Category Archives: Book Reactions

Book Reaction: H.P Lovecraft Omnibus One

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From Goodreads: A complete short novel, AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS is a tale of terror unlike any other. The Barren, windswept interior of the Antarctic plateau was lifeless–or so the expedition from Miskatonic University thought. Then they found the strange fossils of unheard-of creatures…and the carved stones tens of millions of years old…and, finally, the mind-blasting terror of the City of the Old Ones. Three additional strange tales, written as only H.P. Lovecraft can write, are also included in this macabre collection of the strange and the weird

So it’s Halloween and I thought I would write a post about one of my favourite newly discovered authors, H.P Lovecraft.  This is the first of three omnibuses of his work and it consists of a group of longer short stories (bar one).  My favourite in the collection was ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’ because it was creepy and awesome at the same time. At the Mountains of Madness is also really good and it sends a shiver down your spine for sure.   I thought the book was very enchanting and Lovecraft’s prose is amazing to read – it is simple yet elegant.   If you are looking for something to read this Halloween I would give H.P. Lovecraft a try because you won’t regret it.

Book Reaction: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Hi

Yesterday I did a review on this book, so I’m not going to go into any explanation of the premise or the synopsis here.  Furthermore, if the title isn’t obvious enough, this is a spoiler review.  So you have been warned.

I picked up ‘Tigana’ because as a history student I liked how it was based on themes from real history.  The concept of a nation being not only conquered, but also made to feel ashamed of itself and forgotten intrigued me.  I think the afterword at the end of the book was a great add-on because a lot of the influences that Guy Gavriel Kay mentions are interesting.  In my opinion the book does examine the consequences of Brandin of Ygarth’s rule really well.  Many of the people who remembered Tigana wanted to forget it because they felt that it was wrong that they were still alive while so many others weren’t.  Baerd’s and Catriana’s storylines were the biggest ones that stand out in respect to this.  I thought that was interesting because it was something that I didn’t expect to feature in a story like this – the guilt that they felt for being too young, or for the actions of their fathers.  They weren’t just angry at Brandin, but at themselves and at their country fellows.

In my review I mentioned a couple of problems that I had with the book.  The one that I want to talk about here is the romance.  I hated how Catriana was relegated to Allesan’s love interest in the last hundred or so pages in the book.  Before that I’d liked her, because she was willing to do anything for her country, like all the others.  Then all of a sudden we have this ‘love confession’ where both characters realise their undying love for each other (in the space of a chapter) and she realises she has done everything for Allesan.

‘We do with our hands, our eyes, what we are afraid to say’.  She surprised herself; she hadn’t known she knew any such thing. (P 719)

I think the scene was over the top and cheapened everything that she had done.  And his lines were so cheesy… I’m shuddering just remembering them.  Devin’s love story bored me.  Baerd’s happened really quick, but it was bearable.  The exception was of course Dianora and Bradin – I hated him, but I could feel the love between them.  She gave up her foretold destiny because she couldn’t bear to leave him.

This leads me to the part of the book that to me was the best.  The ending was great.  I thought it was heartbreaking that Prince Valentin was Brandin’s Fool.  It was like the ultimate torture – Brandin not only took away the Prince’s family and his country, but he also faked his death after a year of torturing him and mutilated him so much that his own son didn’t recognise him.  Surprisingly, I didn’t hate Brandin by the end of the book – his intense love for his loved ones compared to Alberico didn’t make him the most evil man in the world.  He was bad but he wasn’t a traditional 2-D bad guy.  I could on some level feel for him.  When Valentin was revealed I was shocked, but I think the saddest part of that scene was that he didn’t hate Dianora.  Despite it all, and despite Dianora’s deep-seated fear that if anyone who knew her knew what she had become they would reject her, Valentin didn’t look down on her.

The Prince of Tigana, on the ground beside them, was looking at her with so much compassion in his newly clear eyes.  Which was a thing she could not possibly endure.  Not from him: not with what he had suffered and what she was, what she herself had done.  (P 771)

I thought that was touching.  I think that it was a very clever way to end the book, because it made sense that Valentin would kill Bradin, but it also wasn’t something that a reader could predict.  I expected Allesan to do it.   I wasn’t surprised when Dianora killed herself.  Before the big reveal I had wondered how she was going to go on or would she be allowed a normal life or would she escape.  I think it was a satisfying ending because like Valentin, it made sense.  Dianora wouldn’t have be able to live without Brandin, and she didn’t want to.

