Thursday, 26 July 2012

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier




Title: Shadowfell

Author: Juliet Marillier

Date Read: 20.July.2012

On TBR for: 1 day

Format: paperback

Source: Won on a giveaway (Raiding Bookshelves)

Challenges: 2012 Outdo Yourself





Shadowfell is the new series by Juliet Marillier and I was so lucky to win a copy in the Raiding Bookshelves giveaway, and not wait till September to read it, and have the gorgeous Australian version of the book. I take this moment to thank both Alex and Juliet for this book. And now, on to the review.

Shadowfell takes place in Alban (read Scotland, oh Beloved Scotland), and the main character Neryn is on the run, soon to be very alone in a country ruled by a tyrant, and where people who have uncanny powers are either executed or made to work for the king against their will. The odds are not very good for Neryn, even worse because she also has an uncanny power herself, one that allows her to see and talk with all sorts of Good Folk. She is in search of a place called Shadowfell, a name that is only whispered and is the synonym to the fight against king Keldec, but that to her it's a place where she can be safe.

And then there is Flint, a stranger who won her in a wager, saved her from the king's Enforcers, and said that all he wanted was to give Neryn a choice. But in these dark times of Alban, trust is a foreign concept, and Neryn would much rather make her way on her own than be with this mysterious man.

The journey to Shadowfell is fraught with dangers and perils and misfortunes, but also with unlikely friends. It's a journey of growth, self-discovery and some healing.

So, did I like it? Yes, of course I did. I didn't fall in love with it from the start, but once I closed that last page, I wished to still be in Alban with Neryn and Co., to not have to wait for book 2 to be written/published. I came to love the characters, main and secondary. Actually, one of strengths of this book is the richness of the supporting characters. I absolutely adored the ensemble of Good Folk characters.

Yet, this book feels like it is just the first leg in a very long journey. I am not sure if I should consider this a good thing or bad thing. I think it ties with the fact that it is written for young adults, and for a Juliet Mariller book, it felt shorter than it should have been. Maybe it was just me wishing it had been longer, because as a reader, I always want more.

And for all the downsides of books targeted to young adults, this one is all that such a book should be. In some ways, I would have loved to have this book as my first contact with fantasy (and Juliet Marillier for that matter). There is magic, but also the price of it, the consequences of actions, and how everything will help you grow. In fact, I think Neryn's growth throughout the book is one of the things that makes you like it so much (besides the Good Folk. And Flint.).

And so, after all this, how much did I like this book? A lot, though it was a gradual love, but like I said before, once I was done with it, I wished I was still there. I will anxiously wait for Raven Flight, hoping there will be more of Flint, of tyrant Keldec, of Good Folk, of Regan and his warriors and, of course, of Neryn.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Other Reviews: Raiding Bookshelves | The Silence in the Library 

This Book on: LibraryThing | GoodReads | BookDepository UK | Book Depository US | Amazon UK| Amazon US

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano


Title: The Solitude of Prime Numbers

Author: Paolo Giordano

Date Read: 11.July.2012

On TBR for: 397 days (or 1 year, 1 month and 1 day. Also 397 is prime)

Format: Mass trade paperback

Source: Bought at a bookfair: Feira do livro do Porto 2011

Challenges: 2012 Outdo Yourself, Off the Shelf 2012





Before beginning the review proper, I'll just leave this gif here because it's relevant:



The Solitude of Prime Numbers tells us the stories of Alice and Mattia, from when they were young and something tragic happened to each of them, to how they grew, met, and went their own ways. They are pretty lonesome people, they have their own quirks and weirdness about them, which means that this is not a happy sort of book.

Yet it is a good book. Maybe it's the way these stories, or episodes of two lives, are told which makes it quite easy to turn each page, wanting to know more. Maybe it's the fact that some part of me can't help but relate with the solitude of these two characters. The writing is both beautiful and simple (I would say beautifully simple), but manages to convey how different, and sometimes how desperate both Alice and Mattia are. And since we follow them since early childhood into adulthood, we see how they change, how they grow (or do not grow), and how some choices can have repercussions for the rest of a life.

