Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Insurgent - Veronica Roth (2012)

5 stars

I was so excited for this book because Divergent was probably the best book I read last year. I was not disappointed by the sequel at all.

I enjoyed this book just as much as the first book, it was amazingly well written and went into more depth of the fictional society than the previous novel. Veronica also went into a lot more detail with the other characters in the novel that weren't properly developed in Divergent. My favourite character in this book was once again Four, I'm 100% certain that Veronica wrote the most lovable character in the world and in this book I just love him more and more. I also found it hard to pick a faction in this book, because whenever I favoured a faction, I learned more about them and didn't like them, a clever tactic that is probably leading to the destruction of factions in future novels. I would recommend this and Divergent to anyone, anyone at all, anyone with a soul, anyone that loves anything, because these books are amazing and can be enjoyed by all.

The book starts with Tris and the other Dauntless in Amity, they stay there until Erudite launch an attack and they must leave. Tris and Tobias then meet with the factionless who are led by Tobias' mother, whom he thought to be dead. After leaving the factionless, Tris and Tobias meet up with other Dauntless and Abnegation at Candor headquarters where they are publicly interrogated with truth serum. Erudite then launch another attack, this time on Candor, in which they shoot everyone with long range transmitters so they can put them under simulation whenever they want. The Dauntless then return to Dauntless headquarters and destroy the security cameras, and that night three of the Dauntless that have long range transmitters are controlled by Jeanine and tell Tris that if a Dauntless doesn't surrender to Erudite this will happen every two days. Two of the three people are saved, but Marlene dies and Tris goes to Erudite after promising Tobias that she won't. Tris is then experimented on by Jeanine, who wants to develop a serum that will work on divergents, Tobias also comes to Erudite to be a prisoner with Tris and they both escape with the help of Peter. The Dauntless and factionless then form an alliance to attack the Erudite and destroy their information, however Tris works with Marcus to try to get the information that Jeanine is protecting and her mother died for. Tori kills Jeanine before she can locate the information for Tris and Tris is labelled a traitor for wanting to save Jeanine. The factionless then tell Dauntless that there will be no more factions and that no-one can argue with them because they commandeered all the weapons, Tobias then shows the video Tris was looking for to everyone which shows that they were all separated from society to be protected from human nature itself.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Keep Calm and Drink Up (2010)

I'm not sure if this really counts as a book, but I'm falling behind Clare on the book tally and have to resort to sneak tactics to get on top. My friend Emma gave this to me for my eighteenth birthday. It is full of quotes about alcohol and life. Some are funny and some are inspiring.

Some of my favourite quotes:
"You are not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on." Dean Martin
"If you resolve to give up... drinking... you don't actually live longer, it just seems longer." Clement Freud
"Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the Bible says to love your enemy." Frank Sinatra
"Drunkenness is nothing but voluntary madness." Seneca
"Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure." Ambrose Bierce
"The chief reason for drinking is the desire to behave in a certain way, and to be able to blame it on alcohol." Mignon McLaughlin
"Reality is an illusion created by a lack of alcohol." Anonymous

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Tully - Paullina Simons (1995)

5 stars

Tully is one of my most favourite books of all time. I picked it up a few years ago at a book sale on a whim. I could not put it down. I remember structuring my life around reading Tully (at over 600 pages with small print, it took a while!) Heads up, this is not a book for younger readers. It deals with complex, adult issues and contains a lot of profanity.

The best part about Tully, is Tully - the main character. She must be the most frustrating character ever written. I spend most of the book screaming at her. She has a hard life, and all she wants is what she can never have.

Tully has been abused by her mother her whole life. Luckily, she has two best friends - Jennifer and Julie - whose parents have her over as often as they can. Jennifer and Tully hold a special bond as both of them are't fond of chatting and both dream of living in California. In senior year, Tully meets Robin and the pair go out. Jennifer falls in love with Jack, who rejects her and breaks her heart. Jennifer kills herself, and Tully is devastated. Tully moves out and does some social work and goes to university. She then meets Jeremy, who promises to live with her in her beloved California. However, Tully is pregnant and circumstances mean it must be Robin's. She marries with Robin and has a son - Robin Jr. Tully struggles to stay in touch with Julie because it is painful and continues to put flowers on Jennifer's grave. One day she meets Jack, who is also putting flowers on Jennifer's grave. Jack and Tully fall in love and spend every Sunday together. Tully falls pregnant and thinks the baby is Jack's. She gives birth, but then is very ill and nearly dies. She names her daughter Jennifer. She wants to leave Robin and go with Jack to California, but Robin won't let her take her son. She then realises that she has always been in love with Robin and could never leave him and doesn't want to go to California.

