Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

In Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again. (From Goodreads.)

Personal Take: By now, anyone who knows me knows about my obsession with Neil Gaiman and his work. So it’s no surprised that I got this the moment it was released, especially as I wanted to get into Norse mythology for a while now. The stories were organized perfectly, starting from the beginning of creation, through events and adventures that brought about the end of the world.

The interesting thing about the way Gaiman approached this, is that he wrote the gods to be casual, adopting a colloquial dialogue in the way they spoke. It wasn’t jarring, but unexpected, which only Neil Gaiman is able to pull off. This in no way hindered how the stories were told though. The gods came to life with each story, slowly revealing their personalities, but also, ultimately, showing what the vikings valued in themselves and their deities.

The end of the arc was the one the that really got me excited– the final culmination of all the choices made by the gods brought into one point, and it was epic. I was still buzzing from the it long after I finished the book. This is a book I’d definitely read again, and it’s opened by appetite to read more about Norse mythology.

It acts a great, light introduction to the subject.

Audience: I’d say adults for the complexity of the stories themselves.

Rating:

 

Other recommendations: As a huge fan of Gaiman, I’ve made it a point at least try to read everything I can get my hands on. Two I recommend (but did not review yet!); American Gods, Anansi Boys, Stardust, The Graveyard Book and  The Oceans at the End of the Lane. Of the books I reviewed: Neverwhere, Make Good Art, The Sleeper and the Spindle, Good Omen: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnus Nutter.

Review: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

When an aviator crashes his plane into the desert, he is surprised to find that he is not the only one stranded in the vast desert. Told from the point of view of the aviator, he relates the tale of the Little Prince, who has come from another planet to find friends in other worlds. Through words and sketches, the story of the prince comes to life, revealing precious lessons to learn from.

Personal Take: There’s something in Saint-Exupery’s tale that makes me want more. More of his insight and views of growing, or the Little Prince’s little lessons along his journey. There is something so innocent in the way this story unfolds. So simplistic in its moral lesson that it makes it just perfect in its compact way. Of course, something as precious as this was bound to end in some sort of vague heartbreak, but I loved it all the same. In this edition, Saint-Exupery’s other piece of writing was printed, The Hostage. Again, with such an honest voice, the writing is so beautifully descriptive and enchanting, and draws such a picture of the war. It also sheds a little light on what kind of person Saint-Exupery was as well, and his esteem of humanity even during the war. ]

This is a beautiful story that must be read and shared for the longest time.

Audience: Young and old readers.

Rating: 

Other recommendations: Saint-Exupery published a lot of work around his aviation adventures, namely Wind, Sand, and Stars and Flight to Arras.

Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Soundless

 

Fei and her people have lived without sound for most of their lives. Living an Isolated life at the top of the mountain, the village depends on the food and other limited supplies sent up to them through a line from the bottom of the mountain in exchange for precious stones from their mines; a perilous job that is killing desperate villagers with no means to live. But everything changes when Fei wakes up one night with her hearing restored. She questions the timing of such a gift, especially when a few of the villagers begin loosing their vision. Determined to find the answers of what is happening to her people, Fei sets off on a journey to seek the truth behind her people’s accursed lives.

Personal Take: I’m a huge fan of Richelle Mead, and I was excited to read this book, as it felt like a new direction to what she usually writes. It was an interesting premise. The world she created was curious, but I felt was only half-heartedly done. There wasn’t enough details to help hold it together. The story itself was alright, but not amazing or memorable.  The characters themselves didn’t make an impression on me either– they didn’t stand out much; not Fei nor the rest of the characters that appeared. More than anything, it felt like checking off a story formula, and I couldn’t get invested in it.

It was a quick read, with a passable story, but wasn’t the profound adventure I was looking for.

Audience: Teens of all ages.

Rating:

threestars

Other recommendations: I’ve read and reviewed Mead’s Vampire Academy series (Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, Spirit Bound and Last Sacrifice), Bloodlines series (Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, The Indigo Spell, The Fiery Heart, Silver Shadows, and The Ruby Circle) and Dark Swan series (Storm Born, Thorn Queen, Iron Crowned and Shadow Heir). I also can’t wait to read her new book, The Glittering Court, among others!

Review: Silver Borne (Mercedes Thompson #5) by Patricia Briggs

silver-borne

 

Mercy Thompson is in new territory- literally. As a coyote, joining a pack of wolves can be stressful, especially when the pack is feeling restless; especially at their pack leader, and Mercy’s mate. She soon learns that being in a pack is more complicated than it seems– and even more deadly as a someone has it in for Mercy. As if that’s not enough, Mercy gets embroiled into fae affairs again when she realizes she has something they badly want, and they’re willing to kill anyone who stands on their way.

Personal Take: If you read my reviews on the previous books in this series, you’ll know that I sing praises for it. I held out hope that the series would continue with portraying Mercy as this flawed, but still beautifully strong woman that is sensible but is caught in the midst of elements beyond her control. But for some reason, I couldn’t feel it that much in this installment. Maybe it’s because not much has really happened in this book– I mean, there was action, but there was also this annoying trend of characters accepting accountability that’s a bit of a stretch just to create tension (I really can’t explain this point without spoiling anything, so I’ll leave at that).

