Archive for January, 2012

A Winter’s Respite

So I signed up for this read-a-thon eagerly some time after Christmas. I then proceeded to lose the link to it in the midst of traveling and have been on and off searching for it ever since. Thank goodness the read-a-thon host, Michelle at The True Book Addict, was kind enough to come and check on me and remind me about it so I can participate! Thank you!

It has been a very sorry start of the year as far as reading goes. I hate winter, and cold, and grey and all of those things are in abundance and it’s had me down in the doldrums all month. I have not managed to finish one book yet this year, not one! I’m hoping this read-a-thon will change that.

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The Monsters of Heaven

by Nathan Ballingrud

[rating:4/5]

“The Monsters of Heaven” is a story that faces the very real tragedy a family has to deal with when they lose a child through abduction. Throw in supernatural monsters and a father slowly twisted by the untenable circumstances into a monster himself and you have one creepy horror story. The short story was published in The Years Best Fantasy and Horror 2008 and Inferno: New Tales of Terror and the Supernatural.

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From Far Away Volume 3

[openbook booknumber=”1591166039″] [rating:4/5]

With each passing day, Noriko discovers more and more about the strange and chimerical world she now calls home. And the more she learns… the more frightened she gets!

Everyone around her is talking about an ancient prophecy and the awakening that will usher in a new epoch. To some, this foretold era is fraught with uncertainty and danger. To these people, the power of the awakening must be eliminated.

Ever so slowly, Noriko starts to realize that she, somehow, embodies the gift of the awakening. With the help of a valiant hero named Izark, the young teenager has thus far eluded the attention those who wish to destroy her. But secrets are hard to keep… and with one misspoken word, Noriko could seal her very own death!

Picking up the third volume in the From Far Away series I thought I had a pretty good handle on where things were headed. We had a teenage couple set up against some pretty corrupt and evil governmental figures and some sort of magical prophecy bound them together. So I was stunned that within the first five pages Izark left Noriko! Their separation allows them to grow individually as they each go on their own adventures and yet something magical still ties them together. Not to mention that even through the language barrier Noriko is beginning to realize it and just how much danger that puts them both in.

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Blood Red Road

[openbook booknumber=”9780385671835″][rating:3/5]

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

I was torn on a lot of this book and I feel very much on the outside because so many people I really respect love this book to absolute pieces. I guess I feel like I am missing something because this book didn’t click with me as it does with many others and so I recommend right off the bat to weigh my words with all the positive reviews given and give this book an honest shot. After all I did finish the book and it’s nearly 500 pages long! Also keep in mind I am reviewing the advance copy of the book which is about 50 pages longer than the final copy that went to press so perhaps much of what I didn’t like ended up on the cutting room floor.

So, Blood Red Road is a unique take on the dystopians that have swept the YA genre for the past several years. The book is written in a “poetically minimal” style which is to say the writing is largely spelled out phonetically in an American southern drawl and there are no quote marks to denote speaking versus action anywhere in the text. The phonetic spelling actually reminded me a lot of reading Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. It had a way of bringing you into the world and seeing it more from the characters point of view just because you have a great understanding of the way they communicated and got their thoughts across. That part I loved. I’m being a total kill joy here but the lack of quote marks on the other hand was just frustrating and made reading it a bit of a slog, especially because I was trying to read parts of it aloud to my husband and it just proved frustrating for both of us without that marker showing where speech ends and action begins. I understand where the need for it stylistically came from, but I think the end result, for a 500 page book, was just overkill.

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Magician’s Gambit

[openbook booknumber=”0345335457″][rating:5/5]

Ce’Nedra, Imperial Princess of Tolnedra, had joined a dangerous mission to recover the stolen Orb that supposedly protected the West from the evil God Torak. And somehow, she found herself feeling quite tender for Garion, the innocent farm boy, who would be forced into the strange tower in the center of all evil to retrieve the Orb by himself.

It’s always a little difficult to review a fantasy book that is smack dab in the middle of a series and Magician’s Gambit is no exception. Fortunately it is quite different from the two books that came before it. For one the standard plot arc of entering a new kingdom and having Garion be the only one observant enough to notice a coup or a nefarious character attempting to instigate war is not present. Instead the book opens with the story being told from the view-point of Ce’Nedra, the Tolnedran princess who ran away from her father only to find herself mixed up in Belgarath’s quest for the Orb. While both Garion and Ce’Nedra have come a long way since they met, they are still very much teenagers and spend most of this book squabbling in one way or another. It is on one hand cute but on the other quickly becomes mildly annoying.

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