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14 January 2010 @ 01:46 am
This is a trilogy, but unlike Lord of The Rings, it is not one continuous story. Rather, it's several different episodes in the lives of several individuals. So I'll review each book by itself, then as a trilogy.



NOT MINE! property of Stroud et al

title: The Amulet of Samarkand
author: Johnathan Stroud
genre: YA fantasy
series: Bartimeus Trilogy

Summary: This is one of those books that has a main character who is somewhat distasteful, but grows on you anyway. After all, it's not Nathaniel's fault that he's been raised by a rude, thoughtless magician whose only concern is power. The importance of power and influence is all Nathaniel has been taught to respect. Therefore, when he has an embarassing run-in with one of his mentor's associates, Nathaniel's only thought is for revenge. But when he conjures the irreverent, smart-mouth djinni (or spirit) Bartimeus to help him get that revenge, he gets more than he bargained for. Sure Bartimeus will do what he's told, because he has too. That doesn't mean he can't give Nathaniel a piece of his mind, or a piece of advice. The two have some fun (and some not-quite-as-much-fun) adventures before finally getting Nathaniel's revenge and going their separate ways, but as the book ends you know that neither will be quite the same afterwards.

Review: This book started out rather strangely, as it seems to be set with an alternate history for Britain. There is no warning that this is going to happen, and there is no indication of what year this takes place in. Which is alright I guess, but there are some unusual combinations of technology. There are airplanes and cars and electric lights, but neon is a new invention and America is still comprised of colonies that belong to England. Once you get used to these, though, this series is quite good. Bartimeus is my kind of spirit, with his back-talk and disregard for authority. He can be remarkably loyal, though, to the right master: he still wears the form of a magician named Ptolemy, a master of his who died over two thousand years ago. We are given the impression that Bartimues thinks Nathaniel has the potential to be such a magician and master, but he hides it behind lots of attitude. Nevertheless, Bartimeus helps Nathaniel with his desire for revenge. This job isn't without its ups and downs, of course; Nathaniel is mugged by two boys who seem able to perceive the aura of magic around him, and Bartimeus is attacked by a girl who can see through his disguise. But by learning to work together, Nathaniel and Bartimeus follow their quest through to the end.



NOT MINE! property of Stroud et al

title: The Golem's Eye
author: Johnathan Stroud
genre: YA fantasy
series: Bartimeus Trilogy

Summary: Nathaniel, only two years older and barely any wiser, has a new mentor and new responsibilities. But when a magical monster that hasn't been seen in almost a thousand years starts terrorizing London, and a small revolutionary cell known as The Resistance launches several attacks against magicians, Nathaniel conjures his not-quite-a-friend djinni Bartimeus to help him again. Though Bartimues has hopes for a short tour of duty and a small work load, Nathaniel has other ideas. Nathaniel's reputation, livelihood, and perhaps even his life could be forfeit if he can't find out who is behind the monster and the revolutionaries.

Review: Seeing Nathaniel again in this second installement is bittersweet. While we're glad that he has a competent mentor and a good job, we're also sad to see that he has set himself the goal of imitating the unfeeling and power-hungry magicians he is surrounded by. When he calls up Bartimeus, we see that Bartimeus is also dismayed by the path Nathaniel has chosen. But Bartimeus, good-natured as always (ha), resigns himself to helping with only a little sassing and friendly poking at Nathaniel's new persona (and haircut). Although Nathaniel is colder in this book, he is a bit more clever. He zigs and zags across Europe in an effort to catch a monster and a revolutionary menace before they can spell the end of his career, and of his life (because we all know that politics and runaway monsters can be murder). Not only are the dangers and stakes bigger and badder, but Nathaniel and Bartimeus must deal with some old friends--the ragtag group of youths who attacked them in the previous book.