Friday, 18 May 2012

City of Lost Souls - Cassandra Clare (2012)

4 stars

I was pretty excited to read this book after reading the previous books in the series, and it was just as good as the most of the previous books in the series, though not as good as some.

This book follows the plotline that was set up in City of Fallen Angels, which I don't think is as good as the plotline for the first three books but is still very intriguing, if predictable at times. I really enjoy how Cassandra switches between the different characters perspectives all the time as it lets me as a reader understand all the characters and how they are feeling, the only problem with that is when she doesn't write from Magnus' point of view who I think would be one of the most interesting characters to hear from. My favourite character in this book was Sebastian, even though he's evil I thought he was written brilliantly, I was starting to like him when he was good, but I despised him when he was bad. I think he is an excellent character who is really good to read about, especially when you find out that all he really wants is a friend. I would recommend this series to any paranormal fiction fans.

This book picks up two weeks after Simon killed Lillith and Sebastian took Jace. Clary meets with the Seelie Queen to try to get information about Jace and she asks Clary to steal her a set of faerie made rings that allow them to communicate in each others heads. Once Clary steals them, Jace and Sebastian come to her house and try to get her to come with them and they stab Luke with demon metal in the process. Clary then gives a ring to Simon and keeps one for herself so that she can keep in contact with him when she goes with Jace to try to learn Sebastian's plan. Simon summons Raziel and gets the Archangel Michael's sword that will burn the evil out of Sebastian and sever his bond to Jace without killing him as well. Clary learns that Sebastian made a second mortal cup and plans to Raise Lillith and pour her blood into it to make a new race of dark shadowhunters and has forty willing shadowhunters to drink it right away. When he starts his ceremony, the first person to drink from the cup is Amatis, forced to drink by a shadowhunter that stole her away in the night. After all the shadowhunters have been turned, the wolves and shadowhunters show up and stop most of them, however Clary can't get to Sebastian to kill him because she is stopped by Jace who she stabs instead. Jace lives, except now contains the fire of heaven in him.

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Farthest Shore - Ursula Le Guin (1972)

2 stars

Ahh finally I've managed to finish the first three books in this series. Life's been busy and it's been hard to find time to read high fantasy(and this version happens to have a really terrible font!) I liked the previous two in the series much better.

The Farthest Shore won the 1973 National Book award for children's books. It is also the book that the Studio Ghibli movie Tales from Earthsea is based on.

See ClareBear's plot summary!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

An Abundance of Katherines - John Green (2006)

3.5 stars

I read this book because it's by John Green, one of our great nerdfighting gods.

I didn't like this book as much as the fault in our stars or paper towns but I still found it easy to read and pretty interesting. I thought it might have too much maths in it for other readers that aren't nerdfighters, although he does put all of it in the footnotes and appendix which he says are optional so don't count, but it is still the one of the main plotpoints of the story.Whenever I read a John Green book I love the nerdfighting references that he slips in (in this book he payed homage to Willy with Katherine XIX having a dog called Fireball Roberts, among other things) that would pass over most people's heads. My favourite character in this book is Hassan, I thought he was a really lovely character and John had written him perfectly to balance how annoying Colin is. I would recommend this book to any teenager that likes teen drama and romance.

Colin Singleton has dated and been dumped by nineteen Katherines. When Katherine XIX breaks up with him he is severly depressed, so his best friend Hassan suggests a road trip. They end up staying in Gutshot, Tennessee with Lindsey Lee Wells. Colin tries to make an equation to predict how relationships will end, which he successfully does that works for all the Katherines. He learns, however that it can't predict the future, only explain the past, and after an eventful two weeks in Gutshot, he starts dating Lindsey.

Friday, 11 May 2012

The Farthest Shore - Ursula Le Guin (1972)

3.5 stars

This is the last book in the series I had to read for english, my teacher says I would enjoy the fourth book so I might read that one later.

I enjoyed this book less than the previous book in the series, but I still thought it was an improvement on the first book in the series. This book had more storyline to it than the first book, which it is quite similar to. It is from a new character's perspective named Arren, who is very similar to a younger Ged except he has Ged as a mentor. My favourite characters in this story were the people of the sea, I thought the concept of a race of people that literally live on the sea is super cool and they brought a nice freshness to the story that broke up the monotony of the journey through the lands.