I confess that the reason I was drawn to this book was its title. It's nerdy and quirky, quite up my alley. And I am glad I did end up reading it. Maybe not the most cheerful of reads, but it's a good and enjoyable one.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews: The Unread Reader 

This Book on: LibraryThing | GoodReads | BookDepository UK | Book Depository US | Amazon UK| Amazon US| Wook | Wook

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ins and Outs: April, May and June

I started writing this post thinking it would be about only April and May, but time just vanished and June was suddenly over! :O As it can be seen, blogging hasn't been my top priority, and I don't expect that to change any time soon. I hope there will still be reviews (once in a while), but I will not try to review every single book I've read (not that there have been many of those lately either). The Ins and Outs will continue, though (well, I'll try).

And so, here's for April and , May and June:

INS

April

Bookmooch:

Son of Avonar by Carol Berg

Gifts:

My Bday was on April, so I got some books!
The last unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (Thanks Anita!)
Night Over Water by Ken Follett
Spark: How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein
The Kingdom of Gods by N. K. Jemisin (Thanks Carlita and Sofi)


 


May

Bought:

The Map of the Sky by Félix J. Palma
Breath and bone by Carol Berg
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore


Bought at a Bookfair

(Feira do Livro de Lisboa)
Marvel 1602 Vol. 2 by Neil Gaiman

 

Bookmooch:

Royal assassin by Robin Hobb
Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

Winking Books:

Black Cat. Volume 1, The man called Black Cat by Kentaro Yabuki

June

Bought at a Bookfair

(Feira do Livro do Porto)
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (Marvellous pocket edition!)
A luz do oriente by Jesús Sánchez Adalid [The light of the Orient]





OUTS

April

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Read along with Jen7waters of Cuidado com o Dálmata

I enjoyed Leviathan, although I didn't fall in love with it. I guess Scott Westerfeld's writing is to blame because, while he can tell a pretty awesome story, he just tells the story, he doesn't try to tell it beautifully or with any quirks in the language. But I liked to to read a book set in WWI, even if it's an alternate universe with lovecraftian beasts at the service of men. The two kids in story, Aleksandar and Deryn are really sweet, both with something to prove, and they both manage to get on their own feet and do what they like.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Dune by Frank Herbert

Not a new universe for me, but the first time I actually read the book. However, found it a bit disappointing, especially in terms of characters. The political machinations and survival parts of the story were good, but I just couldn't stand Paul and all the messianic tone of his story. So, I'm glad I finally read it, but I will not read anything else about the Dune universe.

Rating:
3.5 out of 5



Fables. Vol. 2 : animal farm by Bill Willingham

This was better than the first one: the story was more gripping and it didn't feel so much of an introduction, even if there were some new settings and characters. Will keep reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5





John dies at the end by David Wong

I was actually surprised to like this book. It's not that I don't like this type of surreality (although I tend to go for less gore), but usually books like this (and I admit my knowledge about books like this is limited) tend to bore me after a while. I mean, there is only so much surreality and weirdness that you can throw at me without it crossing the line of too much and therefore becoming just plain stupid. Or the author starting repeating himself. Or there stopping being a point to the story. Not with John dies at the end; it kept being interesting throughout its 400+ pages.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Flesh and spirit by Carol Berg


REVIEW

Rating: 4.5 out of 5






I am Mordred : a tale from Camelot by Nancy Springer

A retelling of Arthurian legend from the point of view of Mordred, in a try to humanized him. Doesn't bring much new to the story, and the good thing about taking so long in reviewing books now is that I can comment on how memorable the book is: this one, not much.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5




May

Magic bites by Ilona Andrews

Read this one after Jen7waters raved about the series, but it didn't work out for me. It never left the pages for me, and I never connected with any of the characters. So... Not for me.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5






