Archive for July, 2010
The Healer's Keep
by Victoria Hanley Published by Laurel Leaf
in 2005 Genres: Fantasy
, YA Pages:
407 Source: Library Goodreads
Maeve is an unmarked slave, sold to a cruel master and forced to flee across the country. Jasper is lowborn free, and has always been good at keeping his head down, until one night he takes in a beautiful woman he can't get out of his mind. Sara and Dorjan are new students at the healer's keep, both named with gifts that haven't been seen for hundreds of years. Together they must defeat the Shadow King and save the Healer's Keep from total destruction.
Wow. I know it’s already been a week since my last review (sorry about that – life aka moving twice, a wedding gig and deadlines for other projects got in the way) but this book was worth taking my time with. It surprised me in so many ways and yet looking back, I should have seen them coming.
One of the things I loved was the characters. They were extremely vivid in my mind. I could see Maeve serving Lord Morlen, and hear her beautiful voice as she talked to Jasper. I felt Sara’s pain at Bern’s betrayal and her own stupidity. Each character caught and held my interest for the entire story.
But the main thing I liked about this book was that it felt like high fantasy, but was much more accessible. If you’ve ever read JRR Tolkein or Robert Jordan and given up because it got too complicated, then this is the novel for you. For most of the book Hanley maintained several different story lines jumping between them every few chapters. The difference is that Hanley’s stories are easy to remember and there aren’t so many different storylines that you lose track of what happened to who. At first it is a little difficult to see how the stories relate, but that is quickly solved, and I was soon drawn into trying to figure out how she was going to join the two stories up, without having the characters completely miss each other.
So overall, I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels.
This may be it for reviews for a short while, as I will be traveling for the next two weeks without internet. However, I will write up reviews of anything I read and post them as soon as I have internet again.
Thanks for reading!
It’s time for the weekly Book Blogger Hop again! This week’s question is: What book can you not wait to get your hands on?
This is a difficult question, simply because I’ve been away from that world for so long (for those of you that don’t know, I’m on exchange overseas, which means I’ve not been allowed to buy books and the library has been rather iffy). Two that I’ve wanted since before I left were Shadow Dragons by James Owen (the most recent in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica) and Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. There’s also a few Terry Pratchett books that I haven’t read yet, and there’s three new Mercedes Lackey books that I really want.
I know, it’s a lame answer, but it will be much easier to answer this once I get home.
The Princess Diaries Take Two
by Meg Cabot Series: Princess Diaries #2 Published by Turtleback
in 2002 Genres: Chick Lit
, YA Pages:
213 Source: Borrowed Goodreads
Mia was sure her life couldn't get any worse. Already the least popular girl in school, she suddenly became Princess of Genovia causing even her friends to desert her. Just when she thought it couldn't get any worse, her mother goes and gets pregnant by her Algebra teacher. Now Mia is stuck in the middle, trying to convince Grandmere not to have a huge wedding, all while trying to figure out who her own secret admirer is.
I really didn’t mean to read this one next. I’m borrowing it from a friend, and I need to finish all the library books first (I leave in a week! *gulp*). But once I get in the mood for fluff I just can’t put it down. Unfortunately, I didn’t find this one nearly as fun as I did the first one. I guess there just something much more interesting about the very first time you find out you’re a princess and have to take princess lessons. Mia was much more of a drama queen and she really started getting on my nerves. I guess, the thing I disliked the most was that this felt like it was just a filler. Nothing very big happened to Mia in this book (all the major events happened to her mother). I felt like this book was just marking time until the next book, in which I assume we have the resolution of the deal Mia and Grandmere made in the first book. So, overall, not as good as I’d hoped.
I know this review is really short, but as I just reviewed the first book in the series, I don’t have as much to say. But, I am hoping that I’ll have The Healer’s Keep read for the next one (as long as I can resist the short fluffy ones =P )
The Princess Diaries
by Meg Cabot Series: Princess Diaries #1 Published by Turtleback
in 2001 Genres: Chick Lit
, YA Pages:
230 Source: Borrowed Goodreads
Mia Thermopolis has always been the very bottom of the totem pole in her high school, but suddenly her father shows up with some surprising news; he is prince of Genovia, which makes Mia his heir. Mia now has to juggle the typical high school issues as well as everything that goes with being a Princess.
I have been meaning to read this book ever since I saw the movie. That in itself is rather unusual, because I am a firm believer in reading the book before the movie. I find that if I see the movie first, that completely colours my impression of the book. When I read a book, I get a very distinct picture of the characters in my head (even if it’s very wrong – before I saw the movies my mental Draco Malfoy had black hair!) If I’ve seen the movie first then I already have a picture of the characters, and I tend to have trouble getting away from it. I was therefore highly surprised to find myself flying through The Princess Diaries. I barely even thought about the movie, aside from the occasional “ooh they didn’t quite get that right” (Isn’t the movie set in LA? I always thought it was in LA. BIG difference from NYC!)
Some of this may be due to the fact that it’s been donkey’s years since I’ve actually seen the movie but I would argue that it’s more due to the way the book is written. The quirky, original characters that made me seek out the book are ten times better when you’ve read them on the page. Lilly is more than just a weird kid who begs for attention in a slightly off TV show, Mia is much more believable (I know it makes for a good story but bad at public speaking? Really? Algebra is much more believable, and besides you don’t have to fix that for your story to work out right). As for the ones that weren’t necessarily more believable, they certainly make the story more interesting. As much as Grandmere from the book drives me nuts, she makes the story so much more fun!
