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Book Review: The Other Wind

68059I think this has been my favourite of the Earthsea novels. It tied all the previous stories together, and included two of my favourite characters – Tenar and Tehanu.

Again, there were times where I felt a little bored or lost, but when I was able to sit and really focus on reading it, I really did enjoy this book. I guess it’s not really a “light” read.

This story focused more on dragons, and how humans had broken an ancient promise by seeking immortality. Women – who were previously seen as lesser than men – are invited to Roke, and help to bring peace amongst dragon and mankind.

The history of dragons and men being one species was a really interesting concept, as was the “other wind” that Irian and Tehanu long for. The ending was pretty sad, too – the bond between Tenar and Tehanu was so strong, but they knew that they would have to let each other go.

I definitely found this the most interesting out of the series. The writing is lovely (if a little archaic, but that fits the universe Le Guin has created) and I love some of the characters. 3.5 stars.

Check out the whole series here.

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Book Review: Tales From Earthsea

68055This is the fifth installation of The Earthsea Cycle.In this book is a collection of short stories from different eras and locations within Earthsea. There are tons of links to other tales in this series throughout this book, including character crossovers. There’s even a whole section on describing Earthsea at the end, giving a real in-depth history of the land and it’s cultures.

I am getting a little bored with this series, but I think it’s just because of how the writing has a rather archaic feel. This writing really does help create the universe, but it’s just not my thing. I appreciate how effective it is in creating the world of Earthsea and immersing you in the book, though.

My favourite tale in this book is the final one, where a woman is allowed entrance into Roke School. I’m interested in seeing if equality returns to Earthsea – women with power are looked down upon, whereas sorcerers, wizards and especially mages are respected for their power.

I will stil finish reading this series, despite not loving it as much as I maybe should. 3 starsTales from Earthsea map

Book Review: The Bane Chronicles

9781406360585-usThere are a few companion novels to Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, but as this one is centred around my favourite character, I just had to read it.

The first thing I noticed was how well the changing time periods were reflected in the language and writing. As a warlock, Magnus has lived through hundreds of years and in dozens of different countries. I felt like, as the reader, I was really transported to all those different eras and places along with Magnus. But he still had that charm and humour that I adore so much about him, and the eccentricity we all love.

Most of this book is filled with tales from before the characters of The Mortal Instruments are even alive. If you’ve read the series you’ll notice how the events tie into references from those books. I really enjoyed reading more details on things that are casually mentioned in the main series, especially as Magnus is such an interesting character with so many stories to tell. Some of the main events include his relationship with Camille, his helping Raphael when turned into a vampire, and (of course) his relationship with Alec. We also hear a lot about what really happened in Peru…

This is definitely one of my favourite companion books – a lot of authors seem to go too far with their franchise and try too hard to write extra books. This felt more natural and was thoroughly enjoyable. 5 stars!

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Book Review: Inkdeath

12516763This is the final book in Cornelia Funke ‘s Inkworld trilogy, and the longest of them all. I have to admit that this one did get a bit tedious at times, despite being well written. It was just too long.

Meggie has read Farid and herself into Inkworld, and Resa and Mo soon followed. They get into quite a lot of trouble, especially when Fenoglio – the author of ‘Inkheart’ – uses Mo as the template for a famous character in his songs.

The plot is very intricate. Motorola returns a few times, the Black Prince and all the robbers take in Meggie, Dustfinger meets Death on more than one occasion, Mo binds the Adderhead a book of immortality – the list goes on. But Death is quite a big character here, and there are a lot of dramatic scenes. I don’t want to spend too long summarising the novel, but I can say that it’s full of action and interesting twists. While this series still has a sort of innocent, fairy-tale feel to it, it is definitely a lot darker than any children’s story.

I liked how Mo, who had been so angry at Inkworld, becomes entranced by its beauty. When things start to get rough and Meggie and Resa want to return home, Mo is the one who pleads to stay. His second identity as the Bluejay – the infamous robber created by Fenoglio – is taking over, and even he finds himself in the company of Death.

The writing is great, and the ending really made me pity Farid. I think this was a bit too long, and I did get pretty disinterested at times in the middle. It’s a shame, because I know it was probably really interesting stuff, but I just didn’t have the capacity to stay interested for so long. Maybe that’s just me, but I’m sure I’ve had no trouble reading other long books.

