Sunday, May 20, 2012

Review: Graceling, a book to kill for?

Finally! A new review! It has taken me a while to find the time for it but at last, the promised review of Graceling.

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: None (Cashores second novell, Fire, is set in the same world)
Release: October 2008
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Short Summary: In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace, the Grace of killing, and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king.

It has been a while since I've last read Graceling and the first thing that strikes me while writing this review is that the story didn't really stick with me. Which is not a very good thing. I do remember that I enjoyed reading it and I even recommended it to friends, but it doesn't make my top 10 of best reads. The characters are a little too flat to be memorable. Although the idea of being "graced" with the ability to kill is fascinating, it didn't really shine through the character. A lot of writers compensate this by creating a vast and memorable world around their character but Katsa's world is not one of them. I decided to reread the book.

I will start off with the aforementioned world building. This is a very important part of a Fantasy type novel because it influences the credibility and the way in which the reader sees himself in a different world. The first thing that I noticed about this was that the names of the 'countries' were a little too obvious. Five of them are called Wester, Sunder, Estill, Nander and Middluns, meaning west, south, east, north and the middle countries. The other two are Monsea and Lienid and fail to have any linguistic connection with the others. It makes the countries somewhat unrealistic and made up. To top it off, the capitals of the countries have the same name as the kings. So Randa City in the Middluns has a king named Randa an Leck City in Monsea has a king named Leck, and so forth. Furthermore, the book doesn't really mention any climate change, except in the mountains of Monsea where it is just plain cold.

The characters have every ingredient to be deep and memorable. They have these great abilities (Graces, a sort of extreme congenital talent) and they have been through alot in their lives. In some ways the author manages to bring them to life in a almost physical way. You get a very tangible image of the characters exterior but for some reason it lacks depth. You get the feeling you know the protagonist like having an acquaintance for a long time. It might have been more interesting to read it from Katsa's perspective in first persoon. Cashore really tries her best to shine some light on the characteristics. It is very clear that Katsa is stubborn and hotheaded but you don't really get a look beneath the surface. Both main characters (Katsa and Po) are very likeable. Especially Po raised my interest. I really liked the love that unravels between the two because it is subtle and not very cliché.

The plot (SPOILER ALERT) surprised me. The story of Leck and Bitterblue is original and I didn't expect it. The last chapters of the book are the best ones and they kept me interrested. The story hardens from the moment that Po gets injured and Katsa has to leave him to get Bitterblue to safety. A lot of people found the part where Katsa has to carry Bitterblue through the mountains implausible. It might be but I really enjoyed this part. It was one of the parts that stayed with me the most and this is the reason why I care less about the plausibility. Cashore also deepend the story behind the Graces, which I found very interesting.

Conclusion: Graceling is a very enjoyable read, especially for young readers who haven't read a lot of the Fantasy genre. Allthough it doesn't have the best worldbuilding or characters, the story is fascinating for everyone who doesn't know what to read next.
Rating: uu . . . 

I will also be reviewing Kristin Cashore's "Fire" soon (after I find the time to read it). But firstly I'll do a review on the second book of The Sookie Stackhouse Novells, Living Dead in Dallas. After that I will start reviewing The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Stay tuned and be patient! Follow me on Twitter @FantasyReviews

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thank you Christopher Paolini!

Thanks Christopher Paolini, for signing my book!

I will start my book reviews on the Inheritance Cycle very soon. But first I did promise to do a review on Graceling by Kristin Cashore and after that a new Sookie Stackhouse review on Living Dead In Dallas.

Be patient my little readers, I will soon have time for you again.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The burdens of a being a student

I know it has been a while since my last post and I also know I promised to write a review on Graceling. But my study also requires a certain amount of time and right now I really need to learn for some truly horrible exams! Time is flying by when you are learning crap about Branding and Marketing and all of a sudden I realised I that I don´t have enough time! I also need to keep up with my reading because before you know it, I´m running out of books to write reviews on. We really don´t want that to happen! So for now, I am not making any more promises. You will just have to wait patiently!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Dead Until Dark, sex, blood and romance

Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series
Release: May 2001
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance

The book revolves around the 25-year-old northern Louisiana cocktail waitress, Sookie Stackhouse. In the little town of Bon Temps people generally think she is a little weird because, as she calls it herself, she has a bit of a disability. Sookie can read the minds and thoughts of everyone around her, which doesn't improve her love life. In the story some Japanese scientists developed synthetic blood which caused vampires to 'come out of the coffin'. The first time a vampire comes into the bar, Sookie rescues him from the Rattrays, a couple that drain vampires to sell their blood as a drug. She discovers that she isn't able to read the vampires mind and besides vampire Bill being tall, dark and handsome, silence is just what she was looking for in a man. But before romance can develop, Sookie finds one of her colleagues dead with fang marks on her and Sookie is starting to believe that she will soon be next...

