Mini Reviews: Heroic Edition

Welcome to the heroic edition of Mini Reviews!  Today we have three books, as always, that somehow conform to the name of this edition: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss; Atlantis Rising, by T. A. Barron; and Ender’s Shadow, by Orson Scott Card.  The last one isn’t heroic fantasy like the other two, but it was awesome, so I’m including it.  If you haven’t read any of these books, don’t worry– it’s all spoiler-free, and I have a section on what I’ve learned after each review.  I hope it’s helpful.

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Mini-Reviews: Series Edition

Once again, after reading a host of books that I loved but didn’t have time to review, it’s time to throw them all together into a mini-review post!  Since this one contains books dominated by fantasy, this is the fantasy edition.  All reviews will be spoiler free, followed by three things I learned from that book in particular.  Even if you haven’t read the books, it’s safe to read.  Our three books today will be The Demon King, by Cinda Williams Chima; The Runaway King, by Jennifer A. Nielsen; and Found, by Sarah Prineas.

First, The Demon King.  The review for this book will serve as the review for the Seven Realms series, because I devoured them as if they were one book.  I have to say, I liked this a whole lot more than I expected to.  Sometime last year I read Chima’s Heir Chronicles.  I found those books pretty good, but somehow I didn’t expect these ones to be quite the same.  And really, they weren’t.  The world was amazing.  The characters were lively.  The writing, though it had a few oddities here and there, carried the story smoothly.  I enjoyed the first book so much that the next time I was at the library, I got the next three. (more…)

Mini Reviews— Ghost Edition

I’ve read too many books to ever review alone, so I’ve decided to do another edition of Mini Reviews.  I’ll review three books without spoilers, but with stuff I learned from them that you might find helpful.  Since two out of the three books include ghosts, this is our Ghost Edition.  The three books today are Ghost Knight, by Cornelia Funke; W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin, by Eoin Colfer; and The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman.

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Mini Reviews– Dystopian Edition!

Ta-da!  On this installment of Mini Reviews, two out of three of the books we will cover are dystopian– therefore, we have a dystopian edition!  To recap: these are miniature book reviews, simple as that.  At the end, I’ll try to come up with a few things I learned from the book, which might be helpful.  All reviews will be spoiler free.  The three books are Fragments, by Dan Wells; The Maze Runner, by James Dashner; and The Magic Thief, by Sarah Prineas.  Let the reviews begin! (more…)

Terry Pratchett: A Few Reviews

This is a double book review for Guards! Guards! and Good Omens.  The former is by Terry Pratchett alone, while the latter is both Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.  They will be spoiler free and mostly an essay on the reason I don’t enjoy Pratchett that much.

I’ve tried to read four Terry Pratchett books.  I’ve only succeeded with these two.  The first two failures were Going Postal and The Colour of Magic.  Both had potential.  Both were funny.  But neither were well-written or any good.  At last, I struggled through Guards! Guards!  I started on Good Omens, thinking that Neil Gaiman’s influence would keep the book on track.  I definitely enjoyed it more than the former, and I wonder if I should try Gaiman in another book.

My problems with Terry Pratchett books in general can be summed up in the following points: (more…)

Partials, a Review

This spoiler-free review is in three parts: the overall opinion for those who haven’t read the book, the review for those who have (still spoiler-free), and a what-we-have-learned section at the very end, full of tricks I learned too small for individual posts.  I encourage you to read the whole thing, read the book itself, then read the review again to see if you agree.

