Posts tagged ‘review’

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).

July 16, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

If you haven’t read Divergent (which by the way i really reccomend)…I’m so sorry for the spoilers.

Divergent was interesting, but the climax was where the book really grabbed my attention, you know, the part where they forced nearly the entire population of Dauntless to kill the Abnegation. That kickstarted the series for me, and then I had to know what happened to Tris and Four. Can their relationship survive the civil war that is tearing their life apart? Can Tris actually face what she did while trying to survive? Will Four ever reconcile with his father? Then I also had these other, less character based questions like: What exactly was Erudite’s purpose in killing nearly an entire faction? What secret did Tris’ parents die to protect? What happened to the Dauntless when they realized what they had done?

Insurgent was more or less a full on kamikaze of answers for me. I got unexpected answers, answers that raised new questions, and answers to questions I never actually asked. It was the world building novel, it helped me understand how each faction worked (Tris, Four and their allies get to be around each faction). It also built upon Tris’ character, and the lengths at which she would go to protect people. Insurgent  made the world more real to me. It made it conceivable. There’s a reason that each community developed, and more importantly it sets us up for the bigger question…but I’m not telling you what that is, you’ll have to figure it out for yourself. :]

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.

December 6, 2010

The Bride’s Farewell

I’ve been a huge fan of Meg Rosoff since she released How I Live Now back in 2004, and although The Bride’s Farewell, isn’t as new as her new novel Vamoose, which I still haven’t gotten my hands on yet, it was the last of her novels to be released here in the States. I’ve read this novel around 6 times, and the last time I read it I wrote a critical paper for one of my classes on the main character, and how she switched gender roles, and was atypical for the time period in which the author was having the character live. Nonetheless, The Bride’s Farewell is an enchanting novel, and in a mere 214 pages you get brought into the characters life, and fall in love, not only with her but the world in which she lives.

At the start of the book, you get introduced to Pell Ridley, who has decided to run away on the morning of her wedding to escape the marriage she dreads. The story from then on is of how she survived leaving the house, as a woman, alone in the year of 1850 something. While there are brief interruptions of her formative life, each one gets its own chapter, and serves mainly as background information, as to how Pell got to that point. For those who have read Meg Rosoff’s other works, Pell Ridley is similar to How I Live Now‘s Daisy, in that she is strong, and opinionated, but entirely different otherwise. While Daisy gives into her love, Pell rejects it, and if you’re looking for a book that is filled with romance and adventure, only one of those things will be fulfilled with this book, and it’s certainly not romance. Pell lived an exciting, life, and the story does not end with her death, but rather a new sort of beginning for her character.

I sincerely hope I haven’t given too much of the book away, but it is one that I have thoroughly enjoyed time and time again, and for fans of Rosoff’s earlier work this book will be a great read, until her upcoming book There is No Dog, which is slated to be released in Spring 2011 in England, is made available to American publishers.

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