Before I began to read the book, I already heard my friends swooning over the male vampire characters and the lusty and sexy feel to the story. That sure got me interested! When I began to read I had a little trouble getting used to the whole vampires 'coming out of the coffin' thing but it just made the story a lot more believable and mature and to my amazement it did not take away any of the mystery of the vampire theme.

I immediately thought it was very refreshing that the writing is so straight forward and that romance doesn't take over the story. This is mainly because, not only Sookie, but most of the characters in the book like to keep things in perspective. Everything is written very rationally and realistically even when the most unimaginable things happen. Sookie just isn't the kind of girl you easily mess with and she learned all the proper manners from her gran, with who she lived ever since her parents died. At the same time she is a bit ignorant and very naive. The whole story is being told in first person, by Sookie, giving you the feeling that you're getting to know her very well.

Although the title of the book suggests otherwise, Dead Until Dark is not at all dark but full of light humor and color full, very recognisable characters. Like Sookie's brother Jason, the rough womanizer with a little heart. And Sam Merlotte, Sookie's boss who has a secret he likes to share with Sookie because he has always been in love with her. It is also not a standard Fantasy story but, as many other books written by Harris, it is more of a Murder Mystery in which vampires just recently became an everyday reality. The small town setting helps with the believability of it all and makes the whole book a lot funnier. Harris even refers to the obsession of the American Civil War and blows new life into the Vampire groupie idea of Anne Rice, complete with a vampire bar closely connected to some intriguing vampire politics. There Sookie meets viking vampire Eric Northman, one of my favorite characters, who seems determined to get her into a lot of trouble. Topping it all off with a cat-eating-unchancy-long-dead-celebrity-vamp and an amazing and unexpected climax, Harris just stole my little bookworm heart.

Conclusion: Dead Until Dark is an incredibly funny, light and believable, mysterious vampire murder mystery with a lot of sex, blood and romance that stole my heart and left me breathless untill the very last page. 
Rating: uuuuu 

I will soon be back with the next Sookie Stackhouse Novel: Living Dead in Dallas! But first I will do a review of Kristin Cashore's Graceling. 

You can now follow me on Twitter: @FantasyReviews #FantasyReviews

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spreading the Sookie!

In the next blog post I am going to do a review on the Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series, which is one of my favorite series of all time. I am not going to do all 11 books at once though, that would be ridiculous! Because I love them so much I am not going to give them all away at once. I want to spread them out and do a Sookie Review once every two weeks, in between all the other books I like to share with you.

I would also like to mention that the people who enjoyed reading Twilight or Harry Potter and never found books they liked reading as much (like me), should really stick with me because I am surely going to recommend some stories you will also love. It is never too late to turn into a Fantasy bookworm!

For now I am just going to leave you with a little Lafayette, from the True Blood Series. A character from the Sookie Stackhouse Novels who in the books, never gets to be in the second one but makes the HBO Series so much more funny and interesting.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: Just skip the whole New Moon thing!

Title: New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Series: The Twilight Saga
Release: 2006, 2007, 2008
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

After reading the first book of The Twilight Saga in just one night, I was rather looking forward to reading New Moon. I digged in the next day but about half way through I got really dissapointed. The whole story just became depressing. It's not that I couldn't bear it that something bad happened, I usually like the drama. Again it was the main character, Bella, who just annoyed me to the bone! She just whined through the whole book. The input of all the hallucinations she has while being in danger also didn't make sense to me. It all got overly dramatic and it almost made me flip through the pages to get to less whining and more excitement. The only reason that I didn't was because of Jacob, Bella's old friend, who accomplishes it to make, not only Bella, but also me as a reader a bit more happy. The last few chapters were such a relief to me. It was the main reason why Alice became my favorite member of the Cullen family. The addition of The Volturi, who represent the vampire law, was brilliant and just what the book needed to get me reading the third book of the series: Eclipse.

Conclusion: New Moon was a concatenation of a whining and nagging main character but therefore I was extra happy to be relieved of the depression by a rather clever ending.
Rating: u. . . .

