Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Talk: Starling-Spoiler Alert

Starling #1Title: Starling
Series: Starling (companion to Wondrous Strange trilogy)
Author: Lesley Livingston
Volume: 1
Rating: 7.5/10

Summary (minor spoilers): This book begins some time after the end of Tempestuous, the last in the Wondrous Strange Trilogy. There are allusions made to the events of the trilogy in the book, and so there will be spoilers in the summary. Off you go to read those books first.*shoos away*. All-new heroine Mason Starling is a fencer, preparing for national team qualifying matches (sorry, bouts). She's pretty handy with a sword, but not quite prepared to fight against the terrifying creatures that attack her and a group of her fellow students during a freak storm and power outage. In crashes a stranger (literally crashes, destroying a rainbow glass window in the process) who pretty much single handedly saves the day, herding them all underground and beheading the monsters left and right. Trapped underground until sunrise, they learn that the stranger remembers nothing about himself, save his name: the Fennrys Wolf (there ensues and argument about the use of the in a name).

Mason and Fenn embark on a quest to figure out who Fennrys is, why his memories were taken, why strange monsters seem to be attacking them left and right (whether they're actually after Fennrys of Mason is unclear, as the attacks happen while there together), and how Mason's supposed to win a bunch of fencing bouts while all this craziness is happening.

This book. I honestly don't know how to describe my reaction. It yanked me in. It really did. So it gets points for that. It's definitely a teen book, probably more toward the younger set... but that didn't stop me liking it. I can get past the intsa-love, and manage to get pulled in... somehow, its one of those books that shouldn't work together, but somehow does. It has a certain charm.

There's something about Lesley Livingston's writing that just clicks for me, and has since I read Wondrous Strange years ago. She has a knack for mixing humor with action with romance with magic(k) that I really enjoy.

I really like Lesley Livingston's heroines. Especially Kelley from Wondrous Strange and now Mason from Starling. I think they'd get along pretty well if the ever met (they both seem to use Fenn as the personal punching bag a little bit). It would actually love for them to meet. Though that would be a little awkward. And it was nice to see Fenn again. Re-alive. Heather reminds me of Tyff from Wondrous Strange, and I hope she gets to continue playing a role in this series.

And a little bit of a cliffhanger, much? In quick succession the real reason for Mason's extreme claustrophobia, and a super cliffhanger ending. Off Fenn goes on (another) merry quest of impossibility. Really wondering if he'll have to pass through the Otherworld to get to Helhiem. And hoping for more character cameos (just little ones, I kind of miss them a lot, and the whole impending to caused by the damage to the Gate has got to be everyone's problem right?). In one of here blog posts the author mentioned that she had penned a short story about Maddox and Chloe, but due to issues with the publisher it didn't end up in print. I hope it makes it to print some time, (maybe as a bonus feature or something? or an ebook?).

This Book Was Read: In Chapters, in the car on the way home from Chapters, at the table during lunch (carefully), and as I wandered the house. It, like Ms. Livingston's other books, is  really hard to put down, and, for me, was one that I finished in under twelve hours.

P.S. A quote, because I'm actually I really like this quote
"I had to tell Toby [fencing teacher] that you were at math tutorial, the math tutor that you were at fencing practice, your brother that you were at the bowling alley, and your other brother that you were at the library." -Heather
And this is why Heather reminds me of Tyff, and I love her for it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Talk: East

EastTitle: East
Author: Edith Pattou

Rating: 8/10

Summary:Violet eyed and willful, Northborn Rose doesn t fit perfectly with her family, and doesn t behave as her mother would have her behave. When an enormous white bear comes to the door of her family s home, with the promise that he will heal her sister and help see her family through the hard times that have fallen on them, Rose readily agrees. She sets off to live in a castle with all of her needs accommodated for and secrets hidden by the pitch-black night. When she discovers a very important secrets, she must journey pretty much literally to the ends of the Earth to right a wrong and save the one she cares about.


I loved East. It is a wonderful fairytale retelling, a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. The characters are three-dimensional and engaging, and there is no simple evil. The heroine, Rose, is a strong and diverse female lead. Told in several viewpoints, it is a book I would recommend to anyone who likes fantasy and fairytales, and isn' t afraid of a slightly large page count (the hardcover copy comes in at over 490 pages). It was excellent, and I personally read it all in a day or so, without putting it down much at all. It is fantastic read if you like fantasy fiction. I read it in the summer, though I consider it more of a winter read, something to cozy up with after spending time out shoveling.

This Book Was Read: As I wandered around the house, trying to do everything one-handed. It took a surprisingly short time to read, given the page count.