Not that I’m saying the movie was bad. I loved the movie. I just loved the book that much more. Besides, I needed the fluff =D
by David Cunningham Published by Faber and Faber
in 2005 Genres: Fantasy Pages:
345 Source: Library Goodreads
Marcus is the crown prince of Heliopolis, a city on the mountain-tops, high above the cloud line. Returning from a diplomatic mission his father's aëro:cruiser malfunctions and sinks. No one has ever been below the clouds and survived, but Marcus is determined to find his father again, no matter what it takes.
When I first picked this book up I was intrigued. I’m always looking for new worlds to read about, and I’ve only seen a cloud world once before. I was not disappointed. Cunningham’s imagination seems endless and the cloudscape is a wonderful place to set it free. The setting is gorgeously painted, combining the new and amazingly imaginative with the little tweaks that you recognize so it isn’t completely foreign. It only took the first few pages to convince me that this was a place I wanted to visit (along with Hogwarts and Narnia – ain’t gonna happen, but a girl can dream, right?) It took me a bit longer to fall in love with the characters, but for good reason. At the beginning nearly every character is modeled on one archetype or another. With such a gorgeous, imaginative setting, it was quite disappointing to feel like I’d already read every single character a million times over. But, should you decide to read this one and begin to feel the same way, DO NOT give up. No one is who you think they are, I promise. You just have to give them a chance.
Despite how much I want to rave on and on about how pretty this book is, that wasn’t even my favorite part. No, the best part about the book is, even with the beautiful setting and characters that grow into surprisingly different people, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about being open minded, learning new things and belief. Everything about the novel (including the fantasy elements) guide you towards his point and help it along.
At this point, anyone who read my review of The Dragonfly Pool is probably grumbling under their breath about my inconsistency and hypocrisy. Let me explain. In The Dragonfly Pool everything obviously led to her conclusion, almost rubbing it in your face, and forcing you to agree with her. In CloudWorld everything guides you to his conclusion, but you must make the final conclusion yourself. Though his views on the subject are clear, he merely provides you with the information that will help you to draw a conclusion on the subject. If you choose, you could take an opposing opinion, or more likely take nothing from the book but an interesting story. This is what makes a well-written novel fabulous, and I am looking forward to finding the sequel!
P.S. It occurs to me that I forgot to mention the author of the previous book anywhere except the tags. Gideon the Cutpurse was written by Linda Buckley-Archer
I’ve decided to join in the weekly Book Blogger Hop, even though I’m quite new to blogging about books. This week’s question is: “Tell us about some of your favorite authors and why they are your favorites!”
This is always the hardest question ever. For one thing picking a few favorite authors is more difficult than picking out the few that I don’t like. Secondly, I have a hard time figuring out why I love an author. The authors I love are almost invariably the ones I read so quickly that I can’t even remember having read a thing – the best books are written so well that they become films in my memory. I always list the same ones though, so I think I’ll try to list a few different ones.
1 – Susan Cooper – The very first time I remember reading something that turned into a film in my head was Over Sea, Under Stone. I have no idea why I liked it… in fact I think it’s time to go back and reread those…
2 – James Owen – This one I’ve talked about a lot, but my new absolute favorite series is the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica (even edging alongside Harry Potter if that’s possible). I can’t tell you my favorite bit of the book, as it’s very spoiler-y but if you’ve ever looked for a historical fantasy that is out of the norm, this is it. It is absolutely my favorite series ever, and if you haven’t read it, go find it!
3 – John Ringo – this one was a bit unusual for me. Ringo’s typical fare is not the type of thing I like. Despite his tendency for fantasy, he usually writes war novels, which I don’t always like, and rarely ever think of as a favorite. But his Council Wars series is somehow the perfect combination of Science Fiction and Fantasy to keep my interest, and it’s done ever so cleverly!
There are several other, perhaps better known authors, but those are three of my favorite authors that are relatively unknown.
Gideon the Cutpurse
by Linda Buckley-Archer Series: Gideon Trilogy #1 Published by Simon & Schuster
in 6/7/06 Genres: Fantasy Pages:
364 Source: Library Goodreads
Peter and Kate are involved in a strange accident that causes them to be sent back to 1763. Once there they meet Gideon, a former cutpurse on the run from his employer, who promises to help them retrieve the stolen time-travel machine. 300-odd years later, a full blown police investigation is launched. But how can they explain the "ghosts?"
This one is really problematic for me (the review, not the book). I keep telling myself that this would have been a great book if only it didn’t have time travel in it. Time travel is starting to get a bit overused and if it’s not handled properly, it just sort of falls flat. This particular version does well with what it handles – the problem is that there are so many things it doesn’t answer. For example, one of the first things you have to answer when using time travel as a device is whether time is fixed or changeable (fixed means you don’t have issues with the Butterfly Effect, which makes life soooo much easier as a writer). The thing is, it’s hardly even dealt with in this novel. I suppose this could be explained by the characters’ lack of knowledge in the area, but that doesn’t account for the fact that the time travel sections felt a little stiff and forced (there’s only so many jokes about the future you can make, and quite frankly only so many famous people you can have your characters meet before it gets old).
That’s not to say it was all bad. When the novel stuck to 1763, it was much easier to read. I would love to read a historical novel by her, because her historical writing is really well done. If the story could have held it’s own without the time travel it would have been fabulous. So, in balance, I’d say on a scale of 1-5 this is a 3. It’s good enough for a casual read, but not impressive enough to warrant anything higher.