After reading New Moon I didn't really expect Eclipse to be much better. But it was! I absolutely loved Eclipse because the interaction between the characters became much more lively than in the previous two books. I also did not expect Jacob to be something supernatural but it was a pleasant surprise to find that he was. Because of the conflict that arose between Edward and Jacob, I began to like Bella more. The book definitely added an extra layer to her character. It was also much lighter than New Moon and Twilight and there was much humor in it, which I enjoyed very much. The returning of some of the 'bad guys' from Twilight was a nice twist too. All in all, I liked Eclipse the most. And I like re-reading it, which is per definition a good thing. 

Conclusion: The conflict between two main characters and the addition of another supernatural being made Eclipse the best book of the series.
Rating: uuu . .

Breaking Dawn starts off with the whole lovey-dovey romantic wedding. I was very glad to see that the humor of Eclipse wasn't lost. Edward's sister, Alice, made the first chapters pretty tolerable. And, after three books, they FINALLY have sex. That really made it very clear that the series is meant for 'young adults' (not at al comparable to another vampire related series, written by Charlaine Harris). I was glad that all the horror finally got released in this final book. I was sincerely disgusted by the idea of a baby vampire eating you up from the inside out. Just the thing I needed to read after three books full of perfectly weighed words not to affront the underaged reader. I also liked the chapters in which you follow Jacob. It provided me with the break I needed from all the horror. The best thing of the whole book was when all the other vampires were introduced. Their abilities fascinated me and that, again, made me like Bella more. I wasn't at all dissapointed by the final plot of the series. After Eclipse, Breaking Dawn is my favorite book of the four and it's storyline stays with me the most. 

Conclusion: Breaking Dawn was a breath of fresh adult air after the first three books. I loved all the horror and all the new characters and I was surprised by the final plot. 
Rating: uuu . . 

And that, my dear readers, was the final thing I will be posting about The Twilight Saga! (I promise) My next review will be about The Sookie Stackhouse Series / The Southern Vampire Novels by Charlaine Harris. Quite looking forward to that actually!

You can now follow me on Twitter: @FantasyReviews #FantasyReviews

Review: Losing Fantasy virginity to The Twilight Saga

Title: Twilight
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Series: The Twilight Saga
Release: 2005
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Since I didn't start reading Fantasy until about two years ago, I will start off this blog with the first series I read and enjoyed: The Twilight Saga. Yes people! I lost Fantasy virginity to the most loved, hated and hyped series of the 21th century. By the time I read it, I wasn't even aware of the fact that somewhere in America little girls were begging Robert Pattinson to bite their underaged necks. In fact, the last time I had enjoyed a vampire story was when Brad Pitt played one giving an interview (did anyone want him to bite them?). I do know that I would bite those girls heads off, given the chance. I absolutely hate what those movie people did to the books. They made it into a shallow teenage girls romance though that has never been my perception of the books at all.

Although the books were very easy to read and the used language isn't very subtle or well thought trough I really got sucked in by the story. Once I started to read, I found that I wasn't even able to put it down. I didn't. I read the first book in one breath and finally closed it at 5 o'clock in the morning. Quite embarassing to be honest...

Bella, the books heroine, annoyed me immediately. But I found that it was because she was so absolutely unlike me. And now that I come to think of it, she will probably be most like all the teenage girls who are supposed to read the book. An insecure little drama queen who thinks she is doing her best not to attract any attention and seems to avoid being a burden to the people around her. By trying so hard she is doing just that, wich was the main reason for me to dislike her so much. She didn't seem as sincere as Stephenie Meyer, the author, probably wanted to make her. This is the first defect of the story because nobody can be so 'likeable' and 'all good intentions' as Bella.

It is quite weird that the most unlikely personage of Edward Cullen, is actually the one that I believed the most. He has a lot of imperfections and it is very clever of Meyer to make it seem like he hasn't, as we read the book through Bella's perspective. When I read the book, I did not yet know what Edward was and anyone who hasn't heard of Twilight (wich is very unlikely by now) should not even hear the word vampire before picking up the book. It makes it so much more enjoyable if you don't know what is going on.

The story never seemed to bore me and that is an achievement on it's own. I was immediately intrigued by the whole Cullen family and I began to love every member. I found myself wanting to know everything about them, and that was my first connection with the main personage, Bella. The book seems to evolve around her stupidity and her being in danger. The concept of the most dangerous creature being the one who constantly has to save her, really appealed to me.

Conclusion: Book 1 of The Twilight Saga has an exciting storyline including some really good characters of wich Bella is the worst. My dislike of the main character did not stop me from reading the following three books with almost as much joy. 
Rating: uu. . .

In my next blog I will tell you why I read book 3 of the Twilight Saga three times and why I never pick up book 2. (After that you will never hear me about the series again. Such a relief right?)