Maybe I’ll reread this trilogy some other time when I have no other distractions and can appreciate it more. For now, I’ll give Inkdeath 3.5 stars.Bookmarked Signature Logo

Book Review: She Is Not Invisible

This was not how I expected it to be. I liked the uniqueness of it, though, and how unpredictable it turned out to be.
It starts in an airport, with the protagonist and narrator (who’s name we learn to be Laureth) and her little brother Benjamin. We soon discover that Laureth is blind, which provides us with a very interesting account of the events of this story. They are going to America, alone, to find their father. He’s a writer, and holds his notebooks very dearly – so when Laureth gets an email about one being found in America when he’s supposed to be in Switzerland (and then he fails to answer his phone) she immediately assumes something is very wrong.

This is told mostly chronologically, but with memories scattered throughout. Laureth also gives slight hints as to what will be happening later on, reinstating the fact that she is writing about past events. I quite liked this – we were told about certain memories and events that were relevant to the story at that time, nothing more, nothing less.

It turns into quite a dark, suspenseful hunt. Laureth starts to fear that her father may even have taken his own life. The pair even get cornered by a man with a knife who claims to have seen her father. His partner later breaks into their hotel room, searching for some valuable contents of her father’s safe. Coincidentally, they run in to her father just moments later.

The obsession of Laureth and Ben’s father is coincidences; a very interesting topic. He goes into great detail in his notebook (which we are shown throughout the book), discussing theories and particular physicists’ experiences. Bit by bit, he seems to be delving deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the universe. Laureth is caught up in this – she looks for clues in every page of her dad’s notebook. But is she looking too hard? Is she finding signs that aren’t really there?

Laureth relies on her brother to navigate the world, and although he is only going, he is superbly helpful to her. She is adamant on being an independent young lady, and even hides her impairment from most people she meets. As she is the narrator of this book, we are given an account that does not include any visual descriptions. Instead, the other senses are used far more – sounds and feelings especially. I really liked this.

The ending was wonderful. It was different – completely unexpected. I especially liked how her “coincidental” meeting with Sam turned out to mean nothing at all. And her father’s account of what had happened, and his realisation that his obsession was pointless, was so ironic. Laureth and Ben had been on this massive journey, worried their father was so caught up in his obsession that his life was in danger. They began to find strange patterns and signs everywhere – only to find out how coindences are completely fake. 

And the last page was so clever, too. It was numbered 354 which is clever in itself – this number holds a massive significance throughout this book – but then there’s also the hidden message that’s revealed. One of the last sentences prompts you to look closely at the book, and then you find a heartwarming little phrase. I really liked this idea – it seems a bit naff, but actually worked really well.

I did feel like this was maybe a little more for younger adults (I’m nearly 18) but it was really easy to follow and quick to read. It wasn’t lengthy or tiresome at all. 4 stars.

Book Review: The Girl of Ink and Stars

This is quite a short YA novel, a standalone book that I just picked up on impulse. I immediately got the impression that this was aimed at slightly younger teens – the protagonist was only thirteen, so I didn’t really connect that much. It’s that awkward age where you think you’re old, but you’re not. I could imagine thirteen-year-old me would enjoy this quite a bit.
Isabella lives alone with her father, a skilled cartographer. Her mother and twin brother had passed away, leaving the two alone. The Governor had taken control of the land, and his daughter, Lupe, attended the same school as Isabella. The two were very close, and Isabella’s angered outburst causes Lupe to run off into the Hidden Territories to prove she wasn’t “rotten”. A classmate of theirs had recently been found dead, and Lupe was going to find the killer.

Isabella, disguised as her deceased brother, shows Lupe’s note to her father and a small group begin going after her, Isabella included. They follow a map passed down to Isabella’s mother, through blackened forests scattered with bones. They do find Lupe, along with the Banished and, worst of all, the hell dogs from Isabella’s favourite myth.

This myth turns out to play an important role in their journey, and Lupe discovers something about her father when he sacrifices himself to fend off the wolves. They face Yote himself – the mythical fire demon – and Isabella finds herself returning home without Lupe.

It is quite a young teen book, as I said, and the plot develops all because of Isabella calling Lupe’s family “rotten”. This drama and exaggeration is pretty typical of a children’s/teen book, I find, and seemed a little immature to me. The writing was great, I just couldn’t get over the simplicity and immaturity of the plot at times.

For a teen book, it was quite dark at times – a lot of death was included. The ending was both happy and sad, which is nice. I get quite fed up of too many happy endings. 3 stars.

