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annajmaxy

weave my words into worlds

Please don't count how many old "reviews" of mine say "review later", "more later", or variations thereupon. ... Actually, just ignore my blog until further notice.

Currently reading

Lirael
Garth Nix
The Silmarillion
J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien
Les Misérables
Victor Hugo, James Madden, Julie Rose, Adam Gopnik

Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice - Shannon Hale 3.5 stars. Review later?

Forest Born

Forest Born - Shannon Hale Review later. Or something.

UnSouled (Unwind, #3)

UnSouled (Unwind, #3) - Neal Shusterman Real review later. For now, just two little complaints:

1. Sooo many typos, including a few instances where Connor's name was spelled with an E. Totally understand that happening when you first write a script, but I'm genuinely surprised that they got past several edits. Can I replace Neal Shusterman's editor? ;) JK that's really rude.
2. Not enough of a climax for me. Or, rather, the falling action lasted too long. We didn't see any Starkey, Hayden, or Nelson for the last 50+ pages, and since most of the ending was revealing information, I felt a bit let down. My theory is that Neal Shusterman didn't want to split up all those conversations between Sonia, Risa, Grace, Cam, and Connor for fear of confusion or seeming disorganized, so all the other characters' endings had to come earlier. Oh well.

Anyway, LOVED this. It kept me interested and I can't wait to get my hands on Undivided. I also really need to read Unstrung...

River Secrets

River Secrets - Shannon Hale 3.5 or 3.75 stars. Well done, but not on the same level as Enna Burning and Goose Girl. Will elaborate later.

Enna Burning

Enna Burning - Shannon Hale I can't really form coherent thoughts about this one yet, but suffice it to say this for now:
4.5. Loved it. Finna forever. And I feel like I have a fever just from the descriptions.

The Goose Girl

The Goose Girl - Shannon Hale People have recommended this book to me for over a decade now, no joke, but I finally found the motivation to try it out, and all I can say is that I'm glad I did.

Wow! It's been a few months since I've read a novel that I enjoyed this much. The only other novel of Shannon Hale's that I've read is Austenland, and because that particular genre is just not my cup of tea, it led me to grossly underestimate Hale's writing ability. My loss. Almost every single page boasted a description that made me think the following:

"That's incredibly vivid and lyrical!"
"I've never heard something described that way, yet it fits perfectly. How on earth did she come up with it?"

Shannon Hale also managed to surprise me, which is difficult to do. I hadn't expected her to kill off some of those characters for good, like the aunt and Ani's father and Falada--goodness me that cut deep. The story is so pretty and bright that it makes you assume that the subject matter will be similar when it isn't always. And I did suspect that Geric was in fact the prince when we first met him, but claiming he was a guard and introducing the younger prince threw me off his trail again until the end. Not to mention that Ani received her fair share of injuries before the last page. Some of them caused twinges of sympathetic pain.

I didn't connect quite as strongly with the characters as I would have preferred, but I did connect with them, which is still impressive. I don't love characters easily. I found myself actually feeling Ani's frustration and loneliness when she had to keep her identity a secret. That's quite rare as well, so thumbs up in that area.

Something else I have to point out: It's kind of different and funny that Ani actually speaks to birds with their noises--she has to learn goose honks and sparrow tweets rather than the usual speak-English-but-they-hear-their-language. Neither of these is bad, of course. I've just read considerably less of the former and it was kind of refreshing.

Only two minor things bothered me about The Goose Girl:
1. It seemed a little too easy whenever Ani had to sneak into the palace. I had a hard time finding it believable that people could either talk their way past the guards or just... walk through because, somehow, in an enormous city, not one soul happened to be looking.
2. This is a common complaint of mine, perhaps because I'm an eager reader and have a habit of almost skimming to get to the meat of any given scene, but there were some points where I felt that I didn't have a complete understanding of how things worked in this fantasy world or which characters were interacting in what way, etc. I had to stop and re-read passages somewhat often.

Looking forward to the companion novel, and I will definitely read more of Shannon Hale in the near future!