NOT MINE! property of Stroud et al

title: Ptolemy's Gate
author: Johnathan Stroud
genre: YA fantasy
series: Bartimeus Trilogy

Summary: The final book in the series sees a welcome improvement in Nathaniel--he is tired of his posturing coworkers and the stress of trying to stay on top of his career and ahead of his competition in government. That is no easy task for a young man of 17, and his exhaustion with his situation doesn't make it any easier. There is a war going on for control of the American colonies, and the Americans are winning. The commoners in Britain are uneasy, and part of Nathaniel's job is to keep them appeased. His other responsibilities include rooting out dissenters, fighting magical attacks from other countries who are trying to take advantage of England's weakened army, and tracking down a mysterious man whose goal seems to be the complete overthrow of Britain's magical government. It's no wonder that he hasn't dismissed Bartimeus for a rest in almost two years, in which Bartimeus's essence is wearing away. Despite the both of them being sick and tired, they must push themselves to solve these problems before the whole of Britain itself comes crashing down around them.

Review: This book might be my favorite of the three. We finally learn more about Ptolemy, the magician Bartimeus loved so much that he still wears his form 2000 years later, and why Bartimeus became so attached to someone who supposedly enslaved him in bringing him to earth. Of course this backstory is not just for fun--there are elements of the close relationship Bartimeus and Ptolemy shared that will help Nathaniel save Britain. In addition, we are finally treated to some maturity on Nathaniel's part. But while we're glad that Nathaniel can see his world for what it is, we also feel his sense of futilism in going against the majority. In fact, there is one moment where we see Nathaniel's own personal turning point. He has a decision to make; a huge decision. He makes the right one, we applaud him for it, and he knows he did the right thing. But even though he knows he couldn't have done anything else, he also knows that it is going to cost him dearly. And he's right. Other magicians turn against him, he loses the only ally he had in government, and he must depend almost entirely on the weary Bartimeus to help him before the entire social structure of the country collapses and countless lives are lost in the ensuing chaos. Oh, and we're not done with the Resistance yet. You thought we were? No. Ideas are the hardest things to kill, as Nathaniel will find out and as Bartimeus has been trying to tell him all along.

As a trilogy, there aren't many connecting threads. Actually the only threads that go through all three books are Bartimeus's attitude, Nathaniel's personal journey, and the resistance of commoners to magicians' rule. Each book is its own episode in the lives of a few people. But that doesn't make it a bad trilogy. I think it's fantastic, and at the end of the third book I have nothing but the greatest respect for Nathaniel. And I think Bartimeus would share that feeling with me. But I won't tell you why; go read it! You won't regret it. :)
 
 
Current Mood: tiredtired
 
 
26 November 2009 @ 05:08 pm
Title: The Painted Veil

Author: W. Somerset Maugham

Genre(s):
20th Century Classics

Plot Summary:

'She did not know what to say. She was undecided whether indignantly to assert her innocence or to break out into angry reproaches. He seemed to read her thoughts. "I've got all the proof necessary" '. Kitty Fane is the beautiful but shallow wife of Walter, a bacteriologist stationed in Hong Kong. Unsatisfied by her marriage, she starts an affair with Charles Townsend, a man whom she finds charming, attractive and exciting. But when Walter discovers her deception, he exacts a strange but terrible vengeance: Kitty must accompany him to his new posting in remote mainland China, where a cholera epidemic rages. First published to a storm of protest, "The Painted Veil" is a classic story of a woman's spiritual awakening.

My Raing: 5/5 - BRILLIANT - READ IT!!!

My Review: See comments (spoilers!)

Live Long and Prosper!

xoxo
 
 
31 October 2009 @ 12:24 am
OK, I've decided that I'm not going to review books that I would not reccomend. Why bother, when the bottom line will always end up being "don't waste your time"? So, I'll review the good books, along with reasons you should read them, then I can just tell you you which books I did not like, with one or two words about why they're not worth the time it would take to read the back cover.

