Friday, April 20, 2018

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Title: Assassin's Apprentice
Author: Robin Hobb
Released May 1995
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5

Summary

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals - the old art known as the Wit - gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

This book blew me away with Hobb's amazing writing skills!! I've read so many YA books that it can be difficult to focus when suddenly faced with a book with such detailed writing as this. Naturally, it took a couple reading sessions before I started becoming immersed in Fitz' view in this fictional world. The way Hobb describes sounds, smells, visuals, and touches does not bog down the reading experience at all. Instead, it makes me feel like I am there, experiencing it all with Fitz.

I also valued the subtle way Hobb shows deepening relationships between Fitz and other characters through action. Fitz has been dealt a tough hand in life, but lucky for him there are people that take him under their wing. One of these characters is Burrich, a stableman that used to serve Fitz' father, Chivalry. Although Burrich seems rough and unfeeling at first, he becomes almost like a father figure to Fitz and it's all so bittersweet.

I did not know much about the plot before going into this book so I will not divulge much so that you can experience the adventure the same way I did. As I mentioned, this book is very detailed to the point where I was not quite sure where the story was going. This could be a problem for some people. In fact, this is normally something that I dislike but for some reason, the writing really clicked with me. I don't want to make it sound like there was no plot. There was, but it advances slowly. I enjoyed watching Fitz grow from age six through his teen years.

The central point of conflict throughout the novel a group of people from the outislands called Red-Ship Raiders who attack and pillage for no observable gain. They add an air of mystery to the novel because the villages they attack leave surviving villagers behind with no emotions, only a constant need to steal and hurt others. This is something that I am very interested in seeing if, and how, it will get resolved in the sequels.

I feel like my reviews don't give the books I really enjoy justice. I feel like there is always more I intended to talk about as I was reading, but once I start writing my review it's like I forget every point I wanted to bring up! 😅 Overall, I REALLY enjoyed this book - it was such a breath of fresh air with its fantastic writing and intelligent main character. I particularly enjoyed the scenes where Fitz used his Wit to communicate with animals, especially dogs (really made me wish I could bond with my cat on that level!).
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

Title: Mortal Engines (The Hungry City Chronicles #1)
Author: Philip Reeve
Released November 16th, 2001
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5

Summary

The great traction city London has been skulking in the hills to avoid the bigger, faster, hungrier cities loose in the Great Hunting Ground. But now, the sinister plans of Lord Mayor Mangus Crome can finally unfold.

Thaddeus Valentine, London's Head Historian and adored famous archaeologist, and his lovely daughter, Katherine, are down in The Gut when the young assassin with the black scarf strikes toward his heart, saved by the quick intervention of Tom, a lowly third-class apprentice. Racing after the fleeing girl, Tom suddenly glimpses her hideous face: scarred from forehead to jaw, nose a smashed stump, a single eye glaring back at him. "Look at what your Valentine did to me!" she screams. "Ask him! Ask him what he did to Hester Shaw!" And with that she jumps down the waste chute to her death. Minutes later Tom finds himself tumbling down the same chute and stranded in the Out-Country, a sea of mud scored by the huge caterpillar tracks of cities like the one now steaming off over the horizon (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

"It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea."
I recently decided to read this book because I came across its movie trailer a couple months ago. I was instantly intrigued. Part of me thought, "This seems pretty stupid," and another part of me was intensely curious.



Before I go into my reaction to the trailer now that I've read the book, I first want to review my thoughts on the book itself. The writing style struck me as old-timey and gave me a nostalgic feeling that I really liked. The main characters Tom, Hester, and Katherine are probably around fifteen (I can't remember if it stated their ages in the book). It almost seemed like it was a middle-grade novel, and I actually thought this was middle-grade before I started it. Let me tell you, this book has some gruesome death scenes! They were awesome, but also made my stomach turn. 
Side note: Philip Reeve looks
exactly like I imagined Valentine

One of the reasons I docked a star was because I would have liked more of Hester Shaw. The novel mainly describes Tom and Katherine's thoughts, but Hester is the most interesting character. She had an incredibly traumatizing past witnessing the death of her parents and then getting permanently scarred by her parents' murderer. She is on a hunt for revenge. In contrast, Tom is a little bland. Although he is also an orphan, he had a decent life in London compared to Hester, who was forced to survive in the Out-Country on her own for seven years. I did like how naive Tom was. It was believable since he grew up with London's propaganda. I really enjoyed the dynamic between these two as Hester slowly realizes that Tom cares for her despite her "ugly" appearance.

Valentine was also a very interesting and conflicted character. Again, I can't go too much into his character without revealing spoilers, but this is a bad guy who has a soft heart for his adopted(?) daughter, Katherine. At first, I thought Katherine was a bit annoying, maybe just too childish for me. But as Katherine began to discover secrets about her father, she came to grow on me.

