What a book. WHAT a book. I’m scared my review won’t do it justice.
At the time that Carl was hosting a Mistborn group-read, my book was still travelling all over the world, desperate to get to me. Oh, Universe, why? Why did this book take so long to arrive? And then, when it did, of course it was perfectly timed with my mid-terms. Of course.
So, I’ve been a good little girl, and I’m done with exams for a while, and I even put up a Never Let Me Go post before I put this one up, but I can’t take it anymore. There’s something you should know.
This book is bloody brilliant.
I mean it. Go out, pick up a copy, read it. Now. Now!
To start with, this book has got to have one of the best first lines ever.
Ash fell from the sky.
What did I tell you? One line, that one line, and my brain exploded. Ash? ASH?! From the freaking sky?! This man is mad.
The rest of the book is like that, too, mind you. There where times when (oh, and this is a super quick read, by the way. Don’t count on getting any sleep till you’re done) I doubled back and just stared at sentences like they had three heads. Ash falling from the sky, I tell you.
And the magical system! Probably one of the most creative that I’ve ever seen. And incredibly real. Well, as real as magical systems can be anyway. Pfft, no, I can’t tell you, that’s the best bit unfortunately.
Okay, I take that back. The characters were the best bit. Sanderson had me hooked from page one, and pretty much every character that came after just added to the fervent page-turning. There were a few secondary characters that weren’t as well fleshed out, but I think I’m going to let that drop. Who cares, eh? Who cares.
First, there’s Kelsier, who reminded me a LOT of Durzo Blint (if you haven’t read The Night Angel trilogy, that’s another one I highly recommend. One of my favourite fantasy trilogies, that.) Okay, no limelight stealing allowed. But, well Durzo Blint is the awesomest character in the world – ever. Except for maybe Morpheus. (ARGH! FOCUS, WOMAN!)
What was I saying? Ah, yes Kelsier. A character as mad as the author, he dashes about, wreaks havoc, waves charmingly and dashes away, somewhere else, wreaks havoc there.. Do I have to explain why I love him? Listen to this:
“How do you ‘accidentally’ kill a noble man in his own mansion?”
“With a knife in the chest. Or, rather, a pair of knives in the chest…”
Yikes. I don’t think I’ve ever used these many caps in a post before. Sorry?
Then there’s Vin. And finally! Another strong female protagonist that I can add to my pathetically tiny list of Alanna, Matilda, Maya and Sonea. Very, very few authors can create a realistic, yet strong, female character. This man does it beautifully. And while Vin is the main focus of the book, I like how balanced the narrative is. Vin’s story of a scared, distrusting orphan-Skaa (non-nobility) turning into this lethal, strong, determined individual who gives as good as she gets (sometimes better) and manages to resolve some, if not all trust issues (Yay! Disney? Learn! (I still love you (Sorry! (Don’t stop making movies!!)))) was completely engaging. But if Sanderson had focused on that, and just that, I’d have put the book down mid-way and picked another one up. No, this man realises that we don’t want a plain old Bildungsroman, no no, we can get that anywhere. We want you to talk about the rebellion, too. (What, you thought there wasn’t going to be a rebellion? Psh.) But too much about rebellions, and we get bored. Now, I don’t know how he put these two together so perfectly, but he’s sneaky like that. There were a few “fantasy-cliches” here and there, but you know what? I didn’t get mad. I lapped it up, asked for more, and now the next two books are sitting across the table from me waiting to be devoured.
But, before that. I need to see what Carl, Grace and Lynn have to say about the book. I’ve religiously avoided their posts, because I didn’t want their thoughts to influence this review, but now I’m going berserk.
I’ve made a lot of references to other books in this post. Just in case you’re interested, here are links that will tell you more about them. For Durzo Blint, go here. Morpheus, here (if you do plan to read Sandman, I’d avoid this one. Summaries!) and here. Alanna is from The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. You also HAVE to read what Cheryl has to say about her. Matilda – Matilda by Roald Dahl. Maya from the Game World Trilogy by Samit Basu (book one here, book two, I can’t find book three), and Sonea from the Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan (the link takes you to her website. Her rec-reading list is amazing, by the way). I would, um, recommend all of them. If in doubt, convince you I shall!