Book Talk: Nevermore-Spoiler Alert

Nevermore: The Final Maximum Ride Adventure
Title: Nevermore
Series: Maximum Ride
Volume: 8 (the final one)
Author: James Patterson
Rating: 5/10

Summary (SPOILERS):
We begin with the end. Our precognitive, mind-reading and generally terrifying seven year old bird girl has been captured by the baddies (again). This time all of the original Flock, plus Dylan and Fang's grouping, think she is dead. But Angel isn't dead. She is alive and being tortured in a lab. Tortured by others, and tortured by her terrifying visions of the oncoming apocalypse. The Flock is dead. The humans are dead. The world is burning. Angel is alone.

The first part of the book focuses on Max and Fang both beginning to try to move on. Max is getting closer to Dylan and Fang to Maya. This ends quickly when Maya is killed by Ari (the, what, 6th?), and Fang disbands his group following the betrayal that caused Maya's death, only to be told by the Voice that he must return to Max's side. And that's when things get really interesting.

There's a message that appears on Fang's blog that Angel is still alive, and so begins another Angel rescue mission. There's another group trying to destroy humanity, and a bunch of people trying to kill Fang because of his ultra-special DNA. Oh, and did I mention the end of the world?

All in all, the plot still had the frantic, disjointed feel of the last two books, which was not something I am personally fond of. Actually, it felt like there were a bunch of short, unrelated stories tossed in a blender. Max shows some signs of her old self, especially after Fang returns to the group, but I wish she stood a little tougher. I would still advise anyone who is in the earlier series to stop at book five, which seems to be the logical conclusion, and pretend the following three didn't happen.

There are some strange and random additions to the plot at various points, which I wasn't all that fond of, and I don't like the direction some of the characters went. I mean, if there is a group planning to rid the world of humans and make way for the mutants, shouldn't someone, you know, try to stop them. Overall, a lot of the characters lost some of their heroism (though Max does try to go back to the mainland and stop it, she is hindered by the whole asteroid episode).

The love triangle is (finally, thank goodness) resolved. (Spoiler) Max ends up with Fang. Which I think in the end works better for me than Dylan. I didn't really like Dylan from the beginning, but I think it is more my attachment to the original Flock. And the fact that there is something wrong with the fact that his age is measured in months, not years. I really hope Max and Fang can revert back to the way they were in the earlier books. I miss the tough survivors so much. And poor Maya. Her death was depressing, though it seemed too rushed and was... well it just felt off somehow.

And the asteroid thing. I'm really worried about Ratchet and Holden. We never find out if they made it out alive, or if the flu did destroy pretty much all of humanity. I would have liked some sort of epilogue, but seeing as how Max speaks in past tense to a human reader at the end, it is safe to assume some survived.

All in all, the constant apocalypses of the last few books failed to serve as fulfilling, though was left with an overall feeling that everything would be okay- for the Flock, at least. For some reason everything ending in all of that destruction didn't really ring true, and I'm kind of imaging the Flock living like they did in the earlier books. I'm not quite sure about what message James Patterson was sending, except with the "Max's Last Words" shpiel. I don't know, but I just picture the human world recovering, in spite of everything, maybe with mutants helping it along. Or something. It can't just be, the humans all died and we lived happily ever after, that just doesn't work. I still felt like we had lost the characters a little bit, but I think I am (sad as it is) used to that after three books of it.

Anyway. Eight books, some major downhill spiralage and a frantic attempt to create a crash-landing that lands all of the passengers relatively safe. Basically, an extended plane crash metaphor, though I think everyone survived aforementioned metaphor. I'm still not sure how successful it was, so I'm giving it five out of ten, though I might come back and change it later. It could have been a lot worse, all things considered. Overall, it has been quite the ride.

This Book Was Read: Again. In a hotel room, this time in Costa Rica. At three in the morning (viva la study break), and finished the next day.

Book Talk: The Last Gaurdian-Spoiler Alert

Artemis Fowl The Last Guardian
Title: The Last Guardian
Series: Artemis Fowl
Author: Eoin Colfer
Volume: 8 (the final one)
Rating: 10/10

This is one book that I waited ages for, and, even in Belize with terrible internet, I managed to get the eBook. I read it every minute I could get. And it was AWESOME.

Summary (minor spoilers): Basically, the souls of fairies who fought humans for the earth all those years ago have risen from their slumber on the Fowl manor grounds (apparently, the Fowls are more likely to believe in magic because it permeates the soil around them). These souls take over the bodies of many animals, as well as the bodies of Juliet, Miles and Beckett (though not so well to the last two, as they are both about as mentally determined as Artemis is and keep bursting out at random times). The one who awoke the souls was Opal, who escapes from prison by murdering her younger self and going pretty much nuclear as a result. She gets a whole lot of dark magic. There are two gates, one to release the souls into the world, and one that give the opener a choice of freeing the souls to depart or killing all humanity. Opal is obviously in it for option B. Meanwhile, the fairy and human world are both in chaos, as anything that Opal invented in the years between her current and her younger sell exploded, including many human devices with pirate Koboi technology. And so, as Foaly tries to save Haven and his wife, Artemis, Holly and Butler journey to the surface in an attempt to rescue Artemis's family and save the world (again). And it is time for a true ending. If you don't want to be spoiled even more, stop reading now.