First, the good stuff:

NOT MINE! property of Mieville et al

title: Un Lun Dun
author: China Mieville
genre: YA fantasy
summary: Deeba wasn't supposed to be the hero; she was the sidekick. But prophecies are not always right, the hero isn't always the one to count on, and there isn't always time for an epic quest. Sometimes you just do what you have to do, because you're the only one who can do it. Of course every hero, or un-hero in Deeba's case, needs the support of dedicated friends like a half ghost, a talking book full of iffy prophecies, and an adventurer with a bird cage for a head.

This book is so wonderful, I don't even know where to start telling you how wonderful it is. How about it's my third favorite fantasy book of all time? It has a different world with exotic inhabitants and wacky vehicles, a perfectly awful villain, a hero who wasn't supposed to be the hero and doesn't want to be the hero but will be the hero because she loves UnLondon and wants to protect it... Oh, and dustbins with karate moves. And a pet milk carton. I'm not sure if the umbrella really counts as a pet, but you get the idea.

I can't put into words how much you should read this book. Maybe this will help:

Top Fantasy of All Time
1. Lord of the Rings
2. Harry Potter
3. Un Lun Dun
4. Keys to the Kingdom
5. Vellum

That's how in love with this book I am. I've already read it twice. But I'll stop going on about it now, because you'll either read it or you won't, and anything more I can say won't change your mind.

On to some books I've read that you shouldn't read unless you're going to die of ennui before you can find something else:

-The Historian (but I think I already did that one)
-The Shadow of the Wind--boring, long-winded, unnecessarily convoluted, and the crux of the conflict is not nearly shocking enough (at least to me) to cause the problems it causes. But then again, I ship Wincest, so maybe it's just me.
 
 
Current Mood: drunkheadache
 
 
09 September 2009 @ 08:22 pm
But I'm all graduated, and I've returned with reviews out the...well, you know.

Not Mine! property of Kostova et al



title: The Historian
author: Elizabeth Kostova
genre: officially fiction, but personally I would put it in fantasy
summary: This guy's teacher/mentor/friend gets kidnapped by a vampire and he has to get him back, but the whole story is told through a story he is telling to his daughter.

OK, This book is totally not worth all the hype and praise it received. I'm not saying it's a bad book, but it's not nearly as good as most people say it is, either.

First of all, Vlad Dracul (or Vlad the Impaler, or Dracula, or whatever you want to call him) has been done to death. I did like getting some historical background about the time and places in which he lived, but Kostova could at least have made the story exciting by putting you right there in the action.

Instead, all of the action is presented in oral stories and letters, and sometimes in a letter inside another letter. Or a story in a letter in a letter. And if you're head hurts, don't worry, mine did too. I was so busy trying to keep track of who was talking in what letter or about what place while the live action was in another place...ok I just confused myself. I don't know where I was going with that. But you get the point; it's confusing. Far too confusing to be enjoyable.

Overworked villain plus confusing narrative is not a good combination, so I fail to see why this book was a wildly popular as it was. I wish I had seen an honest critique of this book before I'd read it so I could have read something more enjoyable (cause it's not like this book is, or ever will be, serious literature. It's purely entertainment).
 
 
Current Mood: apatheticunderwhelmed
Current Music: red hot chili peppers--snow
 
 
02 August 2009 @ 01:49 pm
Title: The Laurentine Spy

Author: Emily Gee

Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance

Plot Summary:
The Corhonase citadel is a place of virtue and debauchery. But nothing is as it seems, whether in the ballrooms and salons of the nobles’ Court or the catacombs beneath the citadel. Saliel has many secrets; her spying is one, but her most guarded mystery is her magic. She walks a narrow path between discovery as a spy and being burned as a witch.

With a sadistic Spycatcher closing in, Saliel and her fellow spies are tested to the limits of their endurance—they must trust each other, or die. Magic may be their only hope of survival...

My Rating: 5/5

Review: See comments
Tags:
 
 
 
02 August 2009 @ 06:22 pm

Hush, HushTitle: Hush, Hush

Author:  Becca Fitzpatrick

Genre(s): supernatural, romance

Plot Summary:

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.