Blood Ties

Blood Ties - Garth Nix, Sean Williams **edited**

Probably my least favorite writing-wise so far. Lots of typos and maybe not as subtle as the other narrations. The authors made this strange choice to write Abeke and Tarik's dialogue with hardly any contractions ever, which really stuck out and sounded forced. Upon further investigation, though, I actually noticed that this was pretty common in the first two installments as well. It just happened to be more noticeable here for some reason.

BUT

I really liked where Meilin's character went--I particularly enjoyed the passages that took place in the bamboo maze. It was nice to see her relationship with Jhi make some progress. And good thing. With all the trauma she's endured, she needs a cuddly panda friend. Poor girl.

I'll continue with the series, of couse. These two authors just maybe weren't my cup of tea for this particular storyline. I went to an event with all the Spirit Animals authors, and I quite liked Garth Nix and Sean Williams' presentations, so maybe the problem is that I forget the series is targeted toward preteens and I'm almost twenty... Eh.

Sky Raiders

Sky Raiders - Brandon Mull Just realized that I never rated this one. 3.5 for now. Knowing my love for Brandon Mull's stories, the rating will probably get higher as the years pass.

I haven't quite fallen in love with Five Kingdoms as much as I did with Fablehaven and Beyonders, but I do take quite a bit of time to get attached, and I can only think of one series where the first installment has been my favorite, so I might try re-reading it soon. I was so eager to finish that I missed tooons of details (not to mention my emotional instability at that point in time was messing with my ability to enjoy just about anything). I trust Brandon Mull to tell a good story with complex, enjoyable characters and fantastic worldbuilding. I'll definitely be buying the next books in the series.

Maybe what's different about Five Kingdoms for me is that it's truly a novel about children, in a way. Fablehaven had Kendra and Seth at the root, but Kendra was quite mature and there were many adult figures throughout. It was similar with Jason and Rachel in Beyonders. There are older characters in this series for sure, but the main story is centered on Cole, Mira, Jace, and Twitch, a ragtag gang of pre-teens often going with little adult supervision. Sometimes that just proves to be an adjustment for my nineteen-year-old mind.

That being said, I especially adored Twitch and Liam's characters quite a bit, and I loved Cole's journey into the outskirts. Something about that walk behind a dusty wagon earned him my sympathy. Shaping is an interesting concept and I look forward to seeing what it's like in the four other kingdoms. I feel like Five Kingdoms has really allowed Brandon Mull to release quite a bit of creativity that wouldn't have worked in his other novels. So much of it seems almost random, strange, and rather whimsical, but it works in this universe.

Eragon

Eragon - Christopher Paolini Mixed feelings about this one. It was imaginative, and I wanted to reach the end. I liked Eragon's character more than I expected, especially how he reacted in a pretty realistic way to all the death he had to face. That's uncommon in a lot of fantasy literature.

However, some of it was painfully predictable and rather sexist. Come on. You're telling me you can imagine a city-mountain, dragons, Shades, and new languages, but you can't conceive of human women doing something besides cooking, sewing, complaining, or fleeing battles? The entire book doesn't even pass the Bechdel test, which is pathetic considering how long it is. Not to mention that Arya, cool as she is, is basically designed to be the love interest and not a stand-alone character. I've heard Christopher Paolini speak. He seems like a great guy and I doubt any of the sexism was really intentional, but it's still there... *sigh* We'll see how I feel in a few days.

Divergent

Divergent - Veronica Roth I made it through over 300 pages before giving up. The writing and lack of explanations irked me to the point where I kind of wonder if I was actually reading the same book everyone else has been raving about?

Wild Born

Wild Born - Brandon Mull Real review to come. I liked it and look forward to the second one. I only wish the book were longer!

Ender's Game

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card Still trying to decide on my opinion. More later (hopefully).

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #2)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #2) - C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes Not sure how to rate this book, because I saw the movie first, which changed my expectations, and I have to keep in mind that it was written for children. More later?

Chasing the Prophecy

Chasing the Prophecy - Brandon Mull PRE-READ: I don't know how Brandon Mull will fit everything into this book that he needs to. Of course, he's done it before, so I know he can.

As for these parallel quests, the oracle split my favorite characters up! I hope I get to see a bit more of them at the Temple of Mianamon before everything goes haywire.