Again, the gruesome death scenes were really shocking to me because the tone of most of the book feels almost middle-grade. I won't give any spoilers, but the ending was especially brutal, and I felt all kinds of sadness (on the level of a Shakespeare tragedy)! Overall, I have to say that this was definitely one of the most bizarre books I've read, but its oddness and flawed character are what drew me to it.
"'You aren't a hero, and I'm not beautiful, and we probably won't live happily ever after,' she said. 'But we're alive, and together, and we're going to be all right.'"
I am SO EXCITED for the film to come out! From the teaser trailer, it appears that the three main characters might be aged-up. The trailer only shows Hester, but the actor for Tom is definitely older than one would imagine a fifteen-year-old to look like (he played Simon in the Mortal Instruments movie!!!). I know it's just the teaser trailer, but Hester's actress looks perfect for the role to me. In the book, she is missing an eye. However, I could understand not including that in the film since her face is uncovered throughout most of it and that could get pretty disturbing to the movie audience. I also noticed the song in the trailer is probably London's anthem that was mentioned in the book. Goodness, I need more trailers to obsess over!


Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Title: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Released May 11, 2004
Bought from B&N
Rating: 5/5

Summary

In The Truth About Forever, when asked how she is coping with her father's death, invariably seventeen year old Macy Queen's answer is "fine," when nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, she is drowning in grief while maintaining a flawless façade of good grades and unblemished behavior. Though she feels lost when her boyfriend heads to "Brain Camp" for the summer, she finds herself a job with the quirky Wish Catering crew, and meets "sa-woon"-worthy Wes, whose chaotic lifestyle is in direct opposition to her own.

As the two share their stories over the summer, Macy realizes she can no longer keep her feelings on ice. Though it feels like her future ended with her dad's death, Macy's learns that forever is all about beginnings (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

Since February is the month of Valentine's Day, I thought a contemporary romance would be appropriate for my forever single self. While I was spending a couple hours browsing the YA section at Barnes & Noble, I came across an entire shelf of Sarah Dessen's books. I remembered my cousin is a fan of Dessen, and I promptly asked for her opinion of which one I should read first. The Truth About Forever is her favorite, and so that is how I came to choose this book.

The biggest thing that stood out from the first chapter is my emotional connection to Macy. At the beginning of the novel, Macy's father was deceased for about a year. Macy had a deep relationship with her father and was having a hard time coping without him. She had basically shut down after his death, avoiding her old friends and hobbies. Her mother would not talk about him. Instead, she became a workaholic and put pressure on Macy to be the perfect student. Macy's feelings of grief and isolation from her mother were palpable. I cried several times throughout this book, and I almost never cry when reading.

So far this book sounds pretty depressing, but hold on folks, because once Macy meets a very interesting group of people you can start to notice the positive changes in Macy before she does. As you can tell by the summary, Macy meets Wes, who I am adding to my list of fictional boyfriends. I know what you're thinking "ew another book that makes it seem like you need a guy to fix your problems." Not at all. It's a combination of the entire Wish Catering crew and her connection to Wes (whose mother passed away) that really makes Macy start to shine and open up.

I really liked that this novel showed different ways that people deal with grief. For instance, Macy's sister went through her stages of grief relatively quickly and decided to renovate their father's cabin to help Macy and her mother deal with their grief. Macy's mother became increasingly controlling of Macy throughout the novel. It was definitely an emotional rollercoaster, but the way these problems resolve themselves in the end made my heart so very happy. If you are looking for a contemporary romance that isn't mushy mushy and has deeper messages, then this is the book for you.
Thursday, February 1, 2018

February TBR

'Sup readers! Last month's reads were:

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Everless by Sara Holland

I'm still reading Iron Gold by Pierce Brown so expect that review to be posted sometime this month. In addition to that, I plan to read the following this month:

1. Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer - I am SO EXCITED to read volume two of Wires and Nerve. This spinoff of The Lunar Chronicles is the second book of a duology about Iko, an android that's more human than droid. I really enjoyed seeing my babies in the first volume, and I cannot wait to read about them again! Marissa Meyer's writing makes me feel at home.








2. Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve - I saw a trailer for a movie adaptation of this book, and I was quite intrigued. It was weird because part of me thought it was stupid, but my inner child was like "oh hell yeah." The reviews are so mixed on this book. I'm not sure what to expect, but those that like it say it's awesome.








3. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - I have no idea what compelled me to finally add this book to my TBR.  After reading Twilight back in middle school, I stayed FAR away from any other vampire-related books. Almost every YA reader has read the Vampire Academy series, so I figure it's time I jump on the train. Maybe I'm just in the mood for books that make my fellow YA readers nostalgic. My reading is super slow because of school so I may not get to this until March.

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