The other ending of the book was… different.  At first I thought it was going to be too happy ever after, and after poor Dianora’s end I wasn’t really in the mood for that.  I loved that the ending showed that the time ‘Tigana’ covered was not the entirety of the characters lives.  The riselka was a fantastic twist, because we know that Devin, Baerd and Sandre are not going to take the significance of the matter lightly.  One of them will have a change of path, the other will die and the third will be blessed.  Personally I think it should go like this:  Baerd has a change of path, Devin will die and Sandre will be blessed.  I think that is the most interesting outcome, because if Devin had the change of path, Sandre died and Baerd was blessed it would be way too predictable – I mean Sandre is old, Devin doesn’t want to settle down and Baerd being blessed already happened.  Baerd dying, Sandre changing and Devin being blessed would be interesting too.

The combination is completely up to the reader though because there will be no sequel.  I find that refreshing, because it is a very rare thing with a successful book, especially in fantasy.  I will be reading more Guy Gavriel Kay in the future.

Book Reaction: The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan

Hi

I think that it only makes sense to do a reaction post on the entire trilogy as a whole, because that way I can talk about all the spoilers I want to without, you know, ruining it for anyone else.  That and I’m lazy!

I was sceptical about reading ‘The Black Magician Trilogy’ for several reasons.  I mentioned before that I had tried to read it years ago and couldn’t stick it.  I also did like the covers and thought that (based on the first one-hundred pages and the synopsis of the first book) that it was way too cliché to be any good.  The fact that it is sort-of young adult also didn’t appeal to me.  But my brother kept going on about how good it was, and seeing as at the time I was doing the 50 book challenge, I needed the extra books to keep the numbers going.

At first I wasn’t too keen on ‘The Magician’s Guild’ but I did find it easy to read and when I got to the two-hundred page mark it seemed to really begin to pick up in terms of storyline.  I loved the chapter where Sonea and Cery snuck into the guild, and thought it was a good way to make the reader go wtf? without giving too much away.  I recognised Akkarin immediately and what he was doing didn’t greatly resemble the magic that had been introduced in the book previously.   The Fergun plot was pretty so-so for me.  I thought it was a bit overblown, but by the end of the book I was sufficiently attached to the main characters to want to continue.  That and I loved how Akkarin just walked in and cut the crap when Fergun was lying his way through the hearing:

‘From the accounts given today, we can clearly see that Lord Fergun was the first to recognise Sonea’s abilities’ said Lord Osen ‘Does anybody contest this conclusion?’

‘I do’

It was badass without trying to be badass!

 ‘The Novice’ was a huge step up from the first book.  I loved the series approach to the bullying Sonea undergoes.  After each attack scene I emphasised with her.  As someone who was bullied in the past I know what it feels like to be so worn out that it is hard to keep going.  In the book the attacks by Regin and his friends are very metaphorical for real life bullying, but of course real-life bullying the majority of the time is never that extreme.  I thought Akkarin was so evil in this book too.  I hated his approach to Sonea and found it very hard to see how this guy was going to be the hero of the novels (my brother had revealed that by this point, plus I’d skimmed the last chapter of ‘The High Lord’ so I knew a couple of things) let alone was actually going to be the man Sonea has a relationship with.  He was just cruel.  I think at one point it was mentioned that he was watching it happen and my mouth fell open.  My favourite scene was when Lorlen confronted him over it, despite being in a hideous situation himself.

I mentioned in my review that I also loved the Dannyl storyline.  I haven’t read it in fantasy before (I know there are some well-known books that deal with homosexuality but I haven’t got round to reading them).   Dannyl and Tayend had great chemistry and by the end I was just waiting for Dannyl to come out so that they could be together.  The travels they go on while retracing Akkarin’s footsteps was intriguing.   It made him come across even more evil, because why would he even want to look at that stuff if he was supposed to be good?  The last couple of pages were kind of out of no-where, and left me wanting to start the next book immediately.

