Friday, 8 August 2014

Here, There Be Dragons Review

A few months ago, all of the books that I wanted to read either already read, had too long a request at the library, or weren’t released yet (this is, of course, ignoring the ever-growing pile of to-read books in my room). So I turned to my friend Pulsarax on Tumblr and ended up borrowing a number of books – one of which was Here, There Be Dragons.
Here, There Be Dragons is a fantasy novel written by James A. Owen. It was published a while back in 2006 and is the first book in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica. I’m not usually much of a fan for books that don’t take place in a modern setting, but I was lent this book with the promise of allusions to various mythology, so how could I refuse?

I am very glad this book was recommended to me. One of the things I usually dislike about fantasy that is set anywhere other than modern times on earth is a combination of the fact that realistic human development and that there is normally a formula of how things happen. Someone seems normal (for whatever creature they are), they accidentally get dragged into a mess that they didn’t originally anticipate, and then go on some form of the quest. While this book did follow that structure, there was enough happening that it didn’t seem drawn out or long winded.

The first thing that stood out was, of course, the allusions to mythology. Folklore, Greek, Arthurian... They were all intricately woven into the book where it didn’t harm the understanding if you get the reference, but made a good joke if you did.

The plot itself moved quickly. It was a little difficult to get into, like most books, but sped along once you got past the first chapter or two. I personally love how the author chose to take a plot that could have extended for a trilogy (cough Tolkien cough – not hating on the series, of course) and put it into one book. I have very little attention span as it is, so the fact that it went by so quickly was practically a gift.

On the other hand, the faster the book moves, the less detail there is. While I did love the characters, there was something lacking about them. It is only the first book in the series, so there is most certainly a lot more that can be delved into (I’ve only recently started the second one), but even so, the characters weren’t too relatable and were somewhat flat.

I give this book a four out of five. There were some things about this book that I didn’t like, but they were drowned out by how amazing other parts were. There is also a major plot twist at the end of the book that had me staring at the page in shock. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a fairly quick and easy fix of fantasy with a book that’s very easy to get into and will leave you hooked until this end. 

Friday, 1 August 2014

City of Heavenly Fire Review

This review is going up really late and I’m so sorry about that! I read the book the week it came out and then completely forget that I was going to write a review on it (I also forgot to write my cover analysis of Blood of Olympus because the blogger mobile app wasn’t working quite right. I’ll get that up soon, hopefully!)

So, City of Heavenly Fire. How do I begin to describe this book? This book is flawless. Well, as close to flawless as a book can get. It was the perfect conclusion to The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. From the action to the suspense to the character development, all of it was on point and kept me hooked until I finished the book (which may have been a very bad thing, considering my copy had arrived during finals week). Not to mention the fact that this book is huge! It's 725 pages in the US edition, which is even longer than Oblivion by Anthony Horowitz (which is a giant itself - and I highly recommend it).

The plot, oh my. I have virtually no words to describe it. Whatever I was expecting from this book, it wasn’t that. It was better. There isn’t much I can say about the plot itself without spoiling anything (and as you should know if you’re a regular BLB reader, my blog is entirely spoiler free), but I can say that there are a lot of twists – some of those ending happily, others ending in intense feels. Most of the loose ends have been tied up, though there is an introduction to some new characters that will be appearing in The Dark Artifices.

And let’s not forget the characters. Though the timeline in the series is only about six months, I feel like all the characters have grown up and matured since the first book. The character development is amazing. This is especially true for Alec who, to be honest, kind of bored me until this book. But now we get to see more of the character than just small glimpses and oh my god he is insanely sassy.

Speaking of Alec, this book in particular has to be one of the few books in pop culture that is not specifically in the LGBTQ+ genre, but actually includes decent representation that goes beyond “that one gay character.” And yes, this is something that has been in all of the books to date, but there is more of it here (the exception might be the Bane Chronicles, which is entirely from the perspective of a “freewheeling bisexual” warlock). That, and the fact that there is still a clear reflection between how society looks at the subject of sexuality and how the Clave looks at it (as in, it’s gotten more accepting).

Overall, I am giving this book a five out of five. Yes, a perfect score! There were no extremely awkward parts to read in terms of poor writing. The characters were all well developed. The book held me right to the end with its perfection. A quick word of warning is that there is an implied sex scene as well as some moderate violence, but come on. If you’ve gotten to this book, it’s all the same stuff that has happened in the previous books.