Archive for ‘fantasy’

August 7, 2012

Happy Pub Day Throne of Glass!

Originally called Queen of Glass, this book became wildly popular on fictionpress.com, a website I started using when I was in middle school. I officially joined the site in 2005, and shortly thereafter the story was suggested to me by another author. At the time it still had under a hundred chapters; she had just finished the first book, and the start of the second was online. It was amazing; I read it when I was home, and on my phone, I printed out pages and pages of it so I could pretend like I was doing work, and read it instead, and I did that until 2007 when S.J. Maas finished the series.The worst part, was waiting. Each chapter was published months apart, so I would reread the entire book just so I could remember where the characters left off. In Ardalan, Maas created a world that was so much like our own, but also starkly different. From the descriptions of war, pain, slavery, and heartache; to the beauty and regality of nature and magic. I honestly couldn’t believe that someone who was my age could write that way. It also made me realize something about myself. I wanted to write. Forever, for a living, for a meager postage stamp wage, or even for nothing. I wanted to write. So you can see why I have been following Ms. Maas’ progress with her amazing series. Right?

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of Ardalan and its famous assassin since she took the series off the web in 2008, and today I finally got to read the book that I’ve been waiting for, for four years. Now I’ll actually tell you what’s it about.

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined –Goodreads

Celaena is one of my favorite heroines; she’s blunt, sassy, sarcastic, a bookworm, and a full on badass. Her character is strong; she survived so much before the book starts (check out the Throne of Glass Novellas on Maas’ Goodreads Page) but she’s still a totally normal teenage girl, and it makes her super relatable. Some of my favorite parts in the novel are her quick attachment to Fleetfoot, and her candy freakout, because dogs and candy are two of my favorite things. In addition to the totally normal teen girl-ness of her character. Celaena is, as previously mentioned, a bad-ass. As in full on BAMF. She’s an assassin, so her fighting skills are superb and the scenes in which she fights her competitors gave me an adrenaline rush.

However, this is a fantasy novel first and foremost, and unlike the original draft of the story, the fantasy is much more clearly outlined. The King of Ardalan is known for his cruelty as well as for banishing magic under his rule, the magic seemed to bend to his will by disappearing entirely. Well, not really. In his ever so lovely glass castle  there are Wyrdmarks, which hold the power to open gateways to another realm, or all the other realms; no one really knows. That element alone held a plot device that I don’t recall from the original series.

I feel like I’m fangirling this post instead of making sense, so I’ll just leave you with this. If you’re looking for a high fantasy novel, with absolutely amazing characters, and the occasional plot twist that will drive you just a tiny bit crazy; or if you just want some good old fashioned butt-kicking action. This is the story for you. If you’ve already encountered this amazing story, then I just hope you dream of Erilea. (In case you couldn’t tell, this book gets ALL the stars.)

In closing, Happy Pub Day S.J. Maas!

July 27, 2012

Not your Usual Case of Schizophrenia

Last week or so, I did a post raving about my newfound love of Dan Wells, an unbelievably awesome horror/fantasy author. Well, I’m here to tell you folks that he’s done it again with his recently released novel The Hollow City. Following the trend he created in I am Not a Serial Killer, Wells toys with the idea of another mental illness, Schizophrenia.

Michael Shipman is a young man whose life seems to be perfectly normal, despite his debilitating unexplainable fear of electronic devices. When he wakes up in a hospital after a strange two week disappearance, doctors diagnose him with Schizophrenia and send him back to a mental facility he had attended as part of his therapy for anxiety. The only problem is that the focus of his delusions matches the victims of a serial killer.

Hollow City was interesting to me, mainly because it showed the breakdown of a man’s reality. That sounds absolutely horrible, but in the end that’s what Hollow City was to me. Shipman goes through this stage, believing that he’s perfectly normal and he only has mild anxiety only to realize that it’s all a delusion. Nearly everything he believed about his life was created by his own mind, and somethings he thought to be real actually existed. There is an amazing fantasy element that the novel is centered around, in a round about sort of way.

I’m going to start giving books a star value now, it seems legit. For Hollow City, I would award 4 1/2 stars.

July 20, 2012

Lightning Strike Survivors Group

Imagine yourself in Los Angeles, when an Earthquake strikes. Not just any earthquake either, I mean, an earth shattering, skyscraper leveling, mammoth of an earthquake. It destroys everything, but your family and home are spared. Weeks later schools open again, providing rations to students who attend and that’s where Struck, by Jennifer Bosworth begins.

