Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Book Review: A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

AuthorGeorge R.R. Martin
TitleA Feast for Crows
Narrator: John Lee
Publication Info: [Santa Ana, Calif.] : Books on Tape, 2006
Summary/Review: The fourth book in A Song of Ice and Fire is a departure from the style of the earlier books, as it focuses on stories of only some of the major characters, while characters like Daenerys, Jon Snow, Tyrion, and Davos are not featured at all.  This leaves room to explore the Greyjoy/Iron Island and Martell/Dorne story lines in greater depth than ever before.  More familiar characters appearing in this book include:

  • Cersei, using the deaths of Joffrey and Tywin, and absence of Tyrion to consolidate power as Queen Regent.
  • Brienne and Podrick, continuing their search for Sansa and Arya in the lawless lands of Westeros.
  • Samwell, Gilly, Maester Aemon, and Dareon travel to Oldtown so that Samwell can train to be a maester.
  • Arya takes on a new identity in Braavos.
  • Jaime grows distant from his sister/lover and tries to reestablish himself as a military leader despite his missing hand.
  • Sansa adjusts to her new life in the Vale disguised as Littlefinger’s daughter.

In some ways, this book seems to restarting the story.  It also seems to be dragging its heels at points. But mostly it continues to tell a complex and epic tell in interesting ways.

Rating: ***

Book Review:The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

AuthorNeil Gaiman 
TitleThe Ocean at the End of the Lane
Narrator: Neil Gaiman
Publication Info: [New York] : Harper Audio, 2013.
Previously read by the same author:

Summary/Review:

This novel is a mix of fantasy and horror, as a seven-year-old boy’s life is turned upside-down by a supernatural being that invades his home by way of his body taking the form of the superbly creepy Ursula Monkton. Fortunately, the equally mysterious but benevolent Hempstock women live on a farm nearby, and he’s able to go to them for aid.  The book is full of mystery and atmosphere, and captures the feel of childhood when new things can be a source of joy and discovery and the familiar can suddenly be horrific.  Neil Gaiman’s narration on the audiobook is excellent as his diction and delivery add to the feel of a child experiencing the horror and mystery.

Favorite Passages:

“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”

“I lay on the bed and lost myself in stories. I liked that. Books were safer than other people anyways.”

“Adults follow paths. Children explore. Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. I was a child, and I knew a dozen different ways of getting out of our property and into the lane, ways that would not involve walking down our drive.”

“Monsters come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them are things people are scared of. Some of them are things that look like things people used to be scared of a long time ago. Sometimes monsters are things people should be scared of, but they aren’t.”

“Oh, monsters are scared, said Lettie. That’s why they’re monsters.”

“I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

“Different people remember things differently, and you’ll not get any two people to remember anything the same, whether they were there or not.”

Recommended books: Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, and The Boneshaker by Kate Milford.
Rating: ****

Book Review:A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

AuthorGeorge R.R. Martin
Title: A Storm of Swords
NarratorRoy Dotrice
Publication Info: Random House Audio (2012)
Previous books in the series: A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings
Summary/Review:  The high fantasy series continues with the grim and deadly doing of Westeros, a place where weddings are more dangerous than battlefields and being a king doesn’t offer much job security.  Dotrice’s narration continues to make the series for me, providing an old-time storyteller’s feel to the tales of adventure, intrigue, betrayal, and occasionally friendship and love.  I’ve watched the tv series, and it appears for the most part that the tv series has only depicted events up to the end of this books, so I look forward to reading the next two published books completely unspoiled.
Rating: ***

Book Review: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

AuthorGeorge R.R. Martin
TitleA Clash of Kings
Narrator: Roy Dotrice
Publication Info: Random House Audio (2011)
Previously read by the same author: A Game of Thrones
Summary/Review:

The second installment of A Song of Ice and Fire was gripping to my ears as I plowed through the audiobook.  Despite the title, there is not much clashing for most of the novel, but there is a lot of moving of chess pieces around the board.  There’s also a grim portrait of the effect of war on the ordinary people in Westeros.  Having watched the television series, I notice that it diverges more from the source material than in A Game of Thrones, but not so much that I’d wonder why they make the changes.

