Book number 30 in my 2012 Reading Challenge of 50 books is Wasteland by Mur Lafferty. Wasteland is the fourth installment of Mur Lafferty's Afterlife...moreBook number 30 in my 2012 Reading Challenge of 50 books is Wasteland by Mur Lafferty. Wasteland is the fourth installment of Mur Lafferty's Afterlife Series
In Wasteland, Kate and Daniel find themselves exploring what they believe is the "Wasteland", after being exiled from Heaven and Hell. Instead, they realize that they have been (view spoiler)[ placed there to explore their newly created Earth: Earth #3, Imari. The first Earth (as we know it today) and the second Earth (created by Kate by her blood and tears) has been destroyed. As they wander through Imari, Kate meets newly created gods and believes that their purpose is to use this Earth to save and rebuild the other two. With a completely different crew, Kate and Daniel sail way to Meridian and beyond. (hide spoiler)]
The story of Kate and Daniel has grown to be more than expected! Originating from a story about two best friends who were to explore the different afterlives, Wasteland ventures into un-chartered terrain with flying zepplins, levitating cities and different types of dark matter and chaos. Through the progression of four books (Heaven to Wasteland), we witness a fantasy novel evolve into a sci-fi novella. And this is the Mur Lafferty whom we have come to know now through her current novels and podio broadcasts --whimsical, quirky, and so full of ideas that it is sometimes difficult to follow. As much as we see the characters change, we also see the change in Lafferty as a writer.
I must admit that it is not one of my favourite books as I found the story to change too drastically for my liking, but perhaps that is something that is of usual practice when it comes to podiobooks, which are narrated, as opposed to physical books.
Altogether, I am rating the novella, Wasteland, 2.5 out of 5 stars. It was enjoyable and fun as a stand alone but left me confused at times when I though about the bigger picture. Next up is the fifth and last installment to Mur Laffery's Afterlife Series: War. I am intrigued to see how all of the four previous books come together and wrap up. I have been waiting to get to this point for several years. It should be epic!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Graceling by Kristin Cashore in book number 33 in my 2012 Reading Challenge of 50 books. Graceling is also the first installment of the trilogy, The S...moreGraceling by Kristin Cashore in book number 33 in my 2012 Reading Challenge of 50 books. Graceling is also the first installment of the trilogy, The Seven Kingdoms, otherwise known as Graceling Realm.
I began Cashore's series four years ago, in 2008 after noticing Graceling's beautiful and enticing cover at the bookstore. I picked it up not knowing too much about the book --a heroine, swords, fighting and a big adventure. That was enough to win me over to make the purchase. However, no one had warned me that opening this book would be like opening a new world of chaos, tension and addiction --in a good way, of course.
The novel Graceling tells the tale of a graced fighter named Katsa --a spry, intelligent and agile young woman with quick temper and an even quicker backhand.
NOTE:Gracelings are people, who as infants or toddlers begin having a shift in their eye colour. One eye will be a diffirent colour than the other, meaning that the individual is graced. Overtime, one will learn about their grace. Being graced means that you are naturally skilled in a particular task or field, for example: baking, swimming, or survival, like Katsa. The possibilities are endless. At time, one may be graced in something very specific and/or silly like, spitting water with targeted aim and with superb range. Other times, one may not learn of their grace until they are older or ever.
But back to our story: one would imagine that being the niece of a king would prove to be an easy life; however, Gracelings are not treated the same as normal people. In some kingdoms, Gracelings are revered and highly praised, and in others, they are feared, outcasted and even treated as property. Unfortunately for Lady Katsa, her uncle, King Randa of the Middluns, has claimed possession over her after learning that Katsa was graced with fighting. Using Katsa's grace and Katsa as his dog, King Randa is able to control everyone in his kingdom with an iron fist. Very quickly, the Lady Katsa became known as the Lady Killer. If there was ever a thing that he disagreed with, Katsa was sent out as a henchmen to claim property, heads, body parts, and monetary gifts in the name of the king. That is, until the day that Katsa chose to rebel, forcing her to leave her dear friends and cousin Raffin at court. On her adventures with the Lienid Prince, Po, Katsa continues to cause chaos in the Seven Kingdoms. However, she does so in the name of justice and as part of a council, which she has secretly devised. The Council is dedicated to upholding proper justice in the kingdoms. They fight for the people and sometimes against the monarchs who have turned against their people. The once, Lady Killer, becomes a savior to those who are most in need of her help. And thus, begins the adventure of Katsa, the Graceling.
One of the most endearing things about Graceling has to be Katsa herself. Although she is graced as a fighter, Katsa is still learning much about herself, her beliefs and where she stands in the world. With her oppressive past, Katsa is conflicted when she begins to form new bonds and friendships with others, particularly men. In her newfound friendships, she rebels against the idea of having a man own her as King Randa had once done. But with Po, Katsa slowly learns that the world isn't painted in black and white and neither are her relationships. Forming new bonds and growing out of her naive state, Katsa begins new adventures: (view spoiler)[she must now leave the one who she has learned to trust in order to save a girl who she has just met --Bitterblue. (hide spoiler)]. This adventure is definitely one that needs to be read and shared.