Mia Price is a unique young girl who has been thrust into caring for her mother, and her younger brother after the earthquake. Despite this normal role she’s taken on, she has a not so normal addiction: Getting struck by lightning. She’s been struck several times in her life, and despite the scars that cover the majority of her body, she feels a pull to the lightning that occurs in every storm, and she yearns for another strike. The book is interesting to being with, the simple concept of a person who WANTS to be hit by lightning is intense, and (I hate to say it) electrifying.

Then there’s Prophet. Can you guess his role? He’s a religious fanatic who (post-earthquake) has successfully convinced the majority of L.A.’s survivors that he has predicted the rapture. I’ll give the man a bit of credit here. A televangelist, Prophet predicted the earthquake that leveled the majority of the city on national television, seconds before it happened. He’s also predicted a second storm, 3 days from the start of the novel that will end the world as we know it.

As a big fan of the Dystopian, it was great to finally see one that is set in the modern day. The idea of an earthquake happening and leveling the city of L.A. is a plausible reality, and some of the most interesting of the novel are Bosworth’s imagined responses to a natural disaster of that size. Aside from that I loved the way Mia responded to her world. She took nearly everything as a challenge, and never backed down. Once she realized what she had to lose, it was like everything became real for her and she fought. And I LOVE a character that fights. Mia doesn’t just fight against a mysterious force, or against the Prophet, she fights her family, and she fights herself, and that’s what really made this book come alive (though the lightning helped).

May 1, 2012

School’s Almost Out Book List (Sp2012 edition)

Every summer I make a list of every book that I plan on reading over the summer; then while I’m at work I find all the books that have shiny pretty colors that I buy because they have shiny pretty colors.

Trapeze

The House of Velvet and Glass

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened

There is No Dog

City of Lost Souls (May 8th)

Abandon Book 2: Underworld

Hemlock

Size 12 and Ready to Rock (Jul 12th)

Throne of Glass (COME OUT NOW)

Abused Werewolf Rescue Group

From Bad to Cursed
(sequel to Bad Girls Don’t Die;
which was one
of those books that kept me up for
days because I was terrified)

I think I’m going to stop here, but there is so much to this list it’s a little bit embarrassing. I have it written down on a piece of paper, and  it’s a wonderful list that has a bit of everything.

April 26, 2012

Black Heart by Holly Black

The Curse Workers series by Holly Black has held my attention for the past few years, and Black Heart, the most recent addition to the series came out last week. If  you havent read the series, it’s a  fabulously dark tale of Cassel, a curse worker in modern day America. The Curse workers are a group of people who with the touch of a hand can change your emotions, make you lucky, heal you, make you forget your life,  kill you, or change your physical appearance, at great risk to their own health, mentally and physically. The story line is amazing, with well thought out backstory of the discovery of curse workers, and the terror that the rest of the population had which forced them into work camps. From those work camps the curse worker Mob families flourished, and Cassel, the main character is a product of that Mob legacy. Each book focuses on him, and his struggle with the whole “my family is the mob” thing. That’s all I’m giving you non-awesome people who havent read this series, and I genuinely recommend that you read them all asap.

On to Black Heart!

Seriously though, there are spoilers in this review.

So Cassel is an FBI guy now, well an FBI trainee and Barron is actually an FBI agent, but he’s still corrupt as all hell, and using his memory work to avoid jumping through bureau hoops. He’s also (strangely enough) in love (and i won’t say with whom). Lila has begun her training as a ruthless mob leader, which was entirely expected of her. Cassel’s mother is in hiding and no one can find her, and Daneca and Sam are still broken up for no freaking reason.

Since you know the series, you know how Ms. Holly Black has consistently left things for the reader to guess, and mystery upon mystery to solve by the end of each novel. Black Heart was no different…I’m not telling you though, you have to find out for yourself dammit!

The series was amazing, and I’m going to re-read it so I can get more out of it.

In short. GO BUY THIS SERIES IRL. (in real life, for non chat-speakers out there) This series has what every good sci-fi/fantasy series needs. Strong story, strong characters, intriuging plot, and most importantly: well thought out backstory.

April 17, 2012

Comic Book Shenanigans

This past weekend I spent in my favorite city in the states (NYC) and I got to go to some of my favorite comic stores (Midtown comics, Forbidden Planet etc). As a result, i decided to do some nerding up, and do this lovely post about comic books. Whether you’re like me and enjoy the occasional comic, but are super lazy and don’t go out and buy them. Or you’re a new comic book reader, here are some sweet comics to check out!

The Scoobies are back and better than ever in the comic continuation of the series. If you were a Buffy fan (and in my opinion everyone should be) you will love having the characters back.