Arren is a young Prince to one of the lands of Earthsea and is sent to Roke to tell Ged, who is now the Archmage, about how wizards in his land are forgetting the ancient language of magic and can no longer perform any magic. Ged and Arren set out on a journey through the lands to find who has been causing this phenomena all over Earthsea. With the help of some dragons they find Cob, a wizard who has opened the door between life and death and can never die, he lures people to him with the promise of eternal life but then takes their power and they cannot return as he did. Ged manages to close the gap that Cob created but loses his power in doing so, Arren then kills Cob one final time and drags Ged out of the realm of death where he had to go to close the gap. Arren is then crowned King of Earthsea and Ged wandered the mountains of Gont alone.

The Tombs of Atuan - Ursula Le Guin (1972)

 4 stars

I had to read this book for english, however unlike the first book in the series, I found it surprisingly hard to put down.

Each book in this series is from the perspective of a different character, which is a nice change from most series that can get irritating reading the same character's inner monologue all the time. This book is from the perspective of Tenar, a girl who is taken as a child to be a slave to the Gods, I thought she was an amazingly well written character that made the book pretty addictive. My favourite character in this book would be Tenar's young priestess friend that doesn't believe in the Gods (I don't have the book with me and I can't remember her name). I think she was an interesting character that was a clever way to introduce the notion of not believing to Tenar. I would recommend this book to any fantasy fans, also any fans of Froi of the Exiles, you don't have to read the previous book to read this one.

For plot summary see Mac's previous blog.

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Tombs of Atuan - Ursula Le Guin (1972)

4.5 stars

Turns out our class has to read the first three books in the Earthsea quartet, and The Tombs of Atuan is the second. I loved this book, I like it much better than A Wizard of Earthsea (though, credit goes to Le Guin for creating a wizard who screws up big time and has to deal with the ramifications - I love when cliché is avoided!) It also won a Newbery Medal in 1972. Unlike A Wizard of Earthsea, which details the story of a wizard on an epic journey to confront his 'shadow', The Tombs of Atuan is a story of reaching freedom.

A 5 year-old girl is taken form her family because she is found to be the reincarnation of the high priestess in the service of the Nameless Ones. She is heir to the tombs of Atuan where the Nameless Ones dwell. The tombs become a refuge for her, and she is the only one allowed in the labyrinth below, which holds treasure. Ged comes to the tombs looking for the long-lost half of the ring of Erreth-Akbe, but men and light in the tombs is sacrilegious. But Arha is lonely and spares his life. The king's priestess finds her out and Arha has a false grave dug to clear her name. Ged finds the ring and relates the the Nameless Ones are real, but they are dark like his shadow. Ged tells her her true name - Tenar. As the pair try to leave the tombs, there is an earthquake, and the king's priestess is killed. Tenar and Ged now have the Ring of Erreth-Akbe with the power to restore Earthsea to peace.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula Le Guin (1968)

3.5 stars

Like Clare, I had to read this for our English class. It doesn't seem too popular with our classmates (many of which are die-hard Lord of the Rings fans), who are sadly slogging through. Strangely enough, our teacher does equate her to a female Tolkien.

This series is considered her greatest work. Locus (a sci-fi and fantasy magazine) lists A Wizard of Earthsea as number 3 out of their 33 "All-Time Best Fantasy Novels." It has won several awards including a 1979 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.

See ClareBear's summary!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula Le Guin (1968)

I had to read this book for my english class, I could choose between this and Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings so I chose this, and I'm glad I did.

Although it isn't written as well or as interestingly as other fantasy books I've read I still quite liked the plot of this book. I think a downfall of the plot of this story though it that it drags on a bit too long, after Ged creates the shadow, he spend 100 pages trying to chase it down, which I think is a little overkill especially in the chapters where nothing but travelling happens. My favourite character in this book is Vetch, it's not like there are many characters to choose from, and this is probably the obvious choice but I liked his character without Le Guin needing to go into too many details, which I think is really clever. I would recommend this book to any fantasy fans, especially hardcore ones considering my teacher calls Le Guin the "female Tolkien" of the genre.

Duny is a little boy who learns he can do magic from his aunt, a village witch. When his village is attacked when Duny is twelve he performs great magic beyond his years to save them. Ogion is a sorcerer who takes notice of him and lets him be his apprentice, along with naming him with his true name; Ged. Ged however seems to be too curious to learn from the patient and Yoda-like Ogion so he travels to the island of Roke to learn at the wizard's school. When there he makes an enemy of Jasper and in a competition in which he is determined to beat him, Ged summons the spirit of a dead person, but in doing so he nearly dies and creates a shadow creature who will continue to follow him for the rest of his life and try to take his body. Once Ged graduates from the school of Roke and becomes a wizard, he starts to follow his shadow to try to defeat it, the shadow knows his true name however so Ged cannot perform any magic on it. Instead after travelling and battling with it many times, Ged realizes the shadow is part of him and accepts it as so.