This book focuses a lot on Artemis's growth as a person. We first meet a cold, selfish 11 year old who will do just about anything to get what he wants. In this book, Arty, though recovered from his Atlantis Complex, is much more moral, and cares a lot for both his family and friends. Enough to pretty much make the ultimate sacrifice (the one who opens the gate is pretty much bound to the fate of the souls, body dead, and soul gaurding the gate unless they should choose for their soul to move on) for them in order to free the fairy souls from the gate and save humanity. *cue serious emotional breakdown*.  And now it gets spoilerific. Be warned, ye who venture onward. Of course, Artemis being Artemis, he still has a plan. It involves cloning and is highly illegal (Artemis will be Artemis). He believes that his clone, which is a body without a soul, and his soul will be able to mesh, and he can pretty much come back from the dead. Of course, living as pure soul isn't easy, which he will need to do for six months, and there are no guarantees. He makes it, and at the end he is being filled in on his memories, since he's a little fuzzy. "It all started in Ho Chi Minh City one summer. It was sweltering by anyone's standards..."

Response: I thought it was really good. It was a bit darker, but still wonderful. It was told in the same witty manner that pulled me at the beginning. I have chosen to believe that Artemis didn't actually forget everything, just needed help to remember. In the end, humans are more aware of fairies but mostly chalk it up to hallucinations caused by mass trauma (what with all of the pirate fairy tech in cars and stuff exploding). The world is safe. I truly did not expect it to end the way it did, and I don't typically like Armageddon-ish endings, but the world came back together a bit. The fairies and humans might even be able to live more comfortably together, since human are going back to nature to survive. Thank you Eoin Colfer. You are a one saviour of my sanity on this trip. Thank you. I'm upset that the series is over, but it is so wonderful I can read it over and over and still fall in love with it every time. And I wouldn't say no to a couple short stories either (maybe Miles and Beckett, with Arty as a side character, though I would really miss him).

This book was read: In a hotel room in Belize, mostly. Every chance I could get. On my computer. And totally worth it.

Book Talk: Enchantress-Spoiler Alert

The Enchantress {The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel}
Title: The Enchantress
Series: Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Author: Michael Scott
Volume/Book: 6 (the finale!)
Rating: 8/10

Summary (Where We Begin, minor spoilers):
San Francisco: Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, both with only one day left to live must fight off the monsters that have been kept on Alcatraz. They are joined by Niten, Prometheus (modern day), Mars, Hel, Odin and (somewhat belatedly) Tsagaglalal/Aunt Anges. Also, surprisingly, by Billy the Kid, Machiavelli and Black Hawk, all of whom have chosen to fight on the side of humanity.
Danu Talis: Scathach, Joan of Arc, St. Germain, Prometheus (past), Palamedes and William Shakespeare are all preparing to destroy Danu Talis so that their civilization can rise. Also, Sophie, Josh, Virginia Dare and John Dee have all crashed through into the past as well. They will be instrumental in the saving or destruction of the world.

"The Two That Are One must become the One That Is All. One to save the World, One to destroy it."

Reaction: SPOILERS don't even bother reading if you don't want the book ruined for you

My  Rating: 7/8

This book triggered lots of happiness and lots of sadness. (But I'm not going to talk all that much about emotions). It really impressed me.It has a really good ending, not too happy, not too sad, but hopeful. The author did a really good job of managing his enormous cast of characters, while making them all engaging. There was action, magic, some really funny comments, some really sad scenes (Tsagaglalal's choice, Josh's letter), lots of surprises and a little bit of romance (actually, there is a wedding mentioned...).  I felt like the whole Osiris and Isis thing was a little quick, but then, it wasn't really the main plot. The main plot was good. There were a couple of loose ends left un-tied, but that to was good (we can make our own stories, which keeps the book alive). I found that the part on Alcatraz and the defense of San Francisco were more engaging for me than what took place on Danu Talis, though I was really fond of Virginia in this book.

This was a really good concluding novel, and definitely a re-read book, since I feel like I rushed through to the end. The world kept getting in my way.

This Book Was Read: Into the early hours of the morning (on a school night), the next morning at the breakfast table, in the car on the way to school (I don't drive, just so you know), under the table during class, during D.E.A.R., at lunch, on the car ride home and finally at home. It took me about 24 hours to finish (interruptions of the world included).