school, and am currently semi fluent, despite having never been to the actual country myself. I’ve read work by Dalby before, but previously only non-fiction.
I found this book nestled in a local charity shop, and couldn’t resist. I have to admit, I didn’t realize this was a fiction novel until I got it home and read the blurb properly. That said, I was still interested. Upon beginning to read, I was transported back to Heian era Japan, which was described in amazing detail. It is obvious even to those not familiar with Dalby and her work that this work has been well researched, and the passion for this is obvious in the writing. I was pleasantly surprised that Dalby is as good a storyteller as she is at giving non-fiction information.
The writing in this book is beautiful, and the scenes described are done delicately and tangibly. One of my only criticisms is that the character of Murasaki is somewhat distant. You hear a lot of her descriptions of others, but you never really get a flavor of who she really is. I think that's to do with the style of writing as much as anything else, but it would have been nice to have more than that.
This really did appeal to me, and it was a nice escapist read, and I truly felt as though I’d been transported back to Heian era Japan. It was very detailed, and enjoyable, though I wouldn’t exactly call it a casual read.
I’d recommend this to anyone who has an interest in Japan on travel books, but I really wouldn’t call it a general read. ...more
This is a retelling of Arthurian legend as seen through the eyes of the women of the Arthurian world. The story covers a massive timeframe, from ArthuThis is a retelling of Arthurian legend as seen through the eyes of the women of the Arthurian world. The story covers a massive timeframe, from Arthur's father, Uther's, coming to the throne, and the events from then on.
Whilst this covers events thought to be historically accurate, there is a strong fantasy element to the book, including a lot of events on the island of Avalon, and the use of The Sight, which is described as a branch of religious sorcery reserved for the Preistesses of Avalon.
The most interesting point of this book is that it does not depict Morgaine (Morgan Le Fay in other tellings) as a villain, merely as someone who acted in the best interests of the country as she saw fit.
This is one of those books which appeals to a certain audience, and for me it was completely captivating, even the long length of the book not putting me off. I'd reccomend this to anyone with an interest in Arthurian legend, or in mythical fantasies. ...more
When I began reading this book, there was a lot of post Fight-Club-Movie hype around the author. I liked the way it almost teaches you something, andWhen I began reading this book, there was a lot of post Fight-Club-Movie hype around the author. I liked the way it almost teaches you something, and the hidden messages and metaphors.
This book, however, is not something I'd personally call a casual read. When trying to read it in public places where there are distractions, it is easy to miss key plot points. However, it could be argued that the subtlty is the beauty of this....more