April Recap

Saturday, April 30, 2011
So far not too bad! It's a new blog but I am getting the hang and going to get on a real posting schedule with ARCs here soon. I hope to have a good mix of genres, age ranges, and published as well as ARC reads.

Three Reviews:

Two Fun posts:
TBR Problems
Book Haul

Stick around for more bookish fun from me and hopefully a friend or two!

Review: Abhorsen, third in the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix

Friday, April 29, 2011

Title: Abhorsen
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: fantasy, young-adult
Series: Abhorsen #3
Published: 2003
Pages: 518
Rating: 4/5

Fast-paced and a wild ride all the way until the very end, Abhorsen was a brilliant, satisfying and ultimately very enjoyable and fulfilling end to a riveting and vivid series. I felt a bit sad, ending this series. I was caught up by this entrancing story, probably by the second in the series Lirael and I don't think I ever came back down. One of the best books I have or will read this year.

The narrative seems a bit more rushed than previous books, but clearly, that is because there is a lot going on in the last sequel. Multiple POVs, crises on both sides of the Wall, a new Abhorsen-in-Waiting, the mystery of Mogget and the Disreputable Dog, Lirael's heritage, Sam's abilities, Sabriel and Touchstone... etc. Nix manages to wrap up his story lines and characters with grace and aplomb. 

The final revelation about Mogget and the Disreputable Dog, as well as clearing up a lot of mystery over Free Magic versus Charter Magic, was clever and unique; I genuinely did not see that twist coming, thought it was ingenious. One of the best parts of all these books is that they are not predictable or cliched fantasy tropes. Originality, creativeness and genuine creepiness are what defines this series as a whole. 

Sam has improved drastically as a character since finding out he is not the real Abhorsen-in-Waiting. Much less whiny and craven, Sam exhibits courage and fortitude I would have assumed beyond him based on the events of Lirael. I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed him much more than I otherwise would have. Lirael retained all of the things I liked about her from the previous novel, and also grew while facing Hedge and Orannis and became a very strong, likable female protagonist. The Dog and Mogget, like before, bring both comedy and uncertainty with them as they appear through the story. 

This is a marvelous adventure. A great series with strong characters, a compelling plot and unique magic and creatures. Brilliant in all senses of the word. It is a  superb ending for an amazingly entertaining series; it deserves to be read. It can be found here.  An added bonus is that these books have been out in the stores for years so the prices on all three are rather low, and thus easy to accumulate. Nix has advertised a fourth part of the series, Clariel that takes place before the events in Sabriel and details the life of Chlorr of the Mask from the later books. It's definitely going in the to-be-read pile, along with the short stories Garth Nix has written, as well.

Books Added This Week

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I'm a person with little to no impulse control. I hear something, see something, get intrigued and cannot resist. Usually, with books. Added this week, when I should have been working away at my already-purchased stack-

The Lens and The Looker by Lory S. Kaufman, a post-dystopic time travel tale about three 'hard-cases' from the future in the 24th century. I'm a sucker for anything dystopian, and it was cheap (only $2.99 on my amazing Nook) so I have already bought and read this short, simple story. This was introductory novel in a planned series of three, now I'm waiting for the second (The Bronze and the Brimstone) to come out in ebook form. Review later on.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. It was free for my Nook on http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ (they give away a free, fairly random selection every Friday), and I have heard good things. YA novel about a girl's mysterious invitation to Europe via duh thirteen envelopes.

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. Winner of the Pulitzer in 2011 for Fiction as well as numerous awards for its acclaimed author. It's apparently about the decay and rebirth of lives of people within the music industry. It's garnered a lot of praise and I want to find out if it's warranted.

And last,

Room by Emma Donoghue - a disturbing story based loosely on real-life events in Germany. It's been disparaged and awarded, but the contents about a boy and his mother imprisoned within a twelve-foot room in an unsuspecting household has no doubt caught my attention. It might be sensationalist and trivialize an actual horrific event or it might be a moving piece about the resilience of the human spirit. I'll find out when I finallyget to it.