This year, I have reread Graceling and have learned that old stories can truly feel like new. I had forgotten most of the narrative and re-reading this book was such a thrill. Once again, I found myself falling in love with both Katsa and Po. As the characters journeyed through kingdoms, dove through icy lakes, crossed frigid mountain overpasses and experienced sea sickness as stowaways, I found myself present with them, envisioning the entire adventure as they went. Cashore does an amazing job in painting a vivid picture of her created kingdoms and characters. There are so many layers in Graceling's narrative, characters and setting. Of all the books which I have had the pleasure in reading (and rereading), Katsa has easily made it to my list of favourite characters/heroines. Beautiful, bold and brave, Katsa is definitely one to be beat (by those in her own books and those in other books.)
Overall, I am rating Graceling 5 stars out of 5 stars. If there was a possibility to give this book more stars or a higher rating, I would. It is easily one of my favourite adventures. The hand-drawn maps are also neat, easy to follow/imagine and very much appreciated. It was an A+ book when I had first read it and was an A+ book when I read it a second time. The only critcism I would have to make would be against the author. Kristin Cashore has a beautiful grace in writing and in painting vivid pictures through her words. She is definitely not graced with writing with speed. I fell in love so hard and so fast, that I needed my fix just as fast, and is was difficult to get that fix since Cashore spends a lot of time writing and perfecting her books. Cashore's books are always top grade quality in all characteristics, but I just wish that it was completed and released sooner. She's too wonderful of a writer to hold back.
I must also add that overtime, I have owned three different copies of this book. My first was a soft cover, which has now been given and shared with my best friend. The second is the hard cover. The third is a hard cover, signed by Kristin Cashore. It was given to me by my husband for our first wedding anniversary (the paper anniversary). I was so thrilled to receive it.
But there you have it! 5 of 5 stars --a perfect score! Stay tuned for my next review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. Bitterblue is the third and final installment of Cashore's The Seven Kingdoms series.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Book number 42 in my 2012 Reading Challenge of 50 Books is Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas. Dream Lake is the third installment to the Friday Harbor series...moreBook number 42 in my 2012 Reading Challenge of 50 Books is Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas. Dream Lake is the third installment to the Friday Harbor series.
Dream Lake primarily follows the love and love losses of Alex Nolan and Zoe Hoffman. As two individuals struggle to regain stable footing after their divorces from their first spouses, Alex and Zoe journey to learn more about each other and fill the void left by love loss. The narrative of Dream Lake takes place simultaneously to Sam and Lucy’s story in Rainshadow Road and explores many stages of love, insecurity, self-preservation and the relinquishing of control on many levels through many characters.
Visited in the previous Friday Harbor novels, we know that Alex is the youngest brother and possibly the most unstable of the Nolan brothers. Scarred from memories of his alcoholic parents, Alex found himself in marriage to Darcy, which ended disastrously. Through his quick first marriage, Alex experienced nothing but spite and convenience as they were just two selfish people married to one another, with no real plans for each other in their lives. Alex’s marriage to Darcy only last a couple years but within that time and after, Alex’s adapted drinking habits worsened. After the divorce, Darcy took everything from Alex. She had reaped him of all of his financial earnings and unfortunately, his contracting business fell through at the same time. It was only a matter of time until Zoe would step into his life.
We also met Zoe in previous novels –cousin to Justine and one of Lucy’s best friends, Zoe is a kind, naïve and optimistic woman. She shares a business at the inn with Justine as the cook and creative vision. Also coming from a divorce, Zoe has always found herself a little insecure despite the perfect personality and physical appearance. Having married her best friend from high school, it was a shock when her husband Chris asked for a divorce. It was a further shock to Zoe after learning it was due to an affair he had with another man at the office and Chris discovered that he was gay. Soon after, she moved in with Justine and began their business at Artist’s Point. When Zoe finds out that her grandmother is ailing from dementia, Zoe, with the help of Justine, renovate her grandmother’s cottage at Dream Lake. And who better to call than Alex Nolan?
Dream Lake divulges in many complexities of the realities of love in life. It explores the distraught and disgruntled baggage through Alex Nolan, the blind and sheer optimism through Zoe Hoffman, the invisibility and mysterious longing through Tom Findlay (the ghost of Emmaline’s lover), and the nostalgia and the clinging to of memories by Emmaline Hoffman (Zoe’s grandmother). In addition, we learn about Sam and Lucy, Justine, and Mark, Maggie and Holly. All characters presented some complication and baggage in their relationships and clearly, each character dealt with it in his or her own manner. As a reader, I found myself nervous and treading lightly. I have come to learn many of these characters on such an intimate level that even their own friends and family didn’t know them. It was almost embarrassing as if I had just walked into a room at the wrong time. The experience of reading Dream Lake was beautiful, unsettling and sometimes heart-wrenching. Overall, I am rating Dream Lake 4.5 stars out 5 stars. I really enjoyed reading it and in fact, have such a difficult time reviewing it and explaining it because I am still trying to wrap my head around it.
Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas is the fourth installment to the Wallflowers series and is the book #14 to my 50 book challenge for this year, 2012....moreScandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas is the fourth installment to the Wallflowers series and is the book #14 to my 50 book challenge for this year, 2012.
It is with much sadness that I admit that this book is the end of another series which I have grown to love and enjoy, surprisingly to me since historic romances are usually not my genre of choice. However, I felt with each passing and completed novel within this series, I have become more and more attached to the fictional characters residing within them. Kleypas has definitely invested much thought and effort into this series as I came to love characters which I had once loathed; and all of these emotions and character relations flowing with such a natural ease. This series was such a departure from my very selective and particular taste; however, I leave the series with an openness to read another historical romance, even if it is not by Lisa Kleypas.
Within the entire series, we were able to view the challenges, adventures, heartbreaks and unexpected love finds of Annabelle Peyton (Secrets of a Summer Night), Lillian Bowman (It Happened One Autumn), Evangeline Jenners (Denvil in WInter), and Daisy Bowman (Scandal in Spring) in the 19th century where traditions and proprieties were very unlike the culture which exist in North America and England as they do today. As the four women --all descending from different backgrounds-- stress over the fate of being an unwed spinster, they find solace in one another and their newfound friendship, naming themselves the Wallflowers and assisting each other in a "husband hunt", which was quite taboo for that day and age.
Throughout their searches of a perfect husband, all four women find themselves undergoing an adventurous journey which at times left them near dead, in compromising situations, or doing the unthinkable. All adventures had their own balance of winding narratives, sense of wit and humour and of course a thrill and chest ache that authors so seldom accomplish several books in a row. Personally, my favourites had to be It Happened One Autumn and Devil in Winter as there was so much depth and un-expectancies to the narratives and characters as well as a change of pace.
Scandal in Spring, of course, focuses on the youngest of the Wallflowers, Daisy Bowman, who is given an ultimatum by her father: marry Matthew Swift. After spending two years in England, Bowman and his wife become very eager to return back to America after what they feel was a very difficult and trying visit as they were only able to find suitable prospects for one of their daughters. Being the dreamer that Daisy is, Bowman feels that it is absolutely necessary to arrange a marriage for Daisy, whether she agrees or not, to Matthew Swift. The name Swift originating from a well-respectable New England (Boston) family leaves Bowman with the decision this man --who practices formal and polite behaviours-- is the perfect man to continue his soap business once he is to retire. As the other three wallflowers settle into the ease of their married lives, Daisy begins to worry that she will never be able to attain the same blissful love relationships as her friends. As she constantly runs into Matthew, Daisy finds herself regularly conflicted with his ways as well as her physical attraction to him. And of course, all in due time, Daisy is eventually swept away into the arms of Matthew Swift, until she realizes he is not Matthew Swift at all and his last name was just a name which he had adapted to escape his former life.
Similar to Kleypas' prior books, Scandal in the Spring throws the reader into an unexpected adventure as they are currently in the middle of one. These books are very difficult to put down and as one grows to really learn the characters, their virtues and their faults, one cannot help but root for them, no matter how impossible the bearings may seem.
For the overall series, I give it a 5 out of 5. I never believed that I would continue the rest of the series since the first one didn't quite agree with me. However, I am very glad that I trudged on because by the end, I found myself loving the Wallflowers as well as their families and friends as if they weren't fictional characters at all. For Scandal in Spring I am giving it a 4 out of 5. It was still a very good book but it did not tempt me in the same manner as the previous books and I have a good hunch on why what may be: the first book took quite some time to establish the entire backdrop of the Wallflowers and their situation and similarly, this last book took quite some time to conclude the era of the Wallflowers, whereas the second and third installments had more time and space dedicated to the specific characters with needing to balance the general Wallflower narrative. I still very much enjoyed the book and am sad to part ways. However, I discovered that there was a spin-off entitled Wallflower Christmas which is a shorter tale of one of the Bowman brothers. It may not be of the same caliber but I will definitely have to check it out so I could have at least tackled the entire collection.
But, there you have it!
Wallflower Series: 5/5
Scandal in Spring: 4/5
The next book lined up for my 50 Book Challenge is Another Piece of my Heart by Jane Green, which was given to me courtesy of St. Martin's Press. I am very excited to begin reading it for review. It should be a week or two before the review is up :)(less)