‘The High Lord’ completely blew my mind.  So far, it is my favourite book that I’ve read this year.  Akkarin’s back story was completely unexpected to me.  I think it is the best twist in the trilogy, because within a chapter he goes from someone who you can’t see as a good person to the hero of the series.  It just made sense.  During the Hearing that was held to decide what to do with Sonea and Akkarin I could see why the Guild didn’t trust him.   The choices the Guild in the present made were founded on hundreds of years of propaganda and ignorance, and I could see that they weren’t going to change easily.  Sonea deciding to go to Sachaka with Akkarin was really brave, and I also loved the bravery of the Guild in the face of an enemy who was stronger than them.  They thought they were going to fail, and die failing, but they went ahead and defended Imardin despite all that.  I was really upset when Lorlen died – it was just awful.  Then when Akkarin died (even though I knew it was coming) I couldn’t put the book down, but at the same time it was ending.  I finished the book in tears and spent hours online trying to recover without crying anymore tears.

I’m a bit of a sap.  I’m going to end this here, because this post is way too long.

Musing Mondays (May 28)

Hi

I am a huge, huge fan of book blogs in general, and as such I’ve been reading other bloggers doing ‘Musing Mondays’ for a while now.  So, I’m excited to now take part.  I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.   For those of you who don’t know ‘Musing Mondays’ is a weekly event hosted by Should Be Reading where basically you are asked to answer a book/reading related question.

This week’s question is:

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

No I don’t.  I usually guess at the word from the context, but even if I’m baffled I keep reading and (maybe) look it up later.  I don’t like to disturb the reading flow.  I seriously hate footnotes for that very reason too, but find myself compelled to look at them anyways.

Book Reaction: Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

 

Hi

I’ve decided not to do a review of this book for two reasons.  Firstly, this is number twelve in the Southern Vampire Mysteries/ Sookie Stackhouse Series, so chances are if you have any curiosity or interest in the series you’ve already read many of the books.  Secondly, I just felt that any review I tried to write about Deadlocked would suffer because I didn’t overly like it, and without spoilers I can’t fully explain why.

Like a lot of fans I was really looking forward to Deadlocked.  Unlike the vast majority I actually liked the previous installment – Dead Reckoning – so I hoped that this would be more of the same.  At first it did show promise and then, about one hundred and fifty pages in I realised that I still hadn’t actually gotten into the book.  It was sort of enjoyable, I will give it that.  A lot of fans are angry because so much of the book is the mundane life of Sookie.  I agree that it got a little out of hand, but at the same time I actually like Sookie’s internal monologues.

The mystery story in Deadlocked is non-existent.  Jannalynn wasn’t a big surprise, because Sookie hates her and it was clear from the start that something was up between them.  I was a bit disappointed at how obvious it was.  More than that, I actually was a little baffled, because for several books there Jannalynn was a minor annoyance but not much more.  Correct me if I’m mistaken but I distinctly remember that when Sookie filled in as Long Tooth Pack shaman, Jannalynn was the most devoted in the pack to Alcide.  Deadlocked provided no explanation for this change of heart.

Like other fans I also didn’t like the treatment of Eric in the novel.  Or Alcide for that matter.  I think that it is less noticeable if you don’t think back to the older books.  There was a great absence of the early chemistry between Eric and Sookie.  As a matter of fact there was a great absence of any chemistry between any characters.  Pam didn’t even get the time to be her sarcastic self.  Sookie is suffering from a mental break – which is understandable – but that also means a lot of the humour is gone.  The series used to make me laugh out loud  at the tongue-in-cheek humour about how silly some of the supernatural stuff could be.  That was completely absent.

I’m not shocked about the Sam Sookie cliffhanger.  It makes logical sense.  Sookie is really, really broody.  She wants a normal life, with a normal family.  She wants a man who understands what she is and what she deals with day-to-day.  She wants someone who has a hard to read mind.  Sam fits all of those things perfectly.  There is a lack of any real passion between them at the moment, but there is another book to come.  I still have hope.  Some have suggested that T-Rex could be Sookie’s happily ever after too – I think this is an attempt for some to hope for a less predictable series ending.  Who knows?  It would be interesting, and Sookie did make a small comment early in the book that T-Rex had a fascinating mind, and she would like to spend time near him to read it.  So maybe there is hope that the series can pick itself up.