Those are added to my ever-growing list. I'm going through a reread of George R. R. Martin's superb A Song of Ice and Fire beginning four books  in preparation for the publication of the fifth on July 12. I've already finished A Game of Thrones, so A Clash of Kings is up next for me. Of course, I'll probably get distracted by a shiny book cover in between or during.

Review: Lirael by Garth Nix. Book Two in the Abhorsen series.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Title: Lirael, Daughter of the Clayr
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: fantasy, young-adult
Series: Abhorsen #2
Published: 2001
Pages: 705
Rating: 5/5

Lively and absorbing, brimming with imagination and an utterly engaging plot. Suspense, sheer curiosity, genuine creepiness, unsettling creatures, along with unseen twists and turns make this a hard-to-put-down book. One of the best young-adult fantasy books I have ever read; better, even, than its predecessor Sabriel.
I preferred Lirael as a protagonist compared to Sameth AND to Sabriel from the first book. Both Lirael and Sabriel were orphaned without really having known parents, have help from magical creatures that mix Charter and Free Magic and both are very magically talented themselves. However, Sabriel always felt slightly removed and distant, hardly showing emotions, a very self-contained character that was hard for me to connect with; Lirael, in the beginning seems like an improved Sabriel with more

personality and personal problems. Like Sabriel, Lirael is a strong, determined, inquisitive female character; one that pushes herself ever further to learn magic, to explore and grow. She is a very engaging and sympathetic main character. The time the book spends with Lirael in the Library is the best, most compelling part of the novel. Sameth felt a bit two-dimensional as the token Prince with magical ability. His interactions with Lirael were lively and fun to read. He seems slightly unreliable and constantly teetering from scared to terrified. He is realistic and believable, just really annoying as well. It was nice to see the girl being the brave, resourceful hero instead of the typical prince.
The magic system that depends on the bandolier that was introduced in the first book is, once again, an important part of the story, however, much more insight is given in regard to the gifts of the Clayr than the passing mentions from book one. Though Sight is a common magical element in many fantasy stories and novels, Nix's is unique with the formation of the Nine Day Watch and how the female-dominated Clayr view their precognitions.
The ending is abrupt. It slightly weakens the narrative, and makes Lirael more of a bridge between the first and last than an independent book, but not to a drastic measure. Read this series.

First Review: Sabriel by Garth Nix

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Title: Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: fantasy, young-adult
Series: Abhorsen #1
Published: 1995
Pages: 491
Rating: 3.5/5

Lively and creative, Garth Nix's Sabriel shines with imagination and invention. The magic system is simple, but clever and unique to his world. Also original and intriguing is Nix's concept of a long barricaded Wall, one that separates the dreaded dangerous Old Kingdom where the Dead can gain Life and can walk, and the more technologically,
electrically enhanced Ancelstierre to the south.
A few parts of the plot seemed overdone and a tad cliche (landing practically right on top of Touchstone and saving him?), but for the most part this is an enjoyable, utterly unique and lovely book.  Character-wise, Sabriel was believable and and interesting. Mogget was the best character of the book, probably because no one is really sure who/what he is, what he wants or who he's truly serving. His ambiguity and mystery is partially what had me racing through the pages. Touchstone didn't really develop into a 'real' character; for much of the book he is in, he is silent or doesn't really connect as an independent part of the novel.
Despite its small problems, this book is  full of adventure and surprise revelations, making Sabriel worth reading more than once. It can be found here.

My To-Be Read List

Currently this list stands at over 900 books, both ebook and physical books. I can't seem to stop finding interesting new books, intriguing authors or just seeing a pretty cover I want to own (what? don't judge me).
However, I have managed to pare this list down into Low, Middle and High desire to read so I won't go crazy from the pressure of so many books hanging over my head, wanting to be read. So far this year I've read (and reread) 56 books. My goal for the year is 120, and so far I'm 15% ahead of where I need to be at this time of the year. Last year I read 111 books for a total of 51, 199 pages in 2010. So currently, it will take me over 9 years to finish the Want-to-Read pile I've accumulated. Does that deter me? Not at all - I added a new book, Furies of Calderon by Dresden series author Jim Butcher, just this morning. See? A book addict in the best sense of the word.
The point of all this is just that, books. I love them, review them, rant about them, protect them like my future children. If you love a good book, and love to talk about them, this is the place!
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