Book Review: Release

I’ve been meaning to read more of Ness’s novels, and this new release (hah!) looked really interesting. It definitely lived up to that reputation.
It’s kind of split in two, alternating between Adam’s story and the story of the Queen and the the faun – spirits, one of which is lost and accidentally bound to the spirit of a young girl who has been murdered, jeopardising the safety of the entire world. I don’t actually know how or why these two stories are connected. There seems to be a link here and there, and they even meet at one point, but I don’t actually see why these two sets of characters are of any real importance to each other. Each story was very interesting, but I just didn’t feel like they were relevant to each other.

The story following Adam was really good, and the banter between Adam and Angela especially was fantastic. He is a gay boy living in an incredibly religious family – his father is a preacher at the nearby church. He’s getting over a relationship, while simultaneously dating another boy who seems to love him very much. But Adam doesn’t feel like he deserves the love, and when his father suggests he deserved the sexual harassment from his boss he completely loses it. This interaction was really interesting, and I think Ness did a pretty good job of creating a dramatic and accurate scene. A religious father faced with news such as this would likely have reacted in a similar way to Big Brian Thorn.

Although I did enjoy this and Ness’s writing is superb, I don’t quite understand this book. I saw a few links and enjoyed Adam’s story, but really didn’t understand the Queen’s significance. 3 stars.

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

I’m studying this book as part of my A Level course, so I’ll avoid going into too much detail on here. The edition we were told to buy includes an introduction and notes on the book, including notes on certain names and terminology included. If you are studying this book at all, an edition like this is really useful.

The story is renowned for its representation of the ‘Jazz Age’ – the 1920s. Fitzgerald captures that time wonderfully, while showing the true colours of the “American Dream” (similar to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in that aspect).

Nick, the narrator, moves to Long Island. His cousin Daisy lives nearby, and he lives next to a mysterious man who has recently come into a lot of money. This man turns out to be Jay Gatsby – a regular party host and past lover of Nick’s cousin.

Daisy’s husband, Tom, is seeing another woman. Most people know about it – it’s pretty much an “open secret” by now. But her husband starts to catch on, just as a terrible accident pushes him right over the edge…

At first, this was pretty boring to read. Especially since I had no choice but to read it. But as I read on, it got more and more enjoyable. I began to appreciate the writing more, and actually got a little emotional with the final death. I can understand why this book has been so popular, such a symbolic piece of literature from the Jazz Age.

It’s not that old (compared to.other classic novels) so isn’t too hard to follow. The style is a bit old fashioned, obviously, but I personally still enjoyed it. 4.5 stars.

Graphic Novel/Picture Book Review: The Little Red Wolf

35905318This is only a very short book, so the review will be short too. It’s based on the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood (as you may have guessed from the title). It’s a beautifully illustrated novel, with a really sweet message about love and friendship between humans and animals.

It follows a similar story to the original fairytale, but where the child captures the little wolf while he is delivering a rabbit to his hungry old grandmother. The child sings a song, which is gorgeously illustrated by Fléchais, which tells the tale of a woman and man falling in love, but the man then losing his wife to wolves. This, she says, is why her and her father hunt and kill wolves – because they are evil beasts that bring nothing but pain.

The little red wolf’s father comes to the rescue – without killing the girl or her father – and tells his son about the version of the song he knows – where the woman is friends with the wolves, weaving them capes (like the one the little red wolf wears) and the man accidentally shoots her himself. I found this to be really quite touching, and I really did like this interpretation of the fairytale.

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I don’t think the chapters were necessary for such a short book – they didn’t mark the end of a “chapter” in any way for me, but just felt like they’d been randomly placed throughout the story.

Overall, this is definitely a lovely story for children to read, even if it is a little sad. The art was really lovely, and it told the story beautifully. 4 stars.

P.S. Sorry about the awful quality of the pictures. My laptop has a red light filter on and just doesn’t do the art justice at all.

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Book Review: Inkspell

This is the second book of the trilogy, even longer than the first. The characters find themselves in another dilemma thanks to the book, Inkheart, and many of them are transported to the Inkworld itself. Fenoglio’s writing proves to be both a curse and a blessing, and Mo’s bookbinding skills save his life.

This book wasn’t quite as easy to read as the first one, though there were more emotional scenes in this. It felt like quite a slow read, but thanks to the events toward the end of the book I am still planning to read the final book.

I never really connected with any of the characters emotionally, but I still found certain deaths to be pretty upsetting. The Inkworld was nice to see, too, but maybe not as impressive as it could have been made out to be.

I can’t say I was particularly thrilled by this book, but it wasn’t bad. 3 stars.