Partials, by Dan Wells, was extremely good.  I bought it on a whim last Friday night, and finished it just before midnight on Sunday.  Partials is a post-apocalyptic science fiction (also known as dystopian) in which almost the entire human race has been destroyed by a single virus known as RM.  This came at the end of the war with the Partials, a race of super-soldiers manufactured to win wars who eventually turned on their makers.  The last surviving humans, immune to the RM virus, have barricaded themselves on Long Island, NY, constantly fearing an attack from the Partials or the rebel group known as the Voice.  Unfortunately, because of the RM virus, any newborn babies will die within minutes of birth.  Humans are going extinct. (more…)

Seraphina, a Review

This spoiler-free review is for Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman.  I first heard of this book from its sparkling starred review by Kirkus (called the best of 2012), as well as its listing among the Top Debuts of 2012 on the Publisher’s Weekly website.  (Note: I glanced at both websites in passing– I’m not so much of a publishing nerd that I follow all the news.  Nevertheless, both are reliable sources for good books.)  In all the reviews I read, Seraphina was described as being an original YA fantasy about dragons– how could I resist?  A few more favorable reviews from trusted sources followed, prompting me to pick up the book as soon as I saw it on the shelves.  Here is the usual summary:

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life. (more…)

The End of Infinity, a Review

This is a spoiler-free review for The End of Infinity, by Matt Myklusch.  First off, I’d like to recommend the series (which begins with The Accidental Hero– I reviewed that here).  Why should everyone rush out and read the series now?  Because it’s good.  And that’s enough of a recommendation; on to the review.

All his life, people have told Jack Blank what his future holds. He hasn’t always liked what they’ve had to say, but there have been times when he’s wondered if they were right.

As the Imagine Nation’s final battle with the Rüstov draws near, Jack’s future is almost upon him. He and his friends will each need their unique powers and abilities to help stop the Rüstov and win the war. But are they prepared to use those powers against the most terrifying and dangerous enemy of all—the one inside of Jack?

The time has come for Jack to choose his path and discover for himself if he will become the hero that the Imagine Nation—and the world—needs him to be, or the cause of its total destruction. (more…)

Reviewing and Recommending

I write book reviews in a weird way.  I don’t write them toward potential readers– I write them for people who have read the books.

I read book reviews in the same way.  I don’t read book reviews on books I haven’t read, or books that aren’t part of a series I’ve already read.  I read book reviews on books that I have read, or am planning on reading.  More the former.

This was brought to my attention by a friend of mine who was wondering why I haven’t rushed out to read all the books she’s reviewed or recommended for me (and believe me, there are a lot of them).  I replied that I haven’t read all of her reviews, and I haven’t heeded the ones I’ve read.  Why not?  Because I don’t read book reviews unless I’m already planning on reading the book or I have already read the book, and I only search out books if they’ve caught my eye more than once.  I look for references, in other words.

The reason I read reviews on books that I’ve already read is that I like to look at what others think of a book I’ve read– if I’ve never read or never heard of the book in question, I don’t pay much attention. (more…)

Incarceron and Sapphique– Double Book Review

They look interesting, don’t they?

This is a book review for two books I read a long while ago– Incarceron and Sapphique, both by Catherine Fisher.  This review might be slightly off-target, but I’m fairly sure I can remember my first impressions, as well as impressions gained by a longer period of thought.

Incarceron — a futuristic prison, sealed from view, where the descendants of the original prisoners live in a dark world torn by rivalry and savagery. It is a terrifying mix of high technology — a living building which pervades the novel as an ever-watchful, ever-vengeful character, and a typical medieval torture chamber — chains, great halls, dungeons. A young prisoner, Finn, has haunting visions of an earlier life, and cannot believe he was born here and has always been here. In the outer world, Claudia, daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, is trapped in her own form of prison — a futuristic world constructed beautifully to look like a past era, an imminent marriage she dreads. She knows nothing of Incarceron, except that it exists. But there comes a moment when Finn, inside Incarceron, and Claudia, outside, simultaneously find a device — a crystal key, through which they can talk to each other. And so the plan for Finn’s escape is born …

It sounds cool, doesn’t it?  A living prison surrounding living inmates, none of which can be found from the Outside.  I thought it looked great as a story, and I got Incarceron as soon as I saw it. (more…)