My Raing:  2/5

My Review: See comments (spoilers!)

 
 
02 August 2009 @ 06:17 pm

Through the Letterbox explores the contents of my mailbox on a weekly basis. Of course I only mention the really cool things, like books! If you would like to participate and have your own “In My Mailbox” post, you can find more information here. (This post was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.) Thanks The Story Siren for this!

Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Being Nikki (Airhead)

Being Nikki by Meg Cabot

Things aren't pretty for Emerson Watts.

Em was sure there couldn't be anything worse than being a brainiac the body of a teenaged supermodel.

But it turned out she was wrong. Because that supermodel could turn out to have a mother who's gone mysteriously missing, a brother who's shown up on her doorstep demanding answers, a former best friend who's intent on destroying Stark Enterprises to avenge the death of his lost love, and a British heartthrob who's written a song about her that's topping the charts.

How can Em balance all that with school, runway shows, and weekend jaunts to St. Johns - especially when she's got ex-boyfriends crawling out of the woodwork who want more than just a photo op; a sister who is headed to the high school cheerleading championships; a company she represents that seems to be turning to the dark side...

Not to mention trying to convince the love of her life that models aren't really airheads after all...especially one model in particular.

And that's it!

What did you all get?

Live Long and Prosper

xoxo

 
 
28 July 2009 @ 09:47 pm
Silent on the Moor (MIRA)Title: Silent on the Moor

Author: 
Deanna Raybourn

Genre(s): crime, mystery, romance

Plot Summary:

This is a wickedly witty Lady Julia Grey mystery. 'There are things that walk abroad on the moor that should not. But the dead do not always lie quietly, do they, lady?' It is England, 1888. Grimsgrave Manor is an unhappy house, isolated on the Yorkshire moors, silent and secretive. But secrets cannot be long kept in the face of Lady Julia Grey's incurable curiosity. In the teeth of protests from her conventional, stuffy brother, Lady Julia decides to pay a visit to the enigmatic detective, Nicholas Brisbane to bring a woman's touch to his new estate. Grimsgrave is haunted by the ghosts of its past, and its owner seems to be falling into ruin along with the house. Confronted with gypsy warnings and Brisbane's elusive behaviour, Lady Julia scents a mystery. It's not long before her desire for answers leads her into danger unlike any other that she has experienced - and from which, this time, there may be no escape.

My Raing:  5/5

My Review: See comments (spoilers!)

 
 
 Title: Are these my basoomas I see before me?

Author:  Louise Rennison

Genre(s): humour

Plot Summary:

Oh yes, the hilariosity goes on for one last time. Here it is ... maybe probably ... pants for the memories!

My marvy Luuurve God boyfriend has got the full Humpty Dumpty with me for accidentally twisting with Dave the Laugh.

Which is not actually my fault. I cannot be expected to control my body parts, they pop out unexpectedly and so on.

For instance my lips do ad-hoc puckering up every time Dave the Laugh comes near them, I don't know why.

Ditto jelloid knickers.

Anyway shut up about Dave the Laugh, he has got a GIRLFRIEND.

Not that I care. Or do I?

Oh I don't know, so many boys, so little time ...


My Raing:  4/5

My Review: See comments (spoilers!)

 
 
21 July 2009 @ 08:39 pm
Acheron (Dark Hunter) (Dark-Hunter World) Title: Acheron

Author:  Sherrilyn Kenyon

Genre(s): romance/fantasy

Plot Summary:  

Eleven thousand years ago a god was born. Cursed into the body of a human, Acheron endured a lifetime of hatred. His human death unleashed an unspeakable horror that almost destroyed the earth. Brought back against his will, he became the sole defender of mankind. Only it was never that simple...For centuries, he has fought for our survival and hidden a past he never wants revealed. Now his survival, and ours, hinges on the very woman who threatens him. Old enemies are reawakening and uniting to kill - them both.

My Rating:  5/5

My Review: See comments (spoilers!)