I think that Deadlocked is a 2.5 stars kind of book.  It is part of a great series, and has characters that are strong.  It’s just such a huge disappointment.  I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t really care by the end of it.  I’m not even going to mention the fairy thing.  I mean really?  Niall just shows up, saves the day and with a snap of his fingers takes away a plotline that has been building for several books.  Worst of all Sookie has no funny one-liners about the weirdness of it all.  She doesn’t start laughing like the Sookie of old. She just accepts it all like a cynical, exhausted person.  That last sentence pretty much sums up the book for me.

What did you think of Deadlocked?

Reaction: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Hi

On Friday I reviewed ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes, but on further reflection I’ve decided to express my reaction to the book as well.  In a way this is a spoiler review, so if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself before you read it, don’t read the rest of this post.

I loved this book.  I really did. But when I finished reading I really didn’t know what to think.  I was so upset.  I googled it and read as many reviews as possible, because I just couldn’t get it out of my head.  I just wanted to talk about it with somebody, you know?  So I ended up annoying both my mother and brother (who haven’t read the book) by telling them the story.  My mother said it was too sad for her to read, now that she knew the ending.

I was in tears for a large section of the novel.   I think that Jojo Moyes did a great job in giving the reader hope that Will would choose to live.  I know that I couldn’t believe he’d done it until about halfway through Chapter 27: Crown Prosecution Service Advisory letter thingy.  I started crying way before that though, around 85% on the Kindle.  The bit where Lou confesses her love for Will, but he says it’s not enough was hard to read.  It was always just so believable, which is something that might not have been if Moyes hadn’t done such a great job.  I also found it interesting (after a couple of days) how it could easily have gone either way – in terms of the story it would have worked for him to live or die.  I thought that was very life-like, because Will had options, even if he didn’t see them.  It was always about choice, as pointed out by the people Lou speaks to online.

‘Do you know what, Louisa?  It would be nice – just for once – if someone paid attention to what I wanted.’

Will Chapter 4

I also liked how Will was always more than his disability.  His final decision was his own to make as a person, and as a reader I didn’t hate him for it or felt cheated in any way.  Moyes based the book on a real life issue, and it is clear that she wanted to portray it as realistically as possible.  Camilla Traynor is another example of this.  Her chapter was actually one of my favourites.  She was the parent with everything to lose, and she was the one that everyone, including Lou’s mother, blamed.  Mr. Traynor didn’t get the same criticism, which is an entire debate on its own really.

After the last scene with Will (Chapter 26) I have to say I felt a little disassociated with the book.  I think that the epilogue was okay, but it also fell kind of short.  The way Will’s death is conveyed to the reader is impersonal as well.  I felt like the book had already ended.  Saying that I think a lot of books that end with a main character dying end this way, because it is such an emotional event.

The humour in the book was excellent too.  It was very British.  I was either laughing or crying with ‘Me Before You’ really.

If anyone reads this – what did you think of ‘Me Before You’?

Spoiler Review: ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ by Anne Bishop

Hi
Before I start I just have to say that this is an ironic post.  I knew about blogs, but I only started really getting into them when I googled for early reviews of this book.  So in a way this is the book that started this blog. 
After reading the book, I do think ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ is good. It had a lot of guts in it. Anne Bishop was really brave in my opinion to go where her characters took her. I do not think that this is a series breaker. I actually think that ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ hearkens back to what the story was always supposed to be about – the price of happiness. 
I think that, from reading a lot of reviews on ‘Twilight’s Dawn’, most people who talk about this book need to use spoilers.  I’m going to do the same, particularly with ‘The High Lord’s Daughter’.  I don’t think you can review that story without spoilers.  I also will be a bit different in this review from my other, usual reviews, because I, like a lot of fans read the spoilers before publication.  Many fans refuse to read Twilight’s Dawn or even acknowledge it.  I want to explain my opinions of the book before and after I read it.  This could be a long post (in fairness most of mine are).  You have been warned. 