Rating: ***

Book Review: The Librarian (Book One: Little Boy Lost) by Eric Hobbs

AuthorEric Hobbs
TitleThe Librarian (Book One: Little Boy Lost)
Publication Info: Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2011
Summary/Review:

This is a book I picked up as a Kindle deal because I like stories set in libraries.  This is a pretty imaginative one.  Wesley is a bookish boy bullied by his peers with one true friend Taylor.  On a class trip to their town’s mysterious library, Wes and Tay discover that the library offers portals into books.  A Lost Boy from Peter Pan joins them as they hide from villains by entering The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  It’s kind of young adult fiction take on Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, although with a less-engaging writing style.  Still, the book was interesting enough to keep me turning the pages.

Recommended books: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, A Soul to Steal by Rob Blackwell, Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
Rating: ***

Book Review: The Accidental Highwayman by Ben Tripp

Author: Ben Tripp
TitleThe Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, A Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides
Narrator: Steve West
Publication Info: [New York] :, Macmillan Audio,, 2014
Summary/Review:

Sometimes I think I should keep track of where I learned of a particular book, since I have no idea how this book made it to my reading list.  On the other hand, I liked going into this book with very little knowledge of what it is about as it is full of surprises (although the subtitle is full of hints).  Set in the 18th-century, this novel has the feel of a classic adventure.  Kit Bristol is a circus performer whose indenture is sold to a seemingly dissolute master, who suddenly learns that his master is a notorious highwayman.  Taking his master’s identity, Kit learns that he is entering not just a life a crime but a promise to help the fairy people.  What follows is a magical adventure and chase as Kit Bristol and his fairy companions seek to escape pursuers both human and magical.  It’s a delightful and entertaining diversion.

Recommended booksCompany of Liars by Karen Maitland and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde

AuthorJasper Fforde
TitleThe Eye of Zoltar
Publication Info: HMH Books for Young Readers (2014)
ISBN: 0547738498
Previous books in the Chronicles of Kazam:

Summary/Review:

This is the third book in Fforde’s young adult series The Chronicles of Kazam, and the best installment so far.  Jennifer Strange, the teenage orphan tasked with managing an employment agency for sorcerers, is tasked with crossing the border out of the Kingdom of Snodd into the Cambrian Empire, a nation known for entertaining daredevil tourists (and leaving many of them dead).  Accompanying her are a ragtag bunch including a rapidly-aging wizard, a princess magically body-swapped with a handmaid, a rubberized dragon, an Australopithecus, and a ten-year old tour guide.  This book is an adventure filled with Fforde’s trademark clever wit that also works as a satire on both sword & sorcery tropes and our modern society.
Favorite Passages:

“All of us are somewhat clairvoyant; any future you can dream up, no matter how bizarre, retains the faint possibility of coming true.”

“It’s somewhat bizarre to learn that many of you think other humans are somehow different enough to be killed, when you’re all tiresomely similar in outlook, needs, and motivation, and differ only in peculiar habits, generally shaped by geographical circumstance.”

“Death cannot be avoided forever, but it can be postponed—it’s very much like doing the dishes.”

“Honor is kind of what you get when you weaponize manners, but if you’re brought up in a system where honor is valued more than life itself, it makes a lot more sense. Some. A bit.”

“I’d been an idiot to think that this journey was anything but a quest. Searches were nice and soft and cuddly and no one needed to be killed. A quest always demanded the death of a trusted friend and one or more ethical dilemmas. I’d put us all in jeopardy, and now, as likely as not, I was going to lose the one person I cared for most.”

“To have a purpose is the right of all sentient beings,” said Gabby, touching my shoulder. “To have a vitally important purpose is an honor not often bestowed.”

Rating: ****

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