I did enjoy the melding of two different supernatural worlds, and I do appreciate how high the stakes were towards the end.

But it was such a painful revelation that one of my favorite series was loosing its luster. I’m hoping it’s only this installation, and I get to like Mercy, like I used to.

Audience: Older audience for wonderful swear words.

Rating: 

threestars

Other recommendations: So far, I’ve reviewed Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed and Bone Crossed. Patricia Briggs is also a write of a slew of books- be sure to check it out!

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

this-savage-song

Verity City is torn: between it’s saviors who swore to protect its people from the monsters infested in their city, and between the thug who has built an empire out of the very same nightmares haunting the streets, in exchange for payment and loyalty. When Kate returns to V City, she knows what she wants– to be worthy of her father and his empire. To show that she is just as ruthless as him, she is willing to do anything to prove it. On the other side, August Flynn wants nothing else but to be human. Instead, he is one of three powerful monsters V City knows everything and nothing about, his father’s secret weapon for a war that could break the city once again.

Personal Take: It has been so long since I’ve read something so darn good. I could not put this book down. In fact, I had the sense that instead of me devouring it, it was devouring me, with it’s amazing story and set of characters, and the amazing tension and GAH! Everything!

Schwab did an amazing job building the world of monsters, and the characters in them. Even though this is YA, I can’t count it as one, because it just didn’t follow YA formula. It followed its own formula, which I loved because it was natural, and the conflict was truly masterfully written and executed. The writing is so beautiful, the characters so complex. The pacing, murderous but deliciously savory. It’s so refreshing to read something different and vibrant, and readers can tell there’s more to this world. I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

Audience: Has one or two choicy words, so Older Teens and beyond who want to try something new.

Rating:

5stars

 

Other recommendations: This is the first Victoria Schwab book I’ve read, but I look forward to reading her previously published work!

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8) by J.K Rowling

Harry Potter 8Nineteen years have passed since the defeat of the Dark Lord. Harry finds himself still struggling with his past, one that affects his youngest son Albus. With each choice Albus makes, Harry can feel the distance growing between them. When Albus decides to take up an adventure to fix a loss in his father’s past, certain things become clear: darkness still exists in the wizarding world.

Personal Take: Part of me picked this up out of loyalty, and still loved this out of loyalty. However, I’ll come out and say that while this book had my favourite characters in between its pages, along with an enchanting world, I can’t count it as part of the original Harry Potter series.

First, as everyone knows, the format is in script form because it’s a play. That means it takes into account a lot of the stage production elements– the pacing, the beat, the character motivations, etc. In my opinion (and from what I’ve observed) plays explore certain depth of themes a different way, but it has to move the scene along until the end.

And that’s what I felt when reading this book. At times, I could see my favorite characters, references to glorious moments from the books, but other things felt more for stage purposes, like characterization and dialogue. It almost felt like an alternate universe of my favorite series. And I did enjoy it (heck, there were times I wanted to cry!). But I wouldn’t come close to counting it as the 8th book, or story arc.

So my recommendation is: if you want to read this, don’t think too much into it, and just enjoy the ride.

Audience: Always, fans of the series (but maybe not the hardcore fans..)

Rating:

threestars

 

Other recommendations: I haven’t read anything by J.K Rowling other than her most popular series, Harry Potter and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. She’s also written an adult novel, The Casual Vacancy.

Review: Their Fractured Light (Starbound #3) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Their Fractured Light

 

A year after the incident on Avon, and after countless aliases and avoiding near-detection, Sofia Quinn, once resident of Avon, finally makes it to Corinth, headquarters of the the notorious and powerful man, Roderick LaRoux. When her attempts to infiltrate the headquarters throws her in the path of a mysterious hacker, Gideon Merchant, Sofia has no choice but to work with him in order to survive. Both mistrusting each other from the start, but both with their own reasons to expose LaRoux, the two form an unlikely partnership to finally bring an end to the suffering LaRoux Interprises has wrought on the worlds, which puts them in the path of unlikely allies. But as they get closer to the galaxy’s most hidden secret, Sofia and Gideon realize that their paths are more linked than they could ever imagine.

Personal Take: I was dreading this final instalment of the Starbound trilogy. Not only because I saw this couple a mile away (hinted in the last book, This Shattered World), but because this series was just amazing, and I didn’t want it to end.

As most trilogy/series, the last book is always the hardest. To wrap up everything, and bringing closure to many of the characters mentioned throughout, and making sure it’s all plausible – it is a challenge.

First, let me say that I love that this book brings everything together, and intersects through all the characters. It’s inevitable that this should happen. At the same time though, I felt that Sofia and Gideon’s story was understated because of the presence of the other protagonists, who had a much stronger and emotional backstory. If anything, it felt like they were tools to continue the story of the other characters, which is slightly underwhelming, and that’s where it fell short of being a fantastic read.