The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay

I had such high hopes for this one. It's Guy Gavriel Kay, and one of the Fantasy's classics. Well, I didn't like it.
But let me start by talking about the cover, because I love that illustration. I see it, and I imagine an entire story just by looking at it! A guy, tied to a tree, all naked! Why is he there? Is it punishment? Is he a good guy? Does he deserve it? Does he feel like he deserves it? I can see someone broken, and who has abandoned himself to despair. Someone with a hint of darkness inside.
I wasn't far from the truth, but the execution left so much to be desired. The concept was not one that I like: regular, "our world" kids, get transported to a magic world of elves (*by any other name*) where there are prophecies, and wars, and epic battles with gods and other magical beings. And-They-Don't-Even-Bat-An-Eyelash-At-It. Really, after a brief "I don't believe in magic." they all go so jolly into a freaking vortex of magic to go help this random dude (and accompanying dwarf) set up a celebration to his king. So, no, I couldn't suspend my disbelief, and the hopping POVs where too bloody distracting.

Rating: 2 out of 5



Breath and bone by Carol Berg

The continuation of Flesh and Spirit doesn't disappoint. Valen is about the best character ever! And he changes so much since the beginning of Book 1 till the end of Book 2, and it's such a treat to get to read about all that development, how he grows, and learns who he is, and what he is, and goes from not caring about anything but his own neck to becoming a hero. Just go read this series. Now.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


June

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Ah, Bitterblue, one of my most awaited books of 2012. And I finally read it! Opinion? Not as good as Graceling and Fire, but it does bring closure to the story. I liked how it still deals with Leck and all he had done, and how Bitterblue is trying to find herself as a woman and as a queen.
I can't quite put my finger on why it wasn't as good as the other books, but I just didn't have the same grasping eagerness to get to the end as with the other two (or go back to the beginning once it was done).


Rating: 4 out of 5



I Am the Messenger by Markus ZusakI am the messenger by Markus Zusak

Jen's fault again, but since it is Markus Zusak, I was bound to read it anyway. It is such a sweet book. Yet, quite like The Book Thief, quite prone to break your heart only to mend it again.
If you, like me, are likely to tear up at the first moment of sweetness or at a tragedy, please be warned that you'll be crying your heart out with this book. It is weird, and although you know what's going on, you are never sure why is it going on, and so you read, and are amazed by it, and read some more, and fall in love with it.
However, it is not quite to the level of The Book Thief (in my opinion), the short, fragmented sentences feel a bit forced here. But everything else is simply amazing.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5



The Map of the Sky by Félix J. Palma

Not as good as the first one, somewhat overly long with too much philosophical questions in between. The story is good though, and I especially loved that the little "mistakes" and incongruities that I came across while reading the book were explained at the end of the book, as intended discrepancies. It reads more like a horror story than the previous one (well, 3 horror stories), to the point that you are actually frightened and spooked out. Yet, where H.G. Wells is involved, I was never really able to suspend my disbelief. Maybe it was the fact that I know this author is always up to something, but it just didn't ring plausible, even within the context of this universe.
Oh, and I really liked to see old characters appear, and see how they had changed, and get to know a bit more of them.

Rating: 4 out of 5



TBR Change: +1 (From 225 to 226)



Other Stuff

I was kindly given this stamp by p7 of Bookeater/Booklover:


Thank you so much!

1º - Escolher três blogues para passar...
Como eu estou muito atrasada nestas coisas, parece-me que todos os blogs que sigo já receberam este selinho. E bem merecido!
2º - Fazer a ligação de quem te ofereceu:
Mais uma vez, obrigada Bookeater/Booklover.
3º - Escolher 5 factos aleatórios sobre ti:
1. 90% das vezes que como gelado, este é de limão. O resto das vezes o mais provável é não haver gelado de limão.
2. Se saio de casa sem um livro sinto-me despida. Às vezes levo um livro comigo sabendo que não vou ter nenhuma oportunidade de o ler.
 
3. A forma que mais gosto de conhecer sítios novos é meter os pés ao caminho e andar sem destino pelas ruas de uma cidade nova.
 
4. Agora que comecei a trabalhar a sério, descobri que não consigo ler tanto como quando era estudante, mesmo em tempo de exames. Conselho para a malta jovem: Leiam, Leiam, Leiam!
 
5. Adoro a ideia de me apaixonar por um livro, por uma frase, por uma personagem, e fazer isso todas as vezes que tenho um livro novo.