29 August 2012

The Last Apprentice: Lure of the Dead

Goodreads info
I discovered Joseph Delaney's Wardstone Chronicles (or The Last Apprentice) series on accident. Books 1-7 were available for free on Amazon for the Kindle, and while I had no idea what these books were about, they were free. Nothing's better than free, right?

I normally don't read dark fantasy. Mostly because I read before bed and I really don't need those images in my head while I sleep. But Delaney takes the vivid imagery of the ghouls and witches and spins them into the fantastic story of Tom Ward, Spook Apprentice.

For a little background, Tom Ward is a seventh son of a seventh son. Meaning he's got an inherent magical ability to fight against the powers of the dark. When he is old enough to be apprenticed, his Mam works it out that he will be the apprentice to Old Gregory, County Spook. While traveling about the countryside, Tom meets Alice, a young girl wearing pointy shoes, as well as a cast of unsavory characters. Through the first 10 books you discover that Tom is the world's answer to defeating the Fiend (aka the Devil) once and for all.

Lure of the Dead (book 10) find us with less than 8 months for Tom to defeat the Fiend. He has been given two of the three weapons required as well as how to obtain weapon #3. But the question remains: is Tom willing to make the necessary sacrifices to save the world from the dark?

I cannot recommend these books more. It's very easy to get swept up into the action and you definitely care about these characters. Give these books a chance if you need some dark fantasy peppered into your life.

28 August 2012

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

Goodreads info
Palace of Stone is the second book in the Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale and has been on preorder for me since the day I heard that there would be a sequel.

The fantastic thing of Princess Academy is that it ended in a good place. Life would continue on with all the new changes that the Princess School had brought about. Miri and Peder would get married, or at least be considered engaged. Life would be happy. So the thought of a sequel seemed unnecessary at the time.

Well Palace of Stone changes that. It's now time for Britta's wedding and all the girls from the school have been invited to attend. Unfortunately there is civil unrest in the kingdom and things don't go as planned. Miri is off to Queen's Castle to study more, while the other girls go off on their own social excursions. I'm not going to lie - I liked the group dynamic of all the girls. I may have actually missed them while Miri was off being political with her friends in the Salon.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book that shows that you pick who your family is and that it's right to stand up for what you believe in.

27 August 2012

Crown Duel

I've been seeing this book crop up on my Amazon Recommends a lot lately. So since my book budget finally could accomodate it, I figured I'd give it a shot.

Goodreads info
Can I give this more than 5 stars? I literally could not put this book down - in fact, my 50 minute Elliptical workout might have continued for far longer because I couldn't find a good pause point in this book.

This book is rocketing up to the top of my MUST READ list.

Crown Duel follows Countess Melaria Astair as she and her brother as they lead a rebellion revolution for the kingdom from their backwater home. The first half of the book (which was originally published as Crown Duel) is your standard battlefields in the mud with swords and hiding in the bushes to escape getting caught. Part Two (Court Duel) pushes Mel out of her familiar home after their rebellion revolution right into Court - full of fashion, fans, and battles fought with words rather than swords.

It took me a while to accept that Mel is a Countess in the first half. She seems so backwards, blindly following orders without thinking them through first. But slowly you grow to love her - especially when she is thrust into the bedazzled world of Court where people say one thing but mean another. It's just the right amount of action, adventure, intrigue and romance. Read this book today!

26 August 2012

The Amber Spyglass

I've been putting off writing this review. The Amber Spyglass was one of my absolute favorites growing up. I used to read random chapters when I didn't know what I wanted to read. I used to take it as just a fantastically written fantasy novel; after rereading the trilogy, I'm astounded by my slightly narrow views.

Goodreads info
We come back to Will and Lyra after the battle. Lyra is off with her mother, Mrs Coulter, living in a cave in the Himalayas somewhere. She is being kept in a drug-enduced sleep and keeps having dreams about Roger, the kitchen boy she used to play with back at Jordan and subsequently lead to his death. Will, still adjusting to meeting his father and then seeing him die before his eyes, is joined by two angels who urge him to go to Lord Asriel. However Will is just as stubborn as Lyra and refuses to follow them until he is back with Lyra.

These two insignificant children forge their own path, regardless of what everyone wants them to do. They disrupt the "proper" order of how things should happen by letting the dead out, getting separated from their dæmons, and changing the essence of the world through their roles as Adam and Eve.

Now that I'm older, the heavy biblical significance is much more noticable. I still love this book, but there is now a deeper meaning behind it. I still highly recommend it, however, please take the symbolism with a grain of salt.

13 August 2012

The Subtle Knife

Oh my goodness. I don't think I've blasted through a book of this length this quickly before.

Goodreads info
The Subtle Knife introduces new characters and more importantly, new worlds. We left off with Lyra crossing into the city in the sky, only to find out that it is actually the crossroads to all the worlds and that someone from "our" universe has crossed over as well. Will and Lyra are thrown together with these strange and bizarre artifacts and they don't know what they mean or what to do with them.

Again, the religious symbolism is pretty heavy in this book. However, I feel it's more action-oriented than The Golden Compass. Maybe it's because the one-on-one combats read better than the massive fight sequences of the first book. While there is still some world and character building, the universe of "His Dark Materials" has now been well established so that the reader can jump right into the action without having to understand why choices are being made.

My only negative feeling towards this story is that it jumps around a lot. There are many different characters who are following their own paths that we're interested in. In the end, it all comes together cohesively, and ready to tackle the next big thing. The Subtle Knife is not a stand-alone book by any means, but a good solid second book in a trilogy that inspires its reader to pick up the third installment, The Amber Spyglass.

12 August 2012

The Golden Compass

I've been in mood to re-read all the books that I loved growing up. I recently acquired Philp Pullman's trilogy "His Dark Materials" and since I haven't read them since before the movie came out in 2007, my views have definitely changed.

Goodreads Info Page
The Golden Compass has a lot of religious influences. Like a lot. I remember reading this thinking that the Church was playing a role in why people did what they did, but it never became as obvious until The Amber Spyglass. It was just the adventures of Lyra, 12 year old bandit gutter rat who lived at Jordan College. But now that I'm older and understand more, it shows how much more of a driving force they were, as well as all the underlying symbolism.

On the plus side, some things never change. I still cannot pronounce dæmon. I still blasted through the fight scenes at Bolvangar. And I still love this book. It has the capability to stand on its own, but it is so much more complete with the other two books following them up.

So if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get in a few chapters of The Subtle Knife in before Weeds starts :)