Predictions:
- Jason and Rachel will end up together, not Jason and Corinne. Of course, Jason and Rachel are pretty young, so I don't think they'll even be in an official relationship.
- The Oracle said that many who were present during the prophecy would perish. I'll lose it if anyone from the delegation dies. Erm, I have a feeling that Io or Nia will die in the third book, because they only live for two years anyway. Galloran and Drake strike me as likely candidates. Maybe Tark? Ugh, I don't know. So help me if Ferrin dies I will throw the book at my wall and spend the next six months holed up in my room mourning the loss of his amazingness.
- "The servant will betray the master." This line kills me because it can apply to so many people. It could be any of these or more: Ferrin betraying Galloran, Ferrin betraying Maldor (again), Nedwin betraying Galloran, Dorsio* betraying Galloran, Tark betraying Jason. I can't imagine Nedwin doing this. For the sake of my emotions, I hope it means that Ferrin will continue to prove that he has betrayed Maldor.
- Maldor will send out all of his torivors to fight in battle.
- Corinne ought to play a big role, because Rachel says the Oracle spends a long time talking to her. We'd better see this girl doing some swordfighting!
- The man on the cover... I almost want to say Galloran because there's something about those eyes. I don't remember anyone in the book being described as bald, so it's either someone we've met who has changed their appearance or a new character. I like the idea suggested in one of the comments that it's Aram. But, if I'm being realistic, I probably won't be able to guess the person on this cover like I did in Fablehaven.
- I have no idea if Rachel and Jason will end up going home. Truth be told, I don't want them to. I'd like to think that, by the end of the novel, Rachel's Edomic skills will have grown to the point where she could make a more accessible portal between Lyrian and the Beyond, but she has no one to learn from anymore and the effort might kill her. Maybe the book will end before the four years are up and the time between the worlds is aligned.

* Scratch that. I forgot that this impossible because Dorsio is dead. *sigh*


POST-READ:
Can't decide on 4 or 5 stars. Probably in between somewhere.
You know what, I'm too emotionally traumatized to give a proper review.

Anyway. This book made me sob--and I mean sob--three separate times out of either relating to characters very strongly or grieving their deaths. No book has made me do that before, so I feel like that alone deserves a five-star rating.

There were a few things I didn't like:
- The Celestine Library, or at least I didn't like it at first. It seemed so different from the rest of Lyrian that I just felt a bit taken back.
- Rachel's creepy outfit. I wish she had just stuck with her acolyte robe.
- I would have liked to see a little more fighting from Galloran. After the intensity we saw from him in Seeds of Rebellion, it felt so strange to see him become more of a political figure than anything. I understand why it had to happen; I only wish we could have seen more of his heroic side.

This book just tore me apart. I don't know how to review it. (I was so sad to see it end, so part of me doesn't want to give it five stars, but I've already stated my reasoning for that.) Four of my top five characters died (although one of them was Jasher, so that doesn't completely count). I'm somewhat at peace with Drake and Nedwin's deaths, but that didn't keep me from crying for a full fifteen minutes when Drake sacrificed his life to defeat a torivor. And then... Ferrin's death still has me in tears every now and then. I saw so many happy futures for him and now none of them are there. He was my favorite from start to finish. People keep speculating that there will be a sequel series, which I doubt, and I worry that I would have a hard time reading a sequel series without Ferrin in it. It also doesn't help that my two main ships didn't become canon.

I loved the way Ferrin bonded more with Rachel, and how we got to see more sibling rivalry between Drake and Farfalee, and the husband-wife bond between Farfalee and Jasher. "I would give all my lives for her" oh goodness my creys I've gone back to the first and second books and realized how early some of the foreshadowing for Chasing the Prophecy began. And I'm glad that some aspects of the other books that seemed random became more relevant in this installment.

Man, I really shouldn't be reviewing this yet. I'm still so emotional. Forgive my incoherent babbling and maybe I'll fix this up later when I'm truly fit to discuss this book.

The Aaron Tveit Handbook - Everything You Need to Know about Aaron Tveit

The Aaron Tveit Handbook - Everything You Need to Know about Aaron Tveit - Emily Smith Don't judge me please.

UnWholly

UnWholly - Neal Shusterman Real rating: 4.5 stars

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