Skip Beat is one of my favorite comics, even though it’s not technically a comic, it’s a manga. The story follows Kyoko Mogami, a 16 year old girl who decides to follow her dream of getting revenge against her childhood love Sho Fuwa. Naturally since he’s a pop star, she auditions for a rival company. The story follows her through her journey to revenge, it’s light hearted and funny, and totally worth a read. It’s also been made into a hilarious anime series (same name) that you can typically stream on crunchyroll.com.

Read anything by this man; Frank Miller. He’s not literally a comic, but he has written some of my favorite comic books of all time: Sin City, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil. So check him out!

March 13, 2012

Demi-Monde: Spring

Just to clarify for new readers, this is a review of the SECOND book in the Demi-Monde Series. The first book (Demi-Monde: Winter) was released in the USA on January 3rd I believe, and this one released a few days later in the UK, but it has not yet been released in the States.

The Shadows grow ever darker across the Demi-Monde. And as the soldiers of Heydrich’sForthRight goose-step into Paris and the long-forgotten evil that is Lilith is awoken, it falls to Norma Williams to lead the resistance. Lost in the virtual nightmare that is the Demi-Monde, she must come to terms with these terrible responsibilities and with the knowledge that those she thought were her friends are now her enemies. To triumph in this surreal cyber-world she must be more than she ever believed she could be…or perish.

Amazon.com

When I finished DM: Spring I decided that I needed some time to mull over it instead of immediately writing a gushing post about how the book made the think and feel, etc. This book was very different f

rom it’s predecessor, but that doesn’t mean I disliked it, nor was it bad. Through the course of the book Rees showed the same attention to historical detail that first attracted me to his first novel, but this time instead of having a pseudo-supernatural twist there was a distinct change in the trend of the novel. The first was filled with both personal and political struggle, and in that the second book fell a bit short. However this book featured a masterful blending of science-fiction and fantasy by incorporating tales of Lilith and the Grigori as central plot-points.
Thinking back, I really did enjoy the book, and look forward to the next one in the series, if not just to find out a few key details about some lingering questions I had during this one. Sadly characters like Vanka Maykov, whose russian accent I spent trying to imitate (much to the amusement of my friends and roommates) was not as present in this book. That was highly disappointing for me, since I fangirled all over the place while Ella got to know him during the first novel. In addition, as you can see from the amazon blurb above, Ella Thomas is not a focus of the novel. Norma is. Yes, whiny little no-backbone Norma. Who I hate(d). It’s really not as bad as at seems, especially since theres a lovely french broad named Odette who also garners a lot of focus.

December 6, 2010

Leviathan

As someone whose been reading Westerfeld’s novels since she was young, it’s always nice to get a new installation from him. This novel though, I was a bit apprehensive about, and even up until the last few weeks before it’s release I was unexcited for it to on the shelves, and generally disappointed that he hadn’t done something less,well, ridiculous sounding. I quickly changed my mind upon reading the book, and I’m pretty sure it’s because Westerfeld wanted his fans to get to know a different part of him, and the outcome was entirely worth it.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is an ode to steampunk in every form. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the steampunk movement it’s a relatively underground subculture of science fiction in which victorian age technology is advanced significantly while still running on steam. In steampunk novels you can find flying boats, massive walking battle ships, and mecha’s that remind the nerd in us all of Gundam,only instead of having force fields that stop bullets, these robots are breakable, and tough to operate. However, Westerfeld’s version of steampunk is a fantasized one. He puts the steampunk machines side by side with fantasical created creatures, that are amalgamations of different sorts of creatures, aptly called fabricated beasts. Some of the animals that the people have created are beasts what have been feared through time, like the Kraken, and others are machine-like in origin, like the Leviathan, which is an airship made from hundreds of different beasts.

This book is one of ones that I’ve had the most fun reading this year. It’s a genuine good time, despite the occasional dark moments, and it holds the beginnings of a good love story. Set in 1914, the action begins immediately as you meet Alek, the last in line to the Austrian throne, but unable to claim it, and Deryn, a female who yearns to be an airship pilot, but lacks the gender to achieve her goal. From the start you can tell their cultures are more than just different.

Alek plays at war between the Austro-Hungarian empire and the French and British infantry, and talks of “diesel-powered walking machines”(1) and “Darwinist monsters” being their respective armies. While Deryn gets her brothers help in changing her appearance so she can pass as a boy, and take the airman’s test. she refers to the “Darwinist monsters” of Alek’s war by their proper names, and even knows how they were created. She does however refer to Alek’s machines as “Clankers” more often than not. In an act of God, or just Westerfeld’s pen strokes, the two meet, and their cultures are forced to clash in more than one way. I won’t give away the story, but know this, the Behemoth, the second book in this series, has been cracked, and there is so much more to come in this series, and Westerfeld hasn’t lost an iota of his touch.

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