Having said that though, I still enjoyed the relationship and contrast between Sofia and Gideon (and personally, Gideon more than Sofia).

The story itself is still amazing, still so engrossing and emotional. Again, like most finales of a book series, it was such a tough one, and there was a lot at stake, but the way it was resolved was still satisfying.

Audience: For older teens and adults who love to read about aliens.

Rating:

threehalfstars

Other recommendations: I highly, highly, recommend reading this series from the start: These Broken Stars and This Shattered World. Each author also has a book/series of her own, so be sure to check out Meagan Spooner’s Skylark’s series, and Amie Kaufman’s other co-authored book Illuminae.

Review: These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

 

When the most luxurious spaceliner in history gets yanked out of hyperspace and crashes into an unknown planet, it leaves Lilac LeRoux and Tarver Merendsen as the sole survivors of the tragedy. Two complete opposites, Lilac being the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy and Tarver, a young war hero with a simple background, the two must learn to trust each other in the harsh environment of the planet. While it seems that they’re both alone at first, it soon becomes clear that that’s not the case. And whatever it is, it’s old and desperate.

Personal Take: I knew before getting into this that it was a sci-fi book, which isn’t my cup of tea. The first few chapters were a bit of a struggle, trying to understand the level of sophistication in the futuristic world, but the authors did a great job simplifying it. Before I knew it, I was so absorbed and so addicted to both the characters and the writing style.

These Broken Stars isn’t only a YA romance. It’s so layered, and beautiful and complex, and it took its time building up to be what it is. The writers were not afraid to be daring (as one certain scene suggests), which had me guessing the whole time. I loved every moment of it.

I wouldn’t say this book is for everybody– it requires patience to appreciate the pace and details that went into it, but I do recommend it if you’re looking for something new.

Audience: Older teens, and adults.

Rating:

5stars

Other recommendations: This is the first of the Starbound series, and the second is This Shattered World. I’ll definitely be checking out both authors’ work after this series concludes.

Review: Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5) by Richelle Mead

 

Sydney knew the consequences of her feelings for Adrian, and she was ready for it. Now that the Alchemists have her in their clutches, Sydney is determined not to give up. But the re-education center she’s imprisoned is near impossible to escape from. Meanwhile, Adrian’s control of spirit magic is slipping, especially since his desperate efforts to find Sydney proves fruitless. So when a chance to distract him from his failures comes his way, he grasps at it like a lifeline.

Personal Take: I was SO STOKED to be reading this! I had such high expectations, especially after the way the last book ended. I was expecting Silver Shadows to reduce me into an emotional mess because the stakes got so high.

And I did enjoy it. I did feel for the characters in their time of turmoil (one more than the other). I couldn’t stop reading, and it was still a good read. But I wasn’t completely blown away by it. For most of the book, I was waiting for a new revelation that would shake my view of Mead’s world, but nothing much happened.

One thing I noticed was that there were too many characters in this book for my liking. It wasn’t too hard to keep up with them, but the chapters were a little crowded, with me trying to remember the characters from the previous book. Some were memorable, but others weren’t, and I didn’t feel they played a big part in the story.

The events in the book were a little predicable, and wrapped up a little too nicely in the end, except for the last bit of cliffhanger that made feel a little exasperated because in someway, we’re back to where we started.

I was a little disappointed, but I still can’t wait to see how it ends.

Audience: For older teens, for alcohol and somewhat adult themes.

Rating:

threestars

Other recommendations: In this series, I’ve reviewed Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, The Indigo Spell and The Fiery Heart. Also a huge fan of The Vampire Academy. Check out the rest of Mead’s books!

Review: Sirensong (Faeriewalker #3) by Jenna Black

 

When Dana Hathaway receives a formal summons to attend to Titania, Queen of the Seelie Court back in Faery, she can’t help but have her guard up. After weeks of dodging death threats, the invite seems a little ominous. Of course, trekking through Faery has its own dangers, especially when Dana and her friends find out that someone is out to pin an assassination-attempt on her.

Personal Take: In the third instalment, I’d hoped that there would be that ‘oomph’ I was looking for in the 2nd book. Unfortunately, I felt that it did not deliver. I wished Dana would actually grow as a character, but it opened more of her flaws–or rather her habit of rationalizing everything to death. She also made the silliest decisions, and this time round, her interactions with other characters didn’t do it for me. It revealed nothing about them, but nothing about her either.

And again, other than one revelation, there hasn’t been anything remotely exciting or gripping that moved the story along. The only thing I did appreciate is the somewhat realistic conclusion to one of Dana’s personal problem.  I enjoyed Black’s writing, but I just expected more.

Audience: Older teens for lots of swearing.

Rating: 

threestars

Other recommendations: I read and reviewed the first two in the trilogy, Glimmerglass an Shadowspell. Again, I recommend Black’s books for her writing, and I can’t wait to read more.