What did I think of the book before reading it?  Honestly, when I first came upon the review over on Dear Author I was shocked.  I suppose you could say horrified.   I just couldn’t believe what I was reading, about Jaenelle being dead, more importantly Saetan being dead, and Daemon and Surreal being married and having a kid.  I felt like I was reading a fan fiction that I would have dismissed as absurd.  I agreed wholeheartedly with the comments, on that site and others that ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ would be a series breaker, and resolved that I wouldn’t get it in hardback for that reason.   I love Surreal – seriously she is one of my favourite characters, and just couldn’t believe that she would want to be second best, and compared to Jaenelle for the rest of her life. 
To clarify, I am not a romance reader.  I came to the books as a fantasy reader, as well as someone who loves books that make you think such as the classics.  The Black Jewels series was a bit of dark horse for me – but I liked the fact that it was a ‘happy ending’ yet gritty type of story.  I had noticed that Surreal had a thing for Daemon though, and so, after a couple of days… or weeks more like… I wasn’t as shocked.  I was more shocked that Anne Bishop had gone there with that storyline. 
I did want to read the book though, because I wanted to know about the other characters’ conclusions as well.  Jaenelle and Daemon are not my favourite couple – Lucivar and Marian are.  A lot of fans noted that ‘Shades of Honour’ is a really good story.  So when I got my kindle a few weeks ago I purchased ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ on it. 
I am very glad that I did. 
What do I think of the book now? 
‘Winsol Gifts’ was an okay story/novella.   I think that it highlighted something that had been lacking from most of the other books of the series – the loss of family that happened during the purge.  Andulvar, Prothvar and Mephis weren’t really mentioned after the third book, and so I found it bittersweet to read about how the characters loved and missed them, especially Saetan and Jaenelle. I always felt that the characters mentioned were arbitrary – they kind of shuffled in together a lot throughout the trilogy so it is touching to see them in this way.  Other than that, to me this was not much of a story.  Like many I would compare it to a bit of fan fiction – this is just the characters on a day off. 
‘Shades of Honour ‘ was my favourite part of the collection.  It was the longest, and it contained a lot of the early spirit of the Black Jewels books.  ‘Shades of Honour’ brings the focus back to the eyrie and to the Yaslanas.  It also deals with Surreal’s mental state, and as the premise states – Falonar’s betrayal.  The story is strong and builds up to its climax in a believable way.  I loved it when Surreal gave Falonar a piece of her mind and it was great to read about how Lucivar and the eyrians worked together.  The battleground scene was awesome too.  The ending?  I thought it was a bit too typical of the later Black Jewels books – Daemon overstepped the line.  I haven’t read the Shadow Queen or Shalador’s Lady yet, but I know that Daemon has a habit of taking over.  Even when the story is about Lucivar.  I wish that ‘Shades of Honour’ was a book on its own though – I thought it was good enough to warrant that. 
‘Family’ was kind of good.  The beginning was very exciting and the premise morbid enough to separate it from ‘Winsol Gifts’.  However, I felt that it was too short and kind of cannibalised itself by the end.  I found myself doubting the actual climax to this story but I thought the story was good in its conclusions – what happens to No Face had my mouth open.  One of the sickest moments since ‘Daughter of the Blood’ definitely.  The title also hints at the subtext of the story – family is important here.  An important conclusion is also made for Saetan, after his sacrifice in ‘Queen of the Darkness’. 
‘The High Lord’s Daughter’ was not as hard to read as many reviews had suggested.  So much is happening that you have to wonder why this isn’t its own book.  It is very choppy and, since we the readers haven’t really been told much about the early development process of the long-lived races, I found it hard to picture the children with all the jumps.   I thought that the romance element was… very stressed.  It felt like all the characters were trying to justify it, including Daemon and Surreal.  Together they make sense, but they don’t work together the way Marion and Lucivar do.  Even Lucivar and Marion mention this fact right after the baby is born.  Certain things I felt would have been smoothed out if the story was longer – such as Jaenelle 2.0’s irritating character.  Other things, such as Surreal’s development seemed to quickly dissolve.  I found that disappointing – she went from self-appointed bitch to worrying wife after the birth, and I just wanted it to be over once that creeped in.
I am not one of those people who scorn those that wanted the Happily Ever After. I’ve read countless reviews and other things where people rip into those readers and I don’t think that that is fair. Ideally I would have liked to see Surreal get her one true love, like all the other characters got. I don’t care much about Daemon’s romantic storyline, because he already got that. I’ve already concluded on the book in my second paragraph but as someone who has enjoyed most of the other books in the series, I am glad I read this one. It was nice to read a book that was not as fluffy and domestic as the ones that came after the trilogy. There is a sense of endings and new beginnings in ‘Twilight’s Dawn’ and in a way I find that akin to ‘Queen of the Darkness’ in more ways than one.  Hopefully, like in that case, this isn’t the last time we see these characters.