This post is going to be super-quick. Lightning McQueen, ka-chow, and all that.
1. In the book Bilbo gets visited by 13 strange dwarves, and just lets them in to eat his cakes and drink tea. In the modern world it would be really weird if people just started barging in your home. Why didn’t Bilbo just tell them to go?
Like Tolkein said, I think it was the Took in him. If dwarves came barging in and asked me to serve them food and ale, I’d ask them to go boil their heads. If I happened to overhear talk of dragons and epic adventure, however, I might reconsider. I think Bilbo was more than a little curious about why all these bearded hungry things had turned up there in the first place. The first time I read this, I remember thinking all the other dwarves were okay, but thinking Thorin was a pompous little bratface. Of course, that changed as I kept reading.
2. Where would the dwarves and Bilbo be if Gandalf wasn’t with them? It’s seems to me that it’s him who saves them from the scary situations.
I think it’s standard, this. The thing is, though, I never would have thought it so had I not recently read Neverwhere. I think Bilbo needs to grow into what he could be, and to show the transition, he needed to go from depending on Gandalf to learning to fend for himself. I’m already starting to like the thoughts he’s having, though. What with the troll-incident and all. He could have just come away and reported, but no. He tried to pickpocket a troll. I ask you. Good old Bilbo.
3. Bilbo plays a game of riddles with Gollum. He ends up winning by asking “What have I got in my pockets?”, which Gollum is unable to answer. Do you think it was a fair, as it wasn’t actually a riddle?
I feel sad for Gollum. I wanted to hug him, but then nasty things would happen to my head, so maybe…that’s a bad idea. 😛
But then again, and I know this is cold, but from the point of view of the story continuing, maybe this had to happen?
4. For those of you who haven’t read The Hobbit before, is the tone of writing one you’d expect from a book that has been loudly proclaimed as a classic? And for those of you who have read it before, how did it feel – like coming home to a much-loved book, or were you surprised by how much you’d forgotten?
A lot. I read this two years ago for the first time. And I was surprised that I had forgotten more than I remembered. For one, it seems like it was written for a much younger audience than I remembered. And it didn’t feel like a classic at all (don’t ask me to explain that, I won’t be able to). It felt..like a very long bed-time story. Wow. Imagine being read Tolkein every night as a kid.
5. We’ve seen quite a few songs so far. Do you pay attention to them, or do you skip them altogether? Do you like how silly they are, or do you think them an interruption?
I’m trying to think of a nice way to say this, but I think it’s a huge interruption, having to read all those songs. But then again, I don’t really like songs in books. I’d make an exception for every one Roald Dahl wrote, and I loved the Sorting Hat’s songs, but that about sums up my list.
The first time I read it, I skipped them all. Except, maybe one or two. I’m trying to pay more attention this time, though. Because some of them tell you a lot (Like the first one the dwarves sang).
6. What has been your favourite scene, so far?
Like Lynn, I’d have to choose the one with the trolls. The first time I read it, and they turned to stone, I remember shaking my head in awe. I did it this time, too. That Gandalf.
“Trolls simply detest the very sight of dwarves (uncooked).”
Looking forward to what Matt comes up with this week!
What do you say about a book that makes you want to jump in and take care of the characters? To give them a hug and tell them you’re there for them and it aches not to be able to?
Ishiguro has been on my to-read list for quite a while now, but I was very particular about this book being my first – a sort of gateway into the world of Ishiguro-loving-awesomeness, if you will. Why was I so particular? I saw the movie earlier this year as part of my 50-50 Challenge. I’ll come to that in a bit.
I’ve heard a lot of people praise this book to the stars, always along the lines of, “Ishiguro is amazing. You have to read his work!” But WHY is this man amazing? What is it about him ? I’ve never heard a single bad review of this book, and I never thought it strange until I started reading. I’ve always just nodded eagerly and made a mental note to get my hands on the book.
So, let’s look at this man, shall we? For the first fifty pages or so, I felt nothing. Sure, it was interesting, but his writing wasn’t particularly scintillating – certainly nothing I’d be impressed by having just read Angela Carter (review coming soon, this woman is mad. In a good way, of course).
Was it the characters? No, not really.
Was it what he was writing about? (I’m not telling you, this book has been falsely advertised as a lot of things and it makes me very angry. I’ll direct you to the Goodreads summary, though. But please don’t look through the reader reviews. Do you trust me? Yes? Good. )
“Get on with it!”, you’re thinking. “Tell us!”
Honestly? I don’t know.
Never Let Me Go is the most beautiful, depressing piece of art I have ever come across. It isn’t one whose magnificence you’d shout from the rooftops, but one you’d carry around with you, stare at lovingly from time to time, flip through pages long after you’ve finished – just to remember the journey it took you on.
It’s the kind of book you’d recommend with sparkly eyes and a secretive little whisper. The kind that you’ll think about long after you’ve finished reading and occasionally shake your head in wonder. The kind that’ll make you want to review this before Mistborn even though you read that one first and it was fantastic.
Is there anything extraordinary about this book? If I have to be honest, no. But it’s a special book. A very special book. A very, very, very, very…you get it. I expected to weep buckets, because that’s what happened when I watched the movie for the first time. But I was dry-eyed for the most part. There were just two sentences that set me off. Two sentences, two choked sobs. That’s it. But in those few moments, I felt such a deep connection to Kathy (Goodreads link, clickety-click), that it felt like..I can’t tell you what it felt like. I don’t have the words.
Hello, Writers’ Bloc People! We (finally) start our first ever group-read!
Here’s the schedule:
Week 1: Aug 14th to Aug 19th : Chapter 1 to 6
Week 2: Aug 20th to Aug 25th : Chapter 7 to 12
Week 3: Aug 26th to Aug 31st : Chapter 12 to 19
That makes it an average of about 100 pages or so every week.
We have decided to hand over the discussion to two readers every week – one who is reading the book for the first time, and another who already has – just to cover all bases. So far, Matt Watson has graciously accepted to steer the conversation in the second week, and Inkeri has volunteered as well. Since both of them haven’t read it, though (aren’t you glad we’re finally cattle-prodding you into it?), Inkeri might probably take over week three, along with somebody else who has already…
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I’ve always wanted to do this, and now I finally have a chance to.
As part of our new weekly feature at Writers’ Bloc (Wordsmith Wednesdays), I get to make my very own
very lame book-spine poem!
Excuse the lighting (should’ve taken this in the morning, but eh)!
Should I be apologising for inflicting this on you? Heh heh. Probably.
Let me start by saying I did like Love Story. So you really can’t hold this against me.
I hated this book. HATED it. And I very rarely hate a book. Sure, some books fail to live up to my expectations, some are just disappointing after being hyped up and receiving rave reviews, and some just aren’t my kind of books. With Oliver’s Story, the problem was this : it was plain terrible.
I’m reviewing this book a week after reading it in the hope that some of the anger would have subsided. I can’t say that it’s worked, but at least I’m not employing every swear word I know.
- Oh, where to start? If there was a list of things so cheesy you could make ten cheese burgers with it, this book would make it on that list. At the very top. Actually, make that thirty burgers.
- Take Oliver himself. He’s whiny, annoying, and he stalks the first female he decides to let in after Jenny died. Because he thinks she’s keeping secrets from him. The hell? They’ve gone out ONCE. And he thinks he’s entitled to know everything about her? Please.
- Listen to this:
“For some unfathomable reason, Oliver, I like you. But you are impossibly impulsive“
“You’re not too possible yourself,” I answered.
I’m sorry, what? What does that even mean?! “You’re not too possible yourself”?! Erich Segal, have you completely lost it?!
- I can’t handle so many stuck-up snobs. I just can’t. I don’t care if that’s how all corporate heiresses and people born into truckloads of money act (and somehow I doubt they’re thaaaat pretentious), but all the conversations about money in this book made me nauseous.
- There’s this bit towards the end of the book where they visit Tokyo. And I swear, it feels like he’s looked up the place and Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V-ed everything he could find. Or he actually visited Tokyo and somebody gave him a dreadful brochure. Which he copied out of. Either way, there was copying. Violation of the first rule of calling yourself a writer, I think?
- I liked Jenny. I did. If this was actually a book about him coping with Jenny’s death, it might have been better. I’ve never cared about Oliver much, and I doubt I’d ever be able to read Love Story again because of this.
- None. Oh, wait. At least I’m one book closer to my year’s goal. I suppose that counts.
Final verdict: I can’t stress how bad this book is. Do yourself a favour and stay away.
Fact of life : when a Literary Tiger tells you to get on with your book reviews, you listen. You don’t want to end up being tiger-chow.
Battling book withdrawals when you’ve got very little time is never easy, but I’ve found an elegant solution that, more often than not, keeps me happy for a whole week. Reading a graphic novel. They don’t take long because they’re broken up into issues, they’re highly addictive, and the verbal and visual assault is usually enough to keep your senses happy for a while. Usually.
Amulet has been on my to-read list for a very, very long time. After getting nowhere with The Umbrella Academy and I Kill Giants (I always find that I can’t finish a book every time I put it on my Goodreads currently reading shelf), I was desperate. So I picked it up, with high hopes and a nice comfy cushion, trusting in all the outstanding reviews I had come across on Goodreads.
Boy, was I disappointed. A lot of reviews compared this to Bone, and while I can see similarities here and there, the fact of the matter is: Bone is an all-ages book — everybody who reads it should will like it. That isn’t the case with Amulet. True, it’s got breathtaking illustrations, but that isn’t all a graphic novel is. You need something to back the art.
If I was ten/eleven, I’d love it. It would be my favourite-est book of all time (granted, “all time” is very short when you’re that age), but I struggled through this. What made this series unbearable for me was knowing that there was a time I would have enjoyed and raved about it for the next few years. I get the feeling that I’m being a little harsh, but I’m upset with the fact that I had to try so hard to love it – to think like a twelve-year old – and it still didn’t do anything for me. You shouldn’t have to try. See, with Bone, it’s effortless. Jeff Smith takes a story we’re sort-of familiar with, and he still manages to make it work. Kazu Kibuishi falls short, just a tiny bit.
And you know how I feel about spoilers? Well, for the first time ever, it won’t matter if I tell you what the book is about, because it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can see where this is going.
Family moves to Grandpa’s (haunted) estate/mansion/tower-y house thing. Goes on a cleaning spree. Girl finds library and mysterious book. Magical things happen, and she ends up with a stone. Monsters kidnap mother; Girl and Brother try to save her. On the way, a lot of self-discovery and various other clichéd fantasy plot points are highlighted – cruel king disappointed in son, son trying to do good, The Resistance, Super-Awesome-Ninja-Fox, ancient city situated in the clouds, all that stuff.
I constantly felt like he was insulting a child’s intelligence. I’ve grown up on a healthy diet of Roald Dahl’s work, and when I re-read them now (yes, I’m sentimental about these things), I can still connect to every word. Every single one. I’m twenty, and Dahl makes me feel like a twenty-year old reading a fun book. Twenty, not twelve. (Kibuishi, are you getting this?)
I’ve read the first three volumes, and I’m not sure I want to continue. A part of me is curious to see if he turns the whole story around, and a part of me is past caring. As beautiful as the illustrations are, I’d rather find something that can give me pretty pictures with a backbone.
Final verdict? Anyone below the age of thirteen will love this. Apart from that, the artwork is the only selling point. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother.
